JC – Hello everyone! Thank you for joining us today for Gamechangers: How to Thrive in Chaos. I'm Jim Cahill, self-proclaimed Chief Blogger and marketing communications manager for Emerson Process Management. My co-presenter today is Digital Communications Strategist, Deb Franke. We both work for Process Systems and Solutions in Austin Texas.
DF – We have prepared a different style of workshop this year. In past years, our workshops have focused on the “hows” of using the internet and social media. But today no websites or demos. Instead, this year we’re focused on the “whys”. Why learning to succeed in overwhelming chaos is vital. Why actively building your personal brand is essential. And why an understanding of how social media tools help you do both is key. We look around a see many folks playing it safe and hunkering down to ride out the recession. Wow! This is the opposite of what we all need! So we created today’s workshop to show you a different way. We have organized our thoughts into seven big ideas that we believe are most valuable in becoming a person who not only survives but someone who thrives. Along the way, we highlight which social media tools allow you to take these gamechanging ideas and take action. But for the most part, we are sharing our philosophy on what the last five years have taught us. We want no less than everyone to leave this workshop ready and able to THRIVE no matter how chaotic life becomes. JC- For those of you who use Twitter we’ve established a tag, #DebJim for our talk today. We’ll be running a real-time Twitter search on the tag throughout the session. If you have questions or comments as we go, add the tag #DebJim and we’ll answer or clarify all that we can at the end of the presentation.
DF -- Before we begin, a quick reminder about the importance of Curiosity. Please remember to let your curiosity be your guide as we explore these gamechangers. Regardless of where you start -- as a social media pro or a complete novice -- keep an open mind and let your curiosity lead you. Did you know it is estimated that we make almost 750,000 decisions each year? If what you’re doing now works 100% of the time, then I don’t believe you would have made the decision to join us in this workshop. Since you are here, keep an open-mind and for our time together leave excuses behind. If you find yourself thinking “No Way”, let curiosity answer with the thought “Why not try?” Let these ideas soak in and imagine yourself returning from this conference more effective, more content, and more empowered… and ultimately someone who thrives.
DF - Let’s begin with Gamechanger #1 – Break Boundaries Boundaries, brick walls, isolation and constraints – all keep us stuck. This is nothing new. These metaphorical walls are all around us: to keep us in our place, in our position in a hierarchy, or in our current mindset – all with the same result. STUCK. If these walls could magically keep chaos out, then maybe a wall wouldn’t be such a bad thing. But ultimately the chaos and the walls are unrelated. Let’s start by taking a look at these “walls”. It’s a gamechanging idea to accept that the things that hold us back are only as powerful as we allow them to be. What if we have everything we need to break free? And once we choose to break free, all the tools and tactics we need are already here and for the most part are free. What do I mean? Reflect for a moment on your life. Are there areas that have been unchanged in years? Are you stuck in a routine? Or working harder and still not getting the results you want? A big shift is possible in two simple ideas. (1) Accept that change is our natural state and (2) your job is to not get stuck. What if you learn today that all the routines and things you think you can control – hurt more than help? What if maintaining the status quo is really just missing out?
DF - It’s a simple idea: status quo is losing and embracing change is our path to success. If this could be true; then maybe we’d better break down these walls that keep us stuck. I was curious about the self-improvement market and found it is an $11 billion-dollar-a-year industry. All these folks are eager to teach us how to bust through the walls. But ouch! It’s really exhausting trying to bust though.
DF - Many of the break-down-the-wall tactics can work but I’m come to understand there is another way to break boundaries – get a ladder and go over the wall. Specifically, I’m talking about the social technographics ladder from Forrester Research.
DF - Let’s take a closer look at this ladder. It represents a segmentation of us by our digital behaviors. When you move up this ladder from inactives to any of the other rungs, it lists a series of activities that in fact can take you “over the wall”. One strategy could be to add a single new activity at the start of each month. For instance, as a spectator you can use Yelp.com which has over 7 million local reviews covering the US, UK, Ireland and Canada. Here locals have shared their knowledge to help you quickly and easily find the best a city offers. Or maybe you become a critic and use GetSatisfaction.com to rate products in over 20,000 customer communities. Start to break boundaries and see what is possible. As Chris Brogan famously remarked, you can be a superhero through the use of social media. You have the power to bypass hierarchies, discover and connect to meaningful two-way conversations, and build value and brand without getting permission to do either.
