Blog

Exploring Components of Networked Teen Life Using Channel Expansion Theory

I discuss a few of these components that I studied in the podcast below:

https://anchor.fm/rainah-davis/episodes/Navigating-Life-with-Networked-Teens-e1nu866ComponentsNetworkedTeens-01.jpg

Advertisements

Navigating Life with Networked Teens

My teenagers are a part of the reason that I chose Danah Boyd’s book for review. The last two classes have been severely challenging as I attempt to navigate my home, work, and school responsibilities, but I am grateful for the experience and am looking forward to the rest of the journey. My book report can be found at the link below:

Davis_Rainah_Book Report

Corporate Identity Keys

In 2004, I started a business called Vision Marketing and Design. The primary goal of this business was to help individuals in my church and community that were starting businesses and needed help designing logos, business cards, postcards, and brochures. I had acquired these skills my senior year of college through coursework and internships and welcomed the opportunity to continue to improve my design techniques; while generating extra income to help me offset the overwhelming costs associated with having three children in daycare at the same time.

The first few years were slow but steady. However, as the popularity of the Internet continued to grow, I noticed some shifts in my business and the printing needs decreased and suddenly I needed to add a new service to my business in order to adapt to an increasing customer request for website design and development.

As I began to collaborate with other individuals who were knowledgeable in the areas of coding, WordPress, and Joomla; I realized very quickly that these individuals knew how to create a website, but their design was not aesthetically attractive, nor was it user-friendly. As a result, clients who had been using my services for two, three, or four years stopped referring new clients and slowly they begin to use company’s (such as Vistaprint) who offered marketing packages.

At this time, my girls were old enough for me to abandon my business and I returned to work full-time. Once I started working I met a young lady who was attending an online communications program at Full Sail University. She had just finished a branding class and was getting ready to attempt to sell her course textbook The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding by Al and Laura Riles (2002). Although I did not have a lot of money at the time, I asked her if I could buy it. She said if I really wanted it to keep it and give her $20 for it whenever I could. That book was one of the best purchases I ever made. It helped me understand why my business model was no longer valid and I learned every single thing I was doing incorrectly. Although I was not ready to put the new practices to use by relaunching my business, I did take the knowledge and apply it in building the individual brand of my boss and the corporate brand of the organization. The techniques contributed to a massive membership for the organization, major platform advancement for my boss’ individual brand identity, and the publicity received by the organization’s branding efforts eliminated the need for advertisement.

From these experiences I have created my own:

Top 10 Best Practices for Communicating Organizational Identity and Brand

#1- Master Storybranding – Jim Signorelli explains that storybranding is making sure that the “right story” gets told.

I recently had a new client that met with me for a book development consultation. When she arrived in my office she had six different books that she wanted to write and was not sure where she wanted to begin. After asking her a number of questions and reviewing her current website, I discovered a program that she had listed on her website that she had not developed at all. I told gave the strategy that involved her using material that she already had written and combine it with a program that already existed, even though it had not been officially launched. I explained to her that her story executed in book format was a way to establish herself as an expert in that area and get paid to do what she was currently doing for free. The book project now is the first step in a series of steps that will help her put her story in front of new and existing audiences.

#2- Strengthen your brand through narrowing your focus – Al & Laura Ries cite the “Law of Contraction as a way to dominate a category by contracting the category and not expanding it.

I have been consuming branding content (old and new) since we started this class. My profits have already increased just four weeks into this class by applying the lessons learned from required reading texts Denise Yohn and Brian Solis. I used techniques from their books, specifically dealing with user experience and cultivating emotional brand connection for creating long-term business relationships. One of the ways I achieved this is by contracting my brand. Recently, I overheard my husband on the phone telling someone what I did for a living. Well, ten minutes later I realized that he really didn’t know. He just knew the things that he has heard me talking about that I do with my clients. It was a list of about 12 things. After week three’s readings (and my own refresher readings) I decided that I needed to come up with one sentence that explains my corporate identity.

