24 posts categorized "July 2009"

July 31, 2009

A networking plan for success

Elmer Letterman had a great strategy for networking: Help others succeed by connecting them with new partners.  Every Friday, he connected three people that "should meet".  In 10 years, he became a local life insurance rockstar, even though he never sold during his famous networking lunches.  

You can do it too.  Either face2face, via conference call or three-way email, you can/should/must commit to connecting three people a week.  Find partners, jobs, projects or new friends for your network and watch it explode. 

My new video: The Elmer Letterman Story (from the FIS Conference 2009)

The Elmer Letterman Story from Tim Sanders on Vimeo.

July 30, 2009

Are you ready to be fired?

With the economy on the slide, layoffs and cutbacks loom over our days. 

If the corporate grim-reaper makes a visit to your cube this year, are you ready?  Will you act like you 'saw it coming' or make a desperate fool out of yourself?  It really comes down to the element of surprise. A few weeks ago I visited Gene and Julie Gates at KVIL where they host a morning show radio program. 

They told me a great story about how they knew they were going to be fired, so they rehearsed it!  (Gene and Julie practice getting fired).  What was the benefit of such work?  Dignity.  Since they'd already been through it, when the actual time came, they were calm about it.  

If you know someone (hint) that might be getting fired/laid off or downsized, suggest a rehearsal. Remember:  When the economy improves, many people are offered their job back.  

Unless they totally freaked out when they were cut! 

July 29, 2009

Humor lost on the hill

North Dakota Senator Byron Dorgan’s recent attack on humor in the workplace is no laughing matter.  When he learned that the Treasury Department’s training group was looking for a cartoonist for a stress management course for the public debt group, he climbed on his soapbox immediately.  Did he speak from expertise as a training professional or researcher?  Nope.  He spoke from a place of scarcity when he said, “very little is funny about today’s economic conditions.” 

He misses the point: Stress at the Treasury department is at an all time high.  There is nothing funny, fun or exciting about working there.  The training group was aware of a mountain of corporate and university research that correlates humor in workplace training with productivity, morale and engagement improvements.  When people can laugh, they can relax.  When they can relax, they can think more effectively.   

The Senator’s summary dismissal of humor as a solution for workplace stress underscores a larger trend in Congress: Cancel anything fun because there is a recession going on.  A corporate meeting in Orlando, just a few miles from an amusement park?  “Too lavish for the times,” proclaims a senator.  Cartoons to give psychological relief to stress crazed auditors?  “A waste of money and paper,” snorts a senator.  Their message suggests that during hard times, everyone should have a hard time and forgo any comforts or relief. 

It’s a revisionist movement to place the recession’s blame on useless training expenditures, corporate meetings and client appreciation events.  Any economist would tell you: That’s rubbish.  Our economic woes are more tied to the deregulation efforts by Congress than wasted training dollars in corporate America and government. 

Moreover, this witch hunt for fun-at-work is feeding a national psychological recession.  This is when we as a people stop growing.  Personal confidence plummets and depression likely sets in.  In the history books of the future, we may be referred to as the Most Miserable Generation.  The current gestalt of Congress suggests that “there’s a recession going on, we should shrink our way back to greatness.  After all, it worked for the Great Depression generation.  By stripping away all life’s rewards, they whipped that collapse in a decade or so.” (Of course, World War II helped.)  

This specter of a psyche-recession is real.  Training programs, both private and public, are being scrapped and workers are told to put their nose-to-the-grindstone until further notice.  Meetings, the source of networking and knowledge sharing, are being cancelled or moved to subhuman destinations to avoid reproach.  Personal education efforts are being discouraged, especially if the return on investment isn’t in the next ninety days.   It’s likely that by 2012, millions of modern-day-ecoslaves will look up from their grindstone and ask, “Where has the last three years gone?”

Here’s what we should all fear the most:  Other nations aren’t killing their training and meetings industries.  They may only have economic recessions.  In South Korea, the government created a well appointed “New Growth Engines” meeting to bring together businesses to focus on competitive opportunities.   In Northern Europe and the United Kingdom, innovative training programs from the likes of Monty Python’s John Cleese continued to be served as a way of boosting morale and productivity during such dark times.  

