Category Archives: Responsibility

Global Warming = Enron?

The “Global Warming” brand has been severely compromised.

If you have been paying attention to the “new” media in the past week, you are probably aware that “Climate Change” is quickly becoming the public relations equivalent of Enron. By that, I mean a well-known, apparently highly successful “brand” that has been shown to have some serious, fundamental flaws.

The scientists in the global-warming-is- caused-by-mankind camp built their case by trying to ridicule anyone who doubted their science and by attempting to destroy the reputations of anyone who stood up to them. Well, now we come to find out their their “science” seems to be based on fudged numbers, manipulated computer models and data that seems to have been “dumped”.

I will leave it up to the two sides of the debate to finally settle the issue. However, without a doubt, the scientists involved in this scandal (dubbed Climategate) have a real public relations disaster on their hands.

There is a marketing/public relations lesson to learn in all of this hubbub. This controversy show us the ultimate importance of being authentic in today’s economy. Web 2.0 has given every consumer the power to force transparency on anyone or any business. If an individual desires, they can find out virtually anything they want to about you – in the case of these scientists, they can even steal your secret conversations and share them with the world.

The lesson to learn then is to present yourself honestly to the world, make sure you can deliver on what you promise and do everything you possibly can to make sure the content on the web that you can control is accurate. This means your profiles (Facebook, Linked In) are up to date and that any comments made about you or your company are accurate.

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Filed under Responsibility

The Butcher, the Baker, the Candlestick-maker

Small businesses are the backbone of small towns and cities throughout the United States. It is the small, local, independent store owner, service provider and professional who are usually the movers and shakers in these communities. Take a look at any positive activity or progress happening in your local area and chances are a small business person is behind it or actively involved in moving the effort forward.

It is in everyone’s best interest that these small enterprises not only survive, but thrive. That is the guiding principle of a new on-line effort being driven by The 3/50 Project. This website explains their focus in detail, but the basic principle of the 3/50 Project is this: Pick 3 local businesses you would miss if they were gone, spend $50.00 per month in those businesses. Simple as that.

The 3/50 Project points out that for every $100 spent in locally owned independent stores, $68 returns to the community through taxes, payroll and other expenditures. If you spend that money in a national chain store (big box store) only $43 stays home. If you spend it online, $0 dollars stays in your community. That’s right ZERO dollars, the big nothing, the old donut hole…

Kind of easy to make the decision to support 3/50 when you ponder those numbers, isn’t it?

I want to thank The Supply Chick, Becky Flansburg for bringing the 3/50 Project to my attention. Becky is one of “those” people, you know the type: exhaustively positive, constantly chipper and always doing something to move herself (and those around her) forward.

Take 15 minutes today to visit The 3/50 Project and sign up. Then, next time you are out and about in your town, visit one of those small businesses that make your community unique. Take out your wallet and live a little.

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Filed under Leadership, Responsibility, Shop locally

You Owe It to the Rest of the World

Former Hheadvicearvard President Abbott Lawrence Lowell once said to his students: “Imagination without hard work is usually barren. What is more, the brighter the imagination, the greater the amount of work required to its full fruition.”

Are you a slacker? Are you wasting your talent? Do you have brilliant ideas that come to you that you let slip away? Well, its time to “work it baby, work it”!

The new economy is going to be built by those willing to work hard on developing their innovation quotient, not necessarily their intelligence quotient. The old economy was all about developing skills and manipulating facts to engineer and build “things”.  The next century, especially in the United States, the economy is going to be about innovative ways to use what we have, designing new products to make us more efficient and productive. Successful companies are going to be the ones who can deliver new ways to help us work, relax and raise our families.

It is up to you to work hard to develop your innovation and imagination. You need to wring the most out of the creative talent that you possess in your noggin, because it is the imaginative ones around us that will pull us through and get this economy moving once again. If you have an imagination, you owe it to yourself and the rest of us to “make those dreams come true.”

