Each month, When Growth Stalls examines why businesses and brands struggle and how they can overcome their obstacles and resume growth. Steve McKee is the president of McKee Wallwork + Co., an advertising agency that specializes in working with stalled, stuck and stale brands. The company was recognized by Advertising Age as 2015 Southwest Small Agency of the Year. McKee is also the author of “When Growth Stalls” and “Power Branding.”

SmartBrief offers more than 200 newsletters, including SmartBrief on Leadership and newsletters for small businesses and marketers and advertisers.

Parenting profit

Profit isn’t an option. Not only is it management’s obligation to shareholders, it’s what enables reinvestment, retooling and continued growth. And some say it’s the ultimate scorecard of how well a company pleases its customers. The trick, of course, is “parenting” that profit. Like an unruly child, profit isn’t easy to raise.

Believe it or not, the key to parenting — companies as well as kids — is by focusing on the heart. (read more…)

This post is sponsored by RPAI.

Retailers are constantly changing their strategies to meet shifts in consumer demands and changing needs from physical locations. Many are using more sophisticated technology to anticipate trends and respond accordingly.

In this post, we talk with RPAI’s Maria Toliopoulos, senior vice president and director of national retail leasing and services, about the changing nature of shopping centers and how they’re positioning to meet consumer demands.

Question: Can you tell us a little about current market trends in the retail space?

Maria Toliopoulos: While brick-and-mortar locations continue to be the dominant format for retail, customers are increasingly seeking seamless and cohesive omnichannel customer experiences. Today, millennials are looking for instant gratification, yet they are also seeking unique experiences and stories to accompany their purchases. To provide these, retailers are continuously seeking ways to use retail spaces to showcase products and services while also gathering information from consumers. (read more…)

I’m not the biggest risk-taker. I started out in newspapers — in 2005, the year print advertising peaked. I was a copy editor, so my job was literally to ensure we were safe with what we published. I moved to digital media in 2009, but for a (relatively) mature property that was founded in the months when Y2K panic was a thing. And we don’t chase scale, unlike more famous, VC-backed media shops.

So, I have sympathy for the fire departments and other authorities who are aghast at the “Uber for gasoline” startups that are triumphantly pouring gas into cars using pickup trucks with varying levels of safety and training precautions. Bloomberg is also sympathetic, judging by the juxtaposition of these two paragraphs:

“We have to look at the safety of everyone,” said Baxter, the San Francisco fire department spokesman. “You could imagine what could happen if a fueling truck went into a parking garage under a commercial or residential building, it would not be a good outcome.”

On a recent Monday morning, about 40 miles south of San Francisco, Aubuchon carefully drove a Ford F-250 pickup truck with 324 gallons of gasoline into a hospital parking garage in Palo Alto, Calif. (read more…)

Do you have “still face” managers in your organization? By “still face” managers I mean supervisors whose lack of emotion makes it difficult for them to connect and to get people fired up. They seem unable to express appropriate emotion when interacting with others. The disconnection the other person experiences can be confusing, discouraging or lead to reaching a wrong conclusion.

As part of the activities of the TCU Center for Connection Culture, I recently spoke to a group in Texas about the importance of connection and Connection Cultures for employees and organizations to thrive. I was making the point that we are “hardwired” from birth to connect; I showed a 2.5-minute video of “still face” research.

“Still face” is the name of a landmark experiment conducted by the developmental psychologist Edward Tronick, director of child development unit and distinguished professor at the University of Massachusetts in Boston The video captures the surprising effect that a mother’s lack of facial expression (hence, “still face”) had on her baby daughter. (read more…)

SmartPulse — our weekly nonscientific reader poll in SmartBrief on Leadership — tracks feedback from more than 210,000 business leaders. We run the poll question each week in our e-newsletter.

How effective is your organization’s goal-setting process?

  • Very — we have clear and actionable goals all the time: 20%
  • Somewhat — we set goals for big items but not smaller ones: 31%
  • Not very — our goal-setting is inconsistent: 40% 
  • Not at all — what’s a goal?: 9%

Set a Destination. It’s hard for your team to know where it’s going and why their work matters if they’re not clear on the destination. You have a responsibility to set clear goals that the team can focus on and drive toward. Without those goals in place, they won’t know if they’re working on the right things or if their efforts have been successful. Sit down and set some targets today. Your team will appreciate you doing so. (read more…)