Bio: Co-founder and Jill-of-Everything (besides editing) for the blog. Currently polishing my post writing skills, and enjoying the ride!
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- Go to http://www.pinterest.com just to enjoy the visual VIP experience. Click on one photo you love, grab the embed code, and add it into your next blog post.
- If you are intrigued to try Pinterest for fun, create an account for yourself by getting invited. Then, go back and fill in your profile and set up some boards. If you are the experimental type, see Wendy Hanlan’s cute trick for making a creative graphic image to pin.
- If you work with a brand, walk down to the marketing team’s war room and start a casual discussion about what they are doing on Pinterest. Listen and throw some ideas back and forth (after you have spent time investigating and researching).
- to show appreciation for his best answer, and
- to ask if we could take if offline, in a phone call, to learn more about him and how to test-drive his advice.
- mentoring over 4,000 cases at SCORE, for which he received a lifetime achievement award in 2010
- running a blog and business called Smalltofeds to advise (for free) how to get moneys from Uncle Sam http://www.smalltofeds.com.
- showcasing his opinions, photos, and poetry at http://www.rosecoveredglasses.blogspot.com.
- advising 7,000 clients over the last 7 years, 20% of whom are overseas. To illustrate: One client is building 17 parks in Kabul, Afghanistan for USAID; several others are helping the recovery effort in Haiti
- walking 3 miles a day and getting out and about in his community.
Two hipsters walk into a bar, and one asks the other if she’d like a drink. Not a joke; it happened in 1992 on my first date with the guy who became my husband. What made the bar unique was the 5-foot sculpture of a nose in the second-floor window of the trattoria.
If it had been a young couple in 2012, the gal might have snapped a picture and pinned it on Pinterest.
Ouch, my lizard brain is aching already.
Am I a Pinterest slacker? Two weeks ago I was, and that is precisely the label I feared. So I gave it a whirl.
Here is the first gem I discovered: You don’t even need an account to grab a beautiful picture on Pinterest and repin it somewhere else on the web.
My highest recommendation is go to the site and look around. Click an image, copy the embed code, and paste it into a new post on your blog. Easy and instant–see the evidence below.
Intriguing? That is exactly the feeling you are supposed to get. Or, any number of other emotional reactions, all brought to life by gazing at images that fire up your neurons.
This is a photo of a bridge in Paris, where lovers leave their padlocks before tossing the keys into the river below.
Does it feel like the complete spa experience for your eyes, a digital scrapbook that draws you in?
Which is why Pinterest is growing at hyperkinetic speed, like kudzu, around the world. (Pronounced could-zoo, kudzu is one of the 4 fastest growing plants on the planet, spreading up to 1 foot a day. Unless you live on the moon, kudzu can spread from your digs and invade everything. Like Pinterest.)
For its many young female adherents, Pinterest has been called “seriously addicting” in the way unlimited texting is addicting (to some).
Pinterest has over 12 million unique users per month, and more than 2 million a day. In fact, comScore reported that it passed the 10 million mark faster than any other independent site in history.
As of January 2012, Shareaholic broke the news that Pinterest sent more referral traffic to websites than Google+, YouTube, Reddit, and LinkedIn combined. In fact, it was nearly neck-in-neck with the 3.6% of total online traffic that Twitter sent that month. According to Sam Delijani, owner of a small jewelry company that sells engagement rings, “Pinterest has generated 6% of our total referrals, whereas Facebook generated 2% of our total referrals in the same month.”
Online bulletin boards offer images that you love, and a range of personal inspiration and aspiration
Images on Pinterest are organized like a collage, on bulletin boards illustrating themes. For this reason, certain industries and brands work better with the site than others. It is well suited for fashion, interior design, gardening, sports, cars, fitness, crafts, travelogues and so forth.
Think how you can illustrate your brand, or think about the visuals that inspire you. This is similar to what advertising agencies used to do on a website. On Pinterest you offer up images that your customers or friends will love, and they can offer up their own images on your online bulletin boards, simply by “repinning” their pictures.
For example, my Japanese friend Ai Hamamoto repinned a video of paper cutting, a traditional oriental art. (I embed it below from YouTube, since I couldn’t get the repinned video to work in WordPress!)
Another example: The online men’s clothing line Bonobos does not officially have a presence on Pinterest, but one lady pins up pictures of the clothing that “she would like to see her boyfriend wearing.” How sweet, a girlfriend who is aspirationally improving his outerwear!
Finding “me time” on Pinterest: The 9 bulletin boards of an addicted pinterest user
Do you recall I told you to get yourself a whole bunch of new friends, folks who are different than you?
Meet Michelle Zaccagnino. She is 22 years old and has 9 bulletin boards on Pinterest with 979 pins. With millions more like her, she is the reason that Pinterest is blowing past others.
I asked Michelle for the overview.
Mojo40: How much time do you spend on it each day?
MZ: I’m very sporadic. I wouldn’t say I’m on it every day, but for me at least, it is very addicting. If I can’t sleep at night, I’ll pin for a few hours because I have nothing else going on. In an entire week, maybe I am on it for 5 to 10 hours.
Mojo40: How do I find you and your boards?
MZ: I’m using a very different username than my regular name. (It’s actually a nickname.) I don’t generally search for my friends on the site; Pinterest is about “me time,” where I reflect on what I personally like. I am not trying to get everyone to be involved in my interests. Facebook is for finding your friends, connecting and chatting. Pinterest is not necessarily directed towards anyone. You can tag someone within the pin (by adding an @ sign in front of their name), but it is really a personal sandbox.
Mojo40: Are there any brands that you particularly like and view on Pinterest?
MZ: Chanel. I repin every Chanel thing I see, onto my own boards. I do a lot less talking about my own pins, and I do a lot more repinning of what I see from someone else’s boards.
Mojo40: How many of your friends are on it?
