business, Design, Marketing, Social Media

USING COLOR

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One of the most overlooked aspects of digital posting is the use of appropriate color.

My favorite resource is from Pantone Color Resource  They publish each Season’s newest colors–trends and in-demand themes for fashion and home.  Take advantage of their research and begin to incorporate the season’s newest, hottest colors in your headers, newsletters, emails, and social media posts.

We Think With Our Eyes

Never forget that our brains are processing trillions of bits of data every single second. That is why images are such a strong part of your content strategy, but color is processed like an image.  The brain gobbles it up like ice cream on a hot summer day.  Make your seasons pop by using colors to highlight your business materials being shared across the Internet.  Don’t overdue it, of course!  But use color–relevant colors.

Themes

And if you want to go a step further….look at what the story is behind the colors

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How fun is it use Niagara when you want to showcase how dependable your products are?  Or are you talking about that great escape on the weekend?  How about Island Paradise.  Pantone doesn’t just pick these out of thin air.  They are researched and offered to anyone who wants to set themselves apart.

 

business, customers, Inbound Marketing, Marketing, Social Media

Your Business Needs The Digital Touch

Are you thinking this is a SciFi post about virtual realities? No Sir, this is about your business success.

The “digital touch” I am referring to is CONTENT. And “content” is not some technical, marketing lingo. It is your new reality as a business. It is something that has to be accepted, learned, and given priority to help your business grow. Here is a definition that I like:

Content: Something that is to be expressed through some medium, such as speech, writing, or any of the various arts.

In other words, “content” is merely INFORMATION. And Information is what people need to buy products and services. And where do they get their information?

Oh yeah, through digital media! Ahh, now you know where the digital touch comes from.

Start with this question: Why is posting information about your products and services – via digital channels- so important to the growth of your business?

It is important because “information” (content) is essential to a buyers journey. It influences their decisions on what and where to buy. Just look at this awesome graphic below:

So, as a business owner do you want to influence the outcome of the purchasing decisions made by your customers? Sure you do!

Well, regular content is your best way to do that.

A study by Google shows that 10 pieces of content (information) are consumed before a purchasing decision is made.

Every post, every article, every blog has the power to direct attention to your business. It is the digital touch–tap-tap-tap and your future buyers are looking you up while waiting to get their teeth cleaned. Cool article on Twitter? Tap-tap and it’s bookmarked in the Pocket App for later. I do not think anyone can dispute the reality of our Digital World but is your business “digitally touching” potential buyers as he or she are browsing the world wide web?

HERE ARE THE PROBLEMS OF AVOIDING “CONTENT”:

  1. Customers do not have to go directly to you anymore to find the information they are looking for. That is why your phone doesn’t ring! If a customer saw something at a friends house, they turn to the Internet to find the answers to their questions. They go to your website first to see what you have, who you are, and if you have written any articles that address their questions. They look up at the top and click your social media links going to their site of preference–some Facebook, some Instagram, some Twitter. They ask themselves: What do they post? Are there pictures? Events? Anything useful? And then, they go back to Google and find more.
  2. Technology is embedded in all Generations. Sorry, it’s not just the young’uns anymore who live and die by their iPhones. Grandma has figured out that she does not have to get in her car to drive across town in the rain or snow to shop for something to give her daughters on Valentines Day. So if you are on her “Favorite Facebook Pages” and you have not started posting your Valentines quotes and ideas then some smart, savvy business is going to entice her to click on their paid AD along the right side…and off she goes gathering her ten pieces of content for when she is ready to buy, from them.
  3. The most painful of all is that you NEED NEW CUSTOMERS. The collectors, the rewards members, the people who have bought every model and color…they eventually move on and you need someone “new” who has never heard of you or your awesome “thing-a-ma-jig.” These folks have to find you, then read your ten pieces to learn more about how a “thing-a-ma-jig” works, and then they have to trust that you are real and not some Russian hacker trying to get their credit card number. The digital generation is everyone now. Just like when automobiles eventually replaced all the horse-drawn carriages–we all use digital media for information.

It’s Time To Start Saying “Content.”

