Trump. Riots. C19. Anger. Ugh. I couldn't watch the news last night (not that I ever do in this age of smartphone headline delivery), so I used my "screen time" to watch this great Ted Talk featuring the woman who took FIVE TRIES to swim from Havana to Florida....kudos to Diana Nyad, expert swimmer and motivator, and her accomplishment. I'm gonna focus on her and her message of NEVER GIVING UP.
I was sitting in a cab heading down to the Union Sq. area for a lunch with a colleague when my phone rang. The number was unidentifiable but I was bored, and admittedly my phone hadn't rung in awhile, so I answered it. On the other end was a meek voice - probably a little startled that I picked up - but then she got her mo-jo and started talking.
She explained she met me years ago as a buyer when I was running sales at VideoEgg (SAY Media) - she said she noticed from my LI and web page that I was working with the same clientele she was selling to.
"Do you have time to talk now so we can figure out how to help each other, or shall we schedule a call?"
I was so incredibly impressed that someone actually phoned me, I muttered back, "yeah...I got a few minutes".
(I then remembered that I have it posted on my LinkedIn page that if you want to get in touch with me, just pick up the phone and call 917-207-5183....so for this one time that I picked up, you can be I was thrilled that it was a real business call.)
The call progressed in a good way and I was profuse in telling Masa Campara that I applauded her bravery and courage for picking up the phone....NOBODY does that any more. As a skill developer who PUSHES and PRODS those I instruct to pick up the phone and try to reach someone....nobody uses the phone any more. Certainly not for cold calls!
I gave her a little of my time, listened closely to her elevator pitch, and considered her appeal. (And intend to have another interaction with her...she has captured my interest!)
The punchline to this anecdote is obvious: PUTP! (Pick Up The Phone.) I can't scream it loudly enough. Ya never know when someone will pick it up on the other end and talk with you.
Way to go, Masa! Well done.
I just sat down with my morning joe on a beautiful fall day in New York to consume a little media and was so impacted by a very little thing, I had to write....we have become a society of yellers, barkers, and bitchers.
No, I am not an old man scooting you off my lawn, I am merely observing what's happening around me and quite frankly, the media we've all created is obnoxious. I "accidentally" turned the TV on to ESPN's College Game Day preview show (accidentally, I say, because I have come to loathe ESPN with their hype, hype, hyper-hype form of journalism), and the intro segment for the show blew me away. It is a large production that is silly, loud, and over-the-top.
Perhaps I'm just tired of people yelling at me. Clinton yelled at me for 18 mos., Trump barked at me...and it seems everywhere I turn, media is yelling. Funny thing is I've seen some of it rub off on me as I find myself raising my voice because of course, I think that's going to get attention the way I want.
I'm tired of yelling. Speaking quietly and in normal tones works too. I fully understand that shows like ESPN's are a production and they feel they need to entertain the consumer, but. I am just wondering how much more attention we would all get if we communicated smartly, and in a normal tone of voice.
Spoke with a friend the other day who's having trouble communicating up. CEO is all over the map, communication is scarce, and the mandate is REVENUE, REVENUE, REVENUE!
She asked my advice and I said that maybe the CEO isn't listening to her because what she says isn't useful. After that settled her down a bit, I suggested she literally record every single piece of feedback that comes from the market through her sales reps. She barked, "but that's micromanagement and unproductive".
But it's not. I asked her to consider that she has to create a tool that allows her to truly "read" the market...a protocol that allows her to see trends and make observations that can be useful to the CEO. What really grabbed her was when she admitted she's moving so incredibly fast that she probably misses key data that can be helpful to her, the CEO and the org. Not to mention her peeps.
The routine is very simple, but it takes dedication: at the end of every day, turn off the world and write a substantive report about all customer interactions that day. Of course it means interviewing all reps for their experiences, but once the data can be recorded, then it can be viewed, analyzed, and considered.
She sighed heavily acknowledging this would mean a lot of work for her, until I suggested she think about what else would be more important at this time when the CEO isn't listening? She agreed. She's trying it for two weeks, then will write a report on what her observations are. I'm betting she finds things she was missing and is able to drive more intelligence into the org.
