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Category Archive: Values/Ethics in Business

What Does It Mean to Create Demand?

The beauty of #kaizenblog is how people engage with ideas. Sometimes an idea bubbles up during the conversation and a topic becomes identified. This past week, the topic of “creating demand” was suggested. It came out of a side conversation about the perception of being “sales-y” or pushy. Interestingly, there was a post by Mairead Kelly on Bloggertone along this same theme.

Sales and creating demandCreating Demand=Smarmy, pushy sales style?

I hear this dilemma from the micro-small businesses. They worry that they are lacking integrity if they ask someone for their business. One of the questions that really muddies the sales message is the offer to “help.” Okay, maybe it’s me and I’m supposed to assume that the help being offered has a price tag. However, it just feels like a mixed message. Are you offering your help or are you selling to me?

Creating demand is about creating want?

Apple has a way of making people want their gadgets. How many iPhones, iPads and iPods do you see in a given day? Do we need these things? Nope but we want them. Without the resources and mythology of Apple, sole proprietors and other small business owners have to discover other ways to get people curious and wanting what they offer. Some people will tell you that you have to develop a freemium (a product that has no cost like a white  paper, podcast or video that you give away). Other advice will tell you that you have to engage in social media or use public speaking to communicate with your customer. Other people will recommend that you research a market and develop a product or service that acts as an aspirin. Then there is always ploys like “limited time offer” or “only X allowed per customer”. Do you follow this person’s advice?

Swirling emotions, whirling thoughts

Between the distaste and worry that you might sound like a cheesy, stereotypical salesperson and which tools to choose from, it is easy to wonder about the process of creating demand. Clearly, you need customers or you don’t have a business. You’ve put a lot of thought into what you offer and it does provide a valuable solution.

But is creating demand really a cynical exercise that business owners must do? Or is it something else entirely?

*Join us for the Twitter chat, #kaizenblog, as we discuss “Creating Demand: Selling To People or Cynical Exercise?” this Friday at 12pm ET/5pm GMT/9am PT

 

 

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Women In Biz-Do We Limit Ourselves?

Women in BizThis post started from a Twitter conversation with Margie Clayman and Caroline Di Diego about a post written by Carol Roth titled “At the Business Table, Where Are the Ladies?”. In this post, Roth talked about how there are so many men who are acknowledged as experts and gurus in their fields while there are very few women represented in the same way. But if you were to test yourself, which women come to mind with equal stature. They are out there! Are you familiar with Liz Strauss, Aliza Sherman, Valeria Maltoni or Lisa Petrilli? These women are just a few of the many out there doing great work that is changing the world. Margie Clayman followed up with her own post, “Women Don’t Want a League of Our Own” and asked how separate but equal can still exist in the 21st century business world?

I suppose I should add my disclaimer here…I have mixed feelings about women-centered business groups and intiatives. I think it’s only fair that you know this from the start. No, I don’t think they are completely bad or wrong. And…if your business focuses on women, then it would be ridiculous to eliminate them from your marketing plan. Just so you know, my feelings come from participating in women-centered business groups as a member and leader.

So how does separating the women in business from the men in business limit growth? This is where my mixed feelings are most apparent. For some of us, we need a place to begin that seems safe to test our ideas and ourselves. A lot of women seek a place where they believe it is acceptable to discuss business and personal life seamlessly. And that’s fine for a start but this cannot be the stopping point.

It’s not that women should not have these groups. In my small business coaching, my question is not “what are you doing?” but “why are you doing that?” Most groups have their merits and women can find these valuable places for ideas, connections and encouragement. So join NAWBO, NAFE, attend women-centered business conferences or blog on a women-only business site. Use these groups as a springboard to where you envision your business is going. But there are some things to consider if you make this your only focus.

  • It makes women invisible. Did you know there is a TED talk for women? What are they talking about? There are important, world-changing ideas that are not being shared. As an example, funding for women entrepreneurs and their startups can be hard to find because venture capitalists don’t know the individual’s track history. Equity companies tend to invest in people they already know.
  • It keeps women off the hook. For a number of women, staying separate from the men in business allows them to not stretch beyond their comfort zone. Getting into the elite business thinkers means risking rejection and learning to manage a multitude of personalities. It also means we don’t learn more sophisticated philosphies or business practices. Could you be elite material but playing it safe?
  • It allows cultural norms and sexism to continue. Separate has never been equal. Are we minimizing someone’s talent because she built a successful skincare company or has a chain of assisted-living facilities? There can be the perception that someone is pushy because she simply asked for a sale. If there is still a message that “nice girls do not (fill in the blank), are we missing out on socially acceptable behaviors that will transform our businesses? Having different rules for each gender in the business world stifles innovation and competition.

