Tag Archives: Mary Trigiani

There was no simpler time. Never, ever.

David McCullough tells the best stories about American history through the lens of leadership.  Last year, he shared his encouraging, grounded perspective with Scott Berinato in this interview for HARVARD BUSINESS REVIEW.  Here are my favorite observations.

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When the founders wrote about life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, they didn’t mean longer vacations and more comfortable hammocks. They meant the pursuit of learning. The love of learning. The pursuit of improvement and excellence.

Are we in a special or particularly fraught moment in our history? A turning point?

I’m very annoyed when I hear people who ought to know better flannelling away about how it was a simpler time “back then.” There was no simpler time. Never, ever. Imagine being in our country in 1918, and 500,000 people have died of a disease. No one knows where it came from or how long it’s going to stay or how to get rid of it. Would that be called a simpler time? Would the Civil War, or the Great Depression?

What makes a president a great leader?

The capacity to lift our sights a little higher. Someone who can call on us to make sacrifices, not promise to give us more. One who can say I’m not going to make it easier for us. I’m going to make it harder, because we have hard things to do. And let’s be grown up about this.

At the end of John Adams’s life, Ralph Waldo Emerson went to talk with the old president. Adams said to him, “I would to God there were more ambition in the country.” And then he paused and said, “by that I mean ambition of the laudable kind, ambition to excel.” Not ambition to get rich or famous or powerful but to excel. That’s when human beings are at their best. I like people who work hard; the people who are best at what they do almost without exception are also the hardest workers.

Build digital relationships using these ten elements

A social media presence should be about relating to people.  Whether the goal is more visibility for a brand, more personal influence over the public conversation, or just plain socializing, companies and individuals must emphasize relationships.

Lots of people have lots of good ideas for how to begin.  There are wonderful resources that are shared openly.  People and companies of any size can learn, pretty quickly how to begin, improve and excel on the variety of social networks available today.

I believe the best approach to social media begins with the same thing we should all be learning as children:  how to initiate and participate in a conversation.  From there it comes down to ten basic elements that enrich an online conversation — and make relationships possible.

1       Converse – don’t broadcast 6       Stakeholders:  Customers, influencers, suppliers, regulators
2       Follow – find people and companies to watch, benchmark and engage in conversation  7       Location: Where your product or service can create/stoke the best social experience
3       Curate – collect the social content of companies and individuals you admire 8       Story:  Your product or service and its role in your stakeholders’ lives
4       Link – link your content to influencers and make it easy for them to link to yours 9       Content:  The substance that tells your story and connects your company to stakeholders
5       Share – circulate your content 10    Community:  Extend or build one

For more detail on how to go social in 2014, and for some of those free resources I mentioned, visit this deck on SlideShare.   [ From a workshop presentation in Big Stone Gap, Virginia, hosted by the Town of Big Stone Gap and the Southwest Virginia Museum Historical State Park.]

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Facebook helps you leave the world better than you found it

Organ donation helps so many people — the donor’s family, the recipient, the recipient’s family.

The donor’s family honors their loved one and realizes extra meaning from the lost life. The recipient receives a chance to sustain and continue and, in many cases, start over and see life in new ways. The recipient’s family takes a journey that begins with potential loss and continues through both gratitude and the realization that we must live every moment with gusto, humility and purpose.

My father received a liver transplant at Baylor in 1993. The team of specialists in Dallas, who had a level of professionalism one can only be grateful to witness — steely talent, focus and empathy, shared the gift offered by a young man’s family with ours.

While our particular family drama took many more twists and turns in the ensuing months and years, I remain convinced that the gift of this procedure is not just the saving of a physical life. Dad’s organ transplant gave him, my mother, their children, and our extended family and friends the opportunity to consider what we can do with our lives in each day and in every relationship. This is almost beyond description. All are empowered to experience a rejuvenation in perspective and outlook.

While it is up to every person in the circle to take the transplant as an enabling moment of change — the transplant does not always deliver a fairytale ending [something I learned from the friends I made as I did my transplant research] — the act of participating in organ donation is nonetheless an important gesture. In acknowledging that we must try to help each other, either by giving generously or accepting graciously, we are doing the kind of thinking we’re on this planet to do.