“My business specializes in developing books, building brands, and providing strategy consultations.”

I had my husband repeat it with me and he said that he could definitely remember that, and that was a teachable moment for me. If the person closest to me could not clearly explain what my business does than it is reasonable to believe that I have brand confusion in my external messaging as well. So, we are fixing that, across the board.

#3-Corporate Identity requires good design but is much more than the design.

Airey (2010) lists several elements necessary to create iconic designs. The first one was one of the most important for me, “Keep it simple” (p. 22). Airey explains that good design first should be created in black and white and other colors can be applied as the secondary, not primary facet of the design. This component was confirmation for as I have spirited debates with my clients regarding logos that are complicated, busy, or have over three colors. The client normally understands my objections after a t-shirt vendor explains all of the set-up fees assessed with multiple color screen printing.

4-Non-profits need branding too.

While the literature on branding in the for-profit sector suggests a positive impact on business outcomes, many non-profit organizations neglect to engage in branding practices (Stephenson, 2013). I am currently working a church denomination organization that has been in existence for over 40 years but has no online social presence, no website, or identity marks. Additionally, they do have a way for event attendees to make donations via credit cards. I created a program for them called  5C 5C MISSION-01

mission program to help advance the churches within the organizations and strengthen them technologically. The first challenge was getting them to understand why they needed an identity before we could launch the program. After four weeks, they finally understand the value associated with the identity and we just started assembling their package. Stephenson (2013) outlines a rebranding process of the YMCA community gym facilities a few years ago, and how the rebrand made each brand cohesive. My company is endeavoring to do the same thing for this church denomination entity.

5- Brand Education and buy-in are imperative for internal stakeholders.

Berger social theory discuss the challenges that can be associated with a sociological perspective that explains that reality has many layers of meaning (p. 46). Because individuals interpret reality differently, it is necessary to explain the facets of brand identity to members of an organization. Successful companies have buy-in from internal stakeholders and those individuals serve as brand ambassadors. In my line of work, I am painstakingly creating client education packages to explain what a corporate identity package is and why it is the necessary first step to building a sustainable business (in terms of publicity and identity). The process moves faster and more efficiently when brand developers are not in conflict with corporate executives and staffers who impede the progress of brand development with their personal preferences or constant questions or objectives. Internal alignment and integration is a key to brand success (Yohn, 2014, p. 35).

6- Great brands don’t follow trends (Yohn, 2014).

The secret to growth “[is to] take a proactive approach to anticipating cultural movements, instead of a reactive approach to chasing transitory trends” (p. 80). Coaching a big trend right now and I enlisted the help of a business coach that has helped me in many wonderful ways, the only thing that I am currently evaluated is if I am ready to take the plunge as a “business coach.” I was ready to make the transition and then I contracted my brand and my business increased almost instantly. I am weighing my options and believe that instead of having a coaching program that I advertise on social media or fill through warm leads, I want to offer coaching programs to live audiences after speaking engagements. I believe that carefully crafting my story and connecting with the audience will facilitate the emotional connection needed to create a long-lasting relationship, unlike the cold advertising method of running Facebook Ads. My story, connection and ability to create an actionable program ad to the personal platform that I am already creating.

7- Powerful brands should strive to own “one” word (Ries & Ries, p. 22).

The Ries’ describe the power that comes with owning “one” word. “You know your brand owns the category name when people use your brand name generically (p. 24):

Examples:

• Xerox copies

• Q-Tips

• Scotch Tape

• Kleenex

• Reynolds wrap

• Pampers

These items gained this position by being first in their category and establishing it. I am currently crafting a user experience with our “books & brand” agency that could one day put it in this type of category.

8- Great brands understand “Generation C” (Solis, 2013).