These are not confusing times ruled by millennials with selfie sticks. It is 2017, and we are all part of the social media marketing universe—all of us. So go ahead, say it:

That is the first step in reaching across the digital aisle to potential customers. And although you will need a strategy for posting and content the hardest part is accepting reality. Your charming personality, your creative store windows, the coupon in Valpak, well, they just are not enough to keep your business a float. You must first accept “content” as your key to success in the digital world we live in.

#Content #BuyersJourney #BusinessSuccess #Customers #SocialMedia

Maria Bereket is a Digital Media Marketing Consultant and Coach, LinkedIn Strategist, and Social Media Trainer. Her work focuses on bridging the gap of the digital divide by teaching people how to use social media to grow their business through social media thought leadership. She is an innovator and creative task master, so don’t contact her if you are not looking for growth and change. Teaching people to embrace technology and learn how to communicate in a digital world is her super-power. Connect @mbear88 or email her at Maria@DesignBearMarketing.com

business, Inbound Marketing, Marketing

Branding Is What People Say About You

The hardest concept for a business owner who has been around for more than ten years is “Branding.”

Branding was your logo.

Branding was your Est. Date.

Branding was the product.

Branding was actually never those things, but it was easier back then to draw in customers with those details.

Today, in the Digital World, Everything is About Information.

Our hand-held devices are the authority on just about everything. Should we eat at the corner restaurant? Ask Yelp. Should we buy that pair of shoes? How many stars does it have? Is this business something I can trust? Let’s Google them.

And I know that you know this fact, but do you really understand that telling customers how great you are is not the same as building your brand?

Look closely at this illustration. Now compare it is message to your last five Social Media Posts. How much information are you sharing? How often are you yelling at people to Buy Me? How many posts are sharing about why you do what you do? Customers want to “see” behind the curtain. How often do you do that?

How Do You Think Customers “Understand” You?

“Back in the day” there use to be that wonderful marketing principle about “three people who tell three people.” Remember? Personal recommendations, key placement print advertisements, and those loyal “three customers who told their three friends” were what made the lines of people wrap around your cash register. Today things do not quite work like that. Your customers are not placed within a 25-mile radius of your location (thankfully!) The promise of the Internet was that if you built a website, people from around the globe could possibly be your customer, right?

Google is Searching For Thought Leaders Who Share Information

All that you posts, write, and share about you and your business are thrown into a large river called “Google.” This large information system is hungry for anything that can be offered to the millions of people asking questions on their hand-held devices. Questions that need answers, right now!

Consumers do not want to know how great you are. They want to learn more about you through reviews, blogs, articles, and posts that you share. They have a very sophisticated way of determining if you are worthy of their time and trust and it is not just those “Millennials” who use this information system anymore. The fastest growing demographic for tablets and iPads are over 65! We are all using the Google-sphere to direct our attention– and our dollars–whether we like it or not!

And you want to know what’s even worse?

We Now Have a Shorter Attention Span Than a Goldfish

In 2013, statistics noted that we had an 8-second attention span when it came to digital information. By many accounts, today it is merely 6-seconds to catch me before we “X-Out” of a page to find something more interesting. You have less than 6-seconds to catch people in your headlines, articles, advertising, and even in the books, they read…..

“Front-load your best material in the first few chapters before readers put your book away.” -publishing agents everywhere

So How Does This Determine Your Brand?

Ask yourself the following questions: Where are you supplying information? What are you writing about in your Blogs? What new information are you sharing in your posts? On your Instagram feeds? How often does the content on your web page change? How often are you sending interesting content via email?

Information is what we seek. Problem-solving posts. How To’s. How Not-To’s. Content, rich with keywords and images that delight us in the first six seconds of our interaction with you and your business. And don’t be fooled by the occasional article in your local newspaper or local living magazine—these PR tactics will only enhance the regular and consistent information that your business is already sharing on a daily basis.One-hit-PR does not a brand make!

Thought Leadership is How You Get Found

And thought leadership is a long-term view of a digital marketing strategy. The question is: How are you sharing information that will get you found?

