I've been reading marketing/business books ever since my last year of high school, and if there's a constant among the great ones, it's being able to distill the main message from 300 or so pages of babble into one memorable, four-word-maximum, catchphrase.
A partial list:
- Positioning by Al Ries and Jack Trout
- In Search of Excellence by Tom Peters and Robert H. Waterman
- Good To Great by Jim Collins
- The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell
- Being Digital by Nicholas Negroponte
- The Singularity is Near by Ray Kurzweil
- Permission Marketing by Seth Godin
- The Black Swan by Nassim Nicholas Taleb
- Made to Stick by Chip Heath and Dan Heath
Yet a snappy, t-shirt friendly, concise catchphrase alone isn't nearly enough. To be a true "classic," said catchphrase needs to enter the general everyday vernacular and become a label; a label that embodies a theme and earns immediate nods of recognition and relevance whenever it is mentioned.
Last week, I heard what may be the next great one...and the best part is that it is yet to become a book (which means that perhaps I can convince the guy who uttered it to let me co-author it with him).
The phrase is "Vibe Manager," and it was brought up by Bertrand Cesvet at a Montreal Board of Trade breakfast gathering. Bert is the affable chairman of the Sid Lee, and during his early-morning speech, he talked about certain people at his agency whose job it is to enter offices and meeting rooms and alter the mood amongst those gathered in a positive manner.
A couple of things here. First, I know this all sounds a tad overly "touch-feely"; and second, I'm not sure if "Vibe Manager" is an actual Sid Lee title and/or singular job function.
What I do know though, is the absolute necessity to have 'em around.
In a company, "Vibe Managers"may not be the most valuable players or highest paid, but like the fringe player on a sports team who's "good in the room," their importance is disproportionate to their position on the org chart. Over my years at Just For Laughs, at Airborne Mobile, or on any of the dozens of fundraising/charitable cause committees I've sat on, having that one special person who is remarkably able to either diffuse tension and/or infuse enthusiasm with one well-timed comment is invaluable.
But as anyone who has ever entered a work environment can tell you, "Vibe Management" can go two ways. Perhaps even more powerful than the enlighteners are the toxic buzz-killers who can deflate, defeat and demoralize in one fell swoop, and do so with a twisted smile on their faces.
It's a soft science that may be too utopian for most to fathom, but given the increasing pressures of the coprorare environment, perhaps Bert is onto something with the need for professional, positive "Vibe Managers." These people may not be armed with the solutions to all our problems, but can at least pave the way and help make it easier for those whose job it is to find them.
P.S. Hey, look what I just found! Guess these folks really DO exist...