August 31, 2010
If the mood at work is funky, business prospects are not good.
As a leader, are you monitoring the mood at work? Is it hopeful or pessimistic? Are your people inspired or just tired? There are clear signs of the mood state: Visuals, conversations around the water cooler, a proactive vs reactive culture.
In Primal Leadership, Dr. Daniel Goleman equates mood state with future cash flow. When the mood state is good, talent is engaged and customers are delighted. On the flip side, a negative mood state leads to turnover, silos and conflict with the customer. If you've flown lately, you know what I mean.
If the mood state is sour, you need to confront the naysayers and Chicken Littles. Make them prove their negative case. If they can't, challenge them to go positive. Be abundant in recognition, catching people doing something right and elevating it to others (note: I didn't say escalate). Smile. Talk about the future, beyond the next quarter. Gather your team up, get in the car and go sit with your best customers - brainstorming how to improve their bottom line. All of these strategies can help you lead the mood state to the positive.
Here's a clip from one of my lectures at a conference last year. I define the leader's role and make the case that managing the mood state is important.
VIDEO: Leading The Mood State
August 27, 2010
In 2001, I read at least a dozen books on book promotion.
Love Is The Killer App was set to be published in early 2002, and I was a student of book promotion. InThe Complete Guide To Book Publicity, author Jodee Blanco made a simple but powerful point: If an author does five things a day to promote his/her book, it will make daily progress and likely catch on (if its a book that "works").
I took the advice to heart and each day, made sure I did five things: Interview, calls to book sellers, give a talk, email marketing to my list, query to publications or newsletters, send out promotional copy to high profile person, etc. It took ten months, but in December of 2002, Love Is The Killer App made its way on the New York Times best seller list. It was also on the list in January 2003.
Today, it is easier than ever to do five promotional things a day for your book, product or service. You can blog, tweet (Five tweets = one blog to me), interview, reach out, send promotional items to high profile users, network, make a presentation or pick up the phone. Five a day adds up over time, which is the point of the program. Think of it as compound marketing -- it works the same way as compound interest as the returns increase as momentum is achieved.
Next week, try this system out (25 promotional efforts) for your product or service. By Friday, you'll start to see results, and if you stick with it over time, you'll enjoy success.
August 24, 2010
Never have a meeting or make a presentation without doing your homework.
What is your homework? Context. This is a habit I developed at Yahoo!, and recommend to everyone I know. When you are going to make a sales call or take a meeting with a new company/person - do some background research so you know the context of the situation.
For example, at Yahoo!, every time we'd engage with a new prospect, we'd fully research their history (via Hoovers, stock ticker, their website), news coverage of the company, bios of individuals in the meeting and the competitive landscape. I'd budget about three hours for a thirty minute meeting. I'd combine all the research into a 'parse' - short for a parsed up brief of the company and participants in the meeting.
The point wasn't being a know-it-all, it was about knowing the context so I could tailor my remarks or presentation to the situation. After a while, I started to send the parse to my contact at the prospect company to see if I got it right. You'd be surprised that in many situations, my contact didn't know half of that I'd dug up! In every case, my confidence was higher because I had the power of knowledge.
Same goes with any presentation. Always research your audience: Their emotions, the context they are working in, their competitive situation and trends in the industry that impact them. Show up the night before and talk to your future audience to verify your understanding. The most important piece of intel to gather is the business model they're operating under, and where their upside and leakage occurs. This information allows you to point remarks to action items that make a difference. This will dramatically improve the effectiveness of any presentation you make.
August 20, 2010
Yesterday, a Twitter system issue caused me to temporarily lose all my followers. One moment I had over 11,000, the next moment .... 0. The tweets were there, the following was gone. Poof! The day before, a friend of mine lost his Facebook account due to a (disputed) terms of service violation. He's been on for years, and had hundreds of friends there. Poof!
Fortunately for me, I got my account restored. Unfortunately for my friend, he's probably lost his forever. The whole experience begs the question: Marketers -- What would you do if you lost your following? It's very possible this can happen to you, and if it does, there's very little you can do about it. Think you can call Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook like you can call Zappos? Wrong. You'll send emails, get form replies from dispassionate 20-somethings (that could care less about NetPromoter scores) ... and you are at their mercy.
A few years ago, when working at Yahoo!, I'd get frantic emails from people that lost their Mail accounts - losing tens of thousands of archived emails, etc. along the way. They too couldn't get a caring person on the phone and in very rare situations, I could help them. What do they do now? They use an email client (like Apple Mail, Entourage or Outlook) where all the data sits on your machine - not 'out there'.
If you are putting time into social media to drive your business, and building up an audience (following) to target - you need to find ways to localize the relationships to regain control of your destiny. If you are going to trust Twitter or Facebook to manage your following, you are really vulnerable. Here are a few takeaways for you:
1. Don't use social media to build up a big audience you can monetize later - If you use social media of any type, do it to be helpful. Think of your followings as congregations you help, not targets you can pound when your product launch is at hand. If you are helpful enough, your following will click over to your blog (and subscribe to the feed) or sign up for your monthly newsletter (now their in your domain). They key to conversion though, is a steadfast commitment to being helpful, not markety.
2. Back up your social media following: For Twitter, run Tweetake once a month (this free service will download your following, tweets, etc. to a spreadsheet). For Facebook, you can use SocialSafe. If you lose either following, you can hire a virtual service to either message them to rejoin (Facebook) or follow them on Twitter (where about 70% will follow back). Neither solution is complete or easy, but it beats losing everything.
3. Dedicate time to your blog and newsletter - Give each one a unique value proposition and never let them be less of a priority than what you do on Twitter, FB or LinkedIn. Think of any platform you have no control over as a marketing front end to those you own (like blog/newsletter,mail list, etc.)
When I first joined Yahoo!, I spent time with then CEO Tim Koogle. He started out at Motorola, where there were countless stories about founder Paul Galvin. One of them is relevant here. Koogle told me about one of Galvin's early businesses that made battery eliminators (for radios, etc.). There was a transition time when AC power (wall plug in) was being installed into homes, but appliances still ran on batteries. Galvin's company made the incremental adaptor solution.
Galvin went out of business, though. The appliance makers (Maytag to RCA) offered an electrical cord as part of the device and designed batteries out. Galvin was disintermediated! Koogles point: Always own your relationship with your clients, lest you get cutoff out of the blue. Get it?
August 17, 2010
If you want to perform at the highest level, do just one thing at a time.
Today I had a very successful speech at a financial services conference. For the last 48 hours, it was all I thought about. I didn't blog yesterday, my few tweets were actually part of today's talk (making it connected) and I didn't work on any other projects.
As you know, I'm writing a new book and have a training business too - It's easy to fall into the multi-tasker's trap, seducing myself into believing I can excel at all - at the same time. To be effective, I need to focus on the thing on deck, and wall out any other opportunities (distractions with upside). I didn't check my email this AM, and poured all my focus in final rehearsal steps ... then execution took care of itself.
Now that I'm done, I'll focus the rest of today on one thing - editing a piece of my new book. That's it. For authors, I cringe when they tell me they are carving out an hour or two every day to write. It's not a winning strategy for ultra-high performance. David Lynch once said that "it takes at least four hours to get one creative hour of work done." True. When I write, I block out a unit (1/2 a day) and wall out any other distractions. Eventually, my subconscious rewards me with insight, which helps the final product sing.
Try this starting with your next important performance (speech, sales pitch, what ever). Don't try and balance it between other tasks. Really, you aren't that good, I know I'm not. You might say, "well, my kid can email, text, watch TV, listen to music, talk to his friends and still finish his homework." To that I say, he's been doing it his whole life (unlike you) and he's not performing as well as he would if he applied single tasking focus to his studies.
August 13, 2010
In late 2000, I read former Coke CMO Sergio Zyman's book, The End Of Marketing As We Know It. He argued that promotions, advertising, positioning, messaging and packaging should all be seen "as a service that adds value when you buy, own or consume the product."
