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.

 

Inbound Marketing, Marketing, Social Media

Your Digital Footprint: Are Your Potential Customers Finding You? Edit article

the-digital-footprintBasic digital marketing strategy begins with a review of your social media/digital footprint.

The confidence that people and businesses have when asked about this process is very alarming to me. Why? Because in 2017 most of us should be aware that no matter how much you post or where you post–your life and business are no longer private! Everything, and I mean just about everything, can be found by a potential customer looking for your products or services. And that should be a good thing.

With all the information that is “out there” in the digital world, there is incredible potential for you and your business when your information is branded and threaded together.  Then, the more information you share with consumers, the more your expertise rises. It’s called Thought Leadership and anyone with a specialty has the potential to attract new customers by creating a digital strategy of thought leadership. And the benefits? Inbound Marketing Leads.

Attention Small Businesses

I know you are all posting on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. But did you know that “posting” needs to strategic too? What is it your customers want to hear? Buy me or Teach me?

Ask yourself how you make your purchasing decisions. Do you follow and like every “offer” being made on your newsfeeds? Or do you research and find information, reviews, and articles to help you decide where to spend your money? That’s what I thought.

By the time your prospects actually reach out to you–by phone or email–they have made 80% of the decision to buy from you already.

So what information are you offering that is supplying that 80%?

Steps for Small Business

  1. Update and Brand all your social profiles.
  2. Figure out who your customers really are and then where they are on social. Then be there, not everywhere.
  3. Review, revise and get your information strategy together. Posts, blogs, articles and materials all have their purpose in social media. Is what you are posting a bunch of “fluff” and “sales”? Then you will not get inbound leads. But, if you are out there, being a thought leader…well, wouldn’t it be nice to actually have an inbound strategy in place that is working? Thought so.

Attention Professionals

It is amazing to me how few professionals utilize blogging and social posts to grow and advance in their careers. The days of “updating” resumes to get ahead are long gone! This is the digital/information age and if you cannot be found where we are looking, then no one will find you!

Steps for Professionals

  1. Update and Optimize your LinkedIn profile.
  2. Brand and thread all of your social media profiles together.
  3. Blog and offer information that is searchable and will offer you an inbound stream of leads and contacts.

Branding and Thought Leadership are not just trendy words that marketing professionals use. They are the new reality of marketing. Take the Digital Footprint Test for free (from me) and see where you could (and must) improve. It might just be worth 25% more leads or more sales that are inbound to you!

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 if you are looking for an INBOUND MARKETING STRATEGY that works!

Originally posted on LinkedIn

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/

Design, Inbound Marketing, Marketing, Social Media

5 Valentines Posts To Do Right Now

I am a huge supporter of the Annual Content Calendar for social media posting. With Valentines Day fast approaching its time to get serious about using it. So I will start with a few statistics and then share five ideas that you can incorporate in your posting efforts over the next couple of weeks.

Let’s Start With The Numbers by Statistic Brain

$116.21 is the average amount people spend on Valentines

61.8 % is the percent of consumers who do celebrate Valentines Day

Why are these important?

53% of women say they would end their relationship if they didn’t get something for Valentines day.

I love the 53% break-up statistic! Serious business Valentines Day! It’s the war between the sexes: Women want to be thought about and rewarded for all the things they do – even when they say they don’t want anything it doesn’t hurt to surprise them with a small token of your love. Same goes for customers. They say they don’t want you to post too much, but when it comes to dropping some dollars, they only are kind to those who share information.

So as a small business, you can (and must) help your customers by offering them information and ideas–for Valentines Day help them know what to write in their cards, put in their gifts, or just keep them focused on the most important events of the day. In other words, be relevant to your customers so they don’t “break up with you.”

So Let’s Get Started with Your Posts

You should be scheduling a post every day no matter what the theme or holiday. Let’s start with some post types: quotes, articles, images, stories, and offers. Use a program like Canva (below) to help you make pretty posts for your Facebook and Instagram accounts. Then start off the year by beginning to think about your products and services differently (like through the eyes of your customers, especially those who have no idea who you are) and then think about how you can repackage and offer them in ways that appeal to a different generation. The goal for every business is to grow your customer base.

So let’s begin with Valentines Day. I know what you are thinking: a good number of people only buy chocolate and flowers on Valentines Day, but offering your customers a warm, fuzzy feeling over the upcoming holiday theme of “Love” is good customer service. And remember: not everyone cares about Valentines Day as a day to “get something.” But we are all aware that the day is happening and it is nice to be included in some way.

Here are 5 ideas to Inspire Your Valentine Content:

#1 Create Gift Guides – Who doesn’t love a good gift guide? Come on, we are all really, really busy lately and spending a few hours figuring out what to get our significant other is a huge pain. So make it easy and fun by putting together a few of your products especially for Him or Her. Just in those two groups are lovers, spouses, family, and friends. Why not share the “love” with everyone by including everyone to give gifts? My Dentist is quite creative by offering unique gifts for his customers at Valentines—he buys a few boxes of chocolate and wraps them with a Teeth Cleaning Certificate!

#2 Contests – “Best Engagement Story”, “Silliest Valentines Gift”, “Cutest Pet Couple”…the possibilities are endless when it comes to contests that ask customers to share their stories with pictures. Ask people to post them onto your page with your specific contest Hashtag. Offer them a movie night as a prize. Why would you do that when you are not a movie theater? Because it is relevant to the holiday and the contest. But most important is that the more people who post on your page, the more they share with their friends (who don’t yet know you), and the more people who see your page, the more engagement your posting will have—and that is the goal here. Traffic and engagement! Becuase that will lead to sales.

#3 Date Night Ideas – This is a good time to think about your neighbors and ways to co-brand your business. What could be a fun “Date Night” on your main street? Outline it, have menus, ask people to share their ideas. Post lots of fun ideas, silly ones, and of course, ask people for their stories and ideas so they will share. Magazines are filled with ideas right now—share the links to the articles and offer your personal take on them. Be the source for information.

#4 Love Notes – Post some interesting poems and even some famous love letters to give your fans and customers ideas on what to say to their beloved. Do some DIY ideas here too—perhaps hosting a Valentines Card get together with craft items so people can make a personal statement and then post the card onto your page to enter them into a drawing. Emojis may be fun but they do not say “I love you” like a love note!

#5 Anti-Valentine’s Day – So think about my dentist for example. He is taking an anti-teeth product (sweets) and placing it with something he does (teeth cleaning)—and it says I love you, right? Well, there are plenty of people who hate sweets, hate romance, hate spending money on holidays. Post comics, gag gift ideas, and anything “Anti-Valentines” that gets people sharing your posts from your business page. Have fun and be sure to ask people to share their stories with you!

So now, just get to it and make the posts. Track your fans, likes, and foot traffic. Notice how many people are noticing that you are posting something daily and relevant instead of just “Buy My Stuff” content. And please, share your stories with me on well (or not well) things went.

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: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/five-valentines-post-ideas-do-now-maria-berekethttps://www.linkedin.com/pulse/five-valentines-post-ideas-do-now-maria-bereket

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, 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, Marketing, Uncategorized

Navigating Change

Reprinted from LinkedIn.  The above image is courtesy of a Trends Webinar by Getty Images.

What!?

I don’t know about you, but when I saw this image I immediately loved it.  The child’s expression just made me so excited.  The cool color of the glasses!  The future!   Just think of all the possibilities that this small child was going to experience!  

My enthusiasm, however, was not met with same excitement by the many people I shared it with, in fact, I was even more surprised with their reactions then of my own incredible delight!

“Danger, danger Will Robinson!”

The reference here dates me of course, but it was the most similar comparison I could think of when faced with all the brick walls of opposition I received.  What is our work if not to advance the world to a better place? I thought. Herein lies the future of so many possibilities yet just being faced with the moment of its reality shut down so many people’s capacity to experience it, even if just for a moment. Why did people react so harshly? Could it be that the joys of innovation were blocked by our brains hardwiring to reject it? “Danger, danger Will Robinson!”  I can still see that  robot’s  huge robotic arms waving wildly back and forth.

