Leadership Credibility: Let’s Stop the Freefall!

Leadership Credibility: Let’s Stop the Freefall!

redibility is the soul of leadership.

That fundamental truth holds volumes of implications for leaders. And leads us to this observation on the degrading standards for integrity in modern America:

When an executive misleads, she goes to jail. When a presidential candidate misleads, he goes to the White House.

Think that’s an exaggeration? Check out this Summary from the AICPA on the executive accountabilities in the Sarbanes Oxley Act of 2002. Scroll down near the bottom for the penalties — which include jail time in decades, and fines in the neighborhood of a half-million dollars.

For a disturbing roundup on the distortions, misstatements, and out-right deceptions in the U.S. presidential political campaigns, see the Political Fact Check from the non-partisan Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania.

We deserve better. And should demand it. Of ourselves, and those in whom we expect to place the greatest trust and the greatest power.

What can you and I do to repair the so visible eroding standards of leadership? Let’s hold ourselves to the highest exemplary standards. Let’s watch motivational speakers, like Richard Jadick, and get inspiration from their speeches.  Not out of fear of legal consequences. And despite the most prominent examples to the contrary.

As Gandhi so eloquently put it: Be the change you want to see in the world.

Stop measuring everything

Stop measuring everything

The Instrument of Change is You, not what you measure.

Technology is transforming our lives. Our world is changed through technology and changing human beliefs and values. While technology helps us to connect globally, it does not help us find peace within ourselves each day and in the context of the culture that we live in. Jean Houston, specialist in the human potential movement describes today’s lifestyle as moving at celestial speed.” Thoughts we have today actually create the world we live in tomorrow.” Technology hastens the process. We use technology to conduct surgery in shorter times and without a knife. New homes are pre-wired for technology that has yet to be designed. Kitchens contain more packaged food. Appliances are constantly evolving. Entertainment centers, mechanized garage openers, better cars, bathroom and bedroom electronics and disposable products are everywhere. Home offices are fully equipped with more on the horizon. There are chips in our animals and even our body parts. Technology rules our lives. Global conferences consider the technology of waste as our homes and lives are filled with non-repairable items that eventually fill our garbage dumps. All this while much of the world starves. The balance is off.

 

Stop measuring! Start leading! We measure extensively with little attention to the negative impact this has on our people. New leadership thinking about sustainable quality and the real value of employees in providing continuous improvement is urgently needed. Horst Shulze, past president and CEO of the Ritz-Carleton Hotels spoke extensively about this in his key-note address at a CQI Conference (American Society Quality) in Kansas City. Leadership is responsible for creating a culture where quality can thrive. Many leaders need to develop new skills such as those imbedded in developing community, creating a collective mindset, developing synergy, trust and new, more positive language. Contributing to developing leadership thinking are the Principles of Change outlined in SHIFT: The Secrets of Positive Change for Organizations and Their Leaders. These principles are:

 

  • Tell your truth which is the only truth you know. Especially tell this to those above you.
  • Acknowledge what works both to yourself and to others.
  • Ask for what you want and need. If you ask, you may get it. The reverse is also true.
  • Step aside and let change happen! Don’t measure one more thing! Don’t reorganize! Call for help to change your thinking!

 

Change in the workplace. Change always starts with how we think. Then our thoughts are communicated in written or spoken form and finally there is action. Managers strategize, collaborate and compromise to create methods to improve work patterns. Computers, while they were intended to create a paperless society actually create cultures overloaded with forms and reproductions of everyday work. Technology, intended to bring balance, has instead accelerated our speed of life. Email messages pour in with increasing numbers, smartphones provide instant client responses, thus interfering with creative thinking time. Email drives unspoken, unwritten expectations. We move faster and faster. The reality is that we have fewer and fewer moments to think and quiet time is when new thought emerges – creativity and innovation. Employees and managers are frazzled.

 

With continued uncertainty about how to manage the people side of change, companies increase their research and development. They measure more things and increase technology without connecting their people. What’s really needed is to have leaders and managers work differently with their people. To make this happen, use your own people from inside the company who know the culture and use a facilitator of human change from outside the company who doesn’t know what can’t be done. This combination is the secret to a successful, growing, well-balanced company. An efficient idea to make that happen and create the collective mindset you want for your company is creating a company event and hiring a motivational speaker to perfectly pass your message to all of the employees while they connect with each other and yourself. If you’re looking for a good professional for it, check Richard Jadick.

 

We always have a choice. It’s important to remember that we have choices about what to believe and how to proceed. What we choose actually happens. Make sure that what you ask for is what you really want. If you choose to change, your life will be affected. The reverse is also true; for example, those who resist change are forced to change. They inadvertently give their choice to others and to their company. Resistance throws us into chaos. On a physical level this may result in cancer, depression or other serious illnesses. We see global economic shifts. Cultural patterns are changing, as is the planetary atmosphere. From this apparent breakdown a new system is emerging.