JC - None of us have identical backgrounds. That makes everyone in this room unique in their experiences, education, strengths, and goals. In most cases, we all have some knowledge and experience that will serve as a shortcut for others to solve problems more quickly. The internet was started with the idea of needing to share information with one another in the form of documents with links to other documents. It’s evolved into a communications medium to connect people together to solve problems or just be social in a non face-to-face way. In this environment connecting people together, you begin to find those who rise above others, based upon their expertise. Thought leaders are those seen by others as having authoritative knowledge on a specific subject matter and over time viewed as a trusted, authoritative source. Ask yourself, are you seen as a thought leader today in your areas of expertise? If so, how wide is this circle… your colleagues, your management, your company’s senior management? How about outside your organization? In these difficult economic times, I believe broader is better. The more people who see you as a thought leader in your particular areas of expertise, the better. If you agree that it’s good to be seen as a thought leader by a wider circle than you currently have, what do you do? What’s your next step? In a June 2009 post, Establishing Thought Leadership, I wrote that it does not require a blog to put your expertise out there. Here’s 5 ways that you can raise the visibility of your expertise to thought leadership equity: Follow your industry-specific and automation trade press. All have on-line web sites and often the editors have blogs. Add your comments or share your thoughts with them in emails on the subjects in which they write that you have authoritative knowledge. They may begin to seek you out as an expert in future articles. Subscribe to Google email alerts or RSS search feeds on the specialty sites like Google News and Blog search on areas of your expertise. You’ll be notified when someone writes something. Consider adding a comment or emailing the author with your views. Participate in specialty groups in ISA email lists, LinkedIn, Facebook, or vendor-sponsored communities like Control.com. What you share contributes to your personal brand and growth in thought leadership. Connect with everyone you meet in this fashion in LinkedIn. When you ask questions or provide answers, you’ll be sharing it with them. For non-trade secret, non-company confidential information consider adding to or starting new Wikipedia entries or aggregating information with sites like Friendfeed. Mike Boudreaux’ Safety Instrumented System Room is a great example to follow. If you have questions on how, we’ve touched on these in past presentations, which you can find at EmersonProcessXperts.com/ExchangeResources (or this shortcut listed). We’re also here all week and would love to talk with you more and show you any of these in action.
DF- You are probably familiar with the cliché of apples and oranges to point out that we are not all the same. But what is game changing is to invest in personal discovery to know if you are actually a Macintosh in a group of Granny Smiths?
DF- Or a kumquat or horn melon? Gamechanger 3 is to make it a priority to invest in personal discovery. Many people use the excuse to stay digital inactives not because they are unwilling to share they just don’t know what to share. If this sounds familiar, then Gamechanger #3 is for you. Discovering your authentic self is very valuable and in the age of the individual, you are your own brand. Just as powerful as any company or organization. The Tom Peter’s classic article “The Brand Called You” is the source for understanding personal brands. I’ll spend the next few minutes covering the most important concepts from this ground-breaking article because it is a true game changer to learn what it takes to stand out and prosper. Think about standing out at this year’s conference. Or standing out in your organization or community. The really good news is that everyone has a chance to stand out. It’s a level playing field to learn, improve, and build up valuable skills that differentiate you from everyone else. Each of us has the same chance to be a buzz-worthy brand. You start by identifying the things you do that are remarkable. Keep in mind to be remarkable, truly means that someone will talk about you. The projects you lead, the networks you develop, the customers you delight all work together to build brand you. It is important to note that there is no one right way to create the brand called You. You might be thinking “what about the company? Won’t I get in trouble for building a remarkable personal brand?” Honestly, I don’t know. If you don’t know, then ask your manager. You have a personal brand even if you realize it or not – old school names for it are your reputation or legacy, it’s what you know and who you know. There’s nothing new with the basic idea just the tools that we use to put ourselves on a global stage. So go back and start the conversation that you’re ready to thrive and you want to try a few things. I’ve got three assignments for you to see the evidence for yourself: Set up a comprehensive Google Alert on your name. Most likely you’ll find an entire digital brand is building for you. Take a look at Microsoft’s ViewMyWorld.com website. It uses employee videos and blogs to recruit and build the company brand. Even big companies are getting it that personal brands build company brand success. Strike terror into privacy loving types like me. Type your email into the site Spokeo.com. Spokeo then searches the public records of forty-eight major websites including LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Amazon and Target then produces a free report of all the places you can be found. But it doesn’t stop there! For less than $5/month, corporate recruiters, law enforcement agencies, literally anyone can pay to see the detailed information report on you. Wow! You see where this is going. We all have personal brands and our brands are building on the internet. When we participate, it is good for us and it is great for the companies lucky to have us on their teams. The internet is the most wonderful tool for discovery. Every year, we continue to see new, easier, and more powerful tools for capturing lessons and producing relevant connections. My favorite new shortcut is searching through presentations on Slideshare.net. I like to search by topics to see how others are evangelizing social media usage. I’ve also changed the way I use RSS feeds. I’m more interested in exploring topics. For instance, I have feeds on creativity and innovation. Quickly browsing through the search results keeps my new idea funnel “full” with a few minutes a week approach. This simple change of use gives me ideas with a greater variety and freshness than I had before. Another shortcut is to start by identifying the qualities or characteristics that make you unique. Jim and I are both fans of Marcus Buckingham’s Now Discover Your Strengths methodology to help you uncover and articulate your unique gifts. When we focus on our strengths instead of our weaknesses, it seems to us that success is easier and comes quicker. One final point to remember about your personal brand: everything matters. When you're promoting brand You, everything you do -- and everything you choose not to do -- impacts your brand. Always be mindful of Brand You. It’s the little things that add up to big opportunities over a lifetime.
