90-percent-of-the-data-in-the-world-today-has-been-created-in-the-last-two-years

9 Lessons Learned Volunteering on Not-For-Profit Boards

1. The world is changing faster than you can imagine.

“Every day, we create 2.5 quintillion bytes of data — so much that 90% of the data in the world today has been created in the last two years alone.”

-IBM

On a single day on the Internet there are:

  • Over 2 million Google search queries

  • 48 hours of new YouTube videos

  • 684,000 bits of content shared on Facebook

  • More than 100,000 tweets

  • $272,000 spent on e-commerce

  • Source: Webopedia

If you disappeared tomorrow, who would miss you? What distinct advantage does your organization create? Why is your mission a noble cause? Ask these questions early and often or else you may find your organization obsolete. To the Not-for-profits that take advantage of the changing online landscape and embrace technology your audience will adore you and you will attract a new smarter customer who (if you do your job right) becomes a loyal evangelist.

2. Every year, every month, every day, people have less attention than they did last year, last month, and yesterday. How are you getting peoples’ attention?

There’s a new not-for-profit starting up tomorrow who’s mission is better than yours, who help more people than you and who can do what you do for cheaper. What are you going to do about it? How will you stand out? How will you be remembered? How do you get to the point where people seek YOU out? If you don’t standout you definitely aren’t going to be remembered. You need to create a “Social Object” that people can associate with your cause.

3. You’re only as smart as the feedback you’re getting.

Not-for-profits are really bad at this. Trying to get feedback as an organization is a very forward thinking endeavour. Not-for-profits are not very forward thinking entities(rash generalization but true). Every year they talk about what they did last year and how well it went. No critical breakdown of what happened, no holding people accountable to goals set last year, and no wants to change in the future to get better. It’s that last part that bothers me the most. Because these aren’t profit generating entities it doesn’t make sense to adapt and innovate and strive to lead a market.

The only thing more risky than changing is staying the same.

The only thing more risky than changing is staying the same.

Everything about business is changing at an alarming rate right now, your only hope in survival is ensuring you’re getting feedback from your customers and employees.

Since we were children, feedback has been the only way we learn. Why is that any different for not-for-profits? You need a feedback strategy, and an honest one. If you have a 56 Question Questionnaire providing your feedback for you, just know you’re basing your information on the sick twisted person that would fill out a 56 question Questionnaire.

4. You can’t change what people say about you, but you can influence it.

“Branding” in 2014 is what people say about you behind your back. As a Not-for-profit if your members smile to your face but bad mouth you behind your back that’s a terrible brand. If you have complete board turnover every year that’s bad. IF you have past board members that refuse to be contacted, that’s bad!

Your reputation precedes you. Google your name, what comes up? You have a personal brand whether you like it or not, most people don’t understand they can influence it if they want to. Not-for-profits usually have an advantage here, your reputation is what you’ve done, the people you’ve helped and the impact you’ve created. The RedCross is one of the most recognized “brands” in the world and I would argue it has nothing to do with their messaging (though the logo is pretty ubiquitous), it has everything to do with their impact. Otherwise when you see the infamous Red “+” sign you wouldn’t immediately attribute positive characteristics.

5. Face the brutal facts. 

Yes this is stolen from Jim Collin’s book Good To Great. You must face the brutal facts about your organization and marketplace. People don’t have time to care about your organization, no one does. You have to pitch why your not-for-profit matters. I’ve been on a board where we only talked about the good things we did, how great every event was, and never brought up any criticism or created an urgency to get better.

Confront the hard facts, the longer you put off the truth the worse it gets when it finally becomes a reality. Business changes, Not-for-profits change. The only ignorant thing to do is assume we know what we’re doing and not seek out feedback.

What if we don't change at all and something magical just happens?

6. You can tell people’s priorities by the way they allocate their resources (time, money).

I’ve met people who give their time selflessly year in and year out. I look up to these people, they truly understand priorities in life. They put relationships before money. People before work and organizations over themselves. These people are the builders of our communities. You have no idea how much these selfless people have given in time to ensure that people they don’t even know get to enjoy (insert community event, sports team, or club here). From Brownies and Scouts to Hockey and Basketball organizations, boys and girls clubs and sports clubs. The one thing they have in common is people like you and me built them.

The unsung heros are the people who tirelessly volunteer their time to work, coach, organize, plan and do all the things that it takes to make Not-for-profits tick. If you meet someone who’s been a part of a Not-for-profit for a while just assume they’re amazing, you have no idea how much they’ve given.

If you want to find out about someone’s work ethic ask somebody they volunteered with on a board or an organization. Reputations go a long way. I find myself recommending people I’ve volunteered with and coached with a lot. You trust someone on another level when you know they believe in giving their time back to help others.

