Global Technology Stepping Up Collaboration in the Workplace

This post originally ran on TalentCulture and is being shared on this site with the permission of TalentCulture.  The contents herein will be part of the discussion on #TChat (8-10-2011). TChat is a Twitter chat that takes place every Wednesday from 7-8 PM EST.  Click Here to view the original post. 

For anyone that can remember the time that a latest and greatest technology emerged to bring business to the next level, we can say that it is profoundly interesting the impact that these advancements actually make on companies.

Some can probably remember the days before email and before cell phones when letters were either typed by hand and traveling sales people had to actually stop at a pay phone to verify an appointment or call home to check in.

More than ever management need to be watching technology trends and making sure their organization is equipped.

Times are changing, the proliferation of technology is moving faster than ever, and businesses are the ones that are benefiting.  At least they should be!

There are many ways that technology is leading to better business practices.  There are systems for managing customers, accounting, communications, and operations.  We are connected 24×7 if we so choose and we are able to reach all ends of the world instantly via the click of a button.

As a proponent of successful businesses being comprised of people that use technology and not just technology alone, I believe that nothing in business may be affected by emerging technology than Human Resources.  Recruiting, talent development, and employee retention are all seeing a significant boost based upon what advances in technology have to offer.

Two of the specific technologies that are revolutionizing talent and professional development more than any are IP (Internet Protocol) Based Communications such as Skype, VoIP, and Video Conferencing as well as the rapid emergence of Social Media (LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Google+).

Let’s take a look across the scope of Talent Management and explore how the aforementioned technologies as well as a few others are facilitating success for so many companies.

Recruiting New Talent

It used to be a newspaper ad or a sign in the window.  Your audience was narrow and your options were thin.  It was difficult to reach the best talent leaving positions to be filled by less than ideal candidates.

  • Communications – With the ability to inexpensively bring employees in via the network  either by voice, video, or perhaps a combination such as Webex, employees can now be sourced from and potentially located anywhere.  Productivity tools allow companies to hire the BEST candidate from any location and get them integrated with the team whether they are near or far.
  • Social Media – Depending on the specifics of the job, talent can be sought through massive global social networks such as Linked In, Facebook, and Twitter.  These networks allow a help wanted ad to reach millions of users who may or may not be actively seeking employment.  Recruiting and searching for talent has also never been easier due to profiles, recommendations, and other affiliations that can be easily found online using Social Media.  As an aside, Social Media has also helped many companies decide who not to hire.

Talent Development

It used to be a quarterly or yearly trip to headquarters for remote employees and or classroom learning for those already in town.  Coordinating training was intensive and time consuming.  With technology advances now learning can be routine, meaningful, and completed on demand.

  • Communications – Similar to the recruiting process the continued education of employees can be accomplished using technology tools.  Webinars, Distance Learning, and E-Learning platforms all pave the way for continued education for employees regardless of where they are located.  On top of being able to create content and have employees learn and develop on demand, it also helps companies to utilize global resources to provide the education.
  • Social Media – Intranets have existed for companies for some time however they were rarely used all that effectively.  With professional usage of social platforms employees can learn from one another as well as competitors by following, reading, and embracing the information that is widely available.  Content is created and shared regularly and it allows company talent to keep their finger on the pulse of the industry and any important changes within.

Employee Retention

It has been discussed to no end the impact that turnover has on a business.  Whether near or far from headquarters, companies need to focus on how they can keep people satisfied, growing, and engaged.  In the past when companies would hire remote employees they oft felt isolated and/or disconnected from the organization.  With emails and phone calls perhaps being the only regular communication eventually the employee may choose to be with an organization where they feel more involved.  Technology has changed that, and if used correctly it can assist the organization with retention allowing it to focus on strategy with key employees rather than on replacing them.

