Potpourri Food for Thought: 10 Business Lessons Learned

I’m not quite sure how I came across this presentation but I do remember that it was about 2 years ago, at an especially trying time in my career.

I know nothing about its author.  All I know is that the perspective it offers has a calming effect on me.  Every once in a while I pop it up on my screen and go through it.  It suggests that “Success hinges on teamwork, trust, ethics and a new lesson—lead by example. …”

10 Business Lessons Learned: A quick snapshot of important leadership lessons learned in business.


What do you keep around your office and how is it helpful to you?


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SVTweetUP: Social Selling or Selling Social?


A few years ago, I had the pleasure of mentoring an ambitious and innovative marketer named LaSandra Brill.  It wasn’t long before she blossomed into a leading edge authority on social media. LaSandra is the change agent visionary behind one of the top five product launches in Cisco’s history. At Cisco, she leads a team responsible for implementing a mix of innovative digital, mobile and social media techniques.

Photo credit

You can find LaSandra rocking social media on:

Following are a few LaSandra and Cisco social snipets:

Cisco Unveils Social Media Listening Center – Oct 23 2012

Silicon Valley Tweet Up

One of LaSanadra’s Facebook updates caught my eye.  I’d always wanted to attend an in person TweetUp (a meet up (virtual and/or in person) of people that ‘tweet’ about a specific topic using Twitter) but never got around to doing it.

HOW TO: Organize a Successful Tweetup by Stuart Foater

The one featured in LaSandra’s Facebook update was especially appealing because of its location, the topic (Social Selling or Selling Social?) and the panelists: Ted Sapounitz, Jennifer Leggio, Michael Brito, and LaSandra Brill – la crème de la crème of some of Silicon Valley’s best and brightest social media minds.

Silicon Valley Tweetup combines networking with philanthropy by raising money for family-oriented charities. Run by @britopian (Michael Brito), @gabrielcarrejo (Gabriel Carrejo) and @mediaphyter (Jennifer Leggio).

Michael Brito is a senior vice president of Social Business Planning at Edelman Digital.  He is also an Adjunct Professor at San Jose State University teaching social business to undergraduate students.

Jennifer Leggio describes herself as a raconteur, comedienne, hockey lover (no wonder I like her!) and “Security Twits herder emeritus”. She is VP of Corporate Communications for Sourcefire. Forbes.com tech contributor.

As of last week, Ted Sapountzis is head of Marketing and Product Management at NextPrinciples– he was formerly VP Social Marketing at SAP.

Sponsored by onemedical, the event was held was held at the Palo Alto Women’s Club. The format for the event was one part networking, two parts highly entertaining expert panel and one part free going twitter chat.

Needless to say, I felt far more comfortable at this event.

Inperson introvert and online extrovert? | You’re not alone!

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Gabriel Carrejo moderated the evening with engaging questions that uncovered the following themes:

  • Content is the currency of the social web

  • Make your content social friendly

  • It’s okay to experiment: fail fast, learn and move on

    • LaSandra Brill touches on Cisco’s SecondLife and Jennifer Leggio makes us laugh with her spelling mistake video anecdote.
  • Jennifer Leggio’s Keys to Social Media Success: repetition and consistency (For effect, she said it several times throughout the evening!)
(from left to right) Ted Sapounitz, Jennifer Leggio, Michael Brito, and LaSandra Brill | panelists for SVTweetUp “Social Selling or Selling Social?” – October 2012

Photo credit | More SVTweetUp photos

Everything you wanted to know about Twitter Chats via @markwschaefer

What makes for a great Tweet Up?

  • Topic
  • Format
  • Moderator
  • Panelists
  • Participants

What are some of your favorite Tweet Ups and why?

Related post:  High-Tech Wizardry and Entrepreneurial Witchcraft: What Makes Silicon Valley The World Capital of Innovation?

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Turbo Charge Your Career Development Plan With IMU

Is it that time of year? Is your heart racing at the thought of having your performance evaluation and career development discussion?

Anemic Career Development Plan?