 

As you consider what you want your organizations to be, remember these things. First, be careful what you think about. If you think something can’t happen, indeed it will not. If you think it can, then it will. Second, if you choose not to change you will be changed anyway. Get out front and create what you want and what works. Third, always keep quality in mind with your primary focus on your customer. What improves every step of the way? Fourth, systems can’t see themselves. Change requires help to break old patterns, to develop greater and different leadership skills. Use experts from inside your company who know your culture and a human system specialist from outside the company who guides new thinking and new methods for change.

 

10 Signs PR is the Right Job For You

Those looking to get into public relations may not be 100% sure that it is the right career for them.  Besides having a severe  love for coffee (I’ve never met a PR girl that doesn’t), below are  10 signs that  public relations  could in fact be the best  job for you.

  • Writing doesn’t bother you, in fact, it’s fun!
  • Breaking news? You’re the first of all  your friends to know.
  • You’re borderline obsessed with social media.
  • You  enjoy being busy and are multi-tasking,  all the time.
  • Communicating with people all day is enjoyable.
  • Work on the weekends? Totally fine.
  • Rejection happens, but you  don’t take no for an answer.
  • You work  well under pressure and stay organized.
  • Planning  and attending events has always been a dream.
  • Being on the  computer all day doesn’t bother you and your smartphone never leaves your side. Ever.

Whether you  have all, or some of these traits, these are just a few warning  signs that you may have been born a PR girl. Do you possess any of these qualities?

A Brush with Perfection

Like any girlie girl, I love playing with makeup.  But I also have my trusted products that I haven’t given up on in years.  Though A raved about Make Up For Ever here, I cannot live without my Bare Escentuals.

The worst is getting up at the crack of dawn for an event, only to have your makeup looking cakey or shiney by mid morning.  Bare Escentuals is the only product I’ve found that keeps you fresh looking all day long.  I’ve actually had beauty editors ask me what makeup I use at my events – and I’m always proud to tell them of my dedication.

My mother is the one who introduced me to the original swirl, tap and buff my sophomore year of high school, and I swear to you I’ve been a devoted user ever since.  bareMinerals has gotten quite the transformation over the years though, and has blasted out their line to include hundreds of eye shadows, blushes, mascaras (Buxom is another fav!) and even skincare.  I just recently purchased the bareMinerals “100% Pure Moxie” kit, the Retro Lounge Eye kit, and several lip glosses and eye shadows.  The best part about the kits is that they usually come with full sized professional brushes for use, so you can be sure you’re applying the product exactly how you should be.

Head over to sephora.com or bareescentuals.com to check out the stock.  And be sure to “like” Bare Escentuals on Facebook to get the insider scoop on exclusive sales and new products.

NYC Budget Survival

Maybe it is the New Year Resolutions talking, but we’ve heard a lot of chatter lately about making the move to New York and all the nervousness/excitement that goes along with that. One of the biggest questions we get is whether or not anyone can actually afford New York.

Honestly, we’re still trying to figure that out for ourselves!

The biggest thing about living in New York is also making a commitment to live within your means. This may mean giving up daily Starbucks for free office coffee and tea. Or, doing your grocery shopping on Fresh Direct or at Trader Joe’s instead of the convenience store or Whole Foods. With a little thought and planning, anyone can make NYC work for their budget.

We’ve included some basics here…

First things first, RENT – Make sure you can ACTUALLY afford the place you sleep in. Your rent should be about 1/3 of your yearly income, so think almost your entire second paycheck for the month will most likely go to rent on the first. DO NOT try to swing more than that

TRANSPORTATION – While jumping into a cab can seem easy and oh-so-New-York, I have come to hate cabs. I do not want to know how much money in my 9 years in the city I have spent on cabs, because I am almost certain it is tens of thousands of dollars. Be smart when you want to get somewhere. Give yourself enough time to take the bus or subway. Even if the weather is bad, sometimes subways are faster than non-four-wheel-drive or non-english-speaking cabs

EATING OUT – Save your Seamless money. While ordering in is, again, convenient, you will most likely spend at least  $15 on a meal when you could have easily thrown together something at home for under $5. Save up that Seamless cash for a fun, fancy meal with your friends or significant other

EATING IN – Hands down, cheapest place to grocery shop in this city is Trader Joe’s. But sometimes, the location is inconvenient or the produce is a little sketchy (I hate to admit it). For fresh food, the best places to go are farmers markets or Whole Foods. For all around one-stop shop, use Fresh Direct. The home-delivery service is cheap and convenient. Prices are much lower than what you’ll find at your local Gristedes or Food Emporium around the block

