Connected Organizations

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Guest Post by:
Mike Henry, Chief Instigator
Lead Change Group

One thing I’ve noticed in leadership discussions lately surrounds the idea that everyone is a leader.   Some established, experienced leaders withdraw from the idea quickly.  “Too many cooks spoil the soup.” Or, “Someone has to be in charge.” How does anyone expect to get anything done when everyone thinks they’re the leader?

Room at the top

In a hierarchical organization, there is only one box at the top.  Everyone can’t be in-charge.  Someone must be ultimately responsible for what happens on a team.  But must everyone else be impotent?  Must everyone else wait until a box on the diagram above them opens?

 

When we were kids, we didn’t have org charts.  Whoever showed up played.  Sure there were some kids who didn’t get chosen early, but generally, at least in my circles, leadership was a function first of showing up and then either having the ball or having the best idea of which game to play.

Character-based Leadership

New, organic, character-based leaders lead from who they are.  It causes some concern in fear-based position-focused organizations, but generally organizations and leaders appreciate individuals who accept responsibility, act like owners , and avoid blaming others  or acting like victims.  We appreciate  people who demonstrate initiative.

 

But the old top-down org chart just doesn’t create a naturally conducive environment for that type of leadership.  We can talk about empowerment and initiative and creativity but there is always this looming idea that someone further up the ladder will stop anything they believe is unnecessary.

New Leaders Avoid Hierarchies

New leaders form something more similar to a tribe or a community.  It’s based on connections.  In fact, I’d go so far as to suggest that the new org structure is more of a project matrix.  Seth Godin and others have suggested that everything is now a project.   Your vacation is a project, and so is your current job.  In a few weeks or months or years, you’ll get involved in another project (or job).  Everything is more temporary that we like to think, unless we’re miserable and then everything is less temporary than we’d like.

 

Connections are the new keys to getting things done.  Project management is less about the project or the activities and more about who you can enlist, for how long, and what is their level of commitment.  Your connections and your ability to mobilize those connections will determine your success.  If the world is one big matrix, how you can connect and with whom are the key questions.

Triad Relationships


In Tribal Leadership, by Dave Logan, Jack King and Halee Fischer-Wright, the authors noticed something about the stage 4 and stage 5 tribes.  The highest most productive tribes built what they called Triad Relationships.  A triad relationship is a relationship where one person introduces persons two and three.  Two and three go on to build a relationship that no longer requires person one to be involved.  That’s a triad relationship.

 

Can you create connections that outlive your engagement?  If we’re going to be leaders who connect and succeed in the new community-based non-hierarchical world, we need to have the confidence and the genuine concern for others that would allow us to enable these triad relationships.  A series of triad relationships that exist over time and engage for various projects begins quickly to look like one huge matrix.

 

So how are you at creating triad relationships?  Does your organization support triad relationships or does it still reinforce old-style co-dependent relationships>  Can you point to some connections inside or outside your organization that have gone on to produce outcomes not involving you?  I can.  It’s rich and rewarding to see results from a partnership that you helped to create, even when you’re no longer involved.

 

Mike Henry Sr. is the founder and Chief Instigator of the Lead Change Group.  He has a passion to mobilize character-based leaders to make a positive difference.  Connect with Mike at http://leadchangegroup.com/members/mike.

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Stop Giving (and Getting) Referrals that SUCK!

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Guest Post by:
Mac Cassity
Mac The Knife Marketing

[Mac is a personal friend of mine from…let’s just say WAY back!  When we re-CONNECTed and I learned what he was up to these days, it was clear to me: He understands the Power of Connection! Be sure to leave your thoughts and comments below after you read Mac’s post!
-Cooksey]

I know, we’ve all heard it before…referrals are the BEST way to get high quality, easily converting business, right? That is, unless the referrals you are getting absolutely suck! The fact is, many (if not most) business people don’t even understand exactly what a true referral is. This results in quite a bit of wasted time and effort and not NEARLY as much actual business being transacted. A high quality referral IS like gold, but, do you even know what a high quality referral is?

My definition is simple: A high quality referral is when you introduce someone whose product or service you have faith in to someone you think could use that product or service. BAM, that’s it. Notice the word introduce is highlighted. That introduction is the secret to making referrals work. Unfortunately, all too often, we encounter a scenario like the one below:

“Hey Mac, I have a great referral for you!”

