Archive for the ‘messages’ Category

If Richard Simmons were to show up at your door step without any warning to set you up on a personal fitness plan, you might want to consider that you might have a weight problem. Because Richard Simmons doesn’t just show up at random houses without warning to set up random people on personal fitness plans.

And you should have figured out a long time before Richard Simmons showed up that you had a problem, and done something about. If Richard Simmons shows up at your doorstep, it is because you are in serious trouble–life or death trouble–with your health.

If some person of statue in your company or industry tries to step in and offer you a few suggestions out of the blue, would you consider it an insult or an opportunity?

If that same person came to you as part of a serious intervention on your part, would you push away or would you do exactly what they said exactly how they did it because they are far more successful than you?

You’re being approach because you’ve got a problem. A problem you may or may not have noticed in yourself, but someone else has, possibly because they have been in the same position you are in. And for whatever reason, they’re trying to help you.

Maybe they truly care about you. Maybe they only care that you are holding some project back and losing the company a lot of money in the process. They care enough to help you fix the problem.

The question you should be asking yourself right now is, do you care enough to let them help you fix the problem?

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As I was doing some research on whether you really can see the Great Wall of China from Outer Space, I began to think about some of the decisions that I made in my life, and how I had to be in the right places at the right times to even see the opportunity I have had to make those decisions.

My biggest example would be why I am living in my current home city of Little Rock, AR and chasing a current career path of media and broadcasting. When I was leaving the Air Force, I was looking at going to school full time until I could figure out what I wanted to do in my next stage of life, after long giving up on my childhood dreams of being a DJ, and failing miserably to convince anyone that I was just a slacker meant to wander aimlessly through life.

Little Rock was nowhere near my radar. In fact, it was not being able to find an immediate job in Atlanta that lead me to move out of my town house in South Georgia and just drive home to my parents’ house in Louisiana without much of a plan. I was set to spend a few days at home and then go try my luck for a few weeks in Dallas, with the invitation to stay on a friend’s couch.

Intervention came from another friend who had come to visit me in Georgia about two years before. We had worked in radio together five years earlier in college, and she was currently working at a radio station, and she called me and caught me days before I was to shut off my home phone service and hit the road. She had the chance to sell me on the law school at University of Arkansas-Little Rock, and on the fact that I was actually pretty good in radio, and could do some side work until I got enrolled in classes. That diversion brought me to the city, which led to more decisions and diversions that kept me on my current path (and not path of signing up for grad school–I PROMISE it will happen this year Mom), that I basically had to be here to even get the chance to see and make them. Moving to anywhere other than Arkansas in 2002, for example, would probably not have led me to get married to wife who was living in Arkansas in 2004.

Trying not to get all Bless The Broken Road on you, but life only allows you the ability to make choices from the choices given. You can’t catch a fly ball at a baseball game you didn’t go to. You can’t use a thunderstorm as an legitimate excuse to not mow my lawn on a clear and sunny day. You can’t be in two different places at the same time, so you can’t cash in on the opportunities available at two different places at the same time.

Do yourself a favor and stop being so hard on yourself for the opportunities you may have missed by not being in the right place at the right time in the past, and start a new focus and appreciation of the choices you were able to make and not make because of being who you were, right where you were. And if you’re looking to make a future dream come true, and it takes being someplace else to make it happen, try working on getting to where you need to be. - $11 Billion in Scholarships – $11 Billion in Scholarships
Let’s say you’re shipwrecked. Assuming you’re free from any immediate danger (you’ve got a life raft and some supplies, there are no sharks or pirates lurking, etc.) would right now be the best time to debate with yourself if your nephew would rather have the Wolverine action claws or the Batman cape and mask for his birthday present next week?

You might think there are better things to focus on in a time of crisis, mainly surviving to the next moment. But what good is surviving to the next moment and the next moment and the next moment if you lose the sense of why you should be surviving. Otherwise, the alternative will start to feel more appealing and a lot less of a hassle.

