Archive for Bea Fields

How Do You Define a Leadership Brand?

That was the question that Bea Fields, a top leadership coach, asked 14 business leaders. I’m flattered that she included me in that group.

There were a variety of answers, as you might expect. She printed them, including mine, in her post Gaining Loyal Customer By Building a Strong Leadership Brand.

Bea’s Definition

Bea’s summarized own take on the question as follows, “When you build a brand based on true, enduring leadership, each person in the company not only speaks about the brand and the promises you make to your customers in your marketing strategies… each person in your company truly lives those promises every day in both their personal and professional lives…”

What is Your Definition?

Both personal and company branding can be confounding to define. How do you define your leadership brand? Don’t be shy. Please leave a comment below.

So You Want to Start a Blog?

[tweetmeme]I love blogging and, if you’re a regular visitor to my site, you know how important I think a blog is to a company’s social media strategy. Lately, because they know I’m a blogger, several business colleagues have approached me about how to start a blog and what’s involved.  So let me give you my first, and most important tip:

Starting a blog is easy. Continuing to blog is hard work.

Here is my story: At the beginning of 2009 a friend suggested I start writing a blog. She had just begun and was having some fun with it. Blogging hadn’t been on my radar screen, but I thought I’d give it a try. I went to Word Press to register for a wordpress.com account. This is what I would call the plain vanilla blog. It’s quite easy to set up. You can upload your own image for a masthead, and they make it easy to resize. You go into the dashboard and start writing. Push a button and – voila! – you’ve written and published your first blog. Seemed simple enough and I wrote a few blog posts and really liked it.

Learning the mechanics

But the plain vanilla blog has its limitations – like no plugins (these are thingamajigs that add functionality – for example, if you bought a stripped-down car you would want to add basic things like a radio, air-conditioning, and automatic windows). So I decided to switch to a self-hosted blog and went to Word Press.org to download a template. For a larger selection of designs, you can also buy a premium template for about $79 at ithemes.com. Instead of the Word Press organization hosting your blog you pay for your own host. I use HostGator.

Are you with me? This is where it gets a little complicated. By sheer coincidence, just about this time, I was having coffee with a friend who mentioned that she had just finished a blogging course online and said it had helped her greatly. The new course was just starting and I decided to register.

It was a life-changing experience, as I’ve said many times.

I finished the 12-week webinar and have since taken other courses with my blogging coach Bea Fields. If you’re starting a self-hosted blog, unless you are super technical – and I’m not, I didn’t know a plugin from a vacuum cleaner when I started – you will need help to learn the mechanics. A blog is a content management system. That means you can go “under the hood,” as I like to say, and fix things yourself – add new copy, insert hyperlinks and images, move copy around your sidebars, add widgets – but you need to know how. It’s a commitment. And I’d like to recommend to you the course I took.

Become a Blogging Maniac

You can find tutorials online but, trust me, you will not find a better, or more reasonably priced course than Become a Blogging Maniac. The three-week Jump Start Program (to get you up and running) starts, Monday, April 4th. The 12-week intensive program follows. Don’t worry, if you miss a program they are all recorded and you can watch when you have time.  (I am not an affiliate and do not receive any money for this recommendation). The cost for both?  $117. The best money you’ll ever spend.

I just want you to become the best darn blogger you can be.

Remember how I began this post? I told you starting is easy, but to become a proficient blogger you have to work hard at learning the “trade.”  If you want a blog to greatly enhance your business and burnish your brand, then you need to be writing at least weekly. But a blog is also your springboard to other social media sites. You can automatically distribute each blog post to LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and a bunch of other locations. Plus it’s a portfolio of your points of view on important topics and where you can promote your business.

Blogging has been hard work, and continues to be. But, I wouldn’t change a minute of the last 2-1/2 years. It’s been a great ride. I love it and I hope you will, too.

 

The New Leadership Paradigm: Rule by Community

"Hosni Mubarak"

Hosni Mubarak

The riots in Cairo have reinforced the movement exemplified by the Tea Party in the U.S. – leadership by community.  It is the new leadership paradigm — the spontaneous formation of new communities of leaders, made possible by the power of the Internet.  The old paradigm of one leader at the top of the leadership pyramid is crumbling everywhere. We’ll talk later about what this new paradigm means for business.  But, first, let’s learn from what’s happening in Cairo where it is chaos and bloodshed and events are unfolding by the minute.

The Power of Twitter and Facebook

The images from Cairo on TV are frightening and Twitter is again center stage with a continuous stream of updates, many with links to videos from the scene.  Here’s how it all started:

Before the Egyptian government shut down popular networking sites, many thousands of disaffected young Egyptians joined the Facebook community entitled We are all Khaled Said, which called for the downfall of the current regime and where members post updates of events on the ground in real time.