Brian Solis introduced his readers to a new group that comprised of all generations that are connected by technology and are considered to be a group empowered by “connectivity” and shared user experiences. This concept was so revolutionary that I have added to my church seminars because understanding this group is even more important for churches and non-profits with the shifts in membership and church attendance ( I incorporated this into my 5C Program above).

9- Great personal brand identities are fueled by tribes.

Seth Godin (2008) explains the impact of creating movements, not just organizations driven by profit. Reading this book created a paradigm shift for me as it relates to telling my story and building my personal brand. I am a speaker for a conference next weekend, and the conference hosts contacted me and told me that my posts had gotten greater traction than his. For me, the key has been connecting with my tribe, owning my story, and sharing it.

10- Great brands understand that a brand is more than a promise, it is a promise delivered. (Yohn, 2014).

One of the best practices that I ever incorporated into my business is the art of firing clients and creating boundaries that increase productivity. I have learned that every client is not worth the money and I have learned that clients that pay late or disappear for months at a time cannot be the foundation of my business. I cannot deliver a promise to those clients because they refuse to work within the guidelines of our agreement. Now more than ever, I am creating procedures that increase our brand promise and value.

References

Airey, D. (2010). Logo design love: A guide to creating iconic brand identities. Berkeley, CA: New Riders. Chapter 2 & 3.

Godin, S. (2008). Tribes: We need you to lead us. Hudson, New York: Penguin Group.

Hatch, M. J., & Schultz, M. (2002). The dynamics of organizational identity. 

Human Relations, 55(8), 989-1018. Retrieved from https://ezproxy.queens.edu:2048/login?url=https://search.proquest.com/docview/231444712?accountid=38688

Ihlen, Ø., Fredriksson, M., & Ruler, B. V. (2009). Public relations and social theory: key figures and concepts. New York: Routledge.

Pérez, A., & del Bosque, I. R. (2014). Organizational and corporate identity revisited: Toward a comprehensive understanding of identity in business. Corporate Reputation Review, 17(1), 3-27. http://dx.doi.org/10.1057/crr.2013.22

Riles, A & L. (2002). The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding: How to Build a Product or Service into a World-Class Brand. New York, NY: Harper Collins Publishers.

Solis, B.  (2013).  What’s the Future of Business? Changing the Way Businesses Create Experiences. Hoboken, NJ:  John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Stephenson, A. (2013). Organizational identity and the rebranding of the YMCA. Sociological Viewpoints, 29(1), 101-119. Retrieved from https://ezproxy.queens.edu:2048/login?url=https://search.proquest.com/docview/1500943796?accountid=38688

Yohn, D.L.  (2014).  What Great Brands Do: The Seven Brand-Building Principles that Separate the Best from the Rest.  San Francisco, CA:  Jossey-Bass.

 

 

 

Overcoming the Generation Gaps

During the first few months of running of branding agency full-time I was approached by a company that needed assistance writing book proposals. Now, I had never written book proposals before and I was nervous about accepting the assignment, but with no other clients at the moment, I reluctantly agreed.

The book proposal writing went very well. The last section that I needed to complete was the marketing demographics. This quickly became an issue because I had no idea who the author’s audience was and none of the material that the client had given be was very helpful.

I started researching women’s demographics by age, religious affiliation, educational levels and annual income. Something interesting popped up in my search. A generation breakdown by age from ages 60-30 (in order from oldest to youngest). So, this particular article educated me on the differences among Baby Boomers, Gen X and Gen Y (Millennials). Needless to say, I have continued to research the generations since that time because of my family makeup: my father is a Traditionalist, my mother is a Baby Boomer, my husband and I are Gen Xers, our older children are Millennials and our younger children are a part of Gen Z, which I recently learned. I was not aware that our younger children were a part of an entirely different generation. I have been fascinated with researching the Generations ever since.

For my digital presentation, I started looking at the issues that Gen Z have with going to church. I even polled my own Gen Zers who summed up the sentiments of the other Gen Zers that I have spoken to (who were the target group for this assignment). The only difference is that our children do not have a choice about whether they go to church or not, unlike some of the youth that I know.

