Can you merge your business life with your social life?

blog 1 imageA very good friend of mine who lives in Sedona – Arizona has recently been globe-trotting the world on a series of learnings. I was fascinated to speak with her last week and we discussed many subjects and the topic lead into deep conversation on can you merge your business life with your social life.

With all the technology available online you have to ask think that this should be possible?
Social media enables you to have business associates and friends that are not dictated by geography or circumstance. And to me, the ability to find people with whom you have a kinship, regardless of where they live is an extraordinary opportunity.

There are relationships I have developed via the social Web that are incalculably helpful to me in business and personally. Some of those relationships transcend the Web, as I’ve been fortunate enough to put names to avatars with many of the people I have personification to know and respect online.

The big question that is often asked with corporations and business owners on social media strategy is “how do I balance my personal and professional life online?”
Surely, no one wants to know what I’m doing on the weekend?

Actually, they do. You have probably heard the saying that people don’t hire companies, they hire people. It is why “chemistry” with the client is so critical in professional services firms. Why would you not want to pre-establish chemistry and commonality with your prospective friends and clients online?

The fact is your personal and professional lives are colliding and integrating more and more and all the time.

In a socially connected world, where countless opinions and options are just a finger swipe on a mobile device away, differentiation is harder than ever.

Your personal life? Your professional life? One and the same. I know that’s often uncomfortable. But it’s the truth.

However, In theory, separation is a good thing. With more employers lurking on social profiles and more people over-sharing online, it just makes sense to keep some things private. However, the reality is that sometimes the online tools make it difficult to split your networks. Here are five tips to help you get closer.

1. Use different networks for different purposes
2. Create a Facebook personal profile AND brand page
3. Push your business contacts to Twitter
4. Tweak Facebook privacy settings
5. Take your private life offline altogether

It is a true fact that everything we share is in the “public domain,” so we need limit our shares, what we say or stop altogether. You can also judge the value of a social network based on how well it fits your content and strategy. If you create content that your audience loves, you’re likely to find your audience on social networks that love sharing your particular style of content—video, images, long-form, etc.

From: Jason DeMers at Search Engine Land
From: Jason DeMers at Search Engine Land

Here’s a helpful way of looking at it, courtesy of Jason DeMers at Search Engine Land. He broke down social networks into seven different types, each with their own characteristics.

1: Kitchen-sink networks: Twitter and Facebook

2: Image-based networks: Pinterest, Instagram, Tumblr.

3: Video networks: YouTube, Vimeo, Vine

4: Business-focused networks: LinkedIn

5: SEO and authorship networks: Google+

6: Location-based networks: Foursquare, Yelp

7: Niche networks: Reddit

Digital Insights
Digital Insights

According to data pulled together by Digital Insights, here’s the breakdown for the social networks with the most monthly active users:

Facebook: 1.28 billion
Google+: 540 million
Twitter: 255 million
Instagram: 200 million
LinkedIn: 187 million
Pinterest: 40 million

How do you keep your business life separate from your private life?

What is your strength?

What is your strength: are you a problem solving manager or the manager that represents the company publicly? Should a company have both types of managers on board?

The term management seems old-fashioned and redolent of organisational complacency that needs to change.

It has been proven that twenty-first century businesses want leaders, not managers.

Why do companies set such store by leadership skills?

Could it be that if they call managers leaders, then it does not matter if they are without people management skills, because employees will follow them by the sheer force of personality? That model may work when times are positive, and particularly during years of rapid acquisition-led growth. But during periods of consolidation, market contraction or economic downturn, exacerbated by intensifying competition and environmental challenges, innovation and creativity is the only way to stay competitive.

What is “enough”?

Enterprise leaders must be able to:

  1. make decisions that are good for the business and
  2. evaluate the talent on their teams.

To do both they need to recognize that business functions are distinct managerial subcultures, each with its own mental models and language. Effective leaders understand the different ways that professionals in finance, marketing, operations, HR, and R&D approach business problems, and the various tools (discounted cash flow, customer segmentation, process flow, succession planning, stage gates, and the like) that each discipline applies. Leaders must be able to speak the language of all the functions and translate for them when necessary. And critically, leaders must know the right questions to ask and the right metrics for evaluating and recruiting people to manage areas where they are not experts.

