social media

Secrets of Success: Calling It Quits

Jonathan Wright, our Leadership Quantified Expert in Business Development, takes a look at a subject near and dear to my heart: knowing when to cut your losses, make something that isn't working stop and move on to new successes. I've written about it before - and you've been great about commenting. Do the same for Jonathan. Even better, do what you need to do - with Jonathan's help.
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When I first started writing what is now this post about calling it quits, I had intended it to be a Leadership Quantified Working Paper providing guidance to you on knowing when to pull the plug on a Marketing or Social Media Campaign. (I'll be writing about that too, but first this.) Due to circumstances, I decided to generalize the topic for any situation - professional or personal.

What were those circumstances? I fired an employee.

It turns out that managing staff is very much like managing a business plan - because the steps are surprisingly similar.

Let me summarize the situation - or at least my actions leading up to the firing:
  • I Coached and coaxed...
  • Met this employee in the middle (or tried)...
  • Reviewed what previous managers had done and how that had worked...
  • Took into consideration personal issues I knew existed that I assumed were part of the situation I was dealing with... 
  • Set myself outside my feelings and looked at the situation without emotion and, finally, 
  • Realized that sometimes you just cannot turn someone around. 
It's the same with a marketing or social media or sales plan. Sometimes you have to trash it all and move on.

I hate to admit that I failed. We all do. But to succeed you need two or more willing participants. If one of those participants is disengaged, you have no hope of winning.

Accept it and don't waste any more time or resources.

But how do you know when that time has arrived? We've all heard the Perseverance speech, the Never Give Up speech and the Try One More Time Even When You Just Can't speech. Yeah, I tried all those approaches and still...nothing.

I'm an eternal optimist - almost annoyingly so. I want so badly to make my plan work that I'm willing to push and push to get it accomplished. That's admirable to a point - until it's not and not taking the necessary steps becomes the problem. Yes, you, yourself,  become the problem - because you're not taking the actions necessary.

So, let's take a look at the three steps you need to take to know when to call it quits - whether you're dealing with a staff member or a plan (business, marketing or sales):

1. Review the Situation as It Currently Stands
  • Review the plan as strategized (Note: Every plan must have a timeline to measure against effectiveness)
  • Review the steps taken to implement and look for missed opportunities
2. If Missed Opportunities are Identified
  • Try those options/opportunities with a strict timeline
  • Review to see if the new options/opportunities had any impact
If Yes: Continue on that path
If No: Move to the next step
3. Do One Final Push to Succeed
  • Set a short timeline - no longer than one month 
  • At the end of that time period, review to see if any significant changes have occurred to the positive
If Yes: Revise the plan to adjust and adapt those positive outcomes for growth and expansion and continue
If No: Set a date - no longer than two weeks -  to pull the plug and implement a new plan.
Thanks to the internet, life moves at light speed - both personal and professional. Technology has given us the tools to track, monitor and measure every campaign, decision and post.

That makes wasting precious resources irresponsible - most importantly, time. At the end of the day, you're not helping yourself, your company or your plan.

There are clearly visible warning signs your plan might be failing, such as:
  • No changes in behavior or sales or marketing goals (i.e. 'Likes' on your Facebook page)
  • No willingness to take new direction
  • No willingness to engage in communications that the plan is failing
  • No metrics to measure success or failure
  • No timelines attached to milestones
  • No way to quantify engagement
  • No excitement over the plan or daily activities to execute the plan.
Sometimes a simple, small change in approach or messaging can make all the difference between success and failure. But without a mechanism built into your plan to measure those changes and a benchmark to say This is Success, how will you know if you're succeeding?

In my consulting practice, I'm profoundly confused by some executives' and business owners' refusals to set metrics for success along the way. They're "afraid" to set those milestones because they're afraid of this "new idea" or unsure "how to implement new media." Some flat out don't want to be able to label an effort a success or failure because they see that as a projection of their success or failure.

Not one of those excuses is a reason not to put appropriate measures into place.

Even freshman business students know that there's no "100% Success" plan. One product may have success and another similar product may try exactly the same plan and fail miserably. Hundreds of small details go into the formula and they determine success or failure. Some of them are concrete, but, often, they're gauzy intangibles like "tone" or "response time" or "personality" that there's no definable label for - but can make or break a campaign.