7. At any given moment, one or a few people can ruin it for everyone, you must ignore past these people.

People love to complain. You have to constantly remind yourself that it’s easy to be a critic and it’s hard to take negative feedback and actually act upon it. On volunteer boards I find this to happen a lot. People LOVE to complain without offering any other solutions. People love to tell you you’re wrong. People love to say “it won’t work”. You have to ignore these people.

Create a culture of proactive feedback, never are you allowed to say “I don’t like it this way!” without providing another plausible way.

8. There’s nothing more important than having a clear vision that everyone understands.

Those who built the visionary companies wisely understood that it is better to understand who you are than where you are going – for where you are going will almost certainly change.

-Built to Last by Jim Collins & Jerry I. Porras

Many business folks I’ve met underestimate the power of a vision. But most companies try to explain “everything we’re good at” without “pissing some department” in their mission statement. Effectively making it useless. Einstein said you only truly know a subject when you can explain it to a six year old. that’s my philosophy when it comes to your organizations vision, simply down to a few words that you could explain to a six year old. 

Examples:

Regina Volleyball Club: Lets grow Volleyball

University of Regina Alumni Association: Build Pride 

Regina Police Service: Public Servie First

Creative Options Regina: Gentle teaching

9. Fun can be a competitive advantage.

In the future the best organizations will have done the most important thing, attracted the best people. To attract the best people you have to have an amazing cause, but not just that, you have to create a work environment that people would seek out. A workplace to love. People will take a pay cut and make other sacrifices just so that they can work with people they like, and people we like are the people we have the most fun with.

Fun can be a competitive advantage

Fun can be a competitive advantage.

Think about it, at a board meeting have you ever asked: “how could we make our meetings more fun?”. Most don’t bring that up because they still think doing what they’ve always done is enough to attract younger, smarter, better talent. If your meetings are fun it’s going to be easier to attract better people in the future.

If you encourage your employees to have fun more often they will respect the workplace more, tell people about how great it is to work there, and when shit really does hit the fan, employees you’ve encouraged to have fun will be there for the organization. It’s when we’re at our worst our allies matter the most. Make strong supporters out of your members, encourage them to be themselves and have fun.

G3T 2014

2014 Guys Golf Getaway (#G3T) – Orlando, Florida

Every year for the past 6 years a bunch of Canadians head down to the United States for a greatest golf trip of the year.

I joined four years ago, that was Scottsdale Arizona, the following year we went to Palm Springs, California, and last year we were in Austin Texas. This year was in Orlando, Florida and was probably the hottest yet.

64 breakfast sandwiches

792 beer

16 guys

1 Hummer Limo

24 hours in the Hummer Limo

1 extremely expensive cab ride home

0 Gators

8 massages

10,984 fire ants eating food on the deck

296 lost balls

4 days of pure bliss.

Huge shoutout to Derek Wu and Lee Forsberg for organizing Golf-Mas again.

Day 2

Day 3

Day 4

G3T 2014

We don't need teachers

How Education Will Change [Presentation]

1. Be prepared for Non-Linear learning. Students don’t just learn the grade 6 curriculum and enter grade 7 with a predictable knowledge base anymore. Kids can learn about what ever they want thanks to services like The Khan Academy, iTunes U and other Massive Open Online Courses (mooc’s)The teacher may not be the smartest person in the room anymore (arguably never was) on certain topics. We need to be prepared for this.

2. We need to change curriculums faster. We need to help students learn as fast as the world is changing. Reviewing your curriculum is going to have to happen more often than once every five years (which is the default many institutions get stuck in). Our world changes at an incredible rate. If you think what you’re teaching to students isn’t that relevant anymore I bet they think it’s even worse. Determine the learning outcomes that you’re trying to achieve but leave it up to the professor to build the plan to achieve those outcomes. Stop micromanaging the classroom.
I love this video by Cameron Herold. He’s brilliant and he talks about some of the learning outcomes he’s focusing on as a parent, skills that are applicable in the real world (selling, dealing with failure, negotiations, teamwork, leading, serving). 

3. Teach less and they will learn more. Why do we try to cover everything under sun in our curriculums? Do you think students remember everything that’s listen in the curriculum? Do you think they’re retaining the knowledge they are getting in each class? We forget 90% of what we learn in the classroom immediately after the class anyway. So why don’t we flip this around. What if every class had to find the 10% most important stuff on the topic at hand and developed a class around helping students retain that entire 10%?

