Truth and Advertising: The Branding Era

Image What sparked this topic was listening to some women over the week tell me a snippet of their story.  One wondered what happened to her job after she got sick.  Essentially, it disappeared.  Another one wanted to change her role in the company: they asked her to sign “an improvement pledge.”  She explained to me that its the first step to cover their tracks and then “dismissing” the person when they fail.  The corporations are well known and no longer well-respected by this blogger.

I used to read “articles” on various different sites on-line and plenty of magazines, too, business and otherwise.  In my observations, often when a corporation is being touted for their “open” ways, employee bennies, or diversity, let your RED FLAG wave.  Tread with a big stick and a dose of wariness.  I no longer read these “articles” because I no longer see them as such….it’s branding.  And, they can do it because they have good intentions, “humility” is not truly quantifiable or maybe they are ‘more diverse’ than most other corporations, but still, no partner benefits.  How is this happening in 2014? [And, who, in their right mind, can work in this environment fifty hours+ a week?]  I know we often have to make concessions, but I pray they are of the ‘shorter nature’ and ‘soul trouble’ doesn’t ensue.

What to do? Authenticity may become the next buzz word bandied about by corporate media, best selling book writers, and the like.  I hope not because I happen to like the word.  Defined, it means “genuineness, reliability, truthfulness.”

Let’s bandy about getting back to that line of life, shall we?  It’s easy to roll around in the muck, get taken with it, and submerge under the culture, coming up differently [not better] but if we actually address the issues, stop participating and focus on “what we can do next” sans negative Karma, then one-at-a-time, a difference is seen.

We can move in this direction for the sake of the kids, living creatures and Planet.  This mission needs action, slow and steady works.  This mission is so much bigger than me; can’t do it alone.  Need your help and fellowship.

Creating and Sustaining a Learning Organization: Go Out on a Limb!

There are solutions.  Let’s journey back on the path of going for what is needed to feed the soul.  I’ve heard that the rest, follows.

I Can’t Improve on Forbes and Hall!

KF_cardv4The 8 Networking Rules You Should Never Break

Networking is equal parts art and science – and it gets much easier with practice. I’ve been networking since I was a kid, and I’m still learning what works and doesn’t work. (Yes, I’d like to think my networking has developed some sophistication since third grade.) While it’s impossible to make any guarantees, I’ve discovered that the following rules always hold true.

1. Give and you shall receive – Before you ask anything of anyone, make it a point to help that person first. Influencers and higher-ups are constantly being asked for favors and advice. As a result, your first impression will be stellar if you’re actually providing value. Find out what the person needs and genuinely try to help him or her.

2. Behave yourself at conferences – What happens in Vegas doesn’t stay in Vegas anymore. Having a few drinks while networking makes sense, but don’t go crazy. There’s a good chance your antics could end up on Facebook, Twitter, or even “Tosh.O” (if you really go wild). Google doesn’t take your personal feelings into account as it compiles its search rankings, and you could end up with some undesirable results attached to your name.

3. Prepare yourself – Never come unprepared to a networking event, a conference, or even a phone call with a potential connection. The more information you have about a person, the better you’ll be able to relate to him or her. At a minimum, look at the person’s LinkedIn profile so you can get a feel for the different ways you could work together. Make it a point to ask targeted questions based on what you know, so you can aim for the outcome you want.

4. Ethics above all – Every once in a while, you can find yourself in a networking situation with the potential to cross moral lines. Save yourself a world of trouble, and don’t let yourself be tempted. I’ve made a lot of good deals in business, and I haven’t had to cheat on my wife, screw over a business partner, or do anything else I’m not proud of to make those connections.

5. Influencers matter – Always try to develop a relationship with the organizers or influencers at different events. They’re the ones who run the show and know the inner workings, and they probably have many valuable connections. It’s very easy to find a way to help them out and get on their radar. Making these connections at events could lead to VIP party invitations, speaking engagements, and many more opportunities.

6. Flashback to high school – Consistently make an effort to introduce people to each other and make people feel included. Invite people to dinner before or after an event, or share a few drinks and stories. Some of my best relationships, to this day, are with people who made me feel included back in high school. Apply that same principle to business – people remember you when you make the effort to include them.

7. Pay attention – If you want to burn a bridge quickly, start looking over someone’s shoulder when he or she is talking to you. Looking for someone better to talk to is the best way to doom a good relationship from the start. Give everyone your full attention and be truly present in conversations. If you find yourself nodding without knowing what the person is talking about, that’s a sign you’re drifting. You never know who that person knows and how you could partner together in the future. Simply put: every person matters.

