Posts Tagged ‘ Social Networking ’

The Selfie-Stick Madness

I get it. Really, I do. As a millennial and self-prescribed hipster, I enjoy the photo as much as anyone else. But the selfie stick is on a whole new level. It’s basically the extended arm of self-absorption. It’s a tool for people who are just trying to outdo themselves online and using selfie-sticks as the catalyst for promotion.  I mean, we’ve all taken selfies (including myself), but we really need awareness and support to end the selfie-stick madness.

And honestly, being a big deal online is like, having a ton of money in monopoly.

Even the Smithsonian isn’t having it. They’ve recently issued a ban to unsuspecting tourists and wannabe narcissiSelfie Collagestic enthusiasts: No selfie sticks. The Louvre in Paris hasn’t taken action yet, so if you want to grab a selfie with Mona using your stick, now’s your chance.

Side note: With all this going on, how the heck did Kodak go bankrupt? Seriously.

Anyways, at Blanchard we have launched a new campaign around connectedness and collaboration. “We is the new me”.  We are using the “USIE” (apparently the new word for a group selfie) to express that and share amongst colleagues. I think “groupie” sounds more appropriate for this new phenomenon, but apparently a few women in the 60’s beat us to the punch. We even have the virtual group selfie. I’m calling it the Velfie.

Regardless of all of these shenanigans, what we really want is to share our story, connect with others, and dialogue about ways to be collaborative and connected at work in a meaningful way. How do we really collaborate across cross-functional teams and provide productive and meaningful results? A recent large study confirmed that people with more friends and connections are generally happier, healthier, and better off, and that happiness spreads through social networks. Social connections can also influence and discourage potentially harmful behavior such as smoking. Research suggests creating a healthy connection with influences that are constructive and positive. Good health, employment, and feeling safe and secure all increase people’s chances of developing positive social networks that help improve our lives.

Lead Your Team To Effectively Use Technology To Learn

Ensuring employees have ample opportunity to learn and develop is crucial to organizational success. Yet, leaders can be bombarded with messages to increase the use of technology if they want the most effective means for their teams to learn.

As a leader, how do you judge which learning modality will lead to the most effective, quality learning experience? How do you appeal to learners on your teams at differing levels of technological savviness without discouraging their development? Or, worse, avoid humiliating anyone who is not as technologically savvy while simultaneously avoid disengaging your digital learners? Preventing yet more training materials being set up on a shelf never to be used again is key!

GEIKuMAosmicN5EZXkEBKDl72eJkfbmt4t8yenImKBXEejxNn4ZJNZ2ss5Ku7CxtSteps you can take to lead your team to effectively use technology to learn include:

1. Understanding how your team learns – Become intimately familiar with how your team learns. Do you offer a learning product on a flash drive only to find you run out before you can order more or are you scheduling face-to-face classes on their behalf with little resistance? Are your most productive employees viewing recording links from live stream workshops because they want to learn in their own time in the comfort of their office? How your employees learn will help you intuit in what form content should be delivered to increase learning. Don’t discount your own observations regarding what your employees seem to gravitate toward.

2. Determine their favored modalities – Fit how the content is offered to the learner by offering it in various forms such as audio, video, face-to-face, and asynchronous. Have a workshop that you know learners on your team will love but know it’s in a format they won’t be interested in learning from? Encourage your employees to determine if they would be interested in learning the same content in a different modality. If the content is off the shelf, inquire as to whether it is offered as mp3, asynchronous, and face-to-face format. Purchase and offer multiple forms and see which format your team seems to prefer. Learn from your purchases and take note of what your employees want more of and most often request.

3. Then…limit options – mp3 audio books, asynchronous learning groups, virtual book clubs , CDs, DVDs, hard-copy libraries, face-to-face workshops…the list goes on as to how employees learn and you could potentially intimidate and confuse learners by creating modality overload. Most important after determining how your team learns is to introduce new technology and options slowly by choosing their favored modality. Then, let them get comfortable with change by limiting the options offered to those two or three favorite modalities the team gravitates toward. Don’t get caught up with the new, shinny technology if you know your employees will most likely not be interested in learning in that particular format. Perhaps you have determined your team enjoys reading hard-copy books, listening to CDs, and asynchronous learning. Invest in these three modalities by allowing your employees to show you this is how they most feel comfortable learning. If the content is then offered as a webinar with live chat, don’t spring it on the team. Wait to allow them to lead you in their own learning.