Maria Bereket is a Digital Media Marketing Consultant and Coach, LinkedIn Strategist, and Social Media Trainer. Her work focuses on bridging the gap of the digital divide by teaching people how to use social media to grow their business through social media thought leadership. She is an innovator and creative task master, so don’t contact her if you are not looking for growth and change. Teaching people to embrace technology and learn how to communicate in a digital world is her super-power. Connect @mbear88 or email her at Maria@DesignBearMarketing.com

Original Post on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/mariabereket/recent-activity/posts/

business, Marketing, Social Media

Damn, You Missed Your Exit. What Now?

Damn, You Missed Your Exit. What Now?

Who has time for delays?  Business is slow, the days are shorter and shorter, and did anyone realize that Christmas is like six months away?

Now you have that nagging feeling that everything is out of control. You got into your own business to have freedom, joy, flexibility, and the right to miss an exit once in a while and be late.  But this?  This is just too much to bear. Curse you social media I have got enough on my mind without having to worry about missing my exit to your lane to the future!

Perhaps you are the Preschool Owner who is trying to figure out how to balance the needs of communication with a younger demographic vs. the attention paid to the education of young children.  Parents want tablets, pictures, real-time communication…you get it, but all that requires skills and time, and oh yeah, training. Training costs money and time. How can you pull teachers off the floor and make this work? How can you get the word out about the importance of education at this age? Without social media, the good work fades alongside the trends.

What about the executive who is more likely to embrace the challenge of tweeting or updating profile headlines, but has an almost arrogant perspective that succumbing to the social media pressure will lessen their experience and skills?  These young kids are at your heels dreaming of your job while they are posting updates and comparing the newest apps for productivity.  When is there time to learn all this technology, and still lead a team of people who roll their eyes at you every time you pull out your mobile phone?  How do these kids afford these phone upgrades?

If you don’t like change, you’re going to like irrelevance even less.

Small business owners have the greatest career challenge when faced with the social media “elephant in the room.”  Most act as if the “exit” sign came up without warning and yet most of these platforms have been well embedded in marketing for over ten years now.  While you were paying the Yellow Pages for their “better deals” year after year, the marketplace turned to experiences.  Your websites are outdated; your employees untrained in new customer service skills, and what about Amazon? How does one compete with the king of online sales?  When is there time?  How can staff be trained when you are learning too?  And then, all of sudden there is a fury of activity from that Facebook ad you ran but no sales. Does this Social Media Stuff Work?

There is a time when you have to stop everything you are doing. Clean off your desk.  Wipe your calendar free and just decide what to do, learn to do it, and then get it started.  Social media is a living, breathing, circulatory process of marketing–so whenever you jump in–you are on your way!

The problem is that most people of a certain age, are their own worst enemies. It’s not technology that changed, its the process of making decisions that changed.  We [the buyers of the world] needs lots and lots of information to make decisions.  And we [the buyers of all ages] want that information right now. So why do business owners think that we [all the buyers in the world] will just walk in and say, “I HAVE TO HAVE THAT!”?  Is there no dating before marriage? No dinner before dessert?  Where is the story? Where is the process? The information that captures my attention and stirs my emotions? That is where the circulatory system of social media comes into play.  It spreads information.  It gets the heart beating.  Social media is not optional, it is breath.

So think about that exit sign that you passed: THE FUTURE.  We cannot blame “the past” for the future, so why try to blame “lack of time”?  Personally, when I miss an exit, I just get off at the next one and circle back.  Or sometimes I just let my GPS recalculate—and sure, it may bring me into a few sketchy neighborhoods, or over a pothole or two, but I get there….. and isn’t that the goal?

So pull over and figure it out.  It is not the process of learning that is hard–it is accepting reality.  So stop fighting, blaming, justifying, and avoiding….Download Waze and find a new, faster route into the future.

Maria Bereket is a Social Media Consultant, LinkedIn Strategist, and a very animated Speaker. Her work focuses on bridging the gap of the digital divide by teaching people how to use social media to grow their brands through thought leadership. Her passion is working with small businesses and non-profits because she feels that it is through their work that our communities will be stronger and better for everyone. Teaching people to embrace technology and learn how to communicate in a digital world is her super-power! For a different perspective follow her @mbear88 or just email at mbear88@gmail.com  

business, customers, Marketing, Social Media

Eventually an Egg Walks!

