A Prairie Dog Place

English: A black-tailed prairie dog at the Nat...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have always found pictures of prairie dogs popping up from their burrows to be hilarious. There’s something about the idea of this small animal getting a better view of its surroundings that just makes me smile. This made me think of some experiences I’ve had lately with smaller local businesses.

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Build a Business by Giving

I recently found out about a 7-week course focused on building a business that was both profitable, engaging and fun.  I couldn’t resist that combination, so I dropped the company a mail and asked for them to get in touch with me so I could find out more…to see if it would really be something that would address my needs and give me some tools and best practices. I was contacted within the day and the owner asked if we could have a call to talk about it.  I agreed.
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Just How BIG Does That Strategy Need to Be?

Any kind of strategic planning requires time, space and an approach that most of us don’t utilize so much in our day-to-day

Marine Institute Ireland, Strategic_Planning_S...

Marine Institute Ireland, Strategic_Planning_Symbol (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

business. This is too bad, but not surprising.  We’re focused on the day-to-day, tactical bits of the business and the strategy time is time not spent on keeping the whole thing moving forward.

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What am I part of?

Community
I use a lot of different tools in my work every day, as I’m sure you do. Like many computer-bound professionals, I use Microsoft Office apps like Outlook, Word, Powerpoint, and Excel (although I have had a hard time
getting used to viewing Excel more as a tool and less as an adversary, but that’s another story…). I use more than one Internet browser, since each provides different kinds of efficiencies. I use a to-do list app, a social media monitoring tool and a couple of analytics tools, and I use Evernote for all my note-taking and snippet needs…oh, and Windows Media Player for tunes (as a former pro musician, music helps me focus).

As a user of each of these, am I part of a community of experience for each of them?  Well, kind of.

Do I think of myself as a REAL card-carrying Member of these communities of experience (whatever that is….)? Not so much…until I need help or want to try something different with any of the tools.  Then I search diligently for where the associated community hangs out online and look for some guidance.

No one I know has the time to  play around with tools and services to force something. We all have timelines and milestones, and most of us want to go home at 5 PM. If someone else has done it first and better, I want to find out how they did it and model that behavior….not ‘hunt-and-peck’ around it until, hopefully, eventually, maybe I stumble across the right way to do it.

Um…..no.

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Scary and Hard To Do

Scream Cropped

Scream Cropped (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I read an article recently by Laura Cioca, Director of Media & Engagement at W2O, about something she calls ‘Fauxthenticity’.  She defines this as ‘the tendency some brands have towards assuming we’re all complete idiots.’

She goes on to describe it as a kind of creative laziness that ‘pretends that a brand’s participation in community has anything to do with people.’  She then lists a number of examples, all of which I have seen before and recently.  It’s sad really….

It seems to be a gospel truth in social business and so-called ‘thought leader’ articles that treating your customers and others in your interactions as Human Beings (that is, people with which you have and nurture relationships) is the competitive path to better business, greater earnings, products of higher quality and greater relevancy, and a degree of innovation not possible within the closed confines of the conference room.  So, if this is the Actual Truth, why is it generally ignored?
Well, to boil it right down, it’s hard to do.

Get out of your way

Ego suspension. There it is.  What does it mean?

listening

listening (Photo credit: Leonard John Matthews)

I have been doing quite a bit of research and consideration of the skills required to be a truly effective listener, collaborator, influencer (more on that later) and generally a better human being. It turns out that ego suspension is critical to this direction of growth and one of the hardest things to do. Ever.