Understanding how your employees learn will help increase the benefits derived from learning in modalities that best fit the learner and resultantly most benefit the organization.


Cheryl DePonte is a Human Resources Learning and Performance Specialist at The Ken Blanchard Companies and has over 15 years experience in the fields of organizational effectiveness and human resources development.

5 Things I Forbid You To Do This Labor Day Weekend

On Monday, we celebrate the social and economic accomplishments of the American worker. In an effort to truly honor the spirit of the holiday, here are 5 things I forbid you to do this Labor Day weekend:

  1. Set Your Alarm Clock. Sleep in. You work hard. You deserve it.
  2. Check Your E-Mail. Don’t worry, those “urgent” e-mails will still be there when you log in on Tuesday.
  3. Make or Take Business Calls. Please step away from the cell phone. Turn it off or send those calls straight to voice mail. Just like your e-mail, the messages will still be there for you on Tuesday.
  4. Engage Your Professional Social Network. I know you’re concerned about your Klout score but a couple days away shouldn’t cause any irreparable damage. Besides, we’ve got something in common with your e-mail and voice mail, we’ll also be here on Tuesday.
  5. Neglect Your Family and/or Friends. Spend some time with those other people in your life who you don’t get the chance to see while you’re in the office.

Hope you all have a fantastic, relaxing, and disconnected three-day weekend!

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(…just wait until Tuesday.)

With Greater Leadership Comes Greater Expectation

Like many, my college experience provided the opportunity to make friends and interact with some fascinating people – classmates whom I admire and respect more than they will ever know. We all had our dreams and aspirations, then graduation day came and we parted ways, ready to pursue our passions and make a positive difference in this world. We were ready and willing to be the best leaders we could be, prepared to serve others, stand behind our beliefs, and utilize the tools we had acquired – at least as far as our toolbox would take us.

What began as one such dream for a few of these classmates turned into an international charitable organization employing dozens of staff members, enlisting hundreds of volunteers, and impacting countless lives around the world. This past week, something happened to this organization that changed everything: it garnered global media attention virtually overnight. This organization is known as Invisible Children.

You may be familiar with the latest media blitz surrounding this non-profit and their viral video, Kony 2012. The team posted the video last Monday, hoping for 500,000 views by the end of the year. Yet what they received was far beyond their wildest dreams: 52 million views in just four days…and over 78 million views as I write this. This has led to an outpouring of news articles, TV interviews, blog posts, enormous praise, and even a severe backlash of criticism from people around the world, across nearly every major media entity from the Wall Street Journal to TMZ.

Wow. These young leaders must be feeling so many emotions. I would imagine they are thrilled beyond belief to have their message heard by so many people, yet fearful and/or frustrated by the criticism, and perhaps even nervous by the overwhelming attention in general. The international fame happened nearly overnight. Yet whether they were ready or not, this organization and its leaders will forever be held to a higher standard. Their leadership, or perhaps more importantly, others’ perception of their leadership, has been forever changed.

You see, whether we agree with it or not, leading at higher levels requires a new level of perseverance. The higher we go, the more others expect of us. It may not seem fair, but it is a reality. When you reach a certain level of fame, fortune, or position, opposition becomes inevitable. People will take shots at you, even when you know you’re doing the right thing. Observers will scrutinize your every action just because they can.

As leaders – leaders who are continuously growing and likely aspiring to reach new levels of leadership – we must always remember this. As our ability to influence others and our capacity to act as role models increases, we must expect that higher standards, albeit often unspoken, will be placed over us. As we continuously strive for moral and ethical excellence, we must trust that we’re doing the right thing, even in the face of criticism. And as we responsibly persevere, we must remember the expectation – and the privilege – that the more we receive, the more we must give; the more we lead, the more we must serve.

Our individual leadership journeys may never reach the level that Invisible Children has as an organization (or perhaps they will!), but regardless, the lesson is the same for all. Leadership simply gets tougher the higher you go and the more lives you touch. Not that my opinion matters in this case, but I am enormously proud of my classmates, grateful for their generous work, and fully confident that they will continue to do amazing things for this world… They’ll face a higher level of scrutiny and more forceful opposition, but as with all great leaders, this will ultimately only strengthen their resolve and improve their effectiveness.

Thank you for your Comments!

Redefining the Face-to-Face Meeting

Have you ever found yourself in a situation similar to this?