What do you think? I could very well be off base. My experience is certainly not the be-all, end-all of what is possible. Men don’t have a monopoly on the best way to do anything in business. They have good ideas and women have good ideas. What if we had a fuller conversation? According to research, businesses who have women in high-level decision-making positions (c-level, board of directors) tend to perform better than businesses who have main men in these positions. 

I’m not saying eliminate all of the women-centered business initiatives. Many of them serve important functions (e.g. Make Mine a Million). I merely ask one question…

Why do (some) women in business keep themselves separate?

 

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Business, War and Language

The recent horrible shooting in Tucson, Arizona and the subsequent questions asked by the media and public figures about language got me thinking about the words we use in our business conversatioBusiness, war and languagens. There are so many analogies and words we use to describe the competitive nature of business. There is a segment of business who see the practice of planning and strategizing as if they are planning to go to war with their competitors.

Is this true for small business? Is it really true for any size business? Let’s be very clear…if you are in business, you are in competition with someone. In some industries, this competition is fierce and other companies will exploit any weakness you may have. But is this war?

War includes carnage and destruction. Read books like On Killing by Dave Grossman or All Quiet On the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque to get a better picture of what war entails. When you talk about your market or your competitors, are you seeking to destroy them or just beat them? Leaving a trail of destruction seems to be antithetical to running an ethical business. Yes, I know not everyone has the same value system but destruction? This is a desired result?

Language makes a difference. Take for example, the word, target. If you look at most of the definitions for this word, it involves something to aim a weapon at or hunting something or someone. We often describe our most ideal clients as our target market. Are we really hunting them? Are we aiming and shooting something at them? Even the word, strategy, has military connotations primarily. So, if you are considering that business is really some masked war we wage upon each other, then the way you will implement your business plan is a series of attacks on your competitors and preferred clients.

There is a growing movement within business that is seeking an alternative. Instead of targeting their ideal customer as a form of prey, businesses are seeking to develop relationships. Recent sales training adaptations focus on listening to your prospect and answering their concerns. Even some businesses are seeking collaborative relationships (not mergers) with their colleagues. Dan Pink in Drive and his other work focuses on our desires for autonomy, meaning and purpose. Seth Godin is encouraging us to start our own Tribe. People are not willing to tolerate the old way of “command and control type” of leadership in business organizations. This style is  necessary in military organizations but they have a completely different mission than a business.

Language matters. I talk about this a lot and I have focused mainly on how we talk to ourselves. However, it is time to  think about how we talk about our businesses, our goals, how we want to achieve them and our competitors overall. What would happen if you changed your use of “target market” to “desired market”? Pay attention to how you talk about the position of your business, your competitors and your customers. Is your lanaguge action-oriented in a combative way or a competitive way? Are there words worth keeping?

There is nothing wrong with being highly competitive! If you want your business to be successful, it is important to get into action and work hard using highly effective practices and the best technology you can afford. Maybe it’s more of the idea of “playing hard and playing to win.” The trouble with taking a combative stance with your competitors and your customers is that you bring that style into every aspect of your life. Being on guard becomes a habit in speech and behavior.

What words do you find in your business vocabulary?

What happens if we reject the “business is war mentality” and think about competition in a different way?

 

 

 

 

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Business, Gratitude and What Is In Your Heart

With the impending US holiday celebration Gratitude and Thanksgivingof Thanksgiving, I wondered what we might say about gratitude. Usually at this point in the week, I’m making sure the final pieces are in place for the Twitter chat, #kaizenblog. However, this week we’re not doing our usual chat but it would never do to just cancel everything. So, #kaizenblog community and all of my readers, please help me write this post.

With the end of the year coming up, it seemed a good time to stop and notice who or what made a difference to us this year. Who would you thank? And why? What delights you in your work, in your life? What makes you feel grateful?

