The Best First Week Ever

I started a new gig last week. My first day was very successful. Remembered everyone's name, figured out what the company does  (which is good considering I'm heading up marketing for the company) and...found the bathroom. On the second day I not only found the bathroom...I somehow managed to flush my keycard down the toilet.  Didn't even know it until several minutes after the automatic flusher.

Trying to be smart, I'd placed my keycard on the top of the toilet paper roll so that I would remember it. When I was leaving the stall I must have shot it into the toilet when I put my laptop bag over my shoulder. It didn't even hit the floor. Went straight in. Now that. Is. Talent.

But that wasn't the end of the story.

Did I also mention that it was after hours and everyone had gone?

And that I didn't know how to get out of the building?

And I had to be at dinner 5 minutes ago?

And that I had to call the CEO to get out of the bathroom and the office?

Yep. It was a banner day for showing off my talent. No, not my marketing talent but still--talent is talent right? If there's ever a contest where you need to shoot something backwards into a small hole using a handbag I'm your gal. 

Let's just bask in the glow of my athletic talent. Shall we?


Can You Be Successful at Door #3?

The ubiquity of the social web these days means that crafting a public persona isn't just for celebrities or big brands anymore. If your social presence is something akin to Casper, you might want to keep this in mind. If you think people aren't paying attention to your small startup I have three words for you: Library of Congress. While it might get lost in the 55 million tweets sent each day your personal tweets are still a matter of public record and that means it's searchable. Caring about your public persona also extends into your offline life as well but that's another post for another day.

Going Willy Nilly

We all know those people or businesses who really should do a bit of reputation management. They're the ones come off as very willy nilly in their approach to social matters. They're the ones who send emo tweets or status updates about their terrible past or worse, current employers. The Willy Nilly's are the ones who have public spats on Twitter. Or, announce their break-up with a rant about their ex on Facebook. They're like this guy who goes on an angry rant about a first world problem.

 

Some use this seeming Willy Nilly approach to great effect becoming digital Pied Pipers with followers avidly waiting their next public break down. Others are less successful. Even though seemingly successful, those Pied Pipers are at risk of doing permanent damage to themselves professionally. When their reputation is at its lowest and professional damage is at it's highest there are a few options to get out of this social maelstrom:

A. Hire someone to do it for them.

B. Declare digital social bankruptcy and start all over again.

C. Not care. Be a social rebel.

Carving As If In Stone

The other side of the social media continuum is just as interesting. I like to call these folks Careful Crafters. They care so much about what other things that sometimes they can come across stiff as an Ironwood tree. Everything is perfect. Their latest crisis is handled with silence or denial. Their inner world might be falling apart but the outside world would never get a whiff of it. Not at least until it's in the distant past--meaning years past. But sometimes being too concerned with your reputation become like handcuffs to that reputation that you're trying so hard to build. When you've tipped over the too overly crafted social media chasm it can make you:

A. Bore people before they're done reading their content.

B. Appear something other than genuine and human.

C. Miss opportunities for connection.

Given my work as a marketing and social strategist, it may be no surprise that I tend to sit towards the middle on the Careful Crafter side of the continuum. My social media communications tend to err on the side of being professional and saying things I wouldn't be afraid to say in front of my mother. I think I've posted one vaguely emo(tional) tweet out of nearly 6,400. While I'm generally happy with this I sometimes wonder if there are hidden costs to this approach. Do I take enough chances? Would I be more successful if I loosened the reigns on my public persona? It's something I'm pondering.

Door #3

Just because you're not a Careful Crafter doesn't automatically make you a Willy Nilly. There are some who just manage their social presence artfully without a great deal of work at it. They seem to sit at the middle of the continuum with ease. I recently had a conversation about reputation management with a friend who is a fairly public person. Managing public reputation wasn't something he had considered which was interesting because his reputation and that of his company are pretty stellar. While I'm not sure there had been nary a thought to this I think it was largely true. I attribute his success to having an innate ability in knowing when to push things, when to hold back and how to have fun while not taking it too far. Door #3 is likely effective but probably not easy for everyone to do effectively. If you can really make this style work I say go for it.