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I still remember the first time I got behind the wheel in my driver’s ed class car. After two weeks in class, I finally got to sit in the back seat waiting for my turn to drive. When I finally got into the drivers seat, I was informed that I would be getting on the highway.

I recall feeling as if I would throw up as I approached the “on ramp.” My instructor, a retired policeman, kept telling me to put my foot down on the gas. “You have to merge at the same rate of speed,” he kept saying.

I could feel the sweat dripping down the back of my shirt, and my hands were so tight on the steering wheel that my knuckles were white. I am not sure how I got on the highway or even how long it took to get to my house. I was in some time warp with strange sounds whizzing alongside my ears and deep, muffled voices from behind me that sounded like a horror movie.

I remember not wanting to get out of the car because my legs felt like concrete–until they hit the ground–then they quickly turned to jello, unwilling and unable to move toward my house.

Eventually, I got to the front door but was unable to turn the knob because my hands were shaking so violently. I was relieved when they finally pulled away so I could slump down against the brick wall and gather myself.

This flashback came about when I was reviewing a month end posting report on a recent client’s Facebook posts.

They had paid me for my “advice” on social media and only wanted a strategy for posting with content ideas and direction. Unwilling to see the value in training or social media management, they felt confident that things would just roll off the page as simply as it was outlined. I pointed out that the person who was the “communications coordinator” already had a busy job and may need some guidance, but the owners thinking was that she already had her own Facebook page, so it would be easy to get this going, right?

I recall leaving that meeting feeling nauseous.

I had been driving in the front seat with my parents for 16 years before I took that ride on the highway. I can tell you that none of that observation and keen attention to the turn signal movements helped me at all that night–or many other nights afterward for that matter. Learning to drive, like learning how to implement a social media strategy requires training….lots and lots of training, and even more practice.

The simplicity of social media is a concept that comes from the idea that it is free.

Free is not free when you calculate the number of hours it will take someone to set things up, make a plan, write and curate content, follow up, analyze, readjust, and then post and post, and yes, post again, daily.

It must have been great to be a Yellow Pages Salesman back in 1980’s. Pay, create, and print. Done. All that what was left was for the phone to ring, again and again.

Not so simple today. But really, nothing is that simple anymore. Business is driven by a presence on social media, not a specific need, but more about people’s desire to learn more, perhaps even own the thing that caught their eye while scrolling through images on their phone.

It’s tough out there today!

Social media is advertisement/journalism/newspaper ad/business listing/inventory and billboard sign. The “small shop” is no longer products and a salesperson, but rather a whole world of experiences. Consumers today expect to log into your website and find all the answers to their questions—visually, thoughtfully, and graphically pleasing. It has to be simple enough to find what they want quickly, but detailed enough that they can go deep inside the culture of the business.

A flat, yellow paper ad from days gone by did not even scratch the surface of “experiential.” And placing an ad took maybe two hours back then with a payment plan! You had all the details done—hours, logo, address, perhaps clip art—it all came down to size and budget.

So why isn’t marketing today operating like that?

Why is it so hard to see that marketing a business today is more than a few posts and fans to “thumbs up” our information? Why isn’t there more of an effort to bring people on board who can really grow an organic program that is fun and part of the everyday culture of the business?

Oh yeah, it costs money.

I am always clear when talking to people about social media marketing. “It is an egg,” I tell them. “eventually, it walks.”

But who has ever seen an egg hatch?

Not in this grocery store nation. So, I am thinking, I may need to find a new analogy….perhaps that’s why I had my flashback this morning.

Social Media is like learning to drive a car!
You will feel unbelievably nauseated, sweaty, out-of-control, and utterly fearful of every single moment,
until one day, you just don’t.

I like that.

