Friday, March 25, 2011

Keeping our kids from getting soft.

Not sure if the source is Bill Gates or if he is repeating the thoughts of Charles Sykes. But he talks about how feel-good, politically correct teaching has created a full generation of kids with no concept of reality and how this concept sets them up for failure in the real world. Either way the advice is good.

Rule 1. Life is not fair-get used to it!

Rule 2. The world won't care about your self-esteem. The world will expect you to accomplish something BEFORE you feel good about yourself.

Rule 3. You will not make 40 thousand dollars a year right out of high school. You won't be a vice-president with a car phone-until you earn both.

Rule 4. If you think your teacher is tough-wait till you get a boss. He doesn't have tenure.

Rule 5. Flipping burgers is not beneath your dignity. Your grandparents had a word for burger flipping-they called it opportunity.

Rule 6. If you mess up-it's not your parent's fault-so don't whine about your mistakes-learn from them.

Rule 7. Before your were born-your parents weren't as boring as they are now. They got that way from paying your bills-cleaning your clothes-and listening about how cool you are. So before you save the rain forest from the parasites of your parents' generation-try delousing the closet in your own room.

Rule 8. Your school may have done away with winners and losers-but life has not. In some schools they have done away with failing grades and they'll give you as many times as you want to get the right answer. This doesn't bear the slightest resemblance to anything in real life.

Rule 9. Life is not divided into semesters. You don't get summers and Christmas break off-and few employers are interested in helping you find yourself. Do that on your own time.

Rule 10. Television is not real life. In real life people actually have to leave the coffee shop and go to jobs.

Rule 11. Be nice to nerds-chances are you'll end up working for one.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

A Letter to The Internet and Its Purveyors.

To the Internet and its Purveyors:

This rant has been floating around in my head for quite a while now. Every now and again I see certain posts or tweets that really get this rant boiling and finally it has boiled over. Digital media, digital immersion, web 2.0, the new web, social media,the social landscape and the list goes on and on.(And no it is not the 'new' web because to my knowledge we never threw out the old one.) These are descriptors which are consistently being thrown around to capture the essence of what is happening through the internet and the tools that surround it.

I have spent a lot of time trying to explain the importance of 'the evolution of the internet' with which these descriptors apply. I have found this very difficult. In my opinion the biggest part of this evolution will be getting the masses to understand it and getting the average person involved. I feel we are doing the opposite. I have asked many people to tell me what their sales pitch to a person that does not use web communication tools, such as twitter, would be. A sales pitch that would get this non-twitter user to try it out. I have never received an answer that I believe would sway someone to give it a shot. How do we get the average person involved? We educate them.

At this point you are probably thinking what is this guy rambling about. Well here it is internet purveyors: THE INTERNET = COMMUNICATION. WTF? May be your reaction but I had a coach who once told me that the most complicated things can be conquered by breaking them down to their simplest parts. I feel the the internet and social media et al has been complicated to death. Early adopters have taken something so relatively simple and complicated it, so they can 'figure it out'. By figuring it out they become experts which consult and eventually make money. This in turn makes the initial learning curve for the average person very steep. Steep enough that most will never attempt the climb.

This is why so many great ideas and tools fail and why Facebook became such a success. We have to keep it simple. The masses have to join and it is only then something will evolve to become iconic. Imagine giving someone a phone back in 1910 and say: Here you go, you can call your mother who is 400 miles away, while taking a picture of your child and send it to your brother who is another 400 miles away in the other direction. As you are doing both of these you can send a text to the wife and tell her you have already milked the cows! That persons head would have spun, exploded and they would have screamed calling you the devil while running in the other direction! Get my point? Take it a step at a time. We don't need to throw a million tools at the internet because in the end we lose sight of what this medium can actually accomplish.

Social media is only the communication of people via tools found on the internet. Communication tools for the internet are coming out of the woodwork as everyone figures to cash in big, like Zuckerberg did. The problem with this is we are only clogging and complicating to the point where we will never be able to see the forest for the trees.

Finally my point for this letter is to give you some perspective from the average person looking to adopt and understand this internet communication evolution. My advice: SLOW DOWN! You need us. Spend more time educating those that are not involved instead of moving on to the next shiny new technology. Because the best reason I have found for convincing people to undertake the digital social landscape is: Simply put...everyone else is using it. Last I checked the world is full of average people like me. Educate don't complicate.


Your Average Joe

Disclaimer: In no way was this letter meant to disrespect people who are not on the Internet's social networks by labeling them average. The term average relates to the peoples knowledge of these networks as compared to the internet purveyors. I apologize for any confusion this may have caused. If it did offend you don't be such a softie!

PS Give the below to the next person that looks to better understand the digital social landscape. Just kidding. Sorry Mr. Solis, this only complicates.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Step Up?

A term used very often in trying to describe what an employee needs to do to get to the next level. Step up what? What is the next level? How do I complete one to get to the other? I just read a blog post on Brand Directions by Tom Moradpour (@TomMoradpour) titled ‘Why Annual Performance Reviews Suck And How Gaming Can Fix Them’. I agree with his points and especially that the regular annual performance review is outdated. These reviews do nothing to answer the aforementioned questions.

However before we go out and reconfigure and redesign our performance reviews one thing needs to be accomplished – employee comprehension. Comprehension of what you ask? Comprehension of their role, how it affects others, where their role leads and what it is they actually need to do to achieve growth. Up until this point the onus for this has fallen on the employer. Well it’s time to step up and I’m not talking about employers!

If an employer asks an employee what their role is and what they have to do to help the company reach its goals, they will probably be met with a blank stare. At best they will be given a vague statement. Not good. So employees here it is, step it up and take the reins on your career. Find out what your role is and exactly what it is you need to do. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, clarification of your path is essential. Don’t wait for your annual review; ask for feedback throughout the year on your results. Be sure you and your employer both understand what is expected of each other.