8. Promises, promises – Seriously, if you tell someone, “Yeah, I’ll give you a call when I get back to the office,” you’d better actually do it. Remember that date from college? You gave her your number, and then she never called you back. There’s no reason to play hard to get with a potential connection, and keeping your promises is one way to prove you’ll be a good partner in the future. As you’re networking, write notes on people’s business cards. Include things like “Promised I would send info packet” so you can actually follow through with your commitments.

Like I said, there’s no surefire way to guarantee a good networking experience, and that’s a good thing – being too confident or lazy never enhances a connection. Each person you talk to will expect something different, just as each personality leads to a different type of conversation. However, having the basics down can lead to better and more frequent connections. Try following these rules during your next conference, workshop, or meeting – and seriously, don’t drink too much at those happy hours.

John Hall is the CEO of Digital Talent Agents, an agency that specializes in helping companies, entrepreneurs and business leaders build their brands by getting quality content published from them in reputable online publications that reach their target markets. Connect with him on Twitter or Google+.

Waking up to Truths…..

Image A student asks, “When do you need to tell the absolute truth?,” he asked.  The prof looked mildly amused and said “It’s a good idea to error on the side of truth, but there are times…..”

I have to believe that there will be people who will give me a resounding “That’s right!” and others than may be a tad in doubt of my ethics.  I just know that there are stories out there that need to be told to demonstrate/ exemplify what I’m trying to explain: there are reasons for both arguments, although I lean toward one over the other.

Here’s some truth.  Because of the Pope and other reasons, I’ve put aside some of my old Catholic beliefs that I can no longer abide by, have stopped studying the culture of my youth and accept life as something where one gets ‘made-over.’  For my make-overs, I prefer the spiritual path over the psychological path.  I suspect we dabble in both along the way just like on the Myers-Briggs, one is never 100% extroverted or introverted, just like there are always gray areas and no clear cut path sometimes.

My husband’s roommates, when in the Navy, were busted for growing marijuana. He was questioned but declined relaying details.  I don’t remember the details but he was dismissed from submarine school.  We laugh about it now.  The Soul moves us where we need to be and he did not need to be on a submarine: he wasn’t fond of closed-in places.

On another note, I just said good-bye to my former TA, who is off to Merida, Yucatan for a two week holiday with her parents.  Having just come from there, I know she is going to have a great time. She’s an adventurous spirit and extraordinarily bright.  She’ll adjust well and acclimate within 24 hours.

I remember adjusting fairly well to Puerto Vallarta during a graduate school break.   But then, I did no touring, no tourist things. Instead, I watched people, walked around and typed a letter for a neighbor.  He paid me well and I bought a hand made dress I still have and love.  I loved the hotel where I stayed: many people lived there and it was on the beach.  I used to sit on the balcony:  I could listen to the ocean for hours.

The Soul moves us where we need to be.  And, the truth shall set you free.  How to come to what is important: leave ‘town and see what “bubbles up.”  Memories, lessons and a nod to the past, present and future. And, for certain, I am grateful.  What are you grateful for?  I’d like to know: maybe i’ll learn something & add it to my list.

Telling the Truth….

Sitting at my desk, I’ve been perusing what might make the workplace a funplace.  Or minimally, a place we want to go to and get creative, get working and dreaming about what’s in front of me and what’s next?  In order to do that, could be be upfront with,

“I do this well and that marginally.  You??
“I do research well and the interviews are not my strong suit. Let’s see if we can’t share talents and figure this marketing plan from a systems perspective.”

Could this work? and, jf so, tell me how.  Give the steps from #1 to #10.  Describe and demonstrate.  What I like to imagine happening is this: we flow to work, our minds are on before we get there and we’re excited as to what might show up and how we will want to go with it or not.  We have teams, the manager doesn’t have to have all the answers, and the group is cohesive.  Humility runs rampant.

In a learning organization, one that is prized by the management and held up to a gold standard, it starts immediately to drawing the picture/mission statement  and demonstrating traits that we have found to be profoundly important within our teams. In scriptwriting, the writer is always told “Show, don’t tell.”

Let’s be the Truth.  Exhibit the Truth.  Illicit the Truth. Have faith that in telling the truth….it may just set you free.

I’m game.


Let’s Scramble our Minds to Simply, Be….

Why not?  Who isn’t tired of being asked to be smarter, work harder, expectations across the board, OD lingo, metric lingo, and unemployment options.

Let’s get real and see if, by doing something ‘totally right  brain [and if, primarily right brain, you’ll do some left brain activities], we don’t automatically wake up soon thereafter, and start thinking from a more creative stance.  There are no side effects, no contraindications.  Don’t think.  Just do  And, we’ll see what happens. If nothing, then it was a good holiday…and good enough is good enough.

You can touch LOVE with loving thoughts.