Inspire them to learn more on a topic instead of trying to bore them to death on a subject that doesn’t interest them.
4. Stop using the text book. It’s to make money. We get it, that’s not going to fly in the future. No one learns from texts books once out of school, so why are we focusing on learning from textbooks while in school? I believe that all teachers should sign a hypocratic outh so this can’t happen any more. In the presentation I compare the textbook I’m supposed to use for my class and I compare three marketing books I want to use. The marketing books have many positive reviews while the textbook has a lone one. I think we need to take a serious look at this.

5. We don’t need teachers, we need leaders. I like to talk about my friend Jordan McFarlen who teaches Entrepreneurship at Campbell here in Regina. In the class the students have to start a company, create a product or service and go to market, all in the matter of months. With the tradition structure of a business, the students learn how to (and sometimes more so how not to) run a business. You don’t learn major lesson in life without trying and failing. I believe this is what school can and should help with.
social-media-icons

How The C-Suite Are Using Social Media

They aren’t, that’s the easy answer. Well not yet. The executives in and around Regina and Saskatchewan are slower to adopt this new found social technology. Sure there are some very social executives (and a social Premier!) you’ll find out about them in the presentation but for the vast majority of leaders in the business community have fallen prey to the “I don’t have enough time” and the “I don’t get it” virus.

So how is the C-Suite using Social Media? They use Twitter and LinkedIn. The presentation below is mostly focused on Twitter.

In the presentation you’ll find:

  • Some of the most important Tweets of all time
  • 5 Myths about Social Media
  • Several case studies of business/political leaders and organizations who use Twitter specifically (and use it well!)
  • We finish off with 3 “How To’s”, tips on making you better on Twitter.

If you want to learn more about presentations similar to this, book Jeph to speak or host a workshop, check out our speakers, presentations and workshops page here.
Moz + google analytics = awesome

What is Domain Authority & Why Do We Use It? (66 Websites Ranked)

 

Every website on the Internet has a Domain Authority, yes yours does too. 

You're still measuring hitsDomain Authority is one of the most effective website measurements because you can benchmark against your competitors, see the impact of your SEO efforts, and set future goals based on a quantitative outcome. We use Domain Authority to measure the websites we manage. It’s an objective indicator for how your website will perform in the future. You want to see your Domain Authority increase over time.

If you start with all the qualitative malarky (focusing on design and feel and making it “pop”) sooner or later you’re going to be fired. That’s a certainty. If you really want to impress the boss start with some substantial quantitative metrics. Hook up Google Analytics and you’re off to the races. If you want to get more technical you’ll have to consider using a company like Raven or Moz (the company we use).

When dealing with website measurement, Moz is pretty much the bees knees. Out of Seattle Washington, they’re like a small vigilante group of online special forces who ensure your website is firing on all cylinders.

What is Domain Authority?

Domain Authority is Moz’s best prediction at how well your website will rank in search engines. This is a number calculated from many different data points from all over the internet. Every page on the internet has a page authority, also a number out of 100, this would be that specific pages’ ranking potential.

Every page on your website has a page authority and together those combine to make up your Domain Authority. It’s a relative metric in that your competition will have a similar number and whether it be higher or lower, generally you can explain why one website is ranking better than another based on Domain Authority. It doesn’t always mean a higher domain authority will always out-rank a lower domain authority, but higher domain authorities always have a better chance of ranking higher in search engines.

Why do we use it?

imagine- you can see why your competitors are out ranking you in googleIt’s a standard metric that can be compared to all of your competition. It’s the number you can use to test your hypothesis’s of what works and doesn’t work when it comes to your online strategy. If you increase Domain Authority, you increase your organic traffic.

 

The coolest part? You can look up your websites Domain Authority by using this tool called Open Site Explorer.

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The Top 11 Home Construction Related Keywords in Regina

Have you ever sat and wondered why your website isn’t getting the traffic you think it deserves?

The key to good traffic stems from many core parts, one of them being:

Optimization!

You could have the most outstanding content in the world, with videos that look like they were directed by Michael Bay (minus the scantily clad women of course), and writing that would bring a tear to Shakespeare’s eye, but if your website is not optimized properly you may not be getting the traffic you deserve.

One key part of optimization is the use of keywords on your page, in your blog, or anywhere else relevant on your website.  We tried a little experiment in the lab here to see what the Top Home Construction Related Keywords in Regina are and this is what we came up with.

top-11-home-construction-keywords-in-regina-page

Now, if you are in the business of homes and you want your website to have more traffic, knowing which keywords perform best and optimizing for those keywords is your golden ticket!