So What is “Better” When it Comes to the Future?

Let’s google it of course…

I suppose like most things, a definition depends on usage: a verb or noun can make a huge difference. Virtual reality is “life-like”, a simulated environment that is similar to the real world.  Gamers know what I am talking about. Moving your head around and being in the midst of whatever the title happens to be–war, space, a skiing trip down the powder side of a mountain.  It’s virtual, like you are there, but you are not. Cool, very cool.

But is it better?

Can these glasses make a child’s life better, “improving on or surpassing” their life as it is today?

Here lies the difficulty of change.

We move through life, going back and forth along preset lines, mastering tasks, accomplishing internal goals; and then we are faced with something different.  A new path, a feeling, a sound, another way of doing something.  The right brain and the left brain begin to analyze the experience in milliseconds.  Our reptilian instincts are alerted and we stand ready to “understand” what is ahead. Lots of pathways are forging this battle between the right and left brains.  Memories of childhood or a movie that struck you deeply for several days after you saw it.  Conflict in accepting change is not really about logical facts and figures, it is usually based in some emotional response that triggers a memory.  That’s why we break up with the perfect mate, or eat a third piece of pizza while we are on a diet—our memory is flooding us with the responses of what it felt like before. Not logical responses, but deeply rooted emotional ones of pain and pleasure.

Change lies in the hands of those who see all the possibilities, or sometimes, it is born mearly from accidents.  

Either way, change is inevitable .

I like the wheels in the mud analogy.  What are roads to progress, if not the paths paved by pioneers who dared to go in a different direction? Sometimes they were caught in the rain and cursed their choice, and sometimes they just were determined enough to get through the obstacle knowing it would become easier the next time around.

Our highway system is just a paved version of mud hardened ruts in fields where horses pulled wagons.  Someone had to dare to cross first!  And then someone else followed along the path, and then mechanical machines hobbled along those same muddied grooves making their mark on history, connecting us to each other in ways we never thought possible.

Change, when viewed from the rear view mirror always seems like a blessing!

So what about our child experiencing virtual reality through those cool colored glasses? Today this is an advertisement for a new kind of video game, but tomorrow?  Tomorrow it could help millions of people overcome fears of heights, or water, or even spiders crawling on the bathroom wall.  Or how about medical students navigating intricate surgery?  It’s all here now in some form or another, but what about spending an afternoon with your Mom after she has passed away?  Would that virtual moment help us to heal a pain so deep that we might just move forward into a better future?

Somebody has to see the possibilities in order for there to be progress, but more important, somebody has to get stuck in the mud of change if we are to be able to pave the way for a better future. What were all the objections to the picture above in 1910?  Probably many people shaking their heads and feeling  confident that the horses in their barns were the best and only way for travel.  Every great bridge of progress had its celebrity naysayer and we all know how those turned out.

But how do we get people to embrace change?

I suppose that it happens like most changes do, over time.  As our right-brain fights with our left-brain, pulling up memories of past fears and delights in milliseconds, eventually, we imprint upon those neuro pathways the possibility that something  can exist.  And as the two sides begin to pull up that new data our “fight or flight” response isn’t activated and eventually we see things as they are, not as they felt in our memory.  That is why coming together to talk about change is so powerful.  If we can see someone else’s reality, then perhaps our neuro-response might be to just listen.  Then we can decide if their definition of “better” can be shared with ours.  And maybe, just in sharing information, a whole new definition can be created, together.

Change needs ideas, naysayers, collaboration, facts, emotions, and possibilities.

No one person can make change happen.  It takes a collective of ideas to make it take hold. I think that is why I like sharing images that delight me with so many people–even when I know that some of those people will lecture me about the impracticalities of what I have shared. I can see the forest in the distance because I am an innovator who embraces possibilities.  But without seeds being planted along the way there cannot be a tree let alone a forest.  But if I can light just one darkened memory to the possibility of a change, then I know that the change has already begun…and if that little baby has the possibility of spending an afternoon with someone she loved and lost, one day in the future, then those glasses cannot come soon enough for me.

How do you make change happen?

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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