Gratitude is an extraordinary emotion. It can be liberating, energizing and calming. We just don’t spend enough time noticing what is good, no, wonderful in our businesses and lives. No matter what is happening around us, there is usually something right in front of us that gives us our motivation, momentum and reasons to remain optimistic. My friend, Caroline (whose energy and support make me smile) pointed me to this post about feeling grateful for imagination, creativity and flow. How many of us notice these qualities? And yet, we are surrounded by the expression when we see innovative products or applications or even just relish how we provide something valuable to our customers. People are doing extraordinary things everywhere. Some of these things are big and change lives on a grand scale. Some of these things are small and change lives incrementally. The size of your contribution doesn’t matter. Everything counts!

For me, I’m noticing so many of the gifts I’ve received because of my business. While there is much in my personal life that I feel grateful for, it is in keeping with this blog and with #kaizenblog to keep our focus on business. If you are not familiar with this Twitter chat, I host a chat that takes the concept of “kaizen” which is the idea of continual improvement and all aspects of business to apply critical thinking, reflection and action. No matter if you participate in the #kaizenblog chat or not, take a moment with me to consider what 2010 presented to you. What do you most appreciate?

As I think of all the things that are going well in my business, it all comes back to people. There are so many people this year who have helped and inspired me. I thought for a moment of listing them but the list got very long so I’m going to have to do quite a few of those “People You Should Know” type of posts. From people who advised me while my site was re-designed to joining the Twitter chat as c0-host (and now host) to my mastermind group, the gifts of friendship, expertise and mentorship are priceless.

So, this is my feeble attempt to notice how I’ve been blessed this year.

  • My clients– These small business owners are just terrific people who are making the transition to a CEO-type role in their businesses. Their small businesses are growing in revenues and hiring people. My clients are deepening how well they manage their anxieties, communicate their expectations and aspirations as well as putting into practice all they’ve ever imagined their businesses could be. It is a privilege to coach them.
  • #kaizenblog-This Twitter chat has allowed me to engage with fascinating people on a weekly basis as well as ideas that illuminate various aspects of business. It brings me such joy when I read tweets going back and forth about a topic and none of them are directed to me. It’s thrilling to see a community forming! (Thanks, Valeria, for taking a chance on me!) Also a special thanks to Mary Ann Halford and Amber Cleveland for their help with Kaizen Act. You made our inaugural off-line conversation run so smoothly! Hats off!
  • Bloggertone-If you haven’t read a post from this site, you are missing out on valuable advice and ideas about running a small business as well as a warm community who love  a good conversation. Writing posts for this an up and coming resource is a fun and inspires me to write higher quality posts.
  • Mentors-Various people over the year have given me a wealth of wisdom about designing my site, engaging in social media and other ways I can provide additional and better service to my clients. Each conversation with people like John Reddish, Tom Gray and my mastermind group encourage me to improve and deepen how I show up as a coach and as a business owner.
  • Readers of this blog- I know you spend time reading my posts even if there are not a lot of comments. Thank you for your time, attention and feedback.

This is just the beginning of my list and perhaps I didn’t quite express everything adequately. Underpinning every one of the bullet points are people and their generosity. Who and what are on your list?

I invite all of you to share what is abundant in your life this year.

What are you grateful for?

 

 

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Is It So Hard To Be Kind? #kaizenblog recap

Kindness and human engagementWhy are we so surprised when we are treated with kindness? Ever since last Friday’s #kaizenblog chat, I’ve been thinking how sad it is that we are so moved by being treated with consideration and compassion by someone, particularly when we’re in a business environment. What gives?

We posed this as a discussion topic for the #kaizenblog community and what a conversation! Since we have some new members to the Twitter chat, #kaizenblog, it makes sense to explain in more than 14o characters what this chat is about. Valeria Maltoni (co-host and founder of the chat) explains the premise with this post. Continual improvement is a hallmark of successful business leaders and participants are encouraged to use “kaizen” in their business and/or work with the ideas explored in this chat.

It’s not always an easy process to use “kaizen” in one’s work since it requires one to be honest in asking tough questions and stay with the process. Staying with the process means acting on what one learns in every moment and not stopping just for the results. There is more to learn, to deepen one’s wisdom, knowledge and ability.

