Are you a thought leader? Andrea interviews prolific thought leader Roger Martin, professor emeritus and past Dean of the Rotman School of Management at University of Toronto. Learn the distinction between private and public thought leadership, why you should consider your cadence in publishing, and three objective criteria to use when evaluating your brand promise, whether it’s for an advertising campaign or for your own personal brand.





  • Roger Martin
  • HBR – Harvard Business Review –
  • Roger’s Favorite Thought Leaders –
  • Roger’s favorite podcasts –
    • Farnham Street Knowledge Project podcast –
    • Tiffany Bova’s What’s Next! podcast –



Well, hello there and welcome to talk about Talk Podcast Episode #150. I am so excited about this episode. Today we’re tackling the topic of thought leadership and building your brand.


Just over a month ago, I was sitting in the waiting room of my eye doctor scrolling through emails on my phone when I saw an e-mail from HBR – Harvard Business Review. The e-mail was titled “HBR’s best of 2023.” Interesting. So I opened up the e-mail and I started scrolling. … I paused because I couldn’t believe my eyes, and then I gasped out loud. Someone asked me. Are you OK? I had a huge smile on my face. Yes, I’m definitely OK, thank you.


What I saw on my phone was the announcement that my HBR article entitled, “A Simple Framework to Introduce Yourself”, was one of the top 3 most read articles in HBR in 2023. Wow, I couldn’t believe my eyes. 


I kept scrolling through the email and I saw a face that looked very familiar. It was the face of Roger Martin, my old boss, the former Dean at the Rotman School of Management. The e-mail said that Rogers’ video, entitled “A Plan Is Not a Strategy,” won the award for being the most downloaded video on HBR in 2023.


So – I went home and I promptly wrote Roger a congratulations e-mail. I also asked him if I could interview him for the Talk About Talk podcast. And here we are.


Welcome to the Talk About Talk podcast episode number 150, where we’re talking thought leadership and building your brand.


In case we haven’t met, let me introduce myself. My name is Dr. Andrea Wojnicki and I’m your executive communication coach. Please call me Andrea!  I’m the founder of Talk About Talk, where I coach communication skills to ambitious executives like you to elevate your communication, your confidence and your clarity, so you’ll get noticed and you can accomplish your career goals.


If you go to the website, you’ll find many resources to help you out. There’s information there about one-on-one coaching, online courses, some amazing bootcamps that I run every few months, corporate workshops, the archive of this bi-weekly podcast, AND, I really hope you’ll sign up for the Talk About Talk newsletter. That newsletter is your chance to get free communication coaching from me every week. 


Alright let’s get into this.


For this episode, as I said, you’re going to hear my interview with my old boss from when I was on the faculty at the University of Toronto Rotman School of Management. I’m going to interview my boss, the former Dean, Roger Martin. 


Roger is undeniably a PROLIFIC thought leader, with 33 HBR articles, 13 books, and more. And let me tell you, if you’re interested in thought leadership and building your brand, this interview is full of gold.


Here’s how this episode is going to go. First, I’m going to briefly introduce Roger and then we’re going to get right into the interview. And then at the end, I’m going to summarize with three, yes, of course, three of the main thoughts or themes that I want to reinforce for us.


As I said, this interview is full of gold. But you really don’t need to take notes. The transcript of the entire interview is included in the show notes which you can find if you go to website. And also, as I said, I will summarize the main points at the end. 


I’m really proud of this episode now. But I have to tell you, this was not an easy episode to produce. First of all, I was suffering from a bad cold when I conducted the interview with Roger, and I had a terrible coughing fit at the very beginning of the interview. So if you’re watching on YouTube, you’re going to see me turn my microphone on mute and cough – a LOT. Then about 20 minutes later, the battery in Rogers computer died. And we lost our connection, so we had to start again after he plugged his computer in and we reconnected.


Aye aye aye, It’s never easy, right! Anyway, I’m really pleased with how this episode turned out.


OK -let’s do this.  Let me introduce Roger and then we’ll get into the interview.


Roger Martin received his BA from Harvard College, then in 1981 he earned his MBA from the Harvard Business School. 


Roger then spent 13 years as a Director of Monitor Company, a global strategy consulting firm based in Cambridge, Massachusetts. You’ll hear Roger talk about how his thought leadership started there with the internal memos he used to write.


Roger’s now a Professor Emeritus at the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto where he served as Dean from 1998-2013, That’s where we crossed paths.


Today Roger is a trusted strategy advisor to the CEOs of companies worldwide including Procter & Gamble, Lego, Ford, BHP and Verizon.


Roger’s newest book is A New Way to Think: Your Guide to Superior Managerial Effectiveness. His previous twelve books include When More is Not Better Creating Great Choices. Getting Beyond Better and Playing to Win written with A.G. Lafley, which won the award for Best Book of 2012-13 by the Thinkers50.


As of January 2024, Roger has written 33 Harvard Business Review articles.


In 2010, Roger was named one of the 27 most influential designers in the world by Business Week. In 2007 he was named a Business Week ‘B-School All-Star’ for being one of the 10 most influential business professors in the world. Business Week also named him one of seven ‘Innovation Gurus’ in 2005.


And in 2017, Roger was named the world’s #1 management thinker by Thinkers50, a biannual ranking of the most influential global business thinkers.


Clearly, Roger is a thought leader.




Thank you Roger, so much for being here to talk about building your brand.

