Coaching from Andrea Jung

April 29th, 2011 No comments

0922_1_andrea_jung_280x340Andrea Jung is a rockstar.  Frankly, anyone who is a CEO of a company of Avon’s social and financial importance for more than a decade would be.  Yesterday, I saw her give a public address on leadership to an audience of largely women.  She was down to earth, inspiring, and highly quotable.  A few of my takeaways and their applicability to social media below:

Listen to your compass, not your clock – When Andrea Jung was passed over for CEO of Avon in 19997, it made headlines.  She was offered 2 other CEO positions at other companies.  It would have been easy to feel slighted or embarrassed and hop companies to earn the next checkmark on her resume.  But Avon’s mission of economically empowering women inspires and connects with her.  And staying true to that compass is what laid the ground work for a more meaningful, long term success to flourish.

You can’t reinvent your company if you can’t reinvent yourself -After missing earnings and falling out of favor with Wall Street, Andrea knew she was at risk of being fired in a quarter or 2.  a coach advised her to “fire herself” and walk in the next day as if it was her first day at a new job.  She could then approach and assess the company’s situation with fresh eyes and energy and start anew.

Proceed ethically – As Thomas Jefferson, “In matters of style, swim with the current.  In matters of principle, stand like a rock.”  So many business leaders have found themselves at the core of corporate scandal.  They tend to be shorter lived and their shareholder value returned far lower.

“Communities have never needed companies more” – Choosing to be in the private sector does not mean you are opting out of a live of service.  The public sector can not meet the needs of our country or the world – and it is up to corporate citizens to stand up and do their part for the benefit of all.

Prioritize, and be present – So many working parents are constantly making micro daily tradeoffs about family and work.  They are difficult and constant.  Prioritize, make your decisions and then drop the guilt.  Once you are in the most important place for you to be present, you owe it to your companions to fully be there.

So much of this has direct applicability to our little social media corner of the world:

  • Because we’re moving so quickly, career focus often is on quick hops and ticking title boxes instead of finding a company, team, mentor, client, mission or purpose that gives you passion.  Once you’ve found that the rest will follow.
  • The WOMMA ethics code is just one incarnation of a way to make sure you are swimming on the straight and narrow of the social media current.
  • Social media has brought with it a massive case of divided attention syndrome.  The temptation to live tweet/Facebook/document your life instead of focusing on the humans around you is very strong!  Be present and see what happens…

Austin: Social Business Capital of the World

March 9th, 2011 No comments

texas bumper stickerIn the summer of 1998, I left the only place I’d ever lived – the East Coast – to start a life in Austin, TX.  The recruiting pitch for Austin (memorialized in the Fast Company article Insanity, Inc) offered the opportunity to be part of an exciting company doing unprecedented things in an unexpected place.  Austin was going to become “Silicon Hills”.  A place where talent would be attracted for the high quality lifestyle and low cost of living, and venture capital would fall like rain.  And did I mention it was 70 degrees in January and the company had a fleet of speedboats?  None of that hurt, either.

The promise of Austin turning into Silicon Hills seemed optimistic even to a gullible college graduate, but I have to admit, it has pretty much come true exactly that way.  Stalwart tech hardware employers like Dell, AMD & Freescale spawned many of the entrepreneurs who went on to found & fund here in Austin launching companies like Bazaarvoice, HomeAway, & Spredfast to name a few.  And this success only attracted more like minds to the city.

Ogilvy doesn’t have a current physical office here and yet, you could say the whole city is our office.  We hold meetings at Shady Grove, Texas Honey Ham, learn about new companies at Dominican Joe’s and I can learn more about what is cracking in town at a barbecue or a shopping trip than I could in a month of conference calls.  Beyond the individuals who work for our company alone, we are part of a thriving community of like-minded social professionals who have chosen for one of a host of reasons to make Austin home.