Interestingly enough, Gen Z’s sentiments are very closely aligned with those of their older sibling Generation Y. Earlier, I read an article by Sam Eaton titled “59 Percent of Millennials Raised in Church Have Dropped Out—And They’re Trying to Tell Us Why.”

The issues in that article were less related to the communication breakdown between the generations and more an issue of eroded bonded social capital, yet these same issues are reoccurring between both groups: lack of concern for poor, distrust of proper allocation of resources and overall rejection of church as essential for life.

I stated in my conclusion that even though the youth had a right to address their concerns regarding attending services, they too, could have stated their issues differently. Baby Boomers cannot handle disloyalty, defiance, disrespect and that is how the teens statements were automatically perceived. Had the teens, addressed the group as “Elders” and given them more respect, the Baby Boomer group may have been more amenable to addressing their concerns. The older group was more struck with how the youth addressed them than the issues that the youth brought up. This is proved when the older group hesitantly agreed to one of their concerns almost immediately.

This assignment gave me an opportunity to really use the Habermas theory to solve a communication problem that I could actually experience in real life as a church consultant.  Last week when I first attempted this assignment I was trying shortcuts that I learned in earlier classes. As a result, there was a bad echo when I would playback my videos. I finally learned that the echo was caused because my computer microphone was also recording the video causing the echo and distortion.

I also discovered an app called Download 6 that allows you to save YouTube videos directly into your iTunes or in a download folder on your phone. In past semesters, I had found another hack that was no longer working, but it was not as nearly as easy as this one. I was able to download the YouTube video in the presentation in less than 3 minutes. Also, I decided to watch some tutorials on Keynote because I was literally doing my presentations twice because I did not know how to do anything in it except open my PowerPoint file and record the narration.

After three classes, I feel more confident about my digital presentation than ever before.

References

Eaton, S. (2017, February). 59 Percent of Millennials Raised in a Church Have Dropped Out—And They’re Trying to Tell Us Why. Faith It. Retrieved from: http://faithit.com/12-reasons-millennials-over-church-sam-eaton/

Ihlen, Ø., Fredriksson, M., & Ruler, B. V. (2009). Public relations and social theory: key figures and concepts. New York: Routledge.

McArthur, J. A. (2014). Planning for strategic communication: a workbook for applying social theory to professional practice. Charlotte, NC: John A. McArthur.

When the Deal Goes Bad

Oral Presentation

Overview:

In the spring of 2015, I was sitting in my office and received very exciting news. My boss had secured a book deal from a major Christian publisher. We had been working hard on the book proposal with an international PR company for months and it looked as if I hard work had paid off.

The book deal was a five-figure deal for not one, but two books. One of the books already had a manuscript so the payout would be immediate on 50 percent of the contract which was more than we had expected.

Well, long after the first check had been received and cashed by my boss we noticed we had not heard anything else from the publisher. One month passed, then two and then month three I received an email from the CEO of the publishing company. Much to my astonishment, the publisher was writing to let us know that they were withdrawing the contract and were requesting the 65 percent of the advance back.

My CEO was livid. Our legal counsel was contacted and an emergency meeting was called. An immediate teleconference was set up between the CEOs, legal representatives and executive administrators.

During the meeting, we learned that in the publishing industry, the companies were experiencing slow sales with the books written by megachurch pastors. Unfortunately, my boss fit in this category. The fallout of the declining book sales seemed to stem from many things. First, the megachurch, itself was experiencing a decline in attendance. A blog by Urban Edge (2016) reported that Houston (America’s megachurch capital, with 37 in operation at the time of the article) had seen declines in attendance for the first time since 2009. It is important to note that Houston mirrored the national trends (2016).

Some of the declining sales were linked to major scandals that hit the Christian community. One of the largest was scandal involving the late Bishop Eddie Long. Another was the negative reaction of both Christians and non-believers to the reality TV show ‘Preachers of LA.’

