Leaders, Don’t Expect Everyone to LIKE You

Listening to the radio news this week, I heard again that President Obama’s approval rating is continuing to drop. Whether it is his handling of economic issues, healthcare, congress, or a post Labor Day address to school children, we are a nation divided.  Some people love him, some people don’t, and many are stuck somewhere in between.

Now, the purpose of this note is not to open a discussion on whether President Obama is worthy of approval or not.  We’re going in a different direction.  We’re exploring what to expect as a leader in the business world.

I have been through my share of leadership training throughout my career, and there is one thing they rarely if ever tell you.

When you are a leader driving change or making tough decisions – there may be people who will REALLY not like you.

It does not matter how great you are as a speaker, how authentic you are as a person, how charismatic a leader you are, or even how solid your strategy is.

Eventually you will bring about a change that threatens someone’s sense of balance, personal well being, or sense of security through your decisions, and they will make their displeasure known – LOUD AND CLEAR.

Sometimes you can predict and plan for it, and sometimes you can’t.  Blow ups can occur over major issues and decisions or the seemingly trivial.

But be prepared – sooner or later is bound to happen!

This illustration from Pollster.com really helps put things in perspective.  The President’s approval rating hit its peak after the election but before he was actually making any true presidential decisions.    Once his decisions.

This challenge is not unique to Presidential Leadership.

All Summer, legislative leaders across the country have struggled with tough decisions on budgets that won’t balance, whether to raise taxes or not, and where and how much to cut in programs that directly effect no win issues like education, social services, and hampering economic recovery by a heavy tax burden – remember – no economic recovery – no job recovery!

Difficult decisions and cuts lead to public outcries from all sides, as exemplified in this July 25th article and video from CNN.Money.com.

And, as soon as they think they have the problem solved, new gaps open or new conflicts arise, including Gubernatorial Vetoes.

Today’s environment is definitely not a pleasant one for political leaders at any level.

Shifting to Business

As business leaders, we deal with our own sets of issues and decisions every day.

Some are large and some are small, but at any level of authority we often have to make tough decisions that will not be viewed positively by everyone.

Here are some lessons I have learned along my leadership journey:

The higher up you are on the leadership ladder, the broader the reach and scope of your decisions and the more people you affect positively and negatively.

The closer an unfavorable action get’s to an individual’s personal life, the more vocal the dislike can become.

Listen to your detractors – sometimes they are voicing something you need to hear that your friends and supporters are not telling you.

Deal with detractors respectfully, even if they do not return the courtesy.

You can’t take it personally – even if their attacks turn personal.

Logic rarely trumps emotion when change hits close to home for people.  Especially when that emotion is concern or fear.

While you may try to work with your detractors, you have to eventually to move on.  To paraphrase President Harry Truman, as a leader, the buck will stop with you and you will need to do what you think is best.  And then, you live with it.

Luckily, most leaders will have more supporters than not.  But eventually, somewhere along the way – you will find those few that will not come around.  And when you do, just remember, you are not alone.

Most of us have been there at one time or another.  It comes with the territory.

Thanks for stopping by.   Stay Tuned.

Joan Koerber-Walker

Is Twitter part of your business strategy? Should it be?

Earlier this summer, I was asked by my friend, Dr. Julie Smith David of the Arizona State University Center for Advancing Business through Information Technology (CABIT) to present on Twitter Applications for Business.  I will be speaking there on Tuesday September 8th.  If you read this in time and would like to attend, the contact information is provided below. Best of all it’s free.

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I was incredibly honored to be asked, but I had to wonder… why would they want ME?

I am not a social media expert let alone a twitter expert.  I’m simply a business executive and corporate strategist trying to figure out where all this stuff fits.

I have yet to find all the answers, but one thing has become very clear.

Social media is simply a tool.

Think about your social media tool kit like a set of screw drivers.  You have different types of screw drivers for different needs.  Sometimes you use them alone or sometimes you use them together.  We use screw drivers as tools to help us…

  • Build things
  • Take things apart
  • Make adjustments
  • Fix what’s broken

The same screwdriver can be used to fix a broken electrical socket or to build a nuclear power plant.  It all depends on the the goal you set, the plan you develop, and how you go about executing.

