June 30, 2010

TED2010: Sir Ken Robinson

Sir Ken Robinson did an 18 minute talk at TED2006 and to date, four million of us have watched it. As a lifelong educator, his subject was about the fact that the education system is killing creativity.

Ken returned to TED for another talk this year and to no surprise, he was brilliant. He talks about a crisis that needs our attention immediately.

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June 28, 2010

Five Things: Staying Focused

We are human. We get distracted by squirrels and unicorns.

The easy stuff is more fun than prospecting. Fear of success is often replaced by inaction.

Here are five things you can do consistently that will help you.

Network Socially

Despite our penchant to interact since the dawn of our existence, the social web is still in its infancy. This gives us a chance to connect to similar people from across the world or next door. Take your time, have patience, connect and contribute.

Meet and Referral

Coffee meetings are common as you start out. You need to meet people, practice, meet more people, ask for business and ask for people to refer you to others who may need your product or service. It is a community and a network that will help you best. Remember to reciprocate.

Turn It Off

With smartphones in our hands at all times, it’s difficult not to stay in touch. We return emails in an instant and we train ourselves and more importantly others that we are always available. Phone and email can be shut off once in while. It also stops others from wanting to make their emergency your priority.

Stay Off Social Networks

If you are on Twitter for eight hours a day, you may not be working on other clients’ business like what you say you will do for prospects. Block off your online time or it will consume you.

Start One. Finish One.

Do one thing, finish it, tell people to stop distracting you and get on to the next. Easier said than done but magic when you can pull it off.

Back to my five things.

What are yours?

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photo credit: nextup

June 23, 2010

Social Networking Outliers and Connectors

Lend a Hand. Take a Hand.

We are not created equal. We are not all born with the same opportunities. Not everyone has a legitimate shot of making it.

This is not to challenge the religious community but rather a look at who we are and how we navigate life and business. And more important, what we're going to do about it.

Where To Start.

Malcolm Gladwell shares numerous examples in his book The Outliers to illustrate that talent alone is not enough to realize success.

It takes a lot of hard work and opportunity. Our birth date, upbringing, what our grandparents did, the people around us, the doors opened for us and what we do with all of that, shapes our path to success.

Look At Your List.

Take a moment and jot down a list of the people who have helped you – really helped you. These are the same people that connect most of the important people in your life – or another Gladwell theory – connectors.

These are the people connected to most of the people you know. They have given you those nuggets of business advice you needed to step on the next rung. They handed you that business card of a prospect that turned in to a lifelong relationship. They have helped in ways you may not even know how to measure. And you have done the same for others.

The Social Media Even Playing Field.

The opportunities are there for all of us to enjoy but we are not all made the same way. If you have met me, you know I am not a shy or quiet guy! I am no wallflower. But what if you are quiet and reserved and don’t know what to share or write or say online?

This is where Gladwell’s theory rings true again. Find those who will help you. Take your time. This is not a competition. We don’t need everyone to look and sound the same. Find your own voice. Figure out what works best for you. And despite those who claim there are no rules then complain when one is broken, there are no rules. You will eventually discover your own guidelines.

We All Get Stuck.

I hit a big snag last week and reached out to two of my most trusted advisers to kick my butt then give me concrete thoughts on how to navigate through it. I met both through the social web.

The most successful people can always point to how they got there and to the people who helped them along the way. Anyone who claims to be self-made is even lying to themselves.

Take your time, find your voice, take a hand, lend a hand. You are not on your own, you do not make it alone and neither do I.

What says you?

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photo credit: scottveltkamp

June 21, 2010

Is Your Company Happy?

Have you taken a moment lately to think about all the good stuff in your life? How about those around you, those who work and create with you, keep going.

Time is precious and success is not a number at the bottom of a general ledger or counted by possessions.

We need to run our companies with us humans in mind. It is the sole reason there is often unrest and unhappiness and bars filled with commiseration at night.

