7 posts categorized "July 2013"

July 31, 2013

How To Read 20 Books A Year

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Sounds daunting, doesn't it: One year/20 entire books read.  For some of you, it's a piece of cake and for others, "It had better be Harry Potter or 50 Shades!" Here's the reality: Readers are leaders of society. They earn more, deliver more value, lead more people and respond to adversity better than the average. 

Reading expands your capacities to think, feel and problem solve.  However, based on research we've done at Deeper Media, the average professional reads less than 2 non-fiction books a year, cover-to-cover.  On the flip side, the average CxO reads about six.  Readers are leaders. 

This is not a matter of will.  It's a matter of having a knowledge-acquisition strategy. If I had to point to one system that's changed my business life, it's my personal system for reading 20 (great) books a year to double my value.  Here's the skinny: 

Buy Books That Are Interesting To Your Outcome - Not just interesting or intriguing books, mind you.  Books that might change your situation, solve a big problem, give you a winning perspective.  I think of business book shopping as looking for brain-food for my issues at hand.  Start an Evernote and enter any books you read or hear about that might serve your current mission. 

Buy 50 Books a Year and read 200 Samples - Face it: You invest five to ten hours of your life in a book...don't let bad ones ruin your POV about reading.  The key to being a voracious reader is being judicious about where you invest your time.  While most samples don't give you the entire picture, frequently, you'll get right away whether the book is worth finishing (buying).  Go to bookstore, invest an hour every other week, and buy a few every visit.  If you aren't taking notes and racing your mind by page 100, you likely need to quit the book and move on to the next.  (PS - I don't read reader reviews.  They are usually not helpful, accurate or aligned with my perspective on reading.) 

Make It Convenient To Read - Benjamin Franklin was a voracious reader because he carried books with him everywhere he went.  He stashed them in carriages, guest rooms and inns and when a slice of time presented itself, he cracked open a book.  You can carry books with you easily due to eReaders.  The next time you are stuck waiting on service or in transit, instead of using your smartphone to check social media, read a book instead.

Share What You Are Learning - Like gratitude, reading becomes more valuable when you share the experience. Inject ideas or surprising findings from books you are reading into conversations at work. Give books as gifts to colleagues or customers, and deliver a succint description of what the book will do for them. Share your recent reads (and recommendations) on social media. 

This will create a positive feedback loop in several ways.  First, people will reciprocate with their own recommendations or personal experiences.  Share enough, and soon, you'll be swimming in trusted book recommendations.  Second, by sharing the knowledge, you'll feel rewarded for the time you've invested in reading.  This will only stoke your desire to read more! 

What are you reading?  Why should I read it?  Post it in comments.  If we get more than 10, I'll pick out someone and give him or her ... a book! 


July 24, 2013

You Don't Have To Be On All the Social Networks To Succeed

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I remember back when blogging first started, when people told me, "you need to blog to keep up!" I pushed back. I was already writing a book every two years, pumping out a beefy newsletter every month and answering over a hundred emails a day!  The thought of more writing work was simply overwhelming. 

And then the social networks started popping up, begging for my precious time and attention.  I could ignore MySpace, and at first facebook.  LinkedIn lurked on the horizon, offering a little value if I was looking to poach someone for my company ... and then it all converged into a blizzard of gotta-be-here-hammering-it-daily networks that I felt like I had to invest in.  

Turns out, only a few of them actually drive my speaking or writing business.  The rest are flotsam...time wasters...content vampires.  Through this I 've learned that you don't need to be everywhere, because that's like trying to dance your way out of quicksand.  You'll never get there.  

During my keynotes on The Social Opportunity, I tell businesses that they need to think differently about the rise of social networking and all the opportunities that come with it.  Here's what you should really look at: Are your business targets moving to new streams to find, connect and share? Are they harder to reach with your current marketing and CRM strategies?  If so, then you likely need to setup a new camp, otherwise, wait until you have a real need to make the leap. 

Some consultants say that it's easy to make this decision based on your type of business: Professional services on LinkedIn, Consumer offerings on Twitter and Pinterest, Technology and media services on Google+ and everybody on facebook, but I think that's an overgeneralization that is disproved by countless case studies. Here's a more scientific way for you to figure out where you need to be.

