Fuel Others

TYnoteJane2Yesterday, I received two unexpected notes of thanks. Simple things, really. Probably took less than a minute to compose.

Also, I was given the gift of some words of encouragement over breakfast from a friend.

These things fueled me with strength and hope all day long. And they’re still with me as today dawns.

Appreciation and encouragement expressed is people fuel. You may not be the most brilliant person on the planet, but you have a boundless tank of the most important energy source known to man, and people pull up to the pumps every day needing fuel.

Your few, simple words of gratitude or appreciation can fill someone’s tank. Maybe for far longer than one day.

Use your mouth or your pen (or keyboard!). Fuel others. Is there any more important work, really?

How to Gain Influence – the hard way

Noise does not (necessarily) indicate influence.

Popularity does not (necessarily) indicate influence.

Numbers do not (necessarily) indicate influence.

Here’s how influence is earned:

- Do a great job.

- Grow in both knowledge and wisdom.

- Care about people.

- Aspire to something big and worthwhile, and inspire others toward it.

Social media changes nothing except to give one more false measure of influence. There is no shortcut. The squash grows (and fades) quickly. The oak is in it for the long haul.

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Hire Steve Woodruff for Clarity Therapy

Recent posts on Connection Agent:

>> Clarity, part 1: Your Distinguishing Offering

>> Clarity, part 2: Your Go-To Market Message (in 10 words or less)

>> Clarity, part 3: People Buy Your Story

Out with Klout. In with Cannoli!

This post begins with Klout, and why (as of today) I’ve opted-out.

It ends with Cannoli.

One is more delicious than the other. Just saying.

My pal Sam Fiorella and I have had lots of tongue-in-cheek back-and-forth over the months about Klout, but the fact is, I agree with his reasoning here where he explains why he has pitched Klout overboard.

In brief, here’s why I’ve done the same:

1. I believe it is an artificial and inaccurate measure of true influence,

2. It reinforces behavior based on (apparent) reach rather than (real) depth,

3. It has no value to me, business or otherwise.

Instead of issuing Klout +K points to people, I prefer real network-building – like shared meals, shared laughs, shared life, and fruitful collaboration. Algorithms do not portray the type of influence that matters to me. And if you want to look at someone, first and foremost, through a Klout lens – well, we’re probably not going to get along anyway.

During #LeadershipChat on Tuesday nights, we have a habit of talking about cannoli – maybe it’s because a bunch of the participants are of Italian extraction, but I think it’s because a cannoli is simply, extravagantly, wonderful. We’ve even joked about awarding +K(annoli) points.

But forget the K – cannoli is all about the C. So, I’m just going to award people who mean a lot to me a nice, big, extravagant +C. Including an appropriate image, like this:

(btw, “cannoli” is the plural form – what you see above is a cannolo)

Meeting over a plate of cannoli (real or virtual) may not get you Klout perks, but I guarantee the benefits (and calories) are far greater!

Oh – and if you want to award someone the +Cannoli picture above, just copy-paste: http://bit.ly/Cannolo  Let’s #OccupyCannoli!

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Hire Steve Woodruff  if your identity and message need clarity (Business Identity Therapy)

Recent posts on Connection Agent:

>> Maxim-izing Your Leadership

>> A Warning from (Un)Happy Valley

Taylor Swift and Bracelets. Two Good Causes.

I interrupt the normal flow of my ramblings about marketing to introduce you to two good causes. Both have to do with my son David (the Marine).

Cause Number 1

Yep, he’s crazy like his Dad! Dave is heading back to the States this fall after months of deployment in Spain, and he wants to attend the Marine Ball in November (Virginia Beach) with – well, Taylor Swift! So I said I’d help.

Here’s his invite via Twitter. I figure if he gets about 459 bajillion retweets then Taylor won’t be able to resist saying yes (November 4 does appear to be an open tour date, after all…). And who wouldn’t spend an evening with a handsome and talented Marine??