Ultimately the formula is the same no matter the situation:
  1. Make the plan then be willing to follow it. 
  2. If it's not working...take a deep breath and pull the plug. 
  3. After a brief mourning period - no more than a day - begin strategizing a new plan.
What you will find, much to your surprise, is a renewed energy around the situation and that, by knowing what didn't work, you and your team can concentrate on what did and how to build on that in new directions.
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Social Media: Big Number Bullying

A number of years ago, I was sitting at a table outside the Ferry Building in San Francisco having lunch with a friend when she saw a business acquaintance of hers. She called him over and asked him how he was doing.

His answer was, "I'm great! This coming Friday I'm throwing a 40th birthday party for myself with my 500 closest friends! You have to come!!"

That's when I was introduced to the idea of what I call "Big Number Bullying." Here's the logic:

  • No one - and I mean no one  - has 500 best friends.
  • Simply by virtue of his seeing her - an acquaintance at most, by her own description - she got invited to be his 501st "best friend."
  • It was never about his turning 40. It was all about how he could claim that he had 500 "best friends." 

He left us abruptly because he saw yet another "best friend" and just had to talk with him. Otherwise, we were sure, had she had the chance to introduce me, I probably would have been invited, too.

Welcome to "Big Number Bullying" - a world of quantity and never quality. A world where it's never about what you have to offer - only how many might hear about it, whether they're interested or not.

It's the world of "Likes" and "Friends" and "Followers" and "Connections" that seem to be the measure by which we are now being assessed on our value.

Bullies, as everyone knows, thrive on making others feel less than. Scared. Incomplete. Unable.

Bullies live in and create a comparative/combative world. Everyone is pitted against everyone else - fighting for the same territory - always against each other.

After all, if you're on the "good" side of the bully, then you don't have anything to worry about. You're protected. For now. Until the next bully comes along.

That's the outcome of social media - because they've created the platforms that lead those who don't know better (i.e., that quality is always more important than quantity) to view themselves based on their numbers.

It's scarcity in reverse. Where advertisers want to create an illusion of scarcity to get people to come, social media scarcity convinces those who don't have the numbers that there's nothing to come to. That they're not worthy.

It's mean. It's bullying. And it always targets - or creates - the vulnerable.

Sadly, today Amazon joined the fray - and is picking on a particularly vulnerable professional group: Authors.

They've introduced "Amazon Author Rank" - where, in your particular category, your popularity number - as an author - is broadcast for all to see.

This isn't about where your book stands in sales in your category or across all their sales. It's about you - and that makes them the newest bully on the block.

What's their purpose? To get authors to feel bad enough about themselves and their standing to spend loads of time trying to get people to buy their books...on Amazon.

Frankly, Amazon doesn't care whether anyone buys your books or not. They just want the authors to spend the time getting people onto their platform so that they'll buy anything. Anything at all.

The ranking number has no meaning. None. Just like that guy's "500 best friends." But, in this case, it's designed to make people feel bad about not being one of the 500.

So what's the lesson? There are two.

First - If you use any form of social media - or if you create in any way - don't think about how the ubiquitous "they" will think about you. F**k them. Stay true to yourself and true to your art.

Second - Bullying in any form is still bullying. Big Number Bullying is just a new, technological way of broadcasting bullying on a global scale. So, if you use social media for personal reasons, do it because you enjoy it. If not - don't spend the time.

After all, given that we have no idea of the quantity of time we have in this life, it's always and only about the quality of life we live.

Lady Gaga's Social Studies


When I was a little girl and my brothers or I were behaving badly, my mother used to warn us not to be little monsters.

Little did I know, years later, that I would proudly accept that title - and recommend it to as many others as possible.

Because now, if you're a "little monster" it means that you're part of Lady Gaga's fan base - which is the same as being part of a social movement.

Lady Gaga has no hesitation in using her celebrity to do good. Of course she does well. In fact, she does amazingly well with sales that keep setting records. Good for her. Because she uses her nearly 11 million Twitter followers and all her fans worldwide as a means of moving society in a more tolerant, caring direction.

I knew of Lady Gaga, simply, as a pop music icon who was so much a part of a different generation than mine that she was barely a blip on my radar. Right up until she used her celebrity to support the repeal of the "Don't Ask. Don't Tell" legislation that was then being reviewed by Congress.

Using her celebrity specifically to speak on behalf of an underserved and still actively discriminated against population - no matter what the cause - made her different from her colleagues and contemporaries. More courageous. More willing to use her success to do good.

More recently, with her record-breaking "Born This Way" song and album, she has escalated that philosophy by making sure that her "little monsters" all know that they are perfect. That they need not feel disenfranchised - because they're not a mistake.

