December 20, 2012
For my entire life, I've heard this one: Time is money! However, most of the people who say this haven't yet figured out how to fully sell out their time. That means that for them, time could potentially be money, but in the end...it's just time.
This misguided view causes us to be impatient, utilitarian in our relationships and stern this those who don't operate at our pace or 'waste our time' on calls or in meetings. Again, the assumption we errantly take in this approach is that our time is fully committed for cash, and others barge in for it, taking points off the board.
A few weeks ago a sage business person I know offered a counter-perspective that really hit home with me. Money is time. It takes time to make it, and while money can be found, made or borrowed - time cannot. Every day, you look in the mirror and realize that you are getting older, slower and more likely out of step with up and coming generations. At some point your body or mind will start to slip, and unlike the flu, you will never get better.
I know that's morbid, but it's also pretty realistic. If it took you a year to save $10,000, then spending it in the wrong place costs you a precious year of your life to replace. If you haven't noticed, it's harder in 2012 to make up lost money than it was in 2005, and might get even more difficult in the future.
For me, here's my takeaway: Money is a precious resource I've sacraficed time for. Time away from my loved ones. Time I'll never get back. Money is a reflection of it, not what it bears. I will be judicious in how I spend or invest it. I will look for passive income streams where ever I can, so that I can stretch time instead of gringing it out with active income that requires my present capabilities. I will teach others to think of money that way also, be they individuals or companies. (As a startup founder, it's clear that if you run out of money, you don't have any more time to find traction, it's literally your life-cycle.)
The next time I eyeball that $500 gadget or a fancy car, I'll look at my watch and calculate how much time it will ultimately cost me. And that may change my mind.Tweet
December 12, 2012
Why do we use social media, be it personally or professionaly? To be heard.
This was my takeaway from the recent Edison Research survey, which indicated that 25% of Facebook users visit the network five times or more a day. And when they visit, they pay more attention to interactions with their posts than the content others are putting up.
This is a remarkable insight for insightful marketers, entrepreneurs and businesses. When we first start using social media, we likely reconnect with old friends and curiousity drives our usage. Then, after the new wears off, we begin to use these platforms to express ourself or be a maven.
This jives with Dan Zarella's findings at Hubspot, where he indicates that the top reasons we share content are to be "in the know" or to "warn/recommend" to our friends. Again, it's all about expression. The psychic currency, then, is for their posts to in turn be liked, shared, commented on, etc.
So here's the takeaway: If you want to connect with media, influeners, prospects or your customers, don't interrupt them with a cold call or spam them with a press release or "what's up?" email. Give them what they want: Attention. Create lists (Twitter) or preferred feed (Get Notifications/FB) for those you want to build a relationship with. When they post content that should be shared, share it or comment. Be additive, though, because it's all about authenticity.
They will reciprocate by paying more attention to you, and who knows, your hat tip could lead to opporutnities to interact. In a world where your calls don't get returned and your emails are never opened, the hat tip may be the only way to become signal, instead of noise.
Watch: Video clip from one of my keynotes on "How To Win Business Using Social Media."Tweet
December 05, 2012
Sometimes, it's a computer on a desk. Others, it's your iPhone by the bedpost. Any device will deliver your email, a constant string of welcome and unwelcome chatter. And your curiosity kills you, just like a kid watching the post man stuff the mail box. You can't help but check it over and over again all the day long.
And right before you go to bed, just before you brush your teeth or tuck in the kids, you steal a glance at your Inbox. You just can't help yourself. In most cases, the chatter is innocuous. In the rarest of cases, something needs your attention before the next morning. And I mean, rare.
But then there's the monthly or quarterly sleep killer that never fails to show up: An email that pisses you off. Maybe someone has been sipping and sending, being curt when they should be kind. You read the note, wonder, "why would he say that to me!?" and either tap back a salvo or trudge off to bed to mutter to yourself. You rehearse how you are going to tell her off tomorrow.
It sneaks into your sleep psyche too, sometimes your dreams. You complain to your partner or friends at the gym the next day, getting worked up about a stupid email you read at 10:30 last night. Then you go off on the culprit the next day, who often sheepishly replies, "jeez, I didn't mean any thing by it!" Does this read familiar to you?