When I when through my 2 days of survival training in the Air Force, the instructors knew that 95% of the cadets that were standing in front of them in the woods were basically on a camping trip and would never need any real field survival tips, but they taught us some mental tricks that would actually roll over well as basic life skills. The most important is the faith that you will survive, and the ability to keep those around you convinced of the same, despite the conditions you are facing. The common scenario for doom would be a group of survivors marching toward what they hope would be safety, where eventually, someone will start muttering “We’re all going to die…” Those words will quickly become a chorus in perfect lock-step harmony if not addressed immediately.

Take a look at the various aspects of your life. Whether it is the fear of more cutbacks and layoffs at work, or the strain of a spousal or parental relationship at home, all the battle plans in the world you can devise to survive an onslaught will do you no good if you’ve got nothing to live for after the war has been won.

Assuming you are not currently in the act of dodging bullets or arrows, now is exactly the right time to be planning that moment you’ll be looking forward too once you step off the field of battle.

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I’ve been writing and rewriting a potential blog post for months on dealing with the frustration of people who do not have the capability to follow orders. I have been stymied by frustration with the subject, frustration with the true object I am pointing out in the subject (I don’t give any company names, but if you know my history its pretty easy to figure out which company), and frustration in the tone that it apparently wants to take despite the number of rewrites it gets.

The point of the post that will probably never see the light of day is that you can’t become overly frustrated with people you give orders to if they are incapable of following them. After you’ve checked to make sure your style of delivery isn’t the problem, and that you are sending an effective message, it doesn’t matter if your receivers are incapable of interpreting the message or just incompetent in carrying out the orders. And it might not be completely their fault that they can’t get the job done, but since you’re still responsible, you either have to replace your workers or replace yourself and get another job where the people you lead can get the job done.

But today, I had a epiphany over the term orders. I used the term as a formal throwback to my days in the Air Force, which was explained in the beginning of the post that will never see the light of day. It seemed like a self-explanatory word. I don’t use the term orders now, and rarely gave ‘orders’ to those that fell under my leadership when I was in command. I gave, and still give, instruction, directions, guidance, suggestions, unwanted-but-needed feedback, and on occasion, an overly extended cursing tirade that often involves projectiles being aimed at one’s head (that did occur frequently at the job in question in the post that shall never see the light of day).

So what’s in a word? While I realized I was having a problem with a word that was affecting the tone of writing–orders–I was still getting the point across. But just like your selection of words can take a conversation for light and lively to heavy and full of fisticuffs, you’ve got to be careful with the words you use. Apparently, I needed that reminder more than I needed that blog post.
While the drawbacks of getting sucked into reading seemingly random inputs from seemingly random people you follow on Twitter are pretty obvious, the possibilities for focused input, or even a true focus group, are amazing.

When I was an Acquisitions Officer in the Air Force, I worked for about 8 months on a program that processed security clearances and was given a team to work all the data on how fast the process was going, and presented daily metrics to the government agency in charge of the program. The words my boss told me when he gave me the duties, “The guy who reports the metrics can prove just about anything he wanted to,” turned out to be so truthful it was a little frightening.

The experience has made me a numbers and info junky on par with die hard rotisserie baseball geeks. And Twitter is filling that addiction to information like no other analytic tools ever has.

The magic is in its mission statement, a chance for people around the world to instantly share with others what they are doing. It also gives you the chance to look into the minds of those same millions of people, and see what they are doing, thinking, buying, or dissing.

This power is easily seen in the quick Twitter chatter scene during big television events as people who are looking to be a part of the mass experiences fire off snarky comments as an organic commentary track. This power has been most prominent in watching the ups and downs during the 2008 presidential election and the early days of the Obama Presidential Administration.

As a metrics nut, I like to lot watch the Twitter feeds during big events on TV, like new episodes of 24 and live performance shows nights on American Idol. But the real fun has come during President Obama’s television news conferences. Especially the ones that delay prime time television. Instant praise, instant hate, and instant color commentary is available to anyone willing to scroll thought a few pages of tweets.

