Showing posts from April, 2011

10 Fears Creative People Share - And How To Overcome Them

Myth: The world is divided into "creatives" and "non-creatives."Fact: Everybody, everybody, everybody is creative in some form or fashion. Has nothing whatsoever to do with art. Deep down inside a person is a talent that at its core is not just mechanical repetition of what has gone before. But one generates a new kind of offering. Something the world has never seen before. Even a soldier, born to fight, is creative in his or her own way.The problem is, somewhere early in life, most people are squashed into conformity. Squelched. Smushed. Drowned. In a sea of you-shoulds, you-wills, threats mild and overt, economic or psychological or spiritual deprivation. In the laughably ineffective memorization pit that is much of traditional education.The part of us that is creative, once it is squelched, does not go away. No. Instead it lays in wait within a person's being. It actually fights to get out. Like water or sunlight peering behind a rock. And the very moment th…

Template for communication metrics - easy to use, simple to adapt, free

Note: The cut and paste into the blog doesn't look so great, but the Excel format is workable. Please take a look and let me know what you think or how you might improve on it.

You'll have to go to
GovLoop (joining is required) to get the Excel version and Posterous to get the PDF version.

Good luck!

- Dannielle Blumenthal

The ABCD Customer Satisfaction SurveyA Free Template You Can Use, Adapt, Remix and IntegrateCreated by Dannielle Blumenthal (@thinkbrandfirst) 4/29/2011Note: this worksheet has 3 tabsProject Title: Sample Project 1Item #CategoryMeaningRanking1 - Poor2 - Average3 - Excellent1Awareness Audience has increased knowledge2AttitudeAudience has positive reaction3Action Audience buys or complies4BrandingConsistent graphic/message/font5Cost effectivenessProject executed within budget6Customer serviceCommunication team responsive to requests7CommunicationOpen, honest, constant flow of information8CoordinationTeam members work together synergistically9DeadlinesDelive…

Internal Communications: An Essential Investment in Crisis Prevention

Who knows better what’s going on inside a home: The people actually living within its walls? Or the neighbors, friends, Facebook friends and LinkedIn contacts?
The people living there, of course.

Same goes for an organization: Is it the employees who are best-informed? Or the customers, the investors, the regulators and the media?

There again – it is the employees, at some level, who know the story first and better than “outsiders” do.

Internal stakeholders – read employees – know what’s going on. They also care – a lot. Because their sustenance depends on things going well at work.

So it is not only stupid, but can be organizationally suicidal, to ignore what they have to say. Or to punish them for constructively and appropriately trying to communicate information that can save the organization from itself.

Going back to the family analogy: When I was a kid I lived in a house with a winding staircase. You could sit at the top of the stairs on the second floor and listen to what was going o…

20 Ways To Be More Likable

Likability. It's something we're all worried about, because to survive we must have the approval of at least some other people. 
The good news is you have a lot more power than you think to make people like you. And it doesn't cost any money at all to do most of these things.
The bad news is that to become more likable, you'll probably have to change. Since the fact that you worry about this means that you're doing some stuff incorrectly. But that's is about learning and growing.
Here are the top 20 pieces of advice I would give to someone who wants to be more likable - in no particular order because they're all important:  Stop judging other people harshly. Karma is like that - bad energy to others means hatred of you; goodwill results in likability. It's OK to disapprove of a certain behavior. But if you do that, have in the back of your head some kind thought as well. Two examples: "Most people are doing the best they can to survive,&…

A Movie About Product Placement That Gets Its Funding From Product Placement

It's a tongue-in-cheek movie by Morgan Spurlock (of "Supersize Me" fame) about product placement.

But like an onion, or a Russian doll, it has layers and layers beneath that.

* A layer about brands, and how inescapable they are today.

* A layer about the non-reality caused by living in a marketing society.

* But perhaps most strikingly, a layer about how everyone and everything is suddenly up for sale - even a documentary maker who is chiding the deceptive practice that is funding his work.

Check out the trailer:

Here is a link to DC showtimes this weekend. If you see it, I'd be interested to know what you think.

It’s About Learning to Try

I remember when I was five.

We lived in a nice little house in New Jersey. I used to stand in the doorway by the back yard with my father and feed the birds.

One day I came home from school and my mother dropped the "m-bomb":
“We are moving, pack your things.”
I don’t remember anything else.

When I was a kid, we moved a lot. It was the life of a consultant’s daughter.

So it’s a little bit hard for me to take concrete goals seriously.

When I graduated college I got a scholarship to study sociology in a Ph.D. program. I remember that I was completely surprised. They called my old roommate to tell me – and by some miracle she hadn’t lost my telephone number.

So much of our lives happens in this way. Unpredictable, fortuitous or seemingly accidental. So much out of our control. As they say, “Man (woman) plans and G-d laughs.”

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t set goals. It’s not about achieving anything in particular, in my view. You can throw a hundred darts at the board and only hit it o…

Awards Are The Best Motivator

A group of us at work received an award recently for mission support - generally for collaboration between Public Affairs and Information Technology. Our shared goal: deliver information the public wants and needs.

I know nobody cares about somebody else's award. But I just wanted to share this. Because I don't need to win them all. Just once in awhile, and I'm inspired to keep on trying despite all the challenges.

That's what I want to say to whoever reads this. Hope you will keep up the spirit - never, ever give up. Award or not.

P.S. This is my own post, not an official one.

Think Your Way Out of a Dictatorship

Confronted with dictators and their dysfunctional organizations from the outside, people usually express surprise:"How did this one person rise to such a position? Why does anyone go along with this?" From the inside, the very same situation seems obvious: "Oh, it's always been like that." After awhile, people don't even blink to acknowledge it.The difference between the dysfunctional group and the functional one is insularity.Keeping to oneself, never letting in an outsider, never learning from best practices, refusing training, staying away from conferences, avoiding networking with unfamiliar people, shunning social media networks, and being too busy even to crack a book or a magazine that you usually don't read --All of these are a breeding ground for mental bacteria. The kind that thrive on dictatorship. Insular thinking, because it leaves you unaware of common norms, strips you of confidence. You end up wanting to be told what to do, often abusive…

5 Lessons From Yesterday's Facebook Town Hall*

April 20, 2011 - a historic day. The President of the United States sat down to do a live chat with the public, with Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg as moderator. (What a brand coup for FB, with that big banner sign...)Normally impatient, I happily sat in front of the computer waiting for it to start. I was literally clapping at how cool it was. I "checked in" and watched for a few minutes - the intro speeches by Sheryl Sandberg and question #1. Read the comments in the chat alongside. Here are my key takeaways:1. People LOVE interacting with the govt. on social media. But their expectations are high and they are vocal if disappointed.2. You can trust the audience to self-correct members of the community who are rude, inappropriate, etc.3. Suit and tie on Facebook looks overdressed. 4. Q and A must be very short. Quantity better than perfect quality answer. Need to find balance in answers between simple and substantive.5. Need to get to the point, fast - intro of prominent au…

Customer Service Lesson #1: Help Me Not To Worry

I buy things, often.I sell things, sometimes.I don’t like shipping - at all.It’s an irksome, worrisome, expensive process where things can easily get messed up. On the positive side, this makes it an excellent industry to use as a focus area. One that can help us think about great customer service and how to implement it in any organization.Think about it. Customer service is something we take for granted. Because you don't really need it unless there is something to worry about.However, isn't it true that there is frequently something to worry about?So companies that handle worry well, are set up to win and keep customers. Who are, after all, a source of money. Customers will turn to great customer service providers in times of need. And they'll remember where to go when there is nothing to worry about at all. Because something can always go wrong.Therefore, looking at three major providers of shipment services - FedEx, the U.S. Postal Service*, and UPS, here are some qui…

Who's afraid of senior management? Internal communicators! (UK survey results)

According to research just released from the UK, fear of upsetting the leader stops communicators from generating good internal communication:
"Internal communicators are most likely to pull back from what they believe to be the appropriate course of action because of problems with senior management." More here or see summary results below.
Survey title: “Fearless Communication – What Encourages It and What Kills It Stone DeadConducted online by Institute of Internal Communication (UK) - released April 2011
1. “Major block to progress in communication”?•Senior management – 45% of respondents•Budgetary or time constraints – 19%•Attitude of colleagues – 11%•General lack of confidence – 11%
2. “Scariest challenge you face?”•Getting support of leaders and other staff – 45%•Effective use of social media and new technology – 19%
3. “Key factor with potential to reduce fear and initiate positive action?”

5 Toxic Myths about Internal Communication That Can Destroy a Leader's Reputation

Remember "Mr. Montgomery Burns," Homer's boss (from The Simpsons)? He was a satirical sketchup of a callous corporate boss, with an "unquenchable desire to increase his own wealth and power," and a striking lack of caring about his own employees.
Wikipedia elaborates further on the fictionalized character's attitude toward his staff: "He is a his...inability to remember his employees' names — including Homer's, despite frequent interactions...and lack of concern for their safety and well-being." Speaking from the perspective of someone who has worked in, consulted to, researched and presented on internal communications for the past ten years, evil intentions aren't why internal communications goes wrong.
Actually, most leaders care a lot about what their employees think.
In the best case that's because they care about the mission being accomplished, and they understand that only the employees can do that.In the worst cas…