BAPC6: Sit On Your Stoop

BAPC: Building a Professional Community

In the halcyon images of “communities” as presented to us by network television, especially prior to the advent of online media, there is this folksy image of people sitting on the front porches of their homes, saying hello to passers by, keeping a mindful eye out for lost dogs, kittens stuck in trees, truant children, neighborhood bullies and big bad strangers.  These days, most of us don’t have a front step, with a porch, and a swinging chair, or a neighborhood that would be receptive to “stoop sitting.”  We hide out in our backyards (if we have one), fenced in, hunched over our bbq’s and flower beds, and may not even know our neighbors, let alone who is a stranger in our neighborhoods. Or we dash through the lobby, up to our compartment, and lock the door behind us.

There is application here to how available we are, or how insulated/isolated we are as we seek to build our professional communities.  The majority of our professional lives, we are ‘at work, working” – who has time for stoop sitting?  We go out and “network” to make connections to further our business, but how do we turn those connections of commercial potential into a viable professional community – putting the “net” (as in safety) back in “network.”  Nobody wants to be known as, or become the shark in the community pool – for business relationships to be strong, there needs to be a sense of neighborly competitiveness – cause there is enough pie to go round, generally speaking – and you never know when you are going to be working for or working with someone with whom you have been in bloodthirsty bone-crushing competition in your industry segment.

So – make sure you sit on your stoop.  Don’t you want to know what’s going on out there?

Industry oldtimers – keep yourselves available to give a word of advice to the younger folk.  Share your insights on how the community has changed, but don’t get stuck in the past.  Actively welcome new folk to the block party – you always remember people who make you feel welcome.  Make sure your name tag or business card or social media profile says something more about you than name-title-company-contact if at all possible.  Be findable.  Introduce yourself – don’t expect people to know who you are.  Not everyone has been around this block as long as you have, and your legendary exploits may not have reached their ears yet.  But I bet someone will be willing to listen, if you give them a chance to get to know you.

Youngsters and newcomers, you get to listen a bit, talk some and learn a lot.  Show some respect, and have good manners.  Take a stroll down the aisle at the next After Business Mixer and see who’s out there that you can learn from (by building a relationship) not just who you can sell to.  Give credit where due, and don’t trample the flowers.   Get out there, on the street in the real world of client service delivery to see how it’s done in practice by the industry veterans who have survived the nitty gritty professional jungle, not just the ivory tower Pleasantville of theory, blogposts and podcasts.  Introduce yourself, and don’t take it personally if you aren’t remembered the second time you pass by their stoop.  That may mean you are less memorable than you think.  You can improve that.

Sitting on your stoop allows you to observe the changing world around you  - to see who’s moved in, moved out, moved on – share a cup of sugar with a neighbor in need, give directions to someone new.  It helps keep you informed, involved, and engaged in your professional community.   It keeps the neighborhood safe for everyone to explore, because people know that this community has vigilant residents who pay attention to what is going on around them.

And sometimes – just sitting back with a cold glass of lemonade and watching the world go by can be highly entertaining.

Next in the series – Plant flowers.

Enjoy the day,

Susan

BAPC 5 – Greet People

Let me share with you what I am learning:

A wise woman once told me – People don’t remember what you say as much as they remember how you made them feel.  The first step in making people feel good about their interaction with you takes place in the first part of every interaction they have with you.   While first impressions are “forever” you have opportunities to hit the reset button every time you interact with them.

Identify yourself on the phone.  I HATE it when I have to guess who is phoning me.  Don’t rely on call display or auditory memory to announce who you are when I answer the phone.  Give me your last name, if we don’t speak often, and you may even have to add your company name if we haven’t done business for a while.  Don’t make me guess, or fumble my way through the first few seconds and feel like a fool.  (and when you leave a phone message – say your name and number at least twice – once at the beginning and again at the end, so I have time to write it down – don’t make me hate you for wasting my time by replaying your message and trying to figure out what the string of numbers you rush through translates to as a phone number with area code!).

