Archive | Leadership RSS feed for this section

Which of The Walking Dead characters would you want on your business crisis team?

21 Feb

Daryl is the coolest character in The Walking Dead

There’s always a lively discussion around the Copeland boardroom table on Monday mornings concerning the previous night’s episode of The Walking Dead.

Now that the TV series seems to be taking a welcome turn down a darker alley, the deeper natures of the main characters are coming to light.

Naturally that got me thinking how each would function in a crisis on your business team.

Who are the keepers and which ones should you best leave outside without a key?

Glen in IT

Glen is a survivor on The Walking DeadHe’s resourceful, ingenious and honest to a fault. But during the bar scene with Rick and Herschel – a quiet crisis that took maturity to spot – Glen was all set to give away the farm. His honesty and trusting nature would have spelled disaster for our castaways if Rick had not been there to moderate the discussion. Glen will panic. Yes he brings some interesting resources to the table, but he will bring disaster to you. Chuck him.

Rick, Managing Director

Rick is a survivor from The Walking DeadLike Glen, our Head Boy Scout is honest to the core. He is also growing a pair as the series matures. Does he make some woolly-headed decisions? He sure does. Leading those swamp zombies around like pets on a leash to appease Herschel? Poor strategy and no evidence of being quick on his feet. He wants to do the right thing and is ethical to a fault. But the business world is changing and he has finally realized he needs to change right along with it. Keep him.

Shane in Sales

Shane is a survivor from The Walking DeadAmbitious, unorthodox, disrespectful of authority (unless its his own) and a classic whack-a-doodle. He will do what no one else in your company will do to keep the business alive. He is the G. Gordon Liddy of the team. You turn him loose at your own peril. On the flip side, he will see the crisis coming while the rest of your team is playing kerplunk over chips and salsa around the boardroom table. He’s a survivor, but he will survive over your dead body. Your call.

Lori, Head of Marketing

Lori is a survivor from The Walking DeadYou can decry the lack of solid female characters until your throat is bleeding, but the smell will only attract the walkers. Lori – memorably nicked Olive Oyl by Daryl – has a big department to look after and often can’t see the forest for the trees. And she’s a mess behind the wheel. Yes, she’s loyal and has the MD’s back, but she also slept with Shane in Sales, so she’s not a pivotal person on your crisis team. Send her out to buy sandwiches. Don’t let her back in.

Dale in Accounting

Dale is a survivor in The Walking DeadHe’ll be tut-tutting everything that doesn’t line up with his own personal moral code, which makes him a bit of a negative-nelly-I-told-you-so irritant. He also has a smug satisfaction in being old school. The thing is, Dale has experience. He manages to keep his wits about him when all hell’s breaking loose and keeps his eye on the guns. He also knows a rat in the woodpile when he sees one: that kind of insight could prove useful. I say keep Dale, but keep him quiet.

Andrea, Research and Development

Andrea is a survivor in The Walking DeadShe sees that Shane in Sales is ambitious and gravitates to him as the future of the company, which has alienated others on the team. On the other hand, she is one of your superstars, growing by leaps and bounds, and crisis invigorates her. She is best utilized in a supporting role for now. Turn her loose on crisis management best practices and have her deliver a white paper to the entire team. Give her some responsibility that recognizes her forward progress – but mind her blinders when it comes to backing the wrong horse.

Daryl the general contractor

Daryl is a survivor in  The Walking DeadJust because he’s under the sink hooking up the dishwasher hose again for the hundredth time doesn’t mean he isn’t listening. Or learning. Who cares right? He’s not even on the team! He’s just some contractor who’s always there fixing things. Well pay attention to the working class guy. This redneck sees past the business bullshit to the true nature of a crisis. Is it a lack of intestinal heft on the team? Are you over-thinking the problem or over-reacting to it? Daryl’s your guy. He’s not a people person, but he’s a problem solver. He’s handy with a Bowie knife too and doesn’t suffer Shane’s ambitions. Just don’t expect him to hang around if a better job comes along.

Herschel, the Chairman

Herschel is a survivor in The Walking DeadCrisis does one of two things to people: convinces them they are not up to the task, in which case they turn to drink, or forces them to change and grow. Your old Chairman has been doing things his way for so long, it’s hard to imagine him changing at this stage. The technology scares him, he hates social media and doesn’t know what the hell you mean by cross-analyzing the data sets. But he didn’t get to where he is without entrepreneurial skills and a willingness to roll up his sleeves. Since Dale is such a wet tea bag, put Hershel front and centre on your crisis team as the voice of experience. Just make sure Daryl is standing behind him with a loaded crossbow.

Carol in Human Resources

Carol is a survivor in The Walking DeadAsk her to go outside and pick some flowers for the boardroom table. Lock the door behind her.





Ok great – the team is in place. Now throw open those boardroom doors and meet the crisis head on!

zombie hands coming through the door

(Daryl photo courtesy of


The ad industry could sure use a personality make-over

8 Nov

Arrogant attitudeLet me stake my position clearly: I think there are too many turds working in advertising.

There are a lot of good-hearted, generous people to be sure, but the other ones are dragging us down.

It’s been my experience that the advertising industry has a sizable chip on its black turtle-necked shoulders. A couple of incidents over the past week re-enforced this up-ourselves attitude that continues to permeate our industry.


A recent Island university graduate looking for a copywriting intern job somewhere, tweeted his interest in a clever way and a Vancouver ad agency responded. The grad was asked if he had a portfolio of work and he said no, but he had social media and digital contest work to show. Good enough for an interview, said the ad agency. So he hauled his butt off to Vancouver – and the costs of that, plus missing a day of work.

At the interview he was asked where his portfolio was, and he repeated that he didn’t have one but had the stuff he had mentioned to them earlier. In response, the creative guy at the agency dressed him down for showing up without one, offered him a couple of bon mots for his trouble and a few minutes later the intern was heading back to the ferry.

I have heard variations on this story throughout my career. Creative advertising folks have it all wrong. We are not God’s chosen ones. We are not saving lives, or toiling selflessly for the betterment of our community. Instead we are guffawing at our own cleverness, obsessing over awards and lording it over people who want to get into the biz. The opportunity here was to help this smart, enthusiastic person have a good impression of the industry, even if he hadn’t been right for the job. Instead he walked away feeling bad about himself and ad agencies. Fail.


A potential client called us on the phone to ask whether we worked with small businesses. I responded with something very Master Po-like: “Even the mightiest oak tree begins as an acorn.” She said she was relieved because the other Victoria agency she had spoken with said they never work for any client with less than a $50,000 marketing budget.

Fair enough, we all have our business models. But when she asked the agency for a recommendation to another shop she might approach, they refused to help her.

We are now working with this delightful client because we ranked high in search when she checked out who else was in town. Her first comment to us was, “I had a bad first impression of your industry.” I’ll say. What would it have taken for this other agency to provide her with a list of places with the caveat that their business models may not also align with her needs? Instead: You’re too small and we’re not going to waste our time helping you. Thanks for stopping by. Fail.

As our business becomes more complex and challenging, and skills come into play from more areas of society, I hope this arrogant attitude will dissipate and we’ll be left with good ambassadors for our business wherever potential clients or employees touch us. It won’t happen soon enough for me. We are screwing ourselves with this shameful customer service.

I don’t want to end on such a bummer note, so if you have any anecdotes about good experiences with ad agencies, please share them here!

We could use the PR.

(Sorry I used a bad word in the first paragraph.)

Tree planter to ad agency boss

18 Oct

(Guest post by our Managing Director 4 a Day winner Grace Campbell)

Copeland's Managing Director 4 a Day winner Grace Campbell of Royal RoadsThree months ago

I plant my 800,000th tree, pack up my tent, move to Victoria, and begin Royal Roads University’s Bachelor of Professional Communication Program. I have no Twitter account, no fixed address and no idea who Doug Brown or Copeland Communications are.

One month ago (to the day)

Doug visits Royal Roads to speak about online self-branding and invites my classmates and I to enter Copeland’s Boss 4 a Day contest. I immediately freak out about my lack of an online presence and my limited knowledge of social media. In a desperate attempt to prove (mostly to myself) that I haven’t “wasted” 5 years of my life planting trees I decide to enter a video in the contest.

Four days later

I create a Twitter account and use my first tweet to submit my video entry. I share it with friends and family on Facebook and YouTube just in case it goes somewhere.


Monday, September 26

I receive an email from Doug telling me that my video has been selected for the finals. I am so shocked that I forget to respond to his email. Doug has to email me back to confirm that I am still interested in the competition.

Tuesday, September 27

Boss 4 a Day contest goes to a live vote. I share it on Facebook and recruit my Royal Roads class of 39 students to my cause. I let the other finalists know that I am in it to win it!

Wednesday the 28th

Begin to use my new Twitter account to share my progress and keep followers (all 14 of them) updated on my progress.

Thursday the 29th

It becomes clear that Brandon Wright from University of Victoria and I are duking it out. So, I appeal to the Royal Roads community for support. I create little flyers with links to Copeland’s Facebook page that read:

Royal Roads University vs. UVIC


I hand 120 of these flyers out at the Royal Roads Fall Fair and make contacts within the three other on-campus cohorts to try and keep the buzz going.

I also create a Facebook group called “Grace Campbell Needs Some LOVE!” Strangely, this is my most successful campaign initiative, teaching me about the power of a simple slogan, no matter how desperate it seems.

The race is so tight that I begin to send personal emails asking for support.

Friday the 30th

I make sure to continue thanking all the friends, contacts, and organizations who have been supporting me. Even if I don’t win, I don’t want to be that annoying girl who asks people to vote for her and then is never heard from again.

3pm– Two hours of voting left and Brandon is 19 votes ahead. As my classmates head to the pub I ask one last time for their help and hunker down with my laptop in the now-empty classroom to virtually battle it out.

4pm– I can’t seem to catch up to Brandon. I send Doug an email saying, “I am chugging water right now to replace the fluids I have lost from sweating and the fluids I might lose from crying.”

4:55pm– My classmates are sitting in a pub with their laptops out, frantically trying to keep me in the lead. I now know exactly what “Too close for comfort” feels like, because I have been uncomfortable for hours.

5pm– I have no idea who has won, but I can’t take the stress any longer. I phone Copeland and beg for the results. 4 votes. I won by 4 votes out of over 1400. I am exhausted.


1. Appreciation for the value of both in-person and online networks.

I had no idea I had such an amazing network that would readily support me and share their influence. At first, my personal sphere of influence seemed small, but through social media and extended networks I had votes from Chicago, Korea, South Africa, Costa Rica, and beyond!

2. Importance of knowing my audience.

I had to learn quickly how to frame this contest in a variety of ways depending on my audience.

For example, with the tree-planting community I framed it as a chance for us planters to prove that we are not wasting our lives doing something we love!  But for the Royal Roads community, I positioned it as a David vs. Goliath story, in which we needed to prove to UVIC that we were worth competing against.

3. I don’t regret a single day spent tree-planting.

This competition was both rewarding and exhausting, a combination that all tree-planters are familiar with. The feeling of trailing by 19 votes with only two hours left is not so different from the feeling of facing nine hours of outdoor labour, knowing that the forecast is sleet and a grizzly bear has been sighted in the area. Both situations seem insurmountable. Both situations are entirely worth the effort.

Even if I hadn’t won in the polls, I learned so much more about marketing myself in four crazy days than I thought I could learn in months.

What about you? Have you ever faced a steep learning curve and decided to charge at it full speed? How did it work out?

(NOTE: Grace enjoyed her day of tyrannical rule yesterday, October 17. She was spectacular!)

Flowers for a CEO

6 Oct

I heard the news of Steve Jobs passing along with countless others, on Twitter. A lone questioning tweet appeared, then a trickle, then the news cascaded down the stream. If you had just arrived on earth to witness it you’d be forgiven for thinking a beloved humanitarian fighting injustice and suffering had been assassinated.

Steve Jobs Apple silhouetteAs Apple’s figurehead and spokesman he didn’t invent any of Apple’s industry changing products, nor did he design them, he was the CEO. Which makes it all the more incredible that customers fans have been leaving flowers outside Apple stores in remembrance and people from countries all over the world are still flooding social networks with micro memorials.

Steve Jobs wasn’t just one of the greatest American CEOs, he was a true visionary.

The people who knew him describe his relentless drive to innovate, to push the people he worked with to improve every aspect of what they were working on, to do things differently. Not to give people what they wanted, but to bring them new products that they would love.

That he did this at the expense of profit led to him being fired by the Apple board in 1985. His return with his visionary leadership style intact made Apple what it is today. That’s what makes him one of the greatest American CEOs, but that doesn’t explain the genuine grief evident in the social sphere.

For me that’s explained in his ability to elevate form over function in a world that is increasingly focused on ROI, efficiency & the ruthless pursuit of cost-cutting.

We have an emotional response to design in a way we never will with an list of impressive specifications. With his drive, every Apple product touched by his vision shines. It’s what led Apple to be elevated to not just a global company, but a movement. And movements are driven by emotion. Few people leave such an amazing legacy.

What the little birdie saw: a Twitter view of an electrifying finale

1 Oct

As was correctly pointed out during the final few hours of our Managing Director 4 a Day contest, the voting was so close and the contest became so intense, work virtually ground to a halt while we hung on the see-saw battle between Grace Campbell of Royal Roads University and Brandon Wright of UVic.

Here’s how the contest played out on Twitter.
Copeland's Boss4aDay contest tweet 1Copeland's Boss4aDay contest tweet 2Copeland's Boss4aDay contest tweet 3Copeland's Boss4aDay contest tweet 4Copeland's Boss4aDay contest tweet 5Copeland's Boss4aDay contest tweet 6Copeland's Boss4aDay contest tweet 7Copeland's Boss4aDay contest tweet 8Copeland's Boss4aDay contest tweet 9Copeland's Boss4aDay contest tweet 10Grace Campbell contest tweetCopeland's Boss4aDay contest tweet 11Brandon Wright contest tweetCopeland's contest tweet 12Copeland's Boss4aDay contest tweet 13Copeland's Boss4aDay contest tweet 14Copeland's Boss4aDay contest tweet 15Nicole Sorochan contest tweetCopeland's Boss4aDay contest tweet 16Rhys contest tweetCopeland's Boss4aDay contest tweet 17Brandon Wright contest tweet 2Brandon Wright contest tweet 3Copeland's Boss4aDay contest tweet 18Althea's contest tweet

Great show Brandon and Grace. Inspiring!

And the winner of our student contest is…

30 Sep

Copeland's contest winner Grace CampbellGRACE CAMPBELL!

This could have ended up being one of those classic Dewey Defeats Truman stories, because Grace dueled with Brandon Wright of UVic until the very last minute to see who would claim the win, become our Managing Director 4 a Day and pocket the $500. The two of them went back and forth with the lead, proving their resourcefulness and dogged determination to win. Epic!

With 1402 votes in, Grace’s margin of victory was only 4 votes. She was trailing by 19 with two hours to go and I actually wrote this post announcing Brandon as the winner. I then had to throw another one together at the last minute! It was as hairy for us as it was for the contestants.

By her own admission, she took the contest very seriously, handing out flyers, hosting meet & greets at Royal Roads, and getting included in the university’s e-newsletter that came out Friday afternoon.

Well, congratulations Grace. You squeaked it out. This native Yukoner, back in school after a 5-year break planting trees, showed what a quick study she is. To get her votes, Grace also created a Facebook Group called Grace Campbell Needs Some LOVE, and worked her Facebook and Twitter friends and followers  to death throughout the week.

Grace Campbell's tweet for votes

Our thanks to the other finalists Brandon and Connor Bildfell, for making this a hugely entertaining and good-spirited contest. Especially Brandon who was closing the gap for the umpteenth time as the contest ended. Amazing effort.

And our appreciation to our judges Kathi Springer of The Pace Group and Brian Hartz of Douglas Magazine.

Vote for the best candidate to be our Managing Director 4 a Day

27 Sep

We are full of admiration for the creativity and effort that went into the entries for our Managing Director 4 a Day student contest.

With the help of our judges, Kathi Springer of The Pace Group and Brian Hartz of Douglas Magazine, we have narrowed the list down to 3 finalists:




Cast your vote

To see their video entries and vote for your favourite, please go to the Copeland Facebook page here.

Who makes the most convincing case for themselves?

Let us know. The winner will get to be our boss for a day, and collect $500 on her/his way out the door.

Full respect to all the remarkable students who took part in this contest.