Social Media for the C Suite – Are you a CE -> GO or CE ->NO ?

Twitter Sucked – Or so I thought…

The first few days I went on Twitter I was hardly impressed,  In fact, I thought it just plain stunk.  I signed up, followed a few stars and people that I knew, and then I watched the “stream.”  My first impression was that it was total non-sense, it was like a social experiment (gone bad) where you could find celebrities promoting, media outlets broadcasting, children chatting, and professionals bantering.  Why would anyone waste their time with this garbage?

At this point I didn’t have a following or even a sense of what was happening. The whole thing seemed pointless, and I was totally lost.  After a few weeks of watching passively, I came to realize two things. First, I am really bad at Twitter, and second, I now had more questions than answers.

A few of the questions that crossed my mind were…

  • What are all of these people doing here?
  • Who is reading their tweets?
  • Why do some people have so many followers and others so few?
  • Is this just a massive waste of time?
  • How can I possibly use this to improve our business?

I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised about my early impressions of Twitter.  It was nothing more than curiosity that led me to finally sign up (Almost cynicism).  It had reached a point where I couldn’t watch a television show, visit a restaurant, or surf the web without hearing about Twitter, I had to see for myself.   My opinion was that Twitter was nothing more than a place for celebrities to say regrettable things, and perhaps some type of popularity contest for the rest of the world.  What I believed that I knew for sure was that social media was nothing more than a giant waste of time for a C-Level executive like me working in the B2B space.

Social Media Hype, what Hype?

I often proclaim to be a social media newbie.  With still only 6 months on Twitter, I think that is a fair statement.  However, I must confess that prior to joining Twitter, I had been on LinkedIn for a period of time, but essentially I used it as nothing more than an electronic rolodex, finding minimal value in that.  Beyond that, our company had a Twitter handle (Near Dormant) and a Facebook page (Completely Dormant).

Truth be told, I just thought that Social Media was hype.  I saw it as a circus of flying rhetoric with no meaning that served as nothing more than a waste of time for both myself and my organization.  I viewed it as a PR/Marketing thing primarily for large B2C companies, and most certainly not a place for a B2B.

Persistence Pays Off

It would have been really easy to have gone dark.  Close my account and disappear from Twitter and the hype only to be seen again by real humans, with real needs.  No more screaming into a dark cave and hoping that somehow someone would hear me.  I wasn’t used to being ignored and that was what Twitter felt like to me.

The caveat that kept me going is that I’m a fierce competitor (A Blessing and a curse).  I don’t like to lose at anything.  (If you don’t believe me, come watch me play Wii with my kids – Losing is not an option)  For me, this empty existence that was Twitter couldn’t be it. There had to be something more and a reason that all of these people were spending so much of their time there.  I was determined to figure it out.

Over the next several months I continued exploring the dynamic Twitter landscape.  I committed to engaging, connecting, and getting involved with dynamic individuals.  I read blogs about success on Twitter, social media etiquette, and more than anything else I paid attention to how others used Twitter to enhance their business and individual brand.  It was like a crash course in networking in the digital world.  I learned a lot and it paid off!

The Results are In

Fast forward to today and I will proudly tell the C Level community that Social Media is no longer something to consider, it is something that they must engage in.  As the face of their respective companies, Social Media aligns in so many ways with that position.  Here are a few of those ways.

  1. Branding – As a C level leader you are responsible for (and often interchangeable with) the branding, image, and awareness of the organization.  Social Media provides a conduit to brand both yourself and your organization to a wide audience.  The larger you grow the audience, more people aware of your value.
  2. Networking – As a CEO or other C suite executive, you bring tremendous value to your organization when you build a strong professional network.  It is amazing how many CEO’s and other senior executives you can find and connect with on Twitter.  CEO to CEO engagement can lead to some tremendous deals, and can move them along quickly. (Tweet me for details)
  3. Thought Leadership – Executive Management should but often don’t work to establish themselves as thought leaders in their respective fields, communities, and networks.  By providing thought inducing content, and establishing your knowledge in your field, you can become visible to thousands (if not more) or potential buyers or word of mouth marketers for your product or service.
  4. Engagement – Social Media has created a human condition that almost everyone is accessible.  If you are seen as an elitist, your brand may suffer. By being accessible, engaging, and humble on Social Media, you can build trust with your audience.  I have found most people are more than willing to engage, and those engagements have led to incredibly meaningful business relationships (And a few friendships).
  5. Mentorship – There are many executives doing a great job of using Twitter for their companies and for their individual brand.  I suggest you find a few that you feel are doing a great job and watch their contribution.  If you can engage them, perhaps they can mentor you more directly.  I had a few great mentors on Twitter that completely changed the experience for me.

