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Have you ever just stopped and thought, “OK, exactly, what am I doing here?” Have you ever been asked to explain something and found yourself ramblings and your thoughts came out incoherent and and your thoughts are without any cohesion and almost on the verge of being labeled ‘verbal diarrhea’? (run on sentence intended for effect folks!!)
Force Some Discipline
There is a way you can attack this problem. This idea comes from a book I’ve recently read call “Drive” by Daniel Pink. (Good Read! Recommend it!) It’s one of the suggestions in the back of the book which you could easily overlook and just skiip by if you are not careful.
The concept is simple. Use a tool, like Twitter, to force you to craft a message in 140 characters. Twitter will only publish 140 characters of a person’s tweet. It provides a nice clean interface with a gentile reminder of how many characters you have remaining. It also provides you a negative number if you go over 140 characters, thus showing you how much you have to trim to have your entire message included in the twitter stream. Twitter simply provides us a clean and straightforward page with the needed feedback to accomplish this task.
Twitter is not the focus
You could use any tool that gives you the feedback to understand how close you are to 140 characters. Even the 140 characters are arbitrary and simply based on the fact that Twitter has this limitation. I could also use any word processor that provide the basic functionality of ‘word count‘ . You could write a simple Visual Basic program in minutes to perform the same task. The tool is not the important factor here. It is your ability to boil down your message to 140 charaters.
In the past we’ve talked about using elevator speeches, but this is more intense and to the point. Only using 140 characters to create focus.
Twitter Summary Application
- Front Office Staff – image the value you would bring if your responses were pithy and to the point. How many of us have wished we met some of these staff in our travels. Only to find out 2 minutes into a question answer session you picked the wrong person to ask ‘where the bathroom was?’ (exaggeration intended)
- Meeting Prep – Wouldn’t we all like to come into a meeting and with a short burst from the moderator / facilitator know how much I need to pay attention? In fact, I could then text my assistent to pull me out of the meeting in let’s say 10 minutes. (Note to self: I bet I could write a quick program so that when I text mesage a certain code to it, it would then rendomly generate a ‘emergency text message‘ to my department member’s phones so I can get them all the hell out of there before they waste another minute not doing their jobs!) (exaggeration intended)
- Event Planning – When I plan out an event, each hour has something it needs to accomplish. I would suggest having a twitter summary for each hour so that each hour can be easily reviewed by the facilitation staff and the owner / sponsor of the event.
- Calendar Management – wouldn’t we all like to look at a calendar event and not ask the question – what in the world is this here for and who authorized it to be on my calendar? Well a twitter summary would help there also.
- Instructions to Staff – I’ve also heard this one called ‘commander’s intent‘ as well. It would be a short burst stating what is the ultimate outcome or goal is for an activity. Sometimes these are needed so that if something goes wrong, the team, using autonomy, can make adjustments to still hit the mark by the end of the assignment.
- Classroom Setting – excellent use of a few seconds to start out the class. Let everyone know what’s going to happen in the class for the next hour to three hours. (Also see Meeting Prep above – for you resourceful students – but don’t try it in my class – I have you turn off your phones)
Taken to an Extreme
Would love to hear how you could apply Twitter Summaries. Leave a post and let me know.
- The art of complaining in 140 characters or less (swiss-miss.com)
- On the benefits of #macroblogging, observing a #Twitter stupidity, and the return of #stopshortening (dropsafe.crypticide.com)
- Don’t spend hours tweeting, says Twitter co-founder (telegraph.co.uk)
- How Twitter Can Improve Your Management In 140 Characters Or Less (businessinsider.com)
- Tell us about ‘the moment’ in 140 characters or fewer (timesunion.com)
With all the ‘Steve Jobs‘ posts flooding the internet, this one caught my eye. It is not a Apple bash piece but rather a great object lesson for those that get caught up in the “Aim, Aim, Aim, Ready, Aim, Aim, Fire” mode.
6 of Apples Greatest Mistakes
By Scott M. Fulton, III / October 6, 2011 2:03 PM
This is not an Apple-bashing piece. It is also not an attempt to cut an American icon down to size at a time when were remembering the magnificent contributions of its fallen founder. This is about how failure makes us better.Ive lost count of the number of times Ive heard, seen, or read comparisons of Steve Jobs to Thomas Edison since early yesterday evening. Jobs did not invent anything – not the personal computer, not the MP3 player, not the tablet. But besides that fact, there are certain other stark similarities. One: Jobs, like Edison, was a fierce competitor who sought to control not only the delivery channel for his products, but the market surrounding those products. Two: Like the finest scientist, Jobs studied his failures and Apples very carefully, and unlike Microsoft, built his next success upon the smoking ruins of his failures.More Steve Jobs Stories6 of Apples Greatest MistakesSteve Jobs Legacy In the Pantheon of Great American InnovatorsFrom Silicon Valley to Bahrain, the Web Mourns Steve JobsA Great User Experience: The Web Legacy of Steve JobsWhat Steve Meant Back ThenReaders will likely remind me that certain of the
Marathon Not Sprint
As I mention in my “Failure is not a Title” post, we need to look at things as a long process that we learn from, a Marathon if you will, not a 100 yard dash. Yes, the above mentioned items are on the bottom of some outhouse of ideas, but the industry learned from then and evolved into what we have today.