She wrote,

“Continuous improvement can be in the content and presentation, but also in the interaction – your ability to become more natural and conversational in tone. Take cues from the experience of being exposed to relationships with ideas and people on a consistent basis to observe and learn.”

Since the interaction is such a key piece to why #kaizenblog works as a conversation starter and thought provoker, this recap attempts to capture some of the ideas expressed by the participants.

That quote seemed so in keeping with the theme of kindness. The conversation starter with this was a post on the HBR blog iste by Bill Taylor (@practicallyrad) titled, “Why Is It So Hard To Be Kind?”. The focus was kindness in the business arena. There are some who would say that kindness doesn’t really have a place in business. Others argue that it is essential to smooth internal operations as well as good customer service. Are either of these true? See what everyone had to say in the transcript ****

We started off the conversation by asking, How is kindness or empathy viewed in the business world? This definitely produced a flurry of responses.

  • Amber Cleveland “A1: I think generally speaking (not my POV) that ppl take kindness as a weakness in business, when in reality it’s an asset”
  • Parissa Behnia “Q1 Often mistaken for being slow. gives impression that people can take advantage. however, giving to get always works”
  • Chanelle Scheider “From conversations I’ve had with others, they question (my) kindness and empathy. See it as ploy to get sales”
  • Sian Phillip “Kindness goes a lot further than being hard I believe. Treat others as you wish to be treated in everything”
  • Cathy Larkin “Q1 Kindness in business takes time, so many biz don’t take that step, but as saying goes – shortcuts=missed oppty”
  • Laura Crum  “kindness brings people back again and again. Hardness may get initial issue resolved”
  • Judi Yi “When one is secure/strong, easy to be kind. There is no mistaken notion that to give is to ‘lose’ rather than ‘expand’ “

The responses seemed to point more to how people let their insecurities run the business as well as how beliefs can be taken as norms. Is that what we’re really left with? Or perhaps doing business with a customer is always a win/lose proposition?

This seem to be a good segue into the second discussion question, Is it really a failure of the organizational culture or personal value system? Isaac Duke was pretty succinct with his response, “It’s both.” Other responses were either sure it was one or other. Do circumstances affect which values we choose to follow?

  • Joe Sanchez “If orgs/enterprises want 2 make kindness a “real asset,” it needs 2b embodied in “Values” & perpetuated via #storytelling”
  • Parissa Behnia “It’s both. org culture influences personal values and vice versa. chicken and egg problem”
  • Cathy Larkin “I could be wrong, but wonder if, in US culture, it goes bk to our “Protestant work ethic” founding”
  • Laura Crum “It’s a failure of personal values to influence org culture”
  • Bruno Coelho “When top management doesn’t support the customer focus attitude, then employee focus then turns to boss”
  • Judy Yi ” ‘Authority to be nice?’ Respect, consideration, empathy…these do not require Supervisor Approval, no?”

There was an interesting side thread about the movie “Up In the Air” and how firing can be held in a respectful and kind way. This is certainly a minefield if you have ever experienced it in a managerial role. How do you tell someone they don’t fit the organization?

Another side thread was the role of leadership and kindness. There were some very strong opinions about how leaders should demonstrate the organization’s commitment to kindness in customer relationships and employee relationships. Worth reading! Deb Ellis said “The kindest way to fire someone is to do it quickly w/ a clear explanation of the issues that lead to it” What do you believe a leader and/or manager should exhibit in terms of kindness or empathy? Does gender matter and if so, how?

There was another side thread about how money, kindness and our beliefs about both are intertwined. Do our emotions and beliefs restrict our ability to be kind or empathic?

Our last discussion question, How are we really creating a world in which we devalue human engagement? There were lots of responses to this question that debated whether things were devolving or evolving.

