Tag Archives: Creativity

Yeah, I Love This.

This weekend we held our third Annual Florida Salesforce.com User Group Event, “Dreamforce to YOU – Florida“. It was our most ambitious effort to date, with 12 sessions spanning from Project methodologies to a highly attended Developer Deep Dive session. We had two guest speakers this year, and with them onsite, it brought our Salesforce.com MVP count up to 4 – I speculated that meant we were likely the highest MVP count per capita on Saturday ( I could be wrong, but it was fun to think so!).

But the BEST thing – the most exciting moment – for me was when attendees stopped me in the hall and said things like, I can’t WAIT to try the new formula I just learned! or I think I may have just found a job!. That’s what this whole Community thing is about, really.

How did this happen?

I started attending the Salesforce.com Orlando User Group over 4 years ago out of desperation – I needed to find employees who were creative, passionate, and really really into Cloud Computing. I was having NO luck through traditional methods. Cloud computing was then (as it is now) a hot profession, and talented folks weren’t just sitting about hoping someone would call. So after trying to get my HR department fired up to help me (no luck at the time) and then outsourcing through local headhunters, I faced the hard reality that it. Just. Wasn’t. Happening.

My last ditch effort IMMEDIATELY paid off. I met my first hire at that first meeting. He was a super star (still is!) looking for his next new challenge. He was just the guy I was looking for: smart as a whip, creative as hell, and looking for a tough puzzle to solve. I had a really tough puzzle and we made it official as fast as I could get the paperwork pushed through. That was the beginning of a great era: the era of getting things done.

I credit the Salesforce.com User Groups for making that year ‘happen’. I know I’d never have been able to push the ball as far down-field without the Community.

From there, the User Group and the extended Community has personally brought me friends, new skills, creative ways to attack my org’s issues, camaraderie, and the constant drive to do better. I’ve connected to some of the smartest people I’ve ever met (and that, my friends, is saying something!) through this Community. I was happy to become a co-leader of the Orlando User Group when there was a need shortly after I joined the User Group. Since then, we’ve had three Dreamforce to YOU events, many local User Group meetings, socials, and impromptu meetups. It’s been a fabulous ride!

Why is Community #AWESOME?

The idea for Dreamforce to YOU was simply to bring a day of content and collaboration to our Orlando User Group members. Co-leader Joshua Hoskins and I had just returned from Dreamforce 2009 and were totally

out of our minds with enthusiasm. What struck us then (and still gets me now) was how quickly things were accelerating in this space. We thought our members would probably take a Saturday to get together to talk about it. We were right! The first Dreamforce to YOU has very little resemblance to the event we put on this year – but the bottom line is the same.

It’s GREAT to have the camaraderie, connections, creativity, and collaboration an active Community brings. If you have a passion, and want to surround yourself with the people who can help you become the best version of yourself in that space, search for an organized community. There are Communities for just about everything now … and thanks to the little ol’ interwebs, a quick search gets you all details you need to jump in.

Find YOUR Community. Then Jump In. If you do it with a vengeance, it’ll pay off in spades (for you and for the group). I promise.

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Filed under CRM Evangelization, Service, Social, User Group

Fast and FABULOUS

Well, I can’t tell you how much time I’ve been devoting to all the amazing twists and turns happening in the SCRM (see that? I’ve even adopted the ‘S’!) world since last we met on these virtual pages.

Some undeniable truths:

  • Social is the new black. Got that?
  • Another thing…Analytics that used to take me 6 months of hard work, mental gymnastics, and sleepless nights now happens in an instant. Prettier than I could have ever done it back in the day.
  • I have to say things like ‘back in the day’ more and more.
  • The Cloud is ubiquitous.
  • Mobile and Touch are just ‘how we do it’ now.
  • Your Mom is on Facebook. Your Mom (it turns out) is likely an early Pinterest adopter.
  • Business is struggling to keep up, to make sense of it, and to use their budget wisely.
  • Shiny-Thing Syndrome is rampant. RAMPANT! It is one of my least favorite corporate maladies. Of course, ‘That’s Simple-itis‘ is worse, but I really want to stay on track so I’ll just move on.
  • This post is meant to serve as my quick but exciting (to me) return to my blog as well as to let you know where I’ve been.

Exciting stuff indeed, this is!Hi. I’ve been reading, thinking, talking, implementing, and researching in the middle of this incredible time. At least once a day I feel so excited that I either pick up the phone, compose a tweet, start a chat, or – if I have to – craft an email to let another colleague know how AWESOME it is to do what we do. They know it already, of course, and are very likely kind of getting sick of these interruptions but I just can’t help it. This is hands down the most fun I’ve ever had doing my job. That’s coming from a person (read: nerd) who lists her professional pursuit as a hobby lo these many years.

At any rate, the customer is getting heard. The constituency and community is being recognized. Why? Because we created the equalizing tools that foster this channel. As a result, business needs to LISTEN (and that is just about the MOST exciting opportunity to amaze and delight there is). As I dive into some of the more effective ways to weave listening into traditional Sales, Service, and Community efforts, I just get more blown away. We are really starting to be able to connect with our customers and colleagues and fans and detractors. We’ve got lots to learn from each of these connections and can finally dive into the Big Data (another shiny thing? Not a chance.) with elegance and speed.

So if this is interesting in the least, keep reading! I’ve got a few of my favorite sources below to get your motor running!

  • Paul Greenberg on ZDNet. I’ve said it before but this guy just GETS it. In a big way. Kind of my Yoda, he is.
  • Radian6 Providing TONS of really useful strategic and tactical content via many channels. Like everything they do: AWESOME
  • Kelly Craft Blogs on Social CRM, Gadgetry, and getting it done. Very sharp lady.
  • Christopher Barger MAY be the Yoda of Social Business planning?! Read his blog on Forbes, you should.
  • Salesforce.com Blog They’re taking a ton of big guns’ ammo and making it available to you. Really pretty and very actionable.
  • HubSpot puts a TON of content out for your consideration. I highly recommend their Webinars as well.

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Filed under CRM Evangelization, 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.

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Filed under Corporate Culturati, life-work balance

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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Filed under Corporate Culturati