Way back in the 1970s, American companies responded to the economic crisis of the times by halting efforts at quality control training and criticizing any travel for sales or meetings.  Members of congress filled the Congressional Record with speeches questioning both public and private efforts to step up quality training because quality is no longer affordable.  In other words, congress tried to make the pursuit of quality the bad guy behind stagflation.  Meanwhile Asia, from Japan to China, doubled down their investments in quality training and networking events and emerged as formidable competitors to our electronics, appliance, computer and automotive industries a decade later.   Expect this to happen all over again if we don’t throttle down the editorial power of Congress to play watchdogs over human resource development in the United States. 

At the turn of the twenty first century, business consultant Michael Wolfe referred to the United States as “An Entertainment Economy,” poised to emerge with a new chapter in global economic power.  Wolfe suggested that our economy is fueled by the power of laughter, the joy of design and the art of possibility.   It was our net export as a nation.  

Apparently, that humor is lost on Senator Dorgan. 

July 28, 2009

Twitter Tuesday thoughts (Volume 6)

Social media is truly shaping up as Web 2.0. 

The original promise of the web is being delivered via new tools and a community of content. I was part of Web 1.0 (1996-200?) and while much has changed, the promise of the web stays the same. (Check out this slide from a 1999 Yahoo sales presentation)
Back then, the obstacles to the vision were: 1. Poor search result quality  2. Low % of friends/associates could be located via search and 3. Commerce either lacked in quantity of provider quality.  With Google, blogworld, Facebook and Twitter, those obstacles are falling down, and quickly.  

The key to making the web the ultimate information solution lies with the user community. When a recession hits, bloggers and Tweeps don't close down shop like eCommerce shops, portals or software houses. The only enduring part of the web is...you. 

During these times, we all must contribute more to the social stream of information, making the whole system work better. If we participate fully, we'll all find anything we need via our trusted connections. This leads me to this week's first Twitter thought: 

1. Be a good follower 
For once, let's shut down the two Twitter topics that consume 90% of our mindshare: Get more followers and new Twitter tools.  Let's shift attention to the act of following for the sake of the community.  If the Twitter stream doesn't give good return on attention, it will eventually turn into a permission based spam machine where 2nd Tier marketeers attempt to sell to each other.  This is the problem with LinkedIn.  When is the last time you learned or discovered via LinkedIn?  When the Twitter stream is more newsworthy than major media or leading portals, adoption will skyrocket. 

What do you contribute to the stream? Many of my friends tell me that they aren't writers or authors, so they don't know what to contribute.  Ambient content (what I'm doing, what it looks/feels like) is somewhat useful -- but only interesting to your friends and stalkers.  Relevant quotes can offer a little pick me up.  Breaking news is good, if it's really breaking news.  In many cases, when you post a "newsflash" it's already on the Yahoo homepage and has over 1000 Diggs.  Sometimes, though, a niche piece of useful information is posted first on Twitter.  It either flies through the timeline or gets "picked up" by the community.  

The best way to follow is to retweet the good posts, exposing them (and their authors) to your network.  When you RT (retweet), you are putting your stamp of approval on the information (worthy, relevant, helpful) and giving it some velocity.  Even if you can't author short powerful tweets, you can pick out useful ones and RT them.  This is an equal opportunity opportunity to help.  Besides moving good info through your network, you are also sharing it as a follower to help others grow.  This is Twitter love. Unlike @replies, RT's are given solely for the information value of what you are retweeting. Each week, you should find and retweet at least a few dozen great posts.

<I must admit, so many Twerps use replies (@sanderssays, what are you reading now?) to bait power users into replying back, and giving the Twerp exposure (and hopefully more followers).  It really doesn't work that way. There is no hard data here, but my assessment is this: Getting a whale to reply to you is less powerful than getting a moderate user (10-999 followers) to RT you.  A very very small % of Tweeple bother to click on a profile because someone replied to you, in fact they are more likely to click on the replier's profile to read the thread.  When you get RT'd, a much higher % click to YOUR profile as the originator of the helpful piece of information.>

2.  Be helpful 
In general, this is the best way you can help the community and yourself grow. This is Chris Brogan's #1 suggestion for people that want to build a following on Twitter. Think of Twitter as a place you help and trust others to help you back in someway.  If you approach Twitter with the "be clever" or "get noticed" philosophy, you'll dogpaddle along until you eventually give up or wither away to spammer obscurity. 