Participation – What it’s All About

It is still hard for me to believe that I only joined Twitter less than six months ago.  What is even more amazing is that the decision has entirely changed the way I view business and relationships.  In the time I have been actively PARTICIPATING on Twitter, I have built countless great relationships, expanded awareness of my organization, our goals, our direction, and what it is that makes us great.

If you are a senior executive still sitting on the Social Media sidelines I have one piece of advice.  Social Media will provide a return that is very much in line with what you put into it.  Signing up and creating a profile will probably provide no tangible return, and similar to joining a new networking group or trade organization, building relationships often takes time.  However, if you participate, and commit to your message and your value (both organization and individual), there is likely an audience willing and ready to help spread your message.

So jump on in and get started. I assure you won’t regret it!

Posted in Innovation, Leadership, Social Media, Technology | Tagged , , , , , | 7 Comments

Skype: Not a Replacement for Telepresence


In the position I am in, I see new technology come every day. With the arrival of new technology, often older products see the end of their life cycle, and eventually they  go extinct.

The buzz word for this in the high tech world is “Disruptive” technology: The idea that new better, faster, and/or cheaper technology will quickly erode demand for its previous iterations.

This includes PC’s, Laptop’s, cell phone’s, televisions, etc.  Not a single one of these product types have been immune to it.  In fact, the life cycle continues to grow shorter and shorter to the point now where it’s become hard to make a buying decision because the minute you swipe your credit card the product may already be outdated.

The iPad2 will soon be a great tool for Enterprise Telepresence

One of the hot technologies that I am betting on now is the emergence of “Enterprise Telepresence.”  We’ll call it ET for short. (Not to confuse with a friendly creature from a 1980’s blockbuster)

Allow me to first qualify what ET is.  First and foremost, when I say enterprise, I mean business of any size, not just Fortune 500 etc.  The very essence of ET is that every business whether 5 employees or 50,000 can benefit from making video part of their practice.  Believe it or not, it was almost 20 years ago that companies like Intel and PictureTel brought early iterations of Video Conferencing to market.  The original idea behind video conferencing was a solution that would allow you to see a face, hear a voice, and do it on a big screen.  It was wild beyond imagination, and ever since then companies like Polycom, Tandberg (Now Cisco), Lifesize, and others have been predicting that the proliferation of video will in someway replace the need for airplanes, cars, trains, and buses.  As if all meetings can be held over video.

Well here we are, 20 years have past, and guess what?  We aren’t there yet, but we are getting closer.  While the idea of a talking head on the big screen replacing the need to shake hands and break bread sounds entertaining.  It just isn’t so.  The reason’s are far and wide, but I believe the three reasons below are the biggest ones to date.

  1. 1. Video isn’t seen as easy – it requires an IT person to set it up and the call quality just isn’t that good.
  2. 2. Video isn’t equal– relationships aren’t built via video at the same level as they are in person.
  3. 3. Video is expensive – to do it right and be able to integrate the entire supply chain and internal staff is cost prohibitive.

Fact of the matter is, this pretty much has been the case.  However, this isn’t the case any more.

Over the past several months I can’t tell you how many people I have met that want to “Skype” with me.  Skype and the very essence of what it represents has become “Video Kleenex.”  And as whole, it is a great introduction of video conferencing as part of people’s daily life.  Now when I speak to people about using Video for Business I get a pretty typical response… “Oh, so like Skype for Business?”

My initial reaction is to start rattling off a stable of facts and figures that clarify exactly how much the two aren’t alike, however, I didn’t get to where I am by reading like a white paper.  Simply put, Skype is many things, but what it is not, is Enterprise Telepresence.

When you begin looking at what an Enterprise Telepresence model should look like.  Here are some keys to consider

  1. Purpose– What will you be using the technology for? Internal, External, Entire Supply Chain?  How will you use it? Do you want to record the video and/or stream it? Do you want multiple people on the call at one time?
  2. Budget – Are you looking to own or lease? Do you have the IT staff on board to manage the equipment, should you outsource management? Would you prefer to be flexible to upgrade? How do these different answers effect cost?
  3. Support –  What are your support requirements? Does the system need to be up 24/7? Are you dealing with Global Customers? Language Barriers?
  4. Scale – What is the capability of your current network? How many users do you have today? What is your vision for growth and does the video strategy support that?
  5. Quality – If the image and audio quality aren’t close to real life, you are losing before you start.  It has to be the next best thing to sitting across the table.
  6. Ease of Use – If it isn’t easy to use, non technophiles will not use it.  It has to be as easy as email or a phone call.  Otherwise you are buying very expensive paper weights.

