All in Communications

When Our Best And Brightest Stop Speaking Up...

Every organization has that person. The one who raises issues, flags problems, talks about solutions and fixes to move the ball forward.

I’m not talking about the complainers - folks who have nothing better to do, and don’t have any real intent to solve the problem. I’m talking about those who want to get things done and are vocal about it. Very vocal, in fact. Sometimes, they’re in your face. Many times, they’re irritating. Many times, it feels like they’re too much.

"This Will Only Take A Minute..."

Expectations management is everything in business.

If you’re going to do something, do it. If you have no intention of doing it, don’t say you will. That’s pretty clear cut and I think we’ll all agree with that.

The problem arises when we get comfortable in the grey areas, at the edges of “well, this isn’t really a big deal”. We brush off - consciously or otherwise - these little things.

Sometimes The Problem With Our Message Is Us

In my last post, I talked about the importance of simplicity and authenticity in our messaging. Complex, obtuse and, worse, overly clever messaging does a disservice to the point we’re trying to make. And most of the time, it detracts from getting that point across.

Sometimes, though, this just seems impossible. We struggle with distilling the key takeaways or the so-whats. What keeps emerging is far longer and more involved than what feels right.

Regrets, I've Had A Few...

Very early on in my career, I went to meet a senior executive at one of the fastest growing entertainment companies in Asia.

At the time, I was a Marketing Executive in the Consumer Goods space and, while the work was interesting, I wanted to explore what else was out there, especially in this exciting new area that was taking Asia (I lived in Hong Kong at the time) by storm.

The Importance of Valorization

One of the things that I love about the Montessori education system is its focus on developing independence and confidence and instilling self-esteem in children.

In fact, one of the central tenets of that system is Valorization. I was reminded of this in a recent video from the RPMS school (which is where my kids went). Valorization is about:

If You Do Know, Then Say So

I’ve talked about situations where leaders and managers struggle to say “I don’t know” because of their fear of seeming incompetent or not being “in the know”. It’s an approach that rarely works and, more often than not, breeds frustration and angst, because it goes against the reality that real leaders are human, open and willing to be vulnerable.

On the flip side, we also see situations where perfectly competent individuals - individuals who know their stuff and know the situation at hand - are unwilling to say what they think. They remain quiet even when they know better, even when their expertise, experience and gut are telling them otherwise.

Why does this happen?

Get Used To Criticism

If you’re going to do anything different, you’re going to get criticized.

There’s no shortage of folks willing to offer you advice if you’re thinking about a new venture, a new project or a new position. They’ll range from friends, family as well as business colleagues - well intentioned or otherwise. Some of it you might actively ask for, but a lot of it will be offered to you, at no extra cost.

Be The Guide - Not The Victim

Donald Miller is an author and businessman who helps organizations tell better stories. His message is that, in a business world that’s full of noise and clutter, the only way to cut through is to tell stories and engage your audience - in any type of setting.

One of his key themes is that there are really 4 key roles you can play in any story - hero, villain, guide or victim.

Take Your Power Back

We all like the idea of getting along.

In business relationships specifically, harmony is an essential ingredient in successful, long term relationships. If we have harmony, we have alignment, we have consensus (at least in terms of direction), we have the grounds for collective momentum.

The trick is in making sure that the basis for that harmony is real. Harmony isn’t about happiness, hugs and kisses. It’s often hard to get to, many times requiring debate, disagreement and (periodic) discontent. Achieving real harmony is almost always hard work.

Don't Send Me An Email (Sort Of)

I’m old enough to remember a time when we didn’t have email at work.

If I wanted to communicate something, I’d pick up the phone and call that person, or I’d write them a letter, or I’d set up a meeting (by phone) and head over to their office to chat.

Since then, the advent of email has led to more streamlined and more versatile communications. You can not only share a thought or an idea, but you can have entire streams of back and forth, all fully documented for future reference. For example…

Learn The Script - Then Forget It

In any pitch - whether it’s to make a sale, get a job, get a promotion, or fund an initiative - the story you tell is all-important. It has to inform, educate and (many times) entertain and inspire the audience, so that they ultimately say yes, and agree to whatever your “ask” is.

So how you craft that story is absolutely critical. From the key themes, to the overall flow/structure, to the specific messages/story points, to the facts and anecdotes that illustrate those messages, it’s essential to flesh out all of those elements.

Cater To Who Matters - Not To Everyone Else

I’m reading a book called “Coal Black Mornings” by Brett Anderson, the lead singer and founder of the British band, Suede, which had their heyday in the BritPop era of the 1990s through early 2000s.

(Suede is in my Top Five bands of all time, but while popular in Britain, they’ve been largely ignored in the US. If you haven’t heard of them, they’re absolutely worth checking out - start with the first two albums.)

There’s a passage in the book where he talks about his song writing process, and writes:

Engage And Entertain (Or It's Always Better to Pull Than Push)

The advent of recording technology (from the cassette tape to the VCR to the current digital formats) as well as the ability to access audio-visual entertainment on demand has allowed us to do the one thing that marketers hate:

Skip their ads.

For the most part, you don’t have to sit through a 15, 30 or 60 second ad just to get to the content you’re actually there for. You just hit the forward button and presto! No marketing message, no advertiser trying to sell you something.

When It's Too Soon To Quit...

In my last post, I talked about the thought process we (should) go through when deciding if it’s time to quit what we’re doing.

While there were multiple idea threads that inspired that post, one of them was an article by Mariam Naficy, the Founder and CEO of Minted, an online design marketplace. In that article, Mariam talked about how she raised a small seed round from friends and family and then launched the business, originally intending it to be a lifestyle business. And then:

Everyone Has A Platform (Part 1)

The best thing about technology today is that everyone has a platform.

It doesn’t matter whether our preferred medium is in written, audio or visual form, we have access to all the technology we need to create, publish, broadcast and market our message to anyone, whether they’re in our hometown or all the way across the other side of the globe.

When We Rush To Judgement

The more time you spend on social media, the more you see examples of it.

Someone posts a video excerpt of an altercation, or footage of someone acting a way we don’t agree with, or an article about someone making statements that don’t resonate with what we believe in.

And our tendency, our natural instinct, is to react. To make our judgement. And then to share that judgement with someone else, and someone else, and someone else. Because the emotion of the moment is hard to get past, hard to get over.