Taking a "lesser title" in a new job is one of the hardest things an exec in our ad tech/digital media space can do. It's exceptionally hard for managers especially when it appears everything around us is heading north.......including real or perceived Peter Principle moves. ("That guy got a VP Sales job????") However, keep your antennae up and you'll notice Decisions of Smartness being made (DoS....my acronym of the day). Say hello to my little friend.... Greg Gortz. Well he ain't that little and he made a big decision last spring that is paying off. Greg proves you can take a step back, and it's quite ok. If you talk with him, it's more than just ok, it's great.
Greg and I have worked formally together for many years and I caught up with him yesterday. Greg joined Moat last May after a long run as VP of Sales at Zemanta (a smart, growing, content management platform). Understandably, the size difference of Moat (a SaaS analytics company focused on transforming brand advertising online) versus Zemanta is not small, so the move back in title was not out of the ordinary. But nobody forced Greg to join Moat with only a promise of rising up. He could've scored another "senior manager" title somewhere. Greg bought in to Moat's view that their service is so complex, it is unfair to hire managers from outside the company. And, he recognized one can learn a lot about management development by taking a step back and learning from his chair as individual contributor. And while Moat will constantly need to guard against the Peter Principle given their hire from within strategy, Greg's comment to me that the company hires really smart and driven people suggests Moat will continue to make good personnel decisions.
Most of all, I'm impressed by my buddy Greg's vision and maturity....last spring he acknowledged that his need to learn in another arena was more important than satisfying his ego over the pursuit of a loftier title and role. Good job Greg, go Tribe!
If I had to draft a team of managers in the digital media / ad tech sector, Polly Lieberman at Flashtalking would be one of my first-rounders. The headline quote actually wasn't the entirety of what she said when we caught up today, the actual quote was this: "The job I was hired to do wasn't a job...yet."
The big difference with those two quotes is Polly's attitude and approach, which is why she's having big success in her career. Polly understands the basic premise that it is up to her to create value in everything she does....every single minute of every single day. In her words, Flashtalking focuses on "programmatic creative" and one of her main charges is to work with the senior execs at holding companies to guarantee the work keeps flowing through Flashtalking.
"In my role, it's often hard to measure success and I'm not wired that way...I like to work with hard metrics," added Polly. Unfortunately, most of the jobs in the ad tech industry either don't come with specific success metrics assigned to them, or, mis-management means performance is not guided and/or measured correctly. (For more on how big-boy companies now view performance management, check out this interesting HBR article - I don't agree with everything in the article, but the perspective is important.)
Either way, Polly knows the secret: it's not up to anyone else but you to figure out that providing value always will equal success in a career. Why am I writing about a "no duh" concept? Simple, most managers I work with aren't as obsessed about providing value as Polly is, and that's too bad: be obsessive about providing constant value - to your peers in the company, your clients, those you manage...everyone around you - and success will flow naturally.
Thanks for the reminder, Polly....keep hitting those backhands up the line!
I had a nice long chat with a dear friend yesterday ("dear friend"...I sound like my Mom).... Nicole Taylor. She's over at Snapchat now, ya may have heard of 'em. (Disclaimer: I adore Nicole for her business brain. Nicole runs brand partnerships for S-chat based in San Fran and I've worked with her closely over the years during our stints together at SAY Media. Nicole is a serious up-n-comer manager to keep an eye on for a lot of reasons, but mostly because she's got the 2 Cs: Commitment, and she Cares. Deeply on both.)
Anyway, I was listening to Nicole describing how things are going at Snapchat and I thought of the "fast growth dilemma" I've seen a few times: how to keep one's head when everything seems to be a "yes" all around you. It made me think of a client I worked with a few years ago who got a hit every time up at the plate.....bad pitch, stick the bat out there and it still drops in. Ball outa the strike zone....rap it the opposite way for a double. Every single at bat turned in to something good.
