A Lesson in Handling Adversity

This past week, the Valero Texas Open was played at the TPC San Antonio (AT&T Oaks Course) in San Antonio, Texas. During the first round,  professional golfer Kevin Na carded a 16 on the par 4 ninth hole of the course.

A little about Kevin Na. At age 8, Na’s family moved from South Korea to the United States. Took up the game a year later and by the time he left the junior golf program had become the top junior player in the U.S. Na has played professional golf for five years and earned over $2 million dollars in 2009 and 2010 making him a top 50 golfer in earnings during that time. In other words, Kevin is not like me, he is not  a duffer but a real pro golfer.

It is amazing the world wide interest this one hole failure and has created and the media coverage of the event. It seems we marvel in the failure of others. Maybe we can relate to the struggles on the golf course (who has not carded the double digit hole?). Maybe we empathize with the moment of failure we have all experienced. In any case, it seems allot of attention has been given to one hole of golf.

I am not surprised by the interest nor the reasons the interest exists. What amazes me is the character that Na shows while going through this adversity. Think about it. Nary a display of emotion and just a light hearted approach to the moment.  How many times do we see athletes use foul language, mouth slurs (caught on camera), throw towels, swing a bat at the water coolers, get in the face of an official and generally just have a temper tantrum each time things do not go there way? It happens all the time. It is the norm. What is not the norm is someone showing some character in the face of adversity and keeping a smile on his face even though he just carded one of the worst par 4 scores in PGA history. Now, that is a lesson for all of us on handling adversity.

It just wouldn’t be a picnic without the ants.  ~Author Unknown

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Guy’s New Book – Enchantment

A couple of weeks ago, a friend of mine and former Chief evangelist of Apple, Guy Kawasaki sent me a copy of his new book “Enchantment” to read. I have to say, the book was tough to put down and right on when it comes to creating products and organizations that are not only “enchanting” but successful. In the book, Guy walks us through a step by step process on how to create an environment that will help create the next product or brand that people simply fall in love with.

Of the entire book, the portion about creating enchanted employees was my favorite. We all depend on people to assist us and this book cut right to the heart of motivation and creating an environment where everyone can grow and succeed. The book goes on sale to today, to this point in time I have never endorsed a book but I gladly endorse Guy’s new book “Enchantment.” *Nope, I am not being paid a cent and doing this only because I love the book!

The book is a can’t miss pick and you will simply be enchanted by it. :-)

Below is a video that summarized the book and a link where to pick up your copy.

Click here to pick up a copy >>> Guy Kawasaki’s “Enchantment”

Learn About Google’s Priority Inbox

Have important messages you always want to check now and save the rest for later? Google has you in mind as it rolls out it’s Priority Inbox over the next several weeks. In addition to prioritizing emails some of the other features include;

  • Custom importance filters,
  • Label categorization,
  • “Important” and “Everything Else” settings, and
  • Ease of email “catch-up” after long absences such as vacations.

To learn more about the upcoming features, watch the video below and click here to go to Google’s info page on Priority Inbox.

Google: “Email is great, except when there’s too much of it. Priority Inbox automatically identifies your important email and separates it out from everything else, so you can focus on what really matters.”

When the Community Turns On You

One wonders if there is justice in the world? In our society when someone feels they have been wronged there are laws to protect them. If the act is bad enough, someone goes to jail, if not…they just get sued. It is the “get sued” part where the cross hairs live for often a person may be unjustly sued (whether true or not) or in the opinion of a community unjustly sued (whether true or not.)

Earlier today Chicago Now reported that a tenant of Horizon Realty was sued for a “tweet” they sent regarding the place they lived. If you are bored and want to read the complaint, here it is;  Twitter lawsuit.pdf.  A woman with less than 20 followers on Twitter complained about mold in her apartment to a friend, so Horizon Realty sued her for $50,000 in damages.