Maria Bereket is a Social Media Consultant, LinkedIn Strategist, and a very animated Speaker. Her work focuses on bridging the gap of the digital divide by teaching people how to use social media to grow their brands through thought leadership. Her passion is working with small businesses and non-profits because she feels that it is through their work that our communities will be stronger and better for everyone. Teaching people to embrace technology and learn how to communicate in a digital world is her super-power! For a different perspective follow her @mbear88 or just email at mbear88@gmail.com  (Originally Posted on LinkedIn)

business, customers, innovation, Leadership, Marketing, Uncategorized

Distraction or Reluctance? It’s Time To Decide.

business, customers, innovation, Leadership, Uncategorized

Transparency is the Enemy of the Outdated.

glassdoor-culture-code-quotesIt occurred to me, as I was watching three days of recorded nightly news, that we are in the most exciting time of history!  Annoying of course, but exciting. For those of you who want to tangle and fight over politics–please don’t read any further.  This is about The Digital Divide of Generations, and I am using politics to illustrate a point.

Let’s start with the obvious:

Bernie Sanders is bringing to a head the reality of the digital divide. His lifetime of actions — worn on his very transparent career sleeve– is one big Millennial Hug!  Bernie is old with a young heart filled with passion for doing the “right thing.”  If you accept that it is “his” right thing, then his record–illustrated so nicely in 25 + years of videos, is not the norm.  He took his punches all these years holding his ground and fighting for his values.  No one paid much attention to him until America lost its footing.

As for the rest of candidates, we have a series of complex maneuvers.  A whole generation of “adults” who are more than willing to forgive and forget all the changes of opinion and irrelevance that our elected officials spew on Twitter and their favorite news outlet.  Today they may support the “Hispanic” audience and tomorrow they may just throw them back over the border despite years of living here and paying taxes.  Political “positions” mean nothing!

I think the most telling example of the generational divide in this election was a comment by woman, a baby boomer from Wisconson, who was asked about a statement that Donald Trump made and she said:

“I can’t believe he would punish women….but oh,  I wish I could put a piece of tape on his mouth sometimes…”

Saying what you mean. Doing what you say. Walking the walk.

Companies and leaders of those companies must do what they say in their mission statement and employee handbooks. The idea that subordinates or the public for that matter, are on a need to know basis, with mostly the companies and leaders, never feeling that we “need to know,”–well hang on to your hats cause that just isn’t gonna work that much longer.  Millennials want transparency.  We all want transparency!

We want companies to speak the truth and then back with action.  Things marked “organic” should be, water tested by government agencies must be accurate and disclosed, and when people lie or change their minds we cannot merely put tape on their mouths to resolve the problem.

From Boomer To Bust

Older generations “forget” or have just accepted that our government officials do not do what they say   Election after election, we have overlooked the failings of our elected leaders to do what they say and now we have roads that are collapsing, water that is hurting children, gas leaks destroying entire neighborhoods, and an election that has spotlighted a cancer that needs to be removed. Saying “you are the best” is not the same as being “the best.”

Old School Vs New School

In my line of work, I am oftentimes seen as a disrupter. I recently sat in a room of high-level professionals facilitating a discussion about the opportunity to connect with their community –making them advocates for their important and incredibly stressful line of work.  I, of course, brought up using social media to help.  Still reeling from the crash of 2008–like so many businesses and professionals–with reduced budgets that didn’t get refilled when things began to turn around, they felt burdened by their inability to reach the decision makers.  Why is that?  I wanted to say to them.  Why do you think the budgets remain slim?

The battle is not about money.  The battle is about value, vision, and purpose.  Years of “need to know” pulled the cord in ’08.  Managers were managing managers and nothing was getting done.  CEO’s and Politicians were changing strategy and cutting budgets without regard to the original goals.

And I asked one telling question that I ask in every group, every industry I speak with:  When was the last time you went down through your company/department and met with your staff and talked about the mission and purpose of your work?  Deer in headlights for half the room.

When did our “work” become so important that we forgot to communicate and support our “subordinates”?  In this case, they are called “direct reports,” a term that just cut into my soul –as if they were numbered prisoners.

Innovation cannot work if we do not communicate at the very basic level of our most valued assets–the people who work with our customers.