  • Communications – Hearing a voice on the line is fine, it is practical, but like long distance relationships in life, eye contact means a lot.  With offerings from Free (Skype) to immersive telepresence costing millions ( Cisco, Polycom) and everything in between companies and their employees can now sit across the table and make eye contact with the click of a mouse.  Now as easy as a phone call, video can be accomplished and the quality is really good.  Video is not only beneficial for the employee, but also for the company as it forces focus and regular collaboration (We all know how easy it can be to multi-task on the phone).  Another item that is critical to many employees is flexibility, with tools that allow productivity anywhere and everywhere, (pending signal) companies can be more flexible with their resources allowing both parties  to benefit.
  • Social Media – Social is a medium for even smaller companies to build their brand and create an identity for their employees. This effort can often aid in the development of company community and in some cases successful out of work friendships.  While peoples out of work activities generally don’t bare much success for the organization, happy people tend to generate more productivity.  People that feel connected to their brand and feel that they are a part of something special tend to work harder and drive greater results.  Social Media is a growing vehicle for accomplishing this.

For as long as business has been business, companies have only been as good as their people.  In almost all cases where a great product or service fails it isn’t the product or service at all, rather it is those behind it.  With emerging communication technology and proper social media integration you have the chance to be ahead of the curve.

Now technology of course isn’t all free, and choosing the technologies that are best for your organization may take some work, however, it is time well spent.   You can all but assume that the competition are looking at all the options too, some are integrating, some are watching and waiting, and you can only hope that a few are oblivious.  Nevertheless, technology will continue to advance making companies faster, smarter, and of course full of better talent.

The question is, are you embracing it, or are you hoping to ride to prosperity on the tired old horse that got you to where you are today.

IMAGE VIA hank grebe

Posted in Guest Blog, Innovation, Leadership, Social Media, Technology | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Social Media Pundits – This Post’s For You


I went to your Social Media Training and all I got was this stupid T-Shirt


You turbo tweet, post like mad on Facebook, G+ ad infinitum, myspace the song in your heart, and Foursquare your little stalker-heart out and I watch you spread the good word of Engagement.

So, impressed by your enthusiasm for connection,  I follow you and friend you. I watch you with the hope of gaining some enlightenment around how to utilize engagement in social media, trusting that you’ll elucidate on how to build “The Brand”. Yet, all I seem to experience is tired, overgeneralized, and unimaginative rhetoric.

First, let’s stipulate that a social media expert you are NOT if you have 7 Twitter followers and 9 friends on Facebook.  You are what you eat and if you’re  proclaiming yourself a social media expert with those numbers then you must eating a steamy pile o’… well, that is a meal you must eat alone.

I’m talking about the real pundits. Those with tens (or hundreds) of thousands of followers, likes, circles, and connections. Those who publish well-respected and oft-perused books; those speaking on panels about social media; those who are charging people a lot of money to hear what they have to say on this New Media.

Those pundits who know that ROI is nearly impossible to define in Social Media yet know that the Unicorn for Marketing Executives is to be able to create a return, or at least some substantive gain, from the social efforts.

With that said, allow me to be the first to raise my hand and say I want more from the leaders of the Social Media Revolution.

Considering the reality that Social Media is becoming, and will ultimately be, “The Way” to reach people 24/7 for both business and personal, I’m going to go out on a limb and say that this new media is pretty darn important.

When I hear from the real thought leaders that Social Media is the same as real life, I think: “Engagement”.  I think: “Branching out and extending your network”.  I want to really learn about making meaningful connections with people to translate those relationships into something reciprocally beneficial.


“Branching out and extending your network”

These are goals toward which I aim everyday that I spend in the social media landscape. I work to connect with new people and to appreciate, more significantly, the people with whom I have already connected. I want to build something meaningful and I understand that every relationship is unique. I’m no Social Media Rockstar, I’m just Dan.

For the pundits, the legends, the authors, and the influential; I guess I’m trying to figure out what you mean by social engagement? It’s an genuine curiosity; when I watch you do social media most of you just talk to each other. It seems that you make very little effort to connect outside your circle of elite and, for me, that doesn’t pass the sniff test.