Dilbert by Scott Adams

If so, which side of the meeting request were you on? Are you more prone to insist on an in person face-to-face meeting or are you the one questioning why the face-to-face meeting can’t be held more efficiently using a virtual meeting/video conferencing service?

Truth is, you should be somewhere in the middle. Nothing beats being in the same room with your fellow meeting attendee(s)…as long as it makes sense. When it doesn’t make sense, conducting a virtual meeting (complete with webcams) is the next best thing. There are numerous virtual meeting hosting services that include video conferencing such as the aforementioned Skype (great for one-on-one meetings) or, WebEx and Nefsis (great for meetings with multiple attendees).

The key is being able to determine when it makes sense to meet face-to-face virtually as opposed to in person. If you’re in the same building, or perhaps in the same town, it’s quite likely that it makes the most sense to meet face-to-face in person. Even when distance is an issue, you may still feel those urges to push for the traditional in person face-to-face meeting despite the excessive costs (e.g., time and money). When you feel those urges, challenge yourself to consider the reasons why you absolutely CANNOT conduct the meeting virtually utilizing a video conferencing service. Chances are the most legitimate reason you’d have to oppose a video conference would be that you don’t yet have a webcam. If that’s the case, please click here now. (Disclaimer: I currently use the Logitech Webcam Pro 9000).

Furthermore, challenge yourself to determine which phone-only meetings you could dynamically transform into video conference meetings. For example, my manager and I are in different states but we now conduct all of of our one-on-one meetings face-to-face using Skype. Our team members are scattered across the country so we now conduct all of our team meetings face-to-face using Nefsis. Transforming these meetings from phone-only to video conference has been an incredibly positive experience.

Whether you’re on the fence about taking that in person meeting into cyberspace or, you’re considering turning a phone-only meeting into a video conference, consider the following benefits of video conferencing:

  • It significantly reduces costs. Gas is expensive. A plane ticket is, in most cases, even more expensive. And, don’t forget about travel expenses (especially if you have 5 star tastes). This, of course, doesn’t include the high cost of day rates you’d either be on the receiving end of as a client or, on the billing end as a service provider.
  • It significantly saves time. Time is money so, by extension, travel time is very expensive. Does it really make sense to meet in person when that four hour meeting ultimately costs you three full days after you factor in the travel time?
  • It allows you to build and develop relationships. Generally speaking, healthy, positive, productive relationships require a certain amount of face time. When you can’t physically be in the same room, this is how you can get it (with frequency and regularity).
  • It forces you to be present. When you’re on the phone only, it’s easy to tune out or multi-task. When you’re on video, you’re engaged…you’re conscious of your body language and emotions because you’re observing the same from others.
  • It forces you to improve your personal hygiene. If you’re working from home and know you have a video conference, you’re forced to get out of bed, get dressed, do your hair, and, well, look professional.
  • What used to only be possible in sci-fi cartoons is now a reality for YOU. And you gotta admit, that’s pretty cool.

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The Resolve!

Tis the season for resolutions—a fascinating tradition that occurs at the beginning of every New Year and inspires our imaginations with hope, possibility, and a new will to power. A season when we have an opportunity to wipe away the old and raise up the new, with one stroke of the clock.

If it sounds too simple, than it probably is. We know that when the party ends and the vacation is over, and most of the college football bowl games have been played, the real New Year begins. We get back into the daily grind, returning to work, to school, to life and all of the issues that did not seem to disappear with the toll of the twelfth bell just a few nights ago.

We are a week back into reality now. How are your resolutions fairing? Or were you too stubborn to make any resolutions?

Whether you testified to anyone regarding your resolutions, or you’re the Scrooge of the New Year and are above such petty traditions, there are some key insights on one’s self, through the idea of resolutions that may be worth pondering before you get lost in the whirlwind of this new year.


The very term, resolution, implies that there is some sort of conflict in our lives. Some habit or trivial pursuit that does not align with our core values and seeks to threaten our good will and service to others. Before a person can begin to set and keep a resolution, they must first clearly define the conflicts of their personal or professional lives, before they can set any course toward setting a reasonable resolution.


Unfortunately, many of us treat resolutions like a penny being tossed into a wishing well, a blind hope that perhaps that some miracle will occur by casting our burdens upon a streak of time in the night sky, as if the new number on the year of our calendars will magically help us achieve our wildest dreams. Often, we begin setting goals that aren’t measureable, trackable, or even reasonable—a lukewarm prayer at best. But good Self Leaders are able to come up with a simple plan on how they will achieve their goals/resolutions for the year, and then find a means (a project at work or a hobby in your personal time) applied toward that end. In fact, it is through the means that resolutions are most effectively achieved.