Whatever you call them; employee reviews evaluate our performance on the job. They often determine raises, promotions, and sometimes whether we get to keep our jobs. It’s no surprise that these “report cards” often make us feel uneasy.  Have you become a “human-doing” and neglected to invest in your development plan?

In any learning organization, continuous improvement means growth through learning events and experiences.  It can be applied to individuals and teams.  Cost and time need not be barriers to your continuous learning investment.

If you’re looking to sharpen your content marketing skills, consider Inbound Marketing University (IMU)

IMU is a free (yes, free! management will love you for it) educational program powered by HubSpot, a software company that helps marketers and small businesses grow their business online through inbound marketing.

IMU Online Training and Certification Course for Internet Marketing Professionals

Because IMU courses are self-paced, you can watch the videos whenever your schedule allows and you can download all the materials including videos, handouts and case studies. The sessions are moderated by the who’s who of content marketing. In total, there are 18 modules covering a wide range of topics from blogging basics to SEO tactics, inbound lead nurturing as well as social media for big business; to name only a few. The training curriculum concludes with a certification exam, where one can become an “Inbound Marketing Certified Professional” (providing you score 75% or higher on the online certification exam).

GF101 as in “get-found-101

The first course covers how to blog effectively for business.  It goes over the basics of blog layout and content. Ann Handley (MarketingProfs’ Chief Content Officer) and Mark Collier (Social Media Consultant) moderate this lead off session. The dynamic digital duo offers advice on how to draw in an audience and maintain quality engagement through feedback and interactions.

“Anything in life worth having is worth working for.” Andrew Carnegie

You’ll have to roll up your virtual sleeves to obtain the IMU certification.  Each module includes a homework assignment that helps you put into practice the learning of each session.  Specifically for GF101, you need to write about three best practices that you will adopt into your blogging strategy.

Fortunately for me, I’ve been blogging for a while. CaféLina is my virtual café where you’ll find tips, ideas, best practices, references and discussions on all things marketing, communications, digital, mobile and social. I’m always looking to improve the CaféLina reader experience (it’s a labor of love!)

Specifically, I want to get better in the following areas:

  1. Analytics: better understand the nuances in the data and plan out my editorial calendar accordingly
  2. Engagement: greater comment interaction on each post
  3. BlogRoll: develop an area where readers can easily find and reference resources they value (people, blogs, information)

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No more Excuses!

If leading edge marketing is your thing, build in a bit of time in your calendar over the course of the next few months and the next thing you know, you’ll obtain one of the industry’s hottest certification.  You’ll even be looking forward to your next performance evaluation and career development discussion

It’s up to us as individuals to make a commitment to our own development.

Considering the explosive evolution of technology and business processes, it’s not difficult to understand why leading organizations strongly encourage employee self-driven quest for knowledge.  These organizations understand that a culture of continuous learning is directly linked to competitiveness and business success. However, a company’s training department is seldom able to provide everything that employees need to be great at their jobs and prepare for the jobs of the future.  It’s up to us as individuals to make a commitment to our own development.

What’s in your development plan? (leave a comment below)

Additional Information:


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Don’t Just Keep Your Head Above Water, Take Tweeting Lessons

Don’t Just Keep Your Head Above Water, Take Tweeting Lessons

Social media is a powerful way for politicians to distribute information and also engage with constituents in real time. With that comes the risks of magnified and costly missteps.

After sporting his personal Twitter handle for less than 3 weeks, a Québec politician recently found himself in troubled waters.

François Legault tweeted that:

“girls attach less importance to salary than do boys”.

Loose Tweets Sink Ships

Reaction to the controversial tweet was swift and included qualifiers such as “dinosaur”, “sexist” and “clumsy politician”.

Guy A Lepage, talk show host, actor, comedian, and producer (with Oprah-like influence) jokingly tweeted that

“Monsieur Legault’s Twitter account has been hacked!!!! (in any case, that’s my hope for him)”.

In turn, Monsieur Legault fired back at his critics:

Caption: “What’s sexist about saying that women attach less importance to salary than men when making a career choice?”

Beware of the Siren Song of Self-Justification

The resistance to apologizing does all sorts of bad things professionally.  The longer issues are left unaddressed, the deeper the resentment and the harder it is to move forward.

