Who’s Your Mentor

Classroom with Three Figures

By guest contributor Luis Martinez

The word mentor comes from Greek mythology.  In Homer’s tale of the Odyssey, Odysseus had a son named Telemachus. Odysseus needed to go and fight the Trojan wars.  Realizing he would be away for long periods of time, he asked his trusted friend, Mentor, to tutor and teach his son Telemachus. So the noun – mentor – traces its roots to that era. Today we use the noun, mentor, as a verb; we talk about mentoring someone.   Continue reading Who’s Your Mentor

The Surprising Answer to What’s Missing?

3D Character and Question Mark

By guest author Luis Martinez

Looking at my work and life experience from both sides of the desk–as an employee, manager and even company owner I often wondered, what was out of balance when things weren’t going right? You know the feeling. When you do the work, give it your all, are fairly compensated and the end result still doesn’t taste good? What’s up? What’s missing?

Appreciation. That’s what’s missing.

Think about it.  Why do you sometimes feel empty after having done a great job chasing down a problem for a customer?  What is that kick-in-the-stomach feeling when the boss seems oblivious to great results from your efforts, and instead picks on some trifling detail? If you are a manager or business owner, why do you shrug and shake your head when an employee leaves your business after training them and teaching them a new craft for months, or years?

Appreciation would have made all the difference.

Appreciation isn’t always about financial compensation. Despite being well paid you are bound to have days when you feel, well…unappreciated.  Attempts to measure appreciation are personal: we each recognize an exquisite balance between tangible compensation (salary, bonus, benefits, insurance plans, company car, window office, etc.) and intangibles (a smile, a letter of gratitude, a congratulatory email, a pat on the back, a warm referral, etc.). 

When either tangible or intangible compensation is out of proportion to the other, we know it.  At the extremes, we won’t stay in a company where we are paid appropriately but the management or the culture is unappreciative or in some cases, downright toxic.  We all have examples. I once quit a company that was the top in its industry. The work was interesting and could even be described as prestigious. Sadly, the mental abuse nullified my handsome salary.  So no, money is not enough. 

On the other end, if you work for a company that is cash strapped, and the owner and management is well behaved, friendly, accessible, approachable and appreciative but misses payroll from time to time, well, you have only so much patience for them.  Appreciation is good but you still need to pay your bills. 

Appreciation is necessary on both sides of the desk.  The manager/owner wants to see smiles and supportive gestures from employees who recognize the opportunity presented to them. The employee or contracted worker wants managers to express gratitude for a job well done, a customer appreciating a problem resolved, and recognition from peers. 

Let’s challenge ourselves to be the change we want to see. Reach out to someone right now at this very moment and let them know how much you appreciate them. Better yet, incorporate appreciation into your company culture. Consider infusing your internal communication with:

  • cards,
  • thank you letters,
  • recognition in newsletters, and 
  • personal emails.

Establishing a company culture of appreciation will send a positive message to potential hires and keep you and your organization well-balanced and mentally satisfied. In case you’re wondering there are bottom-line benefits here. Customers aren’t the only ones who spread word-of-mouth. You and your staff use word-of-mouth to communicate your organization’s credibility. All things being equal who wouldn’t prefer to do business with the organization with a reputation for appreciation. So try it. You’ll like it. And if you do please let me know…I’ll certainly appreciate that you did.

Luis Martinez is the owner of Gran Altura’s, Getting There. He has many years experience coaching and advising employees, peers, and executives and has held senior level assignments at Fortune 500 Companies. Join the ranks of highly accomplished individuals. Get the job and attain the status you deserve. Learn more about Getting There.

What Gives?

A gift

 
Giving. It’s a celebrated act during the holidays but not so much for business communications. Or is it? A recent study by the university of Massachusetts Dartmouth discovered that the fastest growing businesses are the ones that are boldly engaging in social media.
 
Social media is powered by the interactions between people. So what are these successful businesses doing? They’re giving.
 
In his book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, author Robert Cialdini uses scientific scholarship to explain what influences our decision-making. He introduces six principles of ethical persuasion (no torture here): reciprocity, scarcity, liking, authority, social proof, and commitment/consistency.


How do these tie to giving? Recipricocity, liking, authority and social proof are all big players in social media and content.

When someone offers something of perceived value the recipient automatically feels a sense gratitude and an obligation to reciprocate. It’s human nature. If you give me something useful I’ll give you something in return. That something can range from a few minutes of my attention to positive word-of-mouth to money.
 