An interview between host D.L. Hughley and gospel artist Kirk Franklin shared some of the sentiments that were described by the CEO of the publishing company:

During an appearance on “The D.L. Hughley Show,” Franklin revealed his disapproval of the Oxygen show in response to the host’s comment that “Preachers of L.A.” show seemed to turn people away from God. “I lived in L.A. my whole life, and to me, I thought the purpose of that show was to drag nonbelievers, people who don’t have access to God and don’t have relationship with Him, that it would be so attractive that it would draw them to Him,” said Hughley. “I think it’s done the opposite.” Franklin agreed with the hosts comments and said that also some of the preachers on the show were friends of his, he rejected and disapproved of the show (2014).

As a result of this meeting, the legal counsel for the publisher stated that to be fair they would give us 120 days to return the money. Well, although, I knew nothing about strategic communications at the time, I decided to devise my own plan to solve this dilemma.

Approach:

Looking back, I applied Berger’s social constructionist approach to the canceled book deal.

Using the Berger framework, I decided that a faith book would not work because the publisher CEO had already concluded that there was a major backlash against megachurch pastors. Therefore, I reached out to the other CEO independently and asked him if there was a book that we could produce for him that could surpass the negative impact of the consumer positioning against pastors like my boss. I explained to him that my boss had done sermon series on countless topics such as relationships, finances, parenting, generation gaps, etc. I felt as if we did a book on a topic that was different from faith that we could replace the unrespectability motif that was the underlining factor in the contract being cancelled that we could debunk the stereotype by producing a book that was so needed that it could activate the cosmopolitan motif and create an openness to hearing a relevant message from a pastor or just an inspirational leader that was so needed it broke down the barriers that had been created. The publisher CEO was so blown away by the proposal that he requested that I give him seven business days to think it over and get back to him.

The publisher CEO contacted me on day 8 and made a proposal that would solve the current problem. He described that the “Woman thou Art Loosed” book by Bishop TD Jakes was what his industry considered a sleeper project. It sold over 6 million copies over a number of years, it did not “blow up” immediately. Yet, when it did blow up, it became more than a book, it became a movement. Now, 20 years later it still has one of the most highly attended religious women’s conferences. My boss’ wife had a conference called “Fearless and Free” and the publisher proposed that my boss and his wife co-write the book together. My boss’ wife had overcome a life of poverty and abuse and was now empowering other women to do the same. The publisher felt like the couple’s solid marriage of 25 years, four kids (which they struggled to have after years of fertility treatments) would create a backdrop that could sale in spite of their megachurch pastor status. The publisher felt it could become a movement just like the “Women Thou Art Loosed” movement. He said if we agreed to this then we could retain the money and we could immediately start on the project.

Although, I felt this was an amazing idea, and a prime opportunity for the launch of the pastors’ ministry as a couple, my boss, and his wife declined. My boss was outraged by the idea that the publisher wanted to do a dual project book and he refused to speak to the CEO anymore. All further communication would happen through the legal counsel. I never spoke to the other CEO again.

Conclusion & Reflection:

This situation taught me that even as communication professionals our strategies can still fail if the leadership is unwilling to work with the strategy and be flexible with outcomes. In regards to using the technology associated with the project, thanks to previous classes I did not have to do anything new to complete the oral presentation except upgrade my Soundcloud membership so I would have enough minutes available for upload. In terms of pushing myself, the most difficult thing for me is timing. There were many more details I wanted to include, but I would have exceeded the minutes. I had to force myself to shorten my introduction several times. Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed creating the presentation.

 

References:

Holeywell, R. (2016, April 25). In Houston, the land of megachurches, religious service attendance declines. [Blog post].
Retrieved from: https://urbanedge.blogs.rice.edu/2016/04/25/in-houston-the-land-of-megachurches-fewer-people-attending-religious-services/#.WchbXtOGP_8

Ihlen, Ø., Fredriksson, M., & Ruler, B. V. (2009). Public relations and social theory: key figures and concepts. New York: Routledge.