Email is a horrible way to express your intentions, so of all media to eat before bedtime, it's the worst one for your soul.
Lately, I've been passing by my laptop on the way to bed. It's not there. I don't drag the iPad to bed, I read out of my Kindle instead. And I'm sleeping better too. Nothing's gone wrong, either, so turns out, it was a waste of time. The next morning, over a cup of coffee, last night's email never reads that badly.
For more, check out this video, from one of my keynotes.Tweet
November 28, 2012
I've always loved Steven Colbert's concept of Truthiness. Believing in something "because it feels right" to believe in it. It's neatly installed into the gut of your sales target, making it easy to win your point. Seen a lot of it lately from politics to business. Doesn't always mean it's right and when it's wrong, it leads to big mistakes.
For the blogging world, this no lose sales-job takes on another form: Linkiness. Sometime a few years ago, bloggers realized they could "prove" any of their assertions with a neato hyperlink to another blog post, a study and report, etc. It caught on, and these days, you'll see dozens of hyperlinks in an average post, all signifying, "I'm not making this stuff up, it's true and I have corroboration!" The blue links are all over it like a case of info-measles.
Here's the problem: Readers aren't getting the message, due to all the distracting Squirrel!Links they can't help but click on. Some spawn pop up windows or tabs and others take you to a different site. You get lost in the rabbit hole of links and never quite finish the original blog post in the first place. You even forget which blog or blogger got you started on this fantastic voyage.
Often, what you link to is merely someone else's assertion, supported by their Linkiness, which presents more distractions and wastes more time. Linkiness is keeping mindless web surfing alive. But here's the problem: As a blogger, no one is understanding or finishing your work. In many cases, your posts require a real investment of time, leading the subscriber to 'put off' reading it until later.
That's why I think Seth Godin's blog is so successful. He makes links count, and usually focuses on the narrative, not the documentation of his premise. That's why reading books leads to deeper understanding of a topic and a more immersive reading experience. You are curled up with a single author's voice, learning and exploring with him.
This is why I'm not going to be too Linky in the future, instead, I'll have reference URLs at the end of the post if I think they're required to have context or read more. Same goes for eBooks I write or advise on: Don't link because you can, save it for the footnotes, so the super-sleuths can dig in for details later. The result, I'm hoping, is a more effective approach to short article writing...AKA, blogging.Tweet
November 21, 2012
We were passing out gift certificates to employees, having some cake in the break room and knocking off early the Weds before Turkey Day. My admin got into a conversation with one of our maintainence employees about how much she was looking forward to Thanksgiving. She asked him, "what are you doing special tomorrow?" and he softly replied, "It will be another day, with too much food cooked, which we'll share with our friends and neighbors. Besides the sharing part, it's a typical day for us, because every day we give thanks for this bounty."
He and his family had moved to California from central Mexico several years before, and he was now a citizen with gainful employment and a way to send his two kids to college. "We never thought this could happen for us, and when it did, we made the decision that every day was Thanksgiving," he continued. "Except Nov 25, and that's the day we make more than we need. Then we have a ball feeding others with it. We can afford that once a year!"
This is the true spirit of what the Pilgrims meant when they set aside a day to give thanks. They never thought they'd find a new home, with so much bounty to feast on. Here's my takeaway: as Billye taught me, 'gratitude is a muscle, not a feeling. If it were a feeling, you'd be feeling it all time!'
I'm going to find a Thanksgiving signal in every day, from home to work or even as I run errands. I'll rethink Nov 25 as a day I demonstrate my gratitude by helping others find their bounty. This way, my focus will be on what I have to share, and not what I lack.
What are you thankful for, every day of your life!? Tell us in comments and exercise your gratitude muscle.Tweet
November 15, 2012
From sales to leadership to operations, the rock stars of business multiply the value of everyone they come in contact with. They share intangibles with them to improve their resume, and in return, are rewarded with loyalty and appreciation. Simply putting in hard work and "adding value" is no longer enough, not in the constant change we are all living through.
There are three ways we can grow others' potential at work, be they co-workers, customers or even prospects or industry colleagues:
1. Share Knowledge - You should always have a mentee, someone that you are counseling with either your experience or specialized knowledge you've invested time to acquire. You should share knowledge with a sense of boldness, and at the same time, the humble nature of the greatest teacher you ever had in school. You'll realize that you'll never get dumber by making someone else smarter.
