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4 New Year’s Resolutions for CEOs

The start of the new year is a great time to review where you are, what happened last year, and where you are going in the future. Here are 4 lessons leaders in all industries can use to succeed in 2016.

1. Keep Your Enemies Close. Your biggest rival may be the perfect bedfellow. And we don’t need to look any farther than the media industry to see proof of this.

In November, legacy publisher Condé Nast bought music-tastemaker magazine Pitchfork Media to give it access to millennials and live events. For much the same reason, NBC/Comcast poured $200 million into Vox Media and $250 million into BuzzFeed this past summer. CNN launched a digital news network called GBS (Great Big Story) for “urban-located, globally curious 25-to-35-year-olds” to compete with BuzzFeed, which has a potential TV deal with NBCUniversal and Vice Media (with its forthcoming newscast on HBO).

These moves challenge the accepted dichotomy that its speed vs. scale, disruptor vs. legacy company. As it turns out, your biggest rival may have a lot to offer.

“Which social media platform should you be on? Here’s a pro-tip: use all of them: social, apps, web, TV, billboards, podcasts, and brick and mortar.”

2. It’s an Omnichannel World. Social media, television, smart devices, apps, billboards, podcasts…there seems to be an endless array of platforms to make you and your business present. Which one should you be on? Here’s a pro-tip: use all of them: social, apps, web, TV, billboards, podcasts, and brick and mortar.

That’s Target’s plan. Instead of being up-ended by the growth of e-commerce and all-in-one online retailers like Amazon, the big box retailer has countered by utilizing the latest technology to meet customers on as many platforms as possible.

Target’s “Holiday Odyssey” campaign was the latest incarnation of this, creating a cross-channel adventure story that was featured on television, online, and in smart devices, while featuring characters from all of today’s hot licensed toys. Guess where the story ends? Inside a Target store.

It was a particularly timely decision and an important crossroad for big box retailers since over 50% of Black Friday shoppers opted for e-commerce this year, while  37% of online sales were from smartphones – up from 131% from the previous year.

Lesson: there’s more than one way to reach your market. Where are you missing out on potential opportunity?

3. Facilitate Experimentation. We all know the importance of incubating innovative ideas; but how can we do it quickly, efficiently and with low-risk? Look no further than from recent trends in the food industry.

Specifically, the rise of “urban food halls” like Adele Yellin’s Grand Central Market in downtown Los Angeles, Atlanta’s 9,000 feet Krog Street Market, Philadelphia’s Reading Terminal Market, and Seattle’s Pike Place Market are a perfect example. The move has also caught the attention of Anthony Bourdain. The celebrity chef hopes to create something similar in New York with his $60-million planned food hall on Pier 57 in New York City.The multi-vendor spaces are not just rethinking how we dine, but are also pushing food culture in exciting and new directions with things like ramen burgers and Korean tacos.

But most importantly, these spaces offer up-and-coming restaurants and chefs a way to test and experiment relatively risk-free due to the low overhead and rotating vendor spaces.

4. Learn from Your Disruptors.Disruptors upend for a reason: there was an untapped market and an enhanced way of doing things. But instead of letting them leave you in the dust, the question should be: What can I learn from them to stay relevant?

Big names in the hotel industry such as Hyatt, Starwood and Marriott are doing just that by learning and responding from their disruptors like Airbnb—which has found popularity connecting travelers looking for an authentic experience to people and places previously difficult to reach in popular tourist areas.

As a response, these hotel chains have begun to roll out new “lifestyle” hotels with bigger and better public spaces, ideally with a lively bar; local touches, like neighborhood running routes or city-specific foods; a shared work lounge; and grab-and-go food (or knock-and-drop room service). But maybe more importantly, the take away is that these moves showcase a willingness to go beyond their comfort zones and usual way of doing things to pivot with the transformations of the industry their disruptors have sparked.



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