Monthly Archives: February 2010

Sometimes Coming Full Circle Means You Didn’t Learn The First Time

I became leery of 19th century class books after I delved into Madame Bovary.  Not to ruin it for any of you but the book is full of despair and the ending is tragic.  I needed a vacation after that.

I never read any business book published before Theodore Levitt.  What could books offer that were written before fax machines, FedEx, computers, wah wah wah.

It’s a good thing you continue living as long as you continue learning.

One of the members of my Mastermind group suggested we all read Scientific AdvertisingAnother suggested we start with his original My Life In Advertising.  They were written in the 1920s and were in the public domain.  I said okay and went to Google Books and downloaded it.  We devote a segment of our weekly meeting to discussing a couple chapters.

It is astounding!

Claude Hopkins (1866-1932) understood customers had to be pulled in through value given first. That free samples or guarantees created trust. The word of mouth advertising was far more important than a “well turned phrase”.  That people wanted to feel their vendors understood what was important to them.

Is this not social media?!

Coupons, samples, joint ventures, copywriting.  These were Hopkin’s gifts to the sales and advertising world at the turn of the 20th century.  Here we are well into the 21st century and we are returning to these simple, successful practices.

I have learned so much from Claude Hopkins that I am starting to consider him a mentor.  And how many people can you say that about 78 years after they died?

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We All Bring Ourselves To Work

I saw a post earlier today about a woman who was fired for taking more than the allotted amount of time for a funeral.  It seems her ongoing grief spilled over into work and the management believed they had given her all the time they needed.

I really understand both sides.

My mother was working in the dietary unit of a local hospital and was nearly fired for taking time to visit my brother in the hospital during what turned out to be the last week of his life.  When she walked into work and said “I need next week off because my son died today” they completely changed their demeanor.  They’d had too much experience with people who used excuses to avoid working.

Grief affects each of us in different ways and there is no cookie cutter approach to dealing with it in the workplace…at least not one that works. So how do we best manage it?

Good question.  I’m stoic.  It’s very likely you will never know when I am heart-broken or sick to my stomach with fear or facing a challenge that I wouldn’t wish on anyone else.  I don’t seem very sympathetic a lot but it’s because I won’t permit myself to break down.

On the other hand there are some workplaces that are openly supportive and offer counseling – even just informally –  for people who have faced crises and I think that’s great!  It’s just not for me.

Maybe management’s grief expectations should be part of the employee hiring process.  Employees would be clear how their bosses viewed dealing with personal issues.  They could then decide (I know this isn’t probably a consideration in our current environment) if the company was right for them.

How do you deal with grief in the workplace?

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Ma Ma Ma Ma Ma My Persona

I recently was having lunch with a group of talented, experienced social media pros.  We began to talk about having different personas on Twitter. Lots of people do because they may represent companies or brands as well as themselves.  I have two. One I use all the time. One I use primarily for experimentation of tweets or how many followers can I get in a month – stuff I’m curious about but don’t want to necessarily use for regular engagement.

How many is too many?  How and when do we switch from one to another and is it too problematic when we aren’t actually visible?

Today I was sitting at my computer being an SEO consultant.  My phone rang and with one look I changed into a mother.  A few minutes later the building manager came in to thank me for referring someone to her and then I was a tenant. We all have a hundred different roles we play. In the next few hours I will be a Board President, a sister, a wife, a Tweeter, a friend on Facebook and that’s just what I know about right now.

Here’s the thing.  Even in all those different roles I try to have the same core persona.  I’m blunt. I want the best for whomever I’m dealing with. I have a strong sense of personal ethics. I am a fanatic for learning.  I may have to soften up one area or toughen up another depending on the role I’m playing but no one ever has to worry that I’m not being myself.

Can that be done online?  I don’t know.  If I decide to have a persona strictly for my business say @successtrafficker will I really be offering anything different than just sticking with @victoriakamm?  Isn’t that the lesson we’re supposed to be taking from social media – that we are our businesses?

Too many questions and not enough answers.  I’m looking forward to your opinions!

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Distractions – Another Justification For Failure

I hate magic shows.  I always have since I realized that many tricks only work because the magician creates a distraction.  So on the rare occasion I stop the remote on a magic show I spend the whole time trying to watch for the smoke and mirrors.

(Yes, I know it’s probably more enjoyable to suspend disbelief but I have had to reserve that for motherhood.)

