You’re in Permanent Beta, So Let Your Network Help

In a recent NPR interview with LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman about his new book, The Start-Up of You, he makes this great point about personal branding:

We are in a “permanent beta…you’re always investing in yourself. You’re always adapting. You’re not a finished product.”

He also suggests that your network plays a vital role in helping you keep current. He advises, “go out to lunch with different folks, go out to lunch with people from other departments, from other companies, and explicitly address questions like: How do you see the industry changing? What do you think is happening? How do you do your job effectively? Is there anything I should learn from that in terms of how do I do my job effectively? That’s how you adapt to the future, and you stay current.” (We recommend a similar approach in all three myGreenlight courses, but especially Course III: The Learning Action Plan.)

Throughout the article, Hoffman talks about the impact that the people that he worked with years ago (he calls them “the PayPal crew”) have had on each other’s careers. He even goes on to state that he believes that his network is part of the reason for his success.

“I think the really key thing is to realize that relationships are like alliances,” Hoffman says.

I couldn’t have said it better myself.

Do you make a conscious effort to cultivate new learning from your peers? If not, how do you stay ahead of the curve?

Ritu Walia is myGreenlight’s Member Coordinator.

Special Announcement for myGreenlight Members

Community Roundtable Call

The Community Roundtable will bring together five community members around one business topic to assist each other in creating solutions for their current business challenges. The topic for March will focus on building relationships in sales.

Members of the roundtable will each have the opportunity to submit their most challenging issue related to the topic and their best set of resources to address the challenges of other members.  The call will take place on Tuesday, March 27th at 6:00pm EST on WebEx.

To be considered for one of the five positions on this month’s Roundtable, email me at ksprings at mygreenlight.com the following:

  • Submit a short professional bio.
  • A paragraph explaining why you want to participate.
  • One question that you want to put on the table related to the topic.

Participants will be selected based on the best mix of professional backgrounds and challenges in order to maintain a diverse set of perspectives and experiences for the group. If selected, participants will be required to:

  • Submit 3-5 resources one week prior to the meeting to help address the collective questions of the group.
  • Participate in the one hour 15 minute call on March 27th.

All Roundtables will be recorded and transcribed for members’ future use.

Course Intensives

Are you behind on a course? Trying to get ahead in a course? In need of coaching through a course? If any of these fit where you are in the myGreenlight program, one of our upcoming Course Intensives is for you. Between April and May, I will be coaching small groups through courses in an effort to:

  • Provide a one-on-one coaching opportunity.
  • Facilitate connections between community members.
  • Gather feedback on our newest course, the Learning Action Plan.

Participants must agree to:

  • Complete two lessons per week over a five week period between April 2nd and May 4th.
  • Participate in weekly coaching calls.

Weekly coaching calls may take place on a weekend or evenings to accommodate all group member participation. Groups will consist of 3-5 members.  Members may only participate in one Course Intensive at a time.

If you are interested in participating in a Course Intensive, email me at ksprings at mygreenlight.com by March 15th.

The One Factor that Ensures Your Kid’s College Success. And Now Yours.

In 1986, Harvard’s then-president, Derek Bok, wanted to know if there was a way to predict whether a kid would succeed or fail in college. What was different about those who kicked ass as undergrads? Bok wasn’t really interested in improving the school’s admissions process. Harvard, after all, already annually fielded a freshman class that was, according to just about every measurable metric, the nation’s best.

What Bok wanted to learn is whether the school could study those kids who transformed those early exceptional metrics into exceptional performance, making the most of their four years in college, and apply those lessons to changing how Harvard served all of its students. A large-scale study was conducted over the course of several years and one finding in particular surprised everyone. Continue reading

Enter-Prize 2.0

How much easier would it be if you had free-flowing information within your company?

In this article Andrew McAfee, principle researcher at MIT’s Center for Digital Business, sheds some light on the way business is evolving around us every day and tries to answer this question. In order to take advantage of the easy accessibility of knowledge, years ago he started investigating the ways in which to make businesses have a free flow of information and communication. “I wanted to think about what these tools and the communities and processes and philosophies that came along with these tools meant for good old-fashioned companies trying to get their widgets out the door every day. So I used the phrase “Enterprise 2.0″ as the shorthand for what the Web 2.0 tools and that world meant for enterprises.”

When asked about his elevator pitch, McAfee uses this impactful quote: “So I’ve had to come up with a different way to get at this knowledge challenge in the company. One useful trigger is to use a quote that I first heard a while back that is attributed to Lew Platt, who was the old CEO of Hewlett-Packard. He looked around his organization, which is a big, very well-run, hugely respected company in America for decades. This is not a poorly run company. He looked around Hewlett-Packard and said, ‘If only HP knew what HP knows, we’d be three times more productive.’ Whenever I say that to a room full of executives, you can see the heads nod.”