MZ: To be honest, my best friend just showed me Pinterest in December 2011. My other best friend has it, too. I am not sure how many among all my friends use the site, but my two best friends definitely do.
Mojo40: Do you know any guys on it? I have read females make up 68% of the global audience and 85% of activity. (Mashable stated that 97% of Pinterest’s Facebook fans are female.)
MZ: One guy I went to high school with has it. He is a few years older, but I see he doesn’t really use it that often. (Note: A few guys that this blogger went to high school with also use it. See Ken Wyatt’s photo from his trip to Dubai, or John Beilenson’s Be bOLD board.)
Mojo40: Do you share other people’s pins to your Facebook or Twitter accounts?
MZ: It gives you the option to link your Facebook and Pinterest together and I chose not to. I don’t have a Twitter account, and in general, I don’t even add comments. I don’t necessarily want people to say, “Oh Michelle has a Pinterest account.” I associate Facebook with a stalker site. If you need to find out something about someone, you go to their Facebook account. Pinterest is very different and it is not about connecting with anyone there.
Mojo40: Have you answered any brand’s invitations to pin your pictures on their boards?
How Accenture uses Pinterest for career visibility
Here are two comprehensive blog posts on how to use Pinterest for your business by Beth Hayden and by Debbie Hemley. A much briefer tour of small business strategies is on the Fox Small Business Center site.
Accenture’s strategic use of Pinterest impressed me by showing higher-level thinking. I got a tickler to my Inbox one day from their US Diversity & Inclusion recruitment committee. I just love the way they have set up Pinterest boards for Women at Accenture, Research & Insights, and Leadership.
It’s a very grown-up way to approach a fun tool and generate enthusiasm for women like us, who are struggling and overcoming obstacles on our path. As the cliche goes, you can’t have it all, but you are indeed a leader for trying.
Ready to get your Pinterest account going?
If you think this site is worth exploring further, go ahead and request an invite. Within a day or so, you will get an email with a link to set up your account. The process is simple to follow, with only one tricky part, and they have solved that by including a 47-second video showing you how to add the PinIt icon to your toolbar in Mozilla.
Be sure to fill out your profile fully, and strategically include details of yourself or your brand in the box. (The Profile page is tucked under your account, on the right-hand side.) Beth Hayden offers great tips to folks who are starting out; request her 5 Stupid Mistakes To Avoid If You Want To Make Money With Pinterest article here.
Okay, hands out of your pockets, let me know what you have found from digging in Pinterest, in the comments.
A reader hit the ‘Contact Us’ button and asked a question about change management and organizational behavior.
What Suzanne Whang asked was:
The problem I see with us “over-40-ers” is that we grow resistant to change; we don’t want to embrace new ways of thinking. What usually happens where I work is that when somebody, usually somebody younger, brings up a new idea, the older folks shoot it down saying we’ve tried it before and it didn’t work. I’d like to read an article about how to take calculated risks, how to be open to new ideas, and/or how to encourage new ways of thinking.
That’s a superb question, isn’t it? In fact, Tracy Deemer similarly asked me how to invigorate an ingrained culture and adopt a more creative approach at an institution of higher learning. So I made it my mission to crowdsource the answer on LinkedIn Answers.
I re-worded the question slightly, selected the categories of Change Management and Organizational Behavior (every query can be tagged with two), and let her roll. Over the next 7 days, I received 20 answers, and 18 were good, making it extremely hard to select the best. (If you would like to see the entire range of responses, log into your LinkedIn account to view them here.)
Ultimately, one response from Kenneth Larson, stood out. This was his insight:
Team the players at the worker level, let them interact and see the results in synergistic recommendations.
The most successful organizations pair experienced personnel on a staff basis with junior ones as models. Each has individual assignments and reports to the boss but the senior party is the example in the process/experience-driven aspects of the job and is available to answer questions. The younger individual infuses the older one with energy and new ideas much like osmosis. The result is a hybrid of old and new that works and has been put together by a team.
The approach works extremely well, imposes on no one, results in the young and old learning by observation, satisfaction and recognition for collective efforts and reduction in the boss’s work load. A win-win all around.
One night earlier this week, I got hold of him at the state-run Veteran’s Home in Hastings, Minnesota, where he lives. This gentleman is one extraordinary individual with 36 years in the corporate world (for employers such as Northrup Grumman, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, in addition to running his own consulting firm on the Beltway), preceded by 2 tours of duty in Vietnam, and followed by 7 years of mentoring not-for-profits who want development funds from Uncle Sam. The latter advising is entirely done on a voluntary basis.
Kenneth explained, “My answer was the product of roughly 20 years’ experience doing that in the aerospace industry. Wherever I worked, there were similar symptoms of organizational dysfunction. For 15 years, as part of my staff work, I taught executive training courses that would inculcate the following change management processes. I would physically team a senior cadre, a person most likely stuck in the mud who needed to be energized, with a younger people. The more senior person wanted the energy of the younger transferred, and the younger person needed the stoicism of the senior person.
Both junior and senior people had to have their own assignments and no subservience between the two, i.e., the senior person could have a higher rate of pay, and they usually did. And they usually had a greater workload, too, but the junior person with the lesser workload had more energy and would naturally gravitate toward the senior. It was like an osmotic process. If one was absent, the senior person would NOT step in, the boss would. And vice versa. The idea was not to get these people mixing in their professional assignments because they needed to be held accountable for their own work. The senior person had no role in evaluating the junior one. He was only a model. They each had to keep their internal (and external) customers happy. They were both from the same department–don’t do this across departmental lines–and they had the same supervisor. The manager is key in cultivating these relationships. You had to have the right kind of supervisors to make this work.”
What has Kenneth Larson been doing since his time in corporate America? Several things, including:
There is an amazing online interview with him, and here’s an excerpt:
“In order to manage the high volume of inquiries in federal government contracting, I set up a Google blog as an extension of my volunteer work that blossomed into a website. It costs $10 a year to buy and convert it from a blog to a domain in my name. This blog contains the basics of entering and succeeding in the government contracting venue, as well as my books and articles on the subject for download via Box.Net, also a free application. The idea was to refer clients to article links at the site to avoid being repetitive to new clients, while still keeping myself available for specific inquiries and problems.