So, let’s have a little fun and help him out! If you’d like, just cut-and-paste the message below (the bit.ly link is to the tweet shown above):

A U.S. Marine asks:  May we dance, @TaylorSwift13?? bit.ly/MayWeDance @DaveWoodruff1

Cause Number 2

While in Spain, Dave and some of his pals have had the good fortune of working with a visionary Navy guy named Nick Mendoza III, who started a very special company/cause called Bands for Arms (B4A). In short, B4A was created to show support for those in the armed services, and provide tokens of remembrance, by creating custom bracelets made out of actual uniforms (all donated). Since creating the the first one in 2009 in remembrance of a comrade who died, B4A has taken off like a rocket, with much of its growth and grassroots organization being accomplished long-distance via Facebook.

David and some of his pals have not only kept busy creating bracelets, but in some cases are actually modeling as well for the photo shoots (which makes the old man feel a very strange mixture of immense pride and intense jealousy – I mean, what country music star wouldn’t want THAT hunk on her arm at a dance…..ooops, sorry, mixing up our causes here).

My wife and I had the chance to meet Nick in NYC during his recent tour promoting B4A and we’re quite impressed with this young man, his energy and vision. B4A supports many charitable organizations (see below), so if you wish to purchase one of the many hand-made designs it’s all for a good cause. There’s even one design called the Woodruff – yes, it’s my favorite! :>}

You can follow the B4A folks on Twitter at @BandsForArms.

Thanks for any role you can play in today’s “cause marketing” post!

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Recent posts on Connection Agent:

>> Clearing Clouds: Recovering from Depression (free e-book)

>> Trend Currents in Social Media

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Twitter: @swoodruff | @ConnectionAgent

LinkedIn Listens, Reconsiders

After two volatile days of negative user reaction, LinkedIn has reconsidered its plan to use the names and pictures of members in third-party advertising.

I had no earthly idea, when putting up this blog post on Wednesday morning (which, 2 days later, has now been viewed 200,000+ times), that such a firestorm would be the result. Nor did I think that LinkedIn would take such prompt action. What we’ve been telling people all these years about the power of social networks? – well, it’s true! :>)

While it’s too soon to fully gain perspective on all this, because it is now hitting national and international media outlets, it’s not too soon to dispel misconceptions that may occur. So…

1. Lest anyone think I have it in for LinkedIn – some kind of vendetta – I don’t. I was a very early adopter and have been a (paying) Premium member for years. My outpost there, including managing several groups, is substantial. I actually like LinkedIn a lot – I’m sure that fueled my sense of disappointment about the new policy.

2. LinkedIn didn’t change course this week because some semi-obscure blogger in NJ “blew the whistle.” They did it because they listened to the sentiments of thousands of their customers. It was smart of users to speak their minds, and very smart of LinkedIn to pay heed.

3. I fully embrace the fact the we make a conscious choice to give up a lot of privacy when engaging in social networks. However, experience continues to show that people have a visceral and negative reaction to these two things:

- the use of their name and face for promotion by someone else in uncontrolled or unapproved circumstances

- forced opt-in at maximum exposure levels when privacy policies are changed

It doesn’t matter if technical, under-the-radar notification is given. What may be legally defensible is not always professionally and personally palatable. Companies really need to not only ask themselves, “can we get away with this?” – but also, “how will this be perceived?” Perception is reality – especially in privacy issues.

4. One person can make a difference – as part of a network. The alert came to me from one unexpected source (in my pharmaceutical network), and once I tossed it up in a quick blog post, it spread like wildfire via another part of my social network.

Kudos to LinkedIn for reacting so quickly. I hope other social platforms will learn the lesson about respecting customers first. As we’ve seen this week – it matters. A whole lot.

(Image credit – Travis Isaacs on Flickr)

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Hire Steve Woodruff  if your identity and message need clarity (personal or company Brand Therapy)

Recent posts on Connection Agent:

>> A Box You Want to Uncheck on LinkedIn

>> LinkedIn, Privacy, and Notification

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Twitter: @swoodruff | @ConnectionAgent

Aiming High. Really High.

A lot of business is ordinary. And a lot of businesses are pretty…well, ordinary.

That’s because a lot of people learn to be ordinary. They learn to aim low, because they are surrounded by people who keep their heads down and their visions small.

And then there’s Steve Jobs and Apple. There’s Tony Hsieh and Zappos. There’s Jeff Bezos and Amazon. All transcendent game-changers, in user experience, customer service, and commerce. And there are a whole lot of lesser-known lights who are aiming high and changing the game in less public, but no less important ways.