The same can be said about social media.  Websites, Video like YouTube and Vimeo, Blogs, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter are simply tools we use to create conversations, build communities, listen to our customers, and deliver our message.  These tools can help us as business people to do the very same things that the handy screwdriver can do – Build, Disassemble, Adjust, and Fix what’s broken.

Just remember – the tool is NOT the strategy.  It’s simply something you can use to achieve the goals you set.  Your message however IS a key component in any strategy.  It’s how you share what you are trying to accomplish.  That’s where social media fits for business – as a community building messaging tool.

You simply need to choose the right combination of tools to drive your message home.

Since Tuesday’s talk will be focused on Twitter – here are some tips for using Twitter as a tool for what it is best at:  Community Building, Customer/Audience Interaction, and Message Delivery.

In any good strategy you start with a goal, develop specific tactics, choose your tools and people resources, establish metrics or milestones, and execute while adjusting as needed.

Twitter, like the screw driver, works best when combined with other tools for more complex projects.  Here is a listing of tools and tips you can use with Twitter to make it more effective.

Community Building:

Twellow is a great tool for finding people with shared interests.  You can search by key words like Information Technology, CEO, Entrepreneur, Leadership…you get the picture.  You can also search by locations (City, State, etc) if you are trying to build community in a specific region.  You can find people you want to follow and if you are offering good content in return, many will follow you back.

Conversely, for the people you might want to avoid – TwitChuck is a good resource.  In a matter of minutes, it can scan your friends and followers to identify known spammers and other inappropriate tweeters like porn sites and bots.  (You can also check your own reputation to ensure that you are considered a ‘Good” person to follow.

As you are getting started, and even after you are well established, Twitter imposes follow limits. These are important to know and understand.  You can read them here.

Be Friendly! When someone follows you, I believe it is common courtesy to give them a follow back.  If they then abuse the courtesy with spam or inappropriate content – you can unfollow them or even block them so they can not come back later.  To save time you can automate this process using SocialOomph (formerly known as TweetLater.)  This service will automatically follow people that follow you – a BIG time saver.  The service also has a feature for auto replies when people follow you.  This I highly recommend NOT doing.  It is a common practice of spammers and by veteran twitter users is considered very uncool!

And whatever you do – DO NOT SPAM your followers.  The point is to offer helpful information, share ideas, and create value to your followers.  If all you do is talk about your products, your blog, your ideas and never interact with others – people will stop reading your posts very quickly! Even worse, people can block you – ruining your online reputation.

Also, unless you are intentionally forming a closed group – DO NOT protect your tweets.  This is counter to the whole principle of building a community.  Plus for many third party tools, they will not be able  to see them and people will not find or follow you!

Customer/Audience Interaction

OK – you may be thinking – I am looking at this as a BUSINESS tool.  What do you mean it’s not all about me and my product or service!

Think about twitter as a giant focus group.  As you build a community you have an opportunity to listen to what current or potential customers are tweeting/talking about.  People who follow you have shown some level of interest –  their opinions count!

You can even use Twitter Search to find people who are talking about your company or your product – or your competitors.  Talk about a great market research tool!  Then you can choose to follow them and join the conversation.

Interacting with customers means listening, starting a conversation, and engaging them.  To do this – think about what you want your Twitter brand to be before you start.  It may be that you need multiple profiles for different customer groups, products, or for you corporate message as opposed to that of your CEO for instance.  That was appropriate for me over time and in the end I developed FIVE different Twitter profiles based on the type of information I choose to share.  This post helps explain it.

The first rule of interaction is always – You get what you give.  Follow people, share interesting content, and offer value, and that’s what you will get in return.

Message Delivery

Now we get to the important part – message delivery.  The point of Twitter for business is that you want to START a conversation that can be continued.  Sometimes you can do that exclusively in the twitterverse, but more often that not, you want to be more expansive – that’s where your website, blog, Facebook page, LinkedIn Group, or other social media tools come into play.  You can use Twitter to invite people to view your other content platforms.  Does it work – Absolutely.  Here is an example.

