Monday, July 29, 2013

Happy, sad, glad, or mad

This Sunday's sparkenation.

This week you will feel and encounter four basic emotions, happy, sad, glad or mad. You will choose to feel one of the four in any given moment.  Everyone you meet is choosing one of these four as well, whether conscious of it or not.

Catch yourself feeling, and be in the moment. Then choose how you will feel in the next moment.

And when you sense how other people you meet are feeling, feel with them in the moment.

Life is not complicated.  We make it so.

Be the difference you want to see in the world.

“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Seven Practical Ways For Leaders To Use Twitter

concertThere's a lot of advice about how to use Twitter for business, but most of it is aimed at marketers and customer service representatives. This advice is generally not appropriate for leaders, because it's time-consuming, low value, and a distraction from their key responsibilities. But leaders should use Twitter - they just need to use it properly.

In January 2013, the Digital Policy Council reported that three out of four heads of state were Twitter users. Whether they are tweeting directly or not (and they are most probably not), this certainly shows they care enough to have a Twitter presence. The same should apply to business leaders and thought leaders, who should use Twitter to share their strategic messages and ideas with the key people in their networks.

The problem for most leaders is that the general advice about using Twitter is not appropriate for them. Of course, they shouldn't be tweeting about what they had for lunch - that's obvious. But what's not so obvious is that they also shouldn't be trying to get as many followers as possible, tweet 5-10 times a day, spend all day watching what their customers are saying, or engage in back-and-forth conversations with followers. That doesn't make sense for them, because it's not part of their role.

Instead, leaders should use Twitter as another channel for sharing their key strategic messages and ideas, sparking relevant conversations, and connecting with key stakeholders.

If you're a leader, here are seven practical things you can do to use Twitter effectively.

1. Get a Twitter account!

This might seem obvious, but it needs to be said. Get your own Twitter account, in your name, and set it up with a brief profile and photograph. Even if your organisation has other Twitter accounts, get one for yourself. This will represent you, and will be a vehicle for you to share your ideas and messages.

2. Invite people to follow you

Announce that you're on Twitter, and invite people who are already in your network to follow you. For example:

  • If you have an e-mail newsletter, announce it to your subscribers.
  • If you are a CEO, invite employees, media outlets, and other key stakeholders.
  • If you're a business owner, announce it to your customers.

Don't make a big deal of this, and don't try to "sell" them on the idea. That's undignified and inappropriate for a leader. Simply announce it, and know that the right people will choose to follow.

3. Follow people you like and respect

Don't try to follow too many people; it will clutter up your incoming tweets and will make it too easy to miss something important. Instead, look up the people who matter to you, and follow them if they have Twitter accounts.

The people you follow will depend on you, of course, but they could include: thought leaders and other experts in your industry, peers and colleagues who share valuable information, selected media outlets and journalists, bloggers who write about your industry, and perhaps even competitors.

4. Be ruthless about culling irrelevant tweeters

If you're not sure whether somebody is worth following, follow them anyway; but drop them from your list unless they continue to deliver useful information. You have enough other things to deal with in your day anyway, and some of them are out of your control. This isn't, so be ruthless in "unfollowing" people who don't consistently deliver value.

5. Retweet selected tweets

When somebody tweets something that's worth sharing, retweet it so the rest of your network gets it. Do this selectively and infrequently, so your network knows that you only share the highest-quality material, which enhances your reputation.

Be aware that what you retweet carries your implicit endorsement (even if you don't intend it to be that way), so be sure you're happy for it to be treated this way.

6. Share links to other people's material

You don't only have to share other people's tweets. If you find relevant articles, blog posts, slide shows, infographics, or videos online, tweet about them, with a brief description and a link to the original material.

Again, your tweets carry an implicit endorsement of the material, so check it carefully first.

7. Share YOUR key ideas and messages

All of the ideas above will help build your reputation with the right network of people on Twitter. That's all leading up to the most important thing you can do: Share your own key strategic messages and ideas on Twitter. These might only be 20% of your tweets, but they carry more weight because they are directly from you.

If you need more than 140 characters (and you usually do!), write a blog post or record a video, and tweet a link to it.

Monday, July 22, 2013

The pull of a pounding heart

This weeks sparkenation.

I love this Out of Africa blog post from Kevin Roberts, world-wide CEO of Saatchi & Saatchi.