If Engagement is the perfume of social media, then why do so many of you stink so badly? Pun Intended …

Posted in Social Media, Social Media Tips for Executives, Technology | Tagged , , | 21 Comments

The Great Lie About Customer Experience

Isn't that the truth

Alright, I want all of you to give something a try. Ready?

The next time someone tells you, or ponders aloud, that you’re guaranteed success if you offer the customer a great experience, I want you to say … “BULLSHIT”!

That’s right, I’m calling out that ‘great lie’. I’m also calling out every other thought-leader/expert/pundit that spreads this nonsense.

If you’re thinking that I’m a fatalist, let me share a couple of points. Firstly, I’m not a fatalist, I’m a realist. I deal with the above mentioned everyday and I know that it’s manageable. Secondly, the relevant, and more significant, point is that a great customer experience alone guarantees you nothing. The great customer experience as a ‘nice to have’ is a dodo; it is now an assumption, an expectation.

Welcome to the new economy; the economy of the self-educated consumer who sees value in simplicity but who also expects to have their cake and eat it, too.

This economy allows that consumer to do all the research about a product, service, company, or concept well before they ever speak to a sales person.  They tend to know what they want and have a pretty good idea of what we should pay for it.

Beyond that, they EXPECT to have a great purchasing experience and put the onus of providing that great experience on the company.

And you know what?

The sooner you accept this reality, the sooner you get back to the business of being in business.

And you know why?

Because each and every day the ‘great lie’ about customer experience is perpetuated. Real game-changing customer service is a Unicorn. You hear about it all the time but rarely see it. When teaching about the best customer experiences, only two or three companies come to mind which is quite pathetic, given there are millions and millions of businesses out there.

Guess what? This creates an opportunity.

If customer experience from one company to another in your industry isn’t significantly demarcated then work hard to ensure that your organization dependably, consistently, provides good customer experience.

Then, prepare for battle.  Know that your customers are armed with more knowledge about you, and about your competition, than ever before. Be prepared for the potential to spar over price.

Customer expectations today are high.  We want it all, value to most of us is in not sacrificing anything; if our businesses deliver at a high level AND give a good price then this type of buoyancy for the customer is achieved. Take heart; don’t throw in the towel just because you’ve been lied to … A LOT!  After all, people pay more money to hear stories about unicorns and leprechauns rather than the truth of the new economy.

Rather, embrace the opportunity and do it better than anyone else.  After all if there were such a thing as a triple-entendre, it would be the idea of great value, with great service, at a great price.

Happy Selling!

Posted in Customer Service, Leadership, Sales Leadership | 8 Comments

Managing Lies, Gossip, and Misinformation

Perhaps this post should be renamed Slander, Libel, and a Total Lack of Integrity

Recently I received some unsettling information from a trusted resource (A long time Customer).  I found out as a direct result of a conversation that this person had that one of our competitors was maliciously spreading rumors about our company.  Come to find out that these rumors were spread to not only a few of our customers but also to a number of our valued supply chain partners.

So here I sat, with the feedback of a loyal customer who came to me both out of disgust (for how the competitor acted) as well as concern asking me some hard questions about our company. (In the event any of this was true)

The good news was that none of what the customer was told was true.

The bad news was that I had to make a difficult choice with significant risk either way.

  • Choice 1: Be diplomatic, act with high integrity and seek the customers trust; risking the customer suspect validity to the rumors since I refuse to aggressively combat them.
  • Choice 2: Go on the defensive, Play their game and get involved in a war of wits.  (In this case winning the battle would be like beating your 6 year old in a foot race and then trying to brag about it)

Bottom line, there is no winning here.  Moreover, I seriously hate the childish antics that surround defending disingenuous information.

Nevertheless, this type of information can certainly collateral damage and as senior management the choice of response carries risk.

When you operate in a competitive environment, negative dialogue happens all the time. For some companies it is their strategy.  While not a good one, it can work if they play to the customers insecurities.  In this particular case it was a large customer and the information was grossly inaccurate and potentially quite damaging.  References to financial turmoil were made that posed a threat on our ability to carry out even simple transactions.

