25 Simple Ways to Celebrate Earth Day

Earth Day

Celebrate Earth Day

 

“The earth has music for those who listen.”-William Shakespeare

 

Watching and reading the news can increase our tension and stress. We see so much that fills our mind with worry. We see divides between people, between countries, and between ideas.

But there is far more that brings us together than divides us.

When I interviewed astronaut Ron Garan, I was struck by his orbital perspective. What better way to appreciate our planet than from space? You certainly realize how interdependent we are on each other and on planet Earth.

In our busy lives, it is a challenge to learn to gain perspective. Whether through deep breathing, meditation, prayer, or mindfulness, we all find ways to separate ourselves from the day-to-day stress and refocus on what matters.

 

Fact: the UN declared April 22 as International Mother Earth Day.

 

Today is Earth Day. For me, it’s a reminder of the beauty of our planet, of our interconnectedness, of our responsibility to take care of the environment.

And, in honor of Earth Day, here are just a few ways that we can celebrate our planet:

 

Celebrate Planet Earth

 

Spend time in nature.

Plant a tree.

 

“He that plants trees loves others beside himself.”-Thomas Fuller

 

Eat vegetarian.

Start recycling.

Look for ways to save energy.

Pick up litter.

Say no to plastic bags.

 

Fact: Each year we throw out enough plastic to circle Earth 4x.

 

Read more online and reduce printing.

Go off-grid and turn off your electronics.

Get a programmable thermostat.

 

Fact: the first Earth Day was in 1970.

 

Fix leaky faucets.

Use rechargeable batteries.

Take a walk outside.

 

Fact: Walking improves concentration and creativity.

 

Use a reusable water bottle.

Clean out your garage and donate to local charities.

Opt out of junk mail.

 

Fact: 100 million trees are destroyed to produce junk mail each year.

Is a Talent Assessment Missing From Your Strategy?

Talent Assessment
This is a guest post by friend and mentor Bruce Rhoades, who retired after having run several companies. He often helps me with strategy. I am delighted that he is a regular contributor.

 

Does your organization possess the skills necessary to successfully implement your strategic plan?

 

Strategic Planning Is Not Enough

Organizations invest a lot of time, talent and money in a strategic planning process. They carefully consider market segments, opportunities, trends and competition. Then they develop strategic initiatives and projects. They examine assets, products, pricing, costs, headcount, revenue projections and develop detailed 3 -5 year projections. Sometimes shareholder value and market value models are created.

 

“One often-overlooked aspect of a talent assessment is leadership.” –Bruce Rhoades

 

I have spent considerable time with organizations on strategy, planning and process as strategy officer, as interim CEO for several companies and as a consultant. I am surprised how often the entire process misses a key element of strategy:  a strategic talent assessment.

If the organization does not actually possess the key skills to execute the strategy, what skills are needed and how can they be obtained? No matter what process is used for strategy development, a strategic talent assessment is needed before “dropping the flag” on execution.

 

“A strategic talent assessment examines the skills needed to execute.” –Bruce Rhoades

 

What is a Talent Assessment?

Simply stated, a strategic talent assessment examines the organizational skills needed to execute the strategy. It should include:

  • Necessary skills to assess the market needs, attractiveness, competition and size
  • The know-how to define, plan and price the product
  • Type of talent to actually develop the product
  • Competence needed to market, sell and deliver the product
  • Skills to provide customer readiness and adoption
  • Expertise needed to provide service to customers for products
  • Leadership talent to actually execute and deliver the strategic initiative
  • Certain cultural elements of the organization: decisiveness, accountability, delegation, results, etc.

 

“If the necessary talent is not present, the strategy is flawed.” –Bruce Rhoades

 

Performing a Talent Assessment

Ideally, the assessment should be performed when key strategic initiatives are identified. It is especially important to assure that the talent is available to assess the market and opportunity at the next level of detail before committing major resources.

The assessment should be performed at a sufficient level of detail to enable successful execution. Avoid a tendency to categorize talent at high, abstract levels. A good test for the level of detail is to imagine that you are trying to hire a person with these skills — how would you identify that the person possesses the skills? For example, do not just indicate “technology skills” but specify the exact technology skills. Likewise, do not indicate “sales” but what type of sales skills – consumer, consultative, B2B, etc.

One often-overlooked aspect of a talent assessment is leadership. Even if all the necessary talent resides in the organization, execution will fail if leadership is absent. We have all seen a sports team with an abundance of individual talent but with no leadership to get the talented individuals to perform and deliver as a team.