I linked everything together on LinkedIn and began answering questions using the “Answers” feature, as well as registering to use other free applications for networking websites to see how that could benefit my work. I’ve also used Twitter, BlogCatalog, Facebook, Widgetbox, Friendfeed, Ning and similar free applications on my site.
The AdSense Feature added cash flow. I gained nearly 30% of my clients from LinkedIn or LinkedIn related networking.
As a result, I’ve seen heavy traffic and good efficiency in supporting more than 5,000 counseling cases within the last seven years with virtually no expense to me as a volunteer working for non-profit organizations. I received a SCORE National Achievement Award in 2010 for volunteering 1,600 hours to 500 small businesses that year.”
Heavy traffic is being modest. In our conversation, KL shared his Key Performance Indicators. His sites receive 2,500 visitors per week and 1,800 folks have downloaded his pdfs since January 2012.
Does this blow apart the stereotype of the out-of-touch elder? I asked, “How is it that you do all these technology things?” and he replied, “I was at the cutting edge of business and computer systems for all my working years. I was there, so when I retired I just continued to be there.”
Suzanne Whang began by wanting to learn how to encourage new ways of thinking in her “fossilized” workplace. THIS is the kind of person that has given me inspiration to think anew. How about you? Please share your thoughts in the comments.
When I was fresh out of Harvard College, one of my earliest jobs was as a Research Analyst for a management consulting firm. In those days that was both sexy and lucrative. I was making a king’s ransom in the mid-1980’s, more than any other 20-something I knew.
And I thought I was hot. In fact, most all of us new hirees thought we were hot. Even the guy who went to Cornell thought so.
But the sad fact is, we were not smarter than the rest of humanity. That is the blunder that can send you into ignominy, if you don’t watch out.
In fact, management consultants are not any smarter than you are. Despite what they say, despite the polish on their bespoke suits or their quotes in HBR quarterlies that they ply over and over, we hold these truths to be self-evident:
- They are not any smarter than you
- They know more A-listers than you, and hey, at the upper echelons networking is what it’s all about
- They get out of their cave more often, to more of the right venues and with more confidence in their walk, compared with you
- They never stop moving.
So, here is the good news: You can do it, too.
It has taken me more than a quarter-century and a whole lot of ups and downs to come to the conclusion that I don’t give a rat’s tushy where you went to school, what rank you achieved in your class, whether you have a top tier firm on your resume or which chic table you dine at.
I am not falling for it, and neither should you.
I once took that job down on Water Street because just before I was living at home with my parents, sewing costumes for the second act of Broadway’s Dreamgirls. I was in the stranglehold of jealousy for my peers who were living the good life as singletons in Manhattan. I wanted that. Who wouldn’t?
But I underestimated the importance of knowing yourself.
And I overestimated the rush of hobnobbing on a Friday evening at Happy Hour at the South Street Seaport.
Instead, in my costume-sewing job, I focused on the bummer of a hurricane hitting the Rockaways, and this lousy weather caused my entire table of Russian emigre stitchers to stay home one week, bailing out their basement. Which meant we were running behind in costume sewing. Which caused my boss to demand that I work crazy hours sewing each and every one of those ostrich feathers by hand onto three floor-length gowns.
That was not only tedious work, it was so time-consuming that it made me miss Happy Hour. And that contributed to my decision to look elsewhere for employment.
Call it upgrading.
Just like a girl should marry up or a trivia team should look for a mastermind to upgrade their game, folks like us should upgrade our careers.
But don’t fall for the trap that others are smarter. Unless you are a bozo, the difference between the McKinsey consultant and someone like you is that the McKinsey consultants know to listen first. And:
- They know to mix with folks who are up the ladder from them
- They know to get out and about, keep their ears to the pavement, and learn all they can from others
- They know to brazenly promote the image that they are smarter, and
- They don’t settle for second out of the gate. They know that the first mover is the only one who gets the prize.
McKinsey’s recruiting strategy shows how they carefully cultivate the better-than-you image of a management consultant.
It is well-known that the way McKinsey recruits at top-tier business schools reflects a different strategy than others. Most other brass-ring firms set up highly selective interviews at the 10 best MBA schools. That means it is hard to get an interview with them, but among those who do get a seat at the table, the chances of an offer are good.
McKinsey does the opposite. They set up interview after interview for reams of candidates. So, for example, at Columbia Business School, which is superb by every measure but maybe a teensy bit down from the Harvard-Stanford-Wharton clique, if there are 500 students in the class, maybe 200 or more will get interviews with McKinsey.
An absolute ton of questions and answers, to my mind.
Does it make sense? Do they really have difficulty discerning who’s more attractive than the others? Can’t they do more initial culling to save time?
Of course, they could.
But they don’t.
They want all 200 folks who interview with them to think that they are really smart, that they are the crème de la crème, that they have the caliber to get interviews with McKinsey.
Only a small portion receive job offers, but we know the rejects are not rejects, since plenty of gems don’t stand out from their peers in school. We know that school bears no resemblance to the real world. The chance of getting into a top business school goes disproportionately to the well-off, better-connected, more affluent lucky ducks.
But I digress.
When the offers come to just a few, the rejected are prone to think they are not as smart as the winners. And they go on with the memory of that rejection to haunt them.
What will happen to them?
They will succeed anyway. As Dr. Seuss says, “Oh the places you will go.…”
And as they go, they comprise the fertile ground to which McKinsey promotes the message that McKinsey is smarter, better, and more capable, and is the right resource to get the job done. That is how McKinsey throws down the gauntlet for that cool multi-million dollar gig.
And those former interviewees may think to themselves, “These guys are indeed the cat’s pajamas; once I got close to the inner sanctum, but no dice. They are smarter.”
