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Every Emblem Strategic

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© 2017, 2018, 2019 Emblem Strategic and Andrew Tarsy. All Rights Reserved.

October 1, 2019

If you want to start something at your company or organization's holiday party - the time to start planning is now. All the gift giving to clients, fellow employees, partners... it really can start something. Impact. Long term impact. Here's how:

Use the expense of the holiday party - and the associated employee gifts, client gifts, partner gifts, decorations, etc. to really start something that can mainstream into your corporate culture and lift it up. I am talking about being conscious consumers. Making purchases with intention. 

It's early yet to talk about numbers for 2019, but a survey about holiday parties done last year showed that spending on these highly talked-about events keeps o...

August 20, 2019

When the Business Roundtable speaks, do people listen?

Maybe that depends on what the venerable network of US-based CEOs says and what actions they offer to back up their words. This week they declared in a formal joint statement on "the purpose of the corporation" that the duty of business has to extend beyond creating shareholder value.  

Do you believe that the formidable and historically quite thoughtful organization is a bona fide alter ego for the collective views of the CEOs of Apple, Pepsi, Walmart, JP Morgan Chase, Bank of America, Amazon, General Motors, Blackrock and others? Then you really want to know what these leaders intend to do next. Right?

What actions did t...

May 7, 2019

Nearly two years ago I started my own business. The practice I have built draws on more than two decades of relationships and work as an advocate and an executive in law, government, non-profits and in the digital start-up world as well.

As a strategy advisor and a player/coach, I have an unsurprising specific focus helping business leaders to gain competitive advantage by putting positive social impact at the center of their business decisions big and small; and helping them formulate and execute on ambitious plans for growth.

I call the business Emblem Strategic LLC because I believe from experience that when you make sure your key decisions are emblematic of your values and your vis...

March 5, 2019

"Most employees who behave unethically fail to understand that their behavior is indeed unethical and can have harmful consequences."

Do you buy that? 

Yuval Feldman says so in a thoughtfully framed piece in Harvard Business Review this week ("Companies Need to Pay More Attention to Everyday Unethical Behavior", HBR, March 1, 2019) and argues that employers need to (1) draw their people's attention to what is in fact ethical vs. unethical on a regular basis; and (2) demonstrate that infractions are greeted with real consequences. Easier said than done?

This conversation feels quaint and even naive when considered next to the testimony in Congress last week by former Trump fixer Michael Cohen...

January 15, 2019

Gillette made a bold move and is apparently more than ready to pay for it. A campaign that was released today features a short film illustrating men engaged in in a whole array of ubiquitous and noxious behaviors and then examples of men stepping up to the challenge of ... real manhood. Sexual assault, harassment, bullying -- and raising young men to look past or condone most if not all of the above: Real men know better. That is the gist of the campaign. In the $3 Billion market for men's razors, competition is more fierce than ever. Gillette is making a statement by not only acknowledging that these are real patterns and real problems in modern society but by challenging its customers t...

December 10, 2018

Is your company's value proposition aligned with its values? Do you even know what your company's values are or why you articulated them in the first place if you did? Have you talked yourself out of asking these questions because you are too busy and trust the best intentions of your team and your company's leadership? Expectations have changed and your thinking has too. Time to take another look.

A major survey says that three out of four companies now think sustainability has to be a core element of strategy. And don't think this is just about the green team. Large companies are relying increasingly on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) set out by the United Nations in 2015 t...

November 13, 2018

End of year gift-buying and joy-driven spending are here. There is a social, economic and racial crisis that is relevant to your holiday season. Wherever you live in the United States, the wealth gap is real - and abysmal. According to the Fed, in 2016, the median wealth of white households in the U.S. was $171,000. 10 times the wealth of Black households ($17,100). The wealth gap for Latinx families? Almost as bad.

That's why I am buying more and more from Black and Latinx businesses - with increasing diligence, purpose and volume. Wealth gets created when people own things and the value of those things increases. Right? The value of Black and Latinx owned businesses can in...

September 14, 2018

Nike grabbed a big piece of American mindshare this week with an inspiring ad campaign featuring world class athletes Colin Kaepernick, LeBron James and Serena Williams. The sometimes revered, sometimes reviled swoosh-based company demonstrated a clear understanding of what brand master turned VC Mike Troiano opined just today on twitter: "Your brand is not your logo, your identity system, or your tagline. It is the world's collective emotional response to those things, and everything else you do."

Was embracing Kaepernick a smart move for Nike? What would the equivalent kind of daring step be in your business and how would the discussion go about whether to do it? Let's get into this...

July 19, 2018

When doing business in Boston,  Cambridge and the rest of Massachusetts, you can win big. But here are three things you need to know:

Don’t rely on posted signs – you need a guide.

Literally this is true. There are at least three different Cambridge Streets in Boston and Cambridge, and no sign in the big tunnel for how to get to the Convention Center! And there is no square in any of the big Squares either. But I also mean metaphorically. Inside tracks are everywhere but hard to find. Once you are on them, the region has many powerful forces leaning toward being helpful to newcomers - despite all of the other things you hear.

Adopt a giving, sharing, contributing stance.

This a...

May 31, 2018

It is always trendy to quote the ubiquitous bit of wisdom attributed to business guru Peter Drucker that "culture eats strategy for breakfast."

I don't buy it.

This sets up a false dichotomy that leads too many leaders to avoid addressing their responsibility to lead.

First, most leaders vastly over-estimate the strength of the culture of their organization.

And second, in the also immortal words of baseball player Yogi Berra, "If you don't know where you're going, any road will take you there." 

Wise heads of course know that you need both culture and strategy to create something truly distinguished. And only some seem to know how important it is to align culture and strategy w...