Category Archives: Corporate Culturati

Occupy Wall Street = Corporate Spring?

WelcomeToTheSocialEnterprise (Dreamforce 2011)

No matter which side of the issue you’re on, Occupy Wall Street is empowered by the same technology that sparked the Arab Spring. It was just August when Marc Benioff stood on the keynote stage at Dreamforce 11 and said onstage: “The technology is creating the change and the transformation…It’s not so long from now that we’ll start to hear about a Corporate Spring…an Enterprise Spring…When will the first CEO fall for the same reason?… I think about that myself every day… It is more important to listen than ever before…That’s the Social Revolution.”

Yesterday we lost a legend in our time, one of the visionaries truly responsible for pushing the development of the technology that facilitates these movements. While watching the inimitable Steve Jobs’ commencement address of the 2005 Stanford University graduating class last night, it hit me: Occupy Wall Street has the potential to make change happen and its spine is Social.

Source: Occupy Wall Street… is [a] leaderless resistance movement with people of many colors, genders and political persuasions. The one thing we all have in common is that We Are The 99% that will no longer tolerate the greed and corruption of the 1%. We are using the revolutionary Arab Spring tactic to achieve our ends and encourage the use of nonviolence to maximize the safety of all participants.

Strangely, a fair bit of the social sentiment last night regarding Occupy Wall Street (#OccupyWallStreet) focused on losing a “member of the 1%” as a scene-stealer to the press coverage of the movement. Indeed, to say Steve Jobs was remarkably successful is a huge understatement. As a result (and rightly so), his passing garnered tremendous press. But the Occupy Wall Street movement is fueled by technology sprung from Steve Jobs’  imagination and the imagination of the people inspired by the possibility of “what’s next”.

As my today begins, I redouble my dedication to being a virtuoso implementor of Social technology for business and non-profits, because people deserve the transparency. That’s all people. The 99% and the 1%. Let’s face it, for the 1% dead set on believing that Social is about “kids on Facebook”, the Corporate Spring may just be devastating.


Every organization should be absolutely clamoring to understand what their advocates love about them and what their detractors don’t. And the impact of both to the health of the organization. Every organization should tap into their most valuable resource (the 99% of the workplace) if they expect to get the real skinny on what’s working and what isn’t. Social insights and collaboration tools not only give you the arena to have that conversation, but the dedication to building that arena tells employees: Your voice is important. Listening and acting on what you think, say, and feel about us helps us become better. That dedication, if backed by honesty, will help to retain your top talent. Even when the unemployment rates begin to fall. In the interim, there is something wonderful about rewarding good people for innovative ideas that drive success. It’s not about sides or percentages. It is about communicating and respect.

Talent is rare, and expensive to acquire (nice, plain-english blog entry here from Jeff Kortes). Not listening to your talented team drives attrition rates up. Quite possibly, your  Customer Service, Sales Efficiency, and product quality rates decline in parallel. Engaged employees, like engaged customers, like an engaged constituency are highly effective marketers of your brand / message.

What does this have to do with Occupy Wall Street? Maybe Everything.

That’s Social. And I like it.

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Filed under Corporate Culturati, CRM Evangelization, LinkedIN, Service, Social

Failure is an Option.

Every journey has unexpected twists and turns. This year for me (both personally and professionally) has been riddled with them. I’m pretty good at planning to work and working my plan, but at times this year even the best plans were waylaid by situations beyond my control. That’s reality, folks.

Some of those situations were really devastating. At times, I felt ready to throw in the towel and at times my convictions were tested. On the whole, 2010 was a tough year for me, I’ll tell you. And I’m a pretty tough cookie. I called upon my mentors, my friends, my family, and my dad (he of the dial-a-pep-talk fame). Even with such tremendous support, I recognized a different level of challenging. I found myself thinking about “making it through this” quite a bit. And “this” kept being redefined.

So, when life comes at you harder than you expected, what do you do? I think a lot about winning.

Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.”  –  Thomas Edison

Honestly, It’s about continuing the journey. Success is reading the map, the conditions, and adjusting your course. the one-two punch of unforeseen situations can be exhausting. Was and is exhausting. I can share with you that there were times this year I found myself thinking, “What else could possibly go wrong?” and then steeling myself superstitiously as if simply asking the question would bring more bad. In fact, just writing that last sentence scares the hell out of me on some level.

But here’s the thing: something will go wrong  if wrong means “not the exact way you planned it”. I also know – with absolute conviction – that those things that went “wrong” in my life this year have also been the very same things that taught me a great deal about how to handle tough situations with grace. How to put things in perspective. How to remember the little things. How to love people while they’re still here. How to let crazy people be crazy and stay out of their drama. How to find the funny in anything. How to stay creative even when tired. How to keep. getting. up.