According to Newsweek, “The anonymous Facebook page administrator who goes by the handle El Shaheed, meaning martyr, has played a crucial role in organizing the demonstrations, the largest Egypt has seen since the 1970s, that now threaten the country’s authoritarian regime.”

No One is in Charge – Everyone is in Charge

 

Yet, through the coverage of this historic uprising, you learn there is no one leader in charge. Instead, a spontaneous community of protestors has literally linked arms in the “march of millions.” They have coalesced around a unified theme – changing the regime. They want better lives for themselves. It’s as simple as that.

As one my favorite leadership gurus, John Kotter says, “leadership is about coping with change.”  By his definition, Egypt’s long-time ruler Hosni Mubarak failed to recognize the terrain shifting under his feet. He lost his leadership role, not because he was overthrown by another leader or in a military coup, but because power had spontaneously transferred to rule by the community. Now he’s being forced out and it’s gotten ugly and brutal as he tries to hang on to power, at least for now.

In the U.S., the Tea Party movement is another community that emerged and coalesced around the common goal of bringing change to government they thought had become too big and intrusive.  Luminaries like Sarah Palin and Rush Limbaugh at first appeared to assume the mantle for the Tea Party, but no one single leader has emerged.  Yet, loosely affiliated local Tea Party groups are toppling existing office holders and pushing through changes in how cities, states and the federal government operate.

What This Means for Business Leaders

So what has this got to do with our business leaders as they “cope with change,” as Kotter puts it.  Anybody who ever doubted that the old “command and control” model is dead just needs to examine the paradigm shift in Egypt and U.S. politics. My view is that the corporate CEO is now just another member of the broad community in his or her organization. Companies that openly invite employees to share their ideas for innovation to make the organization smarter, more competitive and more profitable will be the big-time winners.

The Journal Register Company is a great example of how a company unleashed employees to give it a new lease on life.  The company owns 170 publications, including 18 daily newspapers in major markets including Philadelphia, Detroit and Cleveland. In a blog post to employees in December, CEO John Patton wrote:

“Folks, in 2010 you proved that a tired, old, broken down and bankrupt newspaper company like the Journal Register Company could be turned around. You proved that a company’s strength resided in its employees and not its infrastructure of buildings, trucks and I.T. The wonderful Ben Franklin Project proved that determined employees could find the strength and energy to innovate — and you published daily newspapers and websites using only free web-based tools. You proved that while many in the newspaper industry might be devoid of ideas you were not and the ideaLab was born.”

Google is another company that carves out time for employees to go off and think about new ideas. Look where they are.

The revolt in Egypt is a vivid and brutal example that leadership by fiat is dead. Anyone disagree that we’re experiencing a new leadership paradigm?

Connecting with Perfect Strangers; The Internet as Matchmaker

"Perfect strangers connecting"

Perfect strangers connecting

[tweetmeme]I’ve just added another perfect stranger to my blogging team.  He’s John Sawyer, and I met him on LinkedIn, specifically the Word Press Group.  He was among a group of strangers who were offering me advice when I ran into problems upgrading WordPress to the newest version.

He was so helpful I paid him to get me going again.  Now he’s my friend.  Have you noticed that you can become almost instant friends with perfect strangers you meet on the Internet?  I mean real people you want to have in your life.  The Internet has become a matchmaker.

There’s Bea Fields who was and still is my blogging coach and one of the most helpful and giving people I know.  I’ve never met her, but it hardly matters.  We talk every week on her “Blogging Mentor” program where other strangers I have never met convene to share tips.  I don’t want to forget Nina East, who set up my first blog for me.  Or Jeff Simpkins, a banking consultant whom I met through Bea and who co-hosts a weekly webinar with cool speakers on social media and other business topics.  Annie Hart is another pal who believes story telling can change the world.  Pat Weber is a new friend I connected with on LinkedIn’s Bloggers Helping Bloggers Group.  We’re cooking up an idea (that I won’t give away) for a series of guest posts on each others’ blogs.

Masses of Communicators

As I soon as I publish this, I’m sure I’ll remember a few more people I should have included (I’ll come back and add them).  But social media is taking the word “stranger” and modifying its meaning from “a person with whom one has had no personal acquaintance” to “a person one has not met in person.”  IBM’s social media policy coins a new term about their employees on social networks, “these individual interactions represent a new model:  not mass communications, but masses of communicators.” That is what we have become, masses of perfect strangers interacting with other individuals, learning about each other, influencing each others’ behaviors — and changing the world?