Remembering Dad and Donuts

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Twenty years ago, I moved away to L.A. shortly after my Pop was diagnosed with inoperable cancer. He was 61. In short order it moved to his brain, so quickly that he (and we) didn’t make it through the (textbook) stages of death and dying.

Six months after I moved across the country, Dad passed away. I was with him when he and his diminished, pain-wracked body fought to part ways. It was excruciating to watch, to see and to feel. I was witness to a violent separation of body and soul.

It remains the most profound experience of my life. Although people may say child birth and becoming a parent is life’s most incredible moment, I contend it is not. When a child is born, we become MORE. We are “added to.” We have introduced someone new to the Universe.

When we bury a parent, we suddenly feel less, feel untethered.

We are that child again, who did or didn’t get what we hoped we’d get from that parent. We are the child who was still in the process of a lifelong vow… Perhaps to prove them wrong. To make them proud… To repay their sacrifices… To splurge on them…To show them you aren’t a child any longer… That you are an adult.

So, decades years later, I’m still working on those subconscious vows I made to and because of my Dad. Sometimes they’ve served me well; sometimes not so much.

None-the-less, I know he’s proud of me, I know that I’ve passed the best of Robert W Smith onto my own son, and that funerals are grossly overpriced (he was a mortician).

As the sun comes up on the anniversary of his passing, I’m celebrating the ways he shaped and colored my world:

  • Art is worth slowing down to learn and make
  • Photos are part of the legacy we leave
  • Don’t rush the process when rolling coins
  • If your best takes longer than others, stand firm. It’s YOUR best, not theirs.
  • Enter the day slowly, preferably with soggy Corn Flakes
  • End the day in solitude
  • Burden no-one with pain or negativity that they aren’t equipped to handle
  • Give someone your smile most especially when all they have is tears
  • Honor someone’s privacy, guard the secrets given to you in confidence
  • Always be the one still waving
  • Appreciate clean bathrooms; it means someone takes pride in their job
  • Coffee with friends isn’t about the coffee
  • We are not the physical body we wear in this life; none-the-less while we are here, sometimes that’s hard to grasp
  • Apologies are hard; sometimes they come on the wings of time instead of being wrapped in words
  • Naps are good, especially the kind when you collapse exhausted diagonally across the bed
  • Penmanship makes a statement
  • Everyone deserves a matching pen and pencil set
  • Keep your bed head private
  • One day you’ll be glad you saved all of those TV guides
  • Being at your child’s recital, game or special event, isn’t nearly as important as making sure they know you believe in them
  • Have faith in the Cubbies, always say goodnight, and keep some emergency snacks on hand

And last but not least…

Sundays are made for donuts.

Pick Extraordinary People

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Who are you?

“You are most like the five people you spend time with,” so goes the saying.

Sure, sure. It makes sense. We spend time with the people who make us feel good (the definition of good being a relative and deeply personal one).  We hang with people who affirm what we know (or hope) is true.

I decided to name what makes my people so special. Not just special to me…I went bigger. How do the people I know make this sometimes-really-shitty-frustrating-and-imbalanced-planet a better place to live?

See for yourself.

I put those ass-kickin friends in this Wordle:

WordleFriends

The answers humbled me. I pinched myself. I said “Self, do you even KNOW how blessed you are? Do you even GET that you run among remarkable people?”  Yeah, I know. I really do know.

So, who are YOUR people?

Forget, for now, what it says about you. But who are they? Don’t stop with the five people closest to you; consider anyone who influences your life.

What is their mark on the world? What is the imprint they leave on you? If your experience is anything like mine, this is an exercise in extraordinary gratitude.

Dwarfed. And okay.

Funny thing is, I don’t see myself perfectly reflected among my friends. I see myself as a dwarf among giants.  These people do, see, and say things I need three lifetimes to have the balls to do.  What I do see, though, in every one of them is the person I hope to be.

And for now, I’m pretty okay with being a work in progress — and I’m banking on their goodness rubbing off on me.

Your turn ~ If you do this exercise, let me know. I’d love to see what you came up with.

P.S. If you aren’t familiar with Wordle, give it a whirl. It’s a simple, free word cloud creation site that allows you to form mini works of word art.    

4 Manifestos for Change Makers

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'Stand Your Ground.' photo (c) 2010, akshay moon - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

It’s ironic, don’t you think?

It’s ironic how we respond to change. We want change, yet we fear it. We crave change, then we claw at it.

We’d rather slip to the back of the line (of change) than butt our way to the front. We shrink, we hide, we duck.

Screw change. Let someone else do it.

So goes the sentiment of far too many people. There’s little chance of upside. If you stick your neck out, there’s risk; there’s no guarantee of reward. Failure is possible and humiliation is downright probable.

And this is how we end up swirling around in the toilet of mediocrity.

Change may scare. But mediocrity kills.

10 Random Questions: From One Creative to Another

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Annie Leibovitz Portrait

Annie Leibovitz by John Keatly

Moment of truth. Today I couldn’t bring myself to write about anything social, trending, controversial, educational or overly deep.  So coffee in hand I let my thoughts tumble around, and they landed (bullseye) on something I’ve always wanted to do.

Shoot Me, Annie.

My secret wish has long been to appear in Vanity Fair‘s Proust Questionnaire column.