I’m reflecting on this now in mental preparation for the new year. I won’t miss 2010 for its challenge and heartache, but I will remember 2010 as a year of tremendous personal and professional growth. I’d love to tell you I’ve been energized by my successes this year but since they were in the “well, I got through that one” camp, I’d be lying to you. I’m still tired, but I’m happy to report I’m certain of my success. I’m planning on my success.

Now, you may not care about my success but what I’m getting at here is this: keep going. I can promise you that failure is only one of your options, not your foregone conclusion. Keep going. You never know, your success may be just around the corner.


Filed under Corporate Culturati, life-work balance

Now Departing: Lessons from Alcatraz

While catching up with some of my favorite folks at’s annual AMAZING Dreamforce 2010 global gathering, I kept running into people who were feeling a bit stuck. Some reported that they were excited for the future, but just not sure about “What’s Next” might mean for them. Others knew they had a problem with their NOW situation and were overwhelmed with what, how, when to do about it.

All of them had jobs. That’s the first thing that struck me. My take on this – even in my own NOW – is that we’re uber-smart or uber-lucky to have been delivered to a profession that is in demand now and will be in even greater demand in the future. But this blog isn’t only for people like us. I’m just pointing out that if you’re employed at all today, you’re one of the lucky ones. Don’t forget it and BBlook for ways to give back.  In the U.S., walk into a room with 10 people and one of them will be out of work. Another one will most likely be under-employed. If you’re working at all you’re fortunate. Network your colleagues less fortunate on your social feeds. Offer time or resources to helping get people back on their feet. A couple of things will happen as a result: you’ll appreciate your current reality in a new light and good things will happen for other people. It’s a win-win.

About the “What’s Next” dilemma…

Talented people want to be recognized, challenged, and compensated. We want to be a bit famous in our own stratosphere. This means recognized for our contributions and challenged to bring more to the table. These folks need to feel their moral compass is aligned with their employers’ or clients’. If not, it’s a deal breaker. These are people working from a place of passion, and passion ignites innovation when nurtured. So that “What’s Next” feeling is natural for passionate folks.

If you’re one of the people wondering what is just beyond the horizon for you, I want to share what I learned while visiting Alcatraz Island yesterday. While on the penitentiary audio tour, I found myself standing in front of the solitary confinement cells. The Hole. A former inmate incarcerated at Alcatraz explained that while he lived for 23 hours a day in complete darkness and isolation for months at a stretch, his mind was free to travel. He closed his eyes and envisioned light. He left his isolation even if only in his mind and traveled freely where he chose. This was his mechanism to cope with his current reality.

It hit me in a profound way. Not only because this man was expressing so beautifully the human reality of perserverance. but also that his solution is so powerful for all of us.

Even in those moments where we aren’t ready or aren’t able to make a move, our minds are free to wander.

Creative, passionate people: Is your mind free to wander? Or is your mind tied up with circular thinking on unhappiness? Solutions are born when you’re open to conceiving them. Quit ruminating on what you’ve already defined as unacceptable. You’re clear on that, now move on. Seth Grodin has a great blog on using your current reality as a platform for change. Then remember: you don’t have to be able to see every twist and turn and end state clearly to begin the “What’s Next” phase of your journey. Just be open to the journey and the adventure of it all.

“What’s Next” is the adventure you create. Close your eyes and Dream Big.


Filed under Corporate Culturati, CRM Evangelization, life-work balance

On the road to ….


Well, all things being cyclical, it’s bound to happen. But as the spring of a new economic fertility begins to awaken, I find myself wondering: how will my organization retain market share? Actually, the real question is:  how will we continue to dominate as our competitors begin to become stronger?

We spent more than two full years paying (so much more than) close attention to efficiencies. Really working to talk to our prospects and customers in a targeted and meaningful way. And we’ve made headway and learned a lot. Now, as the US economy starts to shimmy and shake, we’ve got to somehow stay lean and mean and GREAT and focused.

I just realized I’m posting another Eye of the Tiger entry.

Generally, as my group supports APAC as well as domestic efforts, I’m really aware of the shift of the financial tectonic plates. That which we relied on heavily in APAC to thankfully sustain us through the dark days is no longer really doing the trick. We’re going to enter the APAC version of “trim the fat, watch your costs and stay clear of weak links”. I don’t know what that’ll look like for the region, but this whole process is fascinating to be sure.

So, now what? We’re still coming together and Henry Ford said it PERFECTLY:

Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.