Identify yourself in person.  If we don’t know each other well, don’t count on me or anyone else remembering you AND your full name AND the company you work for AND your position.  I’d love to introduce you to the other people I’m talking to when you join our little conversational circle at a networking event – but not if I have to riffle through the mental rolodex while holding up my end of the conversation.  Help me help you connect to more people.  It doesn’t have to be an elevator pitch.  Maybe it is because of my perapatetic childhood, but I never assume people remember me.  ”Hi – Susan from Modern Earth” give you the opportunity to be GRACIOUS and say “Of course I remember you” and then I feel special.  Some people remember faces, not names. Help them out.  That in turn helps you.

Do Your Homework Part One.  Before you go to a netoworking event, check the website to become familiar with the names, and maybe even the faces of some of the principal people involved in the event, or the people you want to connect to.  You may want to check the Twitter stream or LinkedIn profile of people that you would like to connect to – to give you some conversation fodder for the “what do I say after I introduce myself” problem.

Do Your Homework Part Two.  A couple quick stories to make a point on the impact of greeting in two extreme situations.

At one point in my life, I was heavily involved in both activism and fundraising for a major health issue/charity.  A leading composer was also active in this area of philanthropy.  He visited my city to conduct our local symphony orchestra in the performance of his signature piece of music, and I was privileged to be invited to the reception, and to have the opportunity to meet him.  I’d been in the industry long enough to know that these “meet & greets” are most often perfunctory handshakes that can mean a great deal to the fan, and almost nothing to the Artist/Musician.  I had no expectations of anything beyond that kind of moment.

When it was my turn to meet him, he held out his hand, and he said, “Susan, it is a pleasure to meet you. Thank you for all the work you have done for <insert shared philanthropic endeavor>.  Without people like you doing <insert very specific details of my involvement>, we wouldn’t have made the difference we have so far.”  and then we had a brief but intense conversation about what needed to happen next, he thanked me again, hugged me, signed my cd, and moved on to the next person.  He obviously has a great staff, who prepared him well to  know who was in the room, why they were in the room, and how he could inspire people to stay passionate about the cause we were collectively working for.

Similarly, I have had the opportunity to work at several events where President Bill Clinton was the keynote speaker.  At the first event, as I approached the front door of the venue several hours in advance of the doors opening, so I could help with set up, I noticed a man in a black suit standing in the vestibule on the other side of the glass doors.  As I approached, he opened the door for me, greeted me by name, told me what room I was to report to, and then spoke to his wristwatch as I passed him to let the other Secret Service people know I was in the building.  I felt secure, and very intimidated at the same time.

Knowing who people are in the room helps you make better, more effective greetings.  Making sure you make people comfortable and extending your personal information so they don’t have to wonder who you are, or why you are talking to them.  Respond graciously when someone you know slightly / peripherally introduces themselves to let them know you remember them.

Work on direct but not overbearing eye contact, attentive listening and a good firm handshake plus questions that are open ended and get people talking about themselves (it isn’t all about you).  Make people feel good about your interaction, and they will remember you for creating a positive bubble of experience.  People like to work with people who make them feel good.  Make people want to work with you by greeting them with sincerity – congeniality – and professionalism.  Every. Single. Time.  (and always say hello, and especially goodbye/thank you to the receptionist. always.)

Next up in the series – Sit On Your Stoop

Enjoy the day,
Susan

3 Words for 2011 a la Chris Brogan & Friends

I’m jumping on Chris Brogan’s bandwagon and sailing out beyond the breakwater into 2011 with three words as navigational buoys to launch me into the new year, help me stay on course and avoid the rocks, and to keep the Good Ship Susan afloat during the inevitably turbulent seas of life in the year ahead.  You still need a compass whether the seas are smooth or rough.  (There’s also the lesson of the Plimsoll line – but that’s for another post on work life balance).

My three words are taken from a program I developed called “The Spiral of Life” – my team and I delivered a 4 day workshop in 2004 that took 40-some people through a progression of ideas that moved them to some deeper understanding of the interconnectedness and volatility of dynamic living and personal / professional success creation.  I personally think that was some of the best work I’ve ever done.

The three words for 2011 are “Thrive – Achieve – Believe”.   These terms are elements of the Spiral of Life mantra – which speaks to the states of being we move through in every aspect of our life – “Survive – Thrive – Break Free – Agree – Achieve – Believe – Live – Whole!”  Once I’m done my series on community building (to be resumed with gusto in 2011), I’ll be pushing and pulling these ideas as well, in terms of how they relate to community development.