I know that I am disruptive–a role I have come to accept.  I live on both sides of this generational/digital divide.  I climbed the ladder but I failed miserably because climbing to the very top didn’t mean I was successful.  I read our mission statements and took it to heart that we had a purpose.  Eventually, I had to go out on my own because at a “certain age” people just expect that you want to climb up the next rung on the ladder.  I was too busy circling the desks and inspiring the masses.

The Election Is a Mirror

Holding on to what we had has always been the job of the outgoing generation. They feel “owed” and justified in moving on, hanging on and complaining about the young guns without experience. But this time the young guns don’t really need what is being offered because they have redefined success.  They don’t want to climb ladders to nowhere, they want collaborative teams with goals and support for their efforts.

I remember telling my sales team that the “big bosses” were busy solving the big problems, and that is why they didn’t once attend our customer events—but who were we kidding?  They were busy holding on to their rung on the ladder.

Using Social Media to connect is scary because it means you have to declare something and then hold true to it.

My favorite question as a consultant is “Why do Millennials leave a new job after a few months?”

It’s not an answer most businesses want to hear.  Bosses want it to be about the “Me Generation”  with self-centered kids who don’t know how to do anything without their cell phones.  But that is not true. Millennials have not only figured out that they are a numbered and expendable commodity in the workplace, but they feel empowered to leave before they turn into the huddled and afraid “direct reports”  like their parents were before they got laid off after years of loyal service.

So Donald, Ted, Hilary, and Bernie…

…you are at the tipping point in history when it comes to elections, and most likely, our culture too.  This will be the last presidential election where you say whatever you must to get into the office and then back pedal your way into the next election.  We want change.  We want communication and support.  We want you to speak your mind…and hopefully, what comes out of your mouth will be a passion , purpose and real plan of action to make our country stronger…without the use of tape!

Maria Bereket is a  Marketing & Social Media Consultant. Her work is focused on bridging the gap in the digital divide, and her passion is working with small business owners because she feels that their work is going to change the world making it a better place to live. E @mbear88  or email me if you need a different perspective mbear88@gmail.com

 

Originally posted on LinkedIn

business, innovation, Leadership, Personal Brand, Uncategorized

A Different Perspective

When Your Life Experiences Matter

At a recent conference, I was stopped after my talk by a woman who thanked me and then told me that what I said didn’t apply to her.

Ok. My topic was Using LinkedIn to Build Your Personal Brand.  She was convinced that she had “no brand” and that when someone (like her) worked in so many different fields and jobs, there was no way to build a brand.

Now I was on the stairs of an old mansion, people were shuffling up and down between presentations, and although I gave her my card and doubted a follow-up, her comments really resonated with me.

No person ever has the same training and background.

That in itself is what makes all our work an amazing opportunity to see and do great things– because our own, unique perspectives make finding solutions possible. My whole life has brought me to this moment and there is no one else out there like me, with my unique perspective of problems.

I worked in several industries–none specifically related to each other.  I had different titles, different paths, needed different skills—but each one held an element of my marketing passion.  Each one was a perfect fit, at the time, because they filled a need in my process of growth, and I showed up just as they needed someone, like me, to solve their unique problems.

Every job we have ever held holds the keys to our current success.

All our experiences form for us the ability to solve problems with “new thinking.” Where we grew up, who our friends were, the places we traveled, the books we read, the summer camps, the concerts, the classes we enjoyed, our hobbies, our grandparents stories, our part-time jobs, and our internships all form who we are today.

It is a matter of tapping into that wisdom of our collective experiences that make the personal brand so powerful.

Some generations worked hard and felt rewards of just doing.  Some generations were given clear paths to success, and some generations grew up with technologies that defined their perspective of the “one-world-with-a-million-possibilities.” Just accept that we are changing in every generation and that every generation offers solutions.  

The conventional wisdom isn’t always the right solution

Look at Nokia or Blackberry.  Focusing on the best solutions with the best thinking of the time put them out of business.  They mocked the “other guys” as computer makers and forgot that their customers didn’t know what they didn’t know.  Had they brought in a team of people from other industries they might just have been innovative enough to still be strong and successful.  An outsiders view of an insiders world can make all the difference.