It’s a hoax. Don’t buy it.
I fell for it once, but no more. I see lots of folks who are management consultants that are no better than you and me.
But those people worked at it day after day, year after year, and did not give up. They didn’t start their career at McKinsey, and in some cases, they didn’t even graduate college.
They are first-rate listeners. They cultivate connections. They got out and about, networking to the hilt, and took every experience as a chance to learn from everyone. In fact, their thirst for learning drives everything they do.
And they never ever settled for being second. Being first is a core value. They are hands-down committed to innovation and getting ahead, and no one who meets them thinks otherwise.
You can do the same.
People like us have a chance.
We just gotta do it.
Cartoon courtesy of Creative Commons 2.0, Tony Dowler, photo courtesy of wovox.
Are you intimidated by high-powered consultants? What do they do that you can’t?
I was four chapters into a book that a smart merchant banker swears by, before I found the mother of all time management tips. What’s the trick I learned to overcoming procrastination and refusing to get lost in diversion?
Here is the single exercise for becoming clear and focused, capturing 100% more time in your workday, and becoming faster in all you do.
Start with your laundry list of to-dos, and get it from your mind onto paper.
Now, you won’t forget all the tasks, big and small. But you will put most of them aside.
After recording that too-long list of what you’d like to do, go back and rank your 6 priorities for the day, from 1 to 6.
You can do this on paper, or with a digital doc. Either way, write down your #1 goal for the day, followed by 2 through 6. Do not include more than 6 goals, and be absolutely clear about which is most important, which is next in importance, and so on.
Then, set up a system for monitoring your focus towards the goal, and getting back on task.
For me personally, I set up a stopwatch online using Apimac Timer. But you can use an alarm on your smartphone or even the ol’ kitchen timer.
Every 15 (or 30 minutes, your choice), when you hear the bell, take that paper or document, re-read it, and if you are not on task, get out of your sidetrack and back to the steps to that important goal. In another 15 minutes, repeat.
That way, when you finish this exercise, you will be absolutely certain at the end of your working day that you will either have finished goal #1, or still be working on it. If you have finished it, then you have moved on to the next priority (goal #2). If not, you will be that much closer to achieving what can dramatically impact your business or job search.
Dramatic impact means growing by more than 100%. In my experience, most folks who dawdle and divert, do so with their own explicit (or implicit) consent.
We are giving you back control. In this way, a day in which you have finished only one goal will be a huge success.
Like a drill sergeant barks to their troops or the Nike ads croon, just do it. Do not muck around. Heed the bell. At that very moment audit yourself like the IRS follows a red flag, and re-calibrate if necessary.
I am recommending exactly what I did one day last spring, when I needed to make progress on my blog as well as chauffeur three teens. (Click here to see how I fared, imperfections and all.) By the end of the day, I completed the most unappealing #1 goal, and the most powerful #2 goal. It felt great.
If you are like me, there are interruptions in your day. Some things cannot be moved. Especially on family days.
Still, having a work ethic and an approach that reflects a commitment to MY goals are a means to go, and go further.
The coda to better time management
This week I started a new gig as a journalist for an online news site. This has reinforced how a method and a rhythm in work, is key. As I operate under a daily deadline—publishing 30 articles in 30 days—I recognize that lackadaisical habits not only bring down my energy, but also bring down the work product of an entire news team.
As we each pick off topics in real time, it is incumbent to research, write and publish quickly, i.e. within 2 hours of reserving a topic, in order to fairly ensure that no one takes a hot topic and then dillydallies in catching the wave of interest.
I would not be able to do this if I were relying solely on the discipline of willpower. In fact, I feel the pressure of the group and the eyes of my boss. But I also utilize a timer and the stop-recalibrate method, as simple as it sounds, to become more effective.
You will likewise stop procrastinating and become wickedly effective with your time, if you heed this advice.
- Try this out beginning NOW. Start by writing your laundry list of to-dos and decide how you’ll be notified: Set up a timer online? Or an offline bell? As a dedicated Mac person, I utilize Apimac Timer, which is free and simple.
- Look at that list, rank the top 6, and then methodically crank out what will bring you to the first goal, second goal and so forth. Make the effort for ONE DAY. Observe yourself, continually re-align, and stay focused.
- When you get to happy hour (the end of your work day), come back to Mojo40 and watch this hilarious video to see how you can apply focus and speed to something that is normally a slow process–cooking a meal. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=74ceC7ERsLc
Photo courtesy of Creative Commons 2.0, Emilie Ogez.
What are your tips to stop procrastination and achieve work life balance? Please share in the comments section.
Creativity comes from the same motherlode as passion.
You need creativity to constantly reinvent yourself in your work to “fit the future.” (My friend John could share a story about that, as the market for transportation engineers collapsed amid the construction bust.)
You need creativity to better persuade your listeners of the value of your ideas. And you need it beyond the initial stage of “groupthink,” when you are executing and unforeseen problems arise.
Creativity is the number one leadership quality sought by CEOs
Sandy Carter, VP of Social Business Evangelism and Sales at IBM, explained how dramatically creativity stood out as a technique for leadership, at a forum for C-suite executives:
“IBM conducted a study based on face-to-face conversations with more than 1,500 chief executive officers worldwide and these CEOs identified ‘creativity’ as the single most important leadership quality. Standouts practice and encourage experimentation and innovation throughout their organizations. Creative leaders expect to make deeper business model changes to realize their strategies. To succeed, they take more calculated risks, find new ideas, and keep innovating in how they lead and communicate.”
And it goes without saying, if you are job hunting, you need creativity just to break away from the pack.
Many kinds of intelligence and a smorgasbord of creative activities
The theory of multiple intelligence is widely known, but as a refresher, it states that everyone has strong suits and innate propensities.