THRIVE:  I will be healthier.  I will be more fiscally secure and prosperous, and manage my time and resources to do more / earn more.  I will choose engagement rather than solitude, community rather than hermitage, and collaboration over stagnation when I run into creative block.  I will strengthen my existing relationships, and create new ones that encourage me in achieving my potential.  I will have more fun.  I will remember to buy hyacinths.*

ACHIEVE:  I will set specific measurable attainable realistic and timely (SMART) goals for myself.  I will become an evangelist by example for the Cult of Done.  I will achieve my professional goals, as well as my personal development goals. I will get the band back together – or start a new band – but music returns to my world in 2011.  In ways big and small, some known publicly, some known only to myself and perhaps my nearest and dearest – I will achieve more – with joy – in balance – and that opens up Door #3, Monty …..

BELIEVE:  I believe in myself. (and some days, I believe I’ll have to fake it til I make it).  I believe in my loved ones and friends and nurture these relationships that add so much value to my life.  I believe in my superiors and subordinates – and believe that everyone comes to work every day with the intention of doing the best work they can.  I believe that I have something to say/write/share that provides value and encouragement to those who choose to / need to hear it/read it.  And … after an almost year long sabbatical, I will put my pointy hat back on, and return to the practice of my Spiritual Belief System – which is not what it was, but will be what it is.

So there you have it.  Three words.  Big Scary High Concept Words.  How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.  How will I integrate these three words into 2011? One day at a time.  That’s all I have to work with anyways – plan for the future, but do the work today.

I look forward to sharing the journey with you.  Let’s collaborate – collude – conspire – cocreate – integrate – resonate and do some great work and have some great times.

So – what are YOUR three words?  It’s only Day 2 of 2011 – and it’s still the weekend – so put your oar in the water and share your three words.  I’d love to hear them.

Enjoy the day,
Susan

*If of thy mortal goods thou art bereft,

And from thy slender store

Two loaves alone to thee are left,

Sell one, and with the dole

Buy hyacinths to feed thy soul.

Sadi

BAPC 4 – Look Up When Walking

As I explored in my more personal life post last January, there are two parts to this – 1) Look Up and 2) When Walking.  Once we learn how to do it (very early in life) walking becomes an automatic action – we don’t put any thought at all into the left foot – right foot thing unless we are marching in parade formation.  That’s a professional skill (keeping in synch with your team) that we all can improve on.

Do you know where you are going to?  Are you on a path or wandering aimlessly? Are you looking at the ground beneath your feet, focusing only on the next step, the task at hand, the imminent geography?  Would you be able to tell if you had a semi-truck headed straight for you? Or notice if you missed a fork in the road, or have started to angle your career into the ditch?  The best way to course-correct is ongoing small adjustments, rather than having to jump back from the edge of the precipice because you didn’t notice you were so perilously close to the edge of someone’s tolerance for your “one step forward, two steps back, three steps off the career track” shuffle.

It is possible to be far too focused on the “next moment” and lose sight of the near and distant future.  In that direction lies the box canyon – and not enough supplies to get back to the rest of the wagon train – and where the only way out is via dynamite (and that might not work out so well.)  We’ve all knows someone (or been the occasional someone) who paints themselves into a corner and can’t multi-task or overtime their way out of over-promising and under-delivering.  Similarly, not seeing what’s right in front of you can lead to stepping into the freshly laid cowpile of a situation that would have been so easily avoided if you’d just used your good old fashioned common sense(s). There will always be pooh on the path – and sometimes you can smell it before you see it or step in it.  Heads UP!

You can miss the signs – you can miss the opportunity to share the journey with others, you can lose sight of the forest for the trees, and the terrain for the potholes.  There’s no guarantee that the career path will be smooth,  but that’s no reason to turn back, or stop walking.  There is something to be said for “go with the flow, cause the flow knows where it is going” – see the dangers up ahead, and proactively plan to go around / over  / through them, rather than letting them sneak up on you and trip you up due to lack of vision about the bigger picture.