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Filed under Creativity, Leadership, Responsibility

Sharpening the Axe

axeAbraham Lincoln once said: “Give me 6 hours to cut down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening my axe.” He knew that proper preparation improved performance.

Education and preparation are the keys to performance today. If one wants to perform one’s duties better, faster, smarter, one has to learn from the best in their profession.

Last week, I attended a workshop given by Cliff Quicksell, a man recognized as one of the most creative and effective people in my industry. Cliff has received more awards for creativity than anyone else in the industry and he has a long track record of building successful promotional campaigns for his clients.

I spent a day with Cliff, learning about his successful approach, his attitudes towards serving his clients and sharing marketing ideas with him.  The day was a great experience and I came away with new ideas and attitudes about  how to better serve my clients. I was sharpening my axe.

The surprising and disappointing aspect of the day was how few of my colleagues in my industry attended. There were only 25 people in attendance and only 15 of those attendees are actively involved in the business as promotional consultants (sales). My professional organization UMAPP, has a membership of about 1000 individual members, which represents about 25% of the total companies involved promotional products. It is estimated that there are over 1000 people in Minnesota selling promotional products.

My questions (and concerns) are these: why were there only 15 of us trying to sharpen the axe? Why are only 1.5% of the people in my profession out in the field calling on customers interested in finding new, better ways to serve their customers?  Those are questions for them to answer.

Here are couple question for you to answer. Is the person you work with for promotional products one of the 1.5%?  How would you know?

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Filed under Professionalism, Promo Ideas, Responsibility

Pro Bono as a Marketing Strategy

The Wall Street Journal recently reported on small business trend that is becoming more popular in the current economy – providing volunteer or pro bono services to non-profit organizations in their communities in the hopes that the charity work will produce paying work in the future.
This particular strategy makes sense in today’s marketplace because the slower economy leaves excess capacity on the production floors and in the creative offices in small businesses all around the country. Gail Sullivan of Studio G Architects Inc. sums up her reasons for her pro-bono efforts: “Offering the pro bono services has given us a chance to maintain our design vigor [and] resulted in people hiring us”
Providing charity work in the community gives small businesses an opportunity to keep employees (whom they want to hang on to for when the economy improves) busy while providing value in their communities, keeping their company visible and building new relationships in the non-profit sector of the economy.
This strategy also recognizes that relationships matter more now than ever and that one way to get to know others is to invest your time, talent or treasure into a venture that you both find useful or beneficial.

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Filed under Leadership, Responsibility, Trends

The Best Fertilizer for YOUR Garden

“The best fertilizer for any soil is the shadow of it’s owner” The best looking gardens are created not by chemicals or soil quality but by the sweat of the gardener as they weed, hoe and tend to their plants.

There are two attributes that separate achievers from those who are just getting by. These attributes are a great attitude and taking ownership. Without these two, you have little chance of passing mediocrity, much less attaining excellence. With these two, you can accomplish anything.

The neat thing is, both of these attributes are a matter of choice. Your attitude is comprised (among other things) of your desire to achieve, your vision of where you’re going and how you react to that which happens in the world around you. Books have been written on the subject of attitude. However, ownership (or responsibility) is not talked about quite as much.

Ownership means taking personal responsibility for viewing and handling situations as if you owned them, even if you don’t. In other words, even if you didn’t create the mess, if it affects your results or the results of your employer, you need to take responsibility for cleaning it up.

Do you take ownership of what you do, or do you just put in time as if you’re serving a jail sentence? Do you watch the clock or the bottom line? Ownership means going above and beyond “good enough,” ensuring the job is done at the highest level.

Taking ownership means the difference between someone who dreads what they do, and someone who thrives on what they do, and are proud of their accomplishments after the fact.

When you own something, you take better care of it. You take responsibility for it.

Taking ownership of your little piece of the earth will create better results for you AND your little piece of the earth. Keep in mind that you own your life, your career, and your future success.

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Filed under Goals, Leadership, Responsibility