They aim for transcendence. Going beyond the ordinary, surpassing expected limits. Transcendence is often used in a spiritual or mystic sense, but in a business sense, it is all about seeing planes fly 200 mph at 10,000 feet, and understanding that they can and should (and will) fly 600 mph at 30,000 feet. And higher and faster still.

Then initiating something to make that happen.

A lot of people in the social media space criticize Chris Brogan. I’m sure he’d be the first to tell you he doesn’t get it right every time. But he’s looking to transcend the normal and expected ways to build networks and do business. Guy Kawasaki and Seth Godin are other examples. Or Gary Vanynerchuk. Breaking new ground can be messy. Trying new things can put a target on your back. Even if they get it wrong sometimes, they get it. The status quo never inspires.

Surround yourself with these people. I do – because there’s an awful lot of ordinary out there. And I want to aim high. What’s the ROI of keeping company with proven transcenders like Lou Imbriano, Anthony Iannarino, Ann Handley, Sean McGinnis, Tom Martin, Lisa Petrilli, Angela Maiers, Jon Swanson – and young entrepreneurs aiming high like Bradley Gauthier, Sarah Evans, Kirsten Wright, and Greg Hartle?

Here’s the ROI – Replacing Ordinary Influences.

Who are your transcendent figures (past or present?) I’ve listed a few of mine – share yours in the comments!

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Enchanting Your Employees

Guy Kawasaki opens Chapter 10 of his most recent book, Enchantment, with these words: “Here’s another Japanese word: bakatare. It means ‘stupid’ or ‘foolish,’ and it’s the perfect description of people who think disenchanted employees can enchant customers.”

Wow. Bold statement. I happen to think he’s right.

Lisa Petrilli and I have invited Guy to be our guest on Tuesday, July 5th for #LeadershipChat on Twitter (8 pm ET), and we’ll be talking about Enchantment. One topic we’ll address is the under-appreciated role of enchanting employees.

My experience over the decades with employees and other organizational leaders is that very few “get” this. They’re too busy treating underlings as a means to an end to really value them. And how will employees then treat customers, partners, and suppliers? To ask the question is to answer it.

Guy proposes that we provide employees with a MAP – an opportunity to achieve Mastery, Autonomy, and Purpose. More than mere money, people are driven – enchanted – by these higher-level motivators. And when they are empowered to serve the customer (not just a rule book), they will care about their work.

Many of us have walked into Apple stores. And most of us have been forced to experience the Department of Motor Vehicles in our respective states. Where did you find delight and enchantment among employees? Here’s the challenge – how could a DMV actually provide a MAP for its employees?

Join us as we discuss leadership enchantment tonight on Twitter. And if you haven’t already, pick up a copy of Guy’s compact guide to Enchantment – it’s sure to make you more….well, enchanting! (special offer here; my prior video blog review of Enchantment here).

And, to make your chat experience even more enchanting, try out ChatTagged, a custom-made Twitter client for helping manage your on-line chat interactions!

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Touches and Tribes

The existence of social media doesn’t fundamentally change the essence of leadership – a leader is a leader with or without Twitter.

But social networks can dramatically impact the exercise of leadership. I’ll mention two ways that come to mind immediately; then, on LeadershipChat tonight (8 pm ET, #LeadershipChat on Twitter) we’ll discuss the topic as a community.

Touches

By being actively networked via social platforms, a leader can much more consistently deliver touches to employees, customers, and other stakeholders. The value of this is incalculable. Leadership is more than transaction and direction, it is relationship-building. Social networks provide a great format for reaching out and touching people on multiple levels, at any time. This pro-active accessibility will likely become, not a luxury item, but a norm in the coming years. Smart executives need to latch onto this low-cost, high-impact approach to more effective leadership.

Tribes

Traditionally in the business world, leaders were anointed through a process of working their way up through a corporate ladder – a hierarchy in which there were fewer winners at each level. While that model will continue to exist in many organizations, social networks allow for something very different – the bottom-up gathering of tribes. Leaders can now assemble like-minded groups of people who perhaps have little or no geographical or corporate connection, but who can work together toward a common cause. Tribal leadership will emerge in the coming decades as a radically new and very effective model of organization. Something as simple as LeadershipChat is an example of this approach.