I’d be witty, honest, and bang-on with my answers. My sparkle would mesmerize the writer. In a flash, they decide to break tradition of using a caricature. The creative director would come careening into the room with an unexpected Annie Leibovitz in tow. My hair would have it’s best day EVER, and my skin would be clear and creamy — no Photoshop needed.  The published piece would paradoxically leave me awed and humbled. My mother would wipe a proud tear from her crinkly eyes as she read my words.

Well, some dreams come true and others — ones like my tongue-in-cheek Vanity Fair fantasy — may forever be a fable. So what’s a creative girl to do when she still longs for some good Q&A? She whips up her very own questionnaire for all those people who — like her –don’t mind peeling back the layers and sharing who they are.

So here you have it. 10 very random questions I’d ask YOU if we had a sit-down to compare the minds and ways of being right-brainers.

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Stop Reading and Start Doing

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I read. A lot. Books, blogs, reports, research. Tweets (of course). You name it; I read it. Throughout my adult life  I’ve believed that I read because I’m curious. I’ve told myself and others that I read because I am a proud life-long learner.

Of course I am both of those things. But if, like me, you spend more time reading than doing, you may detect the deeper problem here — can you spot it?

Truth is, there is a deeper story. I read because I’m scared. I read to avoid what I do best, which is write.  In my moment of truth I had to ask, am I really learning or simply running?

Do you read as a way to postpone real action? It’s cool if you don’t want to raise your hand. I’ll be honest; writing this blog post is uncomfortable. It stirs feelings of shame that here I am — with a God-given talent — and I’m not fully using it. I’m hiding in the pages of someone else’s good writing.

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CFCA’s 5 Best Practices for Growing a Facebook Community

Aside

This guest blog post was written by Shanxi Omoniyi, online content manager for Christian Foundation for Children and Aging (CFCA). Founded in 1981, CFCA is a nonprofit sponsorship organization serving more than 300,000 children, youth and aging friends in 22 countries. 

At CFCA we value the opportunity that social media provides in helping us create a community of compassion around the world.

Hopefully these best practices we’ve compiled can help other nonprofits harness the enthusiasm of their Facebook supporters to continue making the world a better place!

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How to Look More Thoughtful Than You Really Are

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Alright, kiddos, today I’m offering a lesson that will serve you well in the new year. Listen up, because I’m about to share 5 straight-up steps to looking more thoughtful than you do today.

Thoughtfulness, you ask?  Where’s the relevance? What’s the pay off? Whether it’s at work, in your love life or — for God’s sake — with your own sweet mother, thoughtfulness will smooth out many a bump in the road of life.

Square one: understand why this matters.

Think back to a pleasant surprise you’ve experienced (I said pleasant, so please play along). Got one? Now, think of another. And, since I’m seeking to demonstrate a point, please think of one more.

What do those surprises have in common? Ah, yes. Thoughtfulness. It is, don’t you see, the root of all surprises and delights.

If you’re not a “surprises and delights” kind of person, that’s cool. Let’s me give it to you another way… demonstrating thoughtfulness is the ticket to being memorable.  And in the words of novelist Isabel Allende, “You only have what you give.”

You only have what you give. True thoughtfulness, therefore, will get you everything.

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Mind Maps, Mobility, and Breakthroughs on SMChat

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I experienced a right-brainer’s fantasy on May 4 as I facilitated #smchat (social media chat) on Twitter. The topic: mind maps and collaboration.

Back by popular demand, we had the honor of hanging out with Chuck Frey to discuss mind maps.  A lot has changed since Chuck joined us on #smchat well over a year ago.

Can we, as innovative folks, use mind mapping to drive break-throughs and eliminate the waste of good brain power?

The hour-long chat chased these core questions. Make sure you check out the full chat transcript. Continue reading

What Kelli Schmith, Studs Terkel, and Albert Einstein Have in Common

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Despite lives that span three centuries, these two guys and I share a belief that transcends time, space, and (yes) even communication platforms.

Community, be it visible or not, transforms you.

I discovered it this morning, half awake, clinging to my coffee cup, the universal shrine of Mondays.  Savoring the 5 a.m. silence, I opened a new book and (of all things) began reading its Forward, contributed by Studs himself:

Once you join others, even though at first your mission fails, you become a different person. A stronger person.

You feel that you really count; you discover your strength as an individual because you have, along the way, discovered others share in what you believe.

You are not alone; and thus a COMMUNITY is formed.”

This I Believe

Terkel was paraphrasing Albert Einstein in This I Believe: The Personal Philosophies of Remarkable Men and Women

The Serendipitous Epiphany

It turns out that the Aha prompting me to start this post  wasn’t the Real Aha.

The Real Aha — the Epiphany — is both very personal and very public.  Those 55-words  — borrowed from Studs Terkel and on loan from Albert Einstein — sum up my life’s journey  in the last year.

Thinking 2010 was the kick-off to marketing significance, I hadn’t factored in the impact of ignoring my health and a life-changing crisis in my extended family.  My vision of success dimmed in the glare of developments far greater and intensely more humbling.

But in the midst of that change, I’d become part of a group.  I belonged. I shared something. The people inside of that group taught me more about myself than I could have learned in solitude.  The stress, the deadlines, the drive to change were glue for the team; but more importantly those elements were the foundation of friendships.

Failure: the Real Aha? Continue reading

I Love, Therefore I Recommend (a Net Promoter Love Story)

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The ultimate question: would you recommend us to a friend?