 Our arsenal is terrific, our beleaguered team talented, and our offerings are really, really fabulous. My personal challenge is to start at the beginning (again). I have work to do on building relationships and improving  communications with my key colleagues. Most likely, this is the single most important effort I can make to improve my team’s contributions to the company. I’m dedicated to building (very wide-span) bridges as a priority.

Those are the bridges that will bring us closer together, keep us in touch, and add dramatically to our success.

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Goodbye, Good Riddance, and Thank You!

Well, the numbers are in and we did it! We made great things happen – seemingly IMPOSSIBLE things happen –  in 2009. When I say we, I mean all the phenomenal teams my team supports. This spans a pretty wide swath of geography, so it’s no fluke. From Hawaii to Japan to Mainland (Main STREET) USA, we just blew the doors off. How did we do it?

Well, we had to, I suppose.

I’m lucky to work for great leadership that set a pretty clear direction right at the beginning of 2009. We were told to be more efficient, and we did it. We were told not to cut corners, but to keep our eyes peeled for opportunities and jump in with both feet if we found them.

And we found so many opportunities: to do things smarter, to be more direct, to work in closer coordination, to focus on our message and whether or not our customer gained from hearing it. If they didn’t, we wouldn’t, either. So at times we shelved projects and plans that (even though we loved them in theory) just didn’t make sense.

So, when we began to really open our eyes to how to be better, we found so many opportunities for change and refinement that my team literally can’t get to all of them. We’re prioritizing (and re-prioritizing) the most beneficial and moving as quickly as we can. We’re not sacrificing quality (I’m so happy to report) but we are – ahem – sleek…so we sometimes move quickly to implement a less than elegant solution that delivers while knowing we’ll come back “later” to make it as pretty as we’d like it to be in a perfect world (which this one ain’t).

In spite of the drama, we hit some remarkable new heights and one of the pinnacles is simply: We made it.

Big time.


Filed under Corporate Culturati, CRM Evangelization

(when) You’re a winner, I’m a winner!

My Dad Says:

  • You’re doing GREAT! Really! Keep it up!
  • Define your space – then command it.
  • Focus on the positive aspects of the current reality, rather than the negative. 
  • Backbiting and negativism is pervasive, why not tune into the rare beauty of teamwork?

First things first: my Dad is very smart. I’ve urged him to come out of retirement to offer all of you fine folks a “Dial-a-Pep-Talk” service. He didn’t bite – so you’ll have to absorb it second-hand. Suffice to say, though, that if ever I need to hear that I’m okay, that I’m doing great, that I’m gonna blow the doors off….well, I know where to look.

Which brings me to the week I’ve just had. This week, senior leadership gathered at HQ (I just like writing that!) to do what sitcom after sitcom punts around when spotlighting Corporate America.

That’s right folks, we came to SYNERGIZE!

But before you  let your mind meander too far down the path of the zen of handshakefulness, know this: it’s been a hard couple of years. For all of us. We did – are still doing – more with less. We questioned our contributions, we felt overwhelmed, underappreciated, we lost good friends and colleagues in the name of efficiency improvements. And the hits keep on coming.

It’s been quite the bumpy ride. BUT….there are glimmers on the horizon. Truth be told, we’re kicking butt and taking names with the “sleek team” I represent. We’re all frustrated because all of  us – the survivors – who remain wish we could get to it all, could do our own pet projects when some times we’re simply keeping the motor running. But ultimately, we’re making it work while in the face of adversity.

This week, though, the message is clear: We can do it. We ARE doing it. We expect to be the best. We Believe.

In other words, they may have called my Dad. But I’ll vouch for the infectious positivity of having leadership that sets the course and that shares the message of hope and positivity as a culture.

This ain’t gibberish, it’s parenting. It’s leadership. It’s setting clear boundaries and clear expectations and a culture of teamwork from the top down. I hope the message makes it back to the home office. I know I’m walking in the door on Monday with renewed passion. I love what I do and I believe in infectious, aggressive positivity.

Here are my top 5 methods to spread positivity:

Set the standard: BE posititve. Smile and say Good Morning. Resist the temptation to fall into “venting sessions”. Not as easy as it sounds, you’ll be surpirsed how much of a shift this may entail. But make the shift happen – it’s magical!

Deep down, if you don’t believe it is possible (whatever your “it” is), step down or shut up.

Seek out the people in your organization who “can do” and who are interested in teamwork, and hang with them. You’ll move mountains.

Take a few minutes before checking voicemail, email, twitter, blog comments, facebook, etc. to visualize the successful achievement of your vision – or your team’s vision – at the start of each day. Really SEE it happening. This helps me to remember that the obstacles are most times just chatter that can (if I let them) steal my time and energy.