2. Share Your Network - I believe your network of relationships is your ultimate asset, and too often we hoard it for a rainy day. Every week, you should connect three people that "should meet." Often, people in your life simply need the right introductions to gain traction or solve their most pressing business problems. From now on, when someone gives you their business card, talk to them until you can write down someone he or she should meet on the back of the card. Then quickly act on it with an email, phone or in-person introduction.
3. Give Encouragement - If you are a manager, catch people doing something right, then talk about them behind their back. When it comes full circle, you'll give them confidence and improve their self-image. This grows their potential. As you encounter people in your industry that are struggling, help them focus on their minor victories, herculean efforts and never let them forget about their greatest assets. This will help clear their mind of worry, and focus on tasks at hand.
Do all three of these in every business relationship you have, and soon you'll realize that business isn't hard anymore. It's fun. It's meaninful. And later, when you retire, you'll look back on all you did and "enjoy it a second time."
From my recent keynote address for the wonderful leaders at Acosta.Tweet
November 08, 2012
Are you tired of the political discussion? Now that the election is over, there's nothing left but celebrations and grousing. Most of us had our fill of it a month ago, but it drags on. We react by covering our ears, unfriending people and pushing back. Then we go to work, and a different kind of politics emerges, with no election-day-end-point in sight.
Depending on your corporate culture, office politics can rule the conversation or be a rare occurance (annoyance) in your life. Exactly what are office politics? My favorite non-governmental definition is: Any activity concerned with the acquisition of power or gaining one's own ends. That's it on the nose. Selfish organizational behavior.
This is why it's bad for you to employ or get sucked up into office politics. In the end, any good company will expunge those who aren't adding value - and the corporate politico is always thrown out, along with his cronies. I've witnessed this countless times, especially at my last employer, Yahoo! Politics lead to turf battles, the building of silos and a decline in the company's brand.
While it seems impossible for a non-leader to avoid conscription, I've found a way to sidestep most political movements at work. Here are my recommendations for you:
1. Focus on the Customer. Always ask, "what's in it for the end user or customer?" When you are pushed to participate outside those boundaries, bring the conversation back to this subject. Your most senior leadership is likely aligned with this, so consider yourself covered at the top.
2. Refuse to keep secrets. In fact, leak them if you must. Secrets are only good for the politicos' interests, not the Customer's or the company. It's pretty easy to 'accidently' include people outside the circle-of-trust in email threads, exposing the politico's selfish agenda.
3. Stay out of the conversation. In some cases, options #1 and #2 may not work, due to your lack of power of authority in the organization. If you don't do what you are told, you might get canned before the politico is brought to organization justice. I understand this fear, and personally believe it's usually in your mind and not reality. The last thing the politico wants to do is have a dissident with their own agenda, talking to HR or the media about their situation. But still, if you have this fear, the easiest thing to do is the minimum: Turn in the report, show up for the meeting, etc. To paraphrase Viktor Frankl, 'you can lose your liberty, but you can never lose your final freedom - your response to a situation'. You can choose to be silent on the political issues, patiently waiting for the politico to create his or her own downfall.
The key, then, is not to be fuel for the political fire at work. Once you get involved beyond your job description, you are a foot soldier, not a team player. You might be thinking, "yeah, but the politico at my company is currently ruling the division with impunity! She got a raise last year, and looks like she's gaining power, not losing it." Let me assure you that this is just the middle of her movie. If you study the history of organizations, you'll find that they always correct politics in the end. The concluding scene of her movie won't be pretty. That's the way any good story goes.Tweet
November 02, 2012
Why? Style + Substance. Hard to find in any professional book, but comes in spades in the highly readable think piece. These cats have words that sing like my favorite reads such as The Purple Cow or ReWork. (Sorry, no more links in my blog posts, they are shiny objects that will distract you. I'll have references links at the end...so keep reading.)
The book will help you understand how vital strategic content is to the modern marketer. If you don't deeply connect with people, you'll ship words that no one cares about (or reads). If you make a difference via your content, it will spread like all treasures do online. This sounds straightforward, but Brogan and Smith's intricate advice proves how treacherous it can be - and why you need to read this book right away.