ROGER (00:44):

It is great to be here, and as you know, we go way back. And so I always love interacting with the professors I work with in the good old days at Rotman School of Management, so thank you.

ANDREA (00:57):

Me too. So as we were discussing before we press record, your name came across my screen when I got the email about HBR’s most downloaded podcast, most downloaded articles and most downloaded video. You had the most downloaded video of 2023. Congratulations.

ROGER (01:24):

Thank you. Thank you. You can never tell Andrea if you would’ve said, oh, this one is going to do 3.4 million views at last count. I would’ve said, oh, come on, really? But it just hit some vein in people’s thinking that seemed to resonate. And same I’m sure with your article where you probably didn’t necessarily know that it was going to strike. But in the modern world, when something sort of hits an important vein like that, it just goes and there’s no end to it going.

ANDREA (01:59):

So how many downloads? You told me when we were emailing, how many downloads approximately did it get?

ROGER (02:05):

It said 3.4 million views and counting. Okay. And so it’s by now by $400,000, a 400,000 view margin, the most viewed video in the history of Harvard Business Review videos. And it is moving away from the pack. Mike Porter, my beloved, my beloved colleague, Mike Porter’s, 15-year-old one explaining the five forces was always number one at now 3 million.

ANDREA (02:43):

I remember reading that one too. I will leave a link in the show notes so that the listeners can also watch. It’s called A plan is not a Strategy, right?

ROGER (02:52):

That is correct. That is correct.

ANDREA (02:53):

Very compelling title by the way. I’m sure that that also contributed to the number, but then they don’t count views unless they keep viewing. Right? So

ROGER (03:01):

Yep. No, no. And I would give HBR and I know you publish a lot there too. I’d give them great credit. The difference between HBR now and 30 years ago when I did my first article is there, it was just content. The covers of the magazine were bland and boring. There was no artwork associated with them. No production values.

ANDREA (03:25):

I remember that.

ROGER (03:26):

Yeah. But now the magazine, the website, these videos are very, in my view, high production values. So they did a great job of graphics and the like in the video. So I give them great credit for taking whatever content. I guess my content was interesting enough, but they took that and made the most of it rather than 30 years ago. They would’ve made the least of it, honestly. And so I give them credit and hopefully you’ve had a good experience on that front too.

ANDREA (03:56):

Very good. It is been great. People contact me because of the article. So you said, I guess it was good enough. You’re being very humbled. So for those people who don’t know Roger Martin, he is in fact a prolific thought leader. Roger, just in January, 2024, published his 33rd article in HBR. He also does keynotes. He’s published elsewhere. He’s published how many books?

ROGER (04:26):


ANDREA (04:28):

13. Lucky number 13 books. So do you have some advice when I’m speaking with executives, coaching them on their personal brand, establishing their professional identity, I sometimes get questions about thought leadership and is it required as a part of being an effective leader? Do you have any advice for those executives out there who are seeking to, as we say, establish thought leadership?

ROGER (04:57):

Yeah. Well, I guess I would say the answer to your question is actually yes. But that answer might not be what people think it is because I think there’s a difference between a public thought leader and a private thought leader. And I know that difference because I was a private thought leader until 1998. What does that mean? Well, I was at one of the leaders of a firm called Monitor Company. It was a firm that was built essentially around Mike Porter. And I liked to communicate with my clients, my CEO clients, often with memos because I sort of hate PowerPoint and it’s just not the same as gathering your thoughts to put together a coherent memo. And so I would write memos to CEOs on all sorts of interesting topics that they had on their minds, and I became known within Monitor for that. And people would just email me all the time and say, Roger, have you written anything on overhead costs?


Have you written anything on Industry Evolution? Have you written anything on whatever one after another? So much so that I put together a file on my computer desktop called Greatest Hits, and they were just ones that other monitor people asked for because I hated searching through client files to find, oh, I did write something on that one time. But that was highly private thought leader. Nobody outside Monitor knew it was only other monitor consultants knew that the guy within Monitor to ask to email was me, because I probably had done something in a similar way. I think to be an effective leader, you have to have thought leadership within your organization. They need to know what you stand for, what do you care about and how do you think about what you think about and why? And so my longtime friend and co-author Ag Laffy was that way within Proctor before he became more famous outside there were Agism, the consumer is boss.


We have to win the first moment of truth, which is when the consumer does or does not pick your product off the shelves before we win the second movement of truth, which is when she puts our lay on her face or the guy shampoos his hair with head and shoulders or whatever. So he was a thought leader. He took the time to be able to communicate in a clear and compelling way what was on his mind and what he thought was important. And I think if you can’t do that, if they say, yeah, Andrea or Roger’s, my CEO, but they run the place, but I don’t really know what they think, I don’t think you’re going to be nearly as effective as if you are that kind of thought leader. But it is a completely different thing to be a public thought leader, which I only became actually only when I figured out it was my job when I got to be dean of Rotman school. As you know, I hired you in 1998 and it just sort of occurred to me I shouldn’t, especially at a University of Toronto as a public university, at a public university, you should be writing for more people than this private little group. And so I just started, I literally did similar things, summarized my thought as in what was hopefully a useful way and projected it to the outside world, but that’s different form of thought leadership in my view.