Over the last few weeks, I’ve been studying the works and theory of loyalty expert Fred Reichheld. Founder of Bain & Company‘s loyalty practice, Reichheld pioneered the quantifiable connection between loyalty, profits, and growth (see Net Promoter Score).

Midway through Reichheld’s book The Ultimate Question, I tested my own consumer passion. What brands, products (or experiences) do I purchase and recommend to other people? I self-imposed a five minute time limit, and the following 13 faves emerged.

Here they are (in alphabetical) order along with at least one reason I’ve recommended them.  It shouldn’t take you long to figure out that I’m a multi-tasking career mom. At the end of the list you’ll find a handful of useful links about customer loyalty and NPS.

Amazon.com Prime I have a secret reason for really, really loving Amazon.com Prime. As someone who invariably puts off buying gifts, the two day delivery keeps my reputation in tact. Shhh. Don’t tell my mother.

Borders Borders’ Members Rewards program does what other bookstore program don’t. It draws me into the every week. Barnes & Noble will often run online-only promos, but I know my weekly Borders email will let me use the coupon in-store or otherwise.

Burts BeesI don’t love Burt’s Bees because it’s nearly 100% natural. Two of its hair care products work miracles on my fine-textured hair. When a girl finds something that her hair likes, there’s no breaking up that relationship.

CloroxClorox, I love you for very specific reasons.  #1, your packaging keeps the wipes from drying out. #2, you don’t leave my counters smeary. And #3, you’ve figured out how to make bleach smell good. Bravo.

CVS PharmacyLet’s face it — when you need a pharmacy, you aren’t in the mood to wait or jump through hoops. CVS does 3 things that other pharmacies (and discount retailers) haven’t mastered:  #1, simple prescription drop off, pick-up and payment; #2, quick turnaround; and #3, highly personable (engaged) pharmacy and store staff.

DiGiorno Shredded CheeseHere’s all you need to know: DiGiorno’s Shredded Cheese looks and tastes like shredded hard cheese is supposed to.  (Well done, Kraft, for segmenting your market’s tastes)

Hormel

Any pre-packaged chicken that can fool my mother-in-law into thinking I made it, is a product I recommend to all my working-mom friends.

Jarvis

In the words of a Yelp reviewer, “If Bruce Wayne became a winemaker instead of a crime-fighter, he would have created Jarvis.”  This small Napa winery gives tours by appointment only, and I rank it as a must-do.  The tour experience is like nothing you’ve ever seen, and the wines are dee-lish (albeit not cheap).

Jazzercise

I’ve tired a lot of exercise formats, gyms and trends over the last 20-ish years. Nothing has done more for my health, spirit, and gluteus maximus than Jazzercise. Ask my BFF @CaskeyChick, who is hooked thanks to yours truly.

Keen

I love my Keens so much that I photograph my own feet. Hey, we all do weird things. Seriously — Keens are groovy enough to stand out from a crowd, and if my summer pedicure isn’t just-painted fresh, you’ll never know (thanks to my Keens). It’s not just a girl thing either; my brother (an avid outdoorsman) won’t wear anything but Keen.

LancomeOne product keeps me coming back to the Lancome counter every other month: Lancome Definicils mascara. I’ve used it for years and, without exception, have found nothing that comes close.

Levenger

If you look at the Levenger catalog and only see paper, pens and leather — you’ll never understand what makes a Levenger customer tick. Every writer (and reader) deserves something from this cataloguer.

Go figure…after 7 years of trial and (all error), Tony Hawk Gummy Multivitamins are the only thing my son looks forward to taking. We’re so ga-ga about the sour HuckJam Gummies that I go out of my way to WalMart for them.

Yankee Candle Logo

In the words of Michael Scott (The Office): “candles are the number one fastest growing product in the scent-aroma market.”  That may be, but the only ones worth my money are Yankee. The scents are so realistic it’s creepy, and the burn time makes you forget that these things aren’t cheap.

Second Helpings and Good Resources:

Every A-Player Needs a Playbook

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I recently worked on a project that included the creation of a Sales Playbook, and it sparked an idea worth sharing. What would happen if you created a Career Playbook that captures your methods for success?

Personal Playbook Page

Mindmap from Kelli's Playbook

Could you use it as a competitive advantage if you are job hunting? Perhaps you’re craving an opportunity to do and be more where you already work, and you want to prove you’re ready.

If a Personal Playbook did nothing other than map what makes your methods unique, would it be worth your effort?

My answer? Yes. Definitely Yes.

What Do I Mean By a Playbook?

Just as in sports, it’s a notebook containing narratives, lists and diagrams of the plays you have practiced. It is the blueprint for how you operate in business scenarios. This is the HOW, not simply the WHAT.

Your Playbook is a highly-personalized tool that reflects YOUR direct experience. It’s your reference, your bible, your go-to resource.  It is your proof of concept.

Fast Company founding editor Bill Taylor wrote The 10 Questions Every Change Agent Must Answer, and in it he asked ‘What Are You the Most of?’  That is the guts of your Playbook. It’s the User Manual of what you do best.  It isn’t your memoir or a journal nor is it a lesson book.

Your Playbook is a collection of YOUR tactics and best practices (not those of your favorite guru). It’s not a history book; it is a living-breathing body of knowledge about your methods and rituals.