It’s all about balance – keeping an eye on the horizon, scanning the ditches for the sudden appearance of wildlife, seeing the signs, and judging the conditions of the cause-way.  Especially important to see and plan for detours early.  Watching out for the “other guy” on the road (both in a be careful and be helpful way).   Don’t assume there’s a disaster around the corner, but be prepared to pick up the pace or slow it down as needed.

Above all – looking up means being open to inspiration – to mentoring – to optimism – to see the vista ahead of you and learn from those who have gone before on this path.  Seek mentorship – and take it to heart – mentors who offer only encouragement and not chastisement are not worth their pay grade.  See the potential AND be aware of the limitations of those around you – you didn’t run a marathon the first day you learned to walk, and neither will they.  Lend a hand, tie a shoelace, try not to step on other people’s toes, and challenge someone to a quick sprint to see what you both are made of.  Our careers are a shared journey – with coworkers, customers, suppliers – so walk tall – walk proud – walk wisely and well.  Just walk forward, and if you stumble, just get up, look up and keep walking.

Got any good tales to tell about the professional walk you are on? Share them in the comments.

Next Up – Greet People (cause manners matter).

Enjoy the day!

BAPC 3: Know Your Neighbors

Neighbor: generally accepted definition – one who lives in close proximity to another.  To me, being a neighbor is an interaction – the basic principle of human and professional exchange that creates both relationships and economic growth.

In our professional lives, do we have neighbors?  We have clients or customers, we have competitors, we have teams/staff/workplace hierarchy of proximous desks (not the kind of neighboring I’m referring to).  We also have those who are part of our professional community, with whom we find ourselves in close proximity often.  You don’t have to see your neighbor every day – doesn’t change the fact that you look over the fence, and their house is still there. Still neighbors.  Still part of the business community in which we live.

To whom are we neighborly?  Neighborly-ness in business is usually called Networking.  This is where we recognize that we are part of a Business Community and that the health, wealth and safety of said community depends on us treating each other well.

Being a good professional neighbor means developing and earning a relationship of trust from the moment you move into the neighborhood.  It means pulling your weight and participating,  not just observing or only accessing resources without providing any.  It means awareness of who’s who and what’s what in the community – when to jump in – back off – lend a hand – make a donation – chop wood – carry water – and being aware of your impact on the whole, not just your own turf.

We are ALL networking to promote our business – that everything is about the principle of exchange – but there are ways to work together, and ways to be rude about it.  Good neighbors are considerate, helpful, sincere and caring – and they understand that what’s good for the neighborhood is what is good for everyone “in” that neighborhood.  And many good strong healthy business neighborhoods make for one incredible city with a thriving business climate and a strong culture of interconnectedness.  It’s a small town, this big city of ours, and everyone knows someone who knows you.

There are lots of places to get to know your professional neighbors (and yes, you have to leave your house).  Chamber of Commerce events, business networking groups, organizations like Toastmasters where you can develop skills and meet new people – it just takes a little effort and courage to go knock on a door and introduce yourself.  Get to know your neighbors.  Choose to be a good one.  Take an apple pie to the next new neighbor on your block – and keep your neighborhood safe – strong – and contribute to making it beautiful.  Take pride!

If you want to be my neighbor – connect to me on LinkedIn or follow me on Twitter @modernsusan – and let me know what you think of this post in the comments below.

Next up  - Look Up When You Are Walking – or as my boys Steven and Joe sing it to their neighbors in Run-DMC – “Walk This Way.”

BAPC – 2: Leave Your House

I know, it’s been a long stressful day, the phones have been ringing, email pouring in, and you’re tired – hungry – and just want to get home, get into something more comfortable than the dress-for-success wear you’ve been sweating in all day.  Feet up, beverage in hand, dinner in the oven, family and feline/canine companions nearby for conversation and cuddling – with some good music, a good book, a shiny magazine, or some television to make everything come back into balance.

What do you mean there’s a After Business Mixer at the Art Gallery?  A TweetyMeet at the local pub?  An awards banquet for a local philanthropic organization that you do volunteer work for?  There’s always something.  Something more to make demands on your time.  Sometimes it’s even a networking lunch “in the middle of my work day” – who wants to go to that?