ANDREA (08:59):

So I was going to ask you a question about The topic that you become a thought leader on, so it could be functional expertise, discipline, expertise. You’re saying it could be your strategy, it could be an element of something that your customer cares about. So in terms of what the topic is, people think there’s put your stake in the ground and you decide you’re a thought leader in a certain area and you’re like, well, if you think about it in terms of public and private thought leadership, suddenly the types of topics expand.

ROGER (09:43):

I think that’s true. And I think you have to, products and services sort of have to stand for something. And I think people, similarly, if you’re sort of all over the place on what you applying on, people are not going to be able to sort of say, oh, here’s what I can expect from Roger. Here’s what I can expect from Andrea. And it turns out though that I would say be careful of putting yourself in a box. Yes, people think about me as having things to say about strategy. That would be one thing that they would know me for. But I think more generally, and I think this is reflected in my last book, a new way to think, I think people expect me to kind of go back to first principles on management and help people find more powerful, productive ways to think about whatever management subject is on their mind.

ANDREA (11:38):

So Roger, you’re speaking my language. You’re really talking about Roger’s personal brand, your personal brand, your professional identity is someone who brings in business fundamentals and teaches or coaches, people how to think about things in a different way so that they can create a strategy, not just a plan to accomplish their goals. You could call it a recipe, you could call it, but it’s your brand. You now have a reputation for doing this.

ROGER (12:05):

I think so. I think so. And another piece of it is it’s enabling. So I don’t just say you should do the following thing. I say, here’s why. Here’s the reasoning behind why, so that you can really internalize it and understand. That’s why, and I do that in part to protect the person on the receiving end of the advice because virtually all of my views are minority views. So at least 85, if not 90% of all things that are called strategy in the world aren’t planning. And I say, don’t do that. Do this other thing. And the person who listens to me and does this other thing is going to have a whole bunch of people saying, why are you doing that? Do it our way, the way we’ve

ANDREA (12:58):


ROGER (12:58):

Done it. I have to equip them with the logic that says, so I have to explain why sensible people, totally sensible. People are planning and thinking it’s strategy and here’s why it’s sensible and here’s how they got there and here’s the history how they got there, but it’s not working. Here would be another way of doing it and here’s why. And if there’s anything I think I’m known for, it’s that it’s helping people be able to think differently, not just giving people different answers

ANDREA (13:39):

And not accusing them of making irreparable fatal mistakes in what they’re doing. So the analogy for me in terms of coaching people on their personal brand is I ask people, what do you think the most common mistake is that people make with their personal brand? There are many mistakes that people make, but one of the most common is copying others. Yes. And then I see this look and I say, listen, we are social learners. We look around, we see other people that are successful around us and we emulate them. And I say, that’s a fantastic strategy early in your career, if you want to knock it out of the park later in your career, double down on your unique passions and expertise and then you will be your happiest and most successful self. So I’m not saying you’re an idiot for copying other people. I explain why people do that. It’s very common. In fact, we’re wired to do that. Here’s this insight that I can provide you with, so I think we’re kind of doing the same thing, Roger.

ROGER (14:38):

No, no, I think so. And there’s one of my most beloved mentors, if not other than my parents most beloved mentor is a guy that late great Chris arduous. One of the things he explained to me, Andrea, way back when is he said, if when you’re seeing somebody doing something that you think is not, doesn’t make a bunch of sense, they shouldn’t be doing that. If you best and only explanation is either they’re stupid or evil, good luck to you in ever getting something to change. Right? And I hear you saying something similar. You are saying, no, no, no, no, no, you’re sensible. You’re being sensible, but the sensible thing you’re doing isn’t getting you the results you want. So you have to empathize with them. Most people who try to change other people literally think that person is either stupid or evil and I’ve got to fix them, and they have no success because the person on the receiving end of that thought in your mind, you don’t express it or anything. They know that you’re essentially judging them as stupid or evil and they want to listen to you. They want to cut off the right arm last person.



ANDREA (16:03):

Why I’m ask you a question.

ROGER (16:04):

We’re very similar in that respect from the sounds of it.

ANDREA (16:06):

Yeah. I want to ask you a question that’s a little bit more specific to thought leadership for executives today, right? So as you said, we knew each other a long time ago when books were really the way that it was sort of like the pinnacle of thought leadership was to write a book and if you became a bestseller, even better. Now we’ve got Ted Talks. You’re talking about you yourself evolving from writing internal memos to now having the most downloaded video at HBR and also having, as I said, prolific books and so on. How can CEOs really think about media? I would love to hear just any general or specific comments that you have about, is it good to double down on one kind of media or should we go broad with the same message? How can we think about leveraging media?

ROGER (17:07):

It is a good question, and the question on books is Apropo one for me. I’ve written 13 of them and I’m feeling less like writing books than I used to. The thing that I write most, as you may know, is my medium column. I’ve got a column on Medium. I started it three and a half years ago called the Playing to Win Practitioner Insights series. I’ve just, on Monday, I drop a new piece every Monday and have for the past 170 odd weeks, but just started the fourth year of the series. And I love that more than I love writing books. As it turns out, I like the quick turnaround. I think about something, it can be out next Monday. Sometimes it’s out a few Mondays later, I percolating on it, but if I really want it out, it can be out. They’re designed to be six to eight minute reads. So 1500 to 2000 words is what it turns out. That medium says they’ll medium will judge how many versions of that. So that’s six to eight minutes, and I’ve gone up from zero followers to Atlas Count 213,000, which is now on the edge of the top 10 of medium followership as it turns out. I like that and people seem to seem like it a lot. I’ve had just under a million and a half views of my medium pieces. So

ANDREA (18:55):

To your question, the analogy for me is my podcast. So what can we learn from that? Is it the fact that you have a regular cadence of publication and that’s what works for you? I’m sure it varies by person in terms of what’s going to work.

