Friday, July 21, 2017

A Personal Branding Lament (in verse)

They say I need a personal brand
And should be able to concoct one on demand
But doesn't that just mean
What I want the world to glean
Is a polished veneer of what I say I want to manifest?

Maybe I just want to be my best
With alacrity, panache, and zest
Just like all the rest?
How frustrated I am by this thorny request

Perception over reality
Looking good as the finality
I just want to be met where I am
Even less than a radiant gem
Bereft of the jester’s playful attire
From that I can only retire

Leaving to my inner brokenness to inspire
Only then—and only then
Can I tiptoe across the wire
Building what is
And what might be
Something all can see

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

9 Reasons Why I Want to Live My Life “In the Solution”

I’ve generally been critical and sarcastic for much of my life. I’ve seen how these orientations have impeded my personal and professional development. Granted, these energies also have come in handy. I wouldn’t say I’m jettisoning them entirely. It’s that focusing on what’s wrong—the problem—only has helped me to go so far.  I’ve decided to turn my attention to helping make things better by focusing on the solution. I’ve learned that when I’m “in the solution” 

I more readily accept setbacks and mistakes as inevitable and indispensable for growth.

I’m more inclined to challenge myself and those around me to improve. While there may be a specific end in mind, I see it as one step on an ongoing journey of self-improvement. 

I display energy, perseverance, and positivity.

My energy and enthusiasm attracts others to support my effort.

I seek out and use best practices to achieve my goal.

I seek out and listen to feedback from trusted sources.

I gracefully listen to those who focus on the problem, and/or who cast aspersions on me or my methods. I don’t dismiss what they say nor do I take it personally. I see if there’s any merit to their arguments and incorporate what makes sense. I redirect my energies towards the solution. I refuse to get caught up in negativity or dwelling on the problem. 

I can see new, unexpected possibilities and opportunities.

I learn from the past but don’t fixate on it; instead, I strive to live wholly in the present as I work to realize a better future. And by being in the present, I’m able to put aside fears and worries about what may or may not happen. 

Note that the sample size for my being "in the solution" remains small. I’m still a work in progress. I consider being consistently “in the solution” to be an aspirational goal. I know it’s one well worth the time and energy. 

Friday, April 7, 2017

Management Communication? Yes, MBA Students, We Need To Study It

I teach management communication for MBA programs. I often encounter this reaction from students when I tell them what I do: “I’ve gotten this far in my life. So I must know how to write and speak reasonably well.” These individuals balk at the need for further training and education. They believe they can tackle any strategic communication challenge with their current skills.

This resistance surprises. Employers emphasize strong oral communication skills when selecting candidates. Check out the 2016 GMAC Corporate Recruiters Report and this announcement for more details.  

MBA candidates would never question the need to study finance, contracting, or supply chain management. These arenas are technical. It's impossible to work in them without specialized education (and often experience as well). Most people thus recognize the need for additional knowledge, skill, and experience limits in specialized domains. 

Yet it’s different with management communication. But it shouldn’t be. For one, public speaking and writing are fundamental. An understanding of communication theory and strategies offers an indispensable conceptual framework, moreover. More importantly, you can excel as an engineer—but mediocre communication skills will retard your professional development. 

Second, there’s a lot to know about individual and organizational communication. I’ve studied the subjects for years (and consulted and taught about them as well). I see how much more I need to learn. Third, varied approaches to writing and speaking demand different skills. Business and academic writing, for example, are very different. There's no generic toolkit of communications skills that works across different organizational contexts. Ongoing education and training can help here. 

Finally, routine miscommunication and misunderstandings plague modern workplaces. Both result from poor communication skills. We cultivated them starting with the earliest days in our lives. Dubious practices in different work environments reinforce them. In short, we can’t fall back on mindless, habitual patterns. Nor can ignore the evolving impact of new technologies on our communications activities. We have to unlearn what we've learned. Then we can adopt  current best practices.  

Do excellent communication skills guarantee success in business and life? Not always but successes abound. Writing and speaking skills make the difference. The thoughtful application of relevant theory and practice play a major role as well. In short, MBA students thus should reconsider their perspectives on management communications skill building. They're critical in helping them realize the possibilities inherent when applying the fruits of their education. 

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Managing Social Media Profiles

I’ve spent a lot of time on social media sites over the years. That said, I recognized in late 2016 that my efforts lacked discipline. Two things jumped out at me:

  1. The accuracy and comprehensiveness of my profiles varied. Some were current; others were not. Several offered little more than an email address and phone number. I used several different photos. The profiles also lacked details on work projects, articles, and other information I consider important.
  2. I had included information on many more sites than I had realized. The sheer number complicated my efforts to keep them all updated. 
I began 2017 with an inventory of all social media sites where I had registered. In the process, I divided the list of sites into the following categories:

  • Primary: These are sites where I interact a lot with people who are important to me (e.g., LinkedIn, Facebook)
  • Secondary: These professional and academic organization sites (e.g., ResearchGate, International Leadership Association) are important. But I don’t interact with as many people there.
  • Tertiary: I rarely frequent these sites (e.g., Brandeis University Alumni Association, Speakerpedia). Nonetheless, they provide opportunities to connect. 

I'll move sites from category to category as their relative importance changes. 

I completed this process over a period of weeks. I started by updating the primary sites. I provided as much professional information as allowed. I revisit the content on these sites every month to ensure it remains accurate.

Next, I turned to the secondary sites. I updated these sites to make sure the information was current. Participation in these sites overlaps the ones I included in my primary list. I thus spent most of my time providing links to my primary sites and less on providing the same or similar content. My goal here is to be efficient and effective. I revisit content on these sites once a quarter. 

I visit the tertiary sites at most twice a year. I update information and provide links to my primary sites.

I'm now clear on the relative importance of my social media profiles. I also know they're accurate, updated, and comprehensive. And I have a process to ensure they remain so.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Leadership Development Piece Published in International Journal for Transformative Research

The International Journal of Transformative Research (a peer-reviewed journal) has published my article about leadership development in its December 2016 issue. Go here to download and read it.