He continues that it should not be an interruption, broadcast or self-serving effort. His example: Coke, Its Refreshing. Prior to this being their marketing strap, they studied Coke consumers' tendency to feel refreshed after drinking their product. As the marketing program rolled out via commercial media, they retested their consumers...and guess what? They felt much more refreshed. Why? Because the marketing engaged them and set their expectations accordingly.
My takeaway was simple, but life changing: Marketing is the free service that can lead to a paid service or product purchase. Bud has entertained us and inspired us for free, and when we consume the product we likely smile, remembering the ad we recently saw. Progressive insurance marketing choice to us, which changed the insurance buying process. Apple showed us how to use their iPhone in TV ads, and we had an easier time using it once purchased.
In a 2009 post, Seth Godin talked about why a good book cover is a service that adds value when you own it. (The Purpose Of Book Covers)
Review your marketing exectuions in the future under that lens, and weed out the non-serving interruptions and announcements. What will be left? Good marketing that works!
August 09, 2010
Recently, I took on a new mentee. Even though I'm writing a new book, I need to practice what I preach and that means having a mentee at all times that I'm developing. This means that I'll need to invest a few hours a week in this person and be available to answer questions or follow up on promises.
I told one of my friends about my new mentee last week, and he replied, "So, how can he be of use to you?" This is a pretty typical approach many have to networking or giving. In our culture, unfortunately, we screen people for utility prior to making personal investments in them (time, network, etc.).
This is the wrongheaded way to think. Adam Sandler gave comics advice and opportunity, without analyzing their potential impact on his career. The inadvertent result? He's created his own community of comics. If you want to be a great networker, flip this screening process on its head. Ask yourself, "can I help this person be more effective in life? Can I help this person rise up?"
Don't look for the useful, create the useful. This is the abundant way to approach mentoring or networking. This suspension of return-on-investment is not lost on your recipient either. If you want to spark the true spirit of giving, give freely, expect nothing in return except the satisfaction that you've been able to multiply the value of someone else.
This is where faith can build a real network. When others receive from you, and can't figure out how to repay you, they will often pay it forward - mentoring someone in the future. This is the way that we givers can play catchup with the takers of the world. Because the takers are vicious and work around the clock to 'get theirs'. When I see a 'networker' sizing someone up for utility, I see a wolf in sheep's clothing.
August 03, 2010
Last week I had an inspiring lunch with comic Kyle Cease.
He's recently come into my life via a Lovecat introduction by radio personality BJ Shea. Immediately, Kyle and I hit it off, exchanging stories and tips. There's just something about how breaking bread brings out rich dialogue and useful information.
Kyle's had great success, producing one of the top Comedy Central TV specials in the last five years and continuing to 'kill it' for audiences throughout North America. One of his success secrets really resonated with me.
"I don't tell jokes to a group of people," he said. "I tell them to individual people in the audience."
"I can see how that works in a comedy club, but how do you do that on TV?" I asked.
"It's about the person you have in your mind. Your perfect audience member. On TV, I look through the camera and into the mind of the person I'm trying to connect with."
Makes total sense to me. It's more than eye contact, it's intentional contact on an individual basis. A great speaker, comedian or performer gives his/her audience the individual feeling of receiving a gift. This helps the performance touch people on a personal basis. It drives Kyle to remain conversational, just like he's talking to friend or lunch companion.
Talk to an audience like a group, and they'll act like a group: Collectively groaning or clapping at certain points. Treat them like individuals and they'll act like people. They'll recall your jokes, how they made them feel and they'll tell all their friends about you. A standing ovation comes from an intense connection with a few people, hopefully close to the front, that leap to their feet - inspiring the rest of the 'group' to follow.
TAKEAWAY: Next time you give any type of performance, first lock into the person you imagine you are giving it to. Find some anchors in the room if it's small (a few faces that fit that profile) and speak to them like you'd talk to someone over dinner. As Nick Morgan would say, "you don't make a presentation. you give a speech!"