“Cool, lay it on me!”

“Well, I was driving in to work today, I saw a billboard for a new business opening up on main street, they could probably use your marketing services…you should call them!”

“Uh…yeah…sure…thanks.” (SUCK!)

The scenario above represents MANY encounters I have had in so called “referral” groups that I belonged to. Listen folks, you might mean well, but this info does NOT equal a referral. Referrals must be handed off. Another one that kills me is the “Just call him and tell him I told you to call.” Again, I say…SUCK! Most of us have higher opinions of ourselves than others and just because you think someone loves you doesn’t mean they want you telling others to call them and ask for business! Not cool. These phone calls are often little better than cold calls and in my opinion are not worth my time. You might think this sounds a bit harsh, but that’s because I expect what I give, and here’s how I give referrals:

  1. 1.      I personally introduce two individuals at a networking event and tell them why I think they should do business together.
  2. 2.      I arrange a 3-way phone call and do the same as the above (when a face to face meeting is not possible)

And lastly (but usually the most common due to obvious limitations)

  1. 3.      I email the two parties and do a “virtual introduction” thereby connecting all 3 of us as part of the referral. This one works great, is easy and quick to do, and VERY effective.

So there you have it. THAT is how you give a referral that doesn’t suck. Oh, and as for those people who give you referrals that do? Simply say to them,

“Hey, let me ask you a quick question…if I know someone that I think would be a good client for you, do you mind if I introduce them to you personally?” (they will always answer with a resounding “ABSOLUTELY!”) Once they do, just smile and ask,

“Well…do you mind doing the same for me?”

They will get the point and you will have helped train one more business professional to start giving referrals that don’t SU…you get the idea.

 

Mac Cassity aka MAC THE KNIFE runs a successful content creation business,  Mac the Knife Articles  and an online/offline marketing business, Mac the Knife Marketing. He has developed an extensive client base that includes major automobile manufacturers, universities, Well known speakers/authors, and more than a few “mom and pop” shops. Mac’s blog, www.MacCassity.com, helps burgeoning offline marketers land and profit from brick and mortar businesses. Mac is offering his successful eBook TURNING CONVERSATIONS TO CLIENTS right now for just $1. CLICK HERE to grab a copy for yourself!

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Is Your “Pink” More Than Skin-Deep? – Thoughts on marketing to a female audience

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GUEST POST by:
Kathy Piersall, Owner
A Blue Moon Arts, LLC

[October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, so I’ve asked Marketing Expert, Kathy Piersall to share her thoughts on building a marketing CONNECTion with women.–Scott]

Don’t just make it pink.

How many companies have slapped a coat of pink on their product, or suddenly started supporting breast cancer charities, when neither of these actions has any obvious, real connection to their brand? (“Pinkwashing“, anyone?) Women have been the special targets of marketing and advertising campaigns for decades, because marketers often assumed they controlled most expenditures for their households. So women have learned to spot condescension a mile away. Find out if women are truly a realistic target market for what your company offers. If it’s reasonable and profitable to connect with the female market, be sincere. Build genuine connections.

Allow time for discussion

Women tend to ask more questions, especially at the beginning of the sales cycle. Your female prospective clients may want to talk about the pros and cons more. Don’t feel threatened by this. It’s not confrontation or conflict. It’s your opportunity to re-emphasize your strengths and get more insight into what hopes or worries motivate them. Establish trust this way early, and you’re likely to spend less time answering questions later in the process.

“Female” does not equal “spouse” or “with kids”

As of 2005, more women are living without a spouse, according to the New York Times. And according to a 2006 U.S. Census Bureau report, roughly 20% of women 35 to 44 years old have never had kids. What does this mean? Make sure your company’s marketing speaks authentically to a female audience, and doesn’t view a woman as just a portal to gain access to a hypothetical spouse, or her 2.5 children.

“Busy” is not the magic word

The word “busy” is as overused as the color pink when trying to attract the attention of a female audience. Many marketers seem to think if they start their messages with “Gee, we’re all so busy these days!!”, every woman in earshot will drop what she’s doing, sigh in sympathy, and give her full attention to whatever statement follows. Sure, you could argue that women tend to feel obliged to take on a wider variety of tasks in both their personal and professional lives than men or children do. But if “busy” doesn’t mesh with the rest of your marketing messages, then it’s just a fake attempt to create connection. And it’s a weak start to the dialogue your company really needs to have with women, if you hope to create a relationship that’s rewarding for both sides.

