Next Generation Leadership is Real, Social and Intimate.

Next generation leadership is born consumer-obsessed!

Last week I was having a conversation with a few [old school] managers and I mused that the next generation leadership will (have to) be 1) super tech- and data-driven 2) will work intensely via their smartphone, will 3) talk to their consumers directly, and 4) obsess genuinely about their company culture and therefore will win the markets in a huge way.

They looked at me with disbelief 😳

I looked back with double disbelief 😱

I wanted to tell them about how Jeff Bezos sends a mere “?” to his team when a customer complains, or when Elon Musk replies to a tweet and makes it a feature within a matter of days, or when Steve Jobs used to mail back to users personally when they complained about the service.

But I just had to let it go.

My “MEH” moment

I guess you have to when people draw a blank.

Well, we know where today’s leadership is struggling. They are (somewhat kinda) tech savvy, have and use a smartphone, aren’t talking to their consumers directly and company culture is an inheritance of the last CEO

While current leadership is extremely capable of managing complex matrix organizations which they routinely inherit from their predecessors; it is (risking) losing real connection with its consumers and workers increasingly.

This is a huge problem that needs to be addressed.

As long as WhatsApp, Instagram, Facebook, Google, don’t invade our corporate and enterprise world, we don’t have to worry about our markets — anonymous

Yeah, but the new world is evolving right under your noses!


Snap Inc. is probably on every traders’, investors’ and brokers’ mind today. It recently IPO’ed making a lot of people millionaires in LA (Los Angeles) and elsewhere. Even a small school made millions as being an early investor in Snapchat.

The secret behind these companies is not just the massive loads of money they have made (on paper) but what they will be doing in the future markets, consumers, and eco-systems!

Evan Spiegel wasn’t a struggling kid who needed to prove to the world and make billions. He was planning this and was fortunate enough to launch a platform that would capture the hearts of youngsters and millennials within a matter of few months after he launched.

I recently drew a 3D matrix on how companies will provide sustainable economic value to both their shareholders as well as consumers while keeping a sharp focus on their BEP (behavioral, emotional and psychological)

(For more details on this framework such as consumer-driven pricing models, data-driven transformation and much more, go to this link and check out more)

Snap Inc. started at the core with a sharp focus on its consumer’s desires and feelings and has an open path towards both economical and product/feature leadership ahead of itself.

Today they have Snapchat. Next is Spectacles, and in the coming years, you’ll see the portfolio fill with many successful ventures.

It will continue to remain easy to imitate and potentially also easy to deliver but a competitor will not be able to reach the hearts/minds of their customers.

Facebook tried desperately with Instagram and Whatsapp and may see dramatic shifts in advertising dollars to go to Snap as more and more consumer love gets generated.

Instagram is, however, a service that still entices people to its platform with uniqueness and has a certain emotional charge that people relate to, but the recent imitation of Snapchat features is confusing its audience of its authenticity.

This is not unusual for a few established firms: Late Steve Jobs, Jeff Bezos, Jørgen Vid Knudstorp (LEGO) are known to (have) obsess(ed) about their customers.

They really know/knew that the only purpose for a firm to be in business is: consumers!

My very own first-hand experience with consumer obsessed leadership

With LEGO’s Jørgen, I have experienced this first-hand when my 8-year-old son had built a few models and had ideas of how LEGO should entice and involve its younger consumers. He wanted to meet the design team.

I wrote to him and he had responded immediately and mobilized his whole board within a matter of minutes (while he was touring Asia and must have been really busy)

This was not just a memorable experience for my 8-year-old but I know Lego is imprinted in our minds forever!


If you watched Snap Inc. tour video prior to its IPO, you’d be surprised how Steve Jobs-like video this looks where they really want to establish an open culture for its employees.

Time will tell how this evolves but their intentions are very promising, especially when its sad to see firms like Uber displaying a terrible behavior towards its female employees, workers and drivers.

A toxic culture WILL eventually bring your company down.

Instead leaders must ask this:

Am I envisioning, dreaming, accepting, embracing, empowering, listening, co-designing OR am I fixing the problem by hiring a CDO or A Chief Innovation Officer?

What Snap Inc. has shown is that it wants to instill this within their firm right from the start. Enterprises — even the likes of Google, Facebook, Amazon have good f🤐🤐king reason to worry.

Take a look at this Steve Jobs famous video from his time in exile building NEXT.

30 or so years later, Evan and Bobby know what this can mean to the future they’re building.


Firms like Google, Amazon, Facebook have shown that a data-driven, consumer-obsessed leadership is a path to continuous growth — both in terms of market share and mindshare.

This is practically unthinkable in the boardroom today. The matrix structure is definitely trying to unbundle itself but it’s moving slower than the pace of technological advances we are seeing today.


Just take a look at the difference between Old School and New Age Leaders


The above example illustrates Snap Inc. as a new market creator and reason enough to take real innovation seriously.

Remember this when you see your EBITs get hit QoQ/YoY : New. Market. Creator.

Where are you in this illustration?

Industry professionals like Mark Zawacki have been trying to facilitate this for quite a while. Read his interview in a Dutch financial daily (Financiele Dagblad) about the state of innovation in The Netherlands.


As for those leadership skills for the future, this quote I heard somewhere is the best advice to those who are following their leaders in traditional industries today.

Respect your leaders, learn from them, even submit to them if/when needed but don’t imitate them. You’ll be setting yourself up for failure in the future!

The emergence of firms like Snap Inc. is only the beginning of a big industry overhaul where we will market correcting itself, this time driven by consumers who will put their minds and hearts in the hands of those for whom they feel something.

Let that something (and more) be you!

Originally published at on March 6, 2017.

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