THE HOT SPOTS – Avoid falling into the trap of “I NEED TO BE THERE NOW” when it comes to restaurants/clubs/lounges in the city. Most likely, ESPECIALLY in PR, you will be invited to an event at that location within the next year or so, and you won’t need to pay to get in/drop hundreds of dollars at dinner. If it’s a super secret location that you know would be a super special experience, save up and splurge on it with someone else you know would enjoy

FITNESS – Another trap I fell into when I moved to New York was the high-priced gym. There is no need to spend upwards of $120 – $150 each month on fitness in the city. There are now multiple Planet Fitness and Blink locations that serve memberships at a fraction of the cost. I also love fitness classes, but I was recently introduced to Classtivity and I can tell you I will NEVER pay full price for a ultra-hip spin class again. During the summers, I always run in the park (so much nicer than a treadmill). Adrianna and I are currently enjoying Tone it Up Youtube vids in our living rooms. Equinox, you can eat it

BEAUTY – Every NYC girl and guy does need to pamper herself/himself. For necessary facials or spa treatments, I always use Lifebooker to get an appointment at half the price. For haircuts, it’s best to follow a recommendation from a friend for a stylist they trust. If you can’t find anyone, that’s okay! I still use my stylist from home in Upstate New York to save on the cost of cut and color

What to Tell Your Parents About PR

May graduation is only a few weeks away and college seniors are getting the inevitable question, “so what’s your plan for a job?” Many college seniors are feeling the pressure to come up with a good answer, and for those pursuing a career in public relations, you might get a few blank face stares back when you say you’re getting into PR. Because that’s like advertising, right?

Defining PR is always difficult but instead of resorting to a comparison of Samantha in Sex and the City (which won’t give your parents the best impression), here a few pointers to highlight that will get them just as excited as you are about your PR career.

  • Get the word out. Our job is basically to make our clients look good and “get the word out” (the only thing my parents understand) by hosting events, planning media interviews, aligning with celebrities etc.
  • A people’s person career. PR is all about networking, meeting new faces and communicating daily with clients and media. In other words, you’ll meet lots of people and make new friends.
  • Travel really fun places to do cool things. Random trips to places you’ve never been before will happen. Did I ever think I’d be traveling to Dallas for the NCAA Final Four? Nope, but I am. Thanks to working in PR.
  • Get creative. PR is all about coming up with the next best, big idea. You get to brainstorm really fun, over-the-top ideas that will get you media attention.
  • Work with famous people. Working with celebrities in inevitable in PR and guess what? Even though celebrities can be a pain in the a$$, it’s a major perk and gives you bragging rights.
  • Good pay. Note that I’m not saying great, but working in PR you will have a decent salary. Your starting salary is rough, but that’s expected with any career.

How did your parents react when you said you were getting into public relations?

The Perfect Follow-Up

One of the most important aspects of pitching is following up. I’m sure if you asked a group of PR professionals about pitching, a majority would state that they don’t hear back from their contacts until they follow-up – so don’t be discouraged when you originally receive no response.

So what’s the most effective way to follow-up on your pitch? I’m a strong believer in the one liner email. Keeping the body of the original email you sent underneath your follow-up, add a short line like the below:

Hi X – I just wanted to follow-up to see if you were interested in the below opportunity/product.

Thanks for your consideration, X

Many times you will receive an email back either stating “No, thanks” or “Thanks for following up. I looked over your email originally and…” As media is inundated with emails every single day, following up is sometimes the only way to ensure your pitch is read. Phone calls also work well with print publications, but I personally don’t make those until I haven’t heard back from even the follow-up email. You want to get in contact with the media, but you don’t want to annoy them.

What are your thoughts on the follow-up?

Create a Marketing Strategy

Every Professional is a Product

People buy items from companies they know and trust, name brands whose reputation sets them apart. A working professional is really no different from these brand name items, because a self employed individual is really a product, too. In the business of work from home, a name equals a reputation. Create a marketing strategy to give both positive word of mouth.

Marketing

Marketing is about getting the word out there, building up a brand name and delivering on promises and commitments. Even when it comes to marketing people, this basic formula doesn’t change. Create a marketing strategy that will accomplish these goals, but make sure to always deliver on every commitment. Even the best marketing strategy in the world won’t help when the reputation doesn’t back it up.

Essential Marketing Tools

For the self employed professional, the greatest marketing tool is the portfolio. Many people who work from home have both a physical and online portfolio which makes it easy to showcase examples of work. Online portfolios are easy to access and can be easily updated, but even paper-rich portfolios can be easy with a little regular maintenance and frequent updates. It’s a good strategy to include only high-quality work. After all, marketing is about making products and people look good. By the same token, be sure to keep resumes and references updated. Most employers ask to see resumes and samples of work. With a winning portfolio and an updated resume, a self employed professional has all the right marketing tools close at hand to get that job.

