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.

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

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