Obsess Over Your Customers, Not Your Rivals

From HBR, worth a read and then asking yourself some questions….

The starting point of most competitive analysis is a question: Who is your competition? That’s because most companies view their competition as another brand, product, or service. But smart leaders and organizations go broader.

The question is not who your competition is but what it is. And the answer is this: Your competition is any and every obstacle your customers encounter along their journeys to solving the human, high-level problems your company exists to solve…..

….Sure, someone in your company needs to understand the marketplace: who your competition is, what other products are on the market, and how they are doing, at a basic level. But there’s a point at which paying attention to other companies and what they’re doing interferes with your team’s ability to immerse itself in the world of your consumer. Focusing on competitive products and companies often leads to “me-too” products, which purport to compete with or iterate on something that customers might not have liked much in the first place.


  • First, rethink what you sell.
  • Next, rethink your customers.
  • Now, focus on their problems.

Read full article HERE



Shouldn’t boys get protection from oral cancer? Please support the BDA, BMA & HPV Action.

In two previous blog posts August 2009 and January 2014 I have supported the argument for boys to be offered the HPV vaccination. If you want to read my take then have a look at the links but do take the time to read Stephen Hancock’s editorial in the BDJ from 2014.

To support this cause please either complete the survey from the BDA or BMA (if you are a member) or take action via the HPV Action website.

Thank you.


Sometimes I think Rugby might be getting the run of itself.

The article was headed:

“Scotland face Italy in Gregor Townsend’s first match in charge”

It continued:

Scotland will take on Italy in Singapore in Gregor Townsend’s first match as national head coach. Townsend, who replaces the departing Vern Cotter in May, will lead the side on their three-match tour in June. After the Italy game, which will be the first tier one international played in Singapore, Scotland face Australia in Sydney and Fiji in Suva. “This time will be invaluable for our coaching team as we strive to further improve the squad,” Townsend said.

and then this…

Dominic McKay, Scottish Rugby chief operating officer, said: “Our first Test in Singapore sees the continuation of our long-term objective of further-globalising the Scottish Rugby brand in Asia-Pacific, as part of an exciting summer tour to the southern hemisphere for the Scotland team.”

Repeat after me, or rather please don’t.

“further-globalising the Scottish Rugby brand in Asia-Pacific” 

Doubtless the next bright, focus group driven, idea will be that rugby needs to get back to its roots….

Now don’t think I am in any way anti-Scottish rugby I was delighted with their recent resurgence, the match against Wales apart, but really?

Don’t know about “getting the run of itself?” Read more HERE

Like him or not, Richard Branson has a way with words & people

From inc.com

“With a lot of things in life, there is a point where we have to let go and appreciate the fact that we had this ride at all.”

That’s how Richard Branson begins his remarkable open letter to Virgin America, a company his Virgin Group founded in 2004. In the years it’s operated, Virgin America has won several “best airline” awards and developed an extremely loyal and enthusiastic following–so much so that last year Alaska Airlines agreed to pay $2.6 billion to purchase the airline ($4 billion including debt and aircraft leases).

“I would be lying if I didn’t admit sadness that our wonderful airline is merging with another,” admitted Branson in a blog post when the company was sold last year. “Because I’m not American, the U.S. Department of Transportation stipulated I take some of my shares in Virgin America as non-voting shares, reducing my influence over any takeover. So there was sadly nothing I could do to stop it.”

Now, it seems Branson’s worst fears have come true, as Alaska Airlines announced it has decided to retire the Virgin America brand. Comparing this to the fateful day many years ago when Virgin Records was sold, Branson said that “many tears” have been shed.

What made Branson’s letter to Virgin America so extra special?

Here are just two major highlights:

He sings praises to his people.

By evoking memories of all they’ve accomplished together, Branson’s message reads more like a love letter than something you’d get from your employer.

Notice how he focuses on his people and their accomplishments (italics mine):

  • “It was a long and hard journey but in the end you are the best consumer airline in America.”
  • You invented concepts like ‘moodlighting’ and ‘on-demand food,’ you reinvented cabin amenities from seat-to-seat chat to Netflix in the sky.”
  • You proved it is possible to run a business with a strategy that does not rely on low fares and a dominant position alone: you attracted premium flyers with a fun and beautiful guest experience.”
  • You created the world’s most loved safety video.”
  • You proved that it is possible to create a business with a terrific culture and a brand that people love.”
  • You let Teammates think differently, and invested a lot of time and money into lifting your Teammates up with extraordinary training.”
  • “And you were worth every minute, every penny (there were many!), every battle.”
  • “Throughout it all, you aimed to make flying good again–and you did.”

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again:

Nothing encourages employees to give their best like sincere, specific praise.

It’s not just the encouraging and motivating tone, despite what would otherwise be a sad day. It’s not just the point-by-point list of accomplishments. And it’s not just that Branson focuses on his people, instead of himself.

It’s not just one of these things; it’s all of them.

Of course, you shouldn’t wait for a poignant moment to reach out to your people. Take some time today to write a personal note of appreciation. Or even better, take a few minutes to go visit them personally. Tell them exactly what they do that you so value, and why.

In doing so, you’ll give them the acknowledgment that they desperately crave–and help build a positive culture where people thrive.

He points to the future.

But wait, you say. These people aren’t even Branson’s employees anymore!

Exactly. But great leaders know to give credit where credit is due. They know this builds solid relationships based on trust, keeps the door open for future partnerships, and benefits everyone in the end.