I have two blog sites for my company.  One on TypePad and one on WordPress.  They have exactly the same content and have been around for the same amount of time.  The TypePad Blog gets promoted on Twitter.  The WordPress blog using simple SEO.  Now the real test.  Does Twitter make a difference?  YES!  The TypePad blog has 100 times more RSS subscribers and 500 times more visitors after only 9 months! Oh and my website – CorePurpose.com gets more traffic today that it ever did with managed SEO alone.

How much time does all this take?  I can’t be on  Twitter ALL day!

This sounds like a lot of work and  a lot of time.  But after you get things set up efficiently, it does not have to be.  Personally – my ‘Twitter Time – is less than 2 hours total each day – and that includes all of the reading of the articles and other tidbits I share that I would be accessing anyway.

Here are some of the tools that help me be more efficient.

Twitter itself is not the most user friendly interface for day to day management of large communities.  If you are managing multiple profiles – Seesmic is my tool of choice.  For single profile users, TweetDeck is also a popular alternative.

Going to be away from the computer and want to schedule tweets for a different date or time?  Both SocialOomph and my favorite HootSuite can allow you to put your tweets on autopilot cleanly and professionally.

It’s up to you to determine how much time you give to Twitter.  Just remember you get back what you put into it.

Lastly – if it turns out that Twitter is a key tool for executing your strategy, there are lots of professional out there that can be hired as in house community managers or outside consultants.  These people can help you fast track your Twitter experience and in the long run save you time and hopefully get you towards your goal  faster – plus they can help you stay on top of the latest developments.

This may be one of the longest posts I have written to date- but now you have what you need to get started.  If you want to learn more about my personal journey in trying to figure out how  all this stuff  fits, visit the category section of this blog.  You will find a section on social media and more musings  there.

So does this work for business?  You decide.

For me, my community – between my five Twitter profiles is over 22,000 after 9 months.  My followers are focused on the areas I want to focus on.  My website and blog traffic is up and so is my business.  And, I have made new partnering contacts I could only have dreamed of before.  So for me – It’s been worth the ride.

Thanks for stopping by.  Stay Tuned…

Joan Koerber-Walker

Missing the Innovation Train

Innovation – doing something in a new way to make life better for the people who matter – is a wonderful thing – unless you happen to be the one who missed the train when it pulled out from the station.

KOERBERThat’s what happened to a once great family business, Koerber’s Beer.

Hey – you may be thinking – that name sounds familiar.  Yes, Koerber’s was once our family business run by my grandfather William G. (Bill) Koerber and his brothers.

Koerber’s Beer and the other brands, including Friar’s Ale and later a new innovation, Malt Liquor led the brand portfolio.

Grandpa’s brother, Clarence “Click” Koerber, invented malt liquor and began production at the Grand Valley Brewing Company in Ionia, Michigan some time around 1937. Great  Uncle Click named his magic brew Clix Malt Liquor.

The family business managed to survive through two World Wars, Prohibition, and the Great Depression.  Instead, it was an innovation in the brew master’s art that led to it’s demise.

That change was the imagepractice of increasing the preservative content in beer and ale.  By adding additional preservatives, competing breweries were able to ship their beers for greater distances, store the product for longer periods of time, and increase shelf life for distributors and retailers taking advantage of major economies of scale.

There was only one problem, it affected the taste of the beer.  Koerber’s brand was associated with Age, Strength, and Purity.  Grandpa, as brew master was sure that no one would buy let alone want to drink the lesser product.   And Grandpa was wrong!

By 1949, the last bottle of Koerber’s beer was crated and shipped from the plant in  Toledo, Ohio.  The factory was closed.  What today we would call a series of micro breweries, Koerber’s, and it’s sister company Grand Valley Brewing could not compete with the mega brewers who had emerged.

By the time I came along, in 1960, the only Koerber’s beer that was still in production came from the mini brewery that was hidden behind the secret wall in the Dutch Room off the boat well in Grandpa’s home at Grayhaven on the Detroit River. But that’s a story for another day.