Why Write a Playbook — More Than Just Intrinsic Value

No matter what type of thinker you are or whether your strengths are strategic or tactical, a Playbook will boost your market value.  I came up with 5 reasons to do my own book:

  1. High performers have a methodology. Own yours, because it sets you apart.
  2. Methods and rituals do co-exist with creativity. Even the most spontaneous people are predictably spontaneous.
  3. You can’t scale without process. When you articulate a scalable methodology, you will blow the door open for new career opportunities.
  4. Prove to yourself that you are a repeatable success story and not just a tale of one-hit wonders.
  5. If you want to jump industries, you have to prove you can transfer your knowledge.  Your process makes that possible.
Timeline Exercise

Brainstorm technique: Timeline your highlights of a key position.

The Content: Part Ritual, Part Process, Part Magic.

If you’re still with me on this idea, you may have guessed it is no small task to create. Let’s be real about this project: creating a Playbook demands an honest look inside of yourself and a fair bit of writing.

What goes into your Playbook? Simply put: any (or every) scenario that is part of your regular work life.

Here is part of the list I created for my own Playbook:

  1. How do you (begin to) understand your customers?
  2. How do you gather competitive intelligence?
  3. How do you seek understanding of the formal and informal communication norms inside a company?
  4. Where do you look for new ideas outside of the company?
  5. Who do you turn to for advice?
  6. How do you make an unforgettable impression?
  7. What is your decision process?
  8. How do you break down the walls of communication with people who are NOT like you?
  9. How do you communicate most effectively (i.e. what do people need to know about the way you do it)? This includes all channels of media.
  10. How do you cross cultural barriers?
  11. What are the signals that you’re stressed or over-committed?
  12. How do you know when you’re short on resources? What steps do you take to get what you need?
  13. What feeds (and kills) your creativity?
  14. Who is in your power base?
  15. What motivates you? (don’t skip this, because you need to be very clear with your own boss about this.)

3 Ways to Start the Process

  • Replay your success reel. Think through your career in 5-year increments and identify the 1-2 remarkable achievements that stand out.  What made those possible? What did you face, and (most importantly) how did you make it work?

    Left Brain - Right Brain Example

    Inside the pages of my separate Vision and Mission Book, an ongoing project.

  • Look at where you’ve prevailed against all odds. Your biggest lessons often come from there.
    List the project or the job or the company. Explore how and why it didn’t meet your expectations (in some cases, maybe it did, but it fell short of someone else’s).
  • List your Always and Nevers. This is your sacred ground and the deal breakers.  Know where you draw the line with colleagues and clients.

The good news is that you already have the content for your Playbook. The content is in your head,  but in order to make it tangible, you need to invest the time and discipline to put it on paper.

Have you done something like this? I’d love to hear about it.

Great Additional Reading:

What Do Marketers Need to Learn?

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Marketers are a special bunch — sometimes creative, always colorful and occasionally maddening.

Weigh in on how marketers could do a better job of being meaningful at work (5 simple questions).

Survey: What Marketers Need to Learn

I will use the insight in an article for marketers who want to clarify (and improve) the value they bring to their organization.  The article will also appear here on the Dig Deep Thinker blog.

Thanks in advance for sharing your perspectives!

*Poll conducted with Survey Monkey. No personal information is gathered.

Unlike that Buick, This IS Your Parents’ Social Network

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Skepticism is slow suicide. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

If Ralph were alive today, I’d buy him a Venti 7 Pump White Mocha no Whip to thank him for that quote. Alas, he’s long gone, but I’d lay down money that the American philosopher and poet would’ve been a social networking maniac.

You can walk away from my bet on Ralph, but don’t be so quick to dismiss social networking as merely a playground for teens, 20-somethings and the mega-brands who chase them.

For goodness sakes, don’t take my word for it. Pretty soon your own parents may have more online friends than you or your teenage nephew.

Do, however, heed my warning that you can’t afford to be naive (or pompous) about social networks and their inevitable relevance to your business.

The following 3 links will take you to the Pew Internet and American Life Project, one of seven projects at the Pew Research Center.

Seniors finding social networking exhilarating

The largest percentage increase in Internet use since 2005 has been in the 70-to-75 age group, according to the Pew Internet and American Life Project.

Adults and social network websites

While media coverage and policy attention focus heavily on how children and young adults use social network sites, adults still make up the bulk of the users of these websites.

Generations online in 2009

Over half of the adult internet population is between 18 and 44 years old. But larger percentages of older generations are online now than in the past.

Advice for Skeptical Execs: What To Do Amid Social Media Hype

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Last week I had the privilege of being on a social media panel at TechPoint Indiana’s  New Economy New Rules series.  Fellow social media practitioners Kyle Lacy and Chris Lucas shared the stage as we kicked off the 3-part social media series sponsored by Barnes & Thornburg.

I’ve dedicated today’s post to the attendees who saw a flicker of relevance during the event and want to learn more. Read on if you’re interested in this:

  1. Don’t Let the Hype Turn You Off
  2. 3 To-Do’s for Still-Skeptical Executives
  3. Who to Follow on Twitter
  4. Facebook Fan Page Examples
  5. Good Reads and Second Helpings

Don’t Let the Hype Turn You Off

Hype Cycle Graphic

Hype Cycle

Business professionals filled the room thanks, in part, to relentless social media hype. Let me say – nothing juices an impassioned presenter more than a packed house of listeners.

Let’s be real, though; we may have delivered a thought-provoking conversation, but that alone won’t cause a shift in your business strategy.

The social web, like almost every innovation before it, is following a hype cycle.  You can choose to disregard it as a legitimate strategy in the short run, but you won’t sustain long-term credibility without the social web. The other sure thing about a hype cycle:  you can’t avoid the human emotional response as with anything new and novel.