Monsieur Legault didn’t back down to any of his critics and a review of his timeline shows a multitude of defensive clarifications. No apology or “Politwoops ” retraction for him.


The original version of Politwoops was developed by the Open State Foundation of The Netherlands to follow the country’s members of parliament and town council representatives. Several international versions of the site exist.

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Une tempête dans un ver d’eau – storm in a tea cup

Prevent Tweet Storms

Simply introducing people to a new platform and then leaving them to their own devices is a recipe for disaster.

With the prospect of a provincial election on the horizon, Monsieur Legault and other Québec politicians, and their respective parties, should hone their social media skills … and possibly opt for some coaching to make the most of their foray in social media waters.

Every organization needs to have some way of monitoring social media either by humans or by automated tools so that they can be alerted to a crisis situation and be ready to respond.   Keep an eye on social media and be prepared to respond if something needs immediate attention.


OOPS:  More on social media blunders and how to recover from them

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Social Media Incident in Wild Rose Country

The wild rose is the official flower of the province of Alberta.

In a recent too-close-to-call election campaign, Alberta’s Progressive Conservative (PC) party saw how quickly things can go off the social rails.  A PC staffer took to her personal Twitter account in response to a promise from the Wildrose Party to introduce new programs and services aimed at young families.

From her personal Twitter account, Amanda Wilkie directed a tweet at Danielle Smith, leader of the Wildrose party:

“If @ElectDanielle likes young and growing families so much, why doesn’t she have children of her own?”

Immediate Outrage

Danielle Smith had undergone several unsuccessful fertility treatments in an effort to have children.   PC leader Alison Redford ended up apologizing to Smith.  Within hours, Wilkie removed  the tweet and deleted her account. She was promptly fired.


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Beware of virtuous and destructive cycles.  Don’t let social spiral out of control.  Invest in social media coaching for you and your brand.  Don’t just keep your head above water, take tweeting lessons.

Simply Providing Social Tools = Failure

              • A “provide and pray” approach has about a 90% failure rate
              • Radical benefits result from delivering social solutions
              • A social media solution is the right tools targeted at a defined purpose

Source:  “Taking a Strategic Approach to Social Media”, Gartner Research Webinar by Carol Rozwell and Nick Gall


Additional Insights

United-States:  An Election on Facebook: Old Media Enters New World via NPR [video, audio, transcript]

Do “likes” on Facebook translate to votes? Howard Kurtz and Lauren Ashburn of Daily-Download.com examine that issue with Ray Suarez and also explore why traditional news outlets are partnering with social media sites this election year.

Instant Friends – Just Add Water

Don’t be fooled by false friends … it has been suggested that the Romney campaign is buying followers to catch up to President Obama’s giant social footprint?

This Is The Face Of Mitt Romney’s Fake Twitter Followers by Elizabeth Flock via US News

Social Media Smoke and Mirrors: Buying and Selling Fake Followers (Politicians Do It, Too) via @MarketingProfs includes [infographic]

The Dynamic Duo

@MichelleObama: Saturday, people all across the country will be registering voters and reaching out to their neighbors. Join in: http://t.co/w8Cyz5NS –mo

Related Posts

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Coping with Natural and Social Media Disasters

Apologizing doesn’t have to be difficult, and can come from a place of strength. Learn the art of apologizing effectively and you may find a significant reduction in the negative effects of highly charged situations.

On April 27-28 2011 hundreds of tornados spread destruction across the Southern, Midwestern and Northeastern United-States. The state of Alabama was especially hit hard on the day of the outbreak. April 27 2011 would turn out to be one of the worse tornado days in United States history with a record 205 tornadoes touching down that day.

Lina – skiing, North Lake Tahoe

I’m a big fan of Backcountry, I love to browse their site for skiing gear.  Friends often tease me that I should be awarded stock options in return for my enthusiastic endorsement of the company. Not a ski trip goes by when I don’t bring them up in conversation.

Founded in 1996, Backcountry is an online outdoor retailer that specializes in high-end outdoor recreation gear.  Backcountry.com was named the 2009 Backpacker Magazine/SNEWS Online Retailer of the Year and consistently makes the ranks of Internet Retailer Magazine’s Best of the Web Top 50 Retail Sites many times.