So when you hear the whistle blow and see the innovation train pull into the  station, be sure to have your ticket ready so you can board.  You don’t want to be left behind!

Thanks for stopping by.  Stay Tuned…

Joan Koerber-Walker

Asking for Help…

Often one of the most important lessons we learn as business owners, innovators, and leaders is how and when to ask for help.

In 2001, I was VP of Global Supplier Contracts at Avnet, Inc. a Fortune 500 global distributor of electronic components and computers.

I had an idea for a new kind of business and took the idea to Avnet Chairman and CEO, Roy Vallee. We discussed the potential benefits to the company and what I wanted to do to make it happen. He told me to “…take the idea and run with it. Take it as far as you can and come back to me if you need help.” There are 3 components to this advice:

1) develop new ideas;

2) plan and take action;

3) ask for help.

At the time, for me, #3 was the MOST important. Up to that point, I had done everything for the project on my own. To make it viable, I had to find the people and resources that I lacked and get them to be part of the solution. A year later, Avnet decided that the time was not right to proceed with the project. But I was not ready to give it up.

So, I  took Roy’s advice and asked for help.

First I asked Avnet’s permission to take some of the ideas I had developed and create my own business. They said yes.

Then I looked for and found the best people and resources to partner with to build that business. They said yes too.

The result, CorePurpose, Inc. has been supporting other businesses in their journey along the growth path since July of 2002. Our whole business is built around having the right resources and knowing how to get help when you need it.”

Applying the Lesson

For many of us, asking for help is not an easy thing to do.  Many still believe that asking for help makes you appear weak or out of control.  Contrary to this belief, asking for help at the right time and for the right reasons is NOT a sign of weakness, but rather can be a sign of confidence, strength and savvy resource management.

Few organizations or projects succeed without some form of assistance today – be it leadership, financial, supply chain, staffing, technology resources, or a myriad of other needs.  Interestingly, the strategic process we go through in developing our program or project can also be a great process to follow when determining how to go about finding the right help at the right time.

Develop new ideas

Look at each step of your current strategic plan or program map.  Identify the areas where the process or program can be strengthened through outside support or other partnerships.  Look at each step of your process not only in light of how a strategic partner can benefit you but also how, by working together, the partner will benefit too.

Plan and Take Action

Evaluate the things that you are doing that might be done as well as you are currently doing them or can be done even better by others.

Start by identifying outside resources for non core activities and then evaluate how you can better utilize your existing resources by redeploying them into core areas of strength or differentiation within your organization.  Strategic partnerships like these are a resource investment for you and the partner.  Be realistic in calculating the ROI for both parties.

Put together presentations you can make to potential strategic partners with a focus on how each of you will benefit from the partnership.  Then build your target partner list and start scheduling the presentations.

Asking for help.

Following this process, asking for help moves from sending out an ‘S.O.S.’ or distress call to proactively building relationships where both parties benefit.  Now, you are  not just asking someone to help you with a business challenge, you are offering to help them overcome one of theirs.

So, don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Look at your business on a regular basis to determine how by asking for help, you can make your business stronger, more cost efficient, or more financially sound.  You’ll never know, until you ask!

Thanks for stopping by.  Stay Tuned…

Joan Koerber-Walker

Recipe for Growth – A Pound of Leadership and a Dash of Innovation

In today’s economy, wouldn’t it be wonderful if there was a magic recipe for growth?  Just pull out your business cook book, follow the instructions, pop it in the oven and enjoy success.  Unfortunately it’s not quite that easy.  If it was, we would all master the recipe early and reap the benefits.

j0402524[1]But in reality it is not that simple.  Business success requires a unique mix of ingredients and process that fluctuates with changes in our internal and external business environment.

I remember, when I was a kid, my Grandmother telling me, “If you want to eat, you need to learn to cook.”  Well, in the world of business – the same can be said.

Each recipe starts with a goal in mind.

You have a physical or mental picture of what your desired result will be whether it is scrambled eggs, a mushroom quiche, or chocolate chip cookies.