For leaders (those who have followers), look at Twitter as a stream you must help stock with good fish. Contribute a few ideas each week, either found on the Internet or original.  When you buy something, review the product on Twitter.  Good place to eat? Tweet it and include a hashtag (mine is #timeats). Same goes for movies, records or books.  Remember, Twitter could be a search engine killer -- a formidable competitor to Google or Bing. 

In my first book, Love Is The Killer App, I argued that "your network is your networth."  You grow it to give it away and produce value in the lives of others.  Follow Friday is an example of giving your network away to help sweet Tweeters grow.  The Twitter elite, such as Chris Brogan or Chris Penn, are incredibly generous with their network, despite the fact they are peppered with people asking for "free promotion" all the time.  Here's my point: You more you share your network with the deserving, the more you'll deserve to grow your following.  

There's an old saying, "money goes where it is wanted and stay's where it is well kept." The same is true with a following.  If you commit your Twitter time to helping, you'll see positive results over time.  You are harnessing one of the most powerful psychological laws in the universe, I call is The Secret of Social Media: The Law of Reciprocity

July 27, 2009

A prescription for worry or stress

Holt_nedsvictim small BNW

Dr. Norman Vincent Peale's book, The Power Of Positive Thinking is packed with life changing ideas and easy to implement daily do's.  One of them is simple: If you are worried, do something physical. According to Dr. Peale, you won't get any better sitting and stewing! 

So many people I talk to these days are worried about their jobs, the economy, politics or families going through hard times. If they don't get up and move around a little, they'll just simmer in the pressure cooker of life until they turn to mush. I've seen some individual cases already. They search the net, their social spaces and their soul for answers but the easy one is right in front of them.  Move for life!

Of course, this is a true home spun remedy.  But it works!  Research indicates that physical therapy or going outside for a walk/run are good for your body's emo-chemical mix.  Often stress creates an elevated level of Cortisol, the stress hormone.  This reinforces your feelings, attacks muscles and generates toxins inside your body.  You more you worry, the worse you feel and in that bad feeling state -- the more emotional you become. Think of it as a downward spiral.  

Breaking it is as simple of getting out of your chair, walking outside and letting some sun or rain fall on your face during a smoke break length walk (I don't mean have a cigg, I mean 7-10 minutes). When you get back to your chair, the world will be as you left it, but you'll have positive chemicals (like DHEA) pumping through your system. 

July 24, 2009

Reconnect with your zest via a picture

Photos of yourself will confront you with your true nature

I admire photographers, in fact, many of my Facebook friends (and best friends) take photos for a living. Photos capture so much more than an image, they capture an emotional point in time with respect to humans.  

Recently, I stumbled across a few of my pictures from 2001 and 2002, when I was just releasing Love Is The Killer App and moving up at Yahoo!.  What a time.  What momentum.  And the economy was in the tank, especially if you lived in the Silicon Valley.  I had a sense of zeal: Mojo.  I saw the crash as an opportunity to be a leader instead of just a grunt in the cash pile.

Here's a pic a photographer took of me on the day of my book launch on 5th Avenue in New York City. 
Tim 5th Ave crop job again

This was a time in my life when I was getting paid, exposed to the public and rewarded for giving.  When I look at it now, I peer into it to reconnect with my gestalt: You get only by giving.  You succeed by growing other people.  I can see it in the pics.  You can too.  Pull out old photos from a time you were on top of the world or in the positive feedback loop.  Find the sentence or two that sums up your winning philosophy at the time.  You'll learn, as did I, that you can do it again -- it never expires. 

The other thing I noticed about the old pics I found, is that I was bubbly and exuberant.  It was like I had found the Secret (not that one) and it gave me a Cheshire Cat grin about life.  Here's a pic taken by James Bland back in 2001 at the Magnolia Hotel in downtown Dallas.  
Tim standing laughing
This really jolted me because it made me realize that I've grown far too serious. I need to find the gonzobiz sense of humor again and make people laugh, not just think.  Find your happiest pictures, and look into them deeply to discover the joy behind the smile.  Was it because of material gains?  No.  It was because you were tapping into the possibilities of life and loving it.  