The bottom line is that Skype only meets 1, maybe 2 of the above 6 criteria (Budget, Ease of Use).  The Problem with that is you get what you pay for, and when it is free, it rarely meets the demands of the enterprise.  Furthermore, with all of the offerings out there, Telepresence can be done to meet just about any reasonable budget.  So while there may be cost, it is ROI and ROR that you should really be thinking about.

With all of this in mind, if you are the type that plays golf with your kids clubs and you believe that the timeshare pitch is worth the free hotel stay, then a product like Skype may be good enough for your business.  For me, I want to use technology that says “I’m serious about what we do, and you should take me seriously as well.”

With the successful deployment of an Enterprise Telepresence solution, that will be exactly what you are saying.


Daniel Newman serves as CEO of United Visual Inc. and United GlobalComm. For more information about the blogger, please see the “About Me” page

For a Video Blog I did on United GlobalComm please click here.

For more information about our companies check out the following

United VisualLeading AV and Video Systems Integrator

United GlobalCommSubscription and Managed Video Communications Solutions

United Visual ProductionsLeader in Event Technology Staging and Production


Posted in Innovation, Technology | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

5 Leadership Lessons You Can Only Get From Experience

There’s an age old debate about whether or not leaders can be made, or if you have to be born that way.  Nevertheless, every year, countless professionals of all experience levels and all walks of life decide to invest in themselves to hopefully become the next great leader.

There are a plethora of degrees, certificates, specializations, seminars and other educational means available to learners today. Often times, they are meant to serve as the next check mark in their road to prosperity. I challenge you to ask yourself what they really mean? An advanced college degree like an MBA or a Masters in Organizational Leadership must be the answer right? If not, perhaps a certification from a prestigious institution like Wharton or Booth where you can hear others tell you about leadership alas learning all you need to know in a week or even in a few days.  At the very least a weekend seminar from Steven Covey or Tony Robbins or another renowned leadership pundit will cure any holes in your arsenal.

Of course, if the above options find themselves too intrusive, expensive, or don’t fit into the plan, there are always the self improvement books that are out there,  proclaiming the perfect blueprint for leadership prosperity.  Above mentioned authors Steven Covey and Tony Robbins. Both have written lots of great rhetoric on leadership.  Jack Welch (Former GE CEO), Steve Jobs, and Herb Kelleher (Former CEO of Southwest) all have books that tell their story (In quite a compelling fashion if I may say) of leadership and how they made their companies rise like the tide throughout times or success and riches as well as during times of bitter economic turmoil.

Having done an Executive MBA, and having attended more than just a few seminars, I can say first hand, a lot of great information can be learned through formalized study.  Pairing the formal education with a book shelf holding countless books on leadership, management, success, and other business topics, it is safe to say I have read a lot of books about the subject.  Eerily, I find many of them to be very similar, and at times they begin to almost read as one continuous novel of regurgitated facts and opinion.

So with all of the tools out there, leadership must be attainable for anyone willing to put in the work.  Read the books, go to school, perhaps land yourself a great mentor and you will be fine.  Well, I’m not here to debate where leaders actually come from, but what I do want to share today is as follows.

With all of the great programs on leadership offered in schools, written in books, and evangelized by speakers, some of my greatest leadership lessons have come from life.  Here are five lessons in leadership that I would love to share with you.