Lawsuit Twitter

The purpose of this post is not to agree or disagree with the lawsuit, but rather to point out when the online community turns on someone/something because they see injustice…the results can snowball. I mean snowball in a big way. One of the top tweet topics today are commentary from literally thousands of Twitter users spreading the word about the injustice they perceive.

Business can learn a big big lesson here.

Seek to resolve before you pull out the big guns. The lawsuit and report of the lawsuit has created a huge PR problem for this company. In a world where information is in real time one would think companies would adjust their actions to take the every changing world into account. Once the mob turns against you the damage is irreversable and the public relations nightmare just grows bigger and bigger.

What would I do? I would withdraw the lawsuit, address the issue, work towards a productive resolution for all parties and if at fault, I would stand up and let the community know I made a mistake and I am sorry.

Will this happen, only time will tell…but till then you can read the Twitter communtiy tweets about it here.

Twitter Search Horizon

Take Time to “Wave” at the Future

The Future

Yesterday I had the chance to watch a video produced by Google from a conference they held a couple days ago. The video was about a new communications/collaboration tool under development planned to roll out later this year. The name of the product is “Wave.” Granted the video is 80 minutes long featuring the development team that is creating Wave (the same brothers that brought us Google Maps) and all I can say after watching the video is…wow!

For a moment think of email, document sharing, mapping, texting, IM’s, picture sharing and more all built into one tool that delivers information instantly along with needed levels of security, accountability and functionality. Imagine a tool where client side applications can be added into the product to produce instant language transalation, polls and more. Then, on top of all that, imagine the addition of gadgets to add untold functionality to your communication. Then finally, it is open source. Which we know means third parties can produce applications for Wave that will give it even more powerful functions.

Once the video started I was quickly captivated by the demonstration of the product under development and instantly could see how it will change everything. I mean everything, email, sharing documents, project management, feedback & comments, instant messages and collaboration. If you don’t believe me, take the time to watch the video below. Then when you are done, wave hello to the future.

If you want to get in early on Wave, go here to sign up. http://wave.google.com/

Dodged a Facebook Hack Bullet…but Just Barely

Ok I have to admit something. Yesterday, I almost fell for a hacker’s scam. Don’t get me wrong, I am at the front of the class when it comes to firewall protection and virus-spam-phishing-malware protection. But still, yesterday…I was so so close to getting bit.

Hackers launched an attack on Facebook yesterday and upon the 200 million users therein. The purpose of the attack was to gather passwords. Many speculated the hope of the hackers was identity theft and to solicit fake products to Facebook users.  Considering if Facebook was a country, its 200 million users would make it the 5th largest nation on the planet, I am not surprised the site’s users face these issues from time to time.

Below is a cropped screen shot of a message within my Facebook Inbox, the names and pics have been covered <so someone out there can breath a sigh of relief  :) >.  The message was sent to a large number of people and Heading was a simple “Hello.”  The message contained a request to check out an obscurely named website and upon clicking the link one was sent to what appeared to be the Facebook log-in page. Sadly it was not the log-in page but the phisher’s site and here is where passwords and information were gathered.  The attack looked like this in my Inbox;

Facebook Hack

As you can see, many commented on the thread as they attempted to reach the hack site. It appears that everyone in this thread clicked after Facebook cleaned up the mess.

Here is what Ryan McGeehan (of Facebook) had to say on the Facebook blog;

When the latest phishing incident surfaced on Wednesday, we quickly blocked the fake links from being shared on Facebook to stop their spread. We’ve been removing these links from Walls and Inboxes across the site and resetting passwords for any of the compromised accounts we detect. This foils the bad guys, because the login information they collect will no longer work.