That they can - and should - live their lives proudly.

In a world where bullying in schools has taken peer pressure to new heights, that's a message that neither can nor should be ignored.

Then, when Clarence Clemons, the 69-year old saxophonist from Bruce Springsteen's E-Street Band who performed with Gaga on her new album, suffered a sudden - and ultimately fatal - stroke, she mobilized her troops to help in his recovery by making and sending get well videos.

Think about it. Here's a 25-year old superstar who is getting her worldwide fan base which start in their 'tweens, if not younger, to pay attention to and help a senior citizen. That's so good on so many different levels it almost defies description.

Lady Gaga gets a lot of grief for her supposed mimicry of Madonna. The pundits who keep putting that forward are wrong. Because what Lady Gaga has known from the first and Madonna never demonstrated is that there is a beauty in doing well and doing good simultaneously.

In these troubled economic times - particularly when investment in education is being severely reduced across the country - it's even more important that those who have celebrity recognize that they have a responsibility that comes with their success to support a greater good.

So, monster paws up, everybody, because we're all Little Monsters now.

(An earlier version of this article appeared on Technorati.)

KevJumba: Putting the Social in Social Media

Listen to the social media gurus - from Gary Vaynerchuk to Guy Kawasaki - and what you'll hear is that social media is all about building community.

That people are looking for connections. For purpose. To be heard. And seen. And acknowledged.

Why else would Facebook have grown to over 600 million users in such a short period? Or Hebbo at over 200 million, Bebo over 113 million - or China's QZone with over 480 million users?

Because in an online, disconnected world, people are looking for human connections.

Watch the social media space, however, and what you see is that - like any business model - it's all about converting those connections into money. Especially as LinkedIn set the tone for over-subscribed, high payout IPOs.

That's why, when a social media superstar like, KevJumba, answers the call from a socially conscious organization, like The Supply Education Group, you see the importance of how social can and should be social.

The Supply Education Group put out a YouTube challenge to KevJumba to teach a class in Nairobi, Kenya. Class 5, to be exact.

In this delightful video, you see the kids of Class 5 doing their best to charm KevJumba. And it worked.



Only KevJumba went one better. Not only did he do that visit - now, with his over 1.6 million YouTube followers in hand, KevJumba has committed to helping build a secondary school in Nairobi so that when Class 5 graduates from their K-8 school, they'll have a high school to attend.

Because at the moment they don't.

So, with that purpose - and making social truly social - KevJumba is asking his followers this weekend as he celebrates his 21st birthday to give $21 each to raise the $50,000 needed to build a school and create hope and opportunity for society's future worldwide.

KevJumba is giving back as part of The Supply Education Group's "Blessed to be a Blessing Campaign" and, in the process, showing just what social media can and should be doing for society.

So what is your social media strategy doing to help build society?  Think about it.

(An earlier version of this post was published on Technorati.)

Google, Social Media and Watching Larry Grow

Not long after Larry Page took over as Google's CEO, he made it excruciatingly clear that Google was - finally - going to crack the code and get good at social media.  Really good.

How?

In great part by making sure that the multiplier used for bonus calculations for every Googler (the name Google employees give themselves) was directly impacted by the company's success in the social media space.

Nothing like putting everyone's money on the line.

But, give Google their due, under Page's guidance - and his commitment to creating a company-wide 'ecosystem' for social media - he's making sure the company makes the investments needed so that everyone can win.

That's why the announcement that Google has purchased PostRank means more than just the fact that the company has bought another social media-related enterprise.

Because PostRank is right up Google's alley. According to PC World, PostRank is an analytics firm that provides "real-time data on on the number of comments, tweets, bookmarks and other social responses that a particular piece of content or information has been able to generate on the social web."

That's necessary because social is moving directly toward monetary conversion pressures and expectations. It's a great fit, however, because there's nothing that Google likes more than numbers,
algorithms and mechanisms that help figure things out.

So, good decision Google - because you've made the right acquisition strategically and culturally. 

Sweet.

This move, among others, is a clear demonstration that Larry Page was ready for the CEO seat...contrary to many of the contrarians who were convinced that Eric Schmidt stepping out was the beginning of the end of the company.

They were wrong.

No one knows who will win the social media wars, but, whatever you do, don't figure Google for roadkill anytime soon.  Page is fighting to win - and now he's got a new tool to help.

(This article was originally published on Technorati.)