We’re all Minorities Now

I see it in business, politics, race relations, religion, and life.

People are obsessed with the majority.

Sadly, the majority tends to make decisions without much consideration for the other side, resulting in poor long-term results, repression, or even genocide.  Consequently, the majority gets all the blame and the minority spends too much time making excuses, pushing back, or waiting until they become the majority.

Time for a change in thinking.

 

The world is getting smaller and new strategies are needed.

Here’s what I’m seeing:

I’m a married, white, Christian that votes for a major American political party.  Years ago, that would have put me in the majority, yet in every single one of those categories, I am now the minority in most major US cities.  Who would have thought?

On a global level, the change to minority status is even bigger.

My language, dietary preferences, fashion sense, and nationality put me squarely in the minority when dealing with international business.

We’re all minorities now.

 

The world has come to our backyard and now our race, political affiliation, language, religion, and fashion actually put us in the minority.  Are you ready?

When we swim down the stream from our little pond to the big ocean, we find out the truth.  Our traditional majorities are not only meaningless, but they might cause us to lean on the wrong strength for a globalized world.

Most people on Earth don’t speak a certain way, have a certain look, believe a certain thing, or act a certain way.  Not even close.  Anyone living in a majority mindset is living in a fantasy land as the world gets more connected.  We won’t be able to ignore it.

The big world out there is full of our future clients, doctors, suppliers, friends, and business partners.

So now what?

Leaders need to change their understanding of strength and seek out opportunities to collaborate with others.  We need more partners.  We need to build more coalitions and seek more consensus when making decisions.  Common ground will be more valuable than higher ground.

The pride in any “majority” must be replaced with a newfound sense of wonder, awareness, and appreciation for others who are different.

It’s time to focus on common ground and common problems.

Have a good night,

Aaron@Biebert

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5 Ways Leaders and Companies Can Use Transparency to Win

After my Transparency Favors the Strong post, I got several requests to share ways that companies and leaders could win the race to transparency.

Smart leaders realize that hiding relevant information is just not a good idea anymore.

Customers, employees, shareholders, board members, and other stakeholders in your organization are okay with mistakes. They’re not okay with dishonesty or shady practices.

We live in a world dominated by social media, which allows people to share, discuss, and learn about you, your company, it’s products, and the way you do business.

Even if you wanted to, you can’t hide the truth without actually kidnapping, killing people or turning off the internet. Regardless, if you have to hide it, you probably should change business models or jobs.

Here are five ways your company can win the race to transparency:

1) Blog about what you do

Be honest.  Be open.  Be vulnerable.  Share your feelings.  Companies should act like people so that people can relate to them.  No one relates to perfection.

Here are two examples of transparency in action:

Michael D. Harris Jr. at Ardynn PR is writing 365 posts this year while sharing the wins, losses, and ideas coming out of his growing real estate PR firm.  He’s even gone so far as to discuss his own foreclosure crisis.  Here’s one example of his blog posts.

Mike Cox does a daily video blog every business day where he blows the lid off the secretive mortgage industry and it’s pricing.  Since he leads a group of mortgage loan officers, you’d think giving away pricing info would hurt him, right?  Wrong.  He’s building trust and an avid subscriber base that is hungry for honesty and transparency. Check out Rates in Motion.

2) Be transparent on your “About Us” page

Take advantage of the times when people want to learn more about your company. Write something personal, warm, and right to the point of why you’re in business.

People don’t care about stats until they understand your spirit, goals, and direction.

Robert Jones is writing a series of blog posts about successful “About Us” pages and I highly recommend you read some of his stuff.  It’s amazing.  Here’s the first one in the series, and it features 8pmWarrior.com.

Here’s another example of a fairly transparent “About Us” page.

3) Monitor social media platforms

Monitoring what people say about you should be automated.

The first thing you should do is set up Google Alerts for your brand, company name, and yourself.  Then, when you notice someone is talking about you, move to step 4 below.

Besides Google Alerts, here are some other monitoring tools I use:

4) Interact on social media platforms

Once you know where you’re being talked about, it’s time to engage.

I highly recommend you follow the lead of the Klout.com team and take a candid approach to responding.  Don’t ignore the obvious.  Answer questions and keep it pleasant.  People will say a lot of dumb things, but it’s your job to engage them in a way that makes friends out of skeptics.

Here’s a case where Joe Fernandez (Klout.com CEO) and Megan Berry (Marketing) are monitored and engaged in an intelligent way on a fairly negative blog post.  Check it this blog post.

Other examples of transparent interaction on social media:

One note on Engagement (more to come in a future post)…don’t automatically reply to anyone for any reason unless you are transparent about the fact that it is automated.  It will kill your ability to truly connect.

5) Admit mistakes and offer to fix them first

This is one of the reasons that transparency favors the strong.

The better you are at doing your job, the less expensive transparency is.  This is why some companies face an almost impossible task.  They can’t sell their flawed services in a transparent way, so they get less sales to improve their flawed services.

It’s a death spiral.

I’ll never forget when Best Buy gave me a $100 gift card when Blu Ray officially beat out HD-DVD and my new player from Best Buy was rendered obsolete.  They didn’t have to do anything.  However, they invested some money and made a friend for life.  It’s always worth it to deal with negative situations proactively.

On the other hand, you probably remember when Apple’s iPhone 4 came out with reception issues because our hands were interfering with the antenna (the death grip problem).  I couldn’t believe that they denied the issue when almost everyone I know said there were issues.  Finally, after a media circus, Apple finally gave us iPhone cases to fix the issue they denied having.  This was my first negative experience with Apple and one that killed the myth that they were somehow superhuman.

Summary

Transparency is the new Quality.  Everyone expects it.  If your industry or company is not usually transparent, you may want to be like Mike Cox or consider trying a different line of work.  If you plan on truly leading people, you must be human.  You must be transparent.