The second section is the list of ingredients

If I am making my favorite, warm, gooey Chocolate Chip Cookies – there are some basic foundational ingredients   – butter, sugar, flour, eggs.

I need a leavening agent like  baking soda or baking powder to make my batter rise.

Flavoring – like vanilla or almond extract

And differentiators like chocolate chips, nuts, coconut, or raisins to make my cookies stand out.

I also need to focus on the quality of my ingredients to ensure a great result.  Lot’s of people may have the same recipe – but the quality of the ingredients I use can make my cookies better than the rest.

Apply Energy

And then I need to apply just the right amount of energy to make it all blend together. Plus a different kind of energy to bake it into a finished product.

Results

Only when the cookies are out of the oven, cooled, and in my mouth will I know if I have obtained the desired results. If it’s not perfect – I can always try again.

Applying it to business.

When it comes to our businesses the processes are not that different.  We need…

A goal – that clear picture of what we are trying to achieve.

The right base ingredients – a product, a  service, a market to serve and people to do the work.

A leavening agent – No baking soda here – this the the values that you and your people employ as you follow the plan.

Flavoring – your marketing and communications strategy

Differentiators – the unique aspects or innovations that you bring to the equation and to your customers.

To Add Energy – in the right proportions at the right time – and that’s where leadership comes in.   Not enough energy and your result is half baked.  Too much and your result is burned to a crisp.

Don’t forget to focus on the quality of your ingredients to ensure a great result.  Lot’s of people may have the same recipe – but the quality of the ingredients you use can make YOUR BUSINESS better than the rest.

There is a recipe after all.

You just have to keep experimenting until you find yours.

So, what are you going to mix up and pop in the oven?

Thanks for stopping by.  Stay Tuned…

Joan Koerber-Walker

Do you know my name?

If you passed me on the street, would you know my name? Would you call me by it? If you needed what I had to offer, would my company name be one that came to mind?

clip_image002[4]There are few things more powerful than a name. It links to our actions, our reputation and to the history of who we are. In days of old, continuation of the family name was a key goal of lord and serf alike. It was all they had to guarantee they would be remembered after they were gone. Today, both individuals and companies focus on a name as a brand, hoping to link what they stand for and what they do to the name they carry.

Our name connects us to others.

Many companies have recognized the power of the sharing of names between employees and customers. Last week I had lunch at the Macaroni Grill. Our server came over to the table and introduced himself, saying “Hello, my name is David” as he pulled out a crayon and scrawled his name right on the table. He went on to welcome us, ask what we would like and assure us that he wanted us to have a good time today and to call for him by NAME if we needed anything at all. Other businesses, including Sam’s Club and Safeway have taken the practice one step further. Each employee has a name tag which allows us to call them by name. They use technology and our name on membership cards to thank us by name for coming to their store. The Safeway at Chandler and 40th Street has been where I do my weekly shopping since we moved to the Valley of the Sun in 1992. Through familiarity and the regular exchange of names, we have come to know each other.

Al is always available with a smile to help me find a special ingredient or item. Linda has been ringing up my orders for years.  If I see her behind one of the registers, that is the direction my cart veers – even if the line is shorter on row over.  Steven is often there to help me take my overloaded basked to the car and fills me in on the things he has been doing or how his family is getting along.

Within a short drive from my home, there are six supermarkets within a very small radius, including another Safeway. They all have coupons, bargains and specials. But I always go back to the same one. Not because it is closest or cheapest, but because we are on a first name basis and I know that I can get what I need there. It is not just store policy, or a marketing gimmick. It’s a connection.

What’s in a name?

When I launched my own business in 2002, I had to answer a lot of questions. The most important being…what was our reason for being in business? This broke down further to… what would we offer, who we would serve and how we best serve them.?

My personal passion was innovation, doing something in a new way to make life better for the people who matter. Helping other organizations create innovative ways to achieve their business goals became the central focus of our company – our core purpose.