This is a TEDTalk featuring Chip Conley which was posted today.

Find twenty minutes and watch this.
Then share it with everyone.

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June 20, 2010

Father’s Day

Father's Day is a celebration inaugurated in the early twentieth century to compliment Mother's Day in celebrating fatherhood and male parenting. It is also celebrated to honor and commemorate our forefathers.

The first observance of Father's Day is believed to have been held on June 19, 1910.

After listening to a church sermon at Spokane Washington's Central Methodist Episcopal Church in 1909 about the newly recognized Mother's Day, Sonora Smart Dodd felt strongly that fatherhood needed recognition, as well.

She wanted a celebration that honored fathers like her own father, William Smart, a Civil War veteran who was left to raise his family alone when his wife died giving birth to their sixth child when Sonora was 16 years old. From Wikipedia

It is not flesh and blood but the heart which makes us fathers and sons.
Johann Schiller

When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years. Mark Twain

By the time a man realizes that maybe his father was right, he usually has a son who thinks he's wrong. Charles Wadsworth

Life was a lot simpler when what we honored was father and mother rather than all major credit cards. Robert Orben

My dad still encourages me to follow my passions and my dreams. His words still ring in my mind that relationships are not 50-50 but 100-100. At 73, he edits videos of his vacations, rewrites the rules for his online baseball league and adores his wife more than life itself.

Thanks for everything, Dad. You rock dude!

Happy Father's Day to every dad.

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photo credit: schlissellaw

June 19, 2010

Five Things: Changing Status Quo

Frog For Lunch

Brian Tracy coined the phrase eat the frog which points to how we procrastinate about the things we want to do the least.

Tracy's point is to look at those things and do them first. We have to eat the frog eventually.

Trust Your People

Trust your hiring practices, trust your coaching ability, trust your team to carry out your vision. If you feel you can’t trust people, don’t blame them, look at your leadership skills and communication practices. Trusting your people means trusting yourself.

Work Is Not A Location

Far too many managers take the attitude that you need to be behind your desk in order to be effective. If someone wants to work remotely, let them give it a try. If someone wants to experiment with some flex time, measure the downside of adopting it. Unless you're in an industry where people must be in the building, mix things up and see how creativity can flow in a different direction.

Hire Smarter Than You

This is not a competition of who has read the most books or has the most experience. Surround yourself with smart people, find those who know more about certain aspects of your industry than you and celebrate it. Get over your own self-proclaimed greatness and make it about them.

Be Uncomfortable

Unfold your arms, loosen up, drive a different way to work, let someone else run the meeting, do something to make work resemble being alive and not work, resist temptation to dismiss ideas you may not understand at first.

What will you challenge in your business?

Helping you integrate all you do with all you do.

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photo credit: freefoto

June 16, 2010

The Social Media Shift

Seat belt on. Clutch in. Punch it.

Social networking is as old as humans have been able to draw on caves and grunt.

Despite some claims that Twitter is the Holy Grail, we are the essential ingredient.

If Twitter went under today, the conversation would move to another place and continue.

Wet Your Whistle

If you meet friends at a local and it goes out of business, you don't stop seeing your friends, you find a new local. It’s not about the bricks and mortar, it’s about the people.

We are discovering a new way to communicate that has not replaced face-to-face conversations or mainstream media, it has enhanced those experiences.

There is a palpable social media shift. We're still having fun and connecting but more collaborative business relationships are growing online. I can only speak from personal experience but I have met hundreds of people I would not have met otherwise - many who live in my city.

My Kind Of A Town

A few weeks ago, I attended SobCon2010 which was the best business conference I have ever attended. Everyone was there to learn from each other and attend every minute of the sessions.

We may have met online but had taken it a human business level.

Since getting back from Chicago, I have had deep conversations with fellow participants with more on the way soon. We are talking about how we can help each other grow our perspective businesses.