- Think Different – The Legacy of Steve Jobs (legallyeasy.rocketlawyer.com)
- Steve Jobs Reinvented What It Means to be Human (forbes.com)
- An Analogy of Thomas Edison and Steve Jobs (nytimes.com)
How many times do you find yourself in a slump. We need to shake off the old and create a new way of generating new ideas. We need to make some magic, create some sparks, razzle and dazzle, have some fun! When I read this post from Seth Godin it got me to thinking:
An end of magic
Arthur C. Clarke told us, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”
Head back to the 1800s with a Taser or a Prius or an iPad and the townsfolk will no doubt either burn you at the stake or worship you.
So many doors have been opened by technology in the last twenty years that the word “sufficiently” is being stretched. If it happens on a screen (Google automatically guessing what I want next, a social network knowing who my friends are before I tell them) we just assume it’s technology at work. Hard to even imagine magic here.
How to Make the Magic
This is a fun exercise to take your team or department through. You can read about the process in one my previous posts “Exceptionalism: Focus on the Never“. But basically, take several idea lists you’ve created and follow the “Innovation Bonus Exercise” in the above post. Then take some of those ideas and create you own little science fiction episode of “Stargete”, “Sanctuary”, or “Startrek” in which your team runs accross a civilazation with advanced technology like some of the crazy items on your list and they now have to revewrse engenere it to gain the benefits of the new found technology.
You might be surprised how many of the way-out-there crazy ideas turn into actionable realistic projects for your team to investigate further.
It’s a fun off-site day, especially if you have a bunch of techie scifi geeks on your team!
In “Success” magazine (Success.com February 2011) I found a great article on Jacky Chan. In this articles they list Jacky Chan’s 7 Traits for Success. I found his thoughts fit nicely into internet marketing as well. So I’m going to take his traits but add my own thoughts to each of his traits.
1) A willingness to crash and burn
I can’t stress enough that each internet marketer should try to fail, often, and big. Two phrases come to mind “Go Big, or Go Home!” and “Failure is an event, not a title!” Your embrace of risk might be the deciding factor that helps you find your niche.
2) A discipline for fitness
The key word being discipline. Fitness is needed for everyone, but in marketing, we need focus, intentional creative disruption. We often try many tactics for our clients. We need to perform our duties in such a way that our measurements tell us which tactic produced the results and then build on them.
3) A disdain for wasted time
As Zig Ziglar wrote in his “See You at the Top” recording your activities and understanding what it takes to create positive results in critical. Equally important is understanding what is not helping you create success. Avoiding time wasters are equally important then improving skills.
4) A need for alternative opinions
It’s important we seek out and study other disciplines and build on the lessons of those. Reading materials from other continents, or cultures. Subscribe to blogs from other marketers on other countries. Spend time discussing ideas on twitter or in blog comments. It will improve your ability to communicate your positions to clients and prospects.
5) A set of high expectations
Never be afraid to say “That’s not good enough” and demand more of the outcomes of your tasks and tactics. With internet marketing it often a series of “shoot, ready, aim” moments, but that doesn’t mean we can expect some impressive marksmanship!
6) An accurate moral compass
A marketer with no moral compass is simply a politician. Enough said.
7) A relentless sense of humor
By all means, have some fun. If you can’t laugh and laugh hard at your work, you will often find yourself ‘chasing rabbits’. I know we call it work, but push the limits, always create a version of your latest project that is an exaggeration of the client requirements. By creating this outlier, you will find your other ideas less risky and at the same time take some risks.
So which one of these traits caught your eye? Which of these traits are you doing well at? Which one of these traits do you need to work on? I’d love to get your feedback.
Enjoy! Good Hunting!
As a consultant I am asked to facilitate critical meetings and/or evaluate meeting or facilitator performances. I have yet run across an organization that lives for meetings. No company believes if they could only have one more meeting then they would reach the pinnacle of their business existence. It reminds me of a common story a life-coach might offer his client reminding the client of the concept of work-life balance. A man is on his deathbed and wishes for one last day at work so he will be satisfied and complete.