Remember your teammates. Thank them for great work. Actively work to understand how to help them do what they do better. Expect greatness and recognize their hard work.

So thanks, Dad. I am what I am today thanks to you. I’ve just heard presidents, CEOs, world-class marketing gurus share their wisdom for days, and your message remains (to me)  the most inspiring:

  • You’re doing GREAT! Really! Keep it up!
  • Define your space – then command it.
  • Focus on the positive aspects of the current reality, rather than the negative. 
  • Backbiting and negativism is pervasive, why not tune into the rare beauty of teamwork?
  • Why not, indeed! Go TEAM!

    Thanks, Dad!


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    What have you done for me lately?

    Being able to monetize or throw meaningful metrics at a deployed (or better yet) proposed project is a luxury that should be a staple in most organizations. I find myself defending technology on a daily basis and repeating the mantra of one of my favorite CRM cohorts, “You can’t automate your way out of a bad process”.  Poorly scoped inherited projects handed over with little or no documentation are the norm in the ready, FIRE, aim! workplace and I gotta lament that those inherited bottlenecks are doing wonders for my insomnia.

    Now, I love a puzzle as much as the next CRM / Process geek….but at times the “hurry up and deploy, we’ll fix it later” double-edged sword really gets me down. Doing  the right things in the right way is usually perceived as slower and more often than not actually the complete opposite with less man-hours invested, much less heartache for the client, added value for the customer (and ain’t that the whole deal,  really?), and the dev / ops team knows what was rolled out and how to support it. Well.

    Corporate America, I love you! You’re getting scrappier and hungrier as a by-product of our global crisis. But I’m offering you this unsolicited advice: think it through before you demand it done. You’ll like the results, I promise. And plus, if everyone in my team gets hit by a bus (hb2) , a new team will be able to come in and pick up where we left off without so much as a hiccup.

    Trust me, CA, it’s the only way to REALLY get where you’re trying to go.

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    Wheat from the Chaff time, kiddies.

    Times are tough all over. And I do mean all over. You and I know that in the average US home, families are making do with less. In the offices and cubicles of corporate America, shoes are shaking. For the small to mid-size business owner out there, it’s scary. Gloom. Doom.

    So, we’ve established we should all be afraid, right?  Here’s the deal, though: there is a genuine opportunity for all of us – ALL of us – to use this time to our advantages. For this post, I’m going to focus on Corporate America and how this time in our history could really take us back to our roots.

    Remember, people, we are the scrappy innovators. We are the creators of the assembly line, of Hoover Dam. We’re the folks that capitalized on the electronic frontier.

    So here we are; faced with cut-backs, set-backs, layoffs, shrinking profit margins, and the stressful barrage the 24 hour news cycle offers up. How are we going to capitalize on this time? I work in the hospitality industry; a hard hit sector, indeed. Last Thursday, one of our competitors (and a past employer) let 204 local people go. Not that such a thing is outside of the norm right now. On any given day, coworkers passing by my office will ask: “how are you holding up?”, “did anyone you know lose their job yet?”, “do you think our company will cut back?”.

    I do think our company will make cuts. I do know people who have lost their jobs. I am holding up.

    Here’s what I know:

    I was out of the ‘Corporate America’ scene for years. During that time, I was in the entrepreneurial scene. As a small business owner, it is imperative to think through every expense. You’ve got to have a fully formed idea.  You’ve got to multi-task. You can’t be a diva. You’ve got to take responsibility for your actions. Learn from your mistakes. Better yet, learn from the mistakes of your competition. You’ve got to think long term, but not let that long-range goal take focus away from your day to day operational tasks. If you want to succeed, that is.

    When I returned to Corporate America, I was immediately struck by the waste and how pervasive politicking and fear came between best practice and results. I found myself amazed at rampant bad behavior and empire building. In small business, if I had a strategic partner or assistant who I could not fully trust to act in a way that reflected my clearly stated mission statement, I immediately separated myself from that person or organization. I was, as a result, free from having my clients associate the actions of others with my business.

    So, what can Corporate America learn from the successful entrepreneur?

    ·         Know your team. Learn who in your organization is ‘Wheat’ is and who is ‘Chaff’. Separate the Wheat from the Chaff, taking care to retain those that may be of value, but aren’t managed effectively or currently in the wrong role. This is important because the cost to retain good talent with organizational knowledge is far less than the cost and risk involved in obtaining outside talent, even with the increased applicant pool. The cost of replacing an employee who leaves has been estimated by various studies to be between 70 and 200 percent of that worker’s annual salary.