  • Patrick Prothe “Re Q3 – Via automation, depersonalization, focus on numbers over ppl. And the harder co’s try to rebound, the worse the cycle. Re: Q3 – But I think the pendulum may be swinging back a bit as many business forced to get more social, local and focused”
  • Debra Willis “by not pausing enough long enough to listen or think abt how what we do affects other”
  • Isaac Duke “A3-we naturally devalue hum engagement. Look at toddlrs. Biz helps us reverse that. Ppl don’t buy from us when we dnt share”
  • Amber Cleveland: “A3. we are not devaluing human engagement, I think values are being amplified using SM. Paradigm shift”
  • John Cloonan: “Look at current social media trends, they’re moving away from automation and towards engagement”
  • Judy Yi: “Q3: the sheer SCALE of business today emphasizes margins, but the tipping point is near: differentiation is human”
  • Bruno Coelho: “As technology use and reach increases, the value of analog human interactions also increases”

There seemed to be more optimistic views of how kindness, indeed more genuine and positive human engagement is on the rise. While there may be some preliminary research questioning whether narcissism is on the ascendant and empathy on the decendant , it is unclear how this is being manifested. Actually, is it even being manifested at all?

What really defines human engagement?

How could an organization interact with individual people?

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Limiting Beliefs, Spirituality and Business Growth

Could your religious or spiritual beliefs limit your business growth? This past week, this came up in a session with a client. Recently I’ve written about how ethnicity, nationality or family beliefs affect how we lead and grow our businesses here and here. It’s a common theme in my coaching  with small business owners, particularly when they are about to transform their businesses. Fear makes us tell ourselves some crazy stories that somehow don’t sound crazy in our heads.

That’s really the trigger though, isn’t it? It’s the same for me too. Writing this post feels risky because I’m bringing up one of the “no-no’s” of conversation. I’ve got a story wandering around my head about how you’re not supposed to talk about religion or spirituality if you want to be taken seriously in business.

We all have stories in our heads about what we think is appropriate. We cloak our self-limiting beliefs in a lot of guises. Some of us have gender stories like “nice girls do…” or “a real man does…” Some of us have stories that have class distinctions about what “real” work is and what it means to be rich, poor, or middle class. These get activated when we set a goal that brings us closer to our heart’s desirSpirituality and businesse.

But what about our spiritual or religious beliefs? What role do they play? This is powerful stuff! There is something primal about the struggle between good and evil and the search for transcendence. If you couple these beliefs with messages that you are not good enough, a fraud, or undeserving, it’s hard to differentiate the intersection between your limiting beliefs and your spiritual beliefs. A lot of the clients I work with have a Christian background so I hear themes that center on being poor is closer to God or that one must atone for mistakes forever. My clients who practice Buddhism often describe a separation between their spiritual practice and the day-to-day operations of their small businesses. It almost sounds like their awareness shuts off in the business arena.

So, where is the “Truth”? It’s not in marrying your anxious thoughts and feelings with your spiritual beliefs. It’s not even  in compartmentalizing when and where you act on your spiritual beliefs. Many spiritual practices encourage compassion. This is also found in Humanism, New Age and pagan traditions. Some, including Christianity and Buddhism, teach one to be detached from egotistical wants and desires. What keeps us from extending these gifts to ourselves? Bottom line, we’re afraid of what we truly are.

We waste a lot of energy and time worrying. It’s human to feel scared when you decide to up your revenues to six figures or (gasp) seven or higher. It’s human to feel scared about offering your customer new products or services that will change your business model. And it’s human to feel scared about taking on the mantle of industry leader. It’s no big surprise that it’s also human to find excuses and reasons why we can’t fulfill our mission that thrilled us so when we wrote our executive summary.

Do we have to go public with our beliefs? That’s the ego again, right? It’s less about the public expression and more about the inner process that advises how we lead our businesses. See, religious or spiritual practices don’t limit business growth unless you’re thinking of doing something unethical. The answer is pretty clear there. Most people aren’t going to turn into players. We think we will but we won’t. That’s the fear telling a story again so we don’t take action. Most of us are decent, hardworking people seeking to make the world a better place. We just need to stop and rethink our theology or spiritual paradigm. The Universe, Source, God, or however you name that Energy that is so profound is there to sustain, encourage and challenge us to be the best people we can be. That’s it.

Imagine what would happen if we let go of our fear…

 

 

 

 

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Could You Be a Good E.G.G.?

Good E.G.G.sSuccess…why does this word intimidate so many people? I’ve been reading Secrets of the Millionaire Mind: Mastering the Inner Game of Wealth by T. Harv Eker. This book was recommended to me by so many people, I figured I’d take a look at it. Other than Eker’s repeated reminders to attend his intensive seminar, his material reminds me a lot of Barbara Stanny’s work. Both of them start at the same place.