Of course, optimizing is not the only thing that needs to be done to get more traffic to a website but it is definitely a step in the right direction.  If you think your website may be lacking and might need a little boost, we might be able to help!  Just fill out the contact form on the Contact page and we we’ll get back to you within 24 hours.

13 Grievances For The 2014 Social Media Season

How-many-twitter-followers-do-you-have-

1. Don’t ask me to like your page, Retweet you or buy something.

If it’s important I’ll find it on my own or a friend will tell me about it. I’ll buy it when I’m good and ready, stop asking me to do ‘something’ for you, and start doing things for others so that you may get something from them one day.

2. Your website sucks, so does mine.

I’m updating and improving my website today, what are you doing?

3. You can’t judge someone by their Twitter, Facebook or Instagram account.

You can only judge a person’s Twitter account, Facebook profile, Instagram account after meeting them in real life. Paradoxically you can lose all respect on social platforms by saying one thing wrong. And no, tweeting a couple things ‘right’ or automating your tweets gains you no respect whatsoever.

4. Giving people recommendations on LinkedIn for the sole purpose of increasing your own recommendation number is lazy and if you do that I hate you.

Just clicking a button to vote for a certain someone to be an “expert” in something is just lazy. Never talk about your recommendations on LinkedIn, it’s nothing to brag about. Now, instead why not write a couple of paragraphs about the person you work with that never gets credit but is one of the best coworkers you’ve ever had.

Bosses and manager, write nice thing about your people. If you can’t find nice things to say you’re not looking hard enough.

5. Nobody cares about the amount of Twitter followers you have or what your Klout score is. Stop bringing them up.

Didn’t think I had to mention this, but if you mention “Klout” or your “Klout Score” you are a huge nerd. Stop doing that.

6. It can be terrifying to face the metrics, but if Buckley’s taught us anything, things that are awful are good for us.

As Jim Collins says, you must face the brutal facts, what’s the most important thing to measure that determines success?! The ironic part of measurement is once you start measuring yoy really don’t need to do much further. Just the fact that you’re measuring results, humans tend to perform much much better when they can correlate what they’re doing with the results.

7. We get it, you have a Facebook page, now stop inviting us to your events.

Remember, there’s nothing easier than starting a Facebook page, creating an event, and inviting people to said event. If it’s “easy” EVERYONE IS GOING TO DO IT!!! Making your event no different than the other hundred events we get invited to on Facebook every day.

8. Nobody likes the “new” social network until everyone likes the “new” social network.

Be picky about where you spend your time but not too stubborn that you’ll end up still using a Blackberry in 2013.

9. Don’t ever use the phrase, “OH GOD YOU HAVE TO BE ON (insert any social platform)!”

To each their own. Stop thinking you’ll know exactly what someone else would prefer.

10. If you think being on Google plus is beneficial to your websites search engine optimization show me why, don’t just tell me to get on.

That goes for all social platforms by the way.

11. I get it, you like Vine.

But if you’re a person who’s in charge of your company do you think your best time is spent making and editing extremely short videos? (if you’re the exception to the rule please let me know in the comments below)

12. If you’re not on a social network or don’t know much about it don’t make fun of it or discount its legitimacy.

Few things make you look more unintelligent than poking fun at something you don’t understand.

13. If you still think Facebook and Twitter are good demand generation tools you’re way off your kilter.

They’re customer service and brand building tools. They are horrible at creating demand.

 

Making people smile since 2013

2013 Year In Review From The Offices of Strategy Lab High Above Regina

Strategy Lab November from Strategy Lab on Vimeo.

As I fill my coffee cup with my second shot of Bailey’s this morning, it’s left me a tad sentimental looking back on a great year, one I may never forget.

Starting a company isn’t an easy task, the odds that you’ll go bankrupt are hovering around 90% in your first year, 80% in your second year and only around 10% in your tenth year. What does that mean for Strategy Lab? We have ten years to wait, ten years to stay above the death line, as the goal with any new born organization, survival is the key priority.

This brings up an interesting predicament, what do you focus on?  In the website/marketing consulting industry how do you “survive” per se? How do you ensure you’re focusing on what you need to to ensure you’re around for year ten and beyond?

Sadly I don’t have the answer to this question. My best guess is the little things (I’ll explain later). I wish I did, however I do have an idea of what not to focus on. Pleasing everyone. You can’t do it. ‘Yes man’ philosophy only works to an extent. When you say yes to something you’re saying no to something else. I’m starting to learn about this, it feels like experience creeping up on me, then I pinch myself and remind captain ego that I’m still very young in my field and having patients will be an asset very soon.