Generating innovation thinking throughout the organisation means encouraging ideas from the bottom up, not from the top down. Unfortunately most managers have no idea how to exploit talent and capability of their people because they’ve never been given the tools and training to do so.

The real question is: should organisations develop an internal culture in a bid to incite, educate and deliver innovation, a shift through the hierarchical management approach towards a more democratic culture characterised by effective listening and coaching and not telling? Your thoughts?

The Value of LinkedIn Connections

One of the issues that Geoff highlights on his blog is the importance of networking and listening to new voices. One of the platforms that he uses to meet new people is LinkedIn.

Many of us connect in the virtual world of LinkedIn first. When we find a common ground we try to meet in life.

LinkedIn is a treasure trove for making connections and expanding your network. Many people may just use it to have a public resume online they can refer to for work related matters. This is a very limited and static use of a dynamic platform. Others use LinkedIn’s full potential by updating their profile regularly, post on the home feed and commenting on posts from others, and they are active in groups.

If you wish to get the most out of LinkedIn and need a little help, you need to connect with James Potter. James is an expert at helping people, directors, CEO’s & corporates turn LinkedIn into the success they seek, be it sales, new business or new projects using LinkedIn.

And to prove that Geoff means what he says: we met on LinkedIn. We stayed in touch through the groups and when my travels took me to the UK, Geoff took the day off to meet me at my conference in London. True networking!

What are values?

Picture aug 2014I have had some significant meetings recently on and around operational risk, having the fortune to speak with directors about the risks to a business, when interestingly enough the subject moved to conduct risk and the behaviour of staff.

Five years ago if you spoke to most executive boards across the world about operational behaviour or cultural planning or implementation you would probably hear “are these normally reserved for likes of our human resource team”, or “does our brand actually have a vision, mission, values or personality trait.” Generally these discussions are reserved for an alternative agenda, that rarely transpires due to lack of understanding or knowledge in the area of specialism.

As conduct risk and culture are now entering a new era of board discussion and to use it to make a positive change to an organisation, we have to study values. Values are a company’s most important basis for what a company represents, what they want to accomplish, commit to and how they want to behave.

When we live out our values, we commit our actions to the important matters of ethics, integrity belief and commitment. Ideas like “individual character” are built around deeply held values, and the meanings and worldviews associated with them. When we talk about good societies and democratic politics, we’re always talking about culturally held, and shared, values and worldviews.

Worldviews are sets of beliefs about ‘how things work,’ ‘how life is,’ and ‘what’s objectively important in life.’ When we talk about cultural differences across nations (or subculture differences within a country), the core of those differences often grows out of particular values and worldviews held in common within a people, or an ethnic group, not just the way they dress and talk, or quaint customs.

Values are the deepest and slowest-changing indicators we can measure with surveys, and worldviews are almost as deep, while attitudes and opinions are closer to the social surface of life, more superficial, labile and faster to change. Values and worldviews are said to be ‘deeper’ when they are part of who we think we are, are more strongly held, matter more to how we live our lives, and are more a part of our personal ‘systems of meaning and important life priorities’. The more we believe that our ideas, beliefs and opinions are ‘who I am,’ the more tightly we hold onto them.  Not only are they slower to change, but when change comes, it is rather like a ‘conversion experience.’

Values are deeper and slower changing than attitudes and opinions, which change rather fluidly as new information, many aspects of attitudes and opinions are psychological: emotional or cognitive, but they too may be filtered through a heavy cultural framing. The ones that stick become incorporated in worldviews.

So exactly how can culture’ help plan and shape a company to improvement and increased performance?

Below is a study from Kotter & Heskett’s Landmark ‘Corporate Culture and Performance,’ Across 207 large U.S. companies in 22 different industries over an Eleven-year period

Kotter & Heskett
Revenue Increase Stock Price Increase Income Increase ROI
Improvement from managing change 166% 74% 1% X%
Improvement from managing culture change 682% 901% 756% X% x2



Is Human to Human communication dying?

in person communicationThis week I was privileged to have coffee with a good friend of mine who flew into London from Tokyo on a business trip and somehow in his busy schedule and mine we managed to have breakfast at The Ritz on Piccadilly.

After a delicious but expensive breakfast, we discussed some of the week’s latest and most recent stories in the media that we came across by email, social media and other collaboration tools. We discussed one particular story where a mum exchanged text messages with her daughter who was in school. They ‘chatted’ back and forth, the mum asking how things were going and daughter answering with positive statements followed by emoticons showing smiles, b-i-g smiles and hearts. Happiness. Later that night, her daughter attempted suicide. It came to light that she’d been holed up in her room, crying, and showing signs of depression — a completely different reality from the one that she conveyed in texts, Facebook posts, and tweets.

As human beings, our only real method of connection is through authentic communication. Studies show that only 7% of communication is based on the written or verbal word. A whopping 93% is based on nonverbal body language. Indeed, it’s only when we can hear a tone of voice or look into someone’s eyes that we’re able to know when “I’m fine” doesn’t mean they’re fine at all.

Engrossed with technology, anyone can hide behind the text, the e-mail, the Facebook post, or the tweet, projecting any image they want and creating an illusion of their choosing. They can be whoever they want to be. And without the ability to receive nonverbal cues, their audiences are none the wiser.

This presents an unprecedented paradox. With all the powerful social technologies at our fingertips, we are more connected – and potentially more disconnected – than ever before.

Every relevant metric shows that we are interacting at fast speed and frequency through social media. But are we really communicating? With 93% of our communication context stripped away, we are now attempting to forge relationships and make decisions based on phrases. Abbreviations. Snippets. Emoticons. Which may or may not be accurate representations of the truth.

Social technologies have broken the barriers of space and time, enabling us to interact 24/7 with more people than ever before. But like any revolutionary concept, it has spawned a set of new barriers and threats. Is the focus now on communication quantity versus quality? Superficiality versus authenticity? In an ironic twist, social media has the potential to make us less social; a surrogate for the real thing. For it to be a truly effective communication vehicle, all parties bear a responsibility to be genuine, accurate, and not allow it to replace human contact altogether.

In the world of communications, email is now thought to be second fiddle to the likes of Twitter and Facebook. The always-on mentality has brought about these new ways to communicate that are faster than email, and much more fun.

face to faceIn the past we had a set of contacts, all of whom generally knew how to reach us via telephone, letter, or e-mail. Today, thanks in large part to social media and collaboration tools, there are many different levels of communicating. Our networks are larger than they’ve ever been, and we’ve more ways to communicate with those in them. Even if you’re not active on Facebook or Twitter, who you communicate with and how you communicate will probably have changed dramatically in the last year or two. This new connected era brings with it both opportunities and challenges, and it pays to know how to use each.

Studies from the Radicati Group show that 144.8 billion emails are sent every single day. Now that’s a lot of emails being passed back and forth! It doesn’t stop here, though. This number is projected to rise to 192.2 billion by 2016. Today, there are approximately 3.4 billion email accounts worldwide, with three-quarters of those owned by individual consumers.

A corporate cost and productivity analysis with some interesting if not alarming statistics is below:

  • The average worker checks their email 36 times per hour – Atlassian
  • The typical corporate user spends over 2 hours per day reading and responding to emails – McKinsey, the Social Economy
  • Professionals receive an average of 304 business emails per week – Atlassian
  • It typically takes 20-15 minutes to refocus on a project following an email – Microsoft
  • On average, the business user spends 28 hours per week writing emails – McKinsey

Add it up – pretty costly to an organisation and to the productivity (and sanity) of end users. According to NewsGator, “one Fortune 100 manufacturing company calculated that a simple 2% reduction in email volume could save $2.6 million per year”.

I think there needs to be a balance of email, social media and collaboration tools. What ever happened to picking up the phone? Or talking to someone face-to-face? Or do we not have time?