Kudos for your healthy dose of skepticism, by the way. Hype cycles pose a danger to companies when employees rush in while the hype is hot and give up at the first sign of disillusionment. Twitter and Facebook illustrate the point. Too many companies threw out a page on each social platform without an ounce of understanding why they should or what to expect.

Great read: Why The Hype, an interview with Jackie Fenn, author of Mastering the Hype Cycle.

3 To-Do’s for Still-Skeptical Executives

At the end of the panel Q&A, facilitator (and Barnes & Thornburg partner) Marcus Chandler asked for parting advice. I kept it simple, although not necessarily easy:

  1. Discard the notion that social media is just a campaign.
    We won’t split hairs here over nomenclature. The point is, don’t write this off as Marketing’s newest distraction. Can Marketing shepherd the cause? Sure, but the social web is fast becoming the conduit to communicating in, out and through your organization.  The social web touches every functional area of your business. Start by properly framing its potential and you’ll automatically raise your level of awareness.
  2. Use social media personally.
    Hey, this is just me and you talking, right? You really do need to get your feet wet, regardless of how or when your organization embraces the social web.  Find a colleague who knows how to get you started on Twitter and LinkedIn.  Still not convinced?  Shoot me an email, because we need to have a chat.
  3. Enable your employees to be social networkers (for business).
    Easy does itI know this gives you heart palpitations, but hear me out. There could be a dozen reasons why you’re not ready to actively market within the social hemisphere, but there is no excuse for turning a deaf ear to it.
    Malware, loss of productivity, risk of litigation… hear ya, hear ya, hear ya. Let those be issues you address in a social media policy and with procedures. I implore you: do not use them as the nail in your customer loyalty coffin.  Remember the coffee offer I made at NENR? It applies to this topic, too.

Who to follow on Twitter

When I confessed my Twitter obsession at NENR, I left out a critical detail, which is how I use it.  Listen up, because it’s the same reason I want you to try it. I use Twitter to learn, share, and connect.

I use it with purpose, whether I’m listening in or contributing to the collective online sentiment. Oh sure, my personality and quirks are stamped all over my tweet stream. But I value my time, which is as scarce as yours. I don’t tweet without purpose.

To find people to follow, start by following people who share your passion around an issue or topic.  Each link below will take you to a list of people who share an industry passion. Follow a few or follow them all. If none of these categories or people flip your trigger, shoot me an email.

  1. Banks – 36 banks utilizing social media & Twitter in creative ways
  2. Chambers of Commerce -450 Chambers and Boards of Trade
  3. Colleges & Universities – 495 people from public and private universities
  4. CPA Societies – 53 people; state CPA societies
  5. Foundations – 200+ not-for-profit foundations
  6. Hospitals – 160 people
  7. Children’s Hospitals – 61 people (U.S.)
  8. Law / Legal –  33 legal news Twitter feeds organized by subject, profession, and industry (incl. Tech, IP, Real Estate, Business, etc.)
  9. Life Science Companies – 60+ people at life science companies that develop products for scientific researchers
  10. Manufacturing- 54 people who tweet about manufacturing topics
  11. Pharma –  15 people; major pharmaceutical companies

Become a Fan: Facebook Fan Page Examples

Likewise on Facebook, you can listen to people from a safe distance and without mortal risk to your personal or professional brand. Here are examples of businesses, government entities and non-profits that use Fan Pages to engage people with their mission and brand.

Good Reads & Second Helpings:

This has been a big dose of information, eh? If all of the above leaves you feeling overwhelmed or rolling your eyes, that’s okay. Your reaction is normal if not human. If these suggestions trigger a new thought or a flutter of interest, we’ve made progress.

Keep the momentum by reading, listening, and asking questions.  And don’t forget to let me know how you’re doing.

As I said at NENR, I’m keeping my eye on you.

Article PDF: send me a note using karmic (at) karmicboom.com, and I’ll send it to you via email.

Image Credit: Jeremy Kemp, based on underlying concept conceived by Gartner, Inc

Top 10 Ways I’m Getting Fit After the Holidays

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Photo Credit: Horton Group

I’m intrigued by TwitterMoms (an idea that I sorely wish I’d had first), but this is first time I’ve joined in one of their infamous RamboAlerts. Today’s call-out for writers posed the question: What are your top 10 ways for getting fit after the holidays?

It’s a New Year, so what the hey! Oh yes, I’m shamelessly doing this experiment because it involves a carrot. If Lady Luck is on my side, I could randomly win a copy of EA SPORTS Active™ Personal Trainer.

Although I’d like to think my fitness tips will inspire you, I’ll sweeten the deal.  If I end up being one of the 5 winners, I’ll post a video of me doing Jazzercise on YouTube.