Although Enterprise 2.0 can be accurately described as social, McAfee avoids it. The reason he cites is “because it has primarily negative connotations, especially for a really hard-headed, pragmatic manager in a business, decision-maker in a business, who just wants to get more stuff done. When that person hears ‘social,’ he thinks of happy hours after work and the corporate softball league. I thought the word ‘social’ would be not just neutral, but actually a bad way to do that.”

Being able to find a way to communicate information that the individuals know to better serve and unify the company can be highly effective and have long term impact.

How do you circulate knowledge in your company? Are you using Yammer, Chatter, or some other Enterprise 2.0 tool?

Ritu Walia is myGreenlight’s Member Coordinator.

Relationship Roundup

In the Roundup spotlight this week: how to filter criticism without missing good advice, better ways for leaders to build rapport, and the benefits of collaboration and mentorship. Enjoy!

To believe or not to believe – In the myGreenlight community we encourage members to view feedback as data vs. emotionalizing it as criticism. It can be challenging to know when to listen to critique and when to ignore it. This article from Behance offers some helpful advice for filtering outside input. Read it here http://bit.ly/z73cjR.

Connection tips for leaders –These tips from Eileen Sinett, author of Speaking that Connects are helpful for anyone who wants to improve their ability to influence others within or external to their organizations. Read the SmartBlog here http://bit.ly/ypWiVZ.

Connection and collaboration –The landscape has certainly shifted in today’s corporate environments and the dust of change is still settling. Regardless of whether you agree or not with the predicted outcomes one thing is clear, connection and collaboration provide valuable insight if you care to take it. Learn more about the possible implications of a more connected generation in this HBR Blog post http://bit.ly/Aw67Y2.

A few words on familiarity – I get many questions from the myGreenlight community about connecting in an authentic manner. I think this post from Seth Godin offers good advice across the board. Read the post here http://bit.ly/zNhcpw.

Mining for a mentor – At myGreenlight we highly advocate accountability buddies, lifeline members, and mentors for long term achievement. The eight best practices offered in Entrepreneur magazine on finding and maintaining a mentor relationship are right on point. Read them here http://bit.ly/ApZ5Kc.

Kibibi Springs is myGreenlight’s Community Director.

How a Program Manager Moves Mountains with Meatball Subs

Our featured community member guest post is from Nick Pietrocarlo, Senior Manager of Technology Revitalization with Royal Caribbean Cruises, Ltd., Co-Chair of the South Florida Chapter of TENG (Technology Executive Networking Group), and an PgMP, PMP, and MBA. He can be reached at nick@pietrocarlo.com – KS

I grew up in a small rust belt neighborhood in South Buffalo, New York where most of the workers were motivated by free turkeys at Thanksgiving and an extra $50 in their paycheck at Christmas. When I was in school discovering what a computer was, my father used to bring donuts to the dispatchers at work before he started his shift as a taxi driver. His hopes were to motivate the dispatchers to send the better fares his way so he could accomplish his goals of achieving a high earnings day. He soon became known as ‘Donut Nick’ to peers and supervisors.

It was ironic decades later when I found myself using food to help motivate the team to achieve the desired results in my own profession as a Program Manager. Times have changed though and the folks I work with today do seem to prefer meatball subs, Cuban sandwiches, or pizza as opposed to donuts.

Scientifically we know food is converted to energy which drives our bodies and in our society we see food bonding people in various ways. Through religious ceremonies, fund raising or other networking events, or simply parent-baby bonding.
Food can certainly be a great motivator for the team. Whether it is a tight schedule, small budget, or vague scope, feeding and nurturing the team certainly helps them achieve great things. A few months ago a team member even called me ‘Donut Nick’ after I brought a few dozen donuts to work that day.

In times like these when raises are scarce and bonuses are even scarcer, it is also important to remember how little things like food can spark the motivation of the team to work better and more efficiently together. Not just to accomplish the goals of the project but also to consistently strive and successfully achieve the goals of the company. In many cases a Program Manager can become very fixated on cost, schedule, and scope without realizing that without the people none of the points of this triangle would even matter.

As a Program Manager I regularly challenge my peers to consider how the people are often the core foundation of the critical path on all projects. America may run on Dunkin(TM), but projects run on people. As we know people don’t just ensure the success of the project, they also ensure the future success of the company. On your way to work tomorrow try picking up a few dozen donuts for the team or a round of meatball subs for lunch and you will see what I mean. I guarantee it!

Are You a Self-Directed Learner?

If so, we want to talk to you!

We’re looking for professionals in sales, marketing, executive management and entry level positions that have crafted their own career or promotional path by identifying supplemental online education and individuals within their network to teach and mentor them towards specific career goals and/or promotion aspirations.

If you have bootstrapped your education to attain or improve a professional role by….