Any marketer or sales manager can do a Twitter topic search on their company and find out exactly what is being said exactly when people are thinking about it. That was a good thing for the marketing team at Skittles that decided to make their Twitter search page the actual corporate product website, and a bad thing for Motrin after the Motrin moms took to blogosphere over a commercial that didn’t go over so well with them.

Monitoring your Twitter conversation does give you lots of insight into the thoughts of your brand or product. Just be ready to dismiss some of the more silly or snarky comments. After all, we are still talking about people using the anonymousness of the internet (even if it’s getting harder and harder to stay anonymous) to be a little to open and honest, with little regard of the consequences of the words going out to the world.

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I was looking to challenge myself today in my writing, and found myself surprisingly fixated on wrestler Ric Flair’s Space Mountain quote for most of the morning. Not sure exactly way the aging wrestler was in my thoughts, but somehow, inspiration struck because of it.

What you have below is the wisdom gleaned from words of the Nature Boy, one of the greatest athletic and theatrical performers I have ever witnessed. Give it a quick read, and see how much knowledge you can gain for use in your business or personal life.

“This ain’t no garden party, brother. This is wrestling, where only the strongest survive.”

Make sure what you are getting to is exactly what you want to get into, because chances are, you’re going to find the path it takes to get there has plenty of surprises waiting for you just past your line of site. And by surprises, I mean obstacles to your progress and problems that will take you off course. Just know they will appear, and prepare yourself for the journey. Just make sure it is a journey worth taking.

“Girls, you can’t be the first, but you can be next.”

The world is full of pioneers. You don’t necessarily have to be one to be successful and prosperous. In fact, you will probably be doing yourself a favor by following in the footsteps of someone who took the time to blaze a trail ahead of you.

“Space Mountain may be the oldest ride in the park, but it has the longest line.”

Once you’ve established yourself as the bonafide leader, everyone will want a piece of you. And you might be as great as you’ve convinced people that you are, but you are still only one person. Forget the myth of multitasking, you can only handle one request at a time, leading to a slow and plodding process of people constantly trying to work their way to get a little closer to you a little faster then you can handle. Let them wait.

“I’m a limousine ridin’, jet flyin’, kiss stealin’, wheelin’ dealin’ son of a gun. WOOOO!!”

You’ve got little choice in your life but to sell yourself, your ideas, or you actual product to the world. If you’re going to sell yourself, you might as well be bold about it as possible. As long as you’re not lying about it, sing your own praises to your hearts content.

“To be the man, you’ve gotta beat the man.”

This has to be Flair’s most famous quote, and my second favorite of his (edged out just slightly by the Space Mountain quote). Put plain and simply, if you want something so badly, step up and try to take it. Talk is talk, but only those brave enough to put forward the action needed to make it happen will ever make it happen.

“Whenever they feel like it, the door’s wide open.”

Oh, and by the way, once you’ve scratched and clawed your way to the top, your role changes. You are no longer striving to get there. You are there. Now is the time to start striving to stay there, with plenty of up-and-comers looking to take you out, and has-beens looking to take back the spot they used to own. They’re coming for you, like it or not. Might as well make them fight for it.

“As long as he understands this is Flair country, it is.”

As long as you’re at the top of the mountain, it’s your world. As long as someone else is at the top of the mountain, it’s their world. Pouting and complaining won’t get you anywhere. Hard work, determination, a little or a lot of time (most likely a lot) will get you somewhere. With a little luck, you’ll actually make it to the top of the mountain. But until you get there, make sure you give plenty of respect to the current king. They’ve earned it.

“My God, thank you. Thank you very much. I’m almost embarrassed by the response, but when I see this, I know that the twenty five years that I’ve spent trying to make you happy every night of your life was worth every damn minute of it.”

This comes from Ric Flair’s retirement speech to his fans, and the message here is simple. Be courteous to those who offer you support along the way of your journey in business and in life, and be sincere to everyone. Yes, EVERYONE! You can never give to many ‘Thank you’s.’

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Among many other issues the company that makes up my day job has, one very sudden but not exactly unexpected problem has arisen that sums up one of the biggest issues or broadcast industry is dealing with.

