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Can I give you some feedback?

The Phrase You Hate To Hear But Have to Say Yes To

Can I give you some feedback?

If you’re like me this is one of the worst phrases to hear in the English language. What they’re actually saying is “would you like me to tell you how I actually feel about you? And oh yeah, if it was good we would have already told you so it’s almost guaranteed to be negative.”

Without feedback we never learn, we never get better, and we never progress.

The extent of your management career will largely be based on the amount of feedback you’re willing to take.
I’ve said to Brandon many times that we will get as far as the feedback we’re willing to take.

I still love the Tim Sanders analogy of “how” to process feedback. He says it’s like eating an almond. Not all of the feedback is valuable, find the nut at the middle (the learning moment) and discard everything else. Rarely do we receive 100% true feedback.

Three reasons why you need to get feedback from your team:

 

1. If you currently think “my team loves me though, I don’t need their feedback to know that”. You need to ask for feedback soon, you’re worse off than you think. It’s always those managers who “think” their staff can give honest feedback but don’t. Instead there ends up being a revolving door for staff, lots of turnover and no long term employees.

 

2. It underhandedly shows your team that you care, that you aren’t a know-it-all, and that you’re not too egotistical to change. You don’t have to listen to everything you hear but you do have to make yourself available to hear people when they want to give some feedback. Listen to people shows you care, even if you know you aren’t getting the best feedback, listen, don’t talk, don’t interrupt, just listen. You’ll be amazed at what you find.

 

3. The teams that communicate up the hierarchy just as efficiently as down the hierarchy will be the most sought after and in turn the most effective.
If your team doesn’t have a feedback strategy soon, your competitors will. They’ll be able to turn on a dime, adjusting to feedback they’re receiving. Today it is relatively simple to setup a feedback strategy, 10 years ago a lot more difficult. 5 years from now it will be baked into the strategy of the high performing teams, and I’m sure it’ll get easier and easier to track, manage and act upon the information acquired.

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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.

Create holy $!%& moments

Most events aren’t meant to be remembered

that’s why most events aren’t that good. How many presentations, conferences, lecture’s, speeches, keynotes, and guest talks have you been in that have completely bored you to death? It’s become an epidemic, and I hate it.

If you don’t intentionally try to create a memorable event why do you think people will remember it?

 

Start with: why will people remember this? Why will my event be different? How do we get people walking out after the event saying “holy $#!& that was amazing!!”. Maybe therein lies the secret: to create “holy $#!&” moments.

 

Most events aren’t meant to be remembered, but why not? Don’t you want your next event to go down in history as one of the best _________ of all time?

When planning you must ask how are we going to get people to remember this? If you don’t you’re almost guaranteed that people will do the opposite.

Let’s Teach Our Kids To Code

“Everybody in this country should learn how to program a computer… because it teaches you how to think.” -Steve Jobs

 

I think this video is amazing. Kids need to learn more about computers, more about the internet and more about how the future is going to be created by them.

Lets teach our kids to code.

13 Grievances For The 2014 Social Media Season

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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.

 

a good brand vs a bad brand in action

5 Words That Changed Everything

WestjetI was on a Westjet flight the other day, as per usual, like most of you do, I was finishing off one last tweet before I “turned off my phone” during take off.
This is usually when the flight attendant, playing the authority card says, “sir, can you please turn off your phone” in the same tone of an elementary school teacher scolding a young child.

I’m used to it, it happens pretty much every time I fly. Until, just the other day. The lovely flight attendant says to me “sir can you turn off your phone, after you’re done that message? in such a lovely tone too!
I didn’t feel like a child, I didn’t feel reprimanded, I didn’t feel like she was trying to flex her authority muscle. She added five words which entirely changed the request. Brilliant.

The next time you have a request for a customer, what could you add that would make it that much more pleasant?

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Sometimes You Just Have To Be Like Harry Potter

In Harry Potter The Prisoner of Azkaban, there’s a scene at the lake where dementors are about to kill Harry, Hermoine and Sirious Black. There are too many dementors for Harry to defend against.

Just when you think all is lost, all of a sudden a Patronus appears from the other side of the lake and staves off the dementors.

Harry believes it’s his father who cast the Patronus charm and saved them.

Some time later in the movie, using Hermione’s time-turner to go back in time, they go back to the lake where supposedly Harry’s father saves them. But what they find is Harry’s father doesn’t show up. So who saved them?

It must have been Harry. But he wasn’t powerful enough, or so he thought.

He didn’t think he had the power to do it, but because he’d already seen himself do it, it wasn’t impossible anymore.

Visualizing, affirming, positive self talk, there are many ways to help yourself do this in your marketing, business and life. Sometimes you must believe in yourself to do the impossible, otherwise how else are you going to achieve your goals? Just like Harry did.

How many major moments in your life would have been much easier if you would have saw yourself doing it perfectly in advance?

They Can’t Be More Passionate Than You

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Older people have more experience than you.
CFL linemen are stronger than you.
Accountants are more analytical than you.
Comedians are funnier than you.
Financial analysts are better with their money than you.
Religious people are more spiritual than you.
NCAA football coaches are better leaders than you.
People who work at Google are smarter than you.

The only thing they can’t be is more passionate than you.

What ever your thing is, nobody can be more passionate about it than you.

You may never be as smart, or as strong, or as fast, or as spiritual, or as rich as the next person. But you CAN be more passionate about your thing than anyone else in the world.

The quote in the picture at the top is from Sir Ken Robinson in his Ted Talk How Schools Kill Creativity

6 Ways To Conquer A Conference

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Conferences come and conferences go. Perhaps you’ve been to many but have only taken valuable information away from a few. Was there a common thread amongst the ones you found valuable? I’m willing to bet that aside from quality content and great speakers, the ones that left a lasting impression are the ones to which you arrived prepared and found applicable to your life or your line of work. The beauty of conferences with a panel-focus (like our How To Be Awesome Online Workshop) is that you can have some control over the things you learn. Just like any class you’ve ever taken, the more preparing you do in advance — the more you’ll take away. Here are a few tips for coming prepared, asking the right questions, and turning a few hours into the best part of your month.

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Al D’s Four Keys To Life

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On June 26, 2013 we lost one of the good ones. One of the influencers. One of the thought leaders. He may not have been published in the Harvard Business Review regularly but he influenced the people around him and the students he taught in a way that changed their lives forever. Much, much, more of an accomplishment in my opinion. Read more