Given that we are a private company, there is no way that this particular competitor could have known this and the fact is that the information was just plain wrong.

What I have done:

My response to the customer was 100% relationship focused.  I reached out to the customer and let them know how meaningful it was that they were so forthright as to share the information.  I then reiterated the inaccuracy.  I chose to at no point mention in any way shape of form the competitor because I didn’t want to validate them nor get into a he said she said conversation.

I also reached out to our supply chain partners and dispelled the rumors.  I decided to take the proactive approach and share with the entire supply chain to reduce the risk of having to send out follow ups or engage in this type of conversation again in the near future.

The Outcome:

By handling the situation the way I did, it seems business as usual has continued and the customer has stuck with us for now.   Our vendors are satisfied as well, and have been mostly positive based upon the candid communication.

The Question:

At no point did I actually address the competitor and their bad behavior.  This is an area that I am sensitive to.  As I vacillate between law suits and silence I ask the following questions.  If a situation like this was to occur again…

  • Should I engage the competitor directly?
  • What risk does acknowledging the competitor’s bad behavior pose?
  • What would you do?

I look forward to your response!



Posted in Leadership | 26 Comments

You’re the CEO…So You Work For Me!

What? That title makes no sense what so ever.

If you are the CEO, you are the ruler of the roost, the king of the castle.  You lead with an iron fist and the people beckon to your every demand.

And then…like awakening from a pleasant dream, reality sets in.

You are the CEO, you are accountable for everything and everyone tied to your organization.  The shareholders and the stakeholders.  The employees, the customers, the value chain, the community and of course the families of all of the above.

Sure everyone works for you, but really you work for everyone.

Setting the vision to please the board, then finding and appointing leaders to execute.  Trusting that these leaders know how to breakdown the vision into bite size achievable strategic objectives and they are able to see them to completion.

Your focus is constantly on the vision, no (erm) I mean the strategy, no (ehem) I mean the execution, no I mean, well, it is on everything.

The public image of the company of course is on your shoulders right? In fact I believe a few people are depending on Rupert Murdoch right now to keep their job.

However, you are responsible for organizational trust and driving the culture.  After all it is your ship to sail right?

As you rapidly ascend the corporate (or small biz) ladder with visions of grandeur and a belief that as CEO you are in control, I suggest you ask yourself these questions.

Who is more dependent, you, or your people?

Let’s get something straight, you are CEO for a reason (hopefully) and the fruits of your labor are bountiful but do not for a moment forget that the CEO does not demand performance rather they earn it; and it is earned by knowing your role which is showing up everyday and working for “the people”

So Mr./Ms./Mrs. CEO – Who do you work for?




Posted in Leadership | Tagged , | 5 Comments

12 Most Obvious Signs You Are Addicted To Social Media

This blog was originally posted on 12 Most

Social Media is everywhere; it is integrated in every platform and, let’s face it, it’s here to stay. Nearly 20 years ago, the Blackberry came to market and it revolutionized the way we read and send email. It was infamously renamed the “Crackberry” because people became absolutely addicted to email in the palm of their hand. It lead to a plethora of other smart devices and, ultimately, was the catalyst for the development of the Droid and Apple platforms that now dominate the smart device market. Today, we are connected 24/7 through every platform, on demand, almost anywhere we go. The big social platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn are now available on mobile in an array of formats such as HootSuite, Tweetdeck, or other applications. And now, with other up and coming social media platforms like 4Square, Quora, Empire Avenue, and StumbleUpon, we are “socially” reinventing the way we play, consume, and share information. At this point, we really can’t avoid the “Trap” of using and consuming socially driven content.

However, like everything in life, there must be limits. The enjoyment of using these platforms can evolve into an unhealthy obsession that may not only be problematic for you but for those closest to you in real life. The signs are everywhere, and if you care about your friends and loved ones, you will read the list below and help them (or yourself) find a healthy Social Media/life balance. Ladies and Gentleman, I present you with the farcical, and hopefully entertaining and completely made up (by me), list of the 12 most obvious signs that you are addicted to Social Media.

