Posts Tagged ‘Social Media’



October 5, 2012

Did you listen closely Wednesday to how Romney was going to increase jobs?

I hope so, as you might want to compare his plan – based on what he learned as a business leader 30 years ago to the latest reality-start up companies.  Since 1977, there has been a net increase in jobs from businesses other than startups ONLY SEVEN TIMES.  And start-up companies have changed significantly over that same period of time.

Start-ups are hiring fewer people; they are depending more on contract workers.  At its peak in 1999, new start-ups employed 7.7 employees; in 2011, that number is 4.7 or a 46% decline.  That means the numbers Romney knows from times past will most likely not be achieved in times present…despite his claim that from his “experience” he knows he can do this.

This revolution in start-ups and small business started first in Japan in the 1980s when manufacturers learned the value of creating products in smaller batches and refining them more often, according to Eric Ries, the author of “The Lean Start-up”.

Then, in the ensuing twenty years, as the technological impact became apparent, first through tele-commuting, those small businesses learned they are more flexible by using “contractors”.

It is a concept I have personally been experimenting with since 2007….which lead to a new sales high for me of almost $ 2 million annually in 2010 and 2011…with no employees.  But more importantly, it allowed my company to better match the needs of my clients to very specific talents of contractors resulting in far less cost to the client than were I to have maintained a pool of potential skills within my own organization…and all the administrative staff, space and other overhead to support that pool of labor.

Fortunately, I also do not have to be concerned about “stakeholder value” so no decisions need be driven nor dollars diverted from obtaining client satisfaction; all sales dollars can be focused on providing top services at a fair price by the best in the industry….as supported by awards, honors, press, and the recognition we received for our work over those same two years.

This is a 21st century phenomenon now being called the Jobless Entrepreneurship.  It is part of the change we are seeing in this digital, collaborative age of the 21st century. It most likely is partly responsible for slower than desired job growth and recovery since our economy imploded in the previous administration.

In spite of that, I’m proud to be one of the pioneers; and already, I am seeing those that have come after have experimented and tweeked and achieved ever increasing results for their clients.

There is no doubt, today’s entrepreneurs and their clients are on board and continue to push the envelope for better results.  Results for clients themselves and for those they employ as contractors.  If you haven’t spent any time in the “Business” section of a bookstore, you ought to plan a trip….Social Media, Learning, Collaboration and Contracting are front and center, as well they should be….because it is working!

It’s only the Politicians and the Press that are lagging behind.    And I can assure you from experience, the 1980s successful businessman running for President does not have today’s business answers. 

But what about his Governor experience, you say?  Compare Bill Clinton of the ‘90s to Bill Clinton of today.  He may have built on his experience in the ‘90s; but he does not rely on it for his credentials.  Neither should Romney. 

The World has Changed.  Romney hasn’t.



December 14, 2010

A new term in my vocabulary, and perhaps in yours…and if so, make note of it; remember it; seek out more information because I am convinced, we will all hear much more about this as we move forward into the second decade of this century…some of us still dragging our feet and holding on desperately to the familiarity of what we know and excel at in our past.

Thanks to the big winter storm here in MN, I was given a precious gift-two “found” days this weekend to lose myself in “The New Social Learning”  -with a short break once in a while for a peak outside or a quick escape into the world of Tom Clancy, to allow my mind time to process what I was discovering.

When I read the forward by Dan Pink, I knew I had found a gem…”Twitter, Facebook, and their social media kin are not all about marketing.  They’re equally if not more so, about learning….”  YES, finally a resource that positions social media not as a personal or corporate marketing tool but as a collaborative aid to facilitate learning! 

With that to peak my interest, I delved right in and before I finished the introduction, I was impressed with the authors’ realistic and thoughtful approach to this topic.  After an opening chapter on trends reshaping the workplace, the challenges and opportunities of these shifts and how social learning fits in this environment, the authors address, chapter by chapter, a specific social media category, its application, how these practices overcome business challenges, and how to address the critics of each.

Criticism.  Now that is a phenomenon I have encountered most of my life, and certainly recently as I have used this blog to contemplate ideas gleaned from industry thought-leaders  re adult learning, alternatives to consider when structuring conferences going forward, and possible options to minimize ineffective general session costs.  I recognize that criticism is a normal reaction to defend the familiar status quo, and generally, after the first sting, adds value to the innovation process, as it points out weaknesses to be overcome, or sometimes simply prepares one for that natural phenomenon of naysayers that are lurking in the wings.  But Bingham and Conner reassure the reader that the criticism generally falls into 3-4 predictable categories; then they build the case of how to dismiss its negative impact, and offer up success stories of those national and international organizations that have already forged ahead to embrace the change.  They even include top-notch examples of Governance of social learning use within some impressive corporations.

And best of all, they did not write this book frozen in time, but as two of the most respected names in training and development, they recognize that the tools discussed in the book may have dramatically changed by the time the book is read, so they created a complimentary website to keep the conversation current; provide more about applications of interest to each of us, and even “getting started guides”.