We need renewal, a reformatting, reinventing, or a sensation that we are thinking not only w/ the left brain but w/ the right as well and sustenance of the soul. Without this kind of nourishment, the heart has a hard time staying open, along with the mind, and we end up getting stuck in old thinking, out-dated patterns.  

RIGHT WAY:  Get a group of 4-5, pretend you are writing a show for Saturday NIght LIVE!! and you are designing it.  What would each of you need in the way  of healing [ie. massage], food, entertainment, solitude, and interaction?? Then there are  other questions: i.e. who would do what, who’s the best chef, meeter of people, spanish-speaking?

For those I have in mind, nothing so boring as a game or a puzzle or an outdoor jungle gym for those not so inclined. But something like going to a city, out of the country, but close enough.  

It’s Merida, Yucatan.  Landing, going to the 150 year old colonial where you’lll stay, and  the next day, you’ll start finding out how to exchange money, pay the bills like electricity at CFE, garbage & arrange for drinking water, finding food, markets and parks near-by.  [water and Internet Services included].

What does this do?  For some, it would cause no end to stress and irritability.  For others, like my friend, Betsy,  she’d chew into the problem, walk away in disgust, and be back at it the next day like nothing happened. And, again.  Amazing to me.  Hence, you know yourself and how you learn. The other possibility is to do some of it, not all of it.  It’s a team building effort and teams don’t always have to be working!  Good enough is good enough.

I vote for slowing down and looking around. And, finding out that all the perks of the job, while superb, may not always be the answer but 70-80% job satisfaction/creativity and over-all peace with, is vital to the employee.  Let’s face it 50–60 hours a week doing something that, on a large scale, is inspirational and makes you happy to go to work is healthy.   Create your own holiday and exercise on how to get over to the “right brain” and live from there for awhile.

Minimum time suggested:  16 days [1 day travel each way]

Maximum: 6 weeks. 3 months is even better. 🙂

What is “your way of scrambling the mind to induce the soul to new heights!” I’d like to hear about it.

The Te of Piglet

I thought about listing the four building blocs of a learning environment but the list is short.  There’s psychological safety, appreciation of differences, openness, and time for contemplation.  Pretty simple; not complicated, really.

Then, I happened  upon the book The Te of Piglet and found this poem about the Small Piglet [and his sad thinking].

“There’s not much you can be when you’re not so very tall, And, the life you long for is so high up You can’t reach it ….You’re a very small animal.”  It goes on but the point is that in a short amount of  space, Piglet demonstrates the Western mind.

Bigger is better. Large man is better fighter than the little man.  The Taoist attitude: simply not so.

It’s okay to want to feel safe in the work place. Safe enough.  One doesn’t have to agree with everyone; just accept the differences as simply differences.

Being open to new ideas & receptive to feedback: that’s good enough. And, lastly,  time for reflection/contemplation that nourishes the soul, feeds the heart and results in our peace of mind and innate joy.  What could be wrong with that?!

Piglet is often demoralized but comes around in the end, knowing he wants to learn to attract positive with positive.  It’s a cycle: the beginning is the end and vice versa.

The good news, when in a cycle,  is that we get to start over each day, learning to deal with fear of  ’what can go wrong’ and ‘wonder if I do something foolish?’  We get another chance to live in the moment, one moment at a time.

Thank you to the Harvard Business Review “Is Yours a Learning Organization?” Garvin, Edmondson,  & Gino

The Te of PIglet,  B. Hoffman

I’m most appreciative of all the wisdom and direction!

The Common Sense of Employee Satisfaction


Don Levonius, Victory Performance Consulting, posts:

>>>>>When leaders move employees around as if they were chess pieces on a board without seeking input from those employees they risk placing employees into positions in which they can’t succeed, despite how hard they may try or how much training they may pursue. I’ve met some really smart and capable people who through downsizing and re-orgs found themselves reassigned to positions outside their areas of expertise and/or passion.<<<<<<

I enjoyed this metaphor by Don Levonius and decided to pass it forward.  It’s succinct and an apt metaphor that cannot be improved.  Training is not the only answer to on-the-job satisfaction and productivity.  What are other answers?  

Come from your own strengths in arriving to the answers to this question.  I asked my husband, Chris, a project manager, what works for him.   He said, “Part of it is acknowledgement that I’m doing a good job.  In the context of a project and team spirit,  I ask  the subcontractor if there is anything more I can do to help if I don’t meet with him the next day.  Usually, I’ve not overlooked any open issues.  I just want to make sure I don’t have any additional homework. If he did have something for me, I’d start it the same day.  My approach is not to compartmentalize but to assume that we are all working toward a common goal. We all want to succeed. I don’t have any pretensions towards omniscience.” 

Common sense prevails. When in doubt about a solution, simply ask.  There may be learning involved and it may be our own. And, instead of hours, it may take place in minutes, if we stay open to receive it.  How expeditious!