The Balance

If you tend to lie at either end of the social continuum you may want to consider my dad's philosophy:

Your assets in excess become your liabilities

Given this philosophy my dad like to advocate doing things in moderation (and he didn't mean just drinking). But in the social world I wonder. Does a balanced approach really work or, can this stray into the unmemorable category?

So. I'm curious about your reputation management style.

Are you a Willy Nilly or a Careful Crafter? Or are you Door #3?


How to Have Hope When Things Aren't Working Out

My dad is an engineer which means he likes to make sure things are perfect. If he could take a side angle to my life to make sure it was perfectly aligned I'm sure he would. So of course, he loves to come up with tidy little aphorisms for his kids. I got this one recently in my birthday card:

 

It's always darkest before the dawn

While I'm sure he wasn't the originator of this saying, he did popularize it--at least for me. It's a great reminder that sometimes when things are at their breaking point it actually means a transformation is around the corner. Sometimes when things aren't working out as you planned something even better is in store. Like when clients aren't coming in as fast as you wanted but the bills are still due. Or when a situation is breaking down so rapidly that it's clear there isn't a way to save it. I used to dread these. Now I just remind myself that it can get really, really dark just before really good stuff happens.

 

 

Owning My Inbox

I'm generally a pretty organized person. A place for everything and everything in its place definitely describes my philosophy. Organized by sleeve length and then by color my closet looks like the stores I used to work in back in my retail days. And I de-clutter on a regular basis in part because organizing relaxes me.

My life was pretty simple but I longed for even more. It lead me to Leo Babauta's new book, The Power of Less. He advocates that you start to simplify one habit at a time.  I've already been doing many of the things on his list except for one glaring omission.

Process your inbox to zero.

This is a tough one for this never-want-to-miss-anything, information sponge connector. It's left me constantly fighting with my inbox. I selected it because it's the #1 tangible thing I complain about most and because it would have a BIG impact in simplifying my life. So I decided to take his 30 Day Power of Less Challenge which means I agreed to Process my inbox to zero daily. Yep, as in everyday.

I am gonna own you inbox!

I've done a few things already to help me win this battle.

  • Unnecessary email subscriptions about the latest sales, etc. have been canceled.
  • Using HighRise and BaseCamp on a couple of projects so that's definitely helping to keep my to dos and tasks in one place.
  • Serendipitously this post from Amber Naslund arrived in my inbox this morning. (It been read AND filed). She uses Gmail features extensively and it's something I'll check out.

How do you quickly and effectively manage YOUR inbox?

Community Building Tip #394

While community building has been around as long as our cave dwelling ancestors it's undergone a revival in recent years with the rise of social media. In a more connected world it's both easier--and much harder to build a strong community. People often ask me how I built a strong network--in Boulder within a few months from basically zero and how my Twitter following grew 1000% in less than a year. Let me start with one of the biggest tips.

Don't game the system.

In the Twitter world this looks like following hundreds of people in an attempt to get them to follow you. Once they do--poof! you unfollow them. This is usually done in an attempt to gain followers as well as boost your ratio between followers and following. This is bad, bad, bad. Don't do this. You may build a following in the short term but once people figure out your game you'll lose followers--and credibility. Don't be that guy.

In the professional world this often shows up as  a one-way relationship where you receive or only focus on getting your needs met. You know these people. It's all about me, me, me. And when it's finally your turn it's as if a black hole swallowed them whole and they're off to their next "meeting." Don't do this.  It doesn't engender trust, pisses people off and takes you farther away from your goal. And? When you encounter a professional dark alley like needing a job or new clients--people are much less likely to help you.

So you want to build a strong community?

 

Take time to understand how the "system" works

and...

complete the cycle of giving and receiving.

 

P.S. Don't worry. You didn't miss 393 other tips on building community. Since Letterman has already perfected the Top 10 list I thought I'd be just myself and create something different. Which...is a community building tip for another day.