Find Your Own Way

The social media shift happens differently for everyone and it's not a drag race. This stuff takes strategy, time and care. And if that scares you, then your competition will blow right by you in third gear.

So get in and get to know people. It's work, just like the rest of your business.

The shift is on. You in?

Helping you integrate all you do with all you do.

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photo credit: porsche

June 14, 2010

What Do You Do?

Not What's On Your Card.

I get that question every day.
What about you? Your answer is probably your job title. And that barely tells the story.

I have a client who helps people secure their financial future. I have another client who puts her clients at ease during tough times.

Help Don't Tell.

There is a client who makes certain that his customers feel secure in the most important purchase of their lives. There is another client who oversees a large organization from the inside. She ensures the workspace is a good place to spend 2,000 hours a year.

That’s what they do, not what’s on their business cards.

But we do seem to beg for titles. I help companies and business people improve their game. That includes overall strategy which encompasses more things that can be put on a card or website. I help you integrate all you do with all you do.

Think of your mentors or your group of advocates.

Look at those people who have helped and continue to help you with your path. No doubt you do the same for them or others. Are they on your team because of their career path or job title?

I have two clients on my board of directors who help me with feedback on how I am doing for them but also for some overall advice on how to better my game.

What Is Your ROI?

There is a lot said about return on investment and too often it has a dollar figure attached. Make your numbers and you’re good, fail to reach the bar and we have problems. Is that the only way of measuring success?

We’re adults, we run companies, we want to make profits and we want to improve the bottom line. But is that done with people who have clear job titles filed neatly in departments, or is it because of what each individual brings?

I help individuals and companies improve their game. I don't own a cookie cutter or a set of preformed answers.

Look around your office, your space, your life and see who you have around you. Are they there because of what they do for a living or who they are as people?

So forget your job title for a moment. What do you do?

Helping you integrate all you do with all you do.

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photo credit: moorepages

June 12, 2010

Imagine. Invent. Integrate.

We all love clever stuff. But something happens when clever meets ingenuity. Like this piece entitled "The Dreaded Stairs" which was released last year.

This is not posted here to endorse any site or product, it's here to make you think.

I hope it does.

Does this give you any ideas for a different way around a current challenge?

Helping you integrate all you do with all you do.

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June 11, 2010

Finding Your Voice on Social Networks

Their Way Is Irrelevant

Yesterday, I hosted a panel at Marcom 2010. The title was “Twitter: How to Engage, Connect and Be Authentic”.

The point of the discussion was not about twitter.com, it was about each person and their organization navigating the two-way online conversation. Great group, we could have spent all day talking about it.

Cave Drawings and Hieroglyphics

Social networking is as old as we have walked the earth but that is not what makes the news these days. The discussion is about a digital revolution that is giving control and customization to each and every one of us. Companies and organizations are grappling with this new two-way conversation. Some are mastering it while others are challenged by it.

We have the world in our pocket on smartphones. Any computer manufacturer in the game will offer a tablet solution by the end of the year. And no doubt there is a team working on audio versions for our vehicles.

We don't have our jet packs yet, but we have our voice and we have our choice.

Hurry Instant Now

This has given us the chance to connect to people worlds apart who share our interests. Businesses, not-for-profits and governments that have embraced it have found ways to directly connect with their constituents.

I spent 22 years in the radio industry overseeing everything from programming, promotion and marketing campaigns and performing on-air shifts. On the eve of my first time on the radio, one of my mentors gave me invaluable advice – find your own voice.

Same with Social Channels

It takes time to find your voice, connect and engage. So if you are unsure you should dig deeper or whether your company or organization should get more involved, start listening and learning.

Marcom keynote speaker Mitch Joel summed up by saying if your products or offering suck, social media won’t save you. So if you think that these channels will be your quick fix, you will be disappointed.

This has nothing to do with the number of followers or tweets you have, it has to do with you being you and digging in and mucking around like we all had to when we started.