When I started to research possible names, it all came back to who and what we were. We had a strong, motivating drive to our core purpose. We helped others discover and capitalize on their core purpose in innovative ways. We became CorePurpose, Inc.

Today, companies come to us to help them refocus, to grow, to make the most of what they have, or find the things they need to realize their own core purpose. We get calls from around the country and around the world asking about what we do and how we do it.

Our name and our reputation brings customers to our door.  The work we do brings them back.  ~ Joan Koerber-Walker

What about your business? What does your name say about you? What do people think of when they hear it?

If you do not know, there is a simple test.   Ask the question! Most people will be happy to tell you what they think and are pleased to be asked. You might be surprised what you hear. What your customers tell you is what they perceive your purpose and value to be.

What they think of when they hear your name matters the most. Their perception of your business and the value it brings when linked to your name becomes your brand. If you like what you hear, maximize the message in the marketplace. If you are not hearing what you want – you may have some work to do.

Just as a business brand links your name to what the markets perceives you to be, you have a personal brand that links your name to how those around you see you. What you do and how you do it becomes tied to your name. Your personal brand may change depending where you are. In my case, when I am around the school or at the hockey rink, I am well known as Chris Walker or Nick Walker’s Mom. My brand is directly linked to theirs. My claim to fame is directly linked to what they do and who they know. In the business and philanthropic community, my brand is more closely linked to the personal values I exhibit in my work with customers, organizations I volunteer with, or associations I belong to. In the case of my personal brand, what they see is what I get. What I do becomes what my personal brand is perceived to be.

Ask yourself – what is my personal brand? Ask your friends. You might be surprised by what you hear.  If you like the answers you get, build on it. If you don’t like the answers, get to work.

So, do you know my name? Will I know yours? Whether you look at this question personally or in terms of your business, the answer may be one of the most important ones you ever hear.

Thanks for stopping by.  Stay Tuned…

Joan Koerber-Walker

Looking Outside

One of the biggest mistakes we can make as innovators and business leaders is to assume that we automatically know what our customers want, need, and are willing to buy.

readysetgrow2I learned that lesson the hard way in 2004 when I came up  with a ‘brilliant’ idea.

CorePurpose, Inc., the company I founded in 2002, would run a 12 month lecture series with thought leaders from across the country.

We were smack dab in the middle of a down turn.  People were looking for answers and strategies to help turn things around.  And of course – I knew who had the answers.  I would bring them to town, one each month, and help all the small businesses by giving them access to ideas and talent as a group that they could not afford individually. I was really excited!

The folks at the Phoenix Business Journal also thought it was a great idea and featured the program with a full page story to kick things off in January 2, 2004.  Doug Brodman and my friends  at AVI Communications created an incredible 12 month interactive marketing campaign highlighting each month’s speaker in addition to the ads (like the one above)that would run each month in the Business Journal .  We had a sure fire hit!

Well, maybe not.  While we had gotten great feedback in designing the program as to the topics of interest, the areas of need, and the program’s price, we failed to ask one key question:

Would they, as business owners, make the investment of their time to attend twelve half day sessions throughout the year?

It turns out that for many in our target market, the answer was no!  Instead of standing room only crowds, the room was half full each month.  Still, we held to our commitment to provide all twelve sessions.  Those that attended loved the program.  CorePurpose got lots of critical acclaim from the economic development community and even won awards.

Through out the year, we kept asking potential customers – many of whom we had talked to during the design process – what we needed to do differently.  In almost every case we got the same answer.

They could not afford the time away from the office when times were so tough.  The perceived benefit did not exceed the perceived cost… of their time!

In the end, the program lost over $60,000 dollars because I assumed I knew the answer to one very important question and did not ask it.

Back then, that was a BIG hit to take.

So what is the moral to this story?

When you are designing products or services, be sure that you look outside your organization and ask ALL the important questions.

Get with professionals to help you design accurate assessments of market needs AND your target customer’s willingness to adopt what you are creating before you commit to investing your time and money to create a product or service that customers may say they want – but may not be willing or able to buy.

And for me – as a personal reminder – this ad has a place of honor on my office wall.  It stands as a reminder to be sure to look outside of the company, to talk to customers and prospects, and to ask all the right questions – FIRST.