As with any relationship it is communication and understanding that leads to harmony. This is no different for working relationships. I am willing to bet that well understood expectations will itself help bring about better performance reviews.

Employers: Don’t build a review and work down. Start from the bottom and work towards a review.

Employees: Are you ready to step up?

Monday, January 24, 2011

To complain or not complain?

I hate to be writing this because in essence I am doing what I hate the most...complaining. I have spent some time over the past few years perusing the internet and it's social networks and unfortunately I find it has become a place for amplifying complaints. Flick open Twitter, Facebook and most other social networks and you do not have to scroll very far before you are reading about someone's displeasure. Complaints about products and services is where my frustration truly lies.

So I feel compelled to give you a little check list to follow before the world needs to be graced with your grievances.

1. Have you experienced a bad product or service? Well at least give the provider the chance to resolve it! Before you shout your displeasure to the online world try contacting them, you would be amazed at what can happen when you communicate.

2. Exhaust all of the company's customer service avenues. Not all companies can have customer service oriented to be a convenience to everybody - that is impossible. As painful as it might be you can't always have it your way!

3. Look for others online in the same situation. Most times you can find a discussion group about your troublesome situation that can quickly get you pointed in the right direction.

4. If none of the above has worked then by all means complain away just don't do it randomly. Direct your issue at least in the appropriate direction. Most companies have an online presence of some sort, direct your message that way. Just because your status is screaming your problems doesn't mean someone should hear.

5. If you have followed these steps and you have received good service and response share that with the world! Everyone loves a pat on the back for a job well done...don't be shy.

Unfortunately misery loves company and people feel a therapeutic benefit to outlaying their problems. I guess this is why social networks have become a hot spot for amplifying a compliant. Amplifying your voice is a benefit of social networks let's just be sure we do it right!

Have you been guilty of randomly complaining? Have any service related stories you would like to share?

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

In The Weeds?

A common problem among many growing businesses is getting caught in the task rut. With business steadily coming in it is easy to get consumed in those tasks that are necessary to get the job done. Being caught in the weeds as many call it can cause your business to plateau and not realize the potential growth opportunities that exist. Many companies become growth addicted and feel that a year with no growth is essentially a loss. So they forge ahead bringing in even more business which comes with even more work. Now they are not just caught in the weeds they are lost in them.

The problem starts when the tasks run the business instead of the business running the tasks. In busy times operational processes tend to be thrown aside in order to get the work done. This can lead to a chaotic work place which can disengage even the best employees. The following are a few ideas which can be implemented to keep the company from becoming a stagnant loss.

1. Have a Plan.

Plan where you want to be in 1, 3 and 5 years time with your business. In identifying this you can recognize those operational needs and changes which will be necessary to keep growth moving smoothly.

2. Review Processes.

Be sure to regularly review your operational processes. Over time they need to evolve with the business.

3.Slow Down in Order to Speed Up.

When the business has plateaued there is a good chance something needs to change, The type of change and how it is to be implemented cannot be understood when you are buried in tasks.

4. Transparency.

Be transparent with your employees. Let them know where the company stands presently and show them where you want the company to be. Having everyone on board is the only way real change can be accomplished.

5. Have the Uncomfortable Conversations.

Everyone in business recognizes that you cannot avoid these. Whether it is dealing with an under-performing employee or challenging a client, these conversations tend to be pushed aside in busy times.

6. Evaluate and Adjust.

Just because you develop a great strategic plan to get to point B, it does not mean this plan will get you there, The best plans involve periodic evaluations of progress and subsequent evolutions of various plan executions.

7. Baby Steps.

Some plans never see the light of day because their creators are too worried with drafting the complete and concise strategy. Start with small wins and build from there,

Keep these in mind to help your company stay on the upward swing on the growth curve.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Being Viral Isn’t Always a Bad Thing.

In the past being viral meant sitting at home on the couch with a box of tissues, chicken noodle soup and your favorite movie. However the advent of the social media has brought new meaning to the term. Video advertising and its ability to be shared over multiple platforms has seen some videos become immortalized with a viewership of over 100 million.

For the most part it is the entertainment value of these videos that spark people’s desire to share them with others. For marketers this can be a windfall, imagine developing a video for your product posting it online for free and receiving millions of views! As a comparison it is estimated that advertisements for the Superbowl can reach more than 90 million people but it will cost you about $2.6 million for 30 seconds of time to achieve that. How do you say savings?

Anyway I came across a video online which I thought was very clever and quite amusing. Take a minute to do what it asks; it will bring a smile to your face. (Try plays with, dances with & you can also use your imagination!!)

Doing my part in world of sharing I have passed this along quite a few times. However, I noticed one thing: I kept referring to it as the Hunter and Bear ad. I am sure the makers of this video, Tipp-Ex, would not like to hear that. This video has surely helped to increase brand awareness of Tip-Ex but could it have done more? I don’t think this ad would move me to purchase Tip-Ex over any of its competitors.
Now I’ll move to the most viewed brand videos of all time according to Advertising Age. Number one is for Blendtec.

If I was in need of a super blender, this video has definitely done its job in swaying me to purchase a Blendtec blender. For viral videos that is the difference for me. Just being viral isn’t necessarily a win but being viral and changing a consumer’s perception…that’s a win.
Being that this method of advertising is in its infancy I’m sure we’ll see more advertisers looking to be more than just viral. If you can watch and pass along a video and still not be able to name the company behind it – Has it failed?
What are some of your favorite viral videos? Have they done anything to change your perception of the product?