Finally, remember that there are waves of success in your life.  You have had one big moment, but it likely led to after-shocks of plenty over the years.  Love Is The Killer App made its way to other countries, and by 2004 it became a big hit in Brazil.  It was 2002 all over again for me and I rekindled my spark and fell into a South American positive feedback loop.  Here's a pic taken for the largest newspaper in Sao Paulo.  
Valor economico picture
In fact, as I look through my pics, every year or two an after shock comes along that offers new opportunities to stoke my Mojo and keep the Lovecat alive (and growing).  You can too.  I've already shared this with a few friends, and they all found the exercise invigorating.  One person looked at pictures of her and her marriage to kids to first business.  It shook her out of the recession-trance she'd been under for months.  Another person that did this exercise looked at a range of photos from his winning season in high school football to the 2006 sales rally at his company where he won top rep of the year.  He found some spring in these pics that he realized was missing in his 2009 life.  

So try this, you might have the same positive results.  Here's my Flickr set from 2002=2004

July 23, 2009

Take two marketing

Mary Wells Lawrence may be one of the brightest minds in the history of marketing and advertising. Several decades ago, she was working on an ad campaign for Alka Seltzer. Up until that point, the recommended dose was to dissolve one tablet in water. She found some research that suggested that taking two tablets in water might increase the product's effectiveness. Eureka! Now she had grounds to use ads to sell us on buying and using twice the amount of product: Plop Plop Fizz Fizz. Take two please. The result was astounding; revenues almost doubled within a short period. The simple takeaway was that the customer looks to advertising to instruct everything from usage to perceived benefits. Are you thinking that way with your marketing campaign? 

Are you being bold enough to suggest that your customers try even more? During this recession, we focus on price reductions and resulting volume to generate save-the-company cash. Instead, focus on giving the existing customers reasons to consume more of what you have -- and gain from it too. 

Read: A Big Life In Advertising by Mary Wells Lawrence

July 22, 2009

Friends don't let friends sip then send (emails)

Last December, the New York Times ran a side splitting story about people who send emails or texts while under the influence of alcohol (Drunk, and Dangerous, at the Keyboard).

Funny, but true, we can wreck our lives over email if we've been drinking!  In the study behind The Dirty Dozen Rules of Email Etiquette (an excellent program to bring into your company), we found that grammar and syntax errors jump almost 50% when users send emails after having a single cocktail or a few beers.  Their use of profanity jumps too. 

The lesson:  Never assume you can master email while tipsy.  Much like driving, alcohol will give you a false sense of security.  For that matter, consider blowing off email after dinner entirely.  This is very true for business life -- turn it off and get some sleep! 

Check out EmailAtoZ for more email tips.  

Does your company need email etiquette training? Let me know and I'll contact you right away. 

July 21, 2009

Twitter Tuesday thoughts (Volume 5)

Another week on Twitter, more lessons learned. 

This edition of Twitter Tuesdays will feature an interview with an online marketing maven I've known since 2002, David Berkowitz (Director of Emerging Media and Client Strategy at 360i).  He's been online since the beginning and been through the various phases of web progressions (from Geocities 2 blogging 2 social media).  His insights are valuable, timely and generous.  

TS: Who is using Twitter? 

DB: With most new social technology, the youth came on first and the “old-farts” eventually join – that’s the typical adoption progression.  In this case, though, adult users adopted early on.  For example, mommy bloggers love Twitter and have been vocal on it for a few years.  In short, Twitter is great for people that like to have a megaphone.  

Early growth is also driven by celebs, specifically athletes.  While celebs were quick to embrace web sites, blogging and Facebook, athletes and sports figures have not.  But with Twitter, athletes got on board early.  Shaq is a great example of an early adopter of Twitter.  He’s 100% authentic, he shares and doesn’t sell.  Most of his updates are retweets or replies, making him highly interactive.  He’s interested in talking to anyone that interests him – sharing his network as he gives people exposure to his huge following.  

TS: How does Twitter compare to other social media platforms? 