Thanks for stopping by.  Stay Tuned…

Joan Koerber-Walker

How big of an impact can one thing make?

I remember my grandmother quoting the poem “For the Want of a Nail…” to me as a child. Her message to me – all things great and small can have tremendous impact on the success or failure of what we are trying to achieve”

For want of a nail,

V-Trak Nails 5 Citythe shoe was lost.

For want of the shoe,

the horse was lost.

For want of the horse,

the rider was lost.

For want of the rider,

the battle was lost.

For want of the battle,

the kingdom was lost.

And all for the want of a horseshoe nail!”

 

Anonymous

Grandma looked at life as a series of chapters, each full of choices, opportunities, goals and challenges. When one chapter ended, another commenced. You might not have control of all the twists and turns of the plot, but you could make a huge impact on how the story turned out.

So, why write an article about business – and that’s what this is – with old proverbs and messages learned at Grandma’s knee? Because we often make business and business decisions much more complicated than they need to be!

Many of the lessons we learned early on in our lives – when things were simple – can have a significant impact on business success. Simple lessons like –

  • Look both ways…
  • Listen to your teacher
  • Look out for your brother
  • Don’t cry over spilt milk
  • You’ never know until you try
  • If you fall down – get up
  • You’ll never finish if you don’t get started.

Our lives and our businesses are made of a continuous series of little things – some that may seem important at the time but have little impact in the grand scheme and others that seem insignificant but can have a long and lasting affect. The trouble is that we lack perfect intuition or the crystal ball to determine what the important things are right now.

There may be some pretty big questions that you are be facing in your life or business in today’s economy.  It pays to keep in mind that the simplest answers are often the right ones and, as in the case of the nail, one small thing can make a big difference. 

Thanks for stopping by.  Stay Tuned…

Joan Koerber-Walker

The End of the One Way Street

For those of you that have been following my Little Life Stories blog over the past week, you know that I have had quite a bit of windshield time as my son and I drove the 2500 miles from Phoenix, Arizona to Brookfield, Connecticut.  Over 40 hours in the car equated to that much time off-line.  You should try it some time.  Disengaging and taking the time to think without the constant demands of meetings, phone, or computer.

One WayNow traveling down highways is the ultimate One Way Street.  If someone decides to travel in the wrong direction – it’s a recipe for disaster. 

But for most other areas of our life and business – traveling down the one way street is a very short sighted solution.   

A very wise friend of mine taught me long ago that by extending yourself, engaging, and helping others there is a karmic affect.  What you give comes back to you.  This video tells the story… 

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3BVhWIetBH0]

A recent blog post and developing exchange with Gloria Feldt on her blog “Speaking Up” under the category of Courageous Leadership really helped me bring my thoughts into focus in terms of social media interactions and my social media tool kit as a leader.

How does social media fit in my leadership tool kit?

I loved that Gloria started off by recognizing that social media is a tool for leaders and not a strategy. Social Media – interactive websites, blogs, Linked In, Twitter, Facebook, and more are each separate tools that can be used separately and on concert to 1) deliver information and 2) interact with your audience, employees, customers, and community in general.   These actions are the components of our strategy.  The tools simply enable us to act more effectively.

The days of one-way communication are coming to a close.

With the development of new social media platforms, we have entered into a new era of two-way communication that will allow us, as leaders, to develop stronger relationships, enhance communications, share ideas, and collaborate.

I am just learning to use these new tools to facilitate these interactions. The more I learn, the better a communicator and ultimately a leader I can become.

Here is a short story to illustrate what effectively using social media tools can do.

Gloria and I met at an ASU Women in Philanthropy event in 2002. Since then we exchanged holiday cards, read an occasional newsletter or email, and were loosely connected. As we both began to use the newer social media tools, we began to more actively interact, follow each others projects, and introduce each other to friends with shared goals.  Ultimately these conversations can lead to collaborations in the future. Basically, our communication has become a two-way street.

Are you still stuck on the one way street?