The Challenge

Let us hear about other marketing miscues you have noticed, below.  Perhaps you can:

  • Share anadvertisement, commercial, or other marketing message you have seen that simply “missed the mark”, in your opinion.
  • What might that company have thought about BEFORE they spent money to send out a message?
  • Provide an example of a marketing message that resounded with you, leaving you with a feeling that the product or service CONNECTed with you, and was completely relevant.

Visit Kathy’s company on the web at: www.abluemoonarts.com
Follow @abluemoonarts on Twitter
Check out A Blue Moon Arts, LLC on Facebook

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Why Customers are More Than Just Sales- A Lesson Learned

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Jerry Sevier

Guest Post by:

Jerry D. Sevier, Founder
ExamShout Mobile Certification Study Solutions
A division of Gensev, Inc.

Customers are more than just a figure in your sales log. Many companies have learned that they are an incredible resource for information. They can tell you when you aren’t doing the right thing or validate you are, in fact, moving in the right direction. However, I have recently discovered they can do even more. The simple act of reaching out to your customer base to honestly CONNECT can have profound results.

Before I get too involved, I’d like to take a moment and thank Scott Cooksey for the opportunity to make this guest appearance on CookseyConnects. I have known Scott for over fifteen years as he and I worked together in what was my first professional job in the Information Technology (IT) industry. Today, I own a successful business that sells mobile applications for devices like Android and iPhone.  [No “thanks” necessary, Jerry!  You are certainly WELCOME and I offer you many congratulations on your continued success! – Scott]

Since moving away from that small Oklahoma town where we first met, we’ve each been busy learning our life-lessons and establishing our careers. I had, for many years, a very successful consulting career providing software development services to many Fortune 500 companies all over the country. To put it simply, companies paid me a lot of money for what was, in essence, my opinion on strategy, direction and design on things like e-commerce and enterprise computer systems.

About two years ago, my wife asked me a pretty innocent question: “If you can help these companies make millions of dollars, why can’t you do that for yourself?” Little did we know, this simple question would change our lives forever. Since then, we have formulated a small consulting company that specializes in Mobile/Smart Phone applications. I figured, with all of my experience, ability to program, and such a thorough understanding of the industry, how could I fail, right?

We did everything by the book. We created the business plan, I researched our target market, I studied my competition and formulated a design for our software. I added many features that our competitors had “overlooked”. Because of this, what should have been a three month development cycle was dramatically extended. We launch almost a year later than expected.

Upon the software release, sales were very disappointing. Just like I learned as a consultant, I went back into business mode, modified our software design, and released a much-improved update. Still, sales were flat. I was frustrated and we were looking at losing everything we had invested in a venture that was clearly heading towards failure.

Out of desperation, I decided to ask my customers directly for their input. Instead of drafting some fancy e-mail campaign, I printed off a customer list and spent an entire week doing nothing but sending a personalized email to each and every one of the people who had purchased our program. As one then another responded, I’d immediately write them back. Before I knew it, I had an open dialog with dozens of our customers. I made responding to them my number one priority. Many of them were shocked that I would respond within minutes even at 2:00 am.

All while I was working with the customers, I was formulating how we could revamp our marketing strategy. We could do this… we could do that. Here’s how we could change our software. My mind was busy putting together the strategy. Then, something remarkable happened.

Sales began to explode! We were seeing sales at a rate we had never imagined.

But wait! We hadn’t done anything yet! How were sales skyrocketing before we’d made any real changes?

I am ashamed to say, it took me a bit to realize what had happened. It turns out, when I reached out and connected with my customers, I had unknowingly provided them with a feature that none of my competition had… a two-way relationship. Their input mattered, I did my best to change what I could and explain what I couldn’t. In exchange, they began to tell their friends about us, and a process was born that spread like wild-fire.

Customers are not just those statistics that you read on the daily sales log. They are real, hard working people like you and me. If you can reach out, develop a real conversation, you can empower them. And, more often than not, that new power will be used to help you take your business to the next level.

