Tuesday, May 29

Stupid Staples Form 

Don't get me wrong - I love Staples.

But are they kidding with this form? It's MADE to be confusing, disorienting, and irritating.

Note that the labels are actually BELOW the appropriate boxes where they want the information! This would not be so bad if they also did not add a COLON after the text labels when they actually want you to fill in the information ABOVE the label.

Newsflash to Staples Department of Forms: a colon means 'here is what comes next.'

Customer Experience: F

Friday, May 25

What’s Stopping You? 

This is a test. It is only a test. Had it been an actual job, you would have received raises, promotions, and other signs of appreciation.
– Anonymous

If you have a job without aggravations, you don’t have a job.
– Malcolm Forbes

A lot of times, leaders feel aggravated, unappreciated, and feel they’re working with people who desperately need a clue. Guess what?

You’re the clue. And it IS hard - you know what hard means, right?

You will feel depressed, worried, aggravated, uncertain, and sometimes downright sad.

And it’s OK.

You’re there to do the work. And do it professionally and with positive energy. If you can do that day after day, you pass the test!

Question: Which of the following concepts is the biggest JOKE at your company:
* Quality
* Continuous improvement
* Teamwork
* Learning organization
* Servant leadership
* Creativity and Innovation

Why is that? How could you turn that around? What’s stopping you?

Thursday, May 17

What I do best is really cooking 

"I think I am starting to realize I will never go away from what I love most. What I do best is really cooking." So says Georges Perrier on his return to active duty in one of the finest restaurants in the nation, Philadelphia's Le Bec-Fin.

I will never go away from what I love most. How fabulous is that? Whether you're an entrepreneur, or own a business, or work in a business, can YOU say that? I hope you can...

Tuesday, May 15

Manage a Toxic Employee 

by Matt Krumrie, Monster Contributing Writer

Today's workplace is full of horror stories about employees who work for toxic bosses, but what happens when a manager is in charge of a toxic employee? While termination seems like the simple solution, it's not always that easy. Learn what makes a toxic employee tick and how to take control of the situation.

What Toxic Workers Do and Why
In his 25 years as a senior administrative law judge for the state of California, Jim Tamm dealt exclusively with employment disputes. Now a senior consultant with Business Consultants Network and author of Radical Collaboration: Five Essential Skills to Overcome Defensiveness and Build Successful Relationships, Tamm says the bully is fearful about his own significance, competence, likeability or helplessness.

"They don't want to feel that way, so they behave in ways to let them avoid those feelings," says Tamm. "For example, a way of avoiding your own feelings of incompetence or insignificance is to become very critical of others, flood others with information to prove you are right, or jump to conclusions and personalize everything, hold a grudge, get hostile, think obsessively or any number of other inappropriate behaviors."

Bullies put out aggressive signals, often scaring the meeker party into submission, says Judith Glaser, CEO of Benchmark Communications and author of Creating We and The DNA of Leadership.

"If we want to mitigate against the bully, we need to teach leaders how to read the early signs of aggression and to counter them with a conscious request for 'respect,' thereby turning the bully into an equal partner," Glaser says.

Other workers are often afraid to tattle on the bully. A manager must remain in control and demonstrate leadership. If not, "the bully's boundaries and ego expand, and they impact more people than just the initial targets," says Glaser. "Speaking up is vital and sends a signal to the rest of the organization that they don't need to tolerate, accept or support bullying."

Tame Your Toxic Worker
Those who manage toxic but highly competent employees are in a tough spot, says Dr. Janet Scarborough, psychologist and career coach with Bridgeway Career Development. Managers need their employees to succeed in order to keep themselves looking good.

"The manager needs to find a way to motivate the bully to be different," says Scarborough. "There are two possibilities for how to do this -- either offer a reward of something valued by the bullying employee or create a negative consequence for the bully if he/she continues to be abusive. The manager just has to find out what would motivate the bully to change his or her ways, and since everyone is motivated by something, there is always a way."

To put the toxic employee in line, start with a tough talk. "Sit the employee down, and be crystal clear about the behaviors that must stop immediately and those that must start," says Sharon Jordan-Evans, president of the Jordan Evans Group and coauthor of Love 'Em or Lose 'Em: Getting Good People to Stay and Love It, Don't Leave It: 26 Ways to Get What You Want at Work. "Statements such as ‘you must stop spreading negative gossip about your coworkers' or ‘you must start helping your colleagues more in tight deadline situations' should be brought to their attention."

Jordan-Evans says you can ensure the employee is clear about expected behavior changes by asking him to paraphrase or repeat those changes. Provide a timeline within which you expect to see lasting change as well as consequences for noncompliance. She recommends saying: "We'll meet again in one month to discuss how you're doing on these changes. I'll expect by then that you're 90 percent on target. Six months from now, I'll expect 100 percent success regarding these changes. Your performance review will reflect this process, and your pay will be impacted accordingly."