Citadel Broadcasting, ABC Radio Networks, and one of my Citadel-Little Rock Stations, KARN Newsradio, has a Paul Harvey problem.

Paul Harvey died last weekend at either 90 or 91 years old, based on whatever website you happened to get your story confirmation. Left now is a radio legacy that all of us in the business owe a great deal of gratitude for, and an immediate programming hole for millions of listeners.

But the Paul Harvey-programming hole problem is not what broadcaster will now fill his shoes. Veteran broadcasters and constant fill-ins Gil Gross and Doug Limerick will split the duty, and in an industry where movement is key for development, possibly allow just enough space to shuffle up more talent that has be waiting in the wings (a similar effect happened when David Gregory was announced as the permanent replacement for Tim Russert as host of NBC’s Meet The Press).

And the Paul Harvey-programming hole problem on the local level isn’t the loss of a familiar audio time hack, because other than the voice changes and possible title changes, you’re still going to get ‘News & Notes’ and ‘The Rest Of The Story’ at the same times on my station KARN Newsradio.

The Paul Harvey-programming hole problem that has to be dealt with is the knowledge that we may never have another personality created in Harvey’s likeness again.

Our key weapon in traditional over-the-air radio against the advancing forces of the paid satellite model or the sometimes paid-sometimes free streaming internet model or the 99-cents-a-song iTunes model was simple: you get the music/news/sports/entertainment free, and we’ll throw in great personalities, and local ones if want them. Since you could always just buy the music or buy the newspaper, the value added was received from hearing the voice of someone who is just like you: a neighbor with kids in the school system who you might have even had a class or two with in middle school. And while we have added to our arsenal of more podcasting/on-demand options in the face of an every growing time shifted world, its still a level playing field between choosing to download ‘the random nationwide syndicated guy’ and ‘your local guy and gal that wake you up every morning.’

The Paul Harvey-programming hole is special, since Paul Harvey obviously isn’t really sitting in a radio booth in your hometown, and all of his news can be accessed on the internet with little effort. But when Harvey started his shtick double my lifetime ago, you really couldn’t get all the information and stories in the way he did, and have the bonus of having it sound like your goofy brother-in-law or favorite great-uncle was telling it to you directly.

We have plenty of faux news programs now. On television, radio, and all over the internet. Some are produced as pure satire with their sole intention to mock and make fun of the actual news of the day. Some are pure comedy. Some do their best to spread news to people who wouldn’t get it otherwise. I even created one, called “8 Things To Talk About,” and tried to have an Arkansas-focused and a national-focused early morning audio new cast you could take along with you. But with a flood of options, you can only hope for a small piece of the total attention span pie.

Paul Harvey had a disproportionally enormous chunk of that pie for being a 90-year-old reader of goofy news stories trying to sell Bose Wave Radios. But you could easily take his script and style and find just about any descent broadcaster to can deliver it. They just wouldn’t be able to pull it off with the voice, the tone, the pitch, and the sometimes annoying artificial pauses and stutters like Paul Harvey did.

For me, losing radio legend Paul Harvey is personally comparable to when my younger sister died about 5 years back. Surrogate people magically appeared to fill the roles she played in my live, but none of them could fill them all perfectly, and none of them would ever BE my sister in the way she was both the most loving and painfully annoying person that she was. Paul Harvey isn’t just a familiar voice on the radio. He’s family. And sure, plenty of people with various amount of talent can replace him in many of his roles, but not the way he did it.

He was a man that kept a near obsolete programming model fresh and viable. He was inspiring to many, annoying to some, but admired by most who knew him, even if he was only known as the voice on the radio you heard that reminded you how late you were for work. He was a member of my radio family for the past 7 years and a personal friend who talked to me every day on the radio since I was 7.

The Paul Harvey-programming hole is a problem with no real solution. I’m sure Harvey himself would want us to get over it, and get ready for the next big thing.

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Rush Limbaugh makes a lot of money to talk to people everyday. But he talks to A LOT of people. And they listen intently—whether they really want to or not.