Not everyone is taking advantage of this opportunity.  Often I continue to  come across others in the social media and business worlds who are still stuck on that “one-way street” mode of communicating.  They continue to PUSH information out while failing to take advantage of the opportunity to PULL information in by engaging with their social media communities.  Until they do, they will run the risk of missing out on great new ideas, critical information, or opportunities to collaborate, and make a difference in their businesses, their personal interactions, and their communities – where ever they may be.

It’s kind of sad – I hate to see anyone miss opportunities – but in the end, that is their choice.  Their decision just creates more available opportunities for those of us choosing to travel down “two way streets”.

Thanks for stopping by.  Stay tuned.

Joan Koerber-Walker

Looking Inward – What is your CorePurpose

Looking inside our organization and accurately assessing where and what we are isn’t always easy.

j0438801[1] Because we live where we are every day, we often do not see the little things all around us.

Many changes, for good or bad, are gradual. If we are living them every day, we may not notice the change. It’s like a pearl growing in an oyster or the grass growing in your yard. You do not notice how much the grass grows each day, but go away on vacation for two weeks and you immediately notice the difference on your return.

OK, so we need to take stock inside our organization, but what are we looking for?

The first key area to examine is who you say you are. A good place to start is with your core purpose and value statements.

What’s your core purpose?

Your core purpose is what you are and what you work to be. Unlike mission statements that should be time bound, your core purpose is a continual quest and directing force. It is the first component in who you are as a company.

The second component is the set of values that you adopt as an organization to realize that core purpose. Your values point your people towards HOW they will realize the organization’s core purpose. How they will deal with each other and how they will deal with customers and partners. These values drive your organizational behaviors – what you do day in and day out.

Let’s look at an example.

My own company, CorePurpose, Inc., (www.corepurpose.com) is a distributor of value added services and outsourced solutions. We work with companies ranging from start ups to the Fortune 500® to establish where they are, where the want to be and how to get there. We then build solutions from our portfolio of specialty service providers in the area of human resources, sales & marketing, operations, finance and information technology.

At CorePurpose®, our core purpose is To Provide Services and Solutions that Build Businesses. Everything we do in the company is focused on building businesses – our own – our partners – our customers.

From that core purpose, we then determined our corporate values: People, Acceleration, Promises Excellence, and Results. If you look at the first letter of these words you will note that put together they form PAPER. This was done with specific intent since values are noting but words on paper without sustaining behaviors demonstrated every day.

Looking at our corporate values, we can break them down into specific behaviors:

People – are the most important – no business exists without people – they are our employees, our partners, and our customers.

  • We treat people with respect.
  • We seek out diversity and partner with people who compliment our skill sets.
  • We create services and solutions that are designed to make people successful in what THEY want to achieve

Acceleration – our customers and partners look to us to help get them where they want to be faster.

  • We set aggressive but achievable milestones.
  • We offer resources that allow things to happen faster.
  • We do not wait and wonder. We are decisive and help our customers be decisive also.

Promises – to succeed we must be trusted. That means we must keep our promises.

  • Be clear in the promises you make – gain shared understanding.
  • Don’t EVER make promises you can not keep. Don’t over commit.
  • Ask for help when you need it.

Excellence – people choose to work with us because of the quality of what we deliver.

  • As experts we stay at the top of our field.
  • We know our facts and do not guess.
  • If we don’t know – we say so – we find out – and communicate back.

Results – it’s what we are looking for and what our clients and partners expect.

  • We measure what matters.
  • We do the job right the first time.
  • When we achieve our result, we set the bar higher and start again.
  • We deliver.

If you worked at CorePurpose®, would you know what was expected of you?

If you were the customer or partner, would you know what to expect?

Hopefully so. But as we all know, seeing is believing.

Our employees, partners, investors,  and customers watch what we do, and make their own assessment of the strength of our commitment to our core purpose and corporate values.

What we say is fine… but what we do is what really counts.    

Thanks for stopping by.  Stay Tuned…

Joan Koerber-Walker

 

CorePurpose® is a registered service mark of CorePurpose, Inc.