Facebook’s decision to illuminate the power of organ donation is a neat personal moment in this regard. The company and its tools play a daily role in my professional world, largely because I decided to take a new direction and come to Silicon Valley in 1997. There’s no doubt in my mind that my father’s health journey sharpened my own sense that destiny is largely within one’s own control. In tying my destiny to technology, I made a huge change. I moved myself to the headquarters of the new age, and the fact that one of the companies shaping the age, not just my work, has chosen to focus a philanthropic act on organ donation is a nice bit of serendipity.

Social networks like Facebook may play a smaller, supporting role in your journey. This is still an opportunity to consider what the people behind Facebook are suggesting we do with their technology. Most definitely become an organ donor, and most definitely consider, every day, what you, your companies and your circles are doing to leave the world better than you found it.

How to learn content marketing best practices

The Content Marketing Strategies Conference is happening in Berkeley May 8 and 9. If you want to get a quick but deep immersion into the topic of content marketing, this is the place for you.

Digital and social tools are changing the way companies of all sizes position themselves to customers.  That’s why there are a lot of clichés getting thrown around in the branding/marketing sphere.  Content marketing simply means using your company’s facts to connect with your markets online.  For the purpose of doing business.

To market your content via all the channels available to you, there are three things you need to understand.  And this conference will help you with that, through case studies from companies like SAS, Dell, Ogilvy PR, Kelly Services, HiveFire, and Altimeter Group.

  1. How your customers and fans gather information about you and your products – so you can share the content they want on their terms
  2. How your customers use content about your products and services to make a buying decision – so you can engage your customers more effectively
  3. How to integrate online content marketing practices with your offline sales and marketing activities – so you are delivering a consistent message and leveraging your entire marketing spend

I’m really pleased to have been asked to serve as a media sponsor of this gathering – and I’m even more pleased to be able to share with you a discount opportunity.  Just click on the image below to learn more about the Content Marketing Strategies Conference and register using the discount.

The Content Marketing Strategies Conference

The next generation of Internet startups

In March 2012, I read about a new startup called BrandYourself and signed up.  Inspired by one of its founder’s negative search engine results — he was being confused with a drug dealer — BrandYourself is nonetheless about much more than deleting bad search results.  The company is one of several new startups that enable regular people to optimize their online activities and/or make their lives easier.  I am so impressed with BrandYourself that I talked with CBS Interactive about it.

There are plenty of so-called reputation management plays out there, well-funded, in fact, but BrandYourself represents a super-important shift in technology — what I see as the next generation of startups.  It is one of a bunch of companies that were born where their customers live, and they enable customers to manage and optimize their content — giving them a bit of control they did not have.  In BrandYourself’s case, you tell them what you want turning up in a search, so the Internet is not just happening to you.

Another new generation startup, Citrus Lane [my client], packages and delivers products for babies and their parents monthly, saving them time and money.  This is great, but Citrus Lane also invites customers into a community of parents who share their experiences and wisdom.  The so-called mommy bloggers are running with it, taking to their sites and YouTube to talk about their experiences with the brands that Citrus Lane packs — and talking about how Citrus Lane covers all their bases:  monthly surprises, good things for their babies, product research.

Wix.com [I use it for my consulting practice], makes it possible for anyone to create  a beautiful, compelling, differentiated website for a small business.  Their designers and programmers work on the art and the underlying engine, giving you templates to follow that extract the content that makes for a good story.  At the same time, you have a creative outlet that gives the world a picture of the real you.  This is essential to strong marketing [something I always tell my clients].

These startups use technology to pull ideas from you to shape your presence and your circles online.  And while BrandYourself and companies like it do have the luxury of following the quirky programming geniuses who perfected web platforms, they are very wisely taking those innovations a step further, not copying them.  They are addressing what regular people need, now that we have Facebook, LinkedIn, et al,  and providing services on top of those platforms that meet real expectations.