Now here is my confession. I had a busy day but noticed several comments to a Facebook Inbox message being dropped into my email. Last night I looked at the message thread and considered clicking the link…but it was late and I did not. This morning, I became aware of the hack and realized how close I was to being a victim. So what does one do? This message was from a trusted source and the sending of links on social networks is very very common? Although not full proof, here are a few simple guidelines to help you stay safe;

  • change your passwords often
  • never open an email/message from someone you do not know
  • always keep your virus-malware-phishing-spam software up-to-date
  • turn your firewall on
  • back up your data frequently
  • update your operating system as asked
  • and finally, when in doubt…check it out (ask the source if they sent the email)

My guess is that everyone reading this post knows what to do to protect themselves. You are probably doing what you need to do, I was and still…I almost clicked the link. I guess the one piece we cannot forget is awareness. We get busy, we are busy, we will be busy…and the result is a drop in awareness. That is what happened to me so please, try not to let it happen to you.

World Changing at the Speed of Light

This video is so impactful and relative, I had to post it… Watch it and see for yourself, would love to hear your comments.

To Tweet or Not to Tweet

The instant update phenomena has overtaken us.  With the arrival of smart phones and other portable web-enabled devices we live in a world of instant access, instant communication and instant reporting.

A few weeks ago, Continental Airlines flight 1404 and was leaving from Denver and heading to Houston.  It was carrying 107 passengers and five crew members.  The plane veered off course about 2,000 feet from the end of the runway and did not appear to be airborne.  The plane appeared to have slid into a ditch and was on fire after the crash.  Thirty-eight people were reported to have been injured in the crash, no one died.  The crash was first reported not by a news agency but by Mike Wilson as he sent out a tweet to his Twitter stream from his seat on the plane;  “Holy #$&*@%^#@* I was just in a plane crash!”  (I took out a few expletives :) ).  I believe this action is a mere foreshadowing to how events will be reported in the near future.  Don’t be surprised if Twitter users from across the world breaking newsworthy events becoming a very common occurrence.

Not to be outdone, on January 16th, a US Airways flight took off from LaGuardia Airport at 3:26pm.  Within one minute of take off, the pilot Chesley B. “Sully” Sullenberger, knew they were in trouble.

A few minutes later the plane miraciously landed in the Hudson River with all passengers safe and no major injuries.  At 3:36pm a news breaking picture of the plane was sent to TwitPic by Twitter user Janis Krums .

No news agency reported the crash until an estimated 3:48pm.

Once again, Twitter and it’s universe of user, scooped the media.

Sometimes breaking the news is not the best thing to do.

Take for example the story of Virginia GOP Chairman, Jeff Frederick.  A few days ago on February 10th, the Virgina GOP nearly was able to wrestle control of the State senate from the Democrats as they were close to convincing a Democratic Senator to switch parties.  This change would have put the Senate in a 20 to 20 tie with the Democrats.   Once at a 20-20 tie, the tie would have been broken by the Republican Lt. Governor. Then Mr. Frederick sent a tweet.

jeff-fredericks-tweet

The Democrats saw and read the Tweet and quickly moved to talk the party switching Senator from doing so. This quick action to the update by the Democrats stopped the GOP coup in it’s tracks.

So was Virginia GOP Chairman reporting news?  Or is this a “what was he thinking?” moment.

We have an incredibly powerful tools to instantly communicate today.  Tools that if not used wisely, can be used against us (just ask the Virginia GOP).  So what do we do?  What are some rules we can follow?  This technology is way too new to have accepted protocol like email but if we use a little common sense, we can stay out of hot water:

  • First and always report the facts as you see them.  Nothing added, no imbelishment.
  • If you are involved in something that could be described as “negotiations” it would be safe to never report until the negotiations are complete, and then only if appropriate to report (does anyone remember the non-disclosure agreement you may have signed?).
  • If the item is deemed confidential, keep it as such.  Leaking “secret projects” at work is something for the Marketing Department to figure out :).
  • If you see news happening in front of you, by all means report it (but remember the above points first.)

The breaking of major news has made some normal folks for a short period of time “micro famous” and the incentive is certainly there for people to want to be the first to break the big story.  Using some common sense will help us not only get our fifteen minutes of fame, but let us enjoy it and talk about it the rest of our lives.

Do Advertisers Miss the Real Opportunities?

against-the-flow

In June 2008, McKinsey & Company surveyed marketing executives around the planet to find out how they viewed digital media as a form of advertising and how to measure the impact.  Surprisingly, not much progress had been made from 2007 to 2008 in determining the metrics of online advertising, especially in the areas of social media or the offline impact of online advertising.   It seems that the majority of those surveyed used “subjective judgment” and repeated allot of what they did the year before.

Which raises the question regarding use of our new online social tools to reach people and the speed to which they become available.  How do you keep up?  I remember when Twitter appeared.  I looked at it and wondered “why?”  Soon thereafter I had an “aha!” moment and jumped into the micro-blogging realm and saw the opportunity to build relationships and see the vast amount of opportunities they “tweeted” about with enthusiasm.  In the end, I was able to also share my new media productions, insights, thoughts and opinions.  I also remember when YouTube arrived on the scene.  I thought to myself, “that’s cool” and saw it as a place to post short home made videos and to share experiences.  Then I had another “aha!” moment and realized the value of sharing video and the broad scope of applications the medium provided.  And even now, not a week goes by where another new way to share, communicate and socialize appears on the web.  So now the question becomes, if fast and faster change keeps coming…how will I ever keep up?

I guess the lesson learned from stumbling across new tools, widgets and gadgets that appear today is to stop and pause.  To get over the initial reaction of the medium cool factor and see the opportunities within that platform.  If a platform or tool is viewed from the perspective as another opportunity, then the mind will get to work and figure out ways to use the medium to send the message you want.  But is using tools for an end purpose really connecting?  Or is connecting with the hope of a positive outcome the way to go?

There’s the rub with trying to keep up with the digital world.  The challenge that marketing executives have is two-fold.  They sell results and they need to be able to measure.  The small business check book management approach or even simpler, the “business has picked up” view does not work.  I even heard a marketing person say recently (regarding the use of Social Media) “I made allot of friends, but I don’t think we sold anything.”  Marketing execs need to know what worked and why and how it impacted the overall goals of the campaign.  If they cannot measure the success, they can’t sell or know how to charge for it.  Again the question, build relationships first or sell first then build relationships?  In my opinion, the answer is easy.  Build relationships, for if you do a good job at this, results will come (most likely long term results.)

If you are a part of the “we need to do this crowd” let me give you some ideas on why use of the Social Media piece of online advertising is a must do.  Regardless of the metrics.

  • I remember back in the 80’s management gurus told us to “manage by wandering around” to “talk to your customer” and to get feedback.  Social Media is an amazing platform to do just that (if you really want to hear what your customer has to say.)  Social Media enables you to target communities of like minded people to engage.  It enables you to have a conversation and more importantly to build a relationship.  This micro-relationship may not take into account the millions of people who drink your soft-drink, buy your food product or wear your clothes, but if the community is selected carefully, you can get tremendous insights into what your users want and need.  And no amount of metrics can replace that knowledge.
  • The use of Social Media enables you to see and feel the pulse of the community.  I cannot tell you how many times I see a comment like, “I wish someone would come up with something that would do (fill in the blank).”  You may have that product in beta and you just found a great person to test the product and give you feedback.  Think about this, how often do you test a new product and find it very difficult to get real feedback.
  • If you still walk around the mall you will still see people with clipboards attempting to stop you and ask you a handful of survey questions.  You want a survey answered honestly with legitimate insights into the needs of your customer?  Go online into a community where you have developed a relationship and simply ask.  You will get  your answers.
  • Social Media is inexpensive.  Ok, before you jump down my throat and give me the cost of keywords, the expense of web-site maintenance and the price of click-through ads, please hear me out.  All those things will give you traffic and presence. But will they introduce me to you in some personal way?  Probably not.  Will the response to a Twitter or Facebook update that leads to a real conversation on how to improve the product and services you offer?  Yes, it will.  And the conversation did not incur the cost of the web banner, the ad or the MySpace video production.  How many products and services get launched around the world everyday and fail?  Allot.  How many could have survived if someone had a way to tap into the end user and find ways to help them more, serve them better or deliver a better product?  That question is rhetorical and I don’t know the answer.  But I am confident enough in the comment to say, “many more.”