All that and I had not even started the book yet!   Needless to say, by the end of the weekend, the book was filled with margin notations and my ideas journal reflects a long list of action items; including some quality time devoted to that website! Today, let me end with some memorable thoughts put forth in the Afterward of this new treasure chest of ideas:

Once you move away from the push of information to the pull of learning, you liberate creative powers  in your people to succeed in this rapidly changing environment…once you make it easy for people…and you create an environment where people are not afraid to fail, you allow them to ask the really hard questions. …It’s about making learning a priority and using the tools of social media to facilitate a culture where we get better at getting better. It’s no longer about just being a better competitor.  It’s now about being a stronger contributor and a savvier learner. 

AMEN to that.



December 7, 2009

Just before Thanksgiving, I completed a lengthy project assisting Lawson Software in vendor reviews and selection for both their annual user’s conference, and for their annual incentive program.

It was a great experience, first of all, as it exposed me to a first-class organization and two teams of stakeholders that were passionate about improving their programs. They were committed to the process, readily available, respectful of the process and each other, and open and willing to push to move their respective programs forward to better serve the needs and objectives of their organization.

It allowed me to use a lifetime of experience accumulated over 40 years with incentive programs, meetings, conferences and events. At the same time, the process pushed me to focus on the latest engagement tools from new technology applications to a changing adult learning model to new ways to look at customer feedback. Along the way, I encountered what’s happening in the meetings and events industry in EMEA and APAC and learned that some cutting edge things are developing out the world that we here at home should be taking a look at.

And probably equally important for me personally, through this project, I am beginning to understand that social media is a misnomer. The term “social” should be replaced with “virtual” and viewed as a new powerful means of communication that expands our reach, our input and our understanding. It’s not a question of either live events or virtual; it’s the emergence of “hybrid” that at some point in time in the future will become the norm for all of us.

Equally rewarding, Creative Events received continual positive feedback from both the client and industry peers in the process we used. Some years ago, I was part of the APEX Best Practices review teams and specifically addressed the RFP process. So our process at Lawson started there and expanded the basics to include a comprehensive brief on the existing programs and their desired outcomes, clearly outlined not only the review process but also the specific information to be addressed and finally, included an Innovation Challenge that tested each vendor’s understanding of the client’s desired outcomes and how current trends might have a positive impact on accomplishing them.

Who among us could ask for more: to work with great people; to use the experience one has accumulated, to learn good things along the way; and to earn recognition and praise from our peers? And to get paid a fair price for our expertise as well!

So thank you Carolyn Vinup at HPSS for recommending me to this client; thank you Lawson CUE and CLUB teams for the great learning experience, and thank you to all the vendor finalists. It was a revitalizing experience. I’m renewed, inspired and ready for more!



September 29, 2009

This past week, I experienced a transition in what social media means for me. From its impact on forming a sense of community with “like” people and a basic appreciation of its marketing and communications applications in the event world, I have jumped to a whole new level of understanding of its usefulness and one that ties directly to the Creative Events mission of facilitating the communication of a quality, cost-effective and motivational message within every meeting or event environment.

An article in Meetings Net gave me some practical tips. One, attendees tweeting at my events will tip me off to situations that need my attention – whether that be the room is too warm, the music is too loud, or the beverage service is backed up. It is my responsibility on site to monitor those logistical details so that our guests are not distracted. I agree with Peter Hutchins at ASAE that I would rather know about the issue when I can act to correct it, than for it to become a negative mark on the event after it’s over.

Further, the ASAE article hinted at something much more important as it referenced Twitter moving from “interesting” to “useful” as it served as a means to relay questions between speakers and non-attendees. For ASAE, that was a signal to think more about two audiences – the ones that were physically at the meeting site, and those that are attending virtually through social communities of the attendee -and how the event organizer must do a better job of meeting the needs of both.

That provided a bridge back to an interesting podcast last week between Sue Peltier and Jeff De Cagna of Principled Innovation, LLC. In short, Mr. DeCagna suggested planners need to think differently about “social”- virtual has arrived. We devalue events when we do not allow opportunities for interaction, and create a show instead of an interactive experience. We need to integrate connectivity into our planning and encourage both face to face and virtual engagement for our audience. We should challenge our producers and speakers to get involved in this process. We need to create an environment in which the live and virtual community engages and wants to tell the story of their experience.

In the third point of that podcast – covering the need to nurture the learning mindset, it all came together for me. As DeCagna posed the question of what was a more “learnful” experience – to try to stay focused on the words of the speaker, or to allow myself to immediately share a point of interest with my community to discuss informally, peer-to-peer, with real time feedback, I finally moved forward to understand that social media is a powerful learning tool. It becomes the social interaction we once planned to happen after the message delivery to allow for peer discussion. We know that discussion is key to helping our audience to, not only understand, but to also create the memory joggers to recall the message once they leave our event. That is the key to behavioral change. For many in our audience, that social interaction is happening at the same time as the message is delivered-through the use of emerging media applications that allow immediate connectivity to a peer community.

As the event organizer or planner, we should not be concerned about that – we should facilitate it as we continue to support purposeful engagement.

As we reset after the damage of this recession, we will be facing a new economy – one in which every event has to have a strategy that is uniquely developed for its own purpose. As an industry, we need to understand that the adult learning model is changing and we must search for how we can best use tools such as social media to cultivate learning as the priority in our events.

And now, a new challenge for me. “Not enough time” can no longer be my crutch for not becoming better at using social media. There IS no excuse to limit learning opportunities!