Your head and your heart.

Success is a remarkable experience and yet also very personal. There are so many beliefs about success.  How much is appropriate? What is acceptable to say about one’s level of success? In my work with E.G.G.’s (entrepreneurial small business owners and freelancers) there is usually a discussion about specific revenue goals. Inevitably, we run into some interesting ideas about what would happen if they became successful. Maybe some of these sound familiar to you?

  • Money is not important
  • I’ll become like Gordon Gekko
  • It’s too much work
  • My family and friends will stop loving me

TrollIn a nutshell, are you saying you are going to become some kind of ugly, greedy monster? That is usually the implication. If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you know I’m not a big fan of the Law of Atraction. You’re not going to become some kind of negative magnet if you feel doubt or anxiety about choosing to become successful. However, there is some value in the Law of Attraction mindset that is worth considering.

Success is a choice. So is ditching your value system. When we recognize that we want something other than what our parents, our friends, our teachers or even our national culture tells us is appropriate, we feel the trepidation that comes with rejecting the status quo. We tell ourselves stories and some of these stories are sad and scary because they reflect our fears. When we believe these stories, we act as if  they are true and so we make them real.

A good E.G.G. knows it’s just a story. These negative stories simply give us a way to act so we can keep ourselves down and unsuccessful. This doesn’t mean you are necessarily a failure. For example, you might have a business where making $100,000 is your comfort zone. There are very few who would think that’s failure. But you could be telling youself a story that it’s not safe to make $250,000 or $1,000,000.

And yet,there is another story the good E.G.G. wants to tell and the plotline is spectacular! The main character, You, sees some way to contribute to making the world a better place and founds a small business. The drama unfolds as You set the goals and achieve the results you desire. Maybe it’s providing yourself and/or your family with security, financial freedom, or the adventures of travel. Maybe it’s providing your wealth management expertise so no one has to face retirement as the desperate old woman or man trying to pay for everything out of  your Social Security or old age pension checks. Maybe you’ve got the way to bring consistent trade and prosperity to Africa.

It all goes back to how you think and feel about success. What’s your E.G.G. story?

*I invite you to take a look at the How To Be an E.G.G.™ program and see if it would help you and your business design a different type of success story , greater clarity about yourself, and walk away with a basic business plan that fits your business. This is the last time I’m offering it as an 8-week teleseminar series so take advantage of the Early Bird price that expires on Thursday, September 30,2010. You can learn more about this quick, energizing booster of  a program by going to www.abilitysuccessgrowth.com/how-to-be-an-egg/ I look forward to meeting you and learning more about your business!

 

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Community Building Through the Art of Connecting-#kaizenblog recap

Connection and Building CommunityThere are just some people who seem to know everybody. Maybe they’ve been in their industry a long time. Maybe they are “collectors”. Maybe even both. What are “collectors”? They are people who have mastered the art of connecting and they meet people and add them to their network in a meaningful way. They just seem to know that this person will fit in somehow.

Inspiring connector as well as co-host and founder of the Twitter chat, #kaizenblog, Valeria Maltoni led the way with this conversation. As usual, there are a lot of great contributions from everyone in the conversation and you may want to look that the transcript here Transcript for #kaizenblog – CommunityBldgConnection There was an interesting side conversation started by Yann Ropars (@yannr) about makes a good community leader. Definitely worth checking out!

Maltoni started the conversation on her site with the post, “Why Believing is the Most Important Thing You Can Do” By using her experiences with others, she illustrated how making true connections with another person leads to expanding one’s understanding of the world and thus, leads to opportunities for each of us. These opportunities could be for personal growth, philanthropy, or even business. But…it starts with the connection with another person.

What makes connecting important to you? Responses seem to center on how connecting with another human being is central.

  • Stephen Denny (@Note_To_CMO) ” ‘Satisficing‘ –  we look for shortcuts because we’re busy. Connections are shortcuts.”
  • AngelaDunn (@blogbrevity) “Q1 I find inspiration from connecting others, finding synergies between people & ideas”
  • Amy Blake (@BlakeGroup) “IMO, one aspect of being human means wanting to connect , in biz + life”
  • Bruno Coehlo (@bcoehlo2000) “In an Era of mass cold communication, warm human interaction has become even more important!”
  • Patrick Prothe (@pprothe) “Forming meaningful, relationships/Rising above superficiality”
  • Bernd Nurnberger (@CoCreatr) “learning, helping, exchange, trust, trade – make connection important to me”

Maltoni summed it up, “Shared interests, emotional investments are the fuel that makes connecting work!” Many of the comments followed this theme. It may be that we spend a lot of time in the online world but that hasn’t changed our need and desire to deepen the relationship with those we meet.