So in the end what do we do?  We don’t have unlimited funds.  We have limited time, people, energy and resources.  Here are a few things that fall under the category “Food for Thought.”

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

  • What if every organization small and large had one person dedicated to using the web and its Social Media tools to try to connect with people?  What if that person was the CEO? Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos.com is legendary for reaching out to his customers and engaging them on Twitter, find him at http://twitter.com/zappos (oh, he has over 56K people that he follows and converses with as of this morning.)  Maybe he has something figured out.
  • What if the purpose of using Social Media to reach out was not one way, but two way.  Conversations are two way.  Is it possible for marketers to give before they try to take?  Can we build trust and relationships first?  Chris Brogan and Julien Smith call trust the new currency, if you don’t get it read their complementary e-book “Trust Economies.”
  • What if someone in every organization was in charge of finding “like minded” communities and engaging those communities?
  • What if the metric was the success we have in building relationships, not the immediate results.  Relationships are the ultimate long-tail.

As advertisers struggle with lower budgets and a soft economy maybe a drop of focus should go into connecting with people and building a plan to “wander around the Social Media space” and find out how close you can really get to your customers.

Then you have a new question, how long can you make your tail?

Does Anyone Listen Anymore?

*click above to see larger image of  “Active Listening” cartoon

Ever write a blog post and get no comments?  Or send out a Twitter and get no answer to your question? Or have you attended a class/seminar/conference and hear the speaker ask for feedback/questions/input, only to have the audience sit quiet as field mice?

How about this.  Do you read blog posts or just skim them?  To you engage people in conversation while really far away thinking of the ten things you were supposed to have done ten minutes ago?  Do you listen, do people listen to you?

In this new media world, the paradigm of listening has changed.  In the past, listening was hearing what people had to say and seeking to understand what they said.  Today “listening” can be characterized as following Twitter, reading Facebook updates, setting Google alerts for topics that interest you in addition to our actual conversations.

I know someone who is a great multi-tasker.  This person can text, email, read websites, talk on the speaker phone and open the mail all at once.  But at times this person does not catch what the text is saying, the point of the website,  or remember the take aways from the phone call.  Unfortunately this person is me.

For someone who has stood up before class after class (in my corporate training days) teaching people the importance of listening I often fail as bad as the people I notice that are not listening.  The issue is this (for all of us), in a world that seems to move faster and faster the need for us to listen is greater and greater.  We simply do not have time not to listen.

Listening involves hearing (whether it is in print or in person) what the sender is saying, understanding the message and then interpreting the message (is it accurate?,  does it make sense?, is it believable?, etc…).  Listening challenges occur right at the front of the process, hearing.

Want to be more effective?  Want to get more done?  Want to communicate better?  Then work hard at being a good listener (let me tell you from experience, good listeners are hard to come by).   Show me an extremely successful person with the tag “great people skills” and I will guarantee, they are good at listening.

Want to be a better listener?  Here are some tips to help you;

  • Pay attention to the person who is speaking.
  • Focus.  Do not try to guess what the person is going to say next or let your mind wander.  Focus on the message.
  • Let the speaker finish.  Most people end what they are saying with “the point” or a summary, if you cut them off you may not have full understanding.
  • Resist the urge to develop a response while the speaker is talking.  Finish listening.  Your response will be better.
  • Listen for the main idea.  What is the point of the message?
  • Ask questions to gain understanding (after the speaker is finished).
  • Give feedback once you fully understand.

Finding a good listener is so rare that you will stand out from the crowd and probably realize many good side benefits along the way by being one.

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