  1. Great leaders don’t always do the right thing even when people are looking: Part of being a leader is being human.  While we expect those that lead us in our day to day life (Boss, Community Leaders) as well as those on a larger scale ( Fortune CEO’s and World Leaders) we have to realize that these people suffer from the same human condition as you and I.  Mistakes will be made, by everyone, the sooner you realize that and the sooner you figure out learning from them is the key.  The better leader you will become
  2. Leadership is very hard, even if it is innate: It doesn’t matter if you have been a leader from birth or were promoted for the first time yesterday.  Leading others or leading ideas are both very hard.  You may some day read that somewhere, but however hard they tell you it is, multiply it by a large number, square it, and raise it to the nth power.  Okay, perhaps an exaggeration, but not by much.  As a continuation of number one, you need to immediately realize that anytime you are dealing with other human beings, things will not be easy.  When you become responsible for others in a leadership roll,  at times it can be near impossible.  However, let me be the first (Or insert actual number here) to say that when you connect and lead even a few successfully it is incredibly rewarding.
  3. You will never be able to lead everyone: I have yet to come across more than a few humble (and quite successful) leaders that will admit they have struggled to lead certain people or personality types.  This one is actually quite simple.  You will find throughout your personal and professional life that you cannot connect and lead everyone in every group.  This is where putting others on your team and surrounding yourself with great people is the key to success.  If you find that you are a big picture leader, you may very well struggle with highly technical types that are very invested in the details.  Guess what? Not a big deal, you just need to find someone that can empathize with that audience, but understands your passion, and then delegate.
  4. Your leadership style has to be you: Nobody likes a phony. Check that, no one that I associate with likes or enjoys the company of a phony.  And guess what, people don’t follow others that they perceive as fake.  Genuineness is immeasurably key to successful leadership.  While trust from your team, co-workers, boss, friends, and family is almost always built a bit differently, it is almost uniformly destroyed in an instance when people don’t trust you. Focus on being real, being you, and leading people naturally from within.  While it may sound a bit cliche, it isn’t.  If you try to be someone you’re not or emulate something you’re not, people will take notice.  When they do, it is often the end of any respect you have earned and that is a death sentence to an aspiring leader.
  5. The real world doesn’t value your education as much as you do: Formal education is a great thing.  As I mentioned above, it provides a lot of great insight and keeps the mind fresh.  It often gives you an opportunity to better understand concepts and why they are important.  What education doesn’t do is build you a reputation of success as a leader or much else for that matter.  Unless of course your goal is to be an educator.  Being a professor myself, I still feel the students are more interested in what I have accomplished outside of school than what I have done in the classroom.  (The sad thing is, I had to get the MBA to teach, but 99% of the value I bring is from what I do in the real world)  Bottom line is, school is nice, but the real world will judge you on what you accomplish in your respective field.  Whether that is medical or being a wonderful parent.  Further, you can read all of the Chicken Soup books and still be a bad parent/friend/spouse/neighbor.

While some of these things may come as a surprise to you, others may not.  For me, the items above were all things that at the very least stopped me in my tracks momentarily.  In academia, at times, the bubble surrounds and protects you in a way that you believe that the world may actually operate the way it does on campus.  In the books, everything sounds so clear cut and easy;  All you have to do are these 3 things and everyone will be mesmerized by your every word and you will become an instant peer to your industries greatest leaders.  Unfortunately, it just doesn’t work that way.  The books and the school is meant to provide you context.  If you use it that way, it can be a great support tool as you adapt to your surroundings.  I certainly recommend it as a stepping stone in self development and would never advise anyone against continued learning.  What the formal education is not; it is not a road map for successful leadership.  That kind of leadership has to start with you, your values, your knowledge, and all the other intangibles.  All together and aligned in perfect harmony, that my friends creates great leadership.

Posted in Leadership | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 26 Comments

The Inexcusable Absence – Blog 1.0

Better Later to the Party than to Miss it Altogether

So here I am,  late to the blogging party.  Should probably be doing video blogs (vlogs) at this point. (soon enough) Being that I’m a self proclaimed leadership guru, a success hound, and a future astronaut. (Try to figure out which  is not true). It begs the question “Where have I been?”

First, let me assure you of this, I haven’t been under a rock, or hiding in a cave, or any other metaphor for missing the proverbial dance, but it does sort of feel like I was.  It reminds me of the other day at the Chicago Cubs game when the guy sitting next to me kindly reminded the umpire “Hey Blue, great game you’re missing today.”  The fact is, it’s just downright inexcusable that I haven’t been blogging and sharing with the world.  How selfish that I keep all of this “Insert Remark Here” to myself.

Having said that, I figured it would probably make sense to start off with an introduction. So…who in the world am I and what should you expect to see from me?

I was Born in 1981 (Not a typo) and raised in the great State of Illinois, I grew up in a sleepy “Yuppyish” town by the name of Naperville.  I was an avid athlete that played baseball and soccer, and I was also classically trained on the piano.  Traditional family, Mom and Dad, (Still Married) Sister, and a couple of Dogs…

After graduating from Naperville North in 1999 I went on to Truman State University where I played soccer, joined a fraternity, and studied (In that order).  It was there where I met my beautiful bride to be Lisa.  She was older than me, and smarter, and somehow I ended up graduating from Northern Illinois University.  We will save that story for a later blog.

Today I am still married to my beautiful wife Lisa, we have two beautiful daughters, (Hailey 9, Avery 5) and a cat. I am currently the CEO of United Visual who is the parent company of United Visual Systems, United GlobalComm and United Visual Productions.  I also teach at North Central College, I sit on various not for profit boards and committees, and I passionately enjoy debating anything provocative.

This blog is going to be a fun place to visit where reading, learning, sharing, and engaging coexist. We are going to be talking about Leadership, Success, Adversity, and a plethora of other great topics.  Some of which I do not even know yet.

I’ll leave it here for now, but please step inside and sit down.  If you want coffee or a tea, go ahead and grab one.  We’ll see you real soon.


Posted in General - About Me | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments