Friday, November 12, 2010

How valuable is your blog real estate?

Recently, I read an article that advised not including a blogroll on a blog. So, I started to wonder: how valuable is the space on your blog? I’m talking about the area other than where you feature your posts. This could be the top, bottom, or left or right sidebars. While you may include icons or buttons for key social media sites (such as, Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube), as well as a list of categories, archives, keywords, search function, and request for email address/option to subscribe, there may still be some available space.

According to Wikipedia, a blogroll is a list of other blogs that a blogger recommends by providing titles and links usually in a sidebar list.

So, why would someone write a blog post with the recommendation to NOT include other blogs? Unless the blogger copies content on a regular basis, there is really no logical reason. Upon further consideration, I have assembled my reasons to include a blogroll:

  • Add depth to your blog
  • Promote key influencers
  • Provide different perspectives
  • Introduce new writers
  • Provide opportunity for reciprocal links

All of these reasons point to the purpose of a blog in the first place. What value does a blog create if it doesn’t force a reader to think? The addition of a blogroll adds value since it provides other blogs featuring countless posts to read and ponder. You never know when one post could lead to the next great American novel or Pullitzer Prize-winning article!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Is it possible to be a good boss? Some lessons from Bob Sutton, the Boss Expert

Here’s a question for anyone who has ever supervised employees: Are you a good boss or a bad boss? How can you really tell? Stanford professor Bob Sutton doesn’t just ask the question in the follow-up to his 2007 bestseller “The No Asshole Rule,” he shares ways for bosses to inspire their employees and analyze their leadership styles in “Good Boss, Bad Boss: How to Be the Best…and Learn from the Worst.” So, whether you see yourself as a leader, manager, or supervisor – all are bosses because all oversee subordinates.

If you doubt the importance of a boss in an employee’s life, all you have to do is read the staggering statistics. As Bob Sutton wrote, “Whether a study was done in 1948, 1958, 1968, or 1998; in London, Baltimore, Seattle, or Honolulu; among postal workers, milk truck drivers, or school teachers; the results are pretty much identical: about 75% of the workforce reports that their immediate supervisor is the most stressful part of their job.”

So what causes the friction between employees and bosses? Why can’t bosses communicate with their employees? Why can’t employees communicate with their bosses? Don’t employees do the work that they are assigned? Don’t bosses reward their employees? Bob Sutton explained, “Even though the journey is never easy, great bosses know what goals to strive for and how the ride ought to feel along the way – and lousy bosses never seem to quite get it.”

Here are Bob Sutton’s 11 Commandments for Wise Bosses. If you strive to be a good boss, memorize these and then execute them:

  1. Have strong opinions and weakly held beliefs
  2. Do not treat others as if they are idiots
  3. Listen attentively to your people, don’t just pretend to hear what they say
  4. Ask a lot of good questions
  5. Ask others for help and gratefully accept their assistance
  6. Do not hesitate to say “I don’t know”
  7. Forgive people when they fail, remember the lessons and teach them to everyone
  8. Fight as if you are right, and listen as if you are wrong
  9. Do not hold grudges after losing an argument, but instead, help the victors implement their ideas with all your might
  10. Know your foibles and flaws, and work with people who correct and compensate for your weaknesses
  11. Express gratitude to your people

Two quotes from the book provided great inspiration:

  • “The first job of a leader is to define reality.” – Max DePree, former CEO of furniture maker Herman Miller (this creates open communication lines throughout a company)
  • “Learn how to perform every job function within a company.” Examples of this can be found by Walt Disney (founder of Disneyland) and Ray Kroc (founder of McDonald’s) (this creates an in-depth understanding of the workings of an entire company)
To learn more:

Follow Bob Sutton on Twitter:

Follow Bob Sutton’s Blog:

Watch Stanford’s YouTube Channel for Interview with Bob Sutton:

Read “12 Things Good Bosses Believe” on Harvard Business Review:

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Social Media, Social Currency & Brand Marketing

According to AdAge, “Brands have a compelling need to communicate who you are as a brand and what your stand for through social media in a far more consistent, strategic and global way.” But as the Gap learned from its logo debacle, consumers rather than the Gap’s marketing team, own the brand. And thanks to the explosion of social media channels and technologies, brands are sometimes forced to play catch up with consumers. In addition, brand advocates are now forced to handle their brands with white gloves and proceed carefully to create brand equity as if they walk on a circus tightrope.