In the words of Kate Neiderhoffer, Quality of life in Austin is simply higher than in the more fast-paced, cut-throat, nail-biting enclaves of the US. Austin is the perfect mix of intellect, athleticism, family-friendliness, creativity, and entrepreneurial spirit. And like attracts like: this unique combination makes us the most ripe breeding ground for social business – thinkers and doers. You won’t believe the people you run into at Whole Foods headquarters… People often dream of moving to NYC. Living in today’s Austin makes me wonder whether people will soon dream of someday making it in Austin with the same tenacity.

The part that no one would could have predicted was the fact that beyond “tech”, Austin would attract and develop a huge amount of social business talent (maybe Silicon Hills was meant to become Social Hills).  I am proud to be part of the next phase of Austin’s growth and development into the World Social Business hub.  And I’m especially excited for the coming week – when the rest of the social practitioners from around the world join us for margaritas, inspiration, and a slice of the Austin experience at SXSW.  On behalf of all of us who have gone “all in” on social & Austin, Welcome Home.

This post part of a blog ring of social business leaders from around town, check the links below for the takes of:

Kathy Mandelstein, of IBM and Austin’s Social Media Club

Peter Kim, Dachis Group via Forrester

Aaron Strout, head of location based marketing for WCG and the “stroutmeister”

Greg “Chimoose” Matthews of WCG

“Turbo” Todd Watson of IBM

And brother Spike Jones, of Fleishman-Hillard

Overcoming Social Silos

February 9th, 2011 1 comment

social silosThis being cross-posted from Ogilvy’s Fresh Influence blog.

Silos have long been bemoaned as preventing the optimization of everything from enterprise resource planning to cohesive customer experience.  If Phase 1 of corporate social media development is scattered maverick experimentation and Phase 2 is creating integrated strategy, chances are Phase 3 is likely defining silo-based roles & responsibilities.  For example, Corp Comm could own Facebook, Consumer Marketing owns Twitter,  Care runs branded communities, and Recruiting runs LinkedIn (although we often see platform ownership split by business unit focus in marketing as well) .  There is a very real reason for doing this.  Clear ownership assures great responsiveness and allow for organizations to get appropriate social staffing and funding approved.  It is also true that the different social platforms have different audiences and dynamics (what & how you share) that are likely more appropriate for one part of your org than another.  It is safe to assume that this is not going away…so let’s make it work.

Whenever you get to the point of splitting platform responsibility between different departments, you run the risk of creating a new set of silos.  6 months in, you may find your boss praising what you’re doing in LinkedIn and questioning the way Facebook is being run.  You may read something posted on Twitter and realize it would have been perfect for you to capture video around for the YouTube & Facebook audience if only you’d known!  Here are 5 suggestions to systematize collaboration and prevent those silo walls from re-growing around you:

1) Group Governance – If you are not installing a hierarchical leader over your distributed channel plan, we do recommend that governance over decisions like adding channels, brand voice, changing policies, or cross-platform initiatives be discussed at a cross functional steering committee.  This can successfully be done in a somewhat informal manner or highly formal group with a charter, etc.  But the discussion that these decisions will spark can create trust and shared understanding among the partners.  It is likely that your friends from legal and HR should be a part of this as well.

2) Share Measurement – As a platform manager, it is easy to dive a mile deep on your own metrics and have only a glancing understanding of anyone else’s.  Because metrics are guideposts to measure progress on a strategy, they are a great way to re-ground your colleagues in exactly the role your platform plays in your company’s success.  A monthly measurement snapshot that you put together with the rest of your council is a great way to share learnings, troubleshoot issues, and will create a great artifact to be circulated around the company or management team.

3) Collaborative Content Plannng – Managing a social platform means taming the beast’s insatiable hunger for content.  Content is gold and chances are, it is often appropriate across multiple channels.  By sharing conversation calendars – not just at the top of every month but as news happens and circumstances change will be the ultimate show of respect for your colleagues and the customer experience and will futher support the trust you are building.