Are you read to find your voice?

Helping you integrate all you do with all you do.

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photo credit: istock

June 10, 2010

Five Things: To Run A Business

Ideas are everywhere.

This one is as simple as they come and is the result of a conversation with a colleague.

Five is a tidy number, it's an amount that is manageable and something we'll investigate once a week.

A Strategic Plan
A realistic and executable road map for your business and your career.

Honesty With Yourself
Know your strengths, be aware of areas to work on, no one knows it all.

Honesty From Others
Find a group of 5-10 trusted advocates who will provide clear insight and feedback.

Honesty With Others
Others can see right through dishonest business practices.

Constant Education
Learning is a lifelong endeavor.

Agree? Disagree?
What are your five things?

Helping you integrate all you do with all you do.

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photo credit: therulesofwealth

June 9, 2010

Punch The Clock

Often you will meet people in large cities who grew up in a rural setting. Once in awhile, after years of bustle in an urban area, someone will opt for a quieter lifestyle with a bit more elbow room.

Green grass would replace concrete and climbing the corporate ladder may be your way to the hay loft.

We spend about 30% of our lives sleeping, another 30% working, about 10-20% consuming entertainment, add another 5% for eating and 5% getting ready – which includes dressing and showering and ironing and primping and pressing and let’s lob in another 5% for traffic. Feel free to adjust that number according to your situation.

So we are booked 85-90% of the time. We have 10-15% left over to follow our dreams, have uninterrupted thought, read a novel, relax, contemplate navels.

That 30% chunk taken by that work thing seems pretty important, doesn’t it?

The notion of think time is completely foreign to most companies. This is where you are in your office or sitting quietly in a space and you are not in a meeting or online or answering emails or doing busy work. You are thinking, creating, solving. How better could you do your gig with time blocked off every day just to think?

The idea that teams could put titles away and collaborate freely is something still rather rare. Real collaboration, not we value your opinion so we can then show you why we didn’t pick it. No passive aggressive fearful ego laden managerial yelling style – collaboration. Respectful teamwork.

Now imagine you are the manager, the owner, perhaps you are already. What does it look like? You are overseeing 30% of people’s entire lives. Sure they will move on, have several careers, but you are the curator of one third of their existence while they are working with you. Or is it just about the bottom line?

Do you think we could take some of that time for dreams and thought – as part of our work experience – with each other?

Helping you integrate all you do with all you do.

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June 5, 2010

Business and Buzzwords

None of us is immune.

We have all used the odd cliché or buzzword. I was at a presentation a few months ago and one of the speakers ended most sentences with “ok?” or “do you know what I mean?”

I spend the rest of the time counting his crutches.

If you own a white Honda, you see them all over the road. If you listen for buzz phrases, you will quickly find them everywhere too. Phrases that could perhaps be retired include "moving forward", “in this day and age” and “at the end of the day”. A bad one for me is "take it to the next level" - gotta stop usin' that one.

Gotta Give It 110%

Athletes are trained to string clichés and buzz phrases together while they sweat on the microphone and field a few soft balls from the TV guy between periods. How much of your meetings are filled with butt covering non committal doublespeak?

At SobCon this year, part of the presentation by Amber Naslund was on the buzzwords and phrases we seem to latch on to in social media - sustained engagement, relationship economy, two-way conversation, listen more sell less, etc. Her point was that we need to eliminate those crutches and focus on the real work. My point is that we can use them if we can define them and back them up.

Have you tried the "no buzz phrase" meeting, boss included?

It can be weird and uncomfortable at first but the results may surprise you. Toss in a game of buzzword bingo and magic may happen. The rules are simple, if anyone thinks someone else used an empty buzzword or phrase, they can stop the meeting and insist the person defines it.

We work 1800-2000 hours a year. Let's try and hide behind less empty sayings and have more meaningful collaboration.

Are you for it? What are up your favorites?

Helping you integrate all you do with all you do.

