Minter Dialogue with Pete Steege

Pete Steege, a seasoned marketing expert and author of “On Purpose: The CEO’s Guide to Marketing with Meaning.” Pete shares his journey from electrical engineering to a 30-year career in marketing, focusing on the importance of meaningful marketing in technical industries. The discussion delves into the evolution of marketing, the significance of understanding customer needs, and the challenges of maintaining clarity and consistency in marketing messages. Pete emphasises the value of generosity, authenticity, and simplicity in marketing strategies. The conversation also explores the role of CEOs in embodying the brand and the impact of AI on marketing. This episode is a treasure trove of insights for anyone interested in effective marketing and leadership.

Please send me your questions — as an audio file if you’d like — to Otherwise, below, you’ll find the show notes and, of course, you are invited to comment. If you liked the podcast, please take a moment to rate it here.

To connect with Pete Steege:

    • Check out Pete Steege main site: B2B Clarity: here
    • Find/buy Pete Steege’s book, “On Purpose,” here
    • Find/follow Pete Steege on LinkedIn

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Music credit: The jingle at the beginning of the show is courtesy of my friend, Pierre Journel, author of the Guitar Channel. And, the new sign-off music is “A Convinced Man,” a song I co-wrote and recorded with Stephanie Singer back in the late 1980s (please excuse the quality of the sound!).

Full transcript via

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Minter Dial: Pete Steege, I think is how it’s pronounced. Steggy. Oh my gosh, I knew I had it. I knew it was stay, but I forgot the. Gee, “Steggie.” All right, we’re not going to forget that. Pete Steege, great to have you on my show. We’ve never met before, but we’ve exchanged multiple times and you wrote a book which really intrigued me. On purpose. The CEO’s guide to Marketing with Meaning, which came out in 2022. And much of the idea of the word purpose, of course, around marketing, the CEO leadership and the title “On Purpose”. But that is how we got in touch. More importantly, I’d like to know who’s Pete Steege?

Pete Steege: Well, I like to say I was born an engineer. I actually started thinking that’s what my career would be, electrical engineering. And pretty soon after I started working, I found myself being drawn to the customer side of business. And I’ve had a 30-year career in marketing since then, but always kind of wrapped around the technical technology, industry trends, things that are happening, dynamics in the business world. Right. So, that’s kind of how I got to today. And then four years ago I saw from my experience that there was a lot of commonality with the challenges, the marketing challenges that I was seeing with the leadership and the companies that I was working with. And I decided to create my own business to help CEO’s tech B2B CEO’s mostly figure out how to make marketing work in their business because I mean, it’s true for all companies, but especially these more technical companies, really struggle with the soft side of marketing and making marketing meaningful. And that drew me. Right, the book, and it’s really informed my practise in the last four years.

Minter Dial: Super well, in looking at your background, I mean, I didn’t pick up this engineer element and the way you describe your involvement in marketing, but what is interesting is that you worked for a bunch of companies and you stayed at each of them for a significant time. I mean, four, five, six years. Oftentimes when I look at a cv and I see one year stint, one year stint, one year stint, that sort of says another thing to me. But you obviously stayed long enough to really get a grip of that industry and that marketing, and you had so many different experiences. So, what I was interested in is how do you see the evolution of marketing over the time? And maybe more poignantly, what was your understanding of marketing?

Pete Steege: Yeah, it’s really interesting insight and I think it’s true. I really did immerse myself in the industries that I worked in, and often those four-to-six-year stints involved a transformation or an existential change in the business. They were changing from tape storage to disc storage, or on premise software to SaaS software. It was often that was one of the things I saw in common, right. It was this, oh my gosh, we have to reinvent ourselves. And the marketing side, one of the takeaways from that experience is so often businesses will focus on communicating their story to their clients, their prospects, the market. When that misses the mark, that falls short, because their prospects, they don’t have time or mind share or passion for your story. They want to hear how you can help them with their problem. So, it was a real disconnect, often disconnect where these companies would put so much effort into explaining what they did so well or why it was important and what it meant. Which turns out, by the way, to be a very complicated story. Whereas if you start first with what is it that? What’s the problem you’re solving for and for who? And if you talk about the problem and taking away that pain, that’s a very simple story. And then your how to is the explanation, it’s the proof point about, well, how do you do that? Well, let me tell you, I can tell you more, right, that miss that disconnect in energy really of the message means that so often these businesses, they struggle to get heard or they look like everybody else or, you know, their story has to change. Because when it’s about the, the nuts and bolts, that’s changing every time, right? Whereas the universal need is much more universal and it evolves, but it doesn’t go left and right every day, right?

Minter Dial: Well, what I recall, one of the things that I got when I moved to the US in learning about what marketing was, was a de emphasis of the product spec and focusing on features and benefits for the customer. Yet, did I feel that a lot, talking about us as opposed to you.

Pete Steege: The customer, actually mentor, if I can share. I see what I call four levels of value for businesses to communicate. And it’s a hierarchy. And if you start at the bottom, the least valuable benefit is your company. Right? Let me tell you about my company. Let me tell you about how good.

Minter Dial: We are, etcetera, invented in 1647, fabulous.

Pete Steege: Sterling, blah, blah, blah. Better than that is what we do. The capabilities are the product. Or let me tell you about our product, how great it is, right? Better, but you’re still not cutting it much better than that is talking about them. What is it you need? What are you going to get from me interacting with you. But what I found, there’s even a higher level, which is the customer’s customer in B2B especially if you can tell a story that is, your customers will feel better, will have this solution that’s actually the highest of all levels. So, the farther you can get away from yourself. And it’s universal. This is about generosity, empathy. It’s about the other first. And if you can really genuinely do, authentically do that, it changes your culture and you get their attention. Right? You can have traction with them. They’re actually drawn to that.

Minter Dial: Well, I love what you say. It’s very original in that what I tend to hear more often, and I talk about, and so it’s a good opening for me, is that I think the higher element is the purpose of your company, as opposed to what your customers say about you or do what it does for your customers, which in a B2B world makes total sense. Maybe that’s the answer to this question, which is what’s the difference between B2C and B2B marketing? You talk, really, your book is focused on B2B That’s your background. You mentioned it in the book. I know, but let’s talk about what is the difference between marketing in the B2B world versus B2C

Pete Steege: So, I have an opinion on that. There is a core truth that’s true across, and it’s in the title of my book, and meaning. And so what I like to say is marketing’s purpose, B2B, B2C. Anything I believe is to create and strengthen relationships between you and your customer. And relationships happen because there’s a reason for us to spend the effort to connect. If you don’t have a, don’t have a reason to interact with a brand, whether it’s in a grocery store aisle or $100,000 infrastructure services contract. If the reason is, if there’s no reason for you as the consumer, then you’re not going to take the time to do it. So, that’s why I think meaning and purpose in all its different iterations is the activating agent to marketing and customer progression. Because without that, think about how many possible options you and I have for the next four, 4 hours in our day, right? Let alone the next four days or four months. And businesses on a whole different dimension have all those options for what they do with their time and their attention. And that’s why if you just talk about what you are and you don’t connect with them on a purpose level, you’re wasting your time or you turn up the volume. And that’s the last thing we all need, right, is to hear more noise in our environment to be interrupted more often than all those. Which, by the way, with AI, it’s going to get a lot worse, right, the noise in our lives.

Minter Dial: Or maybe there’s a solution in AI to block out the silly noise. And if you could programme your machine to just say, not just get rid of the spam, but get rid of the spammy calls, get rid of the spammy people, get rid of the meaningless.

Pete Steege: People, which, by the way, is another, is going to create another impediment for brands and their clients, right? I like to call it the abstraction arms race. The more noise there is, the more AI is going to be used to philtre it, as you said, to create, to decouple us from it. And that makes it even harder. It’s creating gatekeepers for us, which may be necessary and maybe really valuable, but as a marketer, new challenges for sure.

Minter Dial: So, I worked at L’Oréal for 16 years and we’re regularly called a consumer company. Obviously, we have brands that sell to consumers, but it’s a misnomer to say other than e commerce that it’s direct to consumers. Because generally speaking, you go and buy your shampoo at a Walmart or a target or whatever, or pharmacy eventually, or that goes for the other cosmetics products. For me, it was always a b to b to c company, but they like to talk about it and we like to talk about it as a B2C company business to consumer. And therefore, it kind of leaves out this idea of relationships with your distributors, relationships with your suppliers, your agencies, whatever. And those are very important relationships in order to get shelf space, in order to get a great design, in order to get a cool ad layout, which are part of your B2C mechanisms. But there are those other relationships. And by the way, the relationships with your employees.

Pete Steege: Yep.

Minter Dial: So, I was wondering what your, your spin on that would be, because I, I tended to, even though, and I was working actually in the hairdressing industry, so we obviously were working through hairdressers. So, B2B2C, because a hairdresser tends to customers. Like everybody has a customer somewhere at the end of the day. But how many iterations does it take to actually become a B2B versus a B2C?

Pete Steege: I love this question and I have a perspective on this. A big part of my value to my clients is simplicity and less clarity. Clarity is in my name, but it’s about finding the simpler truth that actually when you find it can scale to help you with all the other things. So, when it comes to audience, I’m a big believer in start with the end user value. So, in your case it would have been the people putting the product on their body and first establish your reason for being based on your product serving the end users. That’s ultimately why you have a business. Without that, none of those channels have anything to do, right. I found that if because I’ve had several clients where they’re struggling with their channel story because it’s like oh, I got this distributor and I’ve got this, you know, e commerce organisation, how do we need. And we have a different story for everybody and it’s so complex and I’ve had a several very successful solutions to that by saying we’re going to first understand our purpose and our value. I like to call it our true story. That is, is very much connected to why we get out of bed every morning and why we have a business. And it has to do with a very specific group of target audience, right? Whether it’s a group of consumers or type of business. And the sharper the better. Very, very specific. And our story why and what can we do to help them. So, it’s basic product market fit stuff, but if you do that first and make that your foundation, all of the other participants, stakeholders, you can now create a purposeful, a meaningful story for them that makes sense, that’s related to their part in delivering that end value. So, then your conversations with the stores are not on your conversations, your brand, your message is some version of how they’re better off because they’re able to help their clients with your product. They’re part of that delivery of value. It’s a value chain. And by the way, your employees, now they’re in part of that story too. And it’s all one story. It becomes very simple and clear. And the power of that, as you know, is in marketing, when you have employees and channels and all the different audiences, the more coherent your story is across the channels, the more it reverberates. It’s positive feedback, it builds on itself. When the touch points affect the different people versus when you have a different version of the story, they cancel each other out and it creates, it actually denigrates the message, right. Just that, that feedback loop I’ve just found that’s the magic is when you build the story, right, it just all builds collectively as you build your plan over time versus falls apart in pieces. Because you know, it’s noisy. It’s inconsistent.

Minter Dial: I want to get to that in a moment, but I wanted to pull out a quote that I enjoyed, which you quoted Tom Foremski. I don’t know, but he said, every company is a media company, and I think of Red Bull, but it made me think, what about every employee is a medium?

Pete Steege: Oh, absolutely. That’s well said. Totally agree with that. Totally agree. All right.

Minter Dial: So, what is it that gets in the way of this clarity? Why is it that so many companies have these inconsistent, somewhat chaotic messaging, or at least not powerful. They can’t cut through the noise. What is it that stops them from getting that clarity?

Pete Steege: Two things. And they’re revisiting some of the things I said before, which to me is reassuring, because there’s a simple story here. One is, it’s not about you. Those fragmented stories happen because my frame, my perspective, is too narrow. It’s about me and this product launch next month, or it’s about how do I grow sales this year? Or, wow, we’re really good at this one. It’s limited view short of the true story. Right. If you start too small, you don’t have the context of the bigger story. So, of course your story is different than your partner’s story or, you know, the story.

Minter Dial: Salesperson. Yeah, salesperson.

Pete Steege: Right. I love, I love suggesting to clients at the beginning of this process, hey, here’s an exercise for you. Go and ask 20 employees, why are we here? What’s our purpose? Ask them what the purpose is. Don’t give them any clues because they often think, oh, everybody knows what we’re doing. They don’t know what’s in the CEO’s head. They do not know. Right. And it’s stark what they hear, even if they just interview five. Right. And it’s to your point, it’s the salesperson, it’s the customer service person, it’s the product designer. They all have a different view of what, where they’re going.

Minter Dial: So, the first, first point is starting too small from the perspective of me. You had a second 1.

Pete Steege: Second one is going too big. And by that I mean marketing, especially big headers. So, many things you can do in marketing, and so often they look free. And I rarely hear of a company or I’ve rarely worked for a company where they were doing too little marketing activities, too many tap projects, initiatives, whatever. Usually they’re doing too many, and so many, too many that they aren’t finishing any of them. They’re not making any of them work because the appetite was, oh, we’re going.

Minter Dial: To do this, we’re going to do.

Pete Steege: This and we’re going to do this. And they don’t put enough time in any one thing. And marketing particularly has a threshold, a critical mass that if some of the things, if you don’t do them strong enough or long enough, there’s hysteresis. You don’t actually get any result until six months go by or until you’ve invested, you know what I mean? So, marketing rewards commitment and investment and consistency. And when you’re too busy doing too many things, they don’t get the attention they need. And it’s basically there’s a lot of activity but very little results, very little impact.

Minter Dial: That is very good. I like that. Makes me think about some of my experience where I don’t think on board of governors and in some cases CEO’s actually get what marketing is about. How would you, I mean, do you think that’s true and what needs to happen? I mean, I’ve been on a few boards where marketing is never mentioned. Branding is an afterthought. Boards tend to focus on either the role of overseeing the CEO and then talking about certain other topics. And far too often they get into the weeds as opposed to keeping the distance. But marketing is a sort of abstract concept and especially as you were talking about at the beginning, it’s changed so much. So, do you think that there’s truth to that and what do we need to do? What do CEO’s need to do to get better understanding of marketing?

Pete Steege: Yeah. So, I think the first part of that is that for a CEO, marketing is often mistaken for what you do. The things you can see with marketing, the brand, the commercial, the activity that easily seen things and frankly the kind of sexy things in the business, their.

Minter Dial: Advertising agency and the models.

Pete Steege: Yes. Where the truth is marketing is who you are, the brand. Right. And the purpose of marketing is to communicate or create the experience of who you are with your clients. And so often the easy shortcut is to jump into the doing without knowing who you are without the being. So, that’s the first issue. And then now to your second question about so what’s going on with the world in marketing? And I think with technology, we’ve seen it with email, we’ve seen it with Google Ads, the efficiency technology is making the doing more efficient and productive. So, the volume knob on the activity is going up and the world is getting more noisy with the marketing doing. And so I believe there’s actually a counterintuitive opportunity for CEO’s that rather than do more because to, in the race, the rat race, race to the bottom, actually back off from that and spend more time on who you are and who you’re helping. And I believe with, with the changes in technology, because we talked about the abstraction and the noise, the ones that are going to win with marketing, the ones are going to get through. Their message is going to get through, are the ones that find a way to be real, to demonstrate authenticity and generosity and that relationship, that real connection. I don’t know what the answer is. I don’t know how we’re going to do that because we can’t meet physically with every one of our clients. It doesn’t scale. But frankly, in a few years, I’m not going to know that. I’m not talking to a robot unless I’m in a room with somebody. So, how do you deal with that?

Minter Dial: Yeah, well, it makes me think, Pete, that courage is going to be needed at a higher level to take the risk of showing, for example, I’m vulnerable, which might mean showing that I make mistakes or that I am imperfect. And if I have to cut through the noise and do less with a greater thing in order for that greater to actually work, it probably means sometimes being exclusive. In other words, not trying to be everything to everybody.

Pete Steege: Yeah. An example of that in the consumer world. I love the, it’s old now, but the Nike branding example that, you know, just do it. And if you look at their. Maybe not currently, I’m not up on the current, but the whole idea of them focusing their marketing on, I’ll say, performance athletes, I don’t know about you, I’m not a performance athlete. Very few of us are. Right. But if you looked at their ads at the time, they were celebrating this performance athlete and they were having a loving relationship with them in the airwaves. And that worked for me. And I’m not that. Right. So, to me, that’s how, that’s one of the ways you have that courage in the specificity, as you say, we’re going to pick. That’s why I say targeting is sharper the better. Right. Because if you can pick a sweet spot, ideal, I like to say, instead of target customer, think of bullseye customer. Right. And don’t worry about, oh, that’s not a big enough market for my business. The purpose of that target is to sharpen that message. The purpose so potently, so that it’s so rich and deep that it resonates, it rings like a bell, and then those adjacent to it are drawn to it. Right? Again, Nike is, for me, an example of that that worked for them.

Minter Dial: I have another one that comes to mind is the french car company Renault. They had a. In Europe, and I don’t know if it actually was ever launched in the States, but it’s called the Twingo. And the marketers all came up with the agency. It’s going to be a great car to get us to have a younger audience. So, we’re going to make it really for the younger, you know, for the young. And their messaging was all about being young. And who are the people that bought it? The people who want to stay young.

Pete Steege: Oh, nice.

Minter Dial: In other words, the retirees aspirational purchase. Yeah, yeah, exactly. So, they were very tight on the notion of it’s for the young, and yet it was the people who want to stay young who actually bought it in droves. And it was a very successful campaign. So, having that courage to target Bullseye your target, it may not be the correct target, but by having the courage of having a simpler, stronger, direct message, you might get, as you say, the adjacent. But the adjacent in this case was not at all what you might imagine. It was the grandparents, not even the cousins or anything like that, which speaks.

Pete Steege: To the opportunity, because sometimes you can’t even know that. What I say that does is by focusing on this, this potent truth, they put it out in the universe, this valuable thing, and let the universe decide who was going to be drawn to it rather than thinking that they were in control and that they were going to calculate who the. Right. You know what I mean? So, it’s almost like it reminds me of art, right? It’s, you create something bigger than yourself.

Minter Dial: And you let them discuss it.

Pete Steege: The beauty of it draw interest.

Minter Dial: All right, so, I mean, my old hat, my sort of old school hat says, you know, that’s a dangerous approach. You have to let go. And also, I wanted to pick up another quote that I liked in your book, which leads to the or runs off of the subtitle of your book, which is all about the CEO’s guide to marketing, because you very specifically talk about the CEO’s and you write, the truth is, as a leader, your personal business network is one of the most valuable assets for your business. As I reflected on that, one of the challenges I regularly see is that the CEO is maybe very motivated to work as a CEO. Maybe well paid, may really understand the project, maybe really like the product, but to what extent in the being is the CEO the brand? And how. How do you cross that Khyber pass? Because there can be the intellectual exercise, there can be the financial stimulation. But to what extent the authentic being of the CEO is reflecting of the brand as opposed to imposing a new form because I’m the boss.

Pete Steege: That’s interesting. I want to, you know, just reflecting on that question, I’m thinking of my personal experience. The people I help tend to be smaller companies, think founders, and they are domain experts. They built a career on some special skill and they created a company. And so I’m used to working with people that, that’s not a question that comes up, right. Because that is them. Right. It’s their dream that they’re sharing with the world often. So, it’s interesting for me to think about it kind of the first time. To what extent is it a job and can you make it the job into that? True story. Right.

Minter Dial: For some reason, to elaborate before is to say, well, I worked in a large company founded in 1907, and so the CEO was long after the founder and very bright individuals incarnating a certain value and a certain culture, but hardly, in my opinion, being the brand, other than being financially astute, delivering on results.

Pete Steege: Steward of the brand.

Minter Dial: Yeah. Sounding smart and doing things, but not being the brand. In other words, saying things but not doing things personally. So, when you talk about the personal business network and you see CEO’s who don’t have a LinkedIn profile, I mean, hello in America, that would be a normal hello in Europe. It’s like why, you know, oh, I don’t do that sort of stuff. No, well wait, there’s a difference in personal and professional, you know, I do my work. I’m a great, I’m a great CEO. That’s why people pay me the big bucks. I deliver on performance. But this whole thing of being, and spirituality and being generous. No, no, no. We’re here to make business and make my shareholders profitable.

Pete Steege: Right. There’s not, there’s not much room for.

Minter Dial: Meaning and purpose in that and person, you know, personality.

Pete Steege: Bringing yourself, you’re not bringing yourself to the job.

Minter Dial: Yeah, yeah. So, that’s where the, that’s where the sort of interrogation came from. Because I work more with bigger businesses. And when I was at L’Oreal, I struggled to see how the founding principle was, was carried through that sort of like the initial problem we’re solving. For example, I mean, I worked at Redken and one of the, so I was the head of Redken and I had the privilege of being in contact with the founder, Paula Kent, before, you know, while she was still alive, and therefore being able to tap into the founders issues and stories. And while I wasn’t her, I really wanted, I really spent effort to onboard her way and things. The original problem that she was solving was why actresses have to suffer through torment with hairdressers teasing their hair back in the sixties and making it just a shit show with very, very bleached hair. So, that issue no longer was the pregnant issue, back 40, 40 years later when I took over. But, you know, being able to tap into that, I was aware of it, but also aware that I was just a, you know, a hired mercenary head of the company as opposed to the founder. And then how do you transmit those things? Open your personal network and be the brand, which doesn’t forego your opportunity to work for another brand, because that can be an issue.

Pete Steege: Choose. Choose to be the brand. Right. It’s an intention. I think the book good to great comes to mind. Um, Jim Collins. Yeah. Turning down the ego and, and focusing on being a servant leader too. Right. It’s, the idea of the brand is maybe not bigger than you. Everybody’s important, but it’s, your job is to be, to serve the brand. Right. And that’s part of the job, is what does that take? What does it mean to serve the brand? And it’s not punching the clock, that’s for sure, at that level.

Minter Dial: And it shouldn’t be about servicing your ego either.

Pete Steege: It doesn’t work. Right. That book is great examples of Lee Iacocca. Right. And these big, big personalities that made a lot of great noise for a while, but it hurt the company in the long run because the company didn’t have, wasn’t supported. To be the company’s true story was subservient to Lee Iacocca’s big story.

Minter Dial: Right. I have some personal stories, but not mentioning the name, but I remember spending a considerable amount of time worrying about the menu for my boss, who didn’t like to eat with garlic, didn’t want to have this type of wine, had to be at this hour. And my gosh, was he picky. I mean, he wouldn’t get into a white coloured car.

Pete Steege: Oh, my.

Minter Dial: All right. Wanted to. Another thing, which is in your book, which I really appreciated, you write about this notion of being generous and then you qualify. This is the biggest shift from the conventional marketing thought process and one of the three core precepts of marketing with meaning. So, you have the others. But I would love for you to just elaborate on this notion of being generous because, because if we’re in a profit centric, shareholder paying type of business being generous, being karmic, it doesn’t always go easily.

Pete Steege: Yeah, it’s an abstract idea, but the further I get in my career, the more I see that as a central truth to success. It’s a paradox. And that’s the other thing I found, is the closer you get to truth, the more paradox is around. And so this one is full of paradox. And it’s the idea that business success is tied to selflessness. And so there’s this concept of customer first and customer centricity, which often gets talked about, but not lived, not fully consuming the business or the culture or the person. And so for me that difference is, I mean, there’s no way to. You can’t rationalise it. It’s a paradox, it’s faith. You have to believe that it’s true. And it’s partly maybe that you are the kind of person that says, or that back to that reason for being there, that you want to give something to the universe, your business wants to give something to the universe. And that maybe is part of it, is that if you put profit motive first versus society impact, you know what, why is your company around? Is it truly just to make money? I posit that companies, that at their core, their reason for being is to get rich, don’t last. And that’s, that’s the fatal, that’s a fatal flaw. May take a while. Whereas this idea of generosity is, I truly am doing this to make the universe a better place. And so then that can flow into, like I love, I love thinking about meetings in a company that is truly generous, where the meetings are about how can we give more to the clients before we charge them the first time? Or, you know, how, how can they, how can we give them more for that? How can we charge less for what they versus how can we get them to pay more for this?

Minter Dial: How can we screw them for them?

Pete Steege: Yeah, that’s what you’re saying, right? And I get it. We all understand the profit motive. Companies that, that go beyond the financial win and become just a uniquely valuable brand are the ones that are able to give first. And yes, make it profitable and it can be profitable, but that’s not the first thought. The first thought is how do we give them more? And then it’ll pay for itself if you do it right.

Minter Dial: I like that. I often say a company that isn’t profitable serves no purpose, even if you have one. And this paradox story is interesting because in my book, you lead. I talk about the CHECK framework first of all, which the k stands for karmic which is give without expecting in return, as I describe it. And I also talk about these four paradoxes that are key to understanding, to resolve, or at least to live with in uncomfortableness. But the fourth one is going to be interesting in light of what you just said, Pete. And the fourth paradox is we seek truth but gravitate towards stories. And you’re telling stories, Pete. In other words, not necessarily the full truth. So, what’s interesting is you just said this truth component. As you get older, you find being closer to a truth is interesting. Yet do we know that stories sometimes letting out, leaving out some elements of truth are what sell? And so how do you live with that paradox?

Pete Steege: So, as you say that, I haven’t had this conversation with anybody. So, thank you for that. What is truth? So, what I mean by that is you say I’m leaving out elements of the truth. What if the truth is incomplete? True truth is not quantified and fully listed. Right? So, maybe the truth isn’t all the details. The truth is leaving some of it out.

Minter Dial: I mean, for example, knowing yourself, you’re never going to 100% know yourself. I had someone on my show who beautifully said, it takes more than a lifetime to know yourself. So, whatever self we’re presenting is never really actually incomplete.

Pete Steege: Right?

Minter Dial: It’s incomplete. So, then it’s the stories we craft, and maybe the element that’s interesting in the authenticity is the embodiment of the story relative to the telling of the story. Yeah.

Pete Steege: A couple other thoughts come to mind. I like to say authenticity is imperfect by definition. So, back to your part about bravery. That’s kind of like saying truth is imperfect. There’s a paradox for you, right? But it really is true. Right? You. You. When you’re getting the truth from somebody, they’re human, which means they’re not perfect, which means that’s the truth. Right? And then the other concept I wanted to share is just the concept of infinity. I’ve been thinking a lot about AI and the changes that are coming with AI, and I believe that it’s. It’s possible that one of the things, one of the bridges that AI will never cross is the concept of infinity. And you might say, oh, wait a minute, that’s what they do. Well, but do they? Right. What you were saying a minute ago, I think that’s part of the human experience, is that we. It’s like paradox. We live with the concept of paradox, and we live with the concept of infinity. How small is the smallest object? How far is the farthest object in our universe, you know, it’s all those measures of our perceptions of our world that you and I are comfortable with, the fact that we can’t count them all. I wonder if AI as interesting it’s going to be, how real it’s going to feel, if it’s going to miss the ability to be imperfect and to not to under. It’s not going to understand the idea that there’s always more. Right infinity. Very abstract, but it’s been. It’s been running around in my mind that these ideas of, what does it mean to be human versus a machine? It’s not intellect, it’s this other thing.

Minter Dial: I love it. I’m going to. There are two thoughts that I’m going to riff on. The first is that there’s someone who said something along the lines, if you can’t measure, it doesn’t matter. And that is an engineer’s approach to things, because I think one of the paradoxes, number three, is the ability to live with chaos, just all the while seeking order, which is the sort of the need to measure. And then the second thing is with regard to notions of things like love and empathy, which are immeasurable. And when we’re in the AI world, techie world, this idea of measurability, codability, codification is obviously a need. And I work in this particular space, which is this notion of humanising AI and looking at the limits of that, whereas I often tend to look back at the limits of us human beings, uh, and have a positive spin on AI. But the idea of needing to measure love or measure empathy, what road are we. What road are we creeping up on?

Pete Steege: Yes, yes. And back to that, that content, that, that storm of back to marketing and that relationship connection, it’s more in that love camp than in the numbers camp, is where we’re going, because AI is going to flood the numbers and what’s left for us, it’s, you know, you might say, oh, don’t, can’t talk about love with customers, but it’s that you’re in the right area with that. That’s where that connection is going to come from.

Minter Dial: Well, I mean, that is the deepest of humanity. And to that point, when I wrote about it, and when I was at Redken, we had this lovely lady called Ann Mincey, who was essentially a preacher’s daughter and a beautiful person. Whenever you spoke to her, you felt like you were the most important person in the world. And that was whether she was talking to the janitor, the CEO or any customer. And. But unofficially, I used to call her the director of love because she just shared love. And this is back 25 years ago. I mean, so this is well before love was even possibly a word. I mean, of course the rest of my bosses didn’t, you know, who didn’t gather that part because they were, they’re more engineers, if you know what I mean, numbers people. But, um, anyway, that, that’s a beautiful thing. So, um, let us, uh, find out. Let’s close down now. Um, the last comment. Um, human beings are drawn to utility and beauty. Uh, pull that one out for us. I mean, I, I talk about beauty in other cases, and you’ve got dove talking about all types of beauty. Beauty has to be subjective, it can be all forms. Do we have to be politically correct? What are thoughts come to mind when you try to.

Pete Steege: Be, to be fair? I drew that quote from somebody else, so I can’t take credit for it, but, and I can’t remember who. But the, it really struck me because as a consumer, as a consumer or as an audience, you know, I think of myself and I think it applies universally as I’m on my journey, whatever it is, buying or not buying or just living my life. Beauty to me means just that. There’s beautiful things in the world and they might be nature, they might be just a well made product, they might be a gracious person. And you talked about it’s something that, it’s the loving side of the world, right? It’s the grace of the world. We’re drawn to that. But then also we’re on a journey and we’re working down the road that we’re on and finding things that are useful is really important, right? To get there, to get on the road or just to produce, to make things, that’s the other part of us. There’s two natures of us. And I just think that translates to this journey of marketers and businesses to make that relationship and have that purpose connection, that meaning connection, because that’s the language. Those two things are the language of meaning, right? Is it beautiful? Is it useful?

Minter Dial: And I think in the useful there’s a distinct need to feel useful. If you ask help of people, it’s amazing they want to help. Yet pushing back a second, I feel there’s an extraordinary amount of anger, hatred, anxiety in the world. And maybe this is something that brands should be thinking about countering with beauty. But when someone says, this is my fact, this is my truth, this is my beauty, it’s almost an individualistic, somewhat narcissistic version of it. And is there not a role for brands to, rather than foster division somehow to provide some beauty, but not just any beauty, because any beauty is sort of limitless, like infinity. A beautiful sunset isn’t a schlocky sunset. It’s a beautiful sunset. And we can say that without being politically incorrect. But as far as other forms of beauty, anger, hatred, we could say that’s not beautiful, but what is beauty? And I feel like that’s an interesting topic. I worked in the beauty industry, and even in the beauty industry, this is not a topic where we have a singular opinion, of course, but there are certain schools of thought that say that there is an objective notion of beauty, like this sunset, this building.

Pete Steege: Yeah. And I believe, I’m not an artist, I’m not an expert in beauty, but I do believe that beauty is the specific examples of architectural beauty that you used or something like that. That’s a very narrow example of beauty. It’s a very concrete, demonstrable example. It’s like the data thing. You’re saying before, I was like, you can. I can point at that. We can talk about together about why that’s beautiful. But on my walk tomorrow, I walk by beautiful creek and there’s been rain, so it’s flowing over some rocks in a new way. I’m tickled by that. Right.

Minter Dial: That’s beautiful.

Pete Steege: And I don’t have to, nobody else has to validate that beauty. To me, beauty is common. It’s for everybody. Right? And you don’t have to. It’s not a zero-sum-game. You don’t have to. There’s no hoarding of it. It’s. There’s plenty of it for everybody. And finding it is one of the goals. Right? So, I don’t. The divisive thing, judging whether beauty is there or not is different than the way I’m thinking of it. I’m thinking more of just the value of it. And it’s self-defined. If you think something’s beautiful, it is for you. And that’s back to the marketing view. That’s all we care about if you’re my audience.

Minter Dial: And I think that if we think about business offices as a place of work, but why not as a place of beauty as well? And while there’s sort of a. Almost a narcissistic version of it where the CEO buys a really important piece of work of art, puts it on the wall, know, I look at how, how lush we are, financial services companies, hint, hint. But where beauty is there, I mean, what is it? The broken glass study, where you know, broken glass in the neighbourhood does not uplift and elevate. It encourages more depravity, if you will. So, having beauty in the workplace is a way to help your employees enjoy, be drawn to your company. And so using beauty is a beautiful thing. Anyway, it’s a fun little topic. I thought we just riff off. Pete, it’s been great chatting with you. How can someone get more in touch with you? Hire you, read your book. What are the best ways to get in touch with you?

Pete Steege: Yes, you can find my book on Amazon. It’s easy to find either with my name, which is unique enough, or by the title Steege.

Minter Dial: S t e e g e. That’s it.

Pete Steege: Or you can find me easily on LinkedIn at, again, Pete, Steggy Steege. And I have a website at B2B dash with. I like to do videos, short videos on these topics and there’s well over 100 there on my blog and on YouTube. And I would love to chat. And on my website you can. Or on LinkedIn you can easily reach out to me. I’d love to talk about marketing and your business.

Minter Dial: Well, I certainly appreciated a few of your videos. They give great value. You have a good energy, Pete, and I encourage anybody who’s listening still to go and cheque out your site and the content you do and get in touch with you. Pete, thanks so much for being on my show.

Pete Steege: Minter, it’s been a pleasure. Thank you.

Minter Dial

Minter Dial is an international professional speaker, author & consultant on Leadership, Branding and Transformation. After a successful international career at L’Oréal, Minter Dial returned to his entrepreneurial roots and has spent the last twelve years helping senior management teams and Boards to adapt to the new exigencies of the digitally enhanced marketplace. He has worked with world-class organisations to help activate their brand strategies, and figure out how best to integrate new technologies, digital tools, devices and platforms. Above all, Minter works to catalyse a change in mindset and dial up transformation. Minter received his BA in Trilingual Literature from Yale University (1987) and gained his MBA at INSEAD, Fontainebleau (1993). He’s author of four award-winning books, including Heartificial Empathy, Putting Heart into Business and Artificial Intelligence (2nd edition) (2023); You Lead, How Being Yourself Makes You A Better Leader (Kogan Page 2021); co-author of Futureproof, How To Get Your Business Ready For The Next Disruption (Pearson 2017); and author of The Last Ring Home (Myndset Press 2016), a book and documentary film, both of which have won awards and critical acclaim.

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