FOCUS: The Simple Obsession of Mindful Marketing

Mindfulness is a light of honesty within yourself that is fed by each moment that passes.

Mindfulness and “being in the moment” are ancient ideas found across cultures. This self-awareness is partly being truly aware of the moment, and partly acknowledging and letting go of the things and thoughts that cling to you or come flying back at you, only to be noticed and let go of again in that moment. It’s an enlightening and maddening place to be, for sure…

I read an article by Seth Godin recently about self-awareness and marketing that brought me to reconsider the role of marketing in my thought life and decision-making process, and in that of my customers and yours, too. To say that we are all relentlessly marketed to by just about everything and everyone is a statement of the obvious that we have become so numb to that we tend to ignore it.  We are in danger of losing the awareness that can allow us a margin of critical thinking.  Godin writes, “Mostly, marketing is what we call it when someone else is influenced by a marketer. When we’re influenced, though, it’s not marketing, it’s a smart choice.” In other words, it’s not “just marketing” when it influences me! I’m not as influenced by the marketing beast as “those other folks!”

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Obsessed With Success for 2016? It’s Almost Here!

Is there an actual name for the time between Christmas and New Years? If there isn’t, there should be…..it always feels just plain weird to me.

That said, it’s that time when I take a look back, past the shredded wrapping paper, immense amount of food and goodies, emergency trips and 2016 business planning to the Top Five Posts for December. There’s always a lot to be learned and reminded of, and these articles do the trick!

Lots O' Social Media

Lots O’ Social Media

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What is the Remarkable Power of a Daring Vision?

I’ve been thinking a lot about vision and goals lately. As the incoming president of my business networking chapter, I’ve been meeting with the outgoing leaders, my leadership team, our regional leadership, and other strong leaders and leadership coaches within the organization, as well as talking with other leaders (not to mention the guidance and advice available from so many in books and online….). I keep pulling back, looking for simplicity and clarity….an awareness of the possible while casting my thoughts wider to “Why?” and larger destinations and possibilities.

The idea of S.M.A.R.T. goals is pretty well known. As a review, S.M.A.R.T. stands for:

  • Specific – Goals should be simplistically written and clearly define what you’re going to do.
  • Measurable – Goals should be measurable. In this way you have tangible evidence that you’ve accomplished them. These can include the Big Goal measurement as well as measured milestones.
  • Achievable – Goals should stretch you slightly so you feel challenged, but defined well enough that you can actually achieve them.
  • Results-focused (or Relevant) – Goals should measure outcomes, not activities.
  • Time-bound – Goals should be linked to a time-frame of some kind that creates a practical sense of urgency, or results in tension between the current reality and the desired end-state. Keep in mind the Achievable aspect of the goal when setting the time-frame, of course.

Vision is a different kind of animal. Very different. Setting a goal for monthly sales or post engagement on Facebook for the quarter is not a vision. When building goals we tend to look at the recent past as a starting point and build on that (or, if starting something new, look at a similar process, product or business, try to extrapolate an “oranges to tangerines” comparison…not exact, but close enough…). Creating an effective vision means freeing myself from my existing reality and think broadly of possibilities and destinations. This is not “pie-in-the-sky” dreaming, but a deep look at an ideal future. Several writers I have come across lately use Dr. Martin Luther King‘s “I Have A Dream” speech as an example of visionary leadership. While his goals within that speech included a number of the steps that would be needed to make headway toward the vision, the vision was So Much Bigger. He described exactly what the American scene would look like when the full impact of his goals were felt and implemented. One famous section is:

“I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification; one day right there in Alabama, little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.”

In your mind’s eye you can see what that looks like! It is so much more grand that the end points of a number of goals.

Goals may be ambitious by themselves. A big one mentioned by another writer was when President John F. Kennedy committed the country to placing a man on the moon and returning him by the end of the 1960s. Huge Goal! But what came after? Other than getting there and back again, what else was there? Hence the problem of coming up with a compelling vision for further space travel and exploration (although a number of futurists, respected scientists and writers try). There is, at present, no strong, heart-stirring vision for exploration and travel that we can, as a society, turn to and say, “That’s it! Let’s go!”

Apply this exercise to your business. When you sat down and created your business plan, you undoubtedly created goals, milestones, and outlined some measurable processes to reach those goals. But, speaking to your vision, why are you actually in business? What does your community, your industry, your world look like as a result of you having created this business, provided what you provide to your customers, and spent so much time and so many resources on its success?

Is your vision a “shining city on a hill”? You can make it so.

Business Plans, Products and the Horse Race

I recently revisited my business plan (something I do about every 4 months…). My goal is to see (a) how/what I’m doing regarding how/what I THOUGHT I’d be doing, (b) note any changes, and (c) update the plan accordingly. This combined backward- and forward-cast of consideration reminded me of a post I made awhile back about the parallels of enterprise performance review processes and horse races. While that post focused on the willingness to engage in developing and enriching team members that are forced into a strictly hierarchical and ‘winner-takes-most’ structure, it made me consider the dynamism of the processes, products and services that entrepreneurs work with. We work in the middle of a whirlwind every day.

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Laser-focused Business Goals!

There are a lot of ways for business owners to formulate, define and drive to their business goals. A mentor I had while I worked at Microsoft had three goals he printed on a 3 x 5 note card and taped that to his monitor. He told me that if what he was doing didn’t directly impact any of those three things, he would not do it (where he was in the pecking order allowed him that kind of choice…). He was relentless and laser-focused on those goals every day. They were something of a mantra for him.

Seriously interested in being as successful in my career as he was in his, I gave this a try. While my place in the pecking order didn’t allow me the kind of flexibility to say “No.” to some activities that didn’t map to my goals, I gave it my best shot. What I began to find was that, while my goals may have been well-written and clear, the day-to-day required to get there became more difficult and a lot less fun. Needless to say, this was frustrating….

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Is Innovation Dead?

Innovation” has become a flat buzz-word in business. I think we may have finally beat it into unremitting grayness, which is unfortunate. If ever we have been in need of creative and unusual solutions to problems, it is this moment in which we find ourselves. Even the concept of “disruptive innovation” has become something of a totem that has lost meaning.

I have been in discussions of how some organizations choose to approach this kind of process. Some pat themselves on the back if they can manage to agree on changing the color of the cloth covering the cubicles, and others destroy productivity and morale by nuking the team, process and business plan almost monthly. Certainly, what works for one may not work for another, but taking well-written best practices and lessons learned from an book or article (or motivational speaker…) and then rounding your team into a room and delivering it as this quarter’s way out of a business problem without due research and context probably won’t work.

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Sustainability, Triple Bottom Line and the Solopreneur

English: Balance of Sustainability

English: Balance of Sustainability (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A business forum I attended a while back consisted of a panel of folks from various kinds of businesses, including a local bank, a cafe’/bakery, an architectural firm and local health care. The discussion revolved around how they each approached the overall idea of sustainability and the Triple Bottom Line (TBL) of People, Planet and Profit (or as they were presented: Social, Environmental and Economical). Each have very interesting and unique approaches, and the challenges they encountered (and still work through…) were instructive.

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