McArthur, J. A. (2014). Planning for strategic communication: a workbook for applying social theory to professional practice. Charlotte, NC: John A. McArthur.

Menzie, N. (2014, May). Kirk Franklin Expresses disappointment in ‘Preachers of LA’ amid suggestion reality show turned people away from God. Christian Post.
Retrieved from: http://www.christianpost.com/news/kirk-franklin-expresses-disappointment-in-preachers-of-la-amid-suggestion-reality-show-turned-people-away-from-god-120678/

 

A Paradigm Shift: Book Review of Tribes

It is not often that you read a book that messes with you at your core. Every (figurative) blue moon, you read something that challenges you in such a way that you have to put it down a few days and come back to it so that you can continue. For me this book was Seth Godin’s book Tribes: We Need You Lead Us.

Reading this book for me has a caused a paradigm shift in my thinking and answered some very large questions that I have been asking myself for the last 90 days.

First, I am passionate about people. I always have been since I was a little girl. My dad always joked that I was the official “champion for the underdog.” Well fast forward thirty years later, and I found that even an underdog can bite you, so all battles need to be fought carefully.

Recently, I had a few situations that have caused some major issues in my small business that had been running very well. First, one of my managers started falling behind on one of our major accounts. Instead of confronting her about work performance, I begin to talk to her about her life and find out how things were going for her personally. She began to explain to me that she was having severe marital issues, having been divorced myself, I understand how the emotional toil of a failing relationship can have on work performance. So, I gave her a more structured schedule to be able to make the client objectives were handled in a timely manner, but it was too late. I received a call about a week later, that the client was pulling the contract.

Next, I had a business relationship with a woman that I had known at my former organization and she offered me a very lucrative contract, the only issue was that the contract stated that I could not work with any client that I met while working for her a minimum of three years. Besides being a tough clause, one of her previous clients had already sought my business out to do work for her. Now, because it is a service that is not offered by the other woman’s company I thought that it would be okay. I was sorely mistaken, the issue turned into a massive blowout. I was shocked and surprised especially since I told the other CEO up front that the former client reached out to me, and even more perplexed because the client wanted my company to develop a series of Ebooks, again, which is a service the other company did not offer. Later, I found out that the other business woman was upset that the client had reached out to me directly because she had planned to add $15,000 to the service that I offered for $9,500 and then make a $15,000 profit off my company. I was horrified.

Then to add insult to injury, the client that reached out to me has repeatedly delayed the project for the last 60 days. So, I missed out on the original contract (although, clearly, I did not need to work with anyone who would exploit my company) and also now am without the monthly revenue that the client obligated herself to when she accepted the writing services contracted that I offered to her.

Next, I had a good friend of mine, seek me out about developing and managing her brand. She let me know that she did not want a favor, she actually wanted to pay me for my services. Well, I had three meeting with her, set up her photo shoot, hair stylist and worked on wardrobe options and once I presented her the bill, she never called me back and that was two weeks ago and she also has not returned my call.

Lastly, my most faithful client find out he had cancer and had to have immediate surgery.  He still wants to continue his services. Which is so ironic to me, the only person who has a reason to ask for delay or discount did not.

I found myself, perplexed and discouraged in regards to my business. So, I started putting out my resume again and then I chose to read Tribes and I stopped.

The Tribes book provides a unique perspective on the opportunity that each of us has with the power of global reach contained in our mobile devices, tablets, and computers with online access. Godin passionately explains for the first time, individuals have the same power that formerly only belonged to companies. He illustrates how each of us has been empowered to lead if we so choose to do.

I concluded that I had taken the same broken system that I had learned in the organizations that I worked and was applying an employee-friendly version of it to my own business and I was doing it all wrong.