This is a list of kinds of intelligence, with sample activities:
- Verbal/Linguistic (likes lectures, storytelling, journal writing)
- Logical/Mathematical (likes mental calculations, brain teasers, science experiments)
- Visual/Spatial (likes art activities, mind-mapping, visualization)
- Body/Kinesthetic (likes drama, dance, and hands-on learning)
- Musical/Rhythmic (likes rapping, using the voice rhythmically, songs that teach)
- Interpersonal (likes cooperative learning, peer tutoring, simulations)
- Intra-personal (likes individualized instruction, independent study, self-esteem building)
Take time to explore your creative side on a regular basis, well before you get to a moment of brain freeze. Some suggestions:
- Join a spelling bee team and exercise your mind by mastering word lists.
- Explore toondoo.com and create cartoons for free.
- Investigate xtranormal to animate videos. With separate business and education accounts, the movie you create can be embedded into your website or used for classroom exercises.
- Join a square dancing club, especially if you live in or around MIT or Boston. Did you know there are 1,000 different “calls” that expert square dancers commit to memory and perform on cue? (With 300 calls, you can still be an agile novice!)
- Throw a party with a theme. Make the decorations yourself using craft handbooks as a guide, or the bazilion websites that suggest invitations/menu planning/games based on a theme.
- Join a comedy improv troupe and get into the groove of hilarious interpersonal intelligence. These local clubs may not perform; it’s just for yuks.
- Explore your local chapter of Destination ImagiNation (DI) and consider volunteering as a Co-Team Captain or attending a regional tournament (held in numerous states across the US and even internationally). DI is a nonprofit that aims to teach youth about collaboration, problem-solving, and creativity. Their “Instant Challenges” are a gold mine, as are the solutions to more complex months-long challenges presented by teams competing at tournaments. (You can download pdfs of sample Instant Challenges on the right hand bar of this page:http://www.idodi.org/index.php/2011-12-season/instant-challenges). I guarantee you won’t be the same stuck person after devoting time to this fantastic organization. I know I wasn’t.
- Start chalking sidewalks; this artist delighted his entire neighborhood.
- Play an online game called Foldit where you solve puzzles for science. One particular puzzle that asked users to fold proteins attracted 57,000 participants, and in 3 weeks solved a question that made an effective contribution to medication development.
- Order the game Scattergories and play it (offline, in your living room) with your family or friends.
- Surf skyscraperpage.com and delve into the architectural plans for this global collection of skyscrapers.
The more you do this stuff, the better you get. Juicing your mind brings on your mojo.
Fuel your creativity just as Pixar and other Oscar powerhouses do
Certain industries such as advertising and entertainment are known for creativity, so Mojo40 mined two of their best, for tips.
Liz Murphy is an advertising Creative Director whose work for HealthPlus-NY appears on buses, billboards, and subways throughout New York City. Despite print magazine awards and freelance gigs at numerous top ad agencies, even she hits the wall from time-to-time. When Liz has to burst through a block:
“I’ll go out and have fun socially then come up with a design solution at the last moment and execute it with zeal. The hardest work is the thinking not the doing and my first execution is usually the best one.”
To promote idea-generation, she suggests “dig deep, research, stay technologically updated, work even harder and most importantly, keep the faith.”
Laurence Holzman, a lyricist and librettist for musical theater at regional venues and Off-Broadway, says creativity comes from the process of collaboration itself.
Laurence works with his collaborator Felicia Needleman to toss around ideas on every aspect of the story and script, and then the material gets further refined until it gels. He explains how to be creative:
“If we come up against a wall in production, we might turn to the director or an actor and say this isn’t working, what do you think the character would do here? And often, that leads to writing a new song. The composer, costume designer, choreographer and set designer all bring their creativity to the process and that helps us re-think. Especially in musical theater, all fields working together bring out the most creative ideas.”
- Decide what kind of intelligence best matches you and do one thing this week to stimulate your creativity. Do it again next week and the week after. Creativity does not come from a single jaunt.
- Get on the steering committee for your firm’s next quarterly pow-wow. Advocate to incorporate a theme at that event, and set up a process to creatively weave in that theme.
- Get familiar with TED.com, an event producer and web resource that focuses on Technology, Entertainment, and Design, and seeks to spread the best ideas. Although conferences cost $7,500 to attend, they frequently sell out. You can gain nearly the same insight at home by watching the videos. Go to the site, search on ‘creativity’, pick the speaker and topic, and enjoy.
Photos courtesy of Creative Commons 2.0, hlkjgk and fotologic.
Do you agree that creativity is essential to doing anything well?
Wraparound reflective glasses, black spandex pants and neon green jacket.
I wouldn’t pass up a chance to ride with a guy like that, would you?
I rest my case.
But as we bicycled north under the sun on a cold winter day, he asked me a technical question about WordPress.
Now, I don’t profess to be the expert although I have learned a few tricks from blogging.
But here I was stumped.
“I’ve heard raves about the WordPress platform, but can WordPress handle a site like mine with tons of events, where a back end needs to tie together objects in a way that only databases can?”
As I said, that one stumped me. I knew what he meant. When I went to Eventbrite, the site architecture recognized that I had once purchased tickets for a music festival, so it suggested things happening around that zip code.
My guy friend–who has his own event site–wanted to move his business ahead of its competitors and put it onto a platform that could use the power of relational databases to give users an even better experience, with a front-end that was likewise easy to manipulate.
Of course it does. But you can’t ask me whether WordPress is suited to that; there is no complex database in the trunk of the Mojo40 engine!
Where to go when you need to get answers
When you don’t know whom to ask, you not only feel out of the action, you feel second-rate. You’ve been there, and so have I.
So have huge swaths of people from the smartest to the dimwits. And the fact that everybody knows the frustration means it is ripe for problem-solving.
The case for getting online answers: simple to use, quick, and you can do it in your bunny slippers (or docksiders)
1. LinkedIn Answers–ask your question in LinkedIn Answers and you will get a ton of responses.
Rate the best. See their profile and background, how many questions they have previously answered, and how many of their responses were rated “Best.” Questions and answers cover all industries and an array of thorny issues.