Just check out these gems from Branson:

To each of your brilliant Teammates, I know that you will continue to do great things, whether you stay on with Alaska or pursue a different path. Build a business that puts its people first. Work with partners who share your same progressive and inclusive values. Focus on delivering a great customer experience, and success will come. Make business a force for good.

Stay positive; attitude is everything.

Then, he concludes with this:

George Harrison once said, ‘All Things Must Pass.’ This was the ride and love of a lifetime. I feel very lucky to have been on it with all of you. I’m told some people at Virgin America are calling today ‘the day the music died.’ It is a sad (and some would say baffling) day. But I’d like to assure them that the music never dies.


Now that’s what I call an inspiring employer–the kind people will actually follow.

To that point, Branson reminds his (former) people of all the other Virgin businesses in the U.S., including Virgin Hotels and Virgin Voyages, a new cruise line.

Interestingly, the famous founder also told reporters last year that “If Alaska decides to drop the brand…we’ll start again and Virgin America will very much [be] back here.”

Will Virgin America really make a comeback?

One thing’s for sure: Whatever an employer like this decides to build, people will be lining up to join the effort.

(You can read Branson’s full letter to Virgin America here.)

But not everyone agrees….


In case you missed..TGBSL #24

TGBSL? see here…

1 Natural tooth repair method, using Alzheimer’s drug, could revolutionise dental treatments.

A new method of stimulating the renewal of living stem cells in tooth pulp using an Alzheimer’s drug has been discovered by a team of researchers at King’s College London.

Following trauma or an infection, the inner, soft pulp of a tooth can become exposed and infected. In order to protect the tooth from infection, a thin band of dentine is naturally produced and this seals the tooth pulp, but it is insufficient to effectively repair large cavities.

Currently dentists use man-made cements or fillings, such as calcium and silicon-based products, to treat these larger cavities and fill holes in teeth. This cement remains in the tooth and fails to disintegrate, meaning that the normal mineral level of the tooth is never completely restored.

Continues here..

 E-cigarettes ‘just as harmful as tobacco’ for oral health

Electronic cigarettes are often marketed as a safer alternative to conventional cigarettes. When it comes to oral health, however, new research suggests vaping may be just as harmful as smoking.

Continues here..

3 Sugar Is the New Tobacco, so Let’s Treat It That Way

I was recently asked to speak at the UK parliamentary “Sugar Summit.” This event was convened by Rend Platings, a mother so disturbed by England’s chief medical officer’s revelation that, as a result of obesity, today’s generation of parents may be the first to outlive their children, that she launched a campaign, Sugarwise, to help consumers identify foods with added sugar.

Continues here…

The Monday Morning Quote #395

“Men do not shape destiny,
Destiny produces the man for the hour”

I wonder what they would have made of my Social Media profile?

Application for employment

In August 1978 I started my first “proper” job. By proper I mean a job that meant I had satisfied my university examiners and was fit to be registered with the GDC. The interview process was a bit of a cattle market with all the candidates for dental house officer posts at The London Hospital being interviewed and awarded on the same day. My memory is of a full room with all the candidates trying to out-do each other in terms of experience, knowledge and who had the best referees. John “Sam” Holmes and myself had just left Newcastle each with a shiny new BDS which meant we were 6 months behind all the London graduates who qualified in a term over 4 years compared with our 5. We both decided that the two posts for which we had applied, the resident Oral Surgery House Officer jobs, were bound to be given to the more vocal candidates, the ones who had told us how good they were.

We were wrong. They wanted something that we had. I had completed an application form of sorts and submitted a curriculum vitae (cv). The Dean in Newcastle, Professor Roy Storer had given us a lecture and a handout on writing your cv, or resume, and I realised over the next few years of job interviews that other candidates did not possess such a polished document to back up their applications. I was also supported by (good) references from Prof Storer and my Oral Surgery mentor Stewart Blair.

So a document and an interview. I had not been an outstanding student in terms of academia but had enjoyed a very full life at university. I shudder to think what my Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat etc, etc profiles would have looked like. Probably they would have had details of rugby trips, skinny dipping in Leazes Park in the snow and countless parties.

A report in CIPD this week says that, “Third of employers have turned down candidates because of their social media profile”.

Around a third (36 per cent) of the 4,000 HR professionals surveyed said they had declined to interview a candidate, or had rejected an applicant they had already interviewed, after checking their social media posts, while 65 per cent Googled prospective employees.

The process works both ways, however: 28 per cent of jobseekers said their view of an organisation was influenced by what they read about it on websites such as Glassdoor, and they were less likely to apply if they formed an unfavourable impression.

I do wonder what Prof Gordon Seward (my first boss) and the great and the good of London Hospital dentistry sitting around the boardroom table grilling me would have thought of my undergraduate antics. Would they have dismissed me out of hand because of my behaviour on a Dental Students Field Day, not offered me an interview due to the bill for damages when I spoke at the Agric-Dental debate or withdrawn the offer after seeing the photos from my mobile disco Facebook page?

If they did, and I gather from talking to clients that it is, understandably, common practice to Google prospectives, what would they have missed? What could I have missed?

We live in a world that seems to be getting more and more obsessed with safety, where every prospective student and job candidate ticks the correct boxes. Take no risks and you will never accomplish anything.

Beware of throwing the baby out with the bathwater.