Everything I Learned About Management – I Learned From Zombies (Infographic)

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”

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.

Do Bad Times = More Downloads/Views?

A recent thread in a group I belong to was bemoaning the lack of interest in the association’s podcast. It appeared from the stats shared to show February to have the lowest number of downloads for the podcast since mid-2007. This got me thinking, does the economy have anything to do with the success or lack thereof in New Media?

Now let’s flip the coin and look at first hand experience for one of the podcasts I produce. The below chart represents one podcast, total monthly downloads (all episodes) from October 1, 2008 through the end of February 2009.

Download Requests Chart - One Podcast 10-1-08 thru 2-28-09

*source – Mevio Stats, MarkLinder

Now I have to be honest, I picked this particular podcast’s stats because they looked the best.  But results from all other productions, although not having a 99% increase in January over December, had substantial increases and were all up 35% or greater average per month over the same three month period.  This combined with the group thread caused me to consider a cause and effect for such dramatic differences in results.  Ok, there is no doubt the economy is in rough shape right now and the stock market is a great indicator of our current condition.

Market Down Since October

*Yahoo, 3/3/09

So back to our question, “Do Bad Times = More Downloads/Views?”  Going only on my first hand experience I would say “Yes.”  Going on the collective conversation of the group thread and the results of the association’s podcast I would have to say “No.”  So which is it?

The “Yeses” would argue that more people out of work means more people with more time on their hands thus more downloads.  The “Nos” would argue that tough economic times carries over to “free” New Media productions and that means less money for internet service and more people out doing what they have to do to find a job and listening to a podcast or viewing a videocast is way down on the overall priority list.  So which is right, the “Yes” or the “No?”

I say both.  Because at the end of the day, both are reasonable explanations (however hard to quantify) for seeing downloads go up or down.  Maybe the real question should be “why are some up and others down?”  It is almost impossible to say, without first hand knowledge and all the information, why some are up while others are down, but here is a quick checklist of basic questions you can ask yourself to help you gauge how well you are “executing”;

  • Do your listeners/viewers/readers “trust” you? Have you earned their trust by building relationships?
  • Is the quality of your productions going up, going down or staying the same.  Many would say if your are not always improving you are simply slowing dying.
  • Is your podcast/videocast/blog easy to find in search engines?  Have you done the most basic Search Engine Optimization?
  • Are you building a community of like minded people? Have you joined a community of those that have the interests of your podcast/videocast/blog?
  • Do you ask for feedback? Especially from your listeners/viewers/readers? Does the thought of honest feedback scare you a bit?
  • Is it easy to share your content? Can users share on Facebook, Twitter, Google, etc… quickly and easily?
  • Are your comments turned on? If no, stop reading this and go turn them on pronto!
  • Are you an active participant in a social network? Are you a part of the conversation? Do you participate or just listen?
  • Have you approached someone who does similar work to get their insights and thoughts? Do you learn from your like minded community?
  • Are you discouraged? Feel like giving up? Take a break, a vacation, socialize, get out of the forest and regroup…come back energized and ready to go!

If you went through the list and found yourself (if you are really being honest) saying you needed to do this better or that better then you are well on your way to building your audience to new levels or getting your audience back to the levels you experienced in the past.  You see, this post is not just for you, it is also for me as many items on the list are items I can do a much much better job at.  So no matter if your numbers are up or down, whether the economy is up or down it comes down to this; those that execute the basics day in and day out over time experience the greatest success.  Luck hits us all, but never lasts.  Execution wins everytime over time.

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.

I Read it in a Fortune Cookie

I ate Chinese food yesterday and at the end, I had a fortune cookie.  Inside the fortune cookie, I found this.

Failure is the Mother of Success

Failure is the mother of success.  What is this cookie trying to tell me?  Is it telling me to never stop trying?  Is it telling me to get up after getting knocked down?  Is it telling me that persistence yields reward?

Seth Godin says:   Persistence isn’t using the same tactics over and over. That’s just annoying.  Persistence is having the same goal over and over.

It seems everyone has an idea as to what determination, persistence, stick-to-it-ness,  insistence or perseverance is:

Dale Carnegie: Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seemed to be no hope at all.

Frank Lloyd Wright: know the price of success: dedication, hard work, and an unremitting devotion to the things you want to see happen.

Franklin D. Roosevelt: When you come to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on.

Harriet Beecher Stowe: When you get into a tight place and everything goes against you, till it seems as though you could not hang on a minute longer, never give up then, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (from The Ladder of Saint Augustine): The heights by great men reached and kept / Were not attained by sudden flight, / But they, while their companions slept, / Were toiling upward in the night.