Over the last two weeks I have been astonished at the number of times the topic of women’s choices in the business world has come up and in a variety of situations.  One person questioned my choice of a liberal arts degree instead of a business degree.  One person recommended a book that posits women need to reconsider the decision to “give our children to other people to raise”.  One person had to be disabused of the notion that my business partner was my husband.  Another suggested that Tiger’s sexual partners should write letters to Elin Woods and apologize for their part in his indiscretion.

The first question came from someone I really like and respect.  It took a week for me to give him a complete answer because I didn’t really  have the answer.  It was the context of the times.  An Army recruiter told me there were very narrow choices for me if I really wanted them to pay for college.  The newspaper divided up its help wanted ads into “men only” and “women only”.  Many of my friends went to Bowling Green State University because it was the best place to get an education degree – perfect for a woman.  I opted for University of Toledo for that reason.  But business? No, that wasn’t really open to me.  I bought into the distractions of the media.

Radical Housekeeping is the book making the rounds about how to get back to the basics in raising a family.  I’m sorry. When I ever hear about the good old days I get faint. (See preceding paragraph.)  But the notion that I enrolled my daughter in the finest preschool in this area so that someone else could raise her? Them’s fightin’ words! These books always come out when women take the lead in college enrollment, a very public figure makes a personal decision to devote more of her time to her family, there are more wives with jobs than husbands.  The distracting message?  You’re going to be judged on how your family works and let’s face it. You can’t have it all so maybe this book can make you feel better about your (crazy) decisions.

Not all women work with their husbands.  Stop making that stupid assumption.  I won’t work with someone who speaks only to my business partner in a meeting.  Corollary to that: Women make 80% of all household decisions so to the person who told me that women rely on their husbands for all the financial planning – you’re in for an extreme lack of women in your practice.  The distraction? The soft bigotry of low expectations.

I do not suggest women choose a life that includes trading sex for anything.  That’s why God gave us brains and put them at the top of our bodies.  On the other hand I really get that it can be very lucrative and there is an unending demand for it.  (I am not talking here about the women who have been forced into this business through childhood sexual abuse, drugs, etc.  This is an entirely different set of circumstances and I would never compare their horrible situations to women who choose it.)  But seriously.  Tiger Wood’s call girls and financially supported girlfriends should be held responsible for Tiger’s actions?

You have to be kidding.

This is the biggest distraction I have seen in foreverTiger Woods, his entourage, the PGA community desperate to keep the big money coming in and members of the press who wanted access created the environment that kept this ridiculous behavior undercover for years.  I’d bet my bottom dollar many of them helped procure women.  But the easier thing to do? Distract their wives and girlfriends and mothers by blaming the women who caused Tiger’s downfall.  Because if what’s good for Tiger is good for golf is good for them…well, you get where I’m going.

Why this extra long rant?

Distractions hurt businesses.  Are you so focused on what’s urgent that you run out of time to do what’s important?  Do you avoid feeling foolish by pretending you know how to read your P&L or balance sheet or just let the accountant tell you what it says once a year?  Have you opted out of an entire customer segment because you don’t “get” Twitter, LinkedIn, blogging, search optimization? Worst of all have you refused to consider, out of hand, potential clients because of old thinking?

Distractions are the justification for failure.  Here’s the problem with that: The failure still feels mighty bad.

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Time Flies Even When You’re Not Having Fun

Wow.  I can’t believe it’s been 3 weeks since I posted here. I have another blog I contribute to and a website that I update like a blog.  Not an excuse, just an explanation.

There has been a lot going on in the internet marketing world.  Google Buzz has come out before most have caught on to Google Wave and it has changed every day as privacy issues were discussed everywhere – literally.

Facebook users have set up a group that claims its members will quit if there’s a fee associated.

Traditional news media source New York Times had an article on an entirely different way Google is helping SBOs use paid advertising on maps.

NBC was all a twitter (pun intended) because it didn’t know how to balance the delay of Olympics contests for prime time with the social media quickness of noting who won.

Kevin Smith made sure everyone knew he and Southwest Airlines were not a good fit.  SWA responded with an apology and $100 but it wasn’t a big enough effort. (Yeah, another pun. I’m on a roll.)

You’ll only find 15% of journalists admit SoMe is important but 89% use it to source stories.

So much has happened in the last three weeks.  Try to keep up with it. It’s amusing, interesting and, truth be told, a welcome respite from the sometimes not so fun real world.

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