This means no pay increase or bonus for failure to change, while success translates into a pay increase and/or bonus, Jordan-Evans adds.

Overall, the manager has an important role in taming a toxic worker. "The toxic person is making others' lives miserable," says Glaser, "The manager needs to take the high road -- bring the team together and reestablish a common goal the team can shoot for -- then to help each person see the role they can play in achieving it."

Thursday, May 10

Small Business Marketing: The power of personal branding 

Small Business Marketing:
The power of personal branding

From the flyingsolo blog that just came across my desk:

What do Sir Richard Branson, Oprah Winfrey, Tiger Woods, Anita Roddick and Madonna all have in common?

They all spent time, effort and energy creating their own unique personal brands.

And you can too. You don’t have to be a billionaire, golf champion or celebrity to reap the rewards of personal branding.

A personal brand creates a point of difference. It helps you stand out from the crowd. There are no two grains of sand alike and there are no two personal brands the same.

What are the benefits of having a strong personal brand?

For starters, well-branded soloists can charge more. They can do this because their unique personal brand will add value to their clients.

Imagine if you had the cachet of a brand like Donald Trump, the Dalai Lama or Bill Clinton working for your business.

Also and importantly for potential clients it reduces the perception of risk in hiring the soloist because a strong personal brand is built by having a good reputation.

Branding in today's competitive, crowded and noisy marketplace now needs to focus on three levels - the corporate brand for customers and external stakeholders, the internal brand to attract and retain the best employees and the personal brand of the individual. Clearly soloists need to be developing the latter.

Successful soloists with high levels of power, influence and charisma are able to align their personal brand with that of their clients to add value.

Brands help keep products or services fresh in the minds of client and the introduction of a new personal brand can bring new energy to an organisation.

This is my Integrity Marketing method, where an effective soloist will use their expertise, experience and insight to align the values of an organisation with those of its staff and customers.

Personal branding operates at three levels. The first and most inner and authentic is your core personal brand shaped by your upbringing, family, values, beliefs, personality and attitudes.

The second or middle level is your created personal brand – this is a planned process of self-development that builds your knowledge, specialisation and expert power to create and define who you are.

The third or outer level is your perceived personal brand. You can shape perceptions simply by managing how others see you and presenting yourself in a compelling, visible and persuasive manner.

The most effective way of doing this is through assuming a leadership role (such as President of a community group or industry organisation), networking, writing, speaking and being quoted in the media.

To be successful, a personal brand must be seen over and over again.

Visibility creates the presumption of quality. People assume because they see a person all the time, he or she must be superior to others offering the same product or service.

Successful people like Sir Richard Branson, Oprah Winfrey, Tiger Woods, Anita Roddick and Madonna work at all three levels. Do this in a constant, consistent and congruent way, and you will create an effective – and lucrative – personal brand.

Remember, while strong personal brands take years to build up, they can also be destroyed in seconds.

If you're an aspiring or experienced soloist here are five reasons why you should implement a personal branding strategy:

1. It sets you apart from your competitors.

2. It reflects your core values, personality, talent and skill set.

3. It increases your credibility, especially if you can harness the power of the media.

4. It establishes your expertise, authority and value.

5. It creates a success spiral that can boost your health, wealth and career.

Are you doing enough to develop your personal brand?

Saturday, May 5

Top Ten Ways to Make Money Public Speaking 

This is my overriding principle that came from years of hard knocks trying to get people to hire me to speak. I get more speaking engagements than I ever had before when I quit trying to sell them and began selling my knowledge in as many different formats as possible. The idea is that infinitely more people can buy what you know through books, tapes, CDs, Ebooks and videos than could ever hire you to speak. Your name recognition because of your knowledge distribution makes speaking engagements much easier to come by because the people that could hire you have already heard you and your message on your knowledge based products. In the mean time, the money from the product sales keeps your business thriving.

You can get other companies to sponsor your speaking fee so they can be associated with your message when you speak. Stop and think of what kinds of groups would want to be associated with your message. Let’s say you speak to the banking industry. Maybe mortgage, or mutual fund companies would sponsor you. Maybe bank equipment companies would. Think of anyone who would want to have exposure to your target audience then simply make a proposal to their public relations department.

This is pretty straight forward. As a motivational speaker, you speak to a corporation, association, civic group, or anyone who would hire you and they pay you directly. Most of the time you should try to get a deposit up front of about 50 percent and the balance either before the event, or the day of the event. You will use various methods to get hired. I have had the greatest success in my career getting hired to speak by promoting myself properly on the Internet.

