A Winning Perspective: “It’s All About You”

The most frequently used word in advertising slogans is not “best” or “new” – it’s “you” (11%), followed by “your.” In fact, McDonald’s still heads the list of top 10 jingles of the century as decided by Advertising Age with its melodic 1974 ad “You Deserve a Break Today.” What this means to savvy marketers is this: The more you want to impress or influence your target audience, the less you say about yourself and the more you (honestly) say or suggest about them.

As emcee and/or judge of many business awards given during the year, I’m often asked what makes a winning nomination. How does one person or company get so much attention, while a competing company or promotion is overlooked? The answer: Like successful ad campaigns, successful people and companies make it all about everyone else. They shine the light out, in a 360-degree arc; that beacon of light attracts other lights, and suddenly they are in the spotlight.

The best example I can offer is Laurie Benson, honored as one of the most influential women in technology, and the woman behind Wisconsin’s “Make Mine a Million” contest. She’s an Athena Award recipient, a philanthropist, a Merlin mentor, and the founder and former CEO of Inacom. Many of you know her as a sought-after corporate board member, co-chair of UW Madison’s School of Nursing, or president of her new business, LSB Unlimited.

If you accept Laurie as a fine example of “success,” we need merely look at how she lives her professional life. She is a sterling example of servant leadership. Laurie Benson authentically listens to people and then visualizes win-win scenarios. She connects people to the benefit of all parties involved and gives supporting players credit whenever possible.

Servant leadership does not mean being a doormat or being all things to all people. She gets involved in those things she is passionate about and steps back from projects beyond her interest or expertise. But when involved, there is no “agenda” with Laurie – only an honest appraisal of market challenges and opportunities. And so, when there is an award to be given in an area she has contributed to, people want to nominate Laurie Benson (or vote for her) because she “gets” what is important to them.

Equally important, when in the spotlight herself, Laurie doesn’t spin or self-promote. And if asked to comment, she will deflect the attention and aim that spotlight outward, as far and wide as she can authentically shine the light.

In the end, it’s how she makes you feel about you that makes her so very special.

Sign up for the free IB Update – your weekly resource for local business news, analysis, voices, and the names you need to know. Click here. If you are not already a subscriber to In Business magazine, be sure to sign up for our monthly print edition here.