While many "social media" books focus on the platforms, tools and (spammy) tactics it takes to build a 'following,' this book centers on what really matters...content that works. What I took away from the book, was that we need to become purposeful and masterful at connecting with people, especially with the media we create and the words we share. Figure this out, and you'll rock the next wave of social, regardless of what form it may come in.
Buy The Impact Equation (not an affiliate link)
Source of the picture, Julien's feed (you should subscribe)Tweet
October 29, 2012
This October, I'm reminded of a company effort to battle breast cancer, started by a handful of passionate people in Canada. We focus so much on the power of one person, super-woman, but forget that more often than not it takes a core group to really move the needle.
This is why Margaret Mead once wrote, "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has." She didn't say a person, she emphasized a group.
Here’s a good example from CIBC, a national bank in Canada. In 1997, the community relations group of the Edmonton, Alberta, branch signed on to sponsor the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation’s annual Run for the Cure fund-raiser. The sponsorship program offered a modest amount of financial support and encouraged CIBC employees to participate either by running in the event or pledging money to those who did. The program received a pleasant reception but was not deemed strategic to the company’s core interests.
For the next three years, hundreds of tellers from Edmonton to Toronto—mostly women—signed up to run for the fund-raiser. They organized individual teams at each of the bank branch locations to strategize how to increase participation and raise more money. They took advantage of available corporate resources and participated in corporate promotions, putting up posters and wearing T-shirts and pink ribbons provided by the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation. They talked up the fund-raiser to coworkers, friends, and family.
Involvement became a point of pride. By 2001, with thousands of CIBC employees now program participants, the fund-raiser was a major source of job satisfaction. Bank executives asked the brand-marketing group to research the impact of the company’s sponsorship; the resulting data suggested that it was driving the bank’s popularity with customers, especially women, and that a side benefit was a boost in employee retention.
Because of these efforts and their results, bank executives re-classified the Run for the Cure sponsorship program as strategic to the company and moved it from the community affairs department to the powerful and well-funded brand marketing group, which upped the ante by approving an additional $3 million in sponsorship money to promote the event through television, print, and Web advertisements.
In 2001, approximately $10 million was raised for the Run for the Cure. By the following year, more than 140,000 people participated in the program, due largely to CIBC advertising. Later that year, when new management took over the bank, they continued the support. Today the Run for the Cure is the largest breast-cancer fund-raising event in North America, all because a few hundred passionate tellers decided to use the workplace to organize an event about which they truly cared.
(This was an excerpt of Saving The World at Work, my third book)Tweet
October 11, 2012
Many might think it's about performance or schmoozing. The former is hard, because not everyone gets an opportunity to produce measureable results. The latter isn't really true, except for those rare situations where the leadership cares more about being popular than organizational success.
Recently, I discovered for myself the best three steps. They account for my rise at broadcast.com, then later again at Yahoo. Recently, a good friend of mine (in his 20's) was leaving for his first corporate conference. He was excited about the trip, the food, the chance to socialize and all the parties likely to happen. Why not?
I gave him this advice: Leverage the conference to move up in your organization. Many will have your POV, and goof off publicly there or worse. Let them eat cake and guzzle beer while you move up. He asked me, "what then should I do?" The advice I gave him is the same advice I'd give anyone, whether you are just starting out at a company or participating in a training program/conference.
1. Learn - Open your ears and eyes to take in all the data, stories and advice you can. Attend everything you can, take notes like an A student, and ask questions until you 'get it'. Do your homework and then do some extra credit work on your break.
2. Demonstrate Learning - For many leaders, this is how they spot real team players. It's one thing to know-it-all, it's another to put it into practice. Find ways to apply your learning in real-world situations, and don't be afraid to take your mentor with you on your journey or report the results to them later.
3. Lead Others To Learn - As you succeed with your new found learning, leverage your success to convince others to become students and not just workers. Challenge them from your position of strength to give more of their mind to grow. Offer to mentor those who are struggling and reward their attention with praise (and more time). Offer to teach a class or gather students for one. Nothing encourages your leadership more than this behavior, as it's the way to creating organizational bench strength.Tweet