John Quincy Adams: Patience and perseverance have a magical effect before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish.

Louis Pasteur: Let me tell you the secret that has led me to my goal: my strength lies solely in my tenacity.

Mary Kay Ash: erodynamically the bumblebee shouldn’t be able to fly, but the bumblebee doesn’t know that so it goes on flying anyway.

Robert Frost: The best way out is always through.

Stephen Covey: Effective leadership is putting first things first. Effective management is discipline, carrying it out.

Thomas Alva Edison: Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration.

Winston Churchill: If you’re going through hell, keep going.

It seems allot of successful and famous people have it figured out.  The way to success is to never give up. Maybe as we head towards a New Year, a good resolution we all should have is to “do our best, and when our best is not enough, keep doing our best.”  In the end, we will probably get farther than most, do more than most, have more fun than most and learn more than most.  All from our attempts.

I guess my fortune cookie was right.  Failure is the mother of success.

Remembering Trust and Ethics

Today one of our Governors was arrested.  One of the allegations was trying to sell the Senate seat of president-elect Obama for personal gain.  When I first heard the news this morning I was at first amazed and then a bit saddened for all the people that put their trust in this man, supported him, voted for him and got him elected Governor.

In their e-book Trust Economies: Investigation into the New ROI of the Web, the authors Chris Brogan and Julien Smith talk about how valuable the relationships we build are and how we need to vigorously protect these relationships (If you have not read this e-book, I would suggest you do.)  This is especially true about our web relationships.  But how easy are they to break?  In a virtual world where people seldom meet in real life, is that even possible.  Yes, it is.

At a recent conference I spoke about how important it is as a New Media Producer (which in today’s world can mean blogger, podcaster, videocaster, micro-blogger and more) to build relationships on-line and to be a part of a like minded community.  David Meerman Scott, author of “The New Rules of Marketing and PR” warns that it is easy to fall in love with you and your work on-line and even easier to fall out of love with you on-line.  The key thing that Brogan & Smith and Scott are trying to point out is the importance of trust.

It seems trust is hard to come by these days.  We are all a bit suspicious, cynical and wary.  We are often slow to “buy in” to new idea, plans and ways of doing things.  And on days like today, we tend to be a little less trustful than before.  But having said that, if we trust you, we almost rush to buy in.  So what are the building blocks of building trust and being someone that can be trusted?

Remember, mutual trust is a shared belief that you can depend on each other to achieve a common purpose. So how do you create mutual trust?  A trust that is sustainable?

  • Tell the truth.  Be someone who’s word can be trusted.
  • You cannot build mutual trust is you cannot listen.  A conversation is a relationship.
  • Share the credit and when in doubt, share the credit.
  • You cannot build mutual trust if you do not participate in the community.  Provide real value with your participation.
  • Ask for feedback, be willing to be wrong.
  • You cannot build mutual trust overnight.  Being trusted takes time to build, seconds to break.
  • When you say you will do something, do it.
  • You cannot build mutual trust without empathy.  Understanding others builds the bonds of trust.
  • Be transparent, let people get to know you.
  • Building trust takes personal time.  Nothing replaces the time you spend one on one with someone.
  • Building trust takes ethics.  Doing the right thing even when it is not popular.

Building trust and being trusted takes time, effort and commitment.  It is easy to say one thing yet do another.  It is easy to take shortcuts.  It is easy to use others for your personal gain.  But in the end, it is really a short sighted approach or as an old boss of mine used to say, “you are dead but just have not fallen over yet.”

On a day when one of our own Governors is arrested and a lengthy criminal complaint filed against him, isn’t this a perfect time to reflect on trust and ethics?

The Answer is the Stick

Many of you probably read the title of this post and thought this would be some diatribe about discipline or punishment.  Nope.  A few days ago, something amazing happened.  Joining the ranks of Mr. Potato Head, Monopoly, Silly Putty, Barbie, and the Atari 2600 in the National Toy Hall of Fame was the unassuming stick.  That’s right, the stick.

The stick might be the perfect toy come to think of it.  It is cheap.  Always available.  Easy to use.  Does not need instructions not assembly.  The stick, can be anything we want it to be.

So the answer is the stick.

Before you swear off this site and vow to never return, let me explain some lessons we can learn from the lowly stick.