These are just two quick thoughts – how do you see social networking impacting the way leadership is manifested? Feel free to share in the comments, and join us for the discussion on LeadershipChat tonight. And while you’re getting ready for that, be sure to read my co-host’s perspectives on this topic (3 Things CEOs Should Never Lose Sight of in Social MediaLisa Petrilli).

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New to social networking? Feel free to download my newly updated e-book, Build Your Own Opportunity Network

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Burning Initiative

Glancing over at my Tweetdeck columns right now, I see the faces of many friends and professional colleagues. There’s an astonishing diversity in this group of digital networkers, but when I think about the common ground among those to whom I feel closest, there is definitely one thing each possesses.

Burning initiative.

Great ideas are a dime a dozen. Knowledge is easily obtained, and superficial appeal is a make-up kit and sound-bite away.

My people make things happen. They’re not into the status quo. They see what is, dream what ought to be, and take action.

I see, on my screen, Tom Martin, who is constantly pushing the marketing/social media envelope, and who works as a solopreneur and change agent. I see Lisa Petrilli, who could easily land a job in a big corporation, but who is pursuing her own, more revolutionary, vision. There’s Jason Falls, and there’s Jay Baer – two thinkers and doers who are not afraid to try out new things and push, over months and years, to make a difference.

I spot Dave deBronkart in my Twitter stream – ePatientDave who took the bull by the horns when he was diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer. My pharma co-conspirator Sally Church, who takes the arcane world of clinical research and brings it into the social world. And Geoff Livingston, who will puncture the balloon of just about any status quo, and continually seeks to do something about it.

I could go on and on, but the point is – no matter how smart you are, or what title you’ve been granted, 90% of the game is initiative. Preferably burning initiative, hot and steady, over the long haul.

It might be a thrill to be called a guru, or to be a best-selling author, or to put “award-winning” as your first name. Maybe none of that is so bad, but to be a catalyst, to be someone who makes the pie bigger for everyone, to be a change agent in a positive direction – isn’t that what matters most? Or am I just an idealistic dreamer?

We’ve all been called many names (only some of which can be reproduced on a public blog!). I mostly gravitate toward people with the title Catalyst, Initiator, or Revolutionary. If you’ve got the fire, let it burn and take some initiative!

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What is your Leadership Mission? Is it Greater Than Yourself?

Let’s say you’re a professional (if you’re reading this blog, you probably are). You have skills, you have a job, you’re making a living to support yourself and perhaps a family.

Let’s say you’re a Regional Director in a corporation.

What is is your mission?

“I’m here to earn the best living I can.” OK, that puts you in a pool of about 7 billion.

“I’m here to get to the top.” Common, if not particularly noble sentiment.

“I’m here to come alongside others and enable them to reach their full potential.” Whoa! That’s someone breathing some rarefied air.

Leaders who practices what Steve Farber calls “Greater Than Yourself” (GTY) Leadership aren’t simply in the game for themselves. Their goal is nothing short of equipping others to become even greater than they are. And if you’ve been in the career world for any length of time, you know just how rare these people are.

Do you see how, whatever your position – corporate manager, solopreneur, teacher, parent – the principles of GTY living and leading apply? The need is universal, even if the practitioners are few!

So, we’re going to talk about this theme during #LeadershipChat this week, and encourage one another to embrace that mission. Lisa Petrilli and I are very pleased to welcome Steve Farber (who wrote the book on GTY Leadership!) to join us as a guest host for this lively discussion.

For a nice summary of three key principles of GTY leadership, read Lisa’s blog post this week (Greater Than Yourself Leadership: How to Change the World). Then join us at 8 pm ET and get to know the extraordinary community that is LeadershipChat on Twitter. Just follow the hashtag #LeadershipChat, and jump right into the discussion!

And, to make your chat experience even more enjoyable, try out ChatTagged, a custom-made Twitter client for helping manage your on-line chat interactions!

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The Pace of Success

All of my marketing instincts perpetually whisper in my ear – “go wide, go loud, build big!” Create an audience. Reach as many as fast as you can.