In a study entitled “Social Currency, Why Brands Need to Build and Nurture Social Currency” conducted by Vivaldi Partners, “Brand social currency is not about social media, not about buzz, not about tactics. It is so much bigger. It gets to a brand’s long-term sustainability. It’s about how customers relate to one another in the context of brands and how those brands, companies, products and people relate to customers…It’s an experiential, holistic concept that we have deconstructed and reconstructed to map to brand value.”

In “the old days,” the traditional model of brand marketing focused on the principles of competitive positioning, target marketing, and consistent messaging. In today’s environment of building social currency, the focus is interaction, collaboration, conversation, and co-creation. According to Vivaldi Partners’ study, “If brands used to be built through creating mindshare, the new model of building social currency is about creating share of daily life.” As a result, the most compelling aspect and the least quantifiable aspect of social currency is that it is neither a product feature nor a public relations campaign; it is not managed by any single company; and it is much more delicate to build, nurture, and maintain.

But don’t despair. Here are four steps to build, nurture, and manage social currency:

  1. Understand buyers – how they connect, share, and chat
  2. Determine the levers of social currency – understand how buyers choose to grant permission to a brand to be part of their social life
  3. Define social currency strategy – decide which levers of social currency will create the most value for a company or brand
  4. Develop and execute social currency programs – make sure that the program integrates digital and social technologies with traditional brand-building plans

Since a myriad of brands compete for attention, it is imperative to evolve with the technology and marketing landscape. So, does your company have plans to develop its social currency in 2011?

Monday, November 1, 2010

Have You Heard of Personality Poker? It Could Dramatically Change Your Business

Stephen M. Shapiro, a business expert with international consulting experience and regular features in Newsweek, Investors Business Daily, and The New York Times, has written a book that explains his inventive card game, Personality Poker. This card game tool teaches employees how to develop, nurture, and drive teamwork and simultaneously supercharge innovation. Over 25,000 people in dozens of Fortune 500 companies have played Personality Poker, so what are you waiting for?

In order for a company to be balanced, Shapiro presents four distinct innovation styles:

  • People who prefer facts and principles (spades)
  • People who prefer ideas and experiences (diamonds)
  • People who prefer plans and actions (clubs)
  • People who prefer people and relationships (hearts)

Here’s an example of the different types as they assemble data about a company:

  • Spades want PowerPoint slides with key information in bullet point format, business cases, and cost benefit analysis
  • Clubs want process flows, data sheets, and detailed resumes of interviews and observations
  • Diamonds want all facts that were essentially sensory aspects (sound, smell, texture, taste) with illustrations, megatrends, and future scenarios
  • Hearts want quotes from interviews, customer empathy maps, images and illustrations that conveyed feelings, and a timeline with key elements in relation to the history and evolution of the company

By applying different strengths and by understanding different approaches to the project, the groups are able to maximize the contributions of each team. Other results include greater levels of innovation and employee satisfaction.

Leadership teams often wonder if the right people are strategically placed in the right roles to maximize performance. But do leadership teams apply an individual’s strengths to specific projects (play to their strong suit)? Do leadership teams have balanced teams with all styles represented (play with a full deck)? Do leadership teams regularly assemble teams to encourage collaboration (shuffle the deck)? Is work divided to maximize individual accountabilities and minimize redundancy (deal out the work)?

Personality Poker can be played by a few people or large groups, but the key is to be open-minded. The objective is to learn or reinforce your style of innovation and determine which part of the innovation pie best suits you. Personality Poker allows people to accept differences in a fun and non-threatening manner, and as a result, employees learn to better understand each other’s strengths so that everyone can work together better.

More details:

Download the first chapter:

Try out Personality Poker with the free online video version:

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