    ·         Make necessary changes without delay. When the new team structure has been finalized, clearly define it from the top down. Your employees know change is afoot, from the executive level to your hourly workers. They know jobs may be lost; they know times are tough. Getting the word out that the organizational shuffle is complete, and that, as a group, future actions and decision will shape the fate of the company creates that entrepreneurial spirit throughout the entire team.

    ·         Clearly broadcast the Company Vision to your team. Get the word out swiftly to the entire company (and your partners and stockholders) sharing how the company plans to survive and thrive in this tough time. In the September / October 2008 edition of Chief Executive Magazine’s article, “To Outmarket the Competition, Run with the Rhinos”, they use the image of the Rhino as a role model for success in our current market. One of the strongest images in the piece is that of the charging rhino; impossibly fast for its size and configuration, charging ahead at 35 miles per hour on a highway full of cars inching forward.

    ·         Enlist your employees’ creativity. Reward shared ideas that add value or increase the organization’s profit margin. Your employees know what is done wrong, and have ideas on how to change. Giving safe haven and rewards for their feedback will generate fresh perspective.

    ·         Declare that your organization is now a zero tolerance zone for information silos, negativism, and waste. I can’t tell you what a shock it was to my system to see the amount of wasted opportunity, time, and money when I reentered Corporate America. By clearly stating the Company is watching costs, expects knowledge transfer (and clearly defines how to participate), and providing a positive work environment, coupled with the employee rewards program, you create a setting for visionary work. You can’t change the market, but you can offer a better experience than your competitors.

    ·         Let your customers know you appreciate them. If you are doing direct marketing, and I know you are, give some thought on how you can effectively communicate your real appreciation for their business. Let then know that YOU know they could have made a different choice. Then, to really understand what made your customers choose YOU, ask them. I know, seems heavily ’un-slick’. But when I ran my own business, these types of sincere questions were always coupled with a request for a testimonial and an opportunity to share their inner thoughts on their experience. It gave my clients a forum to let me know what went right and what went wrong. I acted quickly on any opportunities for improvement, and added their testimonials to my future marketing efforts with their permission. This type of personal interaction can help you fully understand when opportunities exist, even if you have to hear some harsh realities. This type of feedback is never negative and is always an opportunity to improve profitability. There are many different methods you can use to reach out for this type of information, and to expect success, understanding the demographics of the consumer, and/or their contact preferences must drive the channel and message.

    Due diligence is key, and a ‘Ready, Fire, Aim’ approach is the undoing of any organization – especially in tough times. In a recent discussion, a colleague asked what makes a person a good employee. I believe it is the very thing that makes an organization a good place to work: genuine care for putting out a valuable product, creativity, reliability, responsibility, integrity, thrift, service, and the understanding that the team is responsible for the quality of end product (rather than the individual). If an entity lives and breathes by this, the likelihood of success is far greater, especially in these challenging times.

    Leadership is understanding people and involving them to help you do a job. That takes all of the good characteristics, like integrity, dedication of purpose, selflessness, knowledge, skill, implacability, as well as determination not to accept failure.
    – Admiral Arleigh A. Burke

    So, dear Corporate America, this is your opportunity to shine. What bravery are you ready to tackle? Channel the successful entrepreneur now and you’ll certainly lead a sleek, focused team toward the collective goal. For their involvement, their ideas, creativity, integrity, and, well, grit, will not only be rewarded, but add to the Company’s rewards. This is the foundation of our American roots, and possibly being knocked a bit off our collective pedestal will be just the ticket to bring us full-circle to our foundation. Which is, quite literally, a great place to land.



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    Hello world!

    Welcome! I’m thrilled to be here – consider this a space for lurking up on corporate culture, best practice (and real world) CRM from an evangelist’s perspective, and the life-work balance thing.

    I’m a 12+ year veteran of the electronic data management persuasion who still loves this stuff. I’m forever feeling excited to understand “what’s next”, and the industry hasn’t disappointed yet. I mean, I can remember the CRM equivalent of the barefoot 12 mile walk in the snow to my one room schoolhouse. I won’t bore you with the details but if you were around, you know the deal. Back in the day, a computer on your desk meant you had arrived  – figuratively rather than literally.

    I’m on some interesting projects now, personally and professionally, so I’ll do my best to share success stories you may find handy as well as lessons learned here (hope I can save you some heart ache). I’ll post copious notes from the upcoming Dreamforce 2008 event, including my Neil Young stalkings (at my hubby’s request).

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    Filed under Corporate Culturati, CRM Evangelization, life-work balance