1. You Read, Comment, and Promote someones Blog about Nothing

Folks this really happened. Ask our friend Gini Dietrich about it. A blog about nothing became widely read, promoted, and commented on. There is no doubt her friendly ways and generally fabulous content contributed to it, but… A blog about nothing??? WIth so much insightful content, shouldn’t we spend our time on the interwebs at reading a blog about “Something?”

2. Hashtags in your email

It starts in emails, texts, and other non “Social” platforms and then you start speaking with @. It’s a slippery slope, but trust me, you didn’t meet @thedomesticexec, you met/chatted with a person and that person is named Michelle Kay.

3. Check in on 4Sq…Everywhere you go!

Are you the mayor of your house, your convenient store, the local bakery, the Starbucks around the corner, the Shell station down the street, and the corner watering hole? Get Help

4. Following or Listing your Pet

This sort of treks down the road of people who believe their animals can speak. Folks, your animal should not have a Social Media account on Twitter or Facebook, and definitely not on LinkedIn. If they could speak, what they would tell you is “You are CRAZY”.

5. It’s “First” in the morning

If you check your mentions, messages, retweets, live stream, or any other page associated with any of your social media accounts prior to brushing your teeth or using the washroom, you are definitely addicted. If you check any of those things immediately after brushing your teeth, you are on the “High Risk” list. Try eating breakfast first, moving the blood to your “Brain” may prove helpful in the actions that follow.

6. You update your Status

While out with “Real People” – Are you updating your status while on a dinner date with your spouse or significant other? You’re obsessed. Do you Tweet or post on Facebook #justmet or other @hashable content before you finish the meeting? One word… NUTSO!


This one may be the worst and it probably deserves its own 12most. if you feel the need to share your every thought, wish, and lose all inhibition on your Facebook page, please stop. You, singlehandedly, are the reason for my disdain of the platform. There is such a thing as TMI and it’s rife on Social Media. Friends of mine that currently do this, consider yourselves warned. Next step, I BLOCK you and change my phone number.

8. Eaves become more important than Real Money

Please, please, please tell me you check the value of your “Real” stock portfolio before you check that of your Empire Avenue portfolio? Being rich on EAV yet being without work in real life is a real problem.

9. Involve yourself in SM activities that don’t Involve you

Do you become active in chats, causes, and events that you don’t actually contribute, donate to, or attend? If you do, you are a “Social Crackhead”.

10. Dreaming in 140

Do you tweet in your dreams? If it happens once, it may just be a coincidence. If this is a daily/nightly occurrence you need to see a specialist.

11. “Liking” your own content

Not only is this a sign that you are an addict, it is also a sign that you are a total narcissist. If you would publicly walk down the street and scream “I am awesome, smart, good looking, funny, etc…” Then you get a hall pass on this. In that case you are not addicted to social media, you are just an idiot.

12. Klout becomes your Social Currency

I would rather have a few close friends and a job than a high Klout score. So far I’ve met exactly 11 other people in Social Media who share that sentiment.

Now, let’s go ahead and grade just how addicted we are. Please go down the list and answer each of the above 12 most with a yes, no, or maybe.

For each yes, give yourself 3 points
For each Maybe, give yourself 2 points
For each no, give yourself 0 points

If you score between 0-6 you are either a non addict, or perhaps a power user that has become caught up in a few addict like tendencies.
If you score between 7-17 you are on the verge of a serious problem
If you score between 18-26 you need to enter a program that removes you from your electronic devices for a period of at least 1 week. At this point you may be beyond help.
If you score 27 or more, you are @SeanMcGinnis – no one else could possibly have this many Social Media addictive tendencies and still have my genuine respect (Love you Brother)

Thanks everyone for stopping by, reading the social media addiction signs, and taking the test. For all of our sakes, I hope you have no more than a few of these habits but, if you do, we here at 12most still love you and appreciate your readership.

Until next time, I’m Dan Newman, I’m just a guy with a blog, and these are my 12 most.

See you all real soon!

Featured image courtesy of Giorgio Montersino licensed via creative commons.

Posted in Leadership | 13 Comments

Why We Should All Be A Bit More Like Dan Perez

South Florida Film Maker Dan Perez, who is known on Twitter as @DanPerezFilms has a reputation.  He loves to jump into a stream or a chat and stir the pot.  Some may say that he is provocative, others may say he is a jerk.

When I first met him, or shall I say first tweeted him I thought the latter.  He continuously popped into various chats such as Leadership Chat or Ungeeked and would just pounce on chatters like a pitbull on a trespasser. If it was okay to curse I would have just called him an @$$. (hopefully everyone can read that)

While I wasn’t fond of his behavior, it didn’t really bother me much. At least not until he did it to me.

I had only observed his behavior from afar until one Tuesday evening in leadership chat I became the honorary recipient.  On that particular night we were discussing managing and leading personnel and I was chiming in with my wisdom.  While I and several others were engaging he decided to question one of my comments. (I wish I could remember the exact one, but let’s just say it was one that I was quite proud of)

I literally stopped in my tracks and thought…

Who in the world is this Dan Perez and what gives him the right to question my thinking.  So I responded, we debated, and afterward, it was strange but we connected.  In fact we have built an ongoing relationship filled with meaningful spats that help me more clearly consider a wide number of things I do/say/share.  Perhaps I reciprocate for him, but who knows….

This spark that Dan brings to the stream is a form of “Social Realism,” and it made me realize 2 things. First, I should embrace his “True Authenticity” and second there is an awful lot of proverbial “Sucking Up” on Twitter (And on other Social Platforms for that matter).

The epiphany from all of this? I now realize that I have had just about enough of all of the Social Pandering.

(Quickly Defined: Social Pandering is the lack of courage to provide real meaningful feedback to low quality content/ideas.)

Look, I am all about being polite, diplomatic, engaging, and for the most part kind (Ask around it is true). But at some point enough is enough.  Sooner or later we have to risk our Social Perception and put our “True” thoughts out on the table.

Don’t we all stand to benefit from real feedback even if it doesn’t always feel good?

It isn’t possible that we are all this nice all of the time.  And it is likely that some of, if not much of the content we share really is good.  However, when it isn’t, SOMETHING must be said right?

I know for certain that it doesn’t really help us if we are given constant positive reinforcement for the sharing of thoughtless or poor quality content.  It is this one way street that leads to the perpetual output of low quality content and the regurgitation of quotes and ideas that weren’t good in the first place.

In fact this sort of validation of mediocrity or worse may in fact be a big problem with society today.  (This warrants another blog in itself – Takers?)

Not long ago I wrote a post for 12 Most about the similarities between Twitter and High School.  I discussed some of the norms of high school that are often visible on Twitter.  While farce to some extent,  it was inspired by truth and observation of peoples behavior on Twitter.  Based on the several thousand views and shares it received, I am confident that I wasn’t the only one that felt this way.

Only thing is, in High School there was a better chance that you would be put in your place if you said something stupid.  In the Social world hidden behind our screens many of us are afraid to say what we really think.

Just to be perfectly clear.  I by no means think that great content shouldn’t be shared. Nor do I suggest being rude or insensitive just to prove a point.  Rather I’m just trying to provoke the thought process around needless promotion and reckless encouragement.  Moreover, just saying we need to be “Real.”

To conclude I offer some thoughts on this.

  • Perhaps everyone really does feel so strongly that the quality of all of this content is just fantastic and that everyone is on the ball. In that case carry on.
  • Perhaps we are too lazy to pay attention to what we share and we just give the reinforcement because it is easier than doing the work
  • Perhaps we are too afraid of the fall out of being real so we choose to take the path of least resistance. Rather just fit in as opposed to stand out.

