Social Media Do’s and Don’ts, Ensuring a Cohesive Team, and a Better You – Best of September

Autumn

Autumn is Officially Here!

September brought more content about social media and website success, and how to keep up the continuous improvement process that is your business and your own professional growth!

Social Media Mistakes

Social Media Mistakes

Every single one of these mistakes is avoidable AND crucial to a vital social media presence for your business. Knowing WHAT NOT TO DO is just as important as knowing WHAT TO DO!

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Practicing Thinking

Thinking

Thinking

Before you can truly get to clear communication, you need to have clear thinking. 

Neither of these “just happens” because you want it to. Generally, neither of these comes complete “right out of the box”. Our society and education system do not directly reward clear thought or effective communication. An excellent education teaches you how to think, not necessarily what to think, or what bits to repeat back when asked on a test. Learning to communicate clearly can’t take place outside an environment where you can, or need, to communicate. Being around others and learning the basics is a start, but the real learning takes place when you have to express an idea or story to someone who doesn’t have the same background or beliefs you do. This makes you shelve your assumptions. Then you have to make sure that the words and phrases you use are understood the way you use them.

This is very, very hard to do.

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Your Job and Your ONE THING

Job

The Job

“It’s not just a Job….It’s an Adventure!”

That was a marketing tag line for the U.S. Navy a number of years ago. A frequent comment among my fellow sailors at the time was “Is this the job part or the adventure part?”

The whole of these two concepts came up to me recently in a conversation I had with a mentor of mine. We were going over his long career, and he mentioned that he felt he never really had a JOB. I asked him what he meant, and he shared that his idea of a job was something that you pretty much had to drag yourself to, every day, like it or not. There was not much life in it, and any correlation between it and the conviction that he was doing something good, right, and worthwhile was nonexistent, or, at best, extremely minimal. He felt that all that he had done never went to the level of being a JOB for him.

After about four hours of dialogue and catching up (I hadn’t seen him for over 4 years…), I drove away mulling over this idea.

Did I ever have a JOB, by this definition?

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Time Is Truth

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Time And Truth

Time And Truth

Time is Truth.

What that means is you invest time in the things that you feel are important. Work, play, rest, whatever…..time is a consumable and limited resource. Each of us gets 24 hours a day, and none of us knows EXACTLY how much of it we get in total. It’s limited. It’s also a most unpredictable predictable commodity, because there’s no telling, at any one time, when “life will intervene” and you will lose out on how you planned to use the time.

There’s a lot here about life and values, but let’s focus on business and profession.
Whether you go into an office of some kind or are working in some kind of structure for your work that doesn’t include an office, you likely spend more time in that work than almost anything else you do. This is particularly true of entrepreneurs and small business owners. Tack on all the “thinking / worrying about work” time to that, and it’s even more all-consuming.

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Draw the Line from Problem to Strategy and Back

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Problem to Strategy

Problem to Strategy

I wrote an article awhile back called Reaction is Not Solution. In it I wrote about how you can discover a problem and are then presented with a couple of different paths to solve it. Unfortunately, the culture in many businesses is to not even bring a problem to the surface unless you have a solution ready to share. In that article I go over why that’s probably not a great idea.

While it was more about decision-making and problem-solving, I never addressed strategy and planning in that article. Admittedly I am in a different position now as an entrepreneur, and it can seem to others that I can afford the “luxury” of working on mapping strategy and plans to a problem, spending the time needed to research and virtually test possible scenarios before heading in a single direction. I’d like to say that (a) that always happens, (b) it always works, and (c) I always have time to do it. None of those is true. So, the only difference between my current state and that of when I worked in corporate is that now my own business needs drive my discipline to the process, as opposed to the requirements laid on me by my manager. The latter is annoying, but the former will raise the hairs on the back of your head, believe me.

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Best of March – SEO, LinkedIn, and Solving the Right Problem

March, according to the old saying, either comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb, or vice versa. This month’s collection of top articles is the LION portion of that saying!

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Measuring Social is HARD!

Measuring Social is HARD!

Measuring the impact of digital marketing efforts seems like it should be easier, with all the data that is available. But that’s the problem: so much data to look at, and some of it is not just “apples to oranges”, but “apples to wood screws.” Know what you should be looking at and measuring, given your business’s specific goals and requirements. It can be hard, but not impossible.

