Monday, June 20, 2011

Today's Question: Why is it Important to Recognize Your Weaknesses?

Because you'll never get past your own limitations if you don't and you will plateau. It's inevitable--for me, my weakness is the having the patience for details. I'm terrible at this--put a spreadsheet in front of me and I zone out; expect me to sit through a 3-hour meeting and you have 60 minutes of interaction and about 120 minutes of unengaged head nodding.

In order to continue to grow as a professional, you have to recognize these weaknesses, and dare I say it, embrace them sometimes. These weaknesses can help you recognize how to surround yourself with the right people--whether they are direct reports, mentors or leaders. You can continue to learn from them. Not everyone can, nor should everyone be the CEO of a company, but by not only capitalizing on your strengths while working on your weaknesses, you can become an integral and invaluable part of a successful team.

Once you shut down and believe you know everything--AND you're exceptional at everything--that's the moment you stop growing...and watch the others pass you by.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Today's Question: Should Your Social Media Personality Match Your Real Personality?

As of late I’ve had the opportunity to actually connect in the flesh with some of my social media friends. Most recently, I spent the afternoon with some fellow tweeps at the Cleveland Indians social media suite.

Prior to the game, the digital media coordinator sent all of the attendees our Twitter handles so that we could meet virtually. Twenty-four hours before the game we were tweeting back and forth, proclaiming our excitement for the next day to all of our followers and tagging each other in posts. Then, we met…and for the most part, we sat at a game in beautiful weather and tweeted back and forth TO EACH OTHER…so much for “social”.

Where were all of these interesting people that I met online? Did they stay at home watching the game in fear of the end of the world (the game was on Saturday, May 21, 2011)?

I was so excited for this game, I immediately started following everyone on Twitter, I made a special Twitter list so that I could see what each person was tweeting and I read all of their online profiles. When I entered the suite on Saturday, I shouted “What’s up, social media suite?” Instead of responses, I got weird looks.

All I can say is I am who I am…via social media or in social settings.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Today's Question: Why is it Important to Check Your Ego at the Door?

It seems so simple, but this concept can bite even the brightest person in the butt! Confidence is a quality that is important in any leader, but in the midst of this confidence there must be a sense of humility—otherwise your ego will stop you from being a great leader.

It good to have a reminder of this handed to you every once in a while. Just this week in a state of frustration, I wanted to send off an email to another volunteer explaining that I clearly knew what I was doing since I’m required to do similar tasks for companies much larger than this organization…my ego was bruised and I wanted to lash out—at another volunteer—because I felt that my abilities were questioned.

After calling my friend for counsel, taking a deep breath and waiting about 10 minutes, a cooler head and smaller ego prevailed.

Reflecting on that event, I realized that this happens all too often. I’ve spent personal time, money and resources on my career; I spend my free time learning more about social media, communications and trends; I work during evenings and weekends for my own job as well as those organizations I volunteer with; and I take my work very seriously (even if I don’t take myself seriously)…so how can MY motives be questioned?

I’m not alone; many of us are wired the exact same way. But, don’t let your ego get in the way, you might miss out on a great idea, new opportunity or learning experience—and great leaders don’t let those things pass them by.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Today's Question: At times, is it OK to be a Sell-Out?

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to attend the Lady Gaga concert in Columbus. I wouldn't characterize myself as a huge fan, nor have I passionately followed her rise in fame, but I know her top hits, watched her on top news shows and kind of know her background.

What I wasn't ready for was her INTENSE following! She's preached to her fans about being true to his/herself--and believe me, they are!

What disturbed me was the juxtaposition of this genuine message with blatant product placement in the middle of the concert! After extolling her thoughts on being yourself, she whipped out her Virgin Mobile phone and called an audience member!

Really? Be true to yourself, but you'll name drop your presenting sponsor?

At first, I couldn't get over this, but the more I've thought about it, I suppose if is a necessary step for reaching the masses. Without Virgin Mobile, would millions of fans know or hear her message--probably not.

So, be a sell-out to deliver your message, but don't let your financial partner change what you have to say!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Today's Question: What Basic SCUBA diving principles can be applied to communications?

Yes, SCUBA diving in on my mind…I've just returned from the clear, blue waters off of Turks & Caicos. I swam with sea turtles, eagle rays and sharks 80 feet underwater...yes, in some ways we swim with sharks everyday in business. It had been a while since I was last diving so before I left, I took a refresher course. I was not only reminded of proper dive techniques and skills, but it also made me think of how this skills can be applied to the business world—especially when you have to give a big presentation.

  • Equipment Check: In SCUBA diving, one of the first things you do before you hit the water is a thorough equipment check…again, another key factor when presenting. Having a faulty BC or regulator can quickly derail your dive, this same effect can occur if you walk into your presentation with an uncharged laptop or the improper connection cables.
  • Always Check Your Surroundings: You need to be extremely aware of your surroundings and the conditions. How deep will you be diving? What will you be seeing? What's the bottom terrain? Having this knowledge will make for a much better time deep underwater and it gives you a sense of what to expect and anticipate. Aren't these some basic "must-haves" for a successful presentation?
  • Continuous Breathing: Once you hit the water, you must always continue to breath…slow and steady breaths calm your nerves, conserve your air supply and also make for a more enjoyable dive. So simple, but so easy to forget. Slow and steady breathing has many advantages for SCUBA diving, just as it does to help calm nerves and allows us to gather our thoughts in stressful situations. I can’t tell you how many presentations that have felt like they have been completed in 30 seconds…or about one breath of air. That’s simply because I didn’t take the time to breathe, that or perhaps I couldn’t remember the content…

So remember, check your equipment, familiarize yourself with the surroundings and breathe deeply, that way, you can take the time to enjoy what’s going on around you…you don’t want to miss the shark whether it’s underwater or in the conference room.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Today's Question: Did You Participate in the Most "Social" SuperBowl Sunday?

I did...with the gusto of a "kid in a candy store"-thanks for that reference, Carmax. In fact, I got so wrapped up in tweeting and posting, that I nearly forgot that there was a professional sporting event going on.

The running commentary on Twitter and Facebook had me in stitches, from the flubbed up lyrics during the National Anthem to the A-Rod/Diaz feeding frenzy, those four hours of sitting in front of two screens (sometimes three) flew by!

But, it was exhausting. Today I realized that I missed some commercials, big plays and maybe even some quality one-on-one spoken communication with friends...instead I typed away, replied and posted my own thoughts on everything from commercials to the halftime show.

In spite of all of this, it was exciting to be a part-even if it was minor-in the most "social" SuperBowl Sunday and it proves that social media is a very powerful tool that can be used to organize groups of people, influence decisions and make differences in our world...and it is accessible to some many people.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Today's Question: Can You Be a Millennial at Heart?

Millennials have grown up experiencing major events in an entirely new way. They've witnessed and participated in uprisings in countries organized through digital media; had access to Facebook long before other generations; and aren't tied to geographical locations when connecting and maintaining friends. They knew about Skype long before I had my first smartphone.

But just like an "emo" high school student, a millennial is defined as mindset, not by age. So at 35, I've decided that I want my life experience coupled with a Millennial Mindset.

I want to workout (or have a private dance party) in my living room with my Xbox Kinect; I want to watch episodes of Glee while tweeting about the the celebrity guest stars; I want to get badges from Foursquare; I want to "untag" myself from photos on Facebook.

At the end of the day, it's really about connecting with people across all generations--no matter how they get labeled.