JC - Deb and I draw much of our thinking on this topic from an author we’ve met, Scott Allen, and a book he co-authored, The Virtual Handshake. Their overall premise is that your network equals your success. In tough economic times, your natural tendency may be to hunker down, close your circle, and try to stay busy to weather the conditions. It might be the best time to find opportunities to grow your social network. Does that mean more lunch meet ups? Building you network by those you meet face-to-face has been the dominant mode of networking for as long as mankind has been around. But since the internet came into the mainstream in the 1990s, the capabilities to connect virtually and more broadly continue to rapidly advance. If you’re not using some of these social network tools, it’s time. Of the estimated 6.7 billion fellow inhabitants of the Earth, 1.6 billion use the internet. If you find ways to express your interests and expertise through the internet, it’s a near certainty that you’ll develop a much larger circle. As you participate with the people you meet in your area of interest or expertise, you might want to use social applications like LinkedIn and Twitter to remain in contact and see whom else your contact knows that you might want to get to know. Scott Allen convinced me why LinkedIn is a great application to do this, and over the course of the last few years, made connections with over 400 people thought the course of my work with the Emerson Process Experts blog and my work on the Process Systems and Solutions marketing team. The key ideas I took from our conversation: Your contacts will do a better job of keeping their information updated than you can Your account is always accessible no matter whom you work for (when you use a personal email account) You have opportunities for reconnecting as career changes/progressions happen with your connections You have a network to ask and answer questions You can give and receive recommendations which builds your and others personal brands I think it’s a game-changer to have a network of people you meet through the course of your work to be able to ask questions, connect you with new opportunities, and foster continued relationships over time—in a far broader way than face-to-face. To me the other end of the spectrum is Twitter, which is a flow of tidbits of information over time. You choose who you want to follow. In turn, others choose to follow you. The thing I like best is that I learn about the people I follow in tiny little chunks. When we meet face-to-face, it seems I know them much more as a person for their interests and expertise, than I would solely through typical business dealings. There’s no question that building and expanding your social network takes effort. But, the reward of having this network when you need help or having richer face-to-face experiences is worth this effort.
DF - The first four gamechangers have all been about expanding yourself. Maybe you’re feeling like we have added to the chaos instead of helping you thrive. Gamechanger #5 Unyielding focus will help. Chaos creates a feeling like you are spinning out of control.
DF - When you orient yourself with unyielding focus, each day can be more like this. Both the roller coaster and the sailboat can take you from one place to another. Both take time. But imagine all of the things that are different. I am here to suggest that when you believe you are more like a sailboat captain than a rider aboard the fast-moving coaster – you’ll start to notice something is different. Think about a typical workday. How much of a day can pass with busy activities? How much time is spent on time-wasters and distractions that don’t move us closer to our goals? Did you know it takes 2 to 4 minutes to fully focus. To get “into the zone”. And a split second to move out of it. Your email inbox most likely is your biggest obstacle. There is research telling us that the more time we spend in e-mail, the less effective we are. We need more time to focus and hanging out in our email inbox doesn’t give us that focus time. The first step is easy. Simply accept the fact that each of us can align our thoughts and action with our intentions through focus. It is our response not the chaos that defines our results. I believe that one of the most important factors that lead to the early success of marketing the DeltaV brand was our unyielding focus. At the Hawk site it was chaos like I had never experienced, but my focus was unyielding and intense. It seems to me that it is a true gamechanger to have what I like to call a success box. Actions that drive success are in the box and (just as important) to ignore those actions that don’t. This is a key to thriving. It’s ok to say no. Or not now. The fastest path to failure is trying to be all things to all people. Set your limits. I encourage you to focus each day on the things that matter most to you. When you know the areas that are most important to you, take action. Three easy ideas: (1) make the first action of your workday one that moves you toward a personal goal. (Hint, that isn’t your email inbox). (2) spend 15 minutes to explore the conversations in online special interest groups. 15 minutes each and every day is enough to establish the habit and keep your focus. Maybe you need a new strategy to sort out the chaos before you can focus. I was lucky to discover the book “Getting it Together” which has a model called The Effective Edge. It gives you tools and techniques to help you make decisions, prioritize actions, and gives advice on how you can move forward on everything that is important to you. We all deserve to build into our lifetime to focus on growth opportunities. Keep in mind that volunteering for special projects or taking time to teach others in any capacity are great examples of opportunities for growth in a focused way. When you choose social media as the channel for the teachings and projects, your rewards are even greater. Each day it is up to each of us if we’re the sailboat captain or on the roller coaster. Have unyielding focus and see what happens.
