Browsing Tag



Listening is Learning

May 17, 2011
Listen - Melvin Gaal

Today’s post is from my friend, Dave Ursillo, who has an incredible outlook on life and approach to leadership. I have never asked anyone to guest post before, but Dave’s message was so resonant with me, I couldn’t help but share. Special thanks to Dave for the post!


“Those who know don’t talk. Those who talk don’t know.” ~Lao Tsu, Tao te Ching

Life has gotten loud.

From the moment we wake up in the morning and until we finally drift off into sleep at night, we are bombarded by a nearly constant stream of noise, commotion and loudness.

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Social Media Strategy


February 1, 2011
Brandon Sutton and the Spirit of the Gulf Coast Documentary Team

When I first went back on my own in the consulting business, I needed to revamp my online presence.  There was a laundry list a mile long of things to be done, but one of the biggest things on the list was to create a name for my blog and an accompanying tag line.  The blog title I was never a huge fan of – Embracing Community, but the tag line I really liked.  The words Listen, Imagine, Connect, and Inspire sum up the way I approach business and the process I go through with my clients during the strategic planning process.

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Spirit of the Gulf Coast Exhibition

October 14, 2010

My experience with Spirit of the Gulf Coast is culminating in a public Exhibition tonight (10.14), and I’m feeling the incredible rush of energy that I only get when really big things are on the horizon.  The night before our trip down to the coast in August, I stayed up very late and got barely any sleep before we left.  It’s now 4:08am, and I’m still not ready to call it just yet.  See, when I sink my teeth into something, it’s hard for me to let go, even if it means pushing myself beyond anything I think I’m capable of.

Spirit of the Gulf CoastI’ve been fortunate to have some incredibly passionate people around me throughout this process of learning and discovery.  Perhaps most exciting to me is that most of them I have only known for a short time.  It’s been very rewarding to meet people with similar passions and have them jump right into something as challenging as this initiative.  I feel extremely lucky to have this incredibly inspirational creative energy in my life right now.

Today is a big day for me.  The auditorium that we’re holding our event in seats ~350 people, and I’m expecting it to be pretty full if not over capacity.  This will mark my first time speaking to a group this size and there is definitely some pressure there, but for some reason, I’m really not worried about that aspect of this experience.  I feel very comfortable with the material, and I am looking forward to getting up there and sharing my truth in front of a crowd of people that are coming out to hear about our experience along the Gulf Coast.

I have to continually remind myself that everything is going to work out perfectly, and I don’t need to second guess any decisions I’ve made up until this point.  I’m really good at beating myself up for the ‘should have done’ or ‘could have done’ things, but this time around I really don’t know how I could have done much to make this any better than it’s turning out to be, given the resources I had to work with.

Spirit of the Gulf CoastPart of this for me is pushing the envelope on what’s possible.  I’m pretty good about that actually, and what we are producing (with essentially no budget) is quite remarkable, all things considered! I have to remind myself and the rest of the team often that this is a volunteer initiative and the fact that we’re doing it in the first place is a big deal.  Whatever we can do to make it great from here is the icing on top.

Nothing I’ve ever worked on in my entire life has felt this fulfilling or important.  It’s been an incredible journey thus far, and I know that it’s only going to get more exciting as the day unfolds.  I haven’t really given myself much of a break lately, and that part of it isn’t healthy for me, no doubt.  I can’t imagine not doing this actually, so waking up on Friday without a major rush to produce something like this event is going to seem pretty unusual I suspect.

Earlier, I had the opportunity to look at one of the film edits that Nathan has put together for tomorrow’s exhibition.  I am honestly blown away by how powerful the documentary is turning out to be! There is one section that I got a little emotional over, which I was really not expecting.  Nathan’s a very talented individual, and it’s been amazing to work on this with him.  I also got some great input from Kim on the action items that we’re going to leave people with at the end of tomorrow’s event.  She’s been burning the midnight oil as well, and I know she’s really excited to see all this come together.

On that note, I’m going to call it a night (or morning), and get a few hours of sleep.  If you are in Atlanta Thursday night (10.14), I really encourage you to check this out.  It’s going to be quite a night!

Thanks for following along.

Photos courtesy of Terrell Clark

Social Media Strategy

Desire and 2010

December 31, 2009

I wanted to share a couple of quick thoughts today on some of the things I would like to see in 2010.  I suppose this is a combination of predictions and desires, and hopefully this will resonate with others and bring forth some new connections as well.

New Mexico March 2009Listening
I posted about this last week, but I hope more organizations will embrace listening as a strategic imperative in 2010.  Here’s the full post if you want to check it out.

