Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Did you forget something?

It’s not funny. I lose track of stuff all the time. I lost two important flash drives at Starbucks for a whole week. I lost track of my briefcase at a design firm I was working with on a project. (The place isn’t that big either. Believe me.) I go into panic mode when I don’t know where I left my wallet, keys, phone or some guy’s business card. Am I losing my marbles?

Alzheimer's disease is a progressive, degenerative disorder that attacks the brain's nerve cells, or neurons, resulting in loss of memory, thinking and language skills, and behavioral changes. Tragically, I saw my mother succumb to this disease. She died this past year. Ironically, she was always fond of saying “I’ll do anything for you kids as long as you remember.” I hope to God I am only absent-minded but you have to wonder sometimes.

One thing I have to point out before the readers of this article jump to conclusions, I am trying to manage a business all by myself. I am my own brand. I am a company of one. I have no receptionist. I have no secretary. Yet, I am calling on prospects, trying to keep projects on schedule, networking and volunteering. Of course, I am also trying to stay current on personal business - like keeping my car running (in spite of an odometer that had passed 100,000 miles) and paying utility bills.

I have spent most of my working life working for others. Companies have structure and staff you take for granted until you are trying to run your own show. I know what I am doing is not for everybody and maybe it isn’t even right for me. (Some days I wonder.) But, every now and then I make something happen that is remarkable. (If I do say so myself.) Something that would never have happened if it hadn’t been for a little initiative. It is so great to make things happen.

If I can keep track of your wallet, keys, my cell phone and don’t quit – just maybe I will be able to earn my way. How about you?

Friday, February 24, 2012

Generation Next - not the enemy.

My sister-in-law is a human relations executive for a large insurance company. She has become somewhat of an expert in generational training. We are living in a time when three generations are together in the workforce. Each brings different experiences and assumptions. Millennials (born between 1980 and 1995 are in their late teens and 20s), Gen Xers (born in the early 1960s through the early 1980s are in their 30s to 40s) and Baby Boomers (born after WWII are now in their 50s and 60s).

The challenge for Generation X is that they are wedged between two huge generations competing for the same opportunities. The boomers need to hear the message that they have to start focusing more on coaching rather than bossing as millenials emerge. Millenials will not respond well to “You got to do this. You got to do that.” They will walk and every major company knows this group is the future. That approach will not be effective in retaining and training for the future.

As you'd expect there is a whole industry of consultants and experts. They are ready to show companies how to motivate, train and nurture those who are taking over the workplace. As correspondent Morley Safer first reported in 2007, corporate America is so unnerved by all this that companies like Merrill Lynch, Ernst & Young, and scores of others are hiring consultants to teach them how to deal with this generation that only takes "yes" for an answer. It is fascinating when you think about it. What are the next steps for Boomers?  What role will Gen Xer's have on leadership? How will behaviors and trends of Millenials influence organizations?

The workplace, in some cases, has become a psychological battlefield. Millennials have the upper hand, because they are tech savvy. They have a command of every gadget imaginable from smart phones to tablets. They multitask, talk, walk, listen and text. Boomers are seeing the impact of a challenging economy. Growing numbers of displaced, laid-off and underemployed can’t help but wonder if there is a conspiracy of age-discrimination.

Take a few deep breaths. No matter what generation you belong to, try to remember that we all need to find ways to make our lives meaningful and rewarding. Embrace the differences. Love progress that comes with technology. Life is too short. And finally, fellow boomers, remember: You are not what you do but who you are! 

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Good Brands Better

Think of the brands you admire the most. They have personalities and style. They are reliable and trustworthy. They are honest and maybe have a little attitude, but they are fun. The strongest brands pay fanatical attention to detail. Type, color, layout and graphics are managed so that the message is delivered effectively without distraction. As you consider brands you admire most you will see that those brands use design to reinforce a continuity of style and quality. Likewise, the brands you admire most will have a language and cadence to all communication that reflects the culture and essence of the brand. Maybe it is a reflection of their founders or leaders or maybe it is part of how the company or organization that gave birth to the brand came to be.

Design and copy elements are a part of the brand. They should be governed by standards. Graphic Standards for interactive media, print and collateral and boilerplate copy are among the best practice to assure continuity. You want to make sure your brand can continue to thrive and prosper as a leader. Protecting and enhancing the brand improves prospects for the pursuit of market opportunities (from existing and new prospects).

Being faithful to your brand is critical. Every brand is different and unique. Like people, it is the differences that really make things interesting. It takes all kinds of people to make the world go around. You wouldn’t want your doctor to be a comedian in the OR. You wouldn’t want your barber to suddenly become an abstract expressionist artist while cutting your hair and you wouldn’t want your favorite situation comedy to suddenly decide to become a medical documentary. So you want your favorite brands to to behave in appropriate ways too.    

Morgan Studio/East was founded in 2010 with the idea of helping companies “Make Good Brands Better and New Brands Known.” The premise is based on proven success with brands that live up to their brand promise in a way that makes raving fans. Sometimes it takes an outside agent to help you align the brand you are with the marketplace. I want your business, but I will understand if you seek another qualified expert to guide you. I won’t understand if your brand is suffering and you don’t get any help.     

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Commercial Real Estate Crisis Communication

“The go-ahead was given to communicate the message. The gunman was found and the building is secure. There was a recovery program for the witnesses and employees within the building following the incident. Property managers and operations people contacted all employees. There was a huge sense of relief and an eerie bond between those who just survived the experience. The morning after the shooting, teams of psychiatrists and psychologists were called in from a local university mental health and crisis center. Individual and group counseling was provided in the landlord management office. Stories of pain and helplessness and of heroic behavior were shared.”

This is just a part of an account my brother shared with me a while back. He was a property manager for an office building in Tampa when a gunman, who had been an employee of a major tenant in the building, came back to seek revenge for being fired months earlier. He calmly walked past the security guard with his firearms concealed beneath his dark business suit. He proceeded to the café, waited 20 minutes, and then opened fire.

How can anyone be prepared? Naturally, you want to take all necessary precautions to make sure your building is safe and secure. You want to run your building efficiently and safely, but you cannot be fully prepared for everything that might come your way. The important thing is to understand that human tragedy, hurricanes/natural disasters, power/electrical outages and other catastrophic events can and do happen. Before you have to encounter the unthinkable, involve top management, and get organized around a chain of command. Plan how you will manage communication with key stakeholders, the community and the media. Put it in writing, and review it periodically with leaders in your organization.

Seek outside help. Work with a crisis specialist and/or public relations professional, and develop a crisis communications plan. Put it in writing, and review it with your tenants, key stakeholders and your organization. Regardless of what does or does not happen, you will be glad you did this, because you will have some peace of mind.

UPworld posted blog by Wes Morgan on February 8, 2012