2. Quora–another great site for Q&A. Some incredibly astute types are here since answers are accessible to search bots (and therefore help to build a personal brand). Questions range from utilizing complex algorithms for financial investing to how to identify alliance partners or swing a golf club.
3. Stackoverflow–ask any highly technical question and you’ll hear back from some of the major tech deities as they compete for bragging rights on a site mainly geared toward programmers and systems-integrator types.
4. Meetup groups–you have to be a member of the Meetup to participate in Q&A. However, membership is free. I’ve heard lots of people use the NY Tech Meetup to source answers.
5. Webgrrls–a membership organization, but one of the very first places that I turn to for answers. Their “collective mind” is well worth the membership fee.
For example, recently I asked Webgrrls an arcane and a mundane question.
The community did not disappoint on Q&A that cuts to the chase.
Question #1: My site cannot be seen in China, what can be done about it?
(As an aside, thank you Shan for letting me know. It really pisses me off since I thought that the folks in soul-sapping jobs in China would really do well to grab my tips! But seriously, I wanted Shan to read the story of a 70-year-old woman who made good, since she is a psychiatrist who can appreciate this.)
I heard back from Isabel Summers of Turtle Island that all sites hosted by GoDaddy are completely blocked in China. Censorship incarnate! I was advised to use IX Web Hosting instead, by this executive who had to solve the very problem for her overseas supply chain.
Question #2: My site takes too long to load. I’ve put a ton of time into Mojo40, so I’m determined to improve load times. Which domain host is better?
I received more than 5 responses with recommendations for other hosting services, and the web expert Amelie Walker actually pointed out that she insists on using another web hosting company for a client on WordPress.
As always, the crowd is more brilliant than I, but be grateful that here at Mojo40, someone tells you which crowd to go to for answers!
- Spend 5 minutes digging into one of the Q&A sites mentioned above.
- Make an account (or sign up for membership) and try asking a question. It takes practically no time, and when you start getting answers, you’ll feel the love!
- If you wish to ask ME a question, make a point to join my Google+ Hangout for Job Search and Mid-Career Transition, every Tuesday in February 2012, 1-2 PM Eastern. For FAQs, see here.
Photo courtesy of Creative Commons 2.0, Melvin Schlubman. Disclosure: We participate in Webgrrls referral program.
What do you think? Are you game for trying online questions and answers?
Listen, kiddo, who really cares if you have 1,000 followers on Twitter?
Yes, on some level, if you are sitting with your marketing team to analyze the latest campaign, someone will cite the number of followers to say whether you’ve been successful. Yes, on some level, your Head of Business Development may count your Facebook page’s “likers,” since after all, isn’t a liker just a customer who has not yet bought from you?
On the other hand, no one REALLY cares if you have boatloads of followers if:
- you have no idea who all those followers are
- you have no meaningful relationship or engagement with them
- you have no clue if they are genuinely interested in your topic or not
- and all you did to build that community was go to LinkedIn Groups and ask people to follow you.
Think about it. Is that lame, or what?
First: As you live and breathe, you should know that quality counts. Not just quantity.
I would rather have one CEO of a $100 million dollar tech company do me the honor and retweet my post, than 1,000 followers all of whom are as unknown as Kim Jong-un and as disengaged as a passive-aggressive husband going through a divorce.
Second: Any advertiser or venture capitalist worth their salt is going to ask how engaged your audience is, not just how much traffic and how many subscribers you have.
You’d be far better off going after one highly influential person or even building a relationship with one follower whom you can truly help.
At all times, have prepared a list of 3-4 examples that show how engaged your audience is. These are valid ways to illustrate engagement:
- the average interval of time spent on your site
- the number of comments garnered per post
- the average number of pages viewed per visitor
- the amount of retweets, likes, shares or +1s (i.e. its virality)
- the time you spend weekly conversing with your audience (conversing is videochatting, skyping, yakking on the phone)
- the amount of money shelled out (if your site sells something).
One-way communication in blogging is the literary equivalent of waterboarding. People will ask if talk goes both ways.
Third: Spend your time building a meaningful community.
Allocate effort to dig into topics that will allow you to see into the future, and offer some serious thought leadership to your audience. Do the difficult work of analyzing beyond your intuitive instincts, and instead, draw upon your more thoughtful, questioning side to really put out something new and valuable.
Otherwise, you will look lame, and we will see that.
Fourth: It is time to expand your sandbox, and consider that social media is not just about marketing or empowerment.
(Empowered consumers push for what happened yesterday with SOPA: They ask you to black out pictures on Flickr, and prompt you to tweet that. And I did!)
Social media is also about engagement with the great creativity that comes from collaboration. Here is what Keith Sawyer, an Associate Professor of Education at Washington U. and author of “Group Genius,” wrote in a letter to The New York Times dated January 19, 2012:
“Decades of scientific research have revealed that great creativity is almost always based in collaboration, conversation and social networks–just the opposite of our mythical image of the isolated genius. And educational research has found that deeper learning results when students participate in thoughtful argumentation and discuss reasons and concepts.
“The increasing use of collaboration, in classrooms and in the workplace, is not a short-lived fad; it is solidly based in research, and it works.”
Fifth: You may think that only the big gorillas with tons of followers are worth reaching for, but that is not so. LonelyBoy15–the fellow who only has 15 followers and doesn’t write for The Wall Street Journal–could be the tipping point. His efforts may prevent your content from being lost in the vortex, and instead get it picked up by the masses.
But you would only know that if you stopped your embargo on small potatoes and truly reached out.
- Spend 10 minutes one day this week to research one of your followers on Twitter, read through their website or LinkedIn profile, and then personally call in order to know them better. If you can’t find their cell number, write a friendly email to begin the conversation.