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Business Critical: Listen-To-Understand

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Listening-to-understand

Listening-to-understand

I wrote an earlier article called Listening is Visual that was about a trip during my last corporate job to Florida to meet with some technical community leaders there. I had planned to do “the usual”: I had created a PowerPoint presentation that represented the bullet points I would talk to and would help guide the discussion.  However, there was no projector and no real place to project, anyway. So much for the presentation and what seemed like control of the meeting.

What originally looked like a standard meeting became much more valuable! The real listening, the responses, the dialogue that took place was really wonderful and very valuable. I came away with a great understanding of their passions and concerns.

Since that time I have made listen-to-understand my goal in every meeting.

…I cannot emphasize this enough…

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Hire for Nice

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Hire for Nice

Hire for Nice

If the heart of all really valuable business is referrals, then “Hire for Nice” makes sense.  Consider it the foundational policy for any company wishing to survive in the blizzard of noise that is the competition for customers and clients.

I ran across an article this week on NBC News called “One CEO’s Secret to Success: Always Lead with Kindness” that triggered a distinct memory of this for me…

My family moved here a couple of years ago and the search for new services to replace the old began (you know: doctor, grocery store, barber, pizza delivery, pet sitter…). It had been awhile since my last haircut, so I looked up the local spots using Yelp and found Bon Cheveux with good reviews. I called and got an appointment for the next day (this would not happen where I lived before…if you didn’t book at least a few days out, you were out of luck). I arrived a few minutes early and was met by the friendly concierge at the front desk. As a newbie, she asked that I fill out a very short form for customer information. I then sat down with a cold glass of water for about 3 minutes before Tarra came out. I was ushered into the actual salon area and commenced the actual haircut. Since I was new, I had to try a describe what I was looking for, which isn’t easy for me (“Four weeks shorter than it is now” isn’t really much help…). Tarra was very patient and we worked through the process collaboratively, which was good. We also engaged in the usual chit-chat conversation, but it wasn’t forced and was enjoyable, especially when it would lapse for a few minutes into silence…..I’ve been to other barbers who are VERY uncomfortable with silence.

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Are You Ready for Wrong?

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Wrong

Wrong

Nobody likes to be wrong. Guys have an especially hard time with failure. My wife knows me well enough now that, when she asks me about something and I start an answer, about 80% of the time she can tell if I’m just piecing together something from opinions, random thought, and floating bits of semi-related rubbish in my head (what guy doesn’t want to the The Answer Man?…) rather than an ACTUAL answer. While “getting caught” this way in a personal discussion is embarrassing, it is REALLY not a great way to approach business decisions, regardless of their size.

There has been a lot of digital ink spilled over the past years about the importance of Failure in Business. Most everyone gives it some level of lip service, but when it comes right down to failing, the shivers and the pointing fingers/assigning blame begin, and the lessons that can be learned are muddled or lost. As human as it is to make mistakes, being wrong in public is still a key source of shame….so we avoid it or ignore it at all costs. Sadly, even at the cost of figuring out what can be learned and applied to the program, process, product or relationship.

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How Do You Get to Valuable Options?

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Options not Answers

Options not Answers

How many squirrels can you follow at once?

This is the thought that occurred to me while reading a recent article by Valeria Maltoni entitled Inventing Options for Mutual Gain. While describing an excellent process for arriving at options, and not necessarily “the final solution”, I am reminded of Edward de Bono and his book Lateral Thinking that I read years ago. The depth and specifics of this work long ago drifted into the “you don’t need to remember this at a granular level” section of my mind, but one of the descriptions I remember well is that the activity of lateral thinking could be visualized as you digging numerous holes in the ground. Although you may find something of interest, even compelling, in one of the holes you dig, you don’t stop digging. Don’t fall in love with the first appealing thing you come across. Other holes you dig may (or may not) offer up a more creative, more defining, more appropriate solution.

Now it’s true that at some point you’ll need to stop digging holes and bring all these potential answers up to consider, but the initial goal is to discover options, not arrive at an answer. Some of the options may well present you with trade-offs, value to different segments of the answer base (those for whom you are digging, whether they are customers, friend and family, or the factions in your head…).

In her article, Maltoni describes a prototypical strategy session that may be carried out amongst 5-8 people and many excellent points that will allow this group to get to the options, and THEN to a decision based upon negotiation. But what does this look like when it’s just you, the entrepreneur or small business owner?

There are a couple of complimentary approaches you can take.

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