Related posts: OOPS : Best of Social Media Blunders and Recovering from a Social Media Gaffe

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I plan my shopping and purchases based on the site deals.  More often than not, I am made aware of the deals by way of the regular emails I get from the company.  You can imagine my disbelief when the following appear in my inbox on April 27 2011:

“Mother Nature Hates You”: Backcountry email blast on April 28 2011, as hundreds of tornados spread destruction across the United-States.

A Tasteful Apology Arrives the Next Day

Backcountry Email Apology – April 28 2011

The apology by CEO Jay Layfield is timely, sincere and to the point.  The communication leads with the apology and also includes an explanation about the realities of email marketing.  Backcountry is up-front about the mistake. They are able to resolve this unfortunate issue and move forward while being sensitive to those affected by the devastating tornados.


Apologies take the energy out of conflicts

Apologies separate time into past and future, problem and resolution

Apologies allow for recognition and shared accountability

Source:  7 Tips on How to Apologize in the Business World by Tom Searcy


Related posts:

Blended Communications for Better Social Media Crisis Management 

Elton is Right:  Sorry Seems to be the Hardest Word


Examples of Timely Updates

Amazon cloud outage takes down Netflix, Instagram, Pinterest, & more

On July 29 2012, an outage of Amazon’s Elastic Compute Cloud in North Virginia took down Netflix, Pinterest, Instagram, and other services.  Amazon Inc.’s web services division provides web services and data storage facilities.  Netflix, Instagram and Pinterest used Twitter and Facebook to update subscribers after violent storms across the eastern U.S. caused server outages for hours.

Many Instagram’s users were searching for answers. “Instagram” was the top search term on Google on June 30th, according to Google Trends.

Read the full article via Sean Ludwig on Venture Beat

Related Articles:

Amazon Web Services Knocked Offline by Storms by Nick Bilton via New York Times

Amazon Cloud Goes Down Friday Night, Taking Netflix, Instagram And Pinterest With It by Anthony Wing Kosner via Forbes


The art of communication is the language of leadership.   James Humes 

Apologizing Opens up the Doors to Communication

Apologizing doesn’t have to be difficult, and can come from a place of strength. Learn the art of apologizing effectively and you may find a significant reduction in the negative effects of highly charged situations. Apologizing opens up the doors to communication, which allows you to reconnect and move on more easily.

Related Posts

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Elton is Right: Sorry Seems to be the Hardest Word

Social Media Blunders: It’s best to think in terms of “when” instead of “if” situations

Everything you do, and everything you don’t do, communicates about your brand. A mistake speaks volumes about your (in)ability to manage social media effectively.  Remember that despite your best efforts, mistakes happen at some point.

You said something, disclosed confidential information or shared images that are not supportive of your business.  How do you recover from such a slip up?

Irrespective of its origins, you must respond quickly to a social media crisis. Successful crisis management depends largely on developing a planned and integrated communications approach.


Social Media Preparedness References:


You’ve Blundered

Whether you accidentally tweet an insensitive message or a customer posts a disparaging video about your product, don’t panic. The starting point is to apologize via the same medium where the highly visible mistake originated. Offer an apology in public comments. Explain how you will take steps to ensure that the situation doesn’t happen again.

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Success does not consist in never making mistakes but in never making the same one a second time.  George Bernard Shaw

Action and Apology: It’s a two-step process

  1. You must first publicly acknowledge that there is an issue whether you are at fault or not.
  2. Apologize: this is an opportunity for you to separate out the past and future through problem and resolution.

Elton is Right:  Sorry Seems to be the Hardest Word

For both romantic and professional relationships, apologizing has got to be one of the most difficult things to do. To put yourself in the right frame of mind, consider the lyrics to“Sorry seems to be the hardest word”written by Elton John and Bernie Taupin; recorded by Elton John and released in 1976.