- Connected consumers find and share information differently. Be a connected consumer. You have found this great post. Now, do the most excellent viral thing and SHARE IT. Don’t grab the link from the URL and paste that into an email; learn to use the ShareThis icon. Click the button and hold it down while sharing to your LinkedIn, Facebook, or Twitter accounts. Engage with our Mojo40 magnum opus by sharing the playlist.
- Engage with me. Call me up at 914.645.1667 and introduce yourself. I would like to learn what drives your blood pressure up or what impels you to laugh. I can help job seekers, folks with a soul-sapping job, or even those in Plan B Nation.
Photo courtesy of Creative Commons 2.0, truthorg
Your thoughts? Let me read them, below.
Let me be clear. This is the problem you face.
Nowadays, even Santa Claus has trouble defining his Unique Value Proposition. Indeed, he looks like all the others, does the same thing as scores of similarly-dressed guys, and even in a shot of them lined up, you cannot pick out the real Mr. Claus from the imposters.
You, too, look and sound like a clone.
Do a better job of defining your Unique Value Proposition. Don’t just sculpt it a little, sculpt it massively.
Like Oprah. Like Bob Marley.
Be crystal clear that your UVP belongs to you and only you. Evoke something familiar in the mind of your contact. Make the UVP so beyond memorable that no one you speak with can recall anyone else fitting that description.
Folks like you and me know Oprah. For example:
- she is a media tycoon who had the highest-rated TV talk show for 25 years
- she is articulate, personable and inextricably associated with the trend for people to share their personal business more openly than in the past
- she is the richest African American of the 20th century and the greatest black philanthropist in American history
- she is an extremely shrewd businesswoman who will succeed in whatever she sets her mind to
- anyone who can go by one name, or even one letter (a la her magazine O), has the strongest personal brand that you can possibly hope for.
Or we know Bob Marley. Even though he passed on 30 years ago, we know:
- he’s the founder of reggae
- he died young
- he was from Jamaica
- he wore his hair in dreadlocks
- he was the first singer-songwriter to spread interest in, and knowledge of, Rastafarian culture.
See what I mean?
I am a blogger. I am whip-smart. I develop marketing strategy and tactics to clobber Goliath. I am keen to share my knowledge of internet marketing like a journalist shares breaking news. I can juggle a million tasks and not drop one, and when I speak publicly about my blog, I have a take-no-prisoners presentation that you will remember.
Yes, sometimes I struggle with my UVP, just as some of you might.
Because I admit that you may still know someone else who fits this description.
So I sculpt it more.
As a former entrepreneur, I identified markets for export and went after them as a hunter, opening up 3 countries to high-cachet, branded foods. I put together a program for study abroad that took place less than 9 months after inception; it received 5 applicants for every available spot. I built a lean, mean, lead generation machine, when I served as the marketing hub of a small coaching company, increasing its funnel from 8,000 to 130,000 prospects.
And so forth.
But after building my Unique Value Proposition out so specifically, yes, I do boil it down again. Folks don’t want to listen to all that. So, I continuously adjust.
The 4 things that your Unique Value Proposition must precisely spell out
According to executive coach and job search guru Linda Van Valkenburgh, your own value proposition must contain 4 elements:
- your role
- your skill sets, especially the top 3
- proof, i.e. certifications, licenses, a book you’ve published, increased responsibility, and promotions you can point to
This last point cannot be overemphasized. Like the recent Republican debates, people like to talk about themselves without backup–without their specific accomplishments. Don’t forget: Gather your results and metrics before you open your mouth or take fingertips to keyboard. That is what will make you different and unique.
Here is a Unique Value Proposition of one networker who I met:
- I am a Senior Executive candidate for a real estate conglomerate
- I am superb at visioning, negotiating and taking first-mover advantage on commercial opportunities that I spot
- I have managed commercial portfolios of over 10 million square feet, leased over 4 million square feet of space at over 100 US locations, and performed risk management due diligence on 15 large scale transactions, many with an international focus from Paraguay to Switzerland
- I have been instrumental in growing revenues to $200 million dollars.
Even saying I am Santa Claus will not identify me only. Nowadays, there are tons of Santa Clauses.
- Work on your unique value proposition to include the 4 key elements listed above.
- Get feedback from others regarding how your UVP matches you and only you. In fact, get a 360 degree assessment of what others think of you and channel that feedback into your more sculpted UVP. Then, get LinkedIn recommendations which associate you with that UVP.
- Practice saying your UVP. Practice it again and practice it live, with an audience. See what they think, and incorporate their recommendations.
Give it to me straight–what is your Unique Value Proposition?
I’m ready to punch out the Toyota execs. It’s time to stop those ridiculous 8-question customer surveys. Or, start filling them out with an inane rant, so they don’t keep coming.
More on that story, later.
But that is where “business as usual” ended. In fact, the survey had only 2 questions. The first one, as expected, asked the viewer to rate how likely it would be that they recommend this service. It was a fill-in-the-bubble question allowing one answer on a scale of 1 to 10.
I don’t know what would have happened if I rated them low. In my case, I gave them a ‘9.’
The second (and last) question asked this:
What, specifically, would you tell someone to get them to try PrintPlace.com?
(big empty box for a long form answer)
What is happening here?
While they are interested in rating satisfaction and also improving their operations, I intuited that some objective went beyond this, so I called up and spoke with Marketing.
What they did, is to ask what words their internal SEO team should use to improve organic search on their site, what copy to include on landing pages, and potentially, what words to buy for Pay-per-click advertising (if they were to use AdWords, which they don’t).
From what customers write, this small business can learn what words easily spill from your mind plus what could persuade you to take the next step toward forking over your bucks, because those are the words that will bring greatest ROI.
As more and more goods are sold on the internet and as a larger share of purchasing becomes e-commerce (and now f-commerce, or facebook-based sales), it behooves you to learn the language of your prospects and not just their predilections for features. But respect the ever-widening phenomenon of survey fatigue.
