Stratagem Weekly

The Ultimate: A Standing Ovation

It was a thrill: 200 business leaders giving me a standing ovation for a presentation at Madison Magazine’s Best of Business event in February. Now it’s time to give Madison my ovation. But first:

A standing ovation is the ultimate compliment a keynoter can receive. Yet it was 1 of 2 “ultimates” related to the event. The other? Being named one of Madison’s “visionary leaders.” Wanting to live up to the honor, I decided to give Madison a gift that only my firm, Lindsay Foresight & Stratagem, could create: a strategic playbook to create competitive advantage for the area long into the future.

It was a big hit. I used the same process as I do for my firm’s clients: I researched emerging marketplace dynamics, emerging marketing dynamics; analyzed them in light of Madison’s future strengths and weaknesses; identified the essential challenge to be overcome to keep the community viable and still able to retain and attract employers, talent, capital and opportunity. Finally, I cast a singular master strategy that, over the next five to 10 years, would resolve the challenge, keep Madison growing, give it competitive advantage on the world stage.

The master strategy? I branded it The Madison Ethic. Its value proposition is only possible because of Madison’s unrivaled network of smart, industrious and innovative businesspeople, researchers, and scientists. (They’ve a track record of coming up with solutions to global problems, then exporting them to the world.) In the playbook, I detail what we’d need to invest in to deploy the strategy, how we’d market it.

The months of prep were a professional pleasure. But the standing ovation was especially rewarding because I so wanted to do right by the community that has given me so much:

At 23, I moved to Madison to attend grad school and research how people process information and make decisions. But when, as a freelance marketer, I found the application of my research especially effective, I dropped out of the PhD program and started a marketing firm. It too was effective in changing people’s minds and behaviors, earning a national reputation and multi-national clients. After passing that firm’s leadership on to partners, I started my current firm. Today, I consult with and train execs around the globe on how to strategize their future advantage.

The joy I find in my work, clients, and life is gratifying. Growing up in a small Wisconsin town I was told “don’t expect too much out of life.” And yet, from the day I moved to Madison, the community (University, bankers, business leaders, neighbors, work colleagues) brought out the best in me; helped me achieve what some might call The American Dream. So, while Madison is saluting me, I’m saluting the community right back.

Can you see me Madison? I’m standing, applauding, whistling! IT’S AN OVATION FOR YOU.

A person reading a book