JC - How do you best find the information you need to solve the issues in front of you? As we all know, there is absolutely no shortage of information. Our email inboxes overflow. The World Wide Web contains at least 25.45 billion pages of information as of this past June. If your desk looks anything like mine, well, it’s not a pretty picture. So how do you deal with this ever-growing flood of information to find what you need to solve the issues at hand? Of course, we all know about Google and the other search engines and have become well trained on the proper selection and amount of keywords and phrases to use. Sometimes this works great, sometimes not. One big issue is that there’s a lot of wisdom trapped in email inboxes and sent items folders. Desktop indexing and search software like Windows Search, Google Desktop, and many others can help to some extent. But what about the information others have that doesn’t reach your email inbox? Different approaches from content management systems to blogs, wikis, and forum software have been and are being tried with varying degrees of success. The key element to success seems to be the number of people willing to participate and the community that naturally forms from this participation. Metcalf’s Law states, “the value of a telecommunications network is proportional to the square of the number of connected users of the system (n2).” He also offers: … a more insightful and, I think, important contribution to the conversation — that to understand the value of a social network we need to consider not just the number of users but also the affinity between the members of the network. My take away? Your fastest path to the information you need to solve the issue at hand, if a Google search does not get a quick answer, is to try your social network—if you’ve built this network to sufficient size to realize the exponential effects described by Metcalf’s Law. Why is that? Beyond the social bonds you establish, with each connection you make, you are adding another human brain: … containing about 10 billion nerve cells, or neurons. On average, each neuron is connected to other neurons through about 10 000 synapses… The brain's network of neurons forms a massively parallel information processing system. This contrasts with conventional computers, in which a single processor executes a single series of instructions. If you use LinkedIn, use the Answers area to ask questions. You might also try answering some and building expertise credibility if your answer is selected as the best answer or a good answer. LinkedIn also has groups such as Automation Engineers Technical Group and Automation Engineers. Several automation suppliers have LinkedIn groups, such as Emerson’s DeltaV group. If you use Twitter, try posing your questions to those who choose to follow you. You’ll grow your list of followers as you share interesting things about yourself and/or your expertise. Or if Twitter is not for you, try using some of the well-established email lists from ISA and Control.com. As good as it is having more than 25 billion things at your fingertips, having trillions of massively parallel neural connections working with you is something you want to foster, strengthen, and grow.
DF - Turning the corner from barely surviving to thriving might not come quickly. I talked earlier about unyielding focus. It’s important to keep in mind that sometimes it takes a determination to stick with something long enough to see success. I wish that every project immediately lived up to the vision I had for it. Or that every proposal was immediately accepted but that isn’t the real world. The best advice I can leave you with today is to be persistent in all that you do. Cultivate a consistent and persistent nature that burns within you. Continue trying new things and exploring better ways to get things done. JC - Consider that your personal brand is like a bird’s nest. A brand is what lives in the minds of others. We all know that a bird’s nest is built with twigs and other materials a bird happens upon. Like that process, your personal brand is built with bits and pieces of interactions and information others happen upon about you. You don’t have total control in how your personal brand gets built in the minds of others, but you certainly can help it by putting as many pieces as you can which reflect your interests and experience. By putting these pieces out persistently over time, you increase your opportunity to cultivate a strong, personal brand in the mind of others. Persistence also is sign that you’re passionate about your interests. Expressing your interests with passion builds enthusiasm in others. They can’t help it—it’s infectious. You’ll find over the course of the Emerson Exchange that the presentations you get the most out of are given by people with passion about what they do. It’s Thomas Edison’s 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration. We hope you bring this persistence to your interests and expertise and build the personal brand that you so richly deserve.
DF - All of our source materials for this presentation can be found in Delicious. This presentation is available on Slideshare.net and on Jim’s Emerson Process Experts blog. We hope our ideas have sparked your curiosity and now you’re willing to share what’s on your mind. For the remaining minutes, we’ll alternate between your gamechanging ideas and the questions we’ve received in Twitter.
Gamechangers: How to Thrive in Chaos Jim Cahill, Chief Blogger/Marcom Manager Deb Franke, Digital Communications Strategist
Jim Cahill, Chief Blogger, Emerson Process Management
Authors Emerson Process Experts blog and manages marketing communications for the PSS.
Received BSEE from the University of Texas at Austin and MBA from the University of New Orleans. Worked 5 years in the offshore oil and gas business as systems engineer for Conoco before joining Fisher Controls. An original member of the DeltaV technology and marketing team.
Full bio available at: www.linkedin.com/in/JimCahill