  1. The stick is simple.  We all want to complicate things.  We want more features, more data, more input, more analysis, more…more…more.  The stick is simple.  It is just a stick.  One of the first lessons I learned from an early mentor was K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple Stupid).  And lucky for me, he believed it.  “Simple processes are easy to do, complicated processes are not”…he would preach.  “Make it easy to do a good job.”  “People quickly understand what is simple, so keep it simple.”  “Only make it as hard as it has to be, then look for ways to simplify.”  I can almost hear his voice ringing in my head years later.  The stick teaches us that simple is good.
  2. The stick is inclusive.  In a world of all shapes and sizes, colors, races and ages, diversity is critical to the success of an organization.  The stick is inclusive.  No one is left out.  No one is left behind.  We have all played with a stick at some point and if you wanted to go play with one right now, you probably could.  Even animals play with sticks.  Dogs love sticks.  In a world filled with differences, the stick teaches us to be inclusive.
  3. The stick can be anything we want it to be.  A sword, a cane, a bat…anything.  The stick teaches us to think, to be creative.  To make something out of nothing.  To use our mind to create matter.  The stick shows us all that with a little imagination, we can take great journeys with just…a stick.
  4. The stick shows us that design matters.  In order for something to be simple, you have to design it to be simple.  For something to be functional, it has to be designed that way.  So from now on, every time I experience a door handle in an inconvenient place, or telephone hard to hear, or shoes that hurt to walk in, I will think of the stick.  Simple, elegant, functional and flexible in its design.
  5. The stick has been around for awhile and yet after a long, long time of being the toy of generation after generation it finally received its due recognition.  And thus, the stick teaches us about persistence, sticking to it and never giving up.  Allot of people create success simply by being determined.  The stick teaches us to “stick it out.”
  6. The stick teaches us to have fun.  Pick one up, make it your fishing pole or your scepter or the bat that hits the winning home run.  The stick teaches us to imagine and play, to dream, to go on journeys far away.  The stick shows us that what we do can be fun, whether it is life, work or play.
  7. There is a good chance if you are walking through the park with someone and you pick up a stick and begin to play with it, they will do it also.  How many sword fights did you have as a kids with sticks?  How many rounds of “hit the rock?”  The stick teaches us to be interactive, to be social, to use the tools we have to connect and begin to have conversation, dialog, fun.  The stick may have been the first ever “high touch, low tech” social networking tool.

The lowly stick deserves their entry into the National Toy Hall of Fame, as it teaches us more about life than most of the other toys it now resides with in Rochester, NY.  I guess I still hear the words of my early mentor ringing in my ears.  His desire to keep things simple, design things to work with ease and his persistence to achieve that outcome.  In addition my own head rings with the thoughts of inclusion, creativity, imagination, fun and play (the ultimate social event) the stick has brought to my life.

So when things do not seem right…simplify, work on design, include others in the challenge, get creative and have fun overcoming the obstacle.  Isn’t that what the stick would do?

Is Enthusiasm Enough?

I am often asked about ways to approach projects, opportunities or just business in general.  Something I hear over and over is, “I am really excited about this _______ (fill in the blank).”  As time goes on, just like most things in life, this effort is sometimes a grand success, sometimes a moderate success and sometimes a dismal failure.

Which raises the question, is enthusiasm enough?  Is being excited, passionate, jacked up…enough?

Many argue that process is always king over enthusiasm.  A logically thought through, systematic method, executed at a high level will in almost every case produce positive results.  Where “raw enthusiasm” sometimes provides a road of emotional twists and turns where the end game is a product of sheer will and determination.  One is the path of thought and logic, the other a journey of emotions.

Just yesterday I talked to a old friend and colleague of mine.  Like many in these tough times, he was looking for opportunity (aren’t we all) and after a few minutes the conversation headed towards this unique and needed idea he has.  An idea that not only will save the client money and time but also help them sell more product.  His calm demeanor began to morph into this incredibly enthusiastic persona and he soon was bubbling over with excitement as he talked  about his idea.  I could tell by just listening, he totally believed in this idea and in the end, he will make it work.  The voice in my head said, “this is real enthusiasm you can count on.”

Now, of course I will always argue that a highly executed systematic process that is planned out and measurable combined with the highest levels of enthusiasm is the best course of action.  But if I had to chose process or enthusiasm, I will always pick enthusiasm.

I am not a scientist but I believe humans have a gene built into their matter that gives us all incredible powers to discover, explore, achieve, dream and conquer.  We are built from birth to take on challenges and this desire to achieve creates a huge well of enthusiasm.

Throughout history, poor plans have succeded because of raw determination and will.  And I am sure, most of you know someone who has risen to the top based just on thier own personal enthusiasm.  You can not replace passion with process, nor can you create passion through process.  You either are incredibly excited about something, or you are not (lukewarm is not enthusiasm.)  My friend is not wishy washy in his passion towards his idea, he is “all in.”  And his excitement will no doubt, create incredible results.

When I look across the room at the leaders in business, groups and organizations.  I see allot of enthusiasm.

I’ll take the passion every time.