ROGER (19:10):

No, but there are some rules. I think people are habit driven. People have habits of doing things right. This is why movie sequels, that’s the whole business is movie sequels. I have a habit of watching every equalizer movie when it comes out. And so if it was the same plot, but they called it something else, I might watch it and I might not, even if it was Denzel Washington, I might or might not watch it, but if it’s equalizer four, I will watch it because I’ve developed a habit of doing that and people are all habit driven. And so what if you want to be a thought leader of consequence, you need to have a bunch of people adopting you as a habit. You’ve got to make that easier for them rather than harder for them. And so if Andrea, you did a podcast and then disappear for a while and then wrote some books and did a podcast the seven months later, and then it was three months after that, so it’s not even a regular interval. People would find it hard to have an Andrea habit, but instead they say, you know what? I just check and I know Andrea’s got a series and she comes out every two weeks with one

ANDREA (20:43):

Every second Monday at 1:00 AM Eastern.

ROGER (20:46):

Do you? Okay, that’s the best. So the best mine are 9:00 AM Eastern on Mondays, give or take, take half an hour or so depending on my schedule. So habit has to be, you will not be a thought leader if people do not have a habit of you. And so what you have to do is make it easier to have an Andrea habit and every two weeks at the same time and the same sort of thing. If it suddenly was No, I’m dropping a written thing at that time, they say, no, no, no, no, no. It’s a podcast, Andrea, it’s a podcast. What’s your problem? You’re not helping me feel good about my habit. You’re sort of jerking me a little bit out of my sense of calmness. So that’s why they need to know what to expect. I mean, it goes to the promise article that I know we’ve talked about is that in some sense you’re making a promise.

ANDREA (22:00):


ROGER (22:01):

Your promise is that’s true. Yeah. Every two weeks, 1:00 AM eastern, a podcast drops and it’s going to be me, Andrea, talking to somebody else about a subject in this domain. That’s a promise.

ANDREA (22:22):


ROGER (22:24):

And if you make no promise, you say, I’m Andrea and I do whatever the hell I please whenever I please at random intervals. B of Skinner learned this a long time ago with pigeons. They go nuts if they get hit at in levels infrequent times. If they know every morning they’re going to get a wrap on the head, they can live with that. They can deal with it. They don’t like it, but they can deal with it. If it’s random, they go nuts. They go crazy. So people like to be able to have a habit.

ANDREA (23:04):

I’m so glad that I have a content calendar. So I have a newsletter that comes out once every Thursday. I’m thinking about all these things and I want to shift to what you made me think about in the right way to build your brand HBR article. But before we shift away from thought leadership per se, I want to ask you who I can guess based on previous conversations that you and I have had, what are the thought leaderships thought leaders out there right now that you admire the most?

ROGER (23:40):

Good question. Sorry, I have to get a charger for my computer.

ANDREA (23:50):


ROGER (23:55):

There we go. Who are my favorite thought leaders these days? Well, Amy Edmonton is a really good friend and I like what she does. Adam Grant is a really good friend. I like what he does. He’s

ANDREA (24:17):

Definitely one of my favorites as well. Wow. Yeah,

ROGER (24:20):

Dan Pink. Dan Pink is different. He’s just such a down the learning curve journalist, that was what he was. He creates wonderful stories around what he does. So whatever topic, Dan Pink tackles, he’ll tackle it

ANDREA (24:48):

From a journalist perspective. Right?

ROGER (24:50):

Yeah, just beautifully is the way I think about it.

ANDREA (24:55):

Those are three great ones. I’m going to put some links in. I have read Dan Pink, but I am not as familiar with his, so I’m going to, based on your recommendation, pursue that a little bit more, but I’ll put links to all three of those thought leaders in the show notes. I want to shift to your most recent HBR article, the Right Way to Build your brand. And you and I had a conversation off camera where we were talking about the old marketing days and the new marketing days and how this has sort of come together. And now you’ve done this research to address this sort of disparity between performance marketing and brand marketing with a beautiful evidence-based prescription for marketers on how to execute brand marketing or what we used to call awareness marketing in a way that is going to get results. So do you want to share the premise of the article?

ROGER (25:59):

Sure. Well, the premise is that a brand, you have a brand only when you make a promise to your customer, whoever that is, whether it’s a corporation or a consumer, you make a promise to that customer. Fulfill that promise, make it fulfill it until such time as the customer doesn’t think about whether or not you will fulfill your promise. Then you have a brand,

ANDREA (26:35):

You as a marketer don’t have a brand. Yeah.

ROGER (26:39):

So you have to stand for something that they care about, they find valuable, and you’ve got to deliver on it. And if you don’t make a promise, it’s just a competitive world, somebody else will. And if you fulfill it some of the time, but not others of the time. So back to your podcast, if randomly there’s just nothing at 1:00 AM on the week that there should have been something and it’s just randomly, then they’ll say, well, I like Andrea’s podcasts when they show up, but am I going to count on that? No, because sometimes they don’t show up. So you wouldn’t have consistently fulfilled a promise to have really interesting content on this subject in this format that it shows up at that time. And I would say, not to be too harsh, you deserve it. You deserve not to be a brand because, because it’s so unclear.

