Global Marketing

Leveraging the Chapman Advantage to Demystify the Boardroom

Countless decisions are made in all types of organizations every day. Being an inquisitive person, I have always wondered how these decisions come to be made. Many of us hear about the latest organizational initiative from public statements by a company’s CEO or the President of a non-profit institution. However, what is less commonly known is that the vast majority of these decisions start with a pitch behind closed doors to an organization’s board of directors. I have always been curious about what happened behind those doors, and when I decided to get my Executive MBA, gaining boardroom experience was at the top of my list of objectives.

The opportunity to achieve this objective came in the form of an intriguing conversation with Dean Reginald Gilyard of Chapman University’s Argyros School of Business. The school was holding an event at the Angels Stadium for prospective students to learn more about the program and meet fellow members of the Chapman community. While enjoying discussions with fellow prospects, I had the opportunity to convey my boardroom interest to Dean Gilyard. As our conversation carried into the 11th inning, I realized that the Dean and I were the only two people left at the event, watching the Angels outlasted the Athletics 2-1. Leaving the stadium the Dean, Reggie by this point, encouraged me that while the school did not have a formal course on the subject there was the opportunity at Chapman to create just the sort of experience I was looking for. Thus began my journey…

Once I made it through my introductory EMBA class I reached out to Reggie to set up a meeting to further discuss the boardroom idea. In preparation for our meeting I researched which of the top 50 EMBA programs across the country offered courses or programs similar to the one I had envisioned. To my surprise I found few programs even included governance as part of their curriculum and only one that focused on the boardroom experience, which happened to be the number one rated program nationally. With this research in hand I met with Dean Gilyard to continue our discussion of the boardroom concept. We agreed that with the timeline available, a full course on boardroom dynamics would be difficult to create, so our focus turned to developing a seminar for EMBA students and alumni to attend panel discussions with local board members and executives to discuss their boardroom experiences. We discussed some potential formats such as holding one seminar on public boards and another on private and non-profit boards. With activist investors being a hot topic at the time, we also discussed an initial seminar to outline the basic functions of boards followed by more detailed seminars delving into how boards should handle the various challenges and opportunities that arise in today’s global business environment.

Once we had an outline for the seminar’s format we began to discuss the various benefits of the continuing event as part of the EMBA program at Chapman University. One of the key aspects that stood out to us was the simplicity of the idea and the absence of anything like it in other MBA programs. We felt this could evolve into a key differentiator for the school’s EMBA program both from an educational quality perspective but also from a marketing perspective. The event would help students acquire valuable knowledge of the environment many EMBA students hope to be in as well as critical networking exposure with local business leaders. The event could also serve to create awareness within the business community of Chapman’s commitment to the practical education offered by the school’s MBA programs.

With the seminar’s format in place I then met with Chapman’s administration team to work towards holding our first event during the Spring Semester. Working closely with Debra Gonda and Darryl Stevens we were able to arrange funding for the event, reserve a meeting space, and begin the process of locating potential panelists. The school’s strong connections to the business community proved to be critically important in recruiting panelists for our event. Many of the business leaders we discussed the idea with were intrigued by the seminars value to students and were eager to participate. Once we had our event date and location set, I then solicited input from fellow EMBA students for topics that they wanted to have discussed at the seminar. These topics ranged from basic questions relating to the duties of a board member and the ideal size of boards. Others were more involved such as whether to separate the positions of Board Chairman and CEO as well as the types of liability directors can face. With the agenda in hand and our panelists set we were ready for the inaugural boardroom seminar.

The day of the event brought a great deal of excitement for me because what had started as a personal learning objective was now being realized with hard work and collaboration. Our event turnout was strong with over 40 people in attendance.  Watching the students mingle with the panelists and alumni I felt a sense of accomplishment before the event had even begun. Dean Gilyard moderated the discussion and got us underway by introducing the panelists and giving a synopsis of their professional backgrounds. Our panelists in attendance were Parker Kennedy the chairman of the board for First American Financial corp., Don Bailey the former CEO Questcore and current board member of Mallinckrodt, as well as Michael Mulroy a current board member of Biotime Inc with a background in investment banking and experience as general council to many public boards. The discussion was very informative and included a vigorous 45 minutes of Q&A from EMBA students and alumni.

BoardRoom Collage

Feedback from the event’s participants revealed three distinct themes. The first was that the value we had hoped to deliver with the Boardroom Seminar was realized by students both from an educational standpoint as well as serving as a networking opportunity. The second theme was the event’s success in promoting Chapman to the local business community. This theme was beneficial in marketing the university from two perspectives. First from the perspective of the panelists some of which were not already members of the Chapman community and second from the perspective of the attendees, particularly the alumni, who enjoyed the event so much they conveyed their desire to bring clients and colleagues to future events. The third theme was the unanticipated perspective that panelists gained by engaging in discussions about boardroom cultures outside of their own institutions. This proved to be the most surprising benefit of the seminar which further advanced the event’s positive feedback.

In light of these themes and the enthusiastic feedback from participants, Chapman’s administration team is considering the possibility of continuing the event on a semi-annual basis. They are also contemplating ways to further incorporate boardroom dynamics into the Chapman Executive MBA program’s promotional material as a way to differentiate the program from regional competitors and stimulate the school’s status at the national level. Having experienced the power of the Chapman advantage, I can validate that if your goal is to make it behind the boardroom doors of your company, Chapman University’s Executive MBA from the Argyros School of Business is the place to make that objective a reality.

I hope to see you on campus in the Fall for the next Boardroom Seminar!

Global Marketing

Surviving a Timeshare Presentation

Have you ever been sucked into a timeshare or resort package presentation? You know, the one where you have to give up 90 minutes (a.k.a. half a day) of your vacation time to listen to a high-pressure sales pitch, usually in return for a gift in exchange for said time? I recently had my first, and presumably my last, such experience.

Upon checking in at a resort in Cancun, Mexico this past December, my husband and I were immediately approached by a Legendary Preferred Destinations representative. Diana, a petite woman with a sweet demeanor and a kind smile, seemed innocuous enough, but that’s how it starts. Before you know it, with promises of a no-pressure, no-obligation presentation, which included family tickets to a nearby adventure recreation park that was already on our vacation itinerary (saving us $300), we were signed up for a 90-minute information session to take place the next morning.

An alarm bell should have sounded when we were told to make sure to bring a credit card and driver’s license, as well as that my husband and I both had to be there for the presentation; they don’t want the excuse of “I need to discuss this with my wife/husband,” only to leave and never return. Well, you know how alarm bells are – there’s always a snooze button.

When I heard “presentation,” I imagined a room with chairs set up for a large group of people and a speaker going through power point slides about all the great things that their program has to offer. It wasn’t like that at all; we had our very own presenter. Over breakfast, he started off by asking us questions about our travel destinations, expenditures, habits, etc. He then gave us a tour of the resort’s deluxe rooms, members-only private pools, and informed us of all the great amenities that are for exclusive use to members. We definitely felt the wow factor, which he could tell by the glazed looks that were starting to show on our faces.

He then took us into another room, one that was filled with small round tables, with three chairs to every table. They were mostly filled with other couples and a program representative. He led us to an empty table, and we sat down to talk about the numbers. This is where the relentless, high-pressure, sell really kicks in. We were already past the 90 minutes, and I started getting anxious about the kids and what they were doing – did they have breakfast, are they looking for us, do they want to know our plans for the day, etc.

Admittedly, he was a very good salesman, with all the right marketing material, and the offer was a great value; however, it wasn’t flexible enough for the type of travel my husband and I prefer to do. The representative just wouldn’t take “no” for an answer, always coming back with a better offer. We tried it all, “No thank you,” “No, that won’t work for us,” “NO!” “NO, NO, NO!”


We finally walked out without signing on the dotted line. Side note, the kids were just fine; it turns out that teenagers in an all-inclusive Cancun resort don’t really notice that their parents are gone.

Have you had a timeshare experience? Positive? Negative?

Global Marketing

Advertising’s Disruptive Evolution

Have you ever wondered whether your company’s latest advertising campaign was effective in reaching its target market? The evolution of the digital landscape has forced marketers in all industries to reevaluate their business models in order to remain competitive with the latest start-up staffed by disruptive entrepreneurs and tech-savvy web developers. The emergence of internet-based marketing platforms such as Google, Twitter, and Facebook have upended the status quo of public relations and left legacy advertising agencies searching for ways to keep pace.


One of the companies embracing this challenge is Hill Holiday, a Boston based advertising firm with over 40 years of marketing expertise serving firms such as Johnson & Johnson, Chili’s, and Merrill Lynch. The company’s latest solution is an in-house incubation start-up deemed Project Beacon. This group isn’t developing the next Super Bowl commercial or trade show event, but is instead, focused on experimenting with the latest digital technology to help clients better allocate their marketing budgets. Project Beacon’s latest product, BrandFeed, does just that by providing an analytics platform for marketers to view the success of their latest marketing investment in real time. The BrandFeed subscription enables companies to actively monitor their social media campaign and quantitatively discern whether their intended message is adequately capturing their target audiences. This service provides marketers with the tools needed to measure success rates in ways that were previously unavailable or fractured among various services. This latest product represents just one of the many applications Project Beacon has developed to help clients manage their digital presence in the evolving digital landscape.


The advertising industry’s emphasis on product development as a supplement to promotional campaigns represents a paradigm shift in the advertising world that has only just begun.  One of the ways this trend is having an impact is by changing the revenue model of the legacy marketing firm. The traditional model was for firms to bill clients for the hours worked crafting their next campaign concept and developing the various elements to implement that campaign such as a series of commercials or ad placements. This model ensured that marketing firms were compensated irrespective of the success of their individual campaigns. This caused the primary brand equity for a traditional advertising agency to be the reputation they had acquired in the marketplace over time. Project Beacon embodies Clayton M. Christensen’s concept of disruptive innovation within this context of the traditional advertising agency. Project Beacon is Hill Holliday’s attempt to bring disruptive innovation in-house before the latest Silicon Valley start-up does it for them. Professor Edward Boches of Boston University put it best when he said, “The smart agencies have learned that they have to disrupt themselves before they get disrupted.”


I believe the new revenue model has followed another one of Christensen’s concepts which is the ‘Job to be Done’ framework. Much in the way one would “hire” LinkedIn to help expand their professional network, modern marketing agencies now realize that they are not being hired to simply create and develop the client’s next campaign, but to also be able to quantify the campaigns success in achieving the client’s targeting objectives. This new model has been rejuvenated to compensate firms for actually creating value rather than simply by hours billed. A critical component of this model is being able to quantify the success of the campaign in real time. By being able to quantify the successful elements within a campaign, marketers can adjust their advertising mix and better utilize the marketing budgets at their disposal to capture the customers they value so deeply. How is your marketing department or advertising agency quantifying the success of its latest campaign?

Global Marketing

YouTube’s Successful Millennial Capture

My teenagers may not have a clue who Eddie Redmayne, Julianne Moore, or Benedict Cumberbatch are – all nominees for 2015 Oscars in a leading role – but give them a name like Felix Arvid Ulf Kjellberg, and watch their eyes light up. Felix Arvid Ulf Kjellberg, aka online persona PewDiePie, is a Swedish online gamer who has the highest level of subscribers of any YouTube channel ever. With over 34 million subscribers and over 7.9 billion video views, Felix Arvid Ulf Kjellberg is a YouTube celebrity! This is the changing world of Millennials.

Millennials, also known as the Millennial Generation, are born between the early 1980s to the late 1990s, generally making their age range today to be between 16 to 35 years.

I recently had the pleasure of having lunch with Rania Succar, Head of North America Brand Solutions at Google, leading the market strategy and product commercialization for YouTube in North America. Rania spoke about Millennials and how they are the main drivers of change in media consumption. “This is a generation of content creators – which is precisely why YouTube is so successful in capturing this audience.” YouTube’s ease of use, large database of video content, and free price tag for usage are key success factors for drawing in Millennials. They feel that it is empowering to have a tool at their fingertips that they can use to broadcast a message, influence people, or just make people laugh.