I was managing a process in exchange for monetary compensation, but what I was not to doing is passionately connecting others or leading a tribe. I had not convinced people that I was worth following and that was a tragedy for me because I am a very passionate about people living their best lives.

I realize that I could do this by using my power for the good of my fellow man/woman by creating and leading a tribe. Not necessarily for the benefit of financial gain, but for impact and to join together like-minded individuals and connect and empower them to change the world in some way.

Godin points out that the traditional power that was only available to CEOs, presidents and other high-ranking officials is now also available to the everyday person. As a matter of fact, Godin is urging and encouraging everyone to seize his or her own power and use it to create the change that is so desperately needed in the world today.

With the fall of large corporate giants like Enron in early 2000, with the dissatisfaction with political leaders and the growing numbers of Americans who are further away from being able to obtain the “the American dream” than ever—people need something to attach to their faith. People need faith for better opportunities, faith to make a difference, and faith that they can create a better world for their children. Godin unleashes an inspirational, figurative “kick in the pants.” Godin challenges the reader to be the change that they are seeking or follow a leader that believes in what they believe in, which is an important distinction, he is encouraging commitment to a leader and a worthy cause so that the person’s faith can become attached and retained. He is not advocating for blind followership, he actually is suggesting the opposite. Most working people do not have a choice who they follow at work. They have to submit to the leadership of managers or CEOs that feel do not care about them, their futures or their needs. He suggested that they can select a tribe leader that works to change whatever issues are most vital to the individual. The issues are critical because Godin repeatedly explains that tribes are “not about stuff, but they are about connection.” True tribe leaders are about connecting people and empowering them to tackle tough issues and initiative change, not to obtain material possessions. The ability to connect the tribe is key.

“Connection” is the new currency in modern society and it is easier than ever through the Internet and Social Media. Through connection individuals can help raise millions of dollars for hurricane victims, they can shut down illegal sex trafficking, or eradicate homeless in their community. Another, increasingly important power of a connected tribe is destroying the status quo; and in modern society, organizations and tribes that challenge the status quo are winning.

And at the end of the winning is important. Most people lead lives that are less than what they desire and even more feel completely helpless to do anything to change it. Godin is challenging that concept of living a meaningless, unfulfilling, unhappy life.  He describes the antidote to this feeling of helplessness is initiative and that initiative leads to happiness. The initiative only requires two things: a decision to lead and commitment. Godin says, “If your organization requires success before commitment, it will never have either.”

Godin’s message caused a cataclysmic shift for me. For years I had been hazed (verbally) in at an organization that was consumed with portraying the “perfect image.” The leaders were overly critical about outfits, shoes, make-up, handbags and even eyebrows. Now, do not get me wrong, there are environments that require dress codes and business etiquette, I do not want to completely minimize their importance, but what was missing from these verbal lashings was good fundamental leadership principles. I always felt is that the “hazing approach” to the “creating the perfect image of a leader” was not effective at gaining the loyalty of followers. I learned that people can admire you or your appearance from a distance, but never really follow or connect to you, and the end if you really are not a leader if no one is following you.

This is what makes this such a phenomenal book for anyone who wants to make a difference as a leader or as a follower. The older I get I am learning that good followership is just as important as good leadership. A good follower will help connect like members of the team, he or she will assist the leader in whatever ways will help he or she impact the team the most. While a tribe-focused leader is seeking people to connect that can help make a difference in their corner of the universe. It is a powerful concept: you should not be trying to be all things to all people, you should be trying to be really passionate about being who you need to be as a leader to set the ground work to draw and unite others in your area of change and expertise.

Godin’s concepts are powerfully, yet simply articulated in sections instead of chapters. This style is representative of flowing narrative of the material. The style and 150-page count make for a quick read. The ending was representative of the giving nature Godin is suggesting that tribe leaders possess. He simply asks for each reader to give their book away. As an author, I cannot think of a more brilliant way to get the word out about a subject that an individual is passionate about. This giving nature is a part of Godin’s core. Currently, on his website, he is giving away copies of his latest book. For example, if a person buys 3 he is sending them 5. More than just a clever marketing strategy, he is spreading his message and continuing to expand his tribe.