ANDREA (27:59):

So in my read of the article, there are also three criteria associated with the promise that are necessary. It needs to be memorable, valuable, and deliverable. Deliverable means you make good on the promise, really, ultimately. That’s right. Can you elaborate on what those three levers are or? Sure.

ROGER (28:19):

Yeah. So the memorable one is it’s clear enough that it’s easy for you to remember. And again, for me, I think of Geico, 15 minutes could save you. 15% is memorable because it’s crystal clear. It’s absolutely crystal clear. I think even though it’s probably good because they pounded it for many years, you’re in good hands with Allstate or Nationwide is on your side, I don’t think are as meaningfully functionally memorable as they would be as the Geico one. And it’s because they’re more elliptical. What does in good hands actually mean? What does it mean the insurance company is going to do? Are they always going to fulfill my claims and quickly, well, maybe, I don’t know. Nationwide is on your side. Does that mean regardless of what I do, I don’t think they’re as crisply memorable as I spend 15 minutes and I get 15%. It

ANDREA (29:39):

Seems like it’s specificity.

ROGER (29:41):

Well, it is just not elliptical. You don’t have to kind of think too much about it and value. I think there’s, and you would know this six ways to Sunday, there are core category benefits of any category. If we go Byron Sharping on this, there are core benefits. There are fringe benefits, and it’s going to be valuable to the extent that it deals with a core category benefit.


If hair colorants, it’s getting your hair colored the way you want it colored what you imagine it being, or if head and shoulders again gets rid of your dandruff. Those are the category benefits. So to the extent to which the promise is about a core category benefit that clearly matters to customers, that’s going to be more powerful and then deliverable, you can actually deliver it. The flip side of deliverable is sort of auditable. So that again, what I like about 15% could save, 15 minutes could save you 15% is the degree to which you go online, you spend 15 minutes and did I get a quote that was 15% less? And so you can audit that one nationwide is on your side, good hands with all state. How exactly do you audit that? And I think if it’s super auditable, the company will be embarrassed quickly if it can’t deliver. And so I think auditable makes it more likely to be a deliverable less auditable. We’re a great company or we’re going to save the planet.

ANDREA (31:48):

Or even you can depend on us, right? It’s okay,

ROGER (31:52):

In what particular way can we depend on it? Sherman Williams has got this knowing that I like that says, you can say your color into their little machine now that’s in the thing, and it will produce that color for you. I want Polynesian Island, that blue water, and you can say that to it and it’ll come up with something for you.

ANDREA (32:30):

Oh, amazing. That sounds very cool.

ROGER (32:32):

Yeah. But does it come up with a color? It’s very auditable.

ANDREA (32:44):

If you could read my thought bubbles right now, Roger, you would be laughing because everything you’re saying, I’m like the analogy for that with personal branding is this, or this is an exception. So in the article, I really love this point about the challenge that brand marketers have now in establishing what’s the story? How are we going to get brand marketing approved or awareness marketing approved When this performance marketing, we’re actually measuring and benefiting immediately. It’s almost like the performance marketing is short-term wins. So how can we even fight against that in terms of awareness or brand marketing when it’s a longer term haul from awareness to interest, to desire to action versus immediately to action. So when I put that lens overlay onto personal branding, I feel like personal branding is about doing the work to optimize the brand for your awareness, if you want to call it campaign where you’re communicating as you might through internal messages or memos that you’re sending to staff through your memo that you’re writing, through books that you’re writing, through keynote speeches, through how you’re acting in meetings, through every single conversation that you have. I’m wondering if the three levers that we talked about in terms of, or criterion that the message is or the promise is memorable, valuable and deliverable, how would that translate in terms of personal branding? So maybe we need a specific example, so we can use me again if you want. I’m an executive communication coach and I have a podcast and I do workshops and one-on-one coaching.


How is that message memorable, valuable, and deliverable?

ROGER (34:53):

Well, I think first you have to make a promise, which is if you work with me and you listen to me, you’ll gain these communication benefits. Your communication will go from here to here in some sense, whatever way you’d want to define that. Or often I think it could be that here’s a particular communication problem that they’ve come to you with. It’s sort of like the I am on the wrong page with the board or in my quarterly analyst meetings, I don’t feel like they work so well. I get beat up or something. So whatever it’s you say, my promise is if you work with me for the next three months, you will have great quarterly meetings. And so then to be memorable, I think I would paint a picture of it. I would say, let’s look at videos from, or you tell I would do it this way.


Probably I would say, you tell me who you think does a great job at this. I go get a video of that person because most of these are now videoed on their website. So I just get their quarterly, quarterly kind of meeting on it. I’d sit them down and say, let’s watch this. Yeah, I promise you will be as effective as that person. So that’ll be very memorable because they’ll have an image of the person that they wish they could be as well. I say, you’re going to be different because everybody, this is Dale Carnegie. Do you know what he said? What

ANDREA (36:46):

He said? Many things

ROGER (36:47):

He said on this front, he said, never give another man. It was a man’s world. Never give another man’s speech. And he said something to the effect of, if you’re the EA of some important person, the senator and the senator literally falls down and smashes his head five minutes before the speech. Do not go up to the podium and read his speech. What you should do is do your own thing because you should never give another event speech. You have to be yourself,

ANDREA (37:22):

Roger. This is consistent with what we were saying about having your unique personal brand. Right, exactly. Yourself and you’ll be your best. Yeah,

ROGER (37:30):

And I got to be an awesome presenter at monitor over practice. Only after I decided not to be Mark Fuller, who I tried to be, who was the CEO. He was the adult. We were all in our twenties and he was in his early thirties and he was an outstanding presenter. And I would watch ’em and say, I can do that too. I can’t. I can do something else. But I’d make it memorable by giving them an image of it. That person can say, if Andrea can make me as effective as her or him, whoever that person is, that would be memorable, valuable. In this case, you’ve listened enough for them to say it’s not communications in general that get on my nerves the most. It’s the earnings calls and getting terrible or ER people are like, oh God, and we get terrible. So you’ve identified the benefit that they’re seeking and you’ve aimed right at instead of saying, no, no, no, no, let’s not worry about that.