DB: Twitter is much more powerful than blogs, Facebook or MySpace for a personality to have direct communication with fans.  Simplicity puts Twitter over the top.  Also, the platform provides unfiltered access to people and their lives.  Take Ann Curry for example.  She tweets about stories she’s working on, and also includes personal takes you’d never see on TV.  

TS: Do you think Twitter users are a representative demographic sample of all internet users? 

DB: Not yet, but at some point, absolutely.  In just a few years, the users will be more mainstream, just like blog readers are now.  This brings up an important point: There are tweeters (they post updates) and there are readers on Twitter.   Readers will wind up being a pretty representative sample of internet users in general.  

TS: What are your pet peeves RE Twitter? 

DB: First, utilitarianism.  People tend to expect to get something back for everything they do on this platform.  For example, the protocol that you should follow back everyone that follows you.  This isn’t Facebook.  

Second, Twitter users get rewarded for talking too much.  Tweets don’t have much of a shelf life on the average person’s timeline if they follow a lot of people.  As a result, you have to post multiple times to show up.  One exception to this is Tony Hsieh (Zappos founder).  He doesn’t tweet that often, but when he does it is meaningful. 

TS: What tools do you suggest for getting the most out of Twitter? 

DB: Personally, I love the web version of Twitter, even more than Tweetdeck, etc.  I’ve installed the Grease Monkey plugin for Firefox, then Troy’s Twitter Script.  You have to install Grease Monkey first.  This ins’t hard, I’m not a techie and I did it.  Once you do this, you’ll see added functionality from your web based Twitter page.  For example, you’ll be able to create groups (friends, business, etc.) that show up as links on the right side of the page.  This way, you have clean streams without all the clutter that are relevant to you.  There are other cool features too. 

TS: Finally, what advice would you give someone going on Twitter? 

DB: First, set up some alerts to listen for discussions about you or your company/product/service.  You can use Twilert for this, as it provides email updates (my preference). 

Next, tweet for a bit to develop your voice.  It takes several tweets for you to find your comfort zone.  Do this before you go on a following spree (presumably to grow your following by reciprocation.0 

Finally, have some real personality.  Don’t be a robot or a link generator.  Be yourself, Shaq does it.  It is a generous thing to do and people respond to personality on Twitter.  

Follow David Berkowitz on Twitter.  Follow me (Tim Sanders) on Twitter. 

Read previous Twitter Tuesdays (Volumes 1-4)

July 20, 2009

Best modern music of 2009: So far

Every year, I buy dozens and dozens of records that represent the annual crop of new music.  By new music, I mean original-cool-indie or breakthrough (any genre twist will do).  My search is bigger than just trolling for great songs -- I'm looking for the spirit of the times.  (Check out my 2008 picks.) 

The 2009 crop of records is bountiful in innovation, vibe, meaning and groove.  Here are the top three albums of the year, so far.  I picked these because they are chocked full of good songs, so you'd want to buy the record and not just pick off a few songs via iTunes.  

1. Kasabian -- West Pauper Lunatic Asylum
This is one of the best UK releases in years.  I read about the new CD via New Music Express when I was in the UK earlier this year.  These kids are ruling the summer festival circuit in Europe.  If you loved Blur's Think Tank, you'll love this record even more.  I can't decide which track is the best.  At first, the opening track Underdog had me hooked.  Later, I fell in love with Vlad The Impaler.  Now, I am digging every track.  

2. Camera Obscura -- My Maudlin Career 
A friend of mine that works at 800-CEO-READ told me about this band back in April.  Then I heard about them from two other trusted taste makers: a good sign.  This Scottish group plays well with fellow country musicians Belle & Sebastian.  Think Portishead meets Dusty Springfield.  French Navy and Away With Murder are on my Best Of 2009 iTunes playlist.  I love it when retro is innovated into futuristic.  

3. Silversun Pickups -- Swoon 
This LA indie band's second record continues to hold up well listen after listen.  Check out my earlier review of the album for more details.  

Best singles of the year, so far (good for iTunes): 
Obits: Widow Of My Dreams (think Strokes meets Iggy Pop) 
Metronomy: A Thing For Me (fun electro-clash story) 
Peter, Bjorn and John: Nothing To Worry About (best track on the record)

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