    • What I got to do to make you love me?
    • What I got to do to make you care?
    • What do I do when lightning strikes me?
    • And I wake to find that you’re not there?
    • What I got to do to make you want me?
    • What I got to do to be heard?
    • What do I say when it’s all over?
    • Sorry seems to be the hardest word
    • It’s sad, so sad
    • It’s a sad, sad situation
    • And it’s getting more and more absurd
    • It’s so sad so sad
    • Why can’t we talk it over?
    • Oh it seems to me
    • Sorry seems to be the hardest word
    • What I do to make you want me?
    • What I got to do to be heard?
    • What do I say when it’s all over?
    • Sorry seems to be the hardest word
    • It’s sad, so sad
    • It’s a sad sad situation
    • And it’s gotten more and more absurd
    • It’s sad, so sad
    • Why can’t we talk it over?
    • Oh it seems to me
    • Sorry seems to be the hardest word
    • Yeh…..sorry
    • Nah…….
    • Sorry
    • What do I do to make you love me?
    • What I got to do to be heard?
    • What do I do when lightning strikes me?
    • Yeah…..What do I got to do?
    • What do I got to do?
    • When sorry seems to be the hardest word


Related Posts

OOPS : Best of Social Media Blunders

 Recovering from a Social Media Gaffe

 Blended Communications for Better Social Media Crisis Management

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Making an apology can be complex but it has to sound simple and sincere

It is very simple to apologize but constructing the right words to say will take some time. Whenever possible, personalize your response to a specific person or through the face / voice of your corporation.  Be sure to strike the right tone.

Consider the following references and excerpts on the subject of apologies.

Three Little Words Every Leader Needs to Learn” by Ernest L. Arbuckle Professor of Business Administration Rosabeth Moss Kanter – Harvard Business School.

  • There are three little words that extraordinary leaders know how to say, and I’m not thinking of “I love you” (but those are pretty good). The magic words areI was wrong.”  Husbands and wives know that saying those words to each other can be even more endearing than endearments. When leaders say them to their teams in a timely fashion, they build confidence and can move on to a better path.
  • The simple sentence “I was wrong” is the hardest for leaders to utter and the most necessary for them to learn.
  • If a leader cannot admit being wrong in a timely fashion, he or she can never correct mistakes, change direction, and restore success. The consequences get worse the longer the denial prevails.
  • Of course, we don’t want leaders who are forced to say “I was wrong” too often.
  • Perhaps apology training will become a growth business. Actually, I hope not. But I do hope that smart leaders will be more alert to problems, and if mistakes are made, they can utter the three magic words and take corrective action.

Smart Apologies Should Be Strategicby Rosanna M. Fiske via Harvard Business School Blog Network

  • Throwing half-hearted apologies at an issue will just exacerbate a festering problem — and people will view it as an obvious and empty attempt to quiet the masses.

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 Know When and How to Apologize

While you might want publicity to be the end result of your public relations effort, this is not always the case. You don’t always govern the source and means of public attention. Publicity is not always positive and is not always under the control of your organization.  You and your brand are open to general observation.  Be sure to have a plan to respond to both positive and negative events.  Know when and how to apologize.

Mistakes are always forgivable, if one has the courage to admit them. Bruce Lee

Additional Insights: 


Lina Arseneault is Millennial at heart. Follow her on Twitter

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High-Tech Wizardry and Entrepreneurial Witchcraft: What Makes Silicon Valley The World Capital of Innovation?

This post is dedicated to the memory of our beloved neighbor Emily Benator.

What Makes Silicon Valley  the World Capital of Innovation?  Why is it home to high-tech wizardry and entrepreneurial witchcraft? What’s the Silicon Valley  secret sauce and why it is so hard to copy?

Every spring, the newest crop of UOttawa eMBA candidates visits Silicon Valley.  Over the course of their one week trip, the students are exposed to Valley tech companies (from BIG names to startups), VCs, and schools. They network for projects and assignments – all with a view of gaining insights into what makes Silicon Valley such a special place.    Is it something in the water, the air, the food or is it the climate that fuels the innovation DNA so characteristic of Silicon Valley?

The eMBA trip includes an Alumni evening reception.  As an UOttawa MBA alumni and Silicon Valley resident, I’ve participