Patch.com asked business and marketing consultant Ken Lizotte about his professional background and why he loves living in Concord. Lizotte recently spoke to the Friends of the Concord Free Public Library as part of its author series. His new book, "The Expert's Edge" is available at the Concord Bookshop and other outlets.
Where did you grow up and how did you come to have your office in Concord?
I grew up not far from Concord, in Marlborough, but came to Concord about 18 years ago (after 4 years in Arlington), attracted by many of the obvious things (beauty, history, community, cultural activities) but not the least because it reminded me of the Marlborough of my youth.
Like so many, many other cities and towns, Marlborough has become overdeveloped over the years, office and condo complexes and housing and industry crowding out the lakes, parks, forests and apple orchards that once signified New England. Concord has refused to let this happen. It's rare to find such a community-wide determination year after year, decade after decade to keep one's local area preserved for the better, despite the allure of increased tax revenues from new property developments. So I'm here now in Concord for life.
What do you especially like about the town?
In addition to what I just said, its history is high on my list especially as I named my company "emerson consulting group" after Mr. Emerson because he so embodied what I call a "thoughtleader."
Though not in business per se, Emerson did many of the things I help my clients do (so as to rise above their competition): publish your (his) ideas, give talks and presentations, network in the right places, engage in research and "fresh thinking" and make yourself available to the media.
His example lives on, from the days when Louisa May Alcott, as a teenager, learned so much from him about books just by visiting him to my use of him today by holding him up as an icon for business people. Concord's history is rich in such inspirational role models and peoples' movements (underground railroad, transcendentalists, colonial minutemen, artists, suffragettes) in a manner that 99.9 percent of other communities can only wish for.
How did your particular management ideas develop?
I always saw the value of getting your business message out via a combination of the media and "networking" which is really just another way of saying "hanging out with people."
I saw that work so well during my college days during the movement to end the Vietnam War. Those protests and marches and affinity groups gave rise to many other groups that stood for similar messages (women's rights, gay rights, equality for Latino, Asian and Native American US citizens etc.) and the logical response was to form alliances and work together, for a common cause.
Translate that into business and you automatically understand that building relationships with others in business will result naturally into business success for all. In terms of media, I have always been fascinated with write, publishing, radio, TV and media in general. I recount in my book an experience I had with the Boston Globe which, because a columnist had written about a previous business of mine, my phone rang off the hook for days and weeks and months and even years! So I got a positive lesson then in the power of the media, in what it could do for your business. Ever since, I've used the media as a main "pillar" of my business development strategy. In my book I explain how others can use it too as well as how other "pillars" can help out too.
Who inspires you?
Novelist Norman Mailer, who died just a couple of years ago, always inspired me. Not for his personal life (that was a mess!) but for his willingness to go out on a limb with a new idea and defend it in publish even if he had to joust aggressively with an unfriendly audience. He wrote about his innovative thoughts and delivered talks that communicated radical ideas and got himself on radio and TV and in print so he could communicate them even further.
That multi-pronged use of publishing/people/media channels distinguished him in my mind for other, more solitary writers and inspired me to emulate his approach. Years later that translated into a process that companies could use to advance their business goals. My book "The Expert's Edge" details this process in a clear and easily readable way.
What do you do for relaxation?
I love to run; I run in every Fourth of July race, plus the Orchard House 10K in the fall and the Emerson Hospital 5K in early June. I've been a member of Gold's Gym for nearly 20 years. I've got a Golden Retriever that needs a good run on the weekends too but usually I wear her out rather than the other way round. I also love snowboarding with my musical genius daughter Chloe who will be a junior at CCHS in fall 2010 and an award-winning DJ at WIQH, among other things.
I love taking my summer interns to the Concord Museum and the various historic houses here. I'm always reading at least one book at any one time even if it might take me a few months due to time constraints. Movies and dinner with my gorgeous wife Barbara of course and traveling in August on some great vacation with both barb and Chloe to maybe England, Ireland, Scotland, France etc.
I like and need some quiet time too every week, maybe at Great Meadows or the North Bridge or Walden Pond or just in my backyard where I'm sitting today in the shade (it's 90-degrees in the sun!) writing this answer for you. And did I mention having a Concord resident Katie Barbarisi's chocolate chip cookie? No better treat IN THE WORLD than a Katie's cookie. Bar none.
What is on your iPod?
Well, my daughter Chloe has an iPod with like millions of tunes on it but I do not have one of my own. If I did, I'd be listening to a bit of everything: Beatles of course and each of them individually, the Rolling Stones, the Beach Boys, Muse (Chloe's fave by far), Green Day, Joan Baez, Dusty Springfield, Schubert, Vivaldi, Alan Jackson, Clint Black, Frank Sinatra ("Chicago, Chicago"), Dean Martin, Judy Garland, Glenn Miller, Ella Fitzgerald, Ken Peplowksi, the Mills Brothers, Sammy Davis Jr., Rosemary Clooney, Taylor Swift, Soldier Boy, Gene Autry, Roy Rogers, theme music from the movie Fantasia and also from the Rocky movies… well heck, I did say "everything, didn't I?