I do run across organizations that hold mandatory and regularly scheduled meetings because … well … because that is what they think all organizations are suppose to do. (They should but not for that reason.) The meetings are scheduled and placed on everyone’s calendars. Some even go so far as to create performance review metrics concerning attendance, timeliness, and participation for the above mentioned meetings. Literally, the same agenda is passed around at each meeting, with the same ground rules clearly identified somewhere on the page. I’m not anti-meeting when I say this, but, what a waste. A waste of time and resources for the company.
Meetings Must Accomplish Something
A meeting must have value and that value is determined by the behavioral change your department or organization sees based on the content and outcomes of the meeting. Leadership or management should set goals and objects for these meetings in the same way they w0uld for any other element in their domain that is responsible for adding value to the organization.
Here are some ideas you may wish to consider:
- Set an annual budget for meeting costs (including time/resources)
- Set a scheduled begin and end – start on time and end on time or end early
- Create a unique agenda for each meeting
- Have your team understand what it costs to run or go over on time
- Measure performance against that budget
- Use the meeting to set team objectives
- Avoid one-way meetings – delegate assignments – track results
- Rotate (delegate) who runs the meeting – teach your staff meeting prep & management
- Document success / accomplishments from meeting assignments
- Report accomplishments up!
Understanding Meeting Costs
Often a hidden cost within business that is overlooked or poorly managed is the time spent in meetings. In today’s post, I am specifically referring to the mandatory staff meeting, often weekly. A department or team rarely understands just how expensive the meeting is, let alone how much it costs the company to go past the scheduled time.
When I tell a client that a 20 person half-day weekly department meeting costs the company $220,000 annually, they just about drop out of their seats. They begin to understand that the cost demands value to the organization. I show them this simple equation:
Staff x Rate x Hours x 50 weeks = Annual Cost of meetings
20 x $55.00 x 4 x 50 = $220,000
- Staff would be the number of employees attending the meeting. I used 20 in this example.
- Rate is the fully burdened hourly rate that you would get from HR or your Accountant. I used $55.00 per hour for staff averaging 70K salaries in this example.
- Hours are the scheduled time each week of your meeting. I used 4 for this example
So going over schedule in this example would be:
20 x $55.00 or $1100 an hour to the company. (2x for the opportunity cost if you want to be picky or $2200 per hour)
Some immediate benefits
When you begin to hold your meetings accountable for more then update sessions and keep track of your costs you will begin to see some startling changes in your teams performance.
- Reducing meetings to an hour each week can be used to report savings to the company.
- Delegation and the results from those assignments can be used to promote tangible benefits against the costs
- Rewarding your team for completing meetings before the scheduled end time. This can be assigned as savings
- Teach the team when to use the entire staff or a subset to save the costs to the company
- Monthly reporting to your manager will help them understand the value of this large expanse.
Who knows, you may be asked to run your bosses meetings or be asked to train other managers because your department will be doing so well.
The ROI Hunters recently reviewed the last three years of the Hunt. A major portion of our time is spent helping clients position themselves wisely on the search engines, either with ads or natural results. It is important to study the past so we learn from our mistakes, after all, hunting ROI requires us to improve ourselves, not just change with the times.
Search Engine Competition
Search engines are constantly (and with anonymous frequency) changing their algorithms so as to provide the best search results for the phrase identified. The obvious goal is to become the preferred search tool of choice for as many internet uses as possible. This constant tweaking of databases and infrastructure causes enough fluctuation that we have seen our client pages and ads rise and fall like an east coast tide.
Over the years, different search engines have taken the lead. Currently Google holds the highest ground and is defending its position with line extensions, something we think will cause them to weaken their position and loose ground on the search front. This will open doors for another competitor to come in and take the search engine title. Either way, we see change as inevitable.
We still produce great results for our clients, but I must admit, it was much easier three years ago. Our client competitors that utilized search engine strategies for their marketing plans have increased exponentially. Threat analysis vs. Key Word Search has increased over the years. We now plan quarterly meetings discussing our threat analysis rather then simply spending time looking for new phrases.
Fire, Aim, Fire
I remember, three years ago, selling our services under the banner of economy of scale. “We could do this more economically, not necessarily better, then you can do it on your own. In the end you will save a lot of money.” Minus the more exciting changes in our marketplace, this pitch often worked. It was very flawed.
Now we focus on how the ROI Hunters can improve the client’s top line, rather then, on how we influence the bottom line. Let’s face it, how many of us believe we can “shrink ourselves into greatness”.
We can usually show a new client results in one month with correctly placed ads. Search engines remain one of the best tools for conducting campaigns in 30-day intervals while still having opportunities to tweak inside the same period. Moreover, it is a lot of fun! Good Hunting.