Kelli’s Top 10 Ways She’s Getting Her Arse in Gear

  1. 7 good hours of shut-eye. The kicker: lights out by 11.
    Have you read what Dr. Oz has to say about sleep? For one thing, it does more than just keep the ugly stick away. Now that I’ve rounded the 40-bend, I’m hell-bent on preserving every brain cell I can. Ditto on the importance of sleep for strength, resilience, and energy for my workout.
  2. Water first. Breakfast second. Coffee third.
    Despite my desperation for a cup of the hot stuff as soon as I roll out of bed, I put the java on hold until I’ve downed 8 ounces of the clear stuff.  Ditto on a bowl of oatmeal before I pump caffeine into my veins.
  3. Strap on a pedometer.
    A step is a step is a step, so each morning I grab my pedometer before you can say “hit the snooze button.” The old business adage you can’t manage what you don’t measure applies to moving your feet. My goal: 10,000 steps (workout movement doesn’t count).
  4. Walking my dog to the corner to pee.
    Sure, it may not sound like much, but her bladder is tiny which guarantees a day’s cumulative 500-steps on my trust pedometer.
  5. Jazzercise with my BFF.
    Here’s the deal — I like to shake my groove-thing. I like to kick, wiggle, and do all kinds of ridiculous moves that would draw ridicule on So You Think You Can Dance. But no matter how many trainers, gyms or pieces of equipment I’ve used, I always come back to Jazzercise. It only took me 10 years to get my BFF to quit laughing at me and give it a whirl (she’s hooked).
  6. P90X alongside my husband
    Mmmmhmmm, that’s right. Ms. Infomercial Cynic must admit it: P90X rocks. My husband, who had 6 months of fitness under his belt, decided to give it a whirl, and I’m here to tell you that he’s a changed man.  Heed the warnings, though, the program isn’t for newbies. It’s also not for people who gave up cursing as a New Year’s resolution.
  7. Burned the baggies of leftover holiday goodies.
    I’m a sugar freak. I admit it. So on January 4, I emptied out the containers of those delightful crunchy, sticky, sweet snacks.  I’m still recovering from the pain of it.
  8. Squatting properly.
    In this case, I don’t mean a weightlifter’s squat (although proper execution of that is keenly important). I’m talking about everyday care and loving of your back. Mayo Clinic has a handy how-to for proper bending and lifting.
  9. Clinching when I drive.
    Instead of clinching my teeth or the steering wheel, I pump up the tunes and do isometric moves while I’m in the car. You’d be amazed at how many small, controlled moves you can do with your glutes and abs.
  10. Stretching – a lot.
    I envy Dara Torres for a whole bevy of reasons but mostly because she keeps a trainer on staff purely to keep her stretched and limber. But that doesn’t stop me from trying to be a wannabe Gumby.

Leave me a comment so that I can be sure to let you know if and when my YouTube  exercise video clip airs.  Here’s to Lady Lucky and properly-fitting workout pants!

Photo used under the licensing agreement of Stock.xchng.

 

Chock Full of Goodness: 10+ Article Faves

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Here are 10 share-worthy articles from 2009.  If you care about communication, collaboration or leadership, dedicate your next coffee break to reading them.

  1. The Value of Visual Thinking in Social Business – Slideshare (David Armano)
  2. A Selection of 2009 Collaboration Posts (collected by Oliver Marks)
  3. Stop, Collaborate and Listen: knowledge management has a brand new adventure (James Gurd)
  4. Advice for Saving the WorldOutside Magazine (Nicholas Kristof) FAVE
  5. Media Heroes and Villains of 2009 (Trevor Butterworth)

  6. Best of 2009: 24 social media experts interviewed (Graham Charlton)
  7. The Social Customer Manifesto (Christopher Carfi)
  8. PR Disasters That Aren’t (Shel Holtz)
  9. This I Believe: A Manifesto for Web Marketers and Analysts (Avinash Kaushik)
  10. Five Ugly Numbers You Can’t Ignore: It’s Time to Calculate Hiring Failures (John Sullivan)

It’d be a crime to leave these links out of my list of 2009 faves:

  1. Blogging Starter Checklist (Rajesh Setty)

2010 Advice: Feed Your Starving Staff

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Whether or not you make New Year’s Resolutions, here’s a 2010 leadership resolution I challenge you to make.

Fix Morale.

Morale is a leading indicator of your team’s ability to deliver  game-changing results. Take a good hard look at the individual and collective vibe among your direct reports. Have you fed their confidence or inadvertently starved them in the last year?

Relax, I’m not advocating lofty or poofy “love thy employee” initiatives. This isn’t about an HR-driven campaign. You don’t need posters, pom-poms or anything containing the words success, initiative or move my cheese. Workers don’t need you to announce one more motivational contest that you pulled out of a New York Times bestseller.

Simply pay attention to your people.

Give your employees thoughtful attention.

What is thoughtful attention, you ask? It’s any act on your part that shows you notice the small stuff. Below you’ll find examples that have worked well for me (as both the giver and recipient).  Each action carries an implicit affirmation that your employee matters, not just to an organization but to you.

  1. Tools that enhance their performance
  2. Encouragement and reinforcement
  3. Demonstration of trust

Things to give them = TOOLS

  • Magazine subscription (their pick)
  • Levenger gift certificate (don’t underestimate the power of a nice pen or a Circa notebook)
  • Subscription to an online resource (As a marketer, my faves are Ragan.com and MarketingProfs.com)
  • The Artist’s Way
  • Any book. (Better yet – send them to the bookstore and tell them to expense it)
  • Updated equipment or software (without forcing them to labor over a cost justification, for goodness sakes)

The littlest things can really make  me feel appreciated…new stock photography or fonts, fun notepaper, even desk accessories can make me smile. ~Kim Brandt, marketing manager

Things to Communicate = Encouragement and Reinforcement

  • When you delegate a tough assignment, tell them in ADVANCE they have what it takes
  • Give them a card and in it praise them (Guys, if you do only one thing this year, do this.)
  • Scribble a short “atta boy” on a Post-it note (there’s nothing like it when an employees finds good news stuck to their monitor)
  • Leave a positive voicemail or email in the off hours (it’s a groovy feeling to know your boss is thinking positively about you in his off-time)
  • Take him or her to lunch and talk about what keeps you up at night. Be human.

