Lessons on the Anniversary of “I’d like my life back…”

Posted on Friday June 1, 2012 in | 6306 Comment(s)

Two years ago yesterday BP CEO Tony Hayward inadvertently got his wish when, in the thick of the Deepwater Horizon disaster, he told a press conference, “I want my life back.”   He was sacked soon thereafter.  In the battle for public opinion – for trust, support, the benefit of the doubt – Hayward lost.  It was a failure of leadership on a massive scale.  And it began with a failure of communication.  And that failure, in turn, was a failure of discipline.

Hayward’s blunder is not unique to him.  It should be a wakeup call to CEOs and other leaders, to all whose leadership responsibilities require inspiring trust and confidence verbally. 

Whatever else leadership may be, it is experienced publicly. While it may emanate from within, it is a public phenomenon.  And however technically proficient someone may be, if her or she does not communicate effectively, he or she will not lead well. Communication has power.  But as with any form of power, it needs to be harnessed effectively or it can all too often backfire. 

In 33 years of advising leaders on the actions and communication needed to win, keep, or restore public confidence, I have concluded that many leaders, much of the time, fundamentally misunderstand communication. This misunderstanding has consequences: corporations lose competitive advantage; NGOs find it harder to fulfill their mission; religious denominations lose the trust and confidence of their followers; nations diminish their ability to protect citizens and achieve national security goals.


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CommPro.Biz excerpted The Power of Communication, focusing on last summer’s Netflix fiasco

Posted on Tuesday May 22, 2012 in | 423 Comment(s)

CommPro.biz excerpted the Power of Communication, focusing on the need to take audiences seriously:

Will We See a Netflix Summer Sequel? How Brands Can Rebuild Trust and Inspire Loyalty

Posted on May 21, 2012 in Crisis Communications, Public Relations

By Helio Fred Garcia, Author, The Power of Communication: Skills to Build Trust, Inspire Loyalty, and Lead Effectively

Let’s hope Netflix doesn’t see a summer sequel this year. While it was easy to critique the company during its Qwikster fiasco a year ago, it’s looking like a third of its new customers are actually returning customers who were angered and disgusted.

Forgive and forget? Maybe for Netflix’ subscribers—but its shareholders aren’t yet hopping on the bandwagon, according to Daily Finance and other media sources. There’s a reason for that—and a lesson for all other companies.

Let’s dig into it here:

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Excerpt in FastCompany.com

Posted on Tuesday May 8, 2012 in | 1 Comment(s)

FastCompany excerpted Chapter 9 of the book: Audiences: Attention, Retention, and How Hearts and Minds are Won:

Expert Perspective
Hijacking Emotion Is The Key To Engaging Your Audience
BY Helio Fred Garcia | 05-08-2012 | 9:45 AM
This article is written by a member of our expert contributor community.

The default to emotion is part of the human condition.

To better appreciate the role of emotion and what it allows an audience to do, we need to take a brief detour into evolutionary biology. The human brain can be understood as three separate brains working in tandem, if not completely integrated with each other.

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Winning Hearts and Minds at a National Level

Posted on Sunday April 29, 2012 in | 6167 Comment(s)

Marrakech Mosque at Sunset

Over the past 8 months I have had the good fortune to spend time in Beijing, Paris, Zurich, and Marrakech, Morocco, speaking with leaders of governments, the military, religious institutions, humanitarian organizations, universities, and other social institutions.  And in my travels I detected something I hadn’t noticed before: a meaningful deterioration in the regard with which the United States is held.  Not about particular events, but a general decline in respect and admiration.  Not of Americans, but of the nation’s role in the world. 

I’ll blog about this more later, but Sunday’s New York Times has a series of pieces that prompt me to revisit those observations and also to use them as a teachable moment to illustrate some key principles from my latest book.

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The Book is Now Available!

Posted on Sunday April 29, 2012 in | 0 Comment(s)


I am pleased to announce that The Power of Communication: Skills to Build Trust, Inspire Loyalty, and Lead Effectively is now in circulation.

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