For Millennials, YouTube is currently the dominant video platform; 98% of this age group reported watching videos on their mobile phone on a daily basis. This is an astounding 42% higher than on computers and 17% higher than on TV. This ranges from cat videos, to news and entertainment, to just about anything you can search for. Among the Millennial Generation, YouTube is also becoming more and more interactive; 9% share or comment on videos each month. As one Millennial put it, “It makes for a better entertainment experience.”

All of this points to a marketer’s dream! It’s no surprise that Millennials rely on YouTube for purchasing decisions – it has become their top destination for learning about products and services. Here are just two examples:

  • 66% of beauty product purchasers say that YouTube influenced their purchases by helping them “visualize how products fit into their lives.”
  • 62% of smart phone purchasers indicated that YouTube influenced their purchase with reviews and how-to videos.

I personally tend to skip online videos and go straight for the text – which is a good indication that I’m way past the 16-35 age group demographics. Hmmm, perhaps I should review the next anti-aging product on YouTube.

Global Marketing

Speed Reading 2.0

  • Have you ever wanted to read that great new book but just cannot find the time?
  • Perhaps you’ve made a New Year’s resolution to read more, only to give it up after a few weeks.
  • Or maybe you are like me and have had 3 or 4 news articles that you just can’t seem to get to because of everything else you have going on in your life.


There is a great new solution that readers of all skill levels can use to solve these common challenges. The solution is a new platform called Spritz. Spritz was launched in February of 2014 at the World Mobile Conference in Barcelona and was founded by a team which consists of an entrepreneur, a scientist and a technologist. The platform uses a reading technique the company has dubbed “Optimal Recognition Point” or ORP to zero in on the certain point within each word that helps the reader process it’s meaning the quickest. These words are then presented where the reader is already looking rather than the reader needing to scan across the page. The beauty of this method is that it allows you to read without moving your eyes which enhances the speed at which readers can comprehend the information they are reading. Readers can then set their desired speed anywhere from 100 to 1,000 words per minute. Spritz is now partnering with developers, publishers and even movie studios to disseminate its technology and capture customers throughout the market to adopt its technology. As a unique example, the technology was recently leveraged to promote the Universal’s major motion picture Lucy in 2014.


Check it out at:

I first found the technology when it was recently installed on the latest version of the Huffington Posts iOS app. Since I began using this I have been able to read three and four times as many articles, and have even found myself finish them! One of the brilliant aspects about the technology is the speed at which it can be adopted, particularly when compared to other speed reading techniques such as skimming. The company boasts that the process can be learned in less than 5 minutes and doesn’t have to be regularly used to continue to provide value.


Since being exposed to the technology with the Huffington Posts app, I have downloaded one of the many different speed reading apps which use the Spritz technology for reading anything from webpages to books that are compatible with document readers like Google Play Books. I am happy to report that I have increased my word count from 250 words per minute to 375 in just a short few weeks using the technology.


Media companies ranging from the Wall Street Journal to Gizmodo have featured the firm’s technology in their articles and reviews which have helped to increase the firms brand awareness. The marketing strategy the firm has leveraged is unique in that it has not developed or promoted any proprietary applications itself but has instead licensed its technology to content brands in an effort to bring more users into the Spritz experience. This promotion strategy recently helped the company raise more than $3.5 million in seed funding, but the company’s co-founder and CEO, Frank Waldman, remains more focused on the firm’s user expansion goals.  He recently stated in an article with TechCrunch that, “At this time, Spritz is focused on building a user community of 1 billion readers. We want everyone to make their apps and webpages ‘Spritzable.” He went on to say, “Our goal is to make Spritz available anywhere that our partners and their users think that it makes sense… Billions of readers around the world could soon be spritzing as way to effortlessly consume information.” Spritz’s promotion tactic of leveraging its licensees existing customer base has helped to draw more users into its experience as well as create a grassroots base of loyal users who promote its technology among their own social networks. While it will likely take more funding to reach its goal of 1 billion users, what is clear is that if the company can continue to capture new customers with its unique promotion strategy, the value of the technology will continue to sell itself.


Have you used ever used a Spritz based product or found another speed reading technique valuable? If so, please comment below. Happy reading!