So to the lady who stopped me on the stairwell…

Embrace every single experience, job, position, and different opportunity you have ever had.  And find someone who sees the possibilities of that power you have to see things differently. Learning how to leverage who we are as a unique individual is what personal branding is all about.  YOU. Your unique gifts.  Your super-power.  Your collective perspective of the world.

Maria Bereket is a  Marketing & Social Media Consultant. Her work is focused on bridging the gap in the digital divide, and her passion is working with small business owners because she feels that their work is going to change the world making it a better place to live. Follow @mbear88  or email me if you need a different perspective mbear88@gmail.com

business, Marketing, Personal Brand

“The Cost of Being Wrong is Less Than The Cost of Doing Nothing”: How To Change In Two Steps

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Whether in your business or your personal career, refusing to accept change will cost you more than the cost of changing.

It is a mouthful, but it is real.  And if anything were “more real” than ever, it would be this: When you stand on your sinking ship of denial, well you know, you sink.  And I get it, change is hard (so very hard indeed!).  Who has the time to learn all the new stuff?  And how do you know where to start?  It is an endless list of unknowns.  But doing is always better than not doing.

Step One: Decide To Change

It is that simple.  You get out the wet cloth and wipe the slate clean…and then you write out what the new is.

It doesn’t matter who you were, or what the founding principles use to be.  What is today?  Right now? The direction in which you are headed today determines not only where you are, but what you are–right now!  And right now, how are you? 

Are you on the right path? Is everything working out?

If the answer is yes, then you got this, keep going.  But if the answer is no, then what is holding you back from taking a different track?

“Where you head now determines where you soon are, where ever you are limits where you can go”

These are the wise words of James Gilmore and Joseph Pine the authors of the Experience Economy. We all know its true, but there we stand, paralyzed by our own habits and past success.You do not need permission to change. Just make different happen.

So maybe tattoos are not your “new” style, but making a decision to be yourself in a world of so much noise and choice is a good thing.  And that is the point of what Seth Godin is saying when he says the cost of doing nothing is more. Because you need to succeed.  You need a new career, more sales, a better life for your kids, happiness, and a future that takes you into a better place.  But none of that can happen without a decision to do something new.

Step Two: Pick a Destination and Go.

The single best advice I ever received was “pick a lane.”  Pick a lane?  YES, pick the lane you want to be in and then merge into it.  Forget about the other lanes.  Pick the one you want to be in.  Your lane.  Your vision of the future.  Not your competitors future, or your co-workers, or even your neighbor.  It’s your choice! And the beauty of the choosing is that once you decide to do it, everything falls into place. Because having a strategy changes everything.

So if there are more than a few nights with little sleep, know that it will be worth it.   Happiness is the cure for just about anything.  Still need permission?  Ok, Here you go, your permission slip: “I give permission to ______, to go out into the world and try something completely new.”  Have fun, and don’t forget to send me a postcard!

Maria Bereket is a  Marketing & Social Media Consultant. Her work is focused on bridging the gap in the digital divide, and her passion is working with small business and entrepreneurs because she feels that their work is going to change the world making it a better place to live. Follow @mbear88  or email
mbear88@gmail.com

business, innovation, Leadership

The Innovation Myth

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“Innovation has nothing to do with how many R&D dollars you have… It’s not about money. It’s about the people you have, how you’re led, and how much you get it.”

-Steve Jobs

The Innovation Myth

I have just finished yet another article on innovation in the workplace. I find it interesting that companies, so very focused on “innovation” of new ideas and problem-solving, have not taken a moment to sit back and see that their new “initiative” to be creative and think-out-of-the-box is so intricately tied to one of the biggest problems they are trying to solve: retention and recruiting.

I can put the article trends side-by-side and an interesting pattern emerges. Leaders in companies want to grow their businesses in new ways, but they are burdened with a workforce that is divided.  Older workers who are burnt out and younger ones that don’t want to stay.  Making our workplace more innovative is indeed the process for change, but the problem may lie not in the workers, but in the leaders trying to “solve” the problem.