Yet everything I’ve learned whispers in the other ear – “go deep, go slow, build quality!” Create a tribe. Build a vision and a direction that will reach plenty of people over time.

I’m slowly learning to decrease the volume on the first, and listen more closely to the second. Remind me if I forget. Subduing old instincts that are constantly reinforced by our marketplace is not so easy!

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The Expendable Leader

When we talk about leadership, we generally focus on various traits and character qualities that make a good leader – and rightly so.

No sane person can argue with the need for courage, honesty, integrity, decisiveness, humility, and other desirable qualities.

But today, I want to underscore something we don’t often address – expendability.

From the highest-level perspective, every leader is ultimately expendable, because to be quite blunt about it, every person (and leader) will eventually die. That’s expendability joined to inevitability! So you can’t win that argument.

But I think every leader should strive to become expendable, well before the last heartbeat. Why? Because (IMO) a leader is there to create something greater than him/herself, something that should be self-sustaining and able to flourish. And that involves cultivating the gifts, skills, and leadership capacities of others in the organization. To the point where other leaders are leading.

From the first step in the door, any leader should be thinking about the last step out the door. We call it succession planning.

Granted, great leadership is not optional, and for a season, a particular leader will either seem or be indispensable. But that should not be the long-term status quo. The noblest leader sets it all up so that he or she can bow out and leave the organization – and its developing leaders – in a flourishing state. What better legacy can one leave than that?

The expendable leader may well stick around and provide value for a long time after it’s absolutely necessary, but they should one day step outside the door, realize that they could indeed be hit by a bus right now – and that all would be running smoothly when the door opens the next day.

We don’t want to leave behind perpetual dependents. The best leaders grow healthy independence in those they lead.

What do you think? This Tuesday night (8 pm ET), we’ll be discussing leadership (Open Mic night – any topic you wish to discuss!) for our weekly #LeadershipChat on Twitter. Before the magic hour, be sure you also read the perspectives of my partner in chat crime and co-moderator, Lisa Petrilli, on her blog.

(hint: one very easy way to participate is by using a client like Tweetchat. Just log in, read the stream of thoughts that are being shared, and feel free to chime in with your reactions and questions.)

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Leadership and Power – Let’s Chat!

Tonight, Tuesday Oct. 12th, will be the inaugural #LeadershipChat on Twitter. If you’ve missed the prior notifications, here is where I announced this joint venture with my co-conspirator Lisa Petrilli. #LeadershipChat will be held at 8 pm ET Tuesday nights, starting today!

Our approach will be to take one highly discuss-able topic, and before the chat, write up our perspectives (usually it will spring from an article by a third party). Here is our theme this week: Leadership and Organizational Power. Professor Jeffrey Pfeffer is interviewed for this piece called The One Thing You Need to Get Ahead, and we both have strong reactions to it (please read it for yourself ahead of the chat!)

Here is Lisa’s post yesterday on her blog (which is excellent, by the way – subscribe if you haven’t already)! Below is my video-blog reaction. I really REALLY wanted to do a scorched-earth evisceration of the article but instead, tried to be at least halfway civil (no guarantees on restraint tonight – it might get pretty free-wheeling)! It’ll be interesting to hear your reactions and perspectives as we discuss it.

These links should be enough to get your wheels turning for the chat! Grab a glass of wine and let’s talk – just search on the term #LeadershipChat on Twitter (hint: one very easy way to participate is by using a client like Tweetchat. Just log in, read the stream of thoughts that are being shared, and feel free to chime in with your reactions and questions. It’s one fun and fast-paced hour)!

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The One Who Dies with the Most Clicks Wins

Vote for my panel to be accepted at SXSW 2010!!!

Click here so I can advance in the Influencer Project!!!

LIKE this post!!! Please!!!

The fleeting notice of an eyeball, the transient acquisition of a vote, the nano-commitment of a click – these faux measures of significance and influence trick us into thinking that our star is rising.

Popularity is all about reach and frequency and, to some extent, manipulation. But, as Brian Solis puts it so well, influence is not the same as popularity.

But what have we done today to look someone else in the eye and listen? To build a better character? To pay it forward?

Just wondering if “clickfluence” is all that important. You?

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