You do.

Trust me.  While we may isolate our selves in the Cold Call Cubicle Empire, or the solitude of a home office (Starbucks),  we may need to get out more.  We need to get out in front of new people more.  We need to remember that building a professional community doesn’t mean limiting our circle of connections to those we already know, and it doesn’t mean only connecting to people through the magic of the Internet.

It means face time.  It means awkward social moments.  It means introducing yourself and starting conversations.  It means managing the balances in your life to include some “getting out there” time – at social, semi-social, or purely professionally focused events.  It means putting yourself forward in the physical realm as a real person who can demonstrate that you are as brilliant, knowledgeable, witty, insightful, and inspiring as your online profile might suggest.   People still want to connect to real people (like them!) to build their hopes and dreams, find partners to achieve their goals, create circles of trust, and ultimately, to help them understand themselves and where they fit within that larger circle of community.

Yes – I know.  You are shy.  I’m shy too.  Unless I’m running an event, I’m very uncomfortable in a crowd of people I don’t know.  So let’s find each other at the next “networking event” and be shy together.  Yes – I know – days are long, work is hard, and you’re tired.  Me too – but a couple hours a month to Link Up in person here there and at various other professionally toned events is what all the profile pic avatars and LinkedIn connections and Tweets are all about, isn’t it?

Don’t know where to go? Check out your local Chamber of Commerce, or join one of many Associations of Like-Minded Professionals (there are more organizations, Horatio, then you could have ever dreamed of).  Find a Hobby group.  Just get out there!  Put on your name tag – smile – extend a hand – make a connection.  In real time and space.  You never know when you will be the perfect answer to someone’s professional challenge du jour - or who might just buy you a drink and tell you a fascinating story and become a lifelong friend.

See you there.  Say hi.  I’m the shy one in the corner, but you’ll recognize me from my avatar.

Next up – Know Your Neighbors.  Tell me about the great networking groups or opportunities exist where you are – maybe you can help someone else out there connect!

LERNING in Chicago


Dan & Susan at LERN

I’ve just returned from attending the LERN Conference in Chicago, where Dan Belhassen and I were exhibitors for Modern Earth Web Design, and our subsidiary products and services such as greatBIGnews email marketing software.

I spend the majority of my time at the booth, meeting new people and some current clients – always a pleasure to finally meet the people I’ve been talking with by phone and email for years – one of the great benefits of conferences and trade shows is making those personal connections!

When Two Technology Geeks Meet ....

I did get to sit in on the presentation delivered by Gareth Mitchell from the BBC program “Digital Planet” who delivered an extremely interesting presentation on how technology is advancing and where it will increasingly touch our lives in the future.  He spoke about some of the same ideas that Dan and I were discussing over dinner the previous evening.  Great minds, right?  (follow Gareth on Twitter @garethm)

He and Dan had a brief chat afterwards – two highly animated men passionate about the same things in technology – their conversation was as delightful to listen to as the presentation itself!

It was a very worthwhile conference to attend, and the LERN team did a great job both for the exhibitors and the conference attendees.  Now the follow up work begins!

Trade Show Tips:  I bundled together our promotional literature with my business card and used our fabulous Modern Earth pens as the clip to hold it all together.  That made it easy to hand out information to those who were interested, with the bonus of a great pen.  Much better than leaving a bunch of pens out loose – this way I had the opportunity to interact with everyone and talk about what we could do for them.

Got any tips or tricks for effective trade show participation?

Enjoy the day!

Building a Professional Community (BAPC – 1) – Turn Off Your TV

In our private lives, turning off the tv is easy – a little intestinal fortitude and a thumb on the power button, followed by a flick of the power bar switch to turn off the phantom power suckage.  But what does it mean to me in the professional realm?

To me, regularly scheduled network and cable television is all about:

  1. imposing a schedule on my time – less so with time shifting
  2. bombarding me with endlessly repetitive marketing messages that tell me what’s good – better – best
  3. artificial comedy (kill the laugh track), overactive drama (life = soap opera) and the lowest common denominator of humanity (reality tv)

To build professional community, we need to be in control of our time – and schedule for the events that are meaningful – whether they are personal or professional (and the line between the two is increasingly blurred).  A successful professional is rarely a couch potato, slave to the remote control.  Nothing wrong with watching your favourite programs (in real time or via time-shifting) – but I hate it when I hear things like “I can’t attend the <insert professional networking event here> because that’s the night I watch Survivor.  That get’s you voted off my island.