- Keep your customer surveys shorter and sweeter, and
- Ask what words meaningfully grab consumers, because you need to bond with those precise words to write more persuasive copy.
And let’s have some gladiator-like fun by sending the Toyota corporate execs to the lion’s den, where they can be eaten along with the 4 different in-your-face surveys that come from getting an oil change at the dealer. The surveys that the local franchise owner can’t even scuttle, since it comes from “corporate.”
Photo courtesy of Creative Commons 2.0 ajagendorf25
What is on your Consumer Manifesto? Please share below.
I draw huge inspiration from Jennifer Hudson’s weight loss. But my guy friend didn’t recognize her story. Instead, he said Charles Barkley was an inspiration for losing weight. So I ask: Who is Charles Barkley? If you follow NBA players, you would know this Hall of Famer.
Regardless of whom you admire–a tough guy or a sexy chanteuse–the best way to start the new year is to BELIEVE that if THEY can do weight loss, YOU can too.
Switch the challenge now and focus on your career mojo. Begin by believing in yourself.
Despite consumers’ closed pocketbooks and the sputtering of businesses on Main Street, Mimi Filipovica offers true inspiration. In two weeks, she will open her third retail store at the tender age of 70. And if she can start something successful at 70, so can you!
I first met Mimi two years ago when I entered Fiamor in Dobbs Ferry with a vague intention of finding a gift for my sister. In fact, I became one of the 80% of shoppers who leave with a purchase. Amid display cases filled with jewelry and baubles, aisles where manikins show the latest European gowns, racks of ultra-feminine suits, and every conceivable surface overflowing with scarves, gloves, and stylish handbags, there was Mimi, an expert conversationalist.
“When customers come in, I let them walk around and I study their manner. Then I ask: ‘Would you like me to help you?’ I interview them about the occasion, the place, et cetera. Then, I solve their problem.
“What’s offered here is the most upscale of European fashion, coming one year ahead of the market. I sold an ensemble like this–a lace-embedded jacquard suit–and the next year it was on the cover of Bloomingdale’s mail catalog.”
Her immigrant story began during the Thatcher era, when she started work as a nanny
This first store was launched 10 years after Mimi came to America from Bulgaria to pursue her dreams during the Thatcher and Reagan revolutions. She was 50 and nearly retired. In her home country, she had been the whiz of textile technology, going from factory to factory, telling them what to produce.
“I started in my 60’s with a $1,000 investment, after I had been a nanny in America for 10 years. I didn’t even speak English when I came here, so I really began at the bottom.”
She is quite modest in explaining how she decided on retail.
“I followed the rules. I opened an import/export company first to know the business side, and only later, with ten years of preparation and great success in importing, I developed the retail side.”
Why import? “I was very disappointed that Americans were shopping in the Gap. I wanted to show them a European boutique; that’s my contribution to America! Everybody in gray and dressing up in Target, I don’t like that. I aimed to conquer the high fashion clothing and accessories market.”
Fiamor did extremely well so three years ago, Mimi opened a second store in Tarrytown, and in two or three weeks’ time, will launch her third location.
It will carry certain brands from France, Italy and Canada, amid a gorgeous pastiche of Tuscan colors, murano glass and chandeliers. Each store has a slightly different focus, but all are upscale boutiques where she personally selects every item from the newest print tunics to Picasso-inspired silk jackets.
Her secret to success:
- She is a schmoozer with incomparable warmth: “I love people, I love both negative and positive people.”
- “I don’t sell, I dress people.”
- “I am changing my shop non-stop. I’m always giving it a new look.”
In other words, she does not start with the product, she starts with the people.
Recently, two young boys came with their aunt to buy their mother a present. They were very passionate about what they picked. One child grabbed a cross and declared, “I must give this to my Mom.” The aunt replied, “That’s not a present,” but the boy insisted.
The next day, their mother entered the same shop. Her bare head was covered, but it was evident the woman had been through chemo.
“My heart sank when I saw her [the mother] as I had not known about her illness. I didn’t tell her that her son had bought a cross as a gift. She explained that she needed to shop in my store that very day because the doctors had just pronounced her free of cancer.
“We cried together. Imagine, for six months she didn’t do anything except battle cancer, and just before Christmas she heard she had won.”
New customers come to celebrate their sexy smaller size
Mimi offered yet another prime source of new customers: “Ladies who lose weight come here right away to reward themselves in their battle with the pounds. They ask me, ‘Why don’t you bring big sizes?’ because I only carry small or average sizes, and I answer, ‘You come to my size, you are going to feel better.’”
Mimi exudes ideas and creativity. “Creativity comes naturally. I have a lot of knowledge and huge experience traveling all around Europe. I love music and art, and that brings your ability up.”
Beyond the strategy to hold fashion shows in schools and churches, Mimi has conceived and implemented live street fashion shows where models literally walk up and down and across the street.
As part of Third Friday, and in collaboration with a hair salon across Main Street, Mimi created a fashion show with true urban mystique, where models sat on the windowsill of her store, strolled up and down the sidewalks, and posed for gawkers who snapped impromptu photos. “It was summertime and it went over beautifully. We really enjoyed ourselves, and I learned that two companies can work together to connect to customers.”
“Here I am running two stores and planning a third. I don’t have much time to manage construction, painters, and all the other details pre-launch, but working more than 60 hours a week I find the time anyway. I know that the store will be glorious.
“My advice: You need to be brave and BELIEVE. But you need to work hard, and not JUST believe.”
Do you doubt that this most passionate, inspiring woman will continue to convert customers as she expands her empire?
In a season when standard styling ideas will make you look as modern as an antique piano shawl, what lady wouldn’t crave some unique fancy … and a look personally selected just for her?
Photo courtesy of Creative Commons 2.0, camshot and Fiamor, Dobbs Ferry NY.
Are you starting your New Year with an invincible belief in yourself? Tell us about it in the comments.