 

“Even if the necessary talent is present, execution fails without leadership.” –Bruce Rhoades

 

The result of the talent assessment should be a “skills gap” matrix that lists the skills currently resident in the organization and the skills needed to execute the strategy. They can even be ranked critical, important, necessary, etc. The “skills gap” matrix should be used as a guide to acquire the necessary talent.

One gap that often occurs in current strategies is when organizations want to utilize “big data analytics” in products, marketing or sales but actually have no resident skills in analytics, statistics, large database technology or modeling.

Another example is when organizations want to capitalize on “social media” but have scarce skills in the organization that actually understand how to best use social media to reach their goals.

 

“Execution before the proper skills are in place can waste resources and damage credibility.” –Bruce Rhoades 

 

How to Remedy the Strategic Talent Gap

How Busy Authors Market Books In An Online World

Busy Authors

Are you an aspiring author?

Have you written a book but need some marketing tips?

How do you get the message out about your work?

 

How to Increase Online Effectiveness

Today it’s not only about the manuscript but also about how to get the word out about your book. Online marketing and social media have upended the traditional methods to market an author. Today, your effectiveness online is crucial to the success of your book.

In my own experience in the book business, I have seen the shift to social media and the rise of the author’s platform as major marketing tools. One of the notable experts in this field is Fauzia Burke. Fauzia is the founder and president of FSB Associates, an online publicity and marketing firm specializing in creating awareness for books and authors. She’s the author of Online Marketing for Busy Authors: A Step-by-Step Guide. Fauzia has promoted the books of authors such as Alan Alda, Arianna Huffington, Deepak Chopra, Melissa Francis, S. C. Gwynne, Mika Brzezinski, Charles Spencer and many more.

I recently asked Fauzia to share her wisdom about the best ways to market a book online.

 

“Efforts and courage are not enough without purpose and direction.” -John F. Kennedy

 

You’ve personally witnessed online developments from inception to today’s social and mobile world. Compare and contrast today to pre-online. How is the world different for authors today?

Oh, wow. Everything has changed . . . the most significant being that there’s never been a better time to be an author. Now, for the first time in the history of publishing, authors have direct access to their readers. Social media has changed the publishing landscape. While there is more competition in the marketplace today, there are more opportunities than ever before.

The new accessibility of social media allows authors to reach their audience directly, and this makes a long-term online marketing strategy absolutely essential for authors. The key to success for authors today is to build and grow their platform long-term. If they earn the trust of their readers, they can do anything.

 

“There’s never been a better time to be an author.” –Fauzia Burke

 

Common Misconceptions

What are some of the biggest misconceptions authors have when it comes to book publicity?

Many people feel book publicity is not quantifiable. I disagree with that notion. We can absolutely quantify the effects of publicity. When book publicity works, we see an increase in sales. Today, we can also judge the value by an increase in social media visibility and more traffic to an author’s site. Unfortunately, we can’t often duplicate success or land book sales each time. How a book resonates with its audience is magic. We can’t make people buy a book, a fact that is more frustrating to us as publicists than to anyone.

The other misconception is that there is a short launch period when an author gets media hits and goes on a book tour, and then an author moves on until the next book. That is just not the case anymore. Book publicity is a marathon, not a sprint. Authors are expected to engage with their readers whether they have a book to push or not.

Josh Charles, an actor on the TV series The Good Wife said when he exited the show: “I think that the beauty of social media is the ability to stay in touch with the fans and share with them what they’re going through and let them know that I’m there and the character may be gone, but I’m still involved in the show.” Authors too start a conversation with their community that is ongoing and lasting. It can’t stop at the end of a book tour.

 

“How a book resonates with its audience is magic.” –Fauzia Burke

 

3 Must Do’s for Authors

What are the top 3 “must do’s” for an author?

  1. Work on an online marketing strategy. The few authors that have become huge bestselling successes without a digital or social strategy are anomalies. Most of us need to work on online branding every day for the success of our businesses, books and careers. I encourage authors to develop their online brands. Online marketing is not about selling; it’s about making buying easier. It’s about forming real connections.
  2. Authors need to have a professional website. Your website will be your home base for your digital marketing efforts, and it is critical to your credibility. People do judge a book by its cover and an author’s expertise and quality of their writing by the look of their website.
  3. Be patient. If you are a little overwhelmed by the rapidly changing world of online marketing, you are not alone. Remember all of us, experts and novice, are learning as we go. You don’t have to become a social media strategist to be effective. By using the most important online marketing outlets for your audience in a targeted way, your book, brand and bottom line will benefit.

 

“No matter what your pursuit, the most fulfilling part is sharing it with others.” -Eli Broad

 

Social Media Engagement is a Privilege

My perception is that, after writing the book, most authors breathe a sigh of relief and think “It’s done!” and then they learn the real work is ahead of them. Is that your experience? How do you ease them into the reality of what’s ahead?online-marketing-for-busy-authors-sidebar

Ah, yes. Of course, for every author, writing their book is a labor of love and incredibly hard work, and so understandably they exhale a sigh of relief when the book writing process is finished. It’s tough to immediately say, “Wait until you see the work that’s still ahead.” We all complain about social media because it’s time consuming, but it’s the way the world has changed, and as authors, we need to change with it. We have to adapt. Once authors embrace the need to change with the times, I tell them some good news:

  • You don’t have to do everything.
  • You don’t have to constantly switch directions to follow the next shiny thing.
  • You get an unprecedented opportunity to build a community of interested readers who want to support your success.

It’s really a privilege to be able to talk to people and form relationships with your readers. I think authors breathe a sigh of relief when they realize the best way to engage effectively online is to be authentic.

 

“It’s a privilege to be able to talk to people and form relationships with your readers.” –Fauzia Burke

 

Stand Out with a Strong Personal Brand

Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body.”

Joseph Addison

A Guide to Getting Results Without Losing Your Soul

Winning Well

A Management Guide to Winning

How do you create an environment that encourages teamwork and creativity? 

As a manager, do you need to choose between results or relationships?

Is it possible to create sustainable results instead of thinking only of the next quarter?

 

“Winning well is all about achieving the bottom line while inspiring the human spirit.” –Hurt/Dye

 

In a practical guidebook, authors Karin Hurt and David Dye share solutions for managers who want both a meaningful work experience and results. Karin is the founder of Let’s Grow Leaders and David of Trailblaze, Inc. Both Karin and David are focused on helping leaders improve their productivity and effectiveness. Their new book, Winning Well: A Manager’s Guide to Getting Results—Without Losing Your Soul is chock full of advice for managers looking to take their game to a higher level.

After reading their new book, I asked them to share their research and experience.

 

“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.” –Helen Keller

 

Become A Winning Well Manager

You share a few different management styles and then discuss the “winning well manager.” What distinguishes this type of person? Is it possible for anyone to become that type of manager?

Used by permission. Used by permission.

Managers who win well bring confidence and humility in equal measure and focus on both results and relationships.

Where the other three manager types tend to focus on short-term goals, managers who win well have a longer time horizon. They build teams that will produce results today as well as next year.

Managers who win well build healthy professional relationships with their employees. They maintain high expectations for results in a supportive environment where people can grow and take healthy risks.

They master the art of productive meetings, delegation, and problem solving. They run meetings that people consider a good use of time. These managers practice steady, calm accountability along with celebration.

As a result, their employees tend to stick around (often until they get promoted), and there is a steady line of people wanting to work for them.

 

“If you’ve communicated something once, you haven’t communicated.” –Hurt/Dye

 

Create Genuine Connections

If a new manager takes over a team and sees that it is a low-energy environment where people barely get through the day, how does she turn them into an energetic, sustainable team?

We offer a lot of tools and techniques in our book, but it all starts with creating a genuine connection with your people. Start with building relationships and get to know them as human beings. Then help them see why the work they are doing is so meaningful and vital to the larger mission of the organization.

Building a foundation of real trust and genuine connection makes all the difference. Take time to understand and cultivate their intrinsic motivation.

 

Use Confidence Bursts to Build Momentum

How do the best managers set expectations in that perfect zone, setting a goal that’s not impossible, causing demotivation, but also not a layup, causing the team to stretch?

Winning Well managers do set aggressive goals but they also work to make those goals feel achievable. One of our favorite techniques is the use of “confidence bursts” or breaking down expectations by focusing on a single behavior during a finite period of time to build confidence and momentum.

The idea is to create a full-court press of the given behavior to prove what is possible at individual and organizational levels.Winning Well Bookcover

Build a temporary scaffold of support around employees with lots of extra attention, skill-building, fun, recognition, and celebration. The risk is low—it’s just one day and it doesn’t feel like a big commitment to change. Once people experience success with the behavior, their confidence improves, and the ceiling of what they perceive as possible moves a little higher.

Every time we’ve done this, the results have been head-turning and remarkable. The best part comes in the afterglow discussion: If you (and we) can make this much magic on this day, why not every day?

We find that a few sets of these intervals spaced one month apart can lead to remarkable and lasting results.

You’ll know the behavior has sunk in when the impact of these “burst days” begins to dwindle but the overall results stay high. The behaviors have become so frequent that the extrinsic motivation is no longer necessary. The value in the behaviors has become an intrinsic choice.

 

We’ve all seen managers struggle with either too much empathy (and thus accepting excuses or not removing a team member) or not enough empathy (cold, uncaring). What tactics have you seen work to coach in this area?