There are sales and marketing geniuses out there that believe we should “Always Be Selling” – but building professional community is about more than the pure commerce of business.  The word community implies a sharing of knowledge, a flowing of resources, a fairness of exchange, and compassion for each other as human beings.  It is more important to be interesting than to be aggressive.  Hve your elevator pitch ready, but make sure you more to say to another human being than your 30 seconds of blatant self promotion.  When I meet you, I want to know “What’s in it for ME” – not “What’s in it for YOU” – and I hope you feel the same way.  We can then meet in the middle and discover what new and exciting ideas can be developed as we determine “What’s in it for BOTH OF US.”

Personally, I hate programs that exploit the foibles and weaknesses of people – I think that slapstick is a form of bullying, and that low comedy deprives us of compassion.  Similarly, I have friends who act like they are starring characters in “As the Stomach Turns” – their emotional response is so immediate, dramatic, over the top – to life’s everyday frictions and frissions that honest open hearted relationships become fragile things.  Reality TV makes survival an adversarial pursuit.  While I believe in healthy competition, I don’t believe that the only way to get ahead is at the expense of others.  I’ve met sociopaths, and I don’t like them.

So turn off the tv, and the bad social behavior it inspires and endorses.  Be more interesting than what you watch.  Bring more to the table than decisions determined by how many commercials and infomercials you watch – do your own market research and don’t believe the hype.

Next BAPC Topic: Leave Your House (ooooh….. scarey).  Tell me what you think so far.

Enjoy the day,

Susan

Creating a Professional Community

“Community” is such a buzzword these days – at so many levels of our lives.  We live in concentric and overlapping circle of community- Venn diagrams ad infinitum make up the ever moving borders of the communities in which we live, work, play, love, worship, share, and hopefully truly “commune” – a word with many meanings, but the one I like best is a fragment of a scientific definition – “An interrelated and interdependent assemblage.”

Some time ago, in my original blog “Where I Am, Knitting is Also” – I had started a series of memes on community – referring primarily to spiritual and highly personal and intentional community building.  I need to decide if I should continue that series here – the early posts have been duplicated in my blog archives if you want to check them out  -  you’ll find them under the “Communitas” category.  (Communitas: the essence or spirit of community)

In recent months, my “partner in tech” and I have been having dynamic lunch-hour conversations on the “care and feeding of professional community” – with a strong focus on the clustering of people of like mind, similar ideas and congruent/divergent thought on the ephemeral platforms called “social media”.

In my Meme series, I had been inspired by posters that you often find in stores like Ten Thousand Villages – that give a laundry list of instructions of  ”how to build community” at the local and global levels.  I think it might be interesting to apply those same “guidelines” to the creation of intentional and accidental professional communities.  Let me know what you think, whether or not I should continue to explore the core ideas of the original highly personal series as well (you’ll learn a lot about me –  and please give me feedback on the new series that will be of much more interest to others who work in Social Media, Online Marketing, and all that new fangled technology stuff.   These you will find under the “ModernSusan” category.

By means of building the framework – here’s the original laundry list of instructions.

How To Build Community:
Turn off your TV –  Leave your house - Know your neighbors - Look up when you are walking - Greet people - Sit on your stoop - Plant flowers - Use your library - Play together - Buy from local merchants - Share what you have - Help a lost dog - Take children to the park - Garden together - Support neighborhood schools - Fix it even if you didn’t break it - Have pot lucks - Honor elders - Pick up litter - Read stories aloud - Dance in the street - Talk to the mail carrier - Listen to the birds - Put up a swing – Help carry something heavy - Barter for your goods - Start a tradition - Ask a question - Hire young people for odd jobs - Organize a block party - Bake extra and share - Ask for help when you need it - Open your shades - Sing together - Share your skills - Take back the night - Turn up the music - Turn down the music - Listen before you react to anger - Mediate a conflict - Seek to understand - Learn from new and uncomfortable angles - Know that no one is silent though many are not heard. Work to change this.