4) Fight Social Silos with Internal Social Media – Beth Kanter wrote a great post on how silos impact non-profit social media where she expresses the social media mandate to be able to “Work Wikily“.  You may not be able to change your whole organization, but sharing your planning docs and measurement documents on a wiki, discussing ad hoc opportunities on Yammer, or even using a shared document platform to edit the next version of your employee policess help bake collaboration into your working group.

5) Evolve Together – The plan that you created in 2009 or 2010 may no longer be working or at the very least may have room for optimization.  Instead of firing suggestions over the wall, institutionalize evolution around your plan.  Quarterly meetings of your working group that are either offsite to at least lengthier will help you review progress and ask the tough questions about what needs to change and when.  Going through that process together can foster strategic discussion and veer away from channel analysis or criticism becoming a land grab.

Go forth and bust those silos for the good of your customer and your own career!  If you have other tools that you  have seen successfully work, please add in the comments.

Don’t Panic! Turn the Page

January 2nd, 2011 No comments

keep calmHAPPY NEW YEAR!  I am posting this on the eve of potentially my least favorite New Year’s ritual – the first week of the year freakout.  The last 2 months of every year are traditionally a race to the finish.  The adrenaline of 2011 planning + meeting end of year goals + an endless stream of parties is an intoxicating combination that leaves us all ready for a long winter’s nap.  Then we wake up and…

Where’s all that stress?  Where’s my to do list with 25 urgent things for to attend to that allow me to NOT think about which are important or not.  The absence of the adrenaline-fueled fever pitch of activity can often create its own type of stress.

The opportunity is to not to absorb this time for regrouping as stress.  With some rest under your belt and a fresh outlook, take time to make a list of what is important to you – creating long term goals for a client project, capturing that experience you had as a training for colleagues, writing an abstract for an upcoming speaking opportunity, or a list of blog posts you’d like to research and write – and keep it next to your desk to attend to at any time you have a moment that is undirected.  If you have goals that those can ladder up to – so much the better.

This may help keep you on track and feel even more accomplished the next time the annual look back/look forward ritual takes place, but at the very least could reduce some of the anxiety around turning this particular calendar page.

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Send “Vajazzle” to a Friend (or 14)

November 28th, 2010 No comments

Having recently returned from the WOMMA Summit in Las Vegas, I am reminded of some of the quick, head-smacker, “why didn’t I think of that” tips shared by WOMMA co-founder Andy Sernovitz at the very first meeting in Chicago.  One of these was to put a “send to a friend” button on every page of your website.

Now, 5 years later and in a mainstream social age, very little inspires me to email something to a friend.  I might post something on Twitter to my work peeps or on Facebook to my more personal network of family, friends and colleagues, but very that I receive in my Gmail – largely for promotional e-commerce emails, would inspire me to email.

Austin’s own “Waxing Studio” sent an email a few weeks ago that bucks that trend.  The subject line read “Free Longhorn Vajazzle Only Through Saturday!” (I’m sad to say – the deal has expired).  There are so many things I love about this.  The silliness of that word, the false urgency of the timeline, and the concept of bedazzling lady parts with the University of Texas’ famed logo.


I almost snarfed my coffee.  I had to share the joy of this silliness with a few girlfriends.  Then with a few UT alums.  Then with some other WOM marketers (how inherently WOM-worthy is this?).  And goodness knows, it makes business sense as its an add on to their famous 15 minute Brazillian – their highest margin service by far.  By the time I was done, I had forwarded an email to 14 people.

Lo and behold, I did end up going to this local business during the time of this fantastic limited time offer and got to ask them about uptake.  While they had only had ONE taker to this offer, the sheer remarkability of the offer did spark a lot of long time clients to call and book (more boring) appointments.

This strikes me as akin to the restaurants that offer a $75lb hamburger or David Burke’s famed Lollipop Tower – you aren’t going to get rich selling them, but giving your customers something to talk about – and FORWARD – is priceless.

(Disclosure: Ogilvy is a Governing Member of WOMMA)