Say what you want about his politics, opinions, and sometimes flat out non-truths. If Rush were still just a radio DJ, and could take his following with him to any local metro, someone would figure out how to pay him even more money.

As the apparent voice of ‘The True Conservative,’ Rush had the chance to speak at this year’s Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC 2009), and based mostly on people’s idea of the talk show host coming in, he gave either an amazing or pathetic speech.

But as far as I can tell, he was the only speaker covered live by Fox News Channel and CNN last night, with plenty of other Republican superstars set to step up to the podium. And he was definitely the most analyzed (I think over analyzed) speaker of the weekend.

It has taken him twenty years on the radio in the talk format to truly develop his powerbase, a dozen years before that to get him into talk radio, and although his detractors will quickly point out the missteps and failures he’s made up to this point, they will quickly use his message as the best way to shore up their opposing message. That is power, and truly ironic, as Rush is using President Barack Obama’s messages and policy decision to produce the opposing view so popular to his listeners, whether he is truly right 99% of the time or not.

If you like him, Rush Limbaugh is an effective communicator and great for rallying his troops. If you don’t like him, Rush Limbaugh is an outstanding communicator with the ability to spin webs of words that draw in masses of people to follow in lock step with his paranoid ideology.

Ether way, you can not deny Rush’s ability to get a message across effectively.

As a person whose business is about getting the message across effectively, its easy to see the tools and techniques used by Rush Limbaugh and to attempt to emulate and teach the ones that are most effective to the others…even is the end user is far from a fan and thinks that Limbaugh’s tactics are over the top and used unfairly. They are not. They are used in the medium in which they are most effective, and they work, even when they don’t get the expected response.

What seems like an army of blowtorches and bazookas in Limbaugh’s arsenal hide the ultra effective sniper riffle. The ability to shotgun blast the mainstream message while simultaneously pinpoint target the right people to perform the desired action, sometimes in his favor, sometimes against him, is where Rush has truly mastered the medium. No other media figure gets so much coverage on other media outlets than Limbaugh, a man who effectively only has a three hour syndicated talks show, a newsletter, and a website.

Rush Limbaugh is a classic case of the messenger with guns pointed at him by his opponents and his supposed allies because of the message he has chosen to deliver. But the message gets delivered every time. It’s what the masses do with the message that gets a little weird.

When Rush talks, people hear him speaking. They may then cheer or complain, they may misinterpret unintentionally or intentionally, or the may just hear him talking and do their best to drown out the noise and not listen, but a message gets sent.

Think about what lengths you go through to ensure your message gets sent, and what the receivers do with the message from that point on. If your method isn’t working, you might consider using a few tools from the Limbaugh tool box. It’s not about liking his message, it’s about knowing that his methods work.

I see myself, among other things, as a messenger trying to ensure the message of the moment–some very simple, most not so simple–gets sent intact and received fully. Working in media, you quickly learn that you get a greater response to a particular message when you make it an experience that, to the listener, is truly about them.

We are a ‘me’ society. Just talk to teenage kids and you’ll think we are raising the most self-centered generation in history. That might be true, but my generation was and still is pretty self-involved. And there have been scores of materials written about the downsides of some of the actions of the Baby Boomers.

It doesn’t change the fact that the best way to get someone’s attention it to make the issues as much about them as possible. Even if it isn’t.

And that is the hard part. When it’s not personal, when they don’t have a dog in the fight, when the issue has less significance in one’s life than a coin flip, it hard to sell it to some one that the issue really matters.

It’s even harder when the issue really does matter, and will affect them eventually. Just not today, and there are plenty of other problems in front of them that dealing with a future worry that might not actually come to pass is a nuisance people will chose to ignore.

Remember that whenever you are trying to deliver a message. It has to be personal. It has to have meaning. It has to have an impact on their lives serious enough, good or bad, to make them take a moment to take note.

You still may not get the desired outcome from delivering the message. You will get the satisfaction of knowing the message was received, and received clearly.

It’s now up to them to act or react.

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