To this day, I attempt to send a custom, personalized letter to each and every one of my customers. While this is becoming more and more difficult to keep up with due to our new found success, it is a process I will never stop.

The Challenge

As a final note to each of you reading this: If you work in a service oriented industry, I challenge you to reach out to some of your customers and/or clients today and honestly ask them for their input, suggestions, and comments. I promise, the harder you work to respond to them, the more success you will find.

Thank you and happy connecting!

Visit Jerry’s Company on the Web at: www.examshout.com
Follow @examshout on Twitter

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Absent Memories

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For this posting, I have invited author Beki Propst to share a bit on her incredible story. Please check out her book , Absent Memories: Moving Forward When You Can’t Look Back. Can you imagine if her story was yours? Post your feedback as a response to this blog, and let Beki know what you thought!

The most effective way to overcome failure is to fail to recognize it. When I lost all memories of my life at age 47, I had no idea what failure was. I couldn’t remember any of my experiences or education; I couldn’t even remember the people I’d grown up with. All I knew was that I had to learn how to support myself. At first, I didn’t even know what kinds of jobs were “out there,” but I learned quickly and managed to find enough work to survive (by working two or three jobs at the same time.)

I hadn’t lost everything; I could still read. But I had lost all my social skills, so I was flying on instinct—and I soon learned that—for me at least—instinct is not intrinsic; it’s based on memories. I lost three jobs in the first five years of my remembered life. I lived in “at-will” states, so I still don’t know why I was fired. I guess some people might view those terminations as failures, but I believe them to be simply a natural result of my ignorance of appropriate behavior. I hadn’t yet learned enough to know how I needed to act and what I needed to do to keep a job.

The only way to fail is to give up. People who have read my book, Absent Memories: Moving forward when you can’t look back, tell me it’s helped them appreciate their lives—and their memories. They tell me I’ve overcome obstacles that would have caused others to give up.

Life is full of challenges, but the ability to learn keeps those challenges from being obstacles. I believe I have no choice but to continue to learn why things don’t always turn out the way I want and expect them to. If reaching a goal is seen as an opportunity to learn, missed goals aren’t viewed as failures, but as steps along the road to success.

Remember: Never give up…not even when you can’t remember what to do!

Learn more about the author at her website: Absent Memories.

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Shaking my head from atop Mt Olympus

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Allow me to set the stage with this excerpt from a recent BBC.com article (view it in its entirety here) emphasis added by blog author:

Athletes from Iraq have been banned from taking part at this summer’s Beijing Games, the International Olympic Committee has announced.

The team was already the subject of an interim ban after the Iraqi government replaced the country’s Olympic committee with its own appointees.

Under the IOC charter, all committees must be free of political influence.

Iraq had been planning to send a team of at least seven athletes to the Olympics which start on 8 August.

Two rowers, a weightlifter, a sprinter, a discus thrower, a judoka and an archer were in the frame for the trip to Beijing.

“The deadline for taking up places for Beijing for all sports except athletics has now passed,” said IOC spokeswoman Giselle Davies.

“The IOC very sadly has now to acknowledge that it is likely there will be no Iraqi presence at the Beijing Olympic Games, despite our best efforts.”

She added: “Clearly, we’d very much like to have seen Iraq’s athletes in Beijing.

“We are very disappointed that the athletes have been so ill-served by their own government’s actions.”

My thoughts:

  • Were the original Iraqi Olympic committee more or less corrupt than the new ones?
  • This country has been ravaged by years rule under a rabid dictator (since removed), has been in a state of war for years…can’t they catch a break? For heaven’s sake, it’s the Olympics!
  • (Read the words in RED above, then consider this)- If the only sport left to qualify for is “athletics” and Iraq has “athletes” – that’s just puzzling, right?
  • Go read the memoirs of ANY person who has ever spent time near the International Olympic Committee and/or it’s governing processes. IT’S ALL POLITICAL.
  • Zeus and the gods of Mt Olympus have to be thinking “What happened to the spirit of competition?”

What’s your opinion? Post it below!

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The Man in the Arena

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Here is an excerpt from Teddy Roosevelt’s Citizenship in a Republic address delivered at the Sorbonne, Paris, April 23, 1910. The quote below is one of his most famous, referred to as “The Man in the Arena”.

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, and comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.

[ Read the entire address at Leadership Now.]


In what arena do you stand each day?

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