What happened to this digital media company was something that I hope doesn't happen to Nicole and her good friends at Snapchat....and I'm not saying it will. Every person at the company to which I'm referring got complacent even after a few months of hyper-success. Even the top managers. Simply stated, they started believing the headlines. What was amazing to me was that being spoiled by the market got deeply embedded in their sales culture after only a very brief period of time (let's call it six months or so). It was shocking to see how fast the erosion of ambition and drive occurred to the point where they never really righted the ship afterwards.
Most of us are not in this type of situation where our product and services are selling like hot cakes, but there are microcosms of "too much success" that we see all the time. We get on mini-rolls and think it's "what we desreve" or "it'll last forever". But it won't. Fight it. Stay hungry. Don't let success change your outlook. If you're on a roll, enjoy it, but don't sit down and soak in it. Keep a level head and again, stay hungry.
You go, Nicole, you go!!!!!
I talked this morning to a very long-time friend, Michael O'Donnell, whom I respect very very much. Mike is a serial entrepreneur who has salesman-DNA. After catching up on his new exciting venture, HealthiNation, Inc. (a site that helps and inspires people to live healthy lives through really slick, engaging videos), we spoke about the true challenges that sales persons face. And for those who don't "do it" regularly, they truly have no idea about the complexities and nuances needed for success in sales. And that got me thinking...
There have been few things written about more in business than the art of sales. Luminaries smarter than I have researched, written, formularized, argued, and posited about different styles, techniques and approaches since Adam mass-picked apples and needed to start selling them. Where I sit in the digital media and ad tech industry, the movement of the last few years has been about consultative selling: the art of conversing with a prospect about what their true needs are. Ok fine, but at the end of the day there's still fundamental truths about selling. You still have to put on the uniform, go dig up some prospects, and convince them of your product/service.
Mike has always been one of those stars who makes everything look easy...but I know that he works it, and works it, and works it. He's committed. He has the sense of drive to just keep going. Because at the end of the day, there's only one book title that should frame what selling is about: "Commitment: How I Farmed the l
Land Over and Over Again to Grow My Territory!"
Maybe some day I will write that book....oh wait, I kinda do with all my Selling.2.YES newsletters and blog posts. But if I DID write the book, I would want my buddy Mikey O'Donnell to write my intro!
Happy selling....get at it!
In all fairness, the title of this post is the title of a fantastic article in the April Harvard Business Review that states, "In 2011 half (of polled employees for the article re. workplace culture and extreme behaviors) said they were treated badly at least once a week—up from a quarter in 1998."
The article discusses incivility in the workplace which of course, has numerous implications on culture....and personal fulfillment and development. As someone who has spent a career trying hard to BUILD good culture (and not always succeeding), I have found incivility in the workplace to be based on one thing and one thing only: disenfranchisement. Individuals who are not motivated, nor care about themselves, not to mention they don't care about you. And that, of course, creates behaviors that are negative and not needed.
Get them OUT of the organization. And if he/she is the one who RUNS the organization, then you need to leave. Life is too short and there are SO MANY good, honest, hard-working, ethical and self-less managers out there to go work with.
In that light, how 'bout THESE interview questions of the person who is interviewing YOU:
1. In what ways do you create an ethically good and positive work environment?
2. In what ways do you yourself exhibit selfless behaviors that contribute to the positive goal achievement endeavors of the dept./company?
And so on.
We are all agents and deserve a work / career situation that fosters the good in ourselves. If you don't have it, go find it!
I was meeting with a prospective client yesterday and we were casually discussing the art of management - and of course - the art of getting the most out of your people. He lamented it was very frustrating to fight through the noise of life in an attempt to get one of his teammates to "pay attention" and "focus". I replied that it will only get worse as more devices, more messages and more distractions will invade our brain-space.
And then it hit me: the number one thing a manager can do to help the performance development of someone on their team is to help them focus. Teaching someone how to "engage" could possibly be the most important gift that a manager gives to someone. It takes patience, it takes grace...but when achieved, the rewards will be amazing.