Every Professional Is a Product

Don’t forget, a self employed professional is really a sort of brand name. Reputation is key to establishing good credentials, because even the best marketing in the world won’t overcome bad word of mouth. Meet deadlines, answer e-mails and always, always follow through. Be sure to respond to employers even when getting turned down for a job, because a simple thank-you can go a long way toward putting a professional in good standing the next time a position becomes available. A complete marketing strategy includes a strong follow through – delivering to employers and clients as promised.

Strategy

The best marketing strategy of all is simply to have confidence. Apply for jobs even if attaining them seems unlikely. Continue working on the portfolio and the resume, keep building up a brand name and don’t give up. That’s the most beneficial marketing strategy of all.

How to Create a Good Learning Environment

Creating a Classroom Space to Meet Learners’ Needs

A learning environment that is conducive to learning takes into consideration the comfort of all learners. Good lighting, seating, room temperature, acoustics and visual aids will ensure that participants are comfortable and engaged.

Good Lighting for Learning

Good lighting can not only improve the ambiance of a space but promote learning by improving visibility and the energy level within the room. Lighting can be altered by choosing when to have the full compliment of lights turned on, when to use just natural light (if the room has windows) and creating a warm reading space with the addition of floor or table lamps or creating a seated task area with task lighting.

Arranging Seating to Allow for Active Learning

Training room layout or the seating arrangement is one factor that can be changed in most classrooms. Use the opportunity to create a space that is conducive to the activities planned such as a horseshoe arrangement for discussions, pods for small group activities and theatre style for large participant numbers where demonstrations or lectures are the main delivery style. Make sure that the room is large enough for the number of participants; cramped rooms can distract learners.

Comfortable Room Temperature Keeps Learners Engaged

Room temperature can influence attention spans and learning. It is important to check the room temperature and close blinds, open windows, use space heaters etc. if necessary. Basic comfort is needed if learners are to retain the information they are learning.

Test Room Acoustics to See if Sound Equipment is Necessary

If the room is large and the participant numbers is in excess of 50 people, a microphone and speakers may be necessary in order for the presenters or instructors voice to carry to the back of the room. Bad acoustics can be highly frustrating for learners who are intent on hearing the message. Good conference phone equipment is also important if learners are calling in to the session. Speakers may also be required if audio presentations such as video clips are shown.

Visual Aids Need to be Seen by All Learners

Visual aids can have a huge positive impact on learners’ ability to understand key concepts. However, if visual aids are poorly designed and are not visible to all learners within the classroom, they loose their impact. Choose font sizes of no less than 20 in PowerPoint presentations and choose backgrounds that are light with dark coloured font.

Comfortable learners are engaged learners and so it is important for instructors to consider the elements that they can control to create a classroom environment that is conducive to learning.

Write an Effective Cover Letter

Attach a Letter to the Resume to Highlight Skills

A cover letter is a one page document that is included with a resume when applying to potential jobs. The cover letter highlights skills and accomplishments as they coincide specifically with the duties and qualifications mentioned in the job announcement. The letter should cover why the applicant is best for the job with examples of past performance in previous jobs.

Personalize the Letter

Rather than a generic greeting of “To Whom It May Concern”, conduct a little detective work to discover who the letter should be sent to. This may be the hiring manager or the director of human resources. Use networking skills to find out the person’s name so the cover letter can be more personalized. When addressing the letter, do not use first names in the greeting.

In the opening paragraph of the cover letter, let the hiring manager know how the position within the company was found. Specify the newspaper, online website or networking contact. If the position was learned of through a mutual contact, this is the time to name drop. Indicate the name of the position or the reference number for the job within the company.

Relate Skills to the Qualifications

In the second paragraph of the cover letter, detail skills and achievements as they relate to the qualifications and duties that were listed in the job announcement. Be specific when listing skills by providing examples. Do not simply reiterate what is on the resume. Use examples that are not listed on the resume or further expand on them within the cover letter.

Instead of stating “Implemented a customer service training program that improved customer service..”, rework to be specific by stating “Developed a six week customer service training program that resulted in a 30% increase in customer satisfaction within three months.”

State the Intent to Follow-Up

In the closing paragraph, state how follow-up with the hiring manager will occur. Give a timeline of when a phone call will be made or an email will be sent to set up an appointment to learn more about the position or for an interview. End the letter with a professional closing such as “Sincerely” followed by a signature and typed name.

Proofread the cover letter for spelling and grammatical errors before sending it with a resume. If possible, have another person also proofread it to ensure it reads well and is error free. Print the cover letter and resume on a white or beige linen paper for delivery to the company.

A well-written cover letter that showcases abilities in relation to the advertised position can move the resume to the top of the stack. Highlight strengths and mark a calendar to follow up with the manager in a few days.