A gift card to Starbucks and a thank you note for a great job. I will never forget that on my chair. Loved it! ~Travis Hall, designer

Opportunities as Things = TRUST

  • Send them to a workshop or a conference (give her an assignment to bring back one innovative idea that could spark change)
  • Give a change of scenery. Tell her to work at a coffee shop for the afternoon. Or library or anyplace that inspires her (home doesn’t count)
  • Proxy for you in a meeting (then ask for fresh feedback)
  • Ask for input before a company meeting or a speech (“What do you think your coworkers really need me to address?”)
  • Offer your full attention. Use a 1:1 and don’t put them on the spot. Set down the Blackberry. Find out what’s in their way and what they’d do to fix it if they were you.)

    (My boss) is always happy to see me. He tells that he is glad I am part of the team, and he honors how important family is to my life balance. That means a lot to me. ~Brooke Green, business coach

Last but not least, Recognition 101:

  • Restaurant gift certificate (big enough for a splurge)
  • Birthday card (a real card — not a boxed corporate set. And, no, signing the group card doesn’t count)
  • Recognition of their hire date anniversary (These are recurring dates on my calendar, and I still send a note to a few of my former employees who were stars on my team)

Does it sound like work? I hope so, because it is. Good morale requires care and feeding like any relationship.

In the successful organization, no detail is too small to escape close attention. ~Lou Holtz

Here’s the good news, size doesn’t matter when it comes to thoughtful attention. The beauty resides in the detail. So wake up and start paying attention.  Let me know if you need more suggestions.

13 Sites for Human Interest, Business, Innovation and Emerging News

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How are you keeping your company relevant in the midst of economic and social change? That’s not a theoretical question; in fact, it should be a component of your strategic plan.

Staying relevant takes observation, insight, and action.  It requires you to look beyond the issues that impact this month’s billings.  Ironically, it demands that you stay in the present, otherwise you may overlook the threats your customers face today.

Relevancy hangs out at the intersection of today’s problems and tomorrow’s opportunities.  Elite communicators know how to place your company right in the middle.

Here are 13 websites that I rely on for fresh perspectives, ideas, and emerging news.  Feel free to share your opinions of establishing relevancy and suggest other places that readers can look for inspiration.

Reuters AlertNet

News, information, and analysis for everyone interested in emergency relief. Run by Reuters Foundation.

Reuters AlertNet

Reuters AlertNet

EurekAlert.org

Searchable database of science-related press releases from research institutions, universities, government agencies and corporations. Calendar, resources and links. From the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

EurekAlert! - Breaking Science News

EurekAlert! - Breaking Science News

The Economist

Authoritative weekly newspaper from the U.K. focusing on international politics and business news and opinion.

The Economist

The Economist

Benton.org

Works with other groups such as National Urban League, AOL, National Endowment for the Arts to help provide solutions for bridging the digital divide. Links to various foundations including Ford, Kellogg. Offers free on-line versions of reports dealing with technology and access.

Benton Foundation

Benton Foundation

Gapminder.org

Non-profit venture promoting sustainable global development and achievement of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals by increased use and understanding of stats and other data about social, economic and environmental development.

Gapminder.org

Gapminder.org

Journalism.org

An initiative by journalists to clarify and raise the standards of American journalism through research and education. (Project for Excellence in Journalism)

Journalism.org

Journalism.org

Pew Global Attitudes

Unique, comprehensive, internationally comparable series of surveys that encompasses the current state of the world and important issues of the day.

Pew Global Attitudes Project

Pew Global Attitudes Project

Pew Research Center for the People & the Press

Independent, non-partisan public opinion research organization that studies attitudes toward politics, the press and public policy issues. One of seven projects that make up the Pew Research Center.

Pew Research

Pew Research

Gallup

Statistics, news and insights across all (national and global) aspects of management, economics, psychology, and sociology.

Gallup.com

Gallup.com

Springwise.com

News portal whose content is fed by a network of 8,000 spotters who scan the globe for new business ideas and inspiration for entrepreneurial minds.

Springwise.com

Springwise.com

Trendwatching.com

Online content from the Amsterdam-based independent trend firm (by the same name). Global round-up of the most promising consumer trends, insights and related hands-on business ideas.

Trendwatching.com

Trendwatching.com

Salon.com

Original reporting and commentary on news and politics, business and entertainment, culture, and life.

Salon.com

Salon.com

Ted.com

TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) is an invitation-only event where the world’s leading thinkers and doers gather to find inspiration.

TED

TED

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Deconstructing Your Failure

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Photo credit: Steve Ford Elliott

Career Grief sucks. There, I said it. It sucks — horribly.

I sat in a pool of it this past week, despite an astronomical EQ, a mad set of business skills, and growing demand for my work.  That, my friends, is exactly why it torques my day.  It rolled through at the most unexpected (and least welcome) moment, leaving me cranky that I still feel the aftershock of losing a job I loved.

Some days grief is like a spider web. You walk face first into it and no matter how much you spin and try to pull away from it; the tiny strands cling to you all day long.