First, you need to be clear on who your targets are.  By targets, I mean, who do you want your content to reach and who do you want to interact with more often?  For most of us, the prospective or current customer represents your top target.  For some companies, reaching partners is more critical.  Those could be resellers or strategic providers, where constant contact generates more performance.  In some cases, like McGladrey Accounting, their top targets are entry level accountants (team members and candidates).  You may say, "all of them", which is fine if you really have the resources to shoot for three targets with your interactive strategy. 

Next, you need to ask your best clients/partners/employees where they fish for solutions, graze for information and share their content.  Ask them where you can connect with them, share their content, and give them updates and special offers.  Create a survey (no more than seven questions), or better yet, make it part of your ongoing conversations and then distill the information to develop a top three social networks list.  In my experience, my top customer has a media profile that closely resembles my top prospects, so this exercise will scale from current to prospective victories. 

Now, create a program to serve NO MORE than the top three networks.  If you can, limit your work to two.  Often, you'll do this to serve multiple types of targets.  In the case of McGladrey, they invest in LinkedIn for new customers and facebook to recruit accountants.  They use their Twitter account to drive traffic to their blog posts.

In my case, my targets include readers, conference planners and speaking bureau partners.  I work my blog, facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn (in that order of priority).  I don't really do Google+, Tumblr or Pinterest.  They don't offer me ROI against my defined targets.  If I tried to do everything, I'd likely be spread too thin.  

Finally: Monitor the results, refresh your survey every year and drop dead-weight networks.  So far, my blog and facebook have generated the most business for me, but Twitter keeps me directly connected to most of my targets.  I've been investing more time in LinkedIn, but haven't seen much results yet...so I might drop it (like Chris Brogan did last year when he moved to Google+). This way, I don't end up with network creep, where I simply add new ones to the pile, ending up spread out eventually.  

If you'd like some advice for your business, do a straw poll of your top targets, share the results and your business situation in comments and I'll jump in with my .02. OK?


July 18, 2013

How To Be Generous Without Being Took

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Last week, I had a chance to catch up with a friend who just moved to LA to work in the music production industry.  He's read Love Is the Killer App several times, and put several of the ideas into practice.  He's mentored several up and coming engineers as well as lending his network to those seeking a new gig.  

"But here I am, still living check to check," he said to me.  "Few if any of the people I've helped have done squat for me.  How can your system work in the real world?"  This is a question I've struggled with while writing the book, touring to promote it and mentoring dozens of people over the last decade.  It's very hard for a human to give to a taker, and then be OK with being took.  

In my experience, however, I've learned something critical: Nice Smart People Succeed.  Note I didn't say Nice People Succeed.  The big difference lies in being smart about whom you help out and what to look for before you help out a second time.  So here's the advice I gave him: 

Only Give To Fellow Givers - Too often, we get sucked into helping out users, because they are very good at conning us out of resources.  Screen people first for their generosity by asking them who they've helped out recently, and how it made them feel.  If they fumble for an answer, reconsider whether this is a good person to promote or mentor.  If you give to a generous person, at the very least, they'll pay it forward.  (I know that it sounds harsh for me to say that we should deny selfish people our talents and gifts, but the Takers are well organized and constantly stealing what they can.  The Givers need to circle their wagons accordingly.)

Don't Give Away The Scarce Or Non-Replenishable - You have intangible gifts that actually grow when you give them away.  Take knowledge sharing.  When you give wisdom or advice to others, often you get feedback from them later about how it worked, which only sharpens your saw.  When you intelligently share your network of relationships, your total circle usually expands due to reciprocity and goodwill.  If you give away too much time, money or permissions (letting others break the rules), you'll run out eventually, and then be VERY senstive to the ROI of giving. 

Take The Long View - Don't expect to see results immediately.  By suspending your expectation for immediate reciprocity, you send a powerful message to your recipients that empowers them: I expect nothing in return.  This usually gives them a feeling that they too should be as generous and helpful as you, and that you truly gave them a gift...and did not look at them as an investment. 