How do we help others succeed? The interesting piece is that truly connecting opens us up to want more for others. Sure, we start relationships wondering about what the person may offer us. This can be as simple as an enjoyable conversation to a benefit for our business. However, when (and hopefully not if) you move past that initial stage, you begin to want something for the other person. What do you have at your disposal that could be helpful?

  • Caroline Di Diego (@CASUDI) “contributing/communicating U name it > OUTPUT = other 50%”
  • Yann Ropars “Be present and create meaningful space for participants”
  • Jerry Evans (@inspiredtrain) “Knowledge, sharing, empathy, sympathy, encouragement, leadership, clear strategies and policies”
  • Rob Petersen (@robpetersen) “Add show willingness to help, make connection in return to your list; could be long list”
  • Heidi Cohen (@heidicohen) “Consider what others need/want 1st”
  • Rick Alcantara (@jerseycoach) “Q2-You help others succeed by providing them with the ideas and tools to achieve/become something greater”
  • Amber Cleveland (@ambercleveland) “Connect others to success by listening to their goals and providing insight on how they can achieve them. Share yourself”

Helping others in an altruistic way seem to resonate very much with the #kaizenblog participants. There were several tweets that echoed deeply listening so you can hear what the person might need and/or want. Providing one’s insights and experience was another thing that people wanted to share to foster others’ success.

As she often does, Maltoni brought the conversation into an unexpected place with the third discusssion question. How to give power away? She clarified the question when she tweeted, “Q3 clarification = another way to let go of control.” Building community is less about the leader per se and more about how the group can gel and move as a unit. There were many ideas of how the leader could set the stage for enabling the community members to have power.

  • Amy Blake “Q3 This is where mentoring kicks in…sharing away power while maintaining direction.”
  • Lizzie Pauker (@lizziepauker) “Q3-power in numbers. motivation skyrockets when people feel greater purpose & satisfaction”
  • Namrata Rana (@futurechat) “Community is built by enabling, enthusing and empowering. This builds trust and a self fulfilling cycle of relationships”
  •  Cathy Larkin (@CathyWebSavvyPR) “Q3: Power is often tied to or tied up in Ego. Let that go. Earn trust, yes, but let ego go – & the energy & workflow grtr”
  • Joe Sanchez (@sanchezjb) “Q3 Power is not “given away.” It’s authority that’s delegated & while authority can b delegated, responsibility cannot”
  • Bruno Coehlo “Define clear & measurable goals. Praise good performance and redirect them when they go off track. Build leaders!”
  • Torrey McGraw (@torreymcgraw) “Q3 Don’t be afraid to be wrong as “expert”. Ask, listen & throw preconceptions out the window to achieve goals”
  • Lois Martin (@LoisMarketing) “Q3 Key is being open to new ideas, new voices, new perspectives”

So the conversation ended with an opportunity for everyone to turn the focus onto their own actions and how they build their own communities. What are 3 things you do regularly that help you build community? It was fascinating to see the myriad ways people engage with their communities.

  • Caroline Di Diego “I mentor small biz to be sustainable =help local community”
  • Diane Court (@dc2fla) “Q4 Ask questions, Listen, Recognize & appreciate contributions w/out judgement <= require my constant attention to improve”
  • Rick Alcantara “Q4: Send articles about interesting topics, mentor young professionals, connect my biz contacts with one another.”
  • Cathy Larkin “Q4 3 things 2 build commty: ID community needs, be the connector 2 help solve needs, be positive/upbeat”
  • Joe Sanchez “Q4: Engage (two-way comms w/ feedback), assess (how r we doing towards achieving our goals), recognize (reward/incentivize).”