We’ll get to that sometime later and just have it so valuable. Yes. Valuable is category benefit they care about. Yeah, a thing that they care about most. And then deliverable is, I would say that one, you’ve got to be able to deliver that. You can’t say that to somebody when you know that some people are C crummy, which I don’t think is true. Some people are crummy communicators or you can only work with somebody. But then to make it auditable, to make it the most powerful promise, I’d say, here’s a roadmap. I think it’s going to take you six months and you’re going to have to practice in your first quarter is going to be a quarterly. 

Right? So that’s what I would do on, on, uh, on personal branding. And so, so what I would hope that happens is then he or she, uh, says to their buddy when they talk about, ah, boy, my earnings falls. I haven’t been doing so well. Or I, they ask me to make these big Yeah. Presentations to all staff and I do such a crummy job. And they’ll say, there’s this woman, Andrea, uh, and she, she will tell you what she can do and she’ll do it. Right. She’ll absolutely, absolutely do it. Yeah. Then then you’ve got a brand, right? Yeah. You’ve got a brand where, where people say, here’s your promise. And, and it’s, it’s been memorable enough that they can repeat it. Yeah. And, uh, and it was valuable to them. And they can vote that you can deliver it. And then you’re, you’re off to the races

ANDREA (02:54):

And you benefit from organic word of mouth, which is my dissertation research. I was gonna also add that your, your, uh, comments about promises. Remind me. I was interviewing one of my clients, one of my personal branding clients. I was interviewing some of her stakeholders to get input to her, her existing personal brand. And one of her clients said, she’s very dependable. She has a very high say, do ratio. And I was like, oh, that is gold. We all wanna have a high say do, do ratio. In fact, we as humans, as personally and professionally, right? We wanna be dependable. And then also the brands that we’re managing, you wanna have a high say, do ratio. It’s another way of putting you, you keep your promises,

ROGER (03:41):

Right? Absolutely. No say do is is keep promise for sure. Yeah. Yeah, yeah. I mean, again, the, the, the, the article, uh, that I, uh, that I wrote with Jan and Mimi, who are great to, great to work with, by the way, uh, um, LinkedIn folks, uh, I mean, like many of my <laugh> my articles star, it’s not, it’s not earth shattering no surprise when you think about it. Yeah. You, you know, you say, ah, that, that makes, that makes sense. And that’s again, a a lot of, for what it’s worth, my, my work, which is, which is bringing a way to think about something that is, that, that may not be earth shattering, but if you don’t think about it that way, you just don’t do it. Yeah. And, and you saw the little, the little thing on, on the, the Super Bowl, right. Super Bowl ads, and you know, how much a Super Bowl ad costs, uh, uh, Andrea, and, and even in that context, 60% ish of them in, in, in last year’s, uh, uh, super Bowl, and I bet it’ll be this for, in the Super Bowl a month from now. Yeah. Had no promise whatsoever. And, and so, so even though it makes sense when you say it, if people don’t have that framework in their head that says, I better, I better kind of, uh, you know, audit it, uh, for that. Um, and I, you know, so

ANDREA (05:05):

You, you’ve, I’ve worked

ROGER (05:06):

Forever with Proctor and Gamble, right? And, and, and so I, you know, I, I went to my friends there and said, and, and said, Hey, this is coming out and whatever. And, um, and a, a really senior guy there put together a series of com, uh, of ed copy for me. Yeah. And he wanted to review with me together because he had come to a confusion on, and he wanted to understand whether it was, and, and he said, he said, and, and, and it was five ads. And, and he asked me, you know, at the end, do you know why I put them in the order? I did. And I, and I said, yeah, the promises were less memorable, valuable, deliverable, uh, kind of, uh, at the first one, all, all the way, they’re still okay. ’cause they’re proctor and they’re really good. Uh, but he said, even Hmm, even within our ads, there’s a variability on this front. And I, uh, now that I’ve, now it’s sort of, now that I’ve, now that I’ve understood the, the data here more Yeah. That variability, you know, there’s no good reason for, for allowing that to, to happen,

ANDREA (06:10):

Right? So, like you said, it’s not rocket science, but you’ve come up with a framework. And, and by the way, I wanna, um, just note to the regular listeners of talk about talk. They know I’m a huge fan of the power of three. You’ve identified three criteria against which brand marketing campaigns can be evaluated rather objectively, right? Yes. When the advertising agency comes, or the promotional agency comes and presents, here are our three ideas. Here’s our, our leading idea. What do you think? Are you gonna approve this? Instead of like, oh, I like it because of this, or not because of this, or trying to sound, sound quote unquote strategic. You can say, here’s the three criteria. I’m putting it against me. Is it memorable? Is it valuable? And is it a deliverable promise? Yes or no, it’s approved or not approved. I think, yes, in the same thing by the way that, um, my three point self introduction framework, you talk about your present self, you establish your superpower, then you establish credibility by talking about your past. So it’s present, past, and then future. You make an enthusiastic statement about the future working with the person. It’s not rocket science, but it’s a framework that you can use in your, in your mind that, that, um, alleviate some of the anxiety associated with self introductions. And it works. So, yeah.


Okay. And,

ROGER (07:30):

And it’s important. And it’s important. I mean, I know this slightly off topic too, but, but, but, and this is your more or your old world of ads and, and dealing with ad agencies and the like, unfortunately, ad agencies have a, have a different metric, uh, than than their clients.

ANDREA (07:47):

I know. They do.

ROGER (07:49):

What’s their metric,

ANDREA (07:50):

Right? They’re trying to win awards.

ROGER (07:52):

You got it.

ANDREA (07:53):

Right. I know <laugh>. I know,

ROGER (07:56):

I know. You know, that’s why I, that’s why I asked that que that that listeners will, will understand that, that that’s not a obvious, obvious answer. Right. You had to, you had to be an insider kind of to know, but that’s what they want.

ANDREA (08:08):

Yeah. I mean, and the real power is

ROGER (08:10):

What they have on their desks, plaques in their office. It’s not, we increase sales this much for this client. It’s, I got that con lion, uh, kind of, uh, award. And so that’s why it’s so important is you’ve got to audit them because they are not interested in what you are most interested in. Right. And if you think otherwise, you know, you, you will be, you’ll be sadly disappointed. Repeatedly

ANDREA (08:36):

True. True. Okay. Are you ready to answer the three rapid fire questions?

ROGER (08:44):

Sure. Sure.

ANDREA (08:45):

Question number one, are you an introvert or an extrovert

ROGER (08:49):

Introvert in spades?

ANDREA (08:52):

And how does that affect your communication?

ROGER (08:55):

Um, I, you know, I, I just have to make sure that I am, uh, well rested before important communications. Oh. So if, if I were to have had, uh, back to back to back beatings before this, uh, and not had a chance to just settle and, and recharge, uh, I, I, hopefully I’ve done an okay job. Yeah. I would’ve done a crappy job Yeah. At doing it because my brain would’ve been like this. Yeah. And I would’ve been depleted in, in energy. So it’s more, it’s more about prep for communication because people don’t understand about introverts. Introverts are, are like, like people as much as other people know that introverts simply lose energy by interacting with other people. Extroverts gain energy, uh, uh, from interacting with, uh, uh, with other, other people. And so you have, you have to protect, introvert has to protect their energy for important communications.

ANDREA (09:59):

Agree. So, a lot of people conflate introversion with shyness, and they in fact are orthogonal. If you define shyness as social anxiety, it’s, it’s a, it’s a completely different concept, right? From, from introversion. It really is about managing your energy. If you wanna, if you wanna leverage your superpower. If you’re an introvert, you’re also probably a great listener, right? And there, there are great things associated with it, managing your energy as an introvert or as an extrovert. Um, I used to come home from board meetings at 10, 10 30 at night, and I’d be wired because I was, I was as an extrovert full of energy. And I, and I realized then I needed to figure out a way of managing my energy that way. So, okay. These rapid fire questions are not, are not going very rapid. Second question. What are your communication pet peeves or pet peeve?

ROGER (10:47):

Uh, elliptical, uh, introductions. Right? Where it’s like really, I, I, I would rather, I would rather go right into what you’re gonna gonna say, um, uh, and, and not leave people guessing. And so when some people, when somebody come used to come into my office as dean and, and start talking about stuffing, and, and I, and I don’t know what it’s about. I, I, I just like, it’s, it, it starts to get under my, my skin. And I will often, I would often do a timeout. Could we just subject, yeah. Could we have a subject of this meeting?

ANDREA (11:28):

Did you read, uh, did you read the book Smart Brevity?

ROGER (11:31):

No, no. Is good. Oh,

ANDREA (11:33):

Highly recommend. So you’ll even like the format of it, um, in terms production quality. So the whole point of smart brevity is tell me what you’re gonna tell me. Tell me how long it’s gonna take and why I’m gonna read this, and then, and what the point is. Right. And then gimme the details. Uh,

ROGER (11:51):

Boom. I’m, I’m, I’m with it. Who, who’s, what kind of person has written it? Is it an

ANDREA (11:55):

Acronym? Acronym? Uh, it’s the three co-founders of Axios.

ROGER (11:59):

Oh. Oh, interesting. Yeah. Fascinating. Okay. Okay. That, that sounds Well,

ANDREA (12:04):

I’ll put a link, link to that in the show notes as well. Yeah. Okay. Third question. Is there a podcast that you find yourself recommending lately?

ROGER (12:16):

Well, I, I’ll tell you what my favorite podcast is. It’s the Farnham Street Knowledge Project podcast. Uh, and it’s a Canadian guy who used to be in, in, uh, uh, in csis, who has gone and done and, and, and done this, uh, this podcast. It’s called The Knowledge Project. And it’s, it’s my favorite to be interviewed by. And that’s probably like, I, I, my, my greatest, uh, interaction with podcasts is who I’m, who I’m what podcast I’m interviewed by. That, that, and the podcast he did, uh, with me was my, uh, I’ve gotten the most positive feedback from people listening to that, of any podcast I’ve ever, I’ve ever done. Wow.