Photo/Drawing by Joy Martin


July 16, 2013

Up To the Minute Tips For Posting to Facebook Pages

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Recently, I've had the opportunity to hang out with an assortment of highly successful facebook page owners and administrators.  The include the manager of a popular band, two Fortune 500 Company Social Media Directors and the CEO of a firm that manages hundreds of high traffic-high profile pages.  Collectively, they've given me some good advice and keen insights into the state of Edgerank. 

  • Post Directly To facebook -- This was the most consistent piece of advice I received.  "Edgerank hates 3rd party posting apps like Hootsuite, etc.," was told to me several times.  There is a new Hide feature that facebook is trying out, where you not only hide the author of the offending/obnoxious post...you can block ALL posts coming through that 3rd party app!
  • Post During Prime-Time -- Your audience has a prime time, and your insights page will likely reveal this to you by traffic time stamps.  Don't waste a post at 2AM if your biz-oriented crowd is fast asleep.  If you are entertainment oriented, don't post at 8AM unless the data says you are a cup-of-Joe companion.  
  • Post Links Sparingly -- Edgerank hates third party links (say, to your blog post or something you found on HuffPo) as much as it hates 3rd party apps.  One social manager explained that links are in "dead-last" when it comes to Edgrank's affinity algorithm.  "Furthermore," he explained, "When you post an URL, not only does that post not see daylight, future posts are punished for it, until you gain back your affinity rating." 
  • Post Videos Direct to facebook -- This is connected with the last point.  When you post a link to a YouTube video, Edgerank doesn't see that as a video, it's just another link and in fact .... a link to a mortal competitor's property.  By uploading videos directly to facebook, you are ensuring that it gets much more traffic as native video is the heaviest of all content on facebook.
  • Post Once a Day -- Unlike Twitter, where there is no Edgerank and the feed resembles the Wild-Wild-West, you don't need to post multiple times a day to garner attention.  If you are a wordsmith or offer inspiration/helpful advice, some experts have told me 2 a day on the weekdays will work.  It turns out that facebook owners are sensitive to too many posts and quick to click the Hide key, which means your content won't get through to them in the future. 

Do you have any posting tips for facebook page owners or admins?  Please contribute them in comments.  If I decide to add one of them to this post, I'll send you a book on social media or marketing. 


July 11, 2013

Here's An Unconventional Way To Grow Your Business

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Warning: This is a get-rich-slow plan.  If you are looking to jumpstart your business in the next 30-90 days, you might not find what you are looking for here.  But if you are looking to grow your business in a sustainable, fulfilling and profitable way ... and you are willing to take the long-view ... I've got some killer advice for you. 

Grow your business by growing everyone you do business with.  That's it.  A simple, yet hard to execute strategy for greening up the bottom line.  You grow people best by sharing your intangibles: What you know, who you know and your ability to give encouragement and support.  

I wrote about this as an author-pup in Love Is the Killer App, and it's the core perspective behind my lecture circuit talk "Multiply The Value!".  Over the last dozen years, I've met countless people that have practiced this way of developing their business, and it's no longer considered a naive way to think. 

It Starts Inside: Grow the person sitting next to you or looking up to you.  You can spot a mentee candidate, because he or she is in transition (usually going up) and is missing information that you possess. When your colleagues excel, give them honest and instant encouragement.  In his fabulous book Primal Leadership, Dr. Daniel Goleman observes that when employees feel positive about their job, engagement and customer satisfaction levels grow.  When you grow people, then, they likely pass it forward to the customer, and in turn, the love comes back to you. 

Your Partners Needs Love Too: Your day to day business contacts, be they suppliers or vendors, need to grow too in order for your business to flourish.  Are you lending them your network, along with your reputation?  It's the best marketing they can ever receive. Surprisingly, as they scale up, their service levels will actually increase because they have more resources than ever and a willingness to share them with you.  I love speaking at partner conferences, like the one that Cisco puts on every year for their value-added resellers, because it's a win/win for everyone involved.  The Cisco Partners learn new tricks of the trade along with gaining strategic insight and Cisco develops closer relationships with their sales channel, which translates to invaluable insights and of course ... loyalty. 

CRM Is Dead, Long Live Customer Development: One of the most courageous things you can do is challenge, educate or inform you customers in order to improve their fitness for business. Too often, we worry this distracts them from what we are selling, but in fact, it gives us more access to them in the long run and generate endless referrals.  It's good to network customers to new opportunities as well.  That's how Elmer Letterman built his insurance business in the 30's.  

I believe we need to think more like farmers than butchers.  Farmers plant seeds and nurture them to harvest. Too much grow-your-business thinking resembles the butcher business model: More meat delivered daily sold through to more customers walking through the front door.  While products and marketing deliver numbers, sometimes working with what you've got ... at a human level ... will yield more in the long run. 


July 08, 2013

How Social Media Can Increase Employee Engagement

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Managers: What if I told you that you could leverage social media to increase your employee's engagement and job satisfaction? Do you think I've lost my new-media mind?  Let me ask this: Have you ever received an award at a company event (conference, banquet, etc.) and then the next workday, had boundless energy and motivation? 

Sure you did.  That's how recognition works, especially when it is public.  When I keynote for HR and talent management groups, I talk about three compensation plans they can offer: Financial, Emotional and Social.  (Financial = $, Emotional = working environment and Social = public praise).  The social compensation plan may not be what attracts talent, but according to research by Bersin and Associates, recognition programs can give a company 14% more engagement and reduce voluntary turnover by 31%.  That's why employee recognition is a whopping $40billion dollar industry! 

Most of the time, though, recognition is doled out annually, based on extraordinary results.  For Gen Y workers, AKA the status-update-generation, this is not fast enough.  According to a Harvard Business Review article (Mentoring Millennials), younger workers need faster feedback, if not real-time.  Most companies, though, haven't figured out how to do this.  Enter social media, the world's cheapest recognition machine. 

Recently, when I was researching for a keynote talk for security equipment manufacturer Interlogix, I came across a great case study of how a company can give social-recognition that works.  AVI-SPL, a video integration service provider, uses their facebook page to recognize milestones for employees: 15 years of service or a recently completed project.  In both cases, there is interaction with the posts, spilling over to employee's family and friends.  

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If your company culture is Twitter-centric, that may be the best platform to give instant and public shoutouts. Same goes if your company's mostly using LinkedIn.  Here's the challenge: Can you find a way, this week, to give some much needed recognition to you employees over social?  You know they'll find out, and when they do, you'll see the results in terms of spirit and energy.


July 02, 2013

When to Send a Top Producer to the Competition

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Have you ever heard the phrase, "horizontal turnover"? This is where the jerk stays and the team around him or her leaves.  This happens more than you think, especially in a sales driven culture where top producers are god-like Rock Stars to management. 

How can it happen?  Easy: They get hired, and once in, their numbers act as a shield to protect them from their personality or pure evilness.  This is why I advise recruiters to scrutinize a candidate for the jerk-factor, especially when he or she has a solid track record...yet is available.  There are tell-tale signs: They brag, focus on what is wrong with others, make excuses for past mistakes and show disdain for those who 'bring in less money' than they do.  You might also test the candidate by having him or her hang out with very junior staffers, then find out how he or she behaved.  Better yet, have an employee pose as a fellow applicant in the waiting area, with instructions to attempt to strike up a conversation.  That always brings out the (competitively fueled) jerk. 

If you realize you have a Larry David sitting in front of you, if you can, refer them to a competitor. I've seen this happen before when I was working in HR at Yahoo and it works like a charm.  The competitor is seduced by the numbers, hires the jerk and a year later at the SHRM conference when you ask about Larry you hear, "He's still here.  But everyone else in the group bugged out." 

Your culture is a conversation, led by leaders, about 'how we do things around here'.  If you hire jerks, especially those with great numbers behind them, your culture will become negative where 'you eat what you kill' becomes the mantra of the organization.  BTW: The very people who the competent jerk chase off are the ones you need to stage a positive customer experience and cooperate for the sake of innovation.  You can train people to achieve metrics, but unfortunately, there's not a good cure for being insensitive and arrogant. 

For more read: The No Asshole Rule by Bob Sutton