A speakers bureau is a for profit organization that locates speakers for paying clients. The speakers bureau normally takes a percentage of your gross fee. The percentage is usually in the 15 to 30 percent range with the average fee being 25 percent. It is very difficult to start with speakers bureaus unless you are a bonafide celebrity and your fees are substantial. You must remember they get paid on straight commission and the higher your fee, the more they make. Also, unless you have a proven track record, a speakers bureau will be afraid to put you in front of one of their clients because if you bomb they could lose many more bookings from the same client. You must also supply the bureau with promotional materials that don’t have your contact information so anyone that sees the material will contact the bureau directly and not you.

This is another fairly simple idea, but that doesn’t mean it’s simple to do. Basically you promote your seminar to the public and they buy tickets to attend. You could also promote it to corporate management and get them to buy tickets for their employees to attend. I avoided public seminars for years because of the risk and expense involved in printing and mailing brochures. Now I do lots of public seminars because I can promote them at no cost through my website and email magazine.

This can be a form of public seminar, or it can be done for private groups. You arrange for a telephone bridge line (very inexpensive), or a conference call (can be VERY expensive). You have participants call in and you deliver the seminar over the telephone. This saves a tremendous amount of money on travel expenses for you and the participants along with all kinds of savings for the participants (travel, time, etc.) For visuals you can have the participants sitting in front of their computer while on the phone. You tell them what web page to visit to see your visuals.

This is similar to telephone seminars except you are using the Internet instead of a telephone to hold the seminar.

In this case a company hires you to deliver their programs to public seminar participants, or to participants all from the same private company. Career Track, SkillPath Seminars and Fred Pryor Seminars are examples of companies who hire seminar leaders. In some cases you can develop programs for the seminar company and get a higher fee for delivering that program and a fee each time it is delivered by another seminar leader. You also get a percentage of all the back of room products you sell. These companies can keep you on the road quite a bit so you better be ready to travel and don’t think each event will be in the Bahamas . . .Your events are more likely to be in places like Toledo, Cleveland and Columbus. These are relatively low paying jobs when compared to the kind of money you can get promoting your own speeches and seminars.

Many professionals (including professional speakers) speak or give free public seminars to help get clients. Attorneys, doctors, dentists, accountants, real estate agents, lawyers, home builders and many other people from a wide variety of professions give seminars to promote their business and to gain clients directly from the seminars. To do this effectively you must not spend the entire seminar promoting yourself. You must give the participants good information with the idea of establishing yourself or your company as the expert. There is certainly nothing wrong with showing people how complicated things are and even though they can do it themselves, it might not be a wise thing to do. For instance, you could be a plumber giving a seminar on how to remodel your bathroom. You tell the participants every little detail of how to do it and also tell them the perils if they do it wrong. No one will complain that you were just giving a sales pitch, but many will think to themselves, “Maybe this is too much to tackle by myself. Maybe I should hire this person to either help me or do it for me.”

Many companies have their own speakers bureau. Normally the only reason it exists is as a public relations tool to provide a good image of their company to the community. One of the ways you can speak for pay in your company is to volunteer to be in the speakers bureau. As long as you are on company time when you are speaking, you are indirectly getting paid to speak. If they always ask you to speak after hours on your own time, well that’s a different story. You still might want to do it to continue to become a better motivational speaker. Another way to get paid to speak in your job is to join the training staff of your company, or start one if one doesn’t exist. You can simply target a problem the company is having and work up a program to train others in the company on how to solve the problem. Suggest a few sessions to your boss to see how it goes. If you get results, chances are they will want you to do the same program for others in the company.

Friday, May 4

'Boom-boom-goodbye' communication 

The HR Cafe: "'Boom-boom-goodbye' communication

This post will take you less than 60 seconds to read. And you'll be reminded of what's arguably the most important thing about effective communication.

All thanks to my insurance agent. For years I’ve met with my insurance agent once a year for half an hour. In these meetings he’s revealed all sorts of things about his family, hobbies and travels – and asked me about mine. But what I remember most about him is that when he calls me on the phone he rarely spends more 15 seconds.
“Did you get the form I e-mailed you? Great. Send it along. See ya.”

I know this is calculated on his part. He’s a great salesman because he’s developed a relationship with me, but he never, ever abuses it. He respects my time. Every communication is fast and efficient. And guess what? No matter how busy I am I always take his calls.

In HR, communication is critical. But I think many employees feel HR bombards them with information. Next time you communicate with your people, try to adopt the 'boom, boom, goodbye' communication style of my insurance agent. I think your message might get through more effectively, and your employees might be more eager to listen to what you have to say next time you reach out to them.

Remember: 'Less is more.' Goodbye.

Stephen Meyer
B21 Publisher

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