ANDREA (13:02):

Something to aspire to.

ROGER (13:03):

Yeah. Yes. Well, absolutely. Absolutely.

ANDREA (13:06):

What about, uh, what about, I also

ROGER (13:07):

Love Tiff, Tiffany Bova, I don’t know if you ever listened to her, Tiffany Bova. Yep. She, she does a, uh, a good, uh, a good podcast.


ANDREA Alright. Thank you. Roger. Is there anything else you wanna add about establishing thought leadership about the right way to build your brand and or about personal branding or maybe a meta comment about how to

ROGER (13:57):

Well, you, you, you, you, you’ve got a love doing it. Um, so people often ask me, you know, Roger, you write so much. Right? The medium column, the, uh, practitioner inside is, is the equivalent in length, the four playing the wins. And they say, how can you write so much? How do you carve out time? And I said, well, that would be like asking my older brother who loves golf, how does he possibly, and he is a, he runs a big business, but he plays 75 rounds of golf a year, maybe a hundred for all I know, but 70, 75, at least. Now, Rick, how on earth could you possibly find the time to fit it in? He loves it. He’s gonna find, he’s gonna find the time. So don’t try to be a public thought leader if you don’t love the activities involved. If you’re an executive, right. If you run an organization of some sorts, you’re gonna have to work on your private thought leadership, right? Regardless. But public thought leadership is a lot of work. And if you love it, do it. And if you don’t, I just wouldn’t try and make yourself or force yourself to be it. ’cause you’re not gonna be any good.

ANDREA (15:12):

Right. I love your distinction between public and private thought leadership. Um, I thank you very much for publicly sharing your ideas and suggestions and advice with the listeners. Thank you so much, Roger.

ROGER (15:27):

Hey, it’s, it’s my pleasure. And I, and I, and I gotta say, I’m, I couldn’t be happier to see how your career has developed and evolved since your time at, at, at the Rotman School. Like, I think it’s, it’s just cool that you’ve carved your own way, right? You recall, right. From the world of academia. Yeah. It’s really, really specific, right? It’s like you become a assistant professor, then you do this set of things, then you become an associate. And it’s all quite programmed, more programmed than I thought until I got in, into it. Um, and I love the fact that you’ve created your own programming and, and are doing such wonderful stuff. So it makes me, it makes me happy.

ANDREA (16:10):

Aw, thank you so much for sharing that, roger. That really, that really means a lot. Thank you.

ROGER (16:14):

Not at all. Not at all.




Thanks again so much to Roger Martin for so generously sharing his insights about thought leadership and building your brand. As you can probably tell, I really enjoyed that conversation. It occured to me about halfway through that I kept mentioning I was going to put links to things in the show notes. There’s quite a list of resources, including his HBR video with 3.4M views, the Michael Porter video. Rogers podcast recommendations and many other things that were mentioned.  Again, its all in the show notes for you. I encourage you to take a look.


Now, as promised, I’m going to summarize with three of the main points from our conversation. Of course three!


The first point is the distinction between private and public thought leadership. Roger made the very astute point that as leaders, we must develop at least private thought leadership. Your organization needs to know as a leader what you stand for, what you care about and why. That said, you do not need to be a public thought leader in order to be an effective leader.


The next point is advice for PUBLIC thought leaders. I love this quote from Roger, he said. Quote, don’t try to be a public thought leader if you don’t love the activities involved. If you run an organization, you’re going to have to work on your private thought leadership regardless. But public thought leadership is a lot of work. And if you love it, do it. And if you don’t, I just wouldn’t try to force yourself ’cause you’re not going to be any good. 

This is fantastic advice!


The other advice for public thought leaders that Roger shared was about the cadence of publication. When I asked him about his thoughts in terms of media for thought leadership – Should we write a book? Should we do a Ted talk? Should we focus exclusively on one media or try go broad? His answer was completely different. He suggests that as PUBLIC thought leaders, we should publish at a regular cadence. Why? Because people aur habit driven. And that’s why he publishes his medium articles at the same time every week. And that’s why I publish this Talk about Talk podcast every two weeks on Monday morning at 1:00 AM Eastern. And also why I publish the coaching e-mail newsletter every week on Wednesday. 


The last point I want to reinforce is from Roger’s. Article THE RIGHT WAY TO BUILD YOUR BRAND. And it’s this. When we’re evaluating a brand message – perhaps an ad campaign or maybe even thinking about our own personal brand, You need to make a PROMISE. And you can evaluate that promise in terms of the three criteria: Is it Memorable, is it valuable and is it deliverable. Do you keep your promise. Suddenly the evaluation of performance marketing, which previously was a very subjective task, can at least become a little bit more objective.


This is a significant insight associated with evaluating advertising and I think it’s going to make a big impact in the advertising world. Another great example of Roger Martin’s thought leadership. Thanks again to Roger very much for taking time to share his thought leadership with us.


Alright – that’s it! I hope you learned some valuable nuggets to inform your own thought leadership and building your brand. Please connect with me and let me know! 

You can message me on LinkedIn. Please connect with me if we’re not connected already. And if you go to the website, you can leave me a voicemail message. I would love to hear your voice or you can fill out the contact form that’s in the about section. Anyway, I would love to hear from you. Thank you so much for listening and talk soon.

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