This week’s #kaizenblog conversation had a lot of energy! For many of our participants, asking questions is a favored strategy to discover what community members are thinking, feeling, and doing. It seems, from this conversation, that egotism is  community killer. There were many references to managing one’s ego and insecurities as being important to having effective communication as well as understanding what needs and wants are present in the community. Writing this recap is part of how I help build the #kaizenblog community and it’s a pleasure to highlight both our regulars and our newer members.

How do you rate the importance of serving others to build communities?

What could this mean for your business/work?

What 3 things do you do regularly that helps you build community?

 

 

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Organizational Culture Lessons from Undercover Boss

Business and ValuesAfter reading Steve Tobak’s take on the reality television show, Undercover Boss, I got to thinking about what I observed. Larry O’Donnell is the president and COO of Waste Management and is clearly committed to making the corporate policies that match his value system. This topic comes up with every client I coach no matter if the client is a sole proprietor or the leader of a larger organization. There is a strong desire to match personal value systems with the vision and mission statements in their executive summaries. There has been a lot of discussion over the last few years about people seeking meaning and purpose in their work whether or not they found a business.

Throughout the episode, O’Donnell met people who challenged his perspective on what policies were supposed to support both the people and productivity. He discovered that tardiness was dealt in an unfair manner and that how people were monitored in the field felt more like spying. He also discovered that cost-cutting measures took its toll on employees who did their jobs very well nonetheless.

When was the last time you examined the policies that are supposed to make your business more effective? Even if you are a sole proprietor, it may be time to check any rules you have set up for yourself. Sometimes trying to get systems in place in an organization can have unintended effects which can undermine a leader’s value message of what’s important about he business.

I worked for a small agency several years ago that grew quickly due,, in no small part, to the welcoming and trusting natures of the two founders. When they found highly competent clinicians, they would invite them to join the staff and then trusted them to remain highly competent and ethical in the delivery of services. (Not all human service organizations treat their employees as intelligent, caring, or dedicated.) Finally they grew so big, they had to create an employee handbook to communicate their expectations clearly. For the “old-timers,” this felt a bit like a slap in the face because there was a written code of conduct and you had to sign that you had read the handbook. At the same time, new policies were put in place to make the paperwork easier on both the clinicians and the administrative staff. There was a lot of grumbling!

To explain why things had changed from an intimate, collegial group to a less intimate but still collegial group, the founders held staff meetings and answered questions and concerns. People left the meeting with the message that the founders were 1) running a business, 2) had to comply with state and federal laws and regulations, and 3) it was still important to them to communicate that they still cared and trusted their employees to maintain the high standards that were set from the beginning.

Like the two founders of the small agency I worked for and O’Donnell, it is easy to set up policies and expectations that sound good on paper but have different effects in real life. This is where scheduled evaluations support the growth and effectiveness of your business. Underlying these evaluations is the value that you and your employees are desirable parts of the business.

Try a little exercise: Write down your top 3 values on a sticky note and post it somewhere visible.

How are they the same as when you started your business?

What role do they play as you evaluate and set policies for the forward growth of your organization?

 

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Live in Lowell!

Many of you know I have become involved with The 12 For 12K Challenge. I’ve written about this organization and its founder, Danny Brown, before in previous posts.

All work and no play is never good for anyone’s small business! Here is what I’ve been up to with my12 for 12k partners, David Holliday and Matt Caruso…and hope to see you there!

Live In Lowell! For the December “Homeless” theme, the New England 12for12k team invite you to Live in Lowell! – a special 12for12k event. Live in Lowell! takes place on Thursday, December 10th and will be an evening of music, networking and fun in support of MA Coalition for the Homeless.

There will be live music all night with some of the coolest local musicians as well as raffles and auctions. Come listen to John Haydon, Flood, or the Bella Byrds and who knows who else might have a surprise set! All in all, a great opportunity to meet with other social media enthusiasts, support a great cause at a time of year they need the help and have a good time as well.

Our venue, The Mambo Grill, is right in Downtown Lowell, Mass – where the American Industrial Revolution was born. Lowell is easy to get to from all the main highways and there is parking on the street or in the garage just around the corner. Live in Lowell! At the Mambo Grill 129 Merrimack Street Lowell, MA 01852 December 10th, 2009 Starting at 7.00PM $10.00 donation (more if you like) at the door.

If you can’t make it to Lowell, we plan to stream the event live right here on the 12for12k site.

Please donate and any amount is deeply appreciated! Thank you!

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