Rather than wallow in a pool of self-loathing, I pinned down the source of recurring frustration.  I confess that my departure felt like a failed mission — it’s one thing to admit defeat but altogether castrating when someone else calls the time of death for you.

A Sense of Failure at the Root of Grief

It turns out that I’ve been mourning a vital part of me that I left behind. That part of me is kick-ass brilliance and talent, and I’d be an idiot not to retrieve them. In order to do that, I deconstructed my (self-labeled) failure by asking four questions:

  1. Did I attempt too much?

  2. Where did I contribute to poor communication or incomplete information?

  3. How did I dilute my own authority or weaken my team’s responsibility?

  4. When and how did I permit “drop-in crises” to derail our primary mission? Continue reading

“Social Media Made Me Do It” and Other Silly Notions

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I love a spicy debate over new technology or social trends, and these days it’s impossible to mention Twitter or Facebook without triggering a verbal throw-down.

peeking through fingersOnce as separate as church and state, technology and social engagement are now inextricably bound together.

The whole notion scares the bejeebees out of people. Thanks to the near-mainstreaming of Twitter, Facebook and other community platforms, it’s a cinch to elicit a stream of grunts and eye-rolling from your spouse, colleagues and friends.

That Twitter Thing

As you read these words, someone down the corridor or across the room at Starbucks is clucking over this “Twitter thing.”  It goes something like this: Continue reading

Finance Meets Social Media

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Fellow marketers may call it sick, twisted or just slightly left-of-center, but I have a fascination with finance folks and CFOs.  Thanks to Twitter and a cool cat named Ken Kaufman, I can now climb right into the left brain of dozens of CFOs.  Ken maintains a list of follow-worthy CFOs who are on Twitter.

Mine is a love-hate fascination with finance people. On a good day, I love their dry wit, the rulers they brandish, and the way they think in numbers instead of words.  Of course, at month-end, it’s a different story.  Hey, I’m human.

Trust me, I’ve asked myself why I am who I am (it’s far too deep and Oprah-worthy). But I did come up with 5 things that are actually relevant to why you should follow a few CFOs too. Continue reading

5 Things Keeping Your CFO Up at Night

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I’m not sure who sleeps less these days — the CFO who is micro-managing cash flow for survival or the CMO whose role, let alone budget, is discretionary. Regardless of what marketing role you play, you need to understand the mission-critical metrics that your CFO is watching.   

Below are 5 questions your owner(s), bank, or board members expect your CFO to answer.   Read the full article, 5 Quick Questions for your CFO, at the BoardSource website.   

  1. Are our cash equivalents truly liquid?
  2. How many days in cash do we have?
  3. What’s our current ratio?
  4. What’s the status of our line of credit?
  5. Are we going to make a profit this year?

Related Articles: Continue reading

Social Accountability: 1 of 6 Building Blocks in a Social Change Framework

Originally posted on #SMCHAT:

The Language of Social Accountability. Can you put words to desired outcomes?

COMING TO TERMS.  Wittgenstein argued that language shapes what is possible. In terms of Social Accountability, can we do better at linking actions and expectations to concrete outcomes?

It’s not unusual to grapple with accountability in both our organizations and our personal lives. More often than not, it’s about taking ownership and following through on commitments.

So what makes accountability is social ecosystems so difficult?

For starters, it’s a numbers game. A community has lots of people with lots of different opinions. That diversity of thinking can foster resilience but it can also block consensus, making it hard to establish common ground.  Add the nuances of culture and language, and it’s no wonder social change is fraught with confusion. It’s a virtual Tower of Babel. Just ask America’s Founding Fathers; even with shared interests and goals, finding a viable long-term structure them took decades.

Not everyone loves semantics, I know…

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How Will Story and Social Media Change the World? (#smchat)

Originally posted on #SMCHAT:

“Stories have to be told or they die, and when they die, we can’t remember who we are or why we’re here.” ~ Sue Monk Kidd, The Secret Life of Bees

Have you ever noticed that change starts and travels on the back of story? Whether the change is big or small, plays out on the world’s stage or within the boundaries of a close-knit group, it began with a story that appealed to the human condition. Perhaps that makes sense to you. Nothing captures and conveys the human condition better than story. Historians and psychologists have long said that storytelling defines and binds our humanity.

hieroglyphics-web

Despite its ancient roots (the earliest known record of story telling dates back to 2580 B.C.), story has found a new fast-burning fuel. Something in OUR modern time has altered the way we connect through the aid of story.

Enter social media.

Social media has given…

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Foundations: Social Media for Social Change [8/28 1pET]

Kelli Schmith:

Shame on me for not sharing #SMchat more more of the people I know on Twitter. It remains one of the most authentic, high return-on–time things I do in the Twittersphere.

Originally posted on #SMCHAT:

Focus on Social Change

Last month we made great progress on what social change might look like through a social media lens. We had an in-depth, hour-long discussion on key factors and enablers.

Because this could help reinforce the foundation for our series, I’ve completed a deep read of our 7/24 #smchat transcript, capturing some highlights. I tried to provide attribution to key ideas too; if you’re thinking “Wait, that’s not what I meant!” .. let me know, and I’ll make updates.

Where do we begin?

The start of a Social Change definition might look like this:

Social change using social media requires engaging, empowering and connecting a community to reach a goal, making a statement and difference (any means) (Kelly B)

Here are some more key takeaways from the same transcript:

  • Social change is organic, starting with people (Marc)
  • Social change requires visible impact and it must be…

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