This book has helped me lay out a completely different strategic plan for 2018. Yes, I am a business owner, and of course, I need to make a living to pay my bills, but I also cannot afford to not build my tribe and begin to make a difference in my corner of the world.

I now believe I can make a bigger difference as a tribe leader than by only being a business owner alone.

Reference

Godin, S. (2008). Tribes: We need you to lead us. Hudson, New York: Penguin Group.

Additional Links

https://www.ted.com/talks/seth_godin_on_the_tribes_we_lead

http://sethgodin.com/

Purchasing Information (Available at Barnes & Noble and Amazon)

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/tribes+seth+godin?_requestid=1317272

https://www.amazon.com/Tribes-We-Need-You-Lead/dp/1591842336/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1505099147&sr=8-1&keywords=tribes+by+seth

The Creative Consultant’s Toolbox

As a creative consultant, I believe innovative strategies derived out of sense making concepts can be used to help organizations develop the skills that they need to be effective, competitive and relevant to the current economy.

A few lessons learned from the Mann Gulch disaster are “four potential sources of resilience that make groups less vulnerable to disruptions of sense making are proposed to forestall disintegration, including improvisation, virtual role systems, the attitude of wisdom, and norms of respectful interaction” (Weick, 1993).

These same principles can be applied to modern business culture to give companies the tools they need to be successful. Three of these tools are: designing and executing an effective social media/online strategy (respectful interaction), comprising an exceptional core team (virtual role systems), and staying ahead by carefully observing trends (improvisation and attitude of wisdom).

A superior online strategy will include social media designed to connect and engage with prospective clients and retain current ones. There is no relevance today without an online presence. According to the Pew Research Center, 10 years ago on 7% of the US population used one or more social networking sites. Now that figure has increased almost tenfold, to 65%. Of those who use the internet a massive majority of 76% of American’s use social media (2017). Socialization is one of the seven properties of Weick’s model of retrospective sense making (Eisenberg, Goodall, & Trethewey, 2014, p. 112).

The next tool that companies will need is the ability to comprise a core team. According to a recent Entrepreneur article (Nguyen, 2015), Eric Paley suggests hiring a core team of “A” players and then surround them with “B” players with very few “C” players. He describes “A” players as “workers who can not only read the book but can write it, too” (these are idea people); while “B” players are workers who will do their jobs reasonably well with little motivation; while “C” players are employees who need a lot of coaching on how to do their jobs well.

Finally, innovative companies need to stay abreast of the trends. This is similar to Weick’s concept of the enacted environment: “one of the most critical but often overlooked keys to organizational success involves keeping in touch with current issues” (Eisenberg, Goodall, & Trethewey, 2014, p. 111). Observing trends heightens the company’s  ability to “predict” or foresee future problems and create a solution (Nguyen, 2015). These three tools are imperative for the success of an innovative company.

References

Chaffey, D. (2017, April).  Global social media research summary 2017. Smart Insights. (2017, April). Retrieved from: http://www.smartinsights.com/social-media-marketing/social-media-strategy/new-global-social-media-research/

Eisenberg, E.M., Godall, H.L. Jr. & Tretheway, A. (2014). Organizational communication: Balancing creativity and constraint. 7th Ed. New York, NY: Bedford/St.Martin’s.

Nguyen, T. 10 Traits of the Most Innovative Entrepreneurs. (2015, October). Entrepreneur. Retrieved from: https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/250777

Weick, K. E. (1995). Sensemaking in organizations. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Weick, K. E. (1993). The collapse of Sensemaking in organizations: The Mann Gulch disaster. Administrative Science Quarterly, 38(4), 628. Retrieved from https://ezproxy.queens.edu:2048/login?url=http://search.proquest.com/docview/203920836?accountid=38688