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photo credit: studentactivities.bard.edu

June 2, 2010

The Digital Arm Wrestle

As we quickly get to two billion people online, this is no longer something of a boutique or alternative behavior.

I chuckle when I hear terms like “digital marketing” and “new media” because when you have almost a third of the world’s population participating in an activity that is by definition mainstream. I realize we need these terms for those who haven't caught up but everything you do in your business is marketing and everything you use is media.

What is Traditional?

Most refer to “traditional” media as television, print, outdoor and radio. All remain viable for content, entertainment, information and advertising. Radio is not dead. Print is going through a transition while direct mail remains the biggest form of advertising. Billboards and bus boards remain filled with messages. And the television model is evolving.

Facebook has over half a billion users, Twitter is close to 100 million and the CNN website receives over 20 million unique visitors a month.

I heard a radio sales consultant recently talk about how his medium was the most intrusive. He’s right – if the radio stations you activate are any good. There is great content in all media so before you blindly focus on the strengths or weaknesses of each choice, ensure the specific outlets are of any quality.

Advertising on a bad radio or television station is just as dangerous as assuming a Twitter stream will save your business.

But this is not solely about advertising. As someone who has been in radio, television, print, outdoor and digital, I can assure you that without a quality product you won’t see black ink no matter how many layers of marketing lipstick you put on it.

We Share What We Like

I’m a product guy, an idea guy, a creative guy, a strategic guy and that includes all content. We share with others when we see a great movie or a great commercial. We rarely discuss what medium we found it on – that is irrelevant.

As the chatter increases about this medium or that, let’s stop and be very honest about the content. Is it any good? And if the boss isn’t convinced that the Internet is a place to find new customers, ask her to put down her smart phone for a moment and listen.

What are your thoughts?

Helping you integrate all you do with all you do.

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photo credit: ipbase

June 1, 2010

Google | Grad School to Scale

Are People Important?

Much has been written about human business in the last couple of decades. Companies have attempted to make their work spaces more enjoyable and compassionate. Some have workout areas, flex time, child care and even some allow you to bring your dog to work.

I attended Carleton University’s Spring Leadership Luncheon and A.D. Dunton Award Presentation in Ottawa yesterday. It was great to see some people I hadn’t seen in a while and meet a whole bunch of leaders in Ottawa from all walks of business.

From Ottawa to Google

This year’s A.D. Dunton Award recipient was Dr. Shona Brown who is the Senior Vice President of Business Development for Google and former Carleton grad. She is very sharp and very funny. She talked a bit about her career and journey but gave us a snapshot of life at Google Campus in Mountainview, California.

Some highlights:

If you want to work at Google, be prepared to jump head first in to the team mentality. Very few decisions are made by a single person but rather by committee. Dr. Brown calls it controlled chaos. That includes when you are hired.

Your Ideas Are Encouraged

Brown confirmed that Googlers can devote 20% of their work time developing their own ideas. That’s one day a week or as she outlined, most block off a week here and a week there to get away from their day job to flush things out.

If the idea is strong enough, they may get one or two colleagues to help take it further. If the idea gets to the next step and through some stringent hurdles, resources are applied to see where it can go.

No Hiding

She added that Google is “a well financed graduate school to scale. It looks for passionate critical thinkers and hires smart generalists."

Often, senior management at Google gather staff and field open and tough questions. As Brown says “There’s no ducking”. If you build an open collaborative space, the bosses can’t hide in their office

Always In Beta

Google is a huge company that lives in beta but does not do it void of the bottom line. There is constant experimentation and in that, spectacular failures. Dr. Brown said one issue she wishes her company would do better is shutting down ideas that aren’t successful. The downside of living in beta.

What human things can you apply to your company that seem to work for one of the largest tech firms on the planet?

Helping you integrate all you do with all you do.

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photo credit: google
© Kneale Mann knealemann@gmail.com people + priority = profit
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