The Myth

We have a new generation of workers who want something different from their lives and careers.  Just like every new generation.  But this new group is forcing change. They don’t buy into the “Climb The Ladder” model that anyone over 35 was spoon fed from their parents, teachers, and TV shows.  Climbing the ladder means that you are always looking above for guidance, and looking behindyou to see who is catching up. It worked for many years keeping us all in line, nicely ordered and managed by a whole team of “middle-management” professionals who got paid nice sums of money to manage the managers.

Then 2008 cut that entire “middle-manager” layer out of the workforce.  If you were lucky enough to keep your job you lived in fear of being discovered that you were not really “managing” anything, or anyone for that matter. Work became a battle to keep what “you had” so our 40-hour weeks turned into 50+ without any overtime, and then vacation days started rolling over or were lost entirely, and the executives, who were struggling to figure out why productivity and sales were stagnant, began discussing methods of innovating business and workflow.

Innovation is New Thinking

It all made sense, but innovation is not a solution when  being led by people who are still climbing the ladder.   Looking up is not an advantage when all the people below are moving on (and out) fast and furiously. There are companies who do not understand why someone would leave two weeks into a job. And there are stacks of articles complaining about millennials workers who were coming into the workplace asking for “perks” and “favors” before the ink was even dry on their application.  And loyalty?  Well, most companies just “assume” it is a problem with their generation.

Millennial Worker Demands:

  1. They want a culture of collaboration and inclusion.
  2. They want continual training and development programs.
  3. They want their lives and their careers to have an impact and purpose.
  4. They expect to be given what is necessary to do their job.
  5. And they want feedback from their bosses and their peers.

So is that such a horrible list?

Hell no! Isn’t that what we all want?

And take a closer look at that list. Are these not the outlined results of all those mind mappings exercises that are included in the leadership workshops?

How can we operate in the workplace when the management is busy climbing their career ladder while the workers are circling their desks trying to share ideas?

  • Your entire team wants to be given the opportunity to share creative, “innovative” ideas with you and without fear of being shunned. When people are heard they feel valued and then they work harder to contribute even more creative ideas.
  • Your entire team wants to feel they like they know what they are doing and that the “what” is being done correctly.  How do you expect them to do their jobs to the company standards when you are not offering any training? (and I am not talking about the department budget for “extra” outside training) Every company needs to train their employees about the mission, the purpose, and the process of the job.  “Sink or swim” is not a training method!
  • Your team (and the world) want to feel their work has a purpose other than your next promotion or bonus check.  Put your company or department behind a local cause and let the people on your team work to support it and you will see a change in the way your department runs….yes, even if that means you have to pay them to do a few hours of volunteer work outside of the office.
  • And who doesn’t expect to be given all the tools necessary to do their job? Think about it–how do expect your team to operate when they don’t have everything they need?  Budgets are not an excuse.  If you do not have the tools to provide your team to do their jobs effectively then maybe there are people on that ladder whose salaries and bonuses should be reviewed and reinvested into the budget.
  • Feedback, really?  Doesn’t your entire team deserve feedback and acknowledgment for their efforts by you whenever possible?  And not in an annual review from a survey written in 1988, but through regular meetings with goal setting—do you honestly think that your team doesn’t notice that you never notice?

I repeat the quote from above

Innovation is easy. It’s removing the outdated ideas that are the problem!

It is hard to change.

Hard to see the forest from the trees.  But something really dynamic is happening in the workplace today.  Driven by this “problem generation” we now have possibilities to make real, innovative solutions.  It just takes an ability to see things from a different perspective.  Get down off that ladder and actually have a conversation with your team.  Think about how you felt at the same stage.  You wanted to be included. You wanted to be heard.  You wanted to make contributions bigger than yourself.  You would have loved a high-five once in awhile, right?

Every parent comes to the realization that they were once young and idealistic. And it is usually on that day that things begin to change. When we put on the shoes of those around us, our journey becomes more important; because for the first time, it is shared.

**

Maria Bereket is a  Marketing & Social Media Consultant. Her work is focused on bridging the gap in the digital divide, and her passion is working with small business and entrepreneurs because she feels that their work is going to change the world making it a better place to live. Follow @mbear88  or email
mbear88@gmail.com

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