Here’s to all of us doing stuff this week, online and in-person that makes our hearts, and the hearts of those we connect with, to pound.

Be the difference you want to see in the world.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

The magic is in the middle

This weeks sparkenation.

Despite a zillion employee engagement surveys and billions of dollars invested (or is that spent?) in most organisations there are more people neither engaged or disengaged than there are engaged or disengaged.

The magic is in the middle.

This week focus on the middle.  My story below may help you.

Be the difference you want to see in the world.

More sparkenations

Monday, July 15, 2013

How many times this week has conventional wisdom been wrong for you?

Integral to my work in helping my clients improve performance is reviewing systems and processes with the people that use them. Often I ask "So why are we doing it this way?"  A common answer is "Well we have always done this."

It staggers me that so often there is a lack of common sense in much that happens in organisational life, and we just keep doing things because we always have. Of course this means we usually get the same results.

My favourite definition of stupidity is
“Expecting a different result by continuing to do the same old thing.”

I also love this definition of idiocy
“Doing something different and still getting the same result”

My bet is that this week you have found at least once that conventional wisdom no longer works for you.

A lot of what is happening in the world today is the same old thing in a different disguise.  The dark side of social media for example is just advertising in a different medium.  Social media in many ways is also an oxymoron, it's actually anti-social!

Take some time out this weekend to reflect on what you're doing that actually isn't producing the results you want.

Next week take on at least one of your systems and processes and ask How can this be done differently, better, or more uniquely that will produce a better result?  Then change what's normal.

Be the difference you want to see in the world.

"If you don’t like change, you’re going to like irrelevance even less."
General Eric Shinseki

"In times of change learners inherit the earth; while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists."

Eric Hoffer

Thursday, July 11, 2013

If One Thing Could Fix Your Social Media Campaign, This Is It

One WayMost business owners and business leaders spend too much time, with too little return, on social media. Usually that's because they are engaging in social media activities that might feel good but don't bring results. Instead of spending more time on social media, it's better to spend less time, but to focus on activities that position you as an expert in your industry.

Many social media experts will tell you that the only way to succeed with social media is to be constantly engaging with your customers, monitoring their online conversations and responding promptly to concerns and problems. That is important for some businesses, especially for people in a customer service role or a marketing role. But if you're a leader - whether it's a thought leader, business leader or business owner - you should be using social media as another channel for leadership, not just customer service or marketing.

Your job as a leader is to think about strategy - and then communicate it effectively to the people who matter. It's not to engage in inane chatter with anybody and everybody who wants to "follow" you.

If there's one thing that will make the biggest difference to your social media presence, this is it: Use social media for distributing content, not for having conversations.

In other words, stop thinking of social media as a two-way communication channel where you listen, respond and engage in conversations. Instead, use it as a (mostly) one-way communication channel where you speak, share and distribute your key strategic messages.

Be warned that this is a radically different way of viewing social media, and is the exact opposite of what many social media experts say. So be prepared for some resistance from your marketing team, your social media consultants, and even perhaps your own prior thinking. But keep in mind that this is about leadership first, not customer service and marketing. Marketing is about meeting your customers' needs, and customer service is about keeping your customers happy. But leadership is different - for example:

  • Leaders don't spend all day chatting with customers and employees.
  • Leaders don't spend all their time looking for ways to get more random people to become followers, friends or fans.
  • Leaders don't necessarily care whether their messages are liked (as long as they are effective).
  • Leaders don't engage in shallow, meaningless conversations and chit-chat.

That's not to say that you can't occasionally do any of these things as a leader - and of course you do. But they are not part of your main focus in your daily life, so they shouldn't be part of your main focus in social media either.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Enjoy a laugh about business jargon

This weeks sparkenation.

Enjoy a laugh about business jargon.

Then ensure no-one is laughing at your words this week.

Be the difference you want to see in the world.

More sparkenations.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Are your actions speaking louder than your theories?

This weeks sparkenation.

Wherever you are stuck examine your theory around it.  If you know you should be doing something and aren't, most likely there is something misplaced in your theory.  Don't spend too much time deliberating though, we learn by doing.

"An ounce of action is worth a ton of theory. Don't be too timid and squeamish about your actions."
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Be the difference you want to see in the world.

More sparkenations.