Recently my teenage daughter (that is as much a confession as a proclamation of joy) boldly announced that she was going to audition for the lead role in a local performance of the classic tale, Cinderella. The competition was steep, and she knew it, but decided to step out in faith and resolve that she would give it her all in achieving this goal, and allow destiny to take its course. What she learned from previous auditions is that the dream cannot simply be a declaration of your resolution. There were many hours of voice lessons, dance lessons, acting lessons, and strange gargling sounds from some healing potion that would come from her room at all hours of the night. Through hard work, a few set backs, consistent effort, and a dedication to the end goal through a variety of means, she achieved her goal.


Resolutions are good! But as all things that are good, they are also hard. It’s not too late to set a resolution for this year. But even more importantly, set your mind on resolving the major or minor conflicts in your personal and professional lives through productive and consistent means. Learn to love the process of achieving the resolution. Be persistent, even after failure to achieve your resolution with some silly notion of perfection. This is the very notion of a resolution—a resolve or determination. In every great story, there is a great conflict, and often even a great battle or two before the lead character resolves that conflict and achieves a new level of goodness—for themselves and those that serve. Be resolved this year!

Jason Diamond Arnold
Co-Author of Situational Self Leadership in Action
The Ken Blanchard Companies

Perception is Reality

The phrase—Perception is Reality—has always bothered me, particularly as a member of a generation that values authenticity and individuality. We are workforce of individuals on a quest to make a name for ourselves, empowered by a technological revolution that instantaneously allows us to publish our thoughts and ideas to a brave new world. We don’t want our personal image defined or judged by anything or anyone beyond our own existential will to define it—as reflected in our daily FaceBook status updates. History is made by those who Tweet it!

Or so we would like to think.

Fact is, other people’s perceptions of you in the workplace write just as much of your legacy as all the time you spent crafting a clever and creative social network profile. Like it or not, perception does matter when you’re working with other people. No matter how much we want others to think we are hip and cool because of the new and savvy way we go about our business at work—others are always defining us by what we do (or what we sometimes don’t do), as much as we are trying to define ourselves through our quest for individuality.

Whether it’s a conflicting style of dress or style of communication (@that post you made last week, complaining about your colleagues lack of urgency), people are consistently creating and alternative reality about you. Even though you had a great time at your best friends birthday party last week, your colleagues (some of which are also FaceBook “friends”) may not find your double fisted wine cooler bottle photos as entertaining as you did while celebrating the anniversary your friend’s birth. The perception of carelessness or immaturity—even if you were being a perfectly responsible adult (minus the Coyote Ugly table dance)—can translate into your workplace relationships.

One voicemail left unanswered for a period of more than 24 hours may fall short of the expectations of one co-worker who complains to three co-workers. Those three co-workers bring it up over lunch to four other co-workers. And the perception grows into an even greater reality—whether it is true or not. When speculate as to why a project wasn’t delivered within a certain period of time, assuming that you let the project fall into a “dark hole,” they begin to assume you’re disorganized. When people start making up the reasons for your personal or professional behavior, they can start creating a reputation for you—and that can become a big problem.

A good self leader wants to manage their own reputation by being proactive and wise about what they share with others—in the real world and the virtual one. Little things like, being organized, keeping promises, following up, and simply keeping your eyes and ears open for any “bad press,” will help you develop and maintain healthy relationships—a major point of power for your workplace success.

Unfortunately, many colleagues don’t come directly to you to clarify a perception that they may have about you, but indirectly gossip or question your reputation in front of others—and not always with spite or malice. Be willing to take in, even false perceptions about your work, so that you can actively engage those perceptions and work hard on maintaining a good reputation within your organization.

Though you are not the sum total of all the negative perceptions others may have about you, those perceptions are a part of an equation that defines who you are. But denying that perception is reality will only hurt you and your reputation in the long run. It is better to actively engage those perceptions and work hard to build Raving Fans with every client you serve, than to sit back and ignore the rumors. Until you inoculate yourself with this reality, you may suffer the unconscious fate of an unmanaged perception rearing it’s ugly head on you, your team, and your career.

Jason Diamond Arnold
Co-Author of Situational Self Leadership in Action
Blanchard Keynote Speaker

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