If you believe in yourself, this shouldn’t be a problem.  Transparency favors the strong.

Have a transparent night,

Aaron@Biebert

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Using Twitter to Screen Job Candidates, Good Idea?

My production team is expanding!  I’m trying a different approach to screening and I’d like your feedback.

In the past, I’ve received hundreds of resumes for entry level positions like this one. It’s too much for busy leaders to dig through effectively, so I’m trying out a different way to screen candidates while recruiting.

They must use Twitter to apply.

I’m also thinking about conducting the initial interview via twitter as well so I can gauge the candidate’s ability to respond, engage, etc. using modern social media communication tools.  It should make the best candidates stick out.

Is this a good idea?  I’d love to hear your thoughts on the strategy and the job posting itself. (Also, read my next post: Crowdsourcing a Hiring Decision?)

Have a great night,

Aaron@Biebert

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Build Something that Doesn’t Last

Long-term success depends on one’s attitude.

Creating a strategy is like building a sand castle on the shore. Unfortunately, the tide will always come in and destroy your work.  Just ask every business leader before 705 AD and almost all of them since. Successful leaders must plan for it.

It’s inevitable.

Since nothing lasts forever (especially now), the way to be successful in the long run is to honestly consider a future without your current star product or business model.  No matter how hard it is, you need to start tearing down emotional connections to your successful past endeavors so you can plan ahead.

Don’t make your success a liability.

Just ask Circuit City about Best Buy, Montgomery Ward about Walmart, or Dell about Apple.  They all dominated the other before ultimately losing the lead. Circuit City had big box electronics retail figured out and  Montgomery Ward was famous for their catalogs.  Now my daughter doesn’t even know what a catalog is. Catalogs didn’t last.

Also look at Michael Dell.   He built an amazing company that took “on demand” manufacturing to a whole new level and was the poster child of  the best cost marketing strategy.  I remember reading in 2000 how analysts thought Dell would be hard to beat due to their strategy and economies of scale.  The “moat around them is too wide” they said. 10 years later Dell’s value is down almost 80% even though computer sales are up.

Their strategy didn’t last.

The winners will be companies like Apple, who plan for change because they see that products, companies, and even whole industries don’t last.  Apple didn’t think stand alone music players (iPod) would last, so they developed the iPhone.  They don’t think laptops will last, so they developed the iPad.  They’re building something that doesn’t last…and they know it.

It’s time we all did.

Today it’s time to start thinking about the future, the time when what you’re working on today is obsolete.  Plan for it.  Change before you need to.  Build something that truly lasts.

Have a great night,

Aaron@Biebert

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Tactics Without Strategy

A couple months ago I asked if your organization was acting like a circus.  Now I want to tell you why it’s not so funny.

Let’s warm up with the words of one famous 8pm Warrior, Sun Tzu, and his best selling book The Art of War:

“Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.”

Why is it that you can have success following a strategy without tactics, but not tactics without strategy?

People like knowing there is an intelligent master plan behind everything.

It keeps them comfortable, it keeps them focused, it builds trust, and it’s never been more important than now.  With the arrival of social media and the expectation of transparent organizations, you can’t hide it so well when you don’t have a strategy.

(Side note:  Hiring talented people and getting out of their way is not a real strategy)

You might have talented people and great tactics, but if your team is not coordinating on decision-making, marketing, and communications, it looks like no one is at the wheel.

Ultimately, it leads to failure.

No one likes to work for, buy from, or partner with a leaderless organization.  It just doesn’t feel safe.

My advice?

No matter how painful or time consuming it might be, it is time to get the whole team together, come up with your master plan, and stick to it unless you all shift together.

Have a great night,

Aaron@Biebert

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Don’t be Cheap, Offer Value (A Lesson from McDonald’s)

Sometimes leaders go too far when trying to increase sales or cut costs.  Here is one example:

To reduce caloric intake (and my weight), I only drink water when eating fast food.  I simply request a cup for ice water and then fill it up at the soda fountain.  Just like clockwork.

Until today.

I went to a McDonald’s with my wife and kids so they could eat and play on the PlayPlace with their cousins.  Not only did this particular McDonald’s refuse to give (or sell) me a cup for water, but they don’t even have a water option on their soda fountain for my own bottle.

What a foolish way to increase soft drink sales and cut costs!

Instead of our group discussing the great salads, tasty coffee, giant playground, and healthy side items in the kids’ happy meals, we were focused on why the heck they don’t offer water or two cent cups.  One of the mothers ended up using the bathroom faucet. I drank nothing.

I doubt that was McDonald’s corporate plan.

Just check out the #McDonalds hashtag on Twitter, and you’ll see that my experience is not unique.  At a glance, I saw that one restaurant doesn’t offer free refills on soft drinks.  Another didn’t feel like doing Shamrock Shakes this year.

This McDonald’s didn’t offer water.

Be careful when cutting costs that you don’t cut customers too.   The world is too connected.  Cups are too cheap.

Have a great night,

Aaron@Biebert

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Your Scarcity Problem

Scarcity is the universal problem of having unlimited demand in a world of limited resources.  The concept explains the value of gold or oil.  They aren’t making any more of it, and demand outstrips supply.  Therefore it has value.

Time is even more valuable.

Just like gold, they aren’t making any more of it, but with Time there is an added wrinkle that you can’t truly buy it or take it.  We all get the same amount each month, each week, each day.

All you can do is use it or waste it.

That’s why delegation and strategy are so important.  It’s also why there’s no day (or night) like today to start using it to the max.

It’s no laughing matter for 8pm Warriors.  The clock is ticking.

Use it or lose it?

Your choice.

Have a great night,

Aaron@Biebert