How To Build Global Community:
Think of no one as “them” – Don’t confuse your comfort with your safety - Talk to strangers - Imagine other cultures through their poetry and novels - Listen to music you don’t understand & Dance to it - Act locally -  Notice the workings of power and privilege in your culture - Question consumption - Know how your lettuce and coffee are grown: wake up and smell the exploitation - Look for fair trade and union labels -  help build economies from the bottom up - Acquire few needs - Learn a second (or third) language - Visit people, places and cultures — not tourist attractions - Learn people’s history - Re-define progress - Know physical and political geography - Play games from other cultures - Watch films with subtitles  - Know your heritage - Honor everyone’s holidays - Look at the moon and imagine someone else, somewhere else, looking at it too - Read the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights - Understand the global economy in terms of people, land and water - Know where your bank banks -  Never believe you have a right to anyone else’s resources  - Refuse to wear corporate logos: defy corporate domination  - Question military/corporate connections - Don’t confuse money with wealth, or time with money - Have a pen/email pal - Honor indigenous cultures - Judge governance by how well it meets all people’s needs - Be sceptical about what you read - Eat adventurously - Enjoy vegetables, beans and grains in your diet  - Choose curiosity over certainty - know where your water comes from and where your wastes go - Pledge allegiance to the earth: question nationalism - Think South, Central and North — there are many Americans - Assume that many others share your dreams - Know that no one is silent though many are not heard. Work to change this.

We begin (again).

Enjoy the day!

Speaking at the YMCA (Self Employment Program)

It has been my great pleasure to be added as a trainer at the Winnipeg YMYWCA Self Employment Program.  I visit their offices at Portage and Vaughan several times a year and speak to their program participants – people who are learning how to open and run their own businesses – brave souls who are taking great pride in becoming entrepreneurs and blazing new trails in the Manitoba economy.

The diversity of business ideas that each group represents is truly impressive – and they are being taught how to succeed.  I speak about “Marketing Your Business Online” – a 2.5 hour marathon session that touches on websites, social media, analytics, PPC advertising and answering as many questions as I possibly can to help these budding business folk get started on the right online foot.  It’s a blast!

This week is Small Business Week in Canada, and I was honored to be invited as the keynote speaker at the luncheon that the YMYWCA SEP hosts for program participants.   My topic was “Google is the New Yellow Pages” – and I covered four key points in less than the 15 minutes alloted to me.  Here’s the gist of it:

  1. The way we do business online – and the way our businesses are seen online has fundamentally changed, and there is no going back.  If you aren’t willing to commit to a certain level of connectivity with your online audience – you will be missing some of the potential that the web can offer you.  Google is the game-changer.
  2. If your website is built – and maintained – with the best interests of your customer /client in mind – then Google will be your friend.  There is no way to buy yourself the #1 ranking – you have to earn it – largely through client-focused content that invites conversation and conversion.  And by the way – you don’t own your brand.  People are already talking about you and shaping your brand online.
  3. Social media without strategy is just noise.  Find the platforms that make sense, and use them wisely.  Make them part of your marketing mix.  Don’t be afraid to engage – and through engagement – demonstrate your unique value proposition – and show the world why you are the best at what you do.
  4. Be where your customers already are – and keep an eye on your competition.  Use the resources (free and paid) that are available to you.  Get out there.  Use the right tools in your toolkit to build your business.  You can do it.

I closed with a quote from (my hero) Seth Godin.  He said “How can you squander even one more day, not taking advantage of the greatest shift of our generation? How dare you settle for less – when the world has made it so easy for you to be remarkable.”

And that was my day today (after several hours at the office, of course – my days start early).

It’s Small Business Week in Manitoba.  I work for a small business (Modern Earth Web Design – visit my “work with me page”) and go to work every day knowing that my work contribute to its success – as does the work of every member of our incredible team.  Proud to be a (transplanted) Manitoban – the land of economic opportunity.

Manitoba Small Businesses – remarkable people doing remarkable things.  Time to Shine,  Manitoba- and tell the world that we got it goin’ on here in the Keystone Province.

Enjoy the Day!