As you gain more experience in whatever field you’re in, you begin to learn lessons. They aren’t easy, they’re learned from making mistake, and I’m sure many people don’t see the lessons life is trying to teach them through set-backs and adversity. Most people give up or take an easier path. Life throws them lemons, they set them down, run to Wal-Mart and buy a bottle of lemonade. Work ethic gets recognized these days because it’s so rare to find in our over-educated yet knowledge seeking, work avoiding, know-it-all generation we’ve become. The most important lesson I’ve learned this year is that no matter what industry you’re in the secret to success is not a secret at all, it’s hard work.

The most difficult part of the year has to be parting was with Linden. It wasn’t a bad breakup, we’re still friends, but someone leaving your company is never an easy transition. We’re on good terms, just going in different directions. We wish him all the best and would love to work with him again one day.

The biggest accomplishment as a company has to running our first conference/workshop, #Awesome2013 took over Twitter on the morning of July 18th 2013. We filled a room at the Regina Inn, had four brilliant local speakers, and learned a little bit about running a workshop. Since then we did a Google Analytics session at Capital Ford and a Website-In-A-Day workshop. They’re fun, interactive, prizes, and you learn a lot. We’re excited to start a new Workshop series in 2014.

The-Strategy-Lab-workshop-series

 

The biggest accomplishment personally, was finally seeing the new Regina Police Service cars driving around with their mission statement on the side of the car. It wasn’t my idea, nor did I come up with the mission, but while working with some very smart folks at the Regina Police Service we helped them change their core values, vision and mission.

I still remember one question that came up during the project, how will we keep everyone who is a part of the RPS reminded of the new core messaging? The idea from a very smart person was to print it in more places, make sure every employee can see it every day. In offices, on walls, in conference rooms and, yes, on the cruisers. What a brilliant way to remind yourself of what you stand for. If you want to read more about how we got “Public Service First” on the side of Police cruisers click here.

The coolest project I was a part of this year had to be the Regina and District Association for Community Living (RDACL)’s Sharing your Awesome On An iPad. It was a six week course we developed for people who applied to learn how to use an iPad. We created the program for RDACL so they can use it else where and build on what they’ve already created. Here’s a video Brandon made on Sharing Your Awesome On An iPad.

RDACL Workshop from Strategy Lab on Vimeo.

My most fascinating project I worked on (and am still working on) is the Hospitals of Regina Foundation (HRoF). An organization full of passionate people, an amazing history, and brimming with potential. I’ve met a lot of brilliant minds working together to enhance our health care system, an endeavour that affects everyone in Saskatchewan. The future of what the HoRF can do is amazing, I’m very much humbled to be a small part of it.

I’m excited about the opportunity Brandon and I have working with some of the most amazing organizations in and around Regina, helping them take over he world. To 2014, may it be your best year ever.

 

Love,

Jeph

 

 

* – I said I’d explain the “little things” later so here goes. Our world is very paradoxical, people are irrational and often react in the opposite way we might think. Markets react in the opposite direction as we predict, everything thing in our world has a paradoxical opposite side to it, like the Seinfeld Bizzaro Jerry episode! So as a consultancy (and maybe all companies) to get big, you’d think it would be doing the big things. The flashy things that get you noticed, the bigger the client landed, the more prestigious your brand gets. But you’re only as good as what people say about you, your “brand” is what they say about you behind your back.

We measure this by referrals, the best compliment a client can give you is referring a friend, which unconsciously says: “I was so happy with you guys that I think my friends and colleagues will as well benefit from working with you!”  What can be better than that. People don’t just refer anyone, referring someone is a reflection of your own brand after all. So as an organization, you want to be a brand that people would want to associate themselves with, or co-brand themselves with. The only way to do that is to get the little things right. From your e-mail tag line to your business cards, every single touchpoint people have with your brand they are making a judgement, it’s up to you to influence if that judgement is positive or negative. Over time those judgement add up to what people perceive as your “brand”. Once people have made up their mind, it can be impossible to convince them otherwise.

PechaKucha Night in Regina: Presenting YQRs Most Creative

PechaKucha Night Regina-poster

Next Thursday at the Artful Dodger, along with David Tapp, Riley Lawsen, Tori Dundas, Brandon Wu and myself are hosting PechaKucha! I know what you’re thinking. How the hell do you pronounce that? Well it’s Pea-Cha-Ka-Cha, so fun to say!

PechaKucha is ten presentations, all of which are 20 slides and 20 seconds per slide. It’ll be an wildly interesting night, the assortment of speakers is all over the map so you will be entertained. If you wish to see who’s speaking check out the list here. Also, I will be MCing the night, so prepare yourself for some of the best PechaKucha commentary ever!

Tickets are $15 and can be purchased here: Buy PechaKucha Regina Tickets.

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