Social media allows us to publicly share what we choose to return. This builds on another of Cialdini’s principles; social proof (if all my peers support this, it must be good).  
 
Something wonderful happens when you produce high quality, helpful content. Readers will start to see you as an authority on the topic and they will like you because you helped them. See how this works?
 
Marketing through giving also creates some pretty cool side-effects.
 
Authenticity. One article, one tweet, one update: giving in social media and marketing isn’t a one-shot bullet. Nor is it snake oil.  Giving repeatedly helps prospects really understand who you are and what you can do for them. In his 2009 White Paper Success Summit, Michael Stelzner used the analogy of a bank account. Every time you give you’re making a deposit. Every time you ask for something (a call-to-action) you’re making a withdrawal. Overdraw on your account and you’ll be penalized. Manage your account well and you’ll develop a credible and trusted reputation.
 
Integration. Giving allows you to tie traditional and online marketing methods together. Businesses are advertising the availability of helpful information in lieu of announcing features. This information is then made available through social media channels, email, or hard copy. That’s a lot of touch points for your investment.
 
Enthusiasm. A positive, can-do attitude. Facilitating awareness and learning. Wouldn’t you agree these are desirable qualities and actions? The best communications, either through content or conversation, radiates these elements.
 
If you like this article and are on Twitter please consider retweeting it. Nothing like an example!   

 

K. Marley is a professional content writer who helps businesses communicate their value to their prospects and customers. Make contact at http://www.kmwordsmith.com. 
 

On Giving

by Luis Martinez

What are you giving away – with no expectation of return?  What part of your value or of your services are you rendering to others as your gift for the greater good?  And, you may be asking, why this topic today?   Well, if you suspect that this topic was chosen in December to set the reader up to make a philanthropic donation to a worthy cause, you’re right!  Your cause.  This is a business topic – about your business. 

We establish our businesses to earn an income, to be economically self sufficient, to be productive for ourselves and others.  That is understood.  But there is room in that profit motive equation for charity, not just the traditional type of charity of benevolent donations to worthy causes, but charity with an intent of benefiting the greater good, of which we are also a part.  Sounds circuitous, doesn’t it?  Let me use two specific examples to illustrate, one of a local entrepreneur, the second one of a national magazine.

My friend Scott owns a neighborhood bicycle shop.  I’m an avid cyclist, and needed some new cycling shoes a few years ago. I went through several catalogues and found exactly what I wanted.  The shoes were identically priced at $179.99 in three catalogs. I took all three catalogs to Scott and said to him: “These are the shoes I want.  Please order them from your sources and I’ll pay you the catalog price, so you can have the profit.”  He ordered the shoes and a few days later he called me to come pick them up.  When I came to get the shoes he charged me $120.  I said, “Scott, you’re giving me a big break here, sixty dollars…”  He said, “No problem, I made my money.”  Well, can you guess what I’ve been doing ever since?  He gave me a $60 savings that I wasn’t expecting so I’ve been buying every article for bicycling from him, and singing his praises!  Wouldn’t you? How many customers have I sent his way who have bought his high end bikes?  He gave of himself, expecting nothing – we didn’t have an agreement, not even implicitly, for a price break.  But in doing so he gained a great deal more. (Visit Scott Likly, Towpath Bicycles, Pittsford, NY)

The second example is the magazine, Fast Company.   When it launched, the publishers held to a principle of sharing and giving their information, the content of their articles, freely and openly.  Now, more than a decade later I still look forward to receiving Fast Company in the mail for its contemporary and timely content.  But wait, there’s more.  I love to go on their website and search their archives for topics of interest: on leadership, entrepreneurship, branding (personal and corporate), social media–the list is long. Fast Company archives are easy to find–and are free.  Many other publications, including our city newspaper, charge at least ten bucks for an archived article.  At Fast Company they have adhered to a spirit of giving – a spirit that others need to emulate. 

Look at the evidence: in this article I’ve just told you about two enterprises that keep on giving.

Is your brand known for giving?

Luis Martinez is the owner of Gran Altura’s, Getting There. He has many years experience coaching and advising employees, peers, and executives and has held senior level assignments at Fortune 500 Companies. Join the ranks of highly accomplished individuals. Get the job and attain the status you deserve. Learn more about Getting There.