There has been much discussion and debate on privacy in social media and what degree is appropriate, and how this is managed.  I think that we are becoming much more open as a society overall, and my desire is that individuals and businesses keep an open mind and imagine what it might be like if all participants were truly allowed to be themselves.  Instead of trying to ‘manage’ or ‘hide’ information about ourselves, wouldn’t it be more productive if we focused on how we can all benefit from this new paradigm of ‘public’ being the new default?  Stowe Boyd had an excellent post about this topic yesterday that I thought I would share here.  I highly recommend you check out Stowe’s post and consider how this thinking might impact you or your organization now and in the future.

Social Responsibility
I believe that we’re going to see even more emphasis on social responsibility in 2010 and CPG companies in particular are going to need to adapt to this new reality and be more forthcoming on what effects their products have on the environment, the people that use them, and the people whose work make them possible.  Beyond CPG though, I hope that all organizations will think more about the impact they have on the world and adapt to the needs and desires of the people they serve more readily.

Businesses become ‘Social’ by nature
I hope to see social thinking embraced at all levels of organizations in 2010, not just the Marketing, PR, and Customer Service departments.  Everyone can participate and provide value to the organization through their individual and collective social channels – it just takes a little courage and forward thought to tap into this resource.  Hopefully we will see more social tools utilized behind the firewall as well.  Connecting people and gathering insights has a place in every department, and the organizations that embrace this concept now will likely be the big winners in the future.

These are just a few quick thoughts on what I would like to see more of in 2010. What do you think?  Do you have any specific desires for 2010 that you would like to share?

Thanks and have a Happy New Year!

photo: US Hwy 64/87 in New Mexico taken 3.21.09 on my iPhone

Social Media Strategy

2010 – The Year of Listening?

December 23, 2009

We are almost ready to sign off on 2009, and wow – what a year!  I’ve read many excellent posts that discuss predictions for 2010, and there are definitely a lot of great ideas being discussed on this topic.  The year of mobile, the year of mass adoption of social media, the year of geo-targeting, etc.  These are all exciting, and I can’t wait to see where it all leads.  But for now, I wanted to highlight 1 thing that I believe is the most critical aspect for all organizations to embrace in 2010.  Listening.

We hear about listening and its importance in social media, and I believe that organizations that are still struggling to make sense out of the social media space (or indeed the entirety of the changing media landscape) would be doing themselves the biggest favor by simply making a concerted effort to listen.  Powerful things happen when we listen, but perhaps more importantly it’s the thing that happens after we listen that matters most.  Thinking about what we’ve heard is critical before just jumping in and starting to talk back.

This concept plays out in personal dialogue all the time, and most of us can be better listeners, myself certainly included.  Think about how you interact with other people either face to face or over the phone – do you listen to what the other person is saying to you and take the time to process their thoughts before articulating your response, or do you jump right in as soon as there is a pause?  Worse yet, do you interrupt people as they are speaking and try to finish their sentences or interject your thought before you forget it?  We’ve all been there, on both sides of that situation and it’s a bad habit that inhibits our relationships with others.

The same holds true for business.  If we are constantly interrupting without processing what the community is telling us, then we are not really present in the conversation.  The value in truly listening is incalculable.  Everything we need to figure out what to do next is all there, we just have to be open to discovering it and we have to take the time to process the information and think, not react.  Everyone approaches this in a different way, but I think a critical factor is that we give ourselves permission to think.  Take time.  Turn off your email.  Turn off TweetDeck, Seesmic, HootSuite, or whatever monitoring tool you use.  Take a walk.  Meditate.  Go for a run.  Do whatever it is that you have to do to get your head around the information.  Then come back and discuss your ideas with your team.  You’ll have lots of great data and insights to back you up, which will help you build your case.  Does this make sense?

So many people in Marketing are trying to figure out what to do in social media in 2010, or how they can get their bosses to buy into it/assign budgets, etc.  If you are in that situation and you need to convince your company to engage, I think the single most effective thing you can do is to get them to listen to what is happening in your community or industry without committing to any particular course of action.  Propose that they sign up for a Radian6 account, or whatever monitoring tool you prefer.  Don’t worry about what you are going to do next – that’s what the thinking stage is for.  Just listen.  Take time.  Maybe it’s days, weeks, a month or more.  The point is that by listening and capturing information and then taking the time to think about what you’ve heard without pressuring yourself or your organization to have the answers immediately, you will be in a much better position to engage your boss, your staff, your customers, etc. in a way that will resonate and provide value to everyone involved.

What do you think?  Can 2010 be the year of listening?