  • Creating your own online e-learning curriculum through blogs, association content, webinars, e-training and other online outlets in your industry.
  • Recruiting one or more individuals in your industry to mentor you through the steps to attain a position or career transition.
  • Creating a social media group through Facebook or LinkedIn to aggregate professional knowledge.
  • Giving back to your industry with valuable knowledge in the form of a seminar, webinar or white paper.

We’d like to share your story. Contact us by 11/16/11 to be considered.  Comment below if you are interested!

Three Team-Building Activities that Aren’t

According to this Forbes article, there are three team-building activities that are actually bad for your business. And believe me – they’re the ones you wouldn’t expect given that they’re so widely used.

  1. The Trust Game
  2. The “Being Blind” Game
  3. Two Truths and a Lie

The author, Deborah Sweeny, looks at each game individually. Trust games can be difficult to coordinate because of the diversity in employees’ physical attributes, and not to mention a myriad of technological distractions that may cause the “trust” to fall with a crash instead of “falling into a safe cocoon.”

The “being blind” game has obvious pitfalls- because it is a two- way street and each person in the partnership has to be blind, it is hard not to be influenced by the first run, and there are often opportunities for revenge. And let’s face it, revenge usually isn’t pretty.

Lastly, two truths and lie may make everyone too comfortable with lying- and that in itself makes us uncomfortable.

So what’s a great team-building activity? Warm, intimate dinners are one of our favorite team-building activities at Ferrazzi Greenlight. Keith likes to push teams past the small-talk by asking them questions like, “Share a challenge that has shaped who you are today” – a great way to frame conversation so that it can go deep without going too negative.  He gives everyone “permission to be intimate” and sets the tone upfront by answering the question first himself.

What are the best and worst team-building experiences you’ve had?

Ritu Walia is myGreenlight’s Member Coordinator.

The Greenlight Highlight: Marketing and Sales Success

The Greenlight Highlight is myGreenlight’s monthly community member spotlight interview. On the last Friday of every month, the Highlight features a community member who has reaped the benefits from building mutually rewarding relationships and captures the essence of relationship mastery.

Allow us to introduce…

Lorena Bin de Galvez
Director Marketing & Sales / Partner, Dimensus/Logrelo
Greenlight Member Since: July, 2010
Interviewed via Skype from…Guatemala, Mexico
30-Second Elevator Pitch: I am passionate about helping industries and companies take their marketing and communications beyond the promotional cycle to create messages that express passion and address what their customer really want and need.

Favorite relationship mastery mindset and why?
Generosity.  Asking others how I can help them allows me to share my passion. That has been a powerful mindset shift for me.  Helping others has opened many doors to other introductions. Since starting my business a year ago, I have not had to invest in marketing. Leading with generosity has brought word of mouth referrals that keep leading to new business opportunities.  In my first year of business I made about $15,000.  Since I’ve begun focusing on my relationship approach, my business has brought in $50,000 this year and 70% of the proposals I’ve submitted from referrals have landed me new accounts.

When did it first click that relationships profoundly affect your success in business?
I used to work for large multinational corporations like Shell, Quaker Oats. I worked hard, I achieved my goals and I was always well rated. Other people in the company were getting better jobs than I was being offered and I didn’t understand why.  When I changed my work and started working as a marketing manager for a well-known Guatemalan real estate company, it clicked for me that internationally relationships are key to everything, relationships open doors. One day in 2006, I was in a Borders airport and I picked up Never Eat Alone. That was the piece that changed my entire outlook.… What I do today doesn’t feel like work. I’m helping others and giving value with what I do best.

How has putting a thoughtful process around relationship development benefited your business?
It’s made me focus on adding value to others. I was doing that before, but not with a disciplined or thoughtful approach. The Relationship Action Plan provided clarity on my purpose for nurturing the relationships in my network.  Before, I wasn’t sure that what I was doing was really helping.  The study and application of the mindsets has garnered success for my business that proves this approach works. Continue reading

Is There Value to “‘No Boys Allowed” Networking?

We have all heard the phrase “old boys’ network” and many of us have seen it in action. While the workforce has changed much over the past decades, this preconceived networking bias still impacts many professional women.

The good news is, woman have found workarounds via more structured networking opportunities than beer pong in the sports bar around the corner. (I don’t know about where you live, but you see a lot of that in New York…)

According to an LA Times article from earlier this year,  “Female business owners — who sometimes have to work around entrenched, old-boy networks in order to expand their businesses — have found networking events to be particularly valuable.” Carmen Rad, the president of her digital printing company says, “There is a tremendous advantage to joining, and you can’t just join one. You need to join more than one because each organization will have a different added value.”

Recently, women-only networking has re-surged, particularly in tech fields, in an effort to compensate for the potential gender setback. But not everyone sees this as a positive trend. Continue reading