Or, Perhaps we could all stand to learn from my friend Dan Perez.  While it may or may not be true that Dan is a provocateur, a trouble maker, or a jerk, there is no debate that he is real.  And sometimes, if even for a moment, being real may be more important than social coddling.







Posted in Leadership, Social Media | 29 Comments

Social Media: The Right Way?


It seems lately there has been a tremendous amount of discussion on auto-curation and whether or not it is a genuine form of Social Media.

I decided that, as an admitted non-expert in the realm of Social Media, it is important for me to chime in on this debate because I have an opinion and therefore it must be shared (Sensing my sarcasm?).

Before I share my personal thoughts on the matter, I want to provide a bit of background about the root from which this debate sprouted.  At this point, there seem to be two sides to the conversation and, I suppose you could say, a third side of indifference.

Side 1 – Free Choice:  On this side of the argument, the premise is that your online presence is yours to do with  what you choose.  If you want to auto tweet content and curate content, even when you are not there, then that is fine.  If people don’t like it, the beauty is they can choose to not follow or pay attention to what you are sharing.  This side tends to be comprised of busy executive and entrepreneurs who understand the value of Social Media but, unfortunately, lack the time to be as active as required to fully engage, personally.

Side 2 – Social Purity:  This side of the argument declares that Social Media must be done in the present and nothing should ever be shared unless you are sharing it in real time. Therefore, scheduled tweets, blog tribes, or other methods of “Absentee Sharing” must be avoided, at all costs.  If you commit the faux paux of auto sharing then you are deemed “Unpure” and you must repent your sins or be forever relegated to the role of Social Media Spinster/Novice/Butcher or other name to be determined.  This particular side of the argument seems to be made up of a small community of Social Media users who believe in high level of engagement and generally a very small audience because time needs to be spent on each and every item shared.

As I said, there is a large group that doesn’t care whatsoever so, by default, probably lend themselves to the first group.

The Answer: Okay, it isn’t an answer, rather an opinion, but if you can’t tell from the above, I choose free choice.  The caveat is that I don’t really care if you are for social purity; I just care if you invest energy in judging, berating, or brow beating those that don’t agree with you (by the way, this applies no matter what side of the argument you are on).

The fact here is that Social Media is very much brand marketing.  In many cases it is “Your” brand and you should have the choice how to manage it.  If your method is direct selling (small and closely held engagement) then great!  If you are a TV advertisement or Billboard (Broad sharing and promoting) then that is great too.  I think there is room for all types in the world of social media.  I will friend, connect, follow, and add those that I choose; others are welcome to do the same.

Bottom line: There is no right or wrong way to do Social Media.  Only your way.  But just remember, when you choose “The Way” you have to live with the consequences for better or for worse.

So what is your way?


Posted in Leadership, Social Media, Social Media Tips for Executives | 14 Comments

Why Fail Gracefully?

Fail Gracefully to Achieve Self Awareness

It’s a challenge to quantify the self-described leadership pundits who claim to offer “quick fix” advice to aspiring leaders in the form of books, blogs, speaking engagements, and seminars.

Their answer to great leadership is often: “Open the box. Add boiling water. Voila! Instant Excellence!”

But excellence isn’t instant. It cannot be so easily defined and, certainly, not so easily ascertained because leadership is a complex recipe involving diverse ingredients.

In previous posts, I have touched upon the Four Intangibles of Successful Leadership:

  • Honesty – Tell and live by the truth
  • Humility – Be truly humble within yourself and toward others
  • Empathy – Seek first to understand and respect others’ reality
  • Integrity – Consistently do the right thing, at all times, in all situations

I believe that a lack of any of the above doesn’t eliminate the ability to lead but rather lessens the ability to lead brilliantly.

To achieve the intangibles, you get no magic box nor bean and certainly no bean stalk; you are not given a treasure map. The secret to attaining these absolute and critical intangible qualities resides in “Self Awareness”.

What is it?

Most people don’t recognize their deficiencies because they are not actually self aware.  Becoming more self aware can happen in many ways and I contend that the most common path for people to gain self-awareness is to fail graciously.

Failing gracefully is the act of maximizing the learning opportunity associated with each and every failure that one experiences. It is to reach inside of an unsuccessful attempt and find the moral, the lessons, and the virtues that the event has provided and to apply that to future opportunities.

I’m the Problem and The Solution

Hubris cripples humility; foregoing the former can seem an unconquerable foe. To the hubristic, humility is a four letter word; the probability of giving credit, where due, can be a painful prospect. How do I know? I struggled with this and, at times, still do. However, I have no doubt that achieving greater humility improves my ability to lead.

I became appreciably more humble upon failing several times in my career due to excessive arrogance; in one circumstance, it nearly cost me my job.  In another, it cost me a promotion.  After a number of missed opportunities, I gained the  awareness that I was the problem and that I held the solution.

The Issue of Control

The acknowledgement of my hubris came only through failing gracefully.  The decision to alter my perspective came to me because I began to understand the importance of control.  To self actualize and achieve the intangible leadership qualities, one must first recognize that one DOES control one’s situation. I contend that, inherently, most people don’t really change. I do believe, however, that the only way to achieve deep and sustainable improvement is through genuine incorporation of the Four Intangibles.

What it all Means

There is no absolute, formulaic solution to great leadership; there isn’t one book in the world that can accurately represent the entire concept.  Leadership is a process. There is no alpha and no omega.  Great leadership is achieved through continuous learning, application, and enlightenment.  Only when you appreciate, understand, and genuinely dedicate yourself to applying the Four Intangibles will you achieve the next level of leadership.

But first….you must fail gracefully.


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The Leadership Minute #4

Welcome back everyone!  We have arrived – 4/4 – the finale – the last of the 4 intangibles of Successful Leadership.

First, a quick refresher of the first 3 intangibles along with a summary (in 8 words or less).

  1. Humility – Fail with grace (Do you?)
  2. Honesty – Always be truthful – and diplomatic (This is tricky)
  3. Empathy – Aspire to understand others (Genuinely)

With these three things behind us, what rounds all of these off like a fine full bodied red wine with a perfectly prepared 12oz Filet Mignon?


Yep, that is it, the 4th and final intangible of successful leadership can be achieved by performing your responsibilities as a leader with unwavering integrity.

By one definition, Integrity is a concept of consistency of actions, values, methods, measures, principles, expectations, and outcomes.

Let’s look at the pieces above and throw some questions out there to further explore why each piece of integrity is so critical.

Consistency of Actions – Is your behavior something to model after? Do you do and say the same thing?

Consistency of Values – Are your values well understood? Do you waiver on tough subjects? Can you be counted on to act out of eyesight the same as when you are being watched?

Consistency of Methods – How do you lead? Do you treat people the same? Do you play favorites? How do you approach adversity vs. prosperity?

Consistency of Principles – One question, Do you do the right thing when no one is looking?

Consistency of Expectations – I’m adamant about this one.  Expectations must be clearly understood.  Do you do this? Do your teams know what is expected from them and how they will be evaluated on this?

Consistency of Outcomes – The proof is in the pudding.  What are your results?

To truly be a “High Integrity” leader, the questions above must be asked and answered correctly. Then they must become part of your inner leadership, to be in your everyday routine, and they must be implanted in your soul where the core of leadership lies.

In a minute, can you become a great leader? I would say no, but the intangibles we have discussed over the past several weeks.  Those I say with confidence are the key.  Better yet…

It only takes 4.  That is it.  Great education, aptitude, and acumen can only be fully realized if they coupled with these intangibles.  These 4 however, are not achievable just by talking about them.  They take discipline and a commitment to excellence.  However, if you do the work to realize them all, the payoff is well worth the effort.

So when do we start? Like every other worthwhile endeavor – “Fire when ready.” I assure you will be glad that you did.

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