Why is This Good: Ranier Beer

Ranier Beer is a good exemplar for “classic” brands searching for a way to resonate with consumers who are flooded with faux authenticity.

They recently redesigned the brand with the help of the amazing crew at Parliament in Portland.

Here’s what I love:

  • Retro, but not kitschy – They’re reverent about their past and give a nod to their previous brand expression, but its a little cleaner.
  • Tone – They’ve adopted a closer-in, more friendly and welcoming tone, but they’re not trying too hard to be clever or cool or be your best friend. You know there are real humans behind the scenes, but they aren’t being annoying about it.
  • Authentic, but Authentically Authentic – No fake backstory, here. But, they’re also not working overtime to tell you how much cooler they are (or were in the ’50s) than your new favorite hipster beer.
  • Community – They are – quite literally – working off the PBR playbook and are actively engaged in supporting the local (Pacific Northwest) sports, culture and environmental organizations.
  • Imagery – If you want to connect yourself to the beauty of nature, you better have really beautiful shots of nature. They did that. It’s almost as though this is a nature brand that also sells beer.
  • Timely / Relevant – They’re doing smart, mostly useful things like providing Zoom backgrounds, but keeping the branding relatively light.

Better Interview Tip #46

I was talking with Chip House (Linkedin | Twitter) about a variety of topics, including interviewing and building a great team around yourself.  When I asked him how he spotted leadership potential  he said he tried to ask questions that indicated how well the candidate knew themselves. What a wonderful insight!  I wish I would have had that heuristic years ago.

I’ve done a lot of interviews in my life but I never thought of using that screen: “How well do you know yourself?” And, the implied corollary, “How are you using that knowledge to better yourself and, ultimately, be a better leader? “

I’ve always asked questions that get at related topics: 

• What have you taught yourself lately (to see if they’re able to turn curiosity into knowledge)

• What’s a hard problem you’ve solved lately (to see if they can drive to solution)

• What’s the next leadership skill you want to add to your toolbox? (To see if they’ve actually got a development plan for themselves)

Those questions have been really useful, but I’ve never gone at interviews to understand the essential thing: Does this person have a good enough sense of themselves – their skills, their gaps, their blindspots – to be a good leader of people? 

Obviously, you can’t really know if people truly have good self awareness or not in a 45-60 minute interview, but if you go into the discussion trying to discern whether your interview participants understand themselves – a little bit, a lot, at all – it will only help you to make decisions on who could be a good leader for your team. 

Maybe the Most Useful Podcast Episode Ever (For Leaders)

I’ve listened to this episode of The Knowledge Project 3 times now and I’m pretty sure I’ll listen to it once a quarter going forward.

This is probably the most useful work-related podcast I’ve listened to (and I’ve listened to hundreds of hours of podcasts). This is highly relevant for you if:

  • You’re leading in a highly complex (even chaotic) environment
  • You’re leading a team that is growing
  • If you’re responsible for hiring great talent
  • If you’re committed to building a great culture in your company
  • If you’re trying to get better as a leader

The key insight is really kind of obvious, but comes across clearly here: We’re not actually rationale beings, that what we’re experiencing may be driven more by what we *feel* vs what is actually happening. Our own brains make up stories about what’s happening and why and these stories – the narratives we fit our experiences into so they make sense to us – get in the way of true clarity about what’s really occurring and how we interpret the experience.

Jeff Hunter (of Talentism) is a guy that’s been talking to, hiring and coaching top leaders for years. He’s got deep experience making hard choices and he, in a way, unloads a lot of it in this talk. I’m specifically interested in his experiences at Bridgewater, Ray Dalio’s investment firm.

Hunter makes a persuasive case that we should embrace the confusion we feel when things get don’t go as planned and we should see confusion as a sign that we’re in a position to learn. We should be examining the gap between what we expected to happen vs what actually happened and seek to understand our assumptions and our knowledge gaps.

Finally, this whole podcast is worth it for three things:

  • How to avoid telling yourself the wrong story about performance (beyond avoiding negative self talk)
  • How to give better constructive feedback
  • How to get smarter about the hires you make

Background: Shane Parish has been inspiring me via his Farnham Street platform where he focuses on tools that help you make decisions, better. I love the mission, and for years he’s been providing a ton of great resources for leaders. His curiosity is on display in every interview and he might be the perfect guy for this interview.

Don’t Blame the McKinsey Messenger

What Problem Were You Trying to Solve When You Hired The Consultants?

(warning: this is a hot take).

I want to stand up and cheer for this series of posts from Zeus Jones, but i kind of also want to call BS. I agree with 90% but think they’re setting up the wrong strawman.

Who wants to be the one defending the classic management consulting firms? Not me, but to a certain degree, any professional service provider who’s talking to a client about “digital” or innovation (or the related work) is a management consultant. Including my firm and Zeus Jones. 

I don’t think management consulting is going away. We get hired to provide external perspective, experience-informed recommendations, and to shine the light on the right problems to solve. We provide short term support to get our clients through complex issues where a different perspective can actually create clarity.

I completely agree that the problem is cultural, that there’s something glitched in the DNA of most companies, and they won’t accept the injections from great consulting firms like Zeus Jones.

I also believe that every organization will need to be more adaptable, open, creative, empathetic, collaborative, etc. Whatever, but yes to working differently.

I love the framework of Imagination and Ingenuity. it works on a lot of really smart levels, and every company would benefit from both. It’s the really smart, swaggery, controversy-baiting thought leadership that great firms like Zeus are known for. It’s not dissimilar to the kind of thought leadership that gets companies like Ideo, Redscout, Frog Design hired. To consult with leaders. To solve problems and change their businesses. You know: Consultants to management.

But, let’s focus on the core problem: Leadership and the courage to play the long game. Consultants get hired by good, smart people to help them make hard decisions. If those decisions don’t lead to the right outcomes that’s probably because someone made the wrong decision and/or the execution fell apart.

I think the real villain is the concept of “Maximize shareholder value on a quarter by quarter basis” and i think the evil assistant is probably private equity (which drives orgs to forsake long term investments in favor of doubling down on “now”). And, then throw in unbelievable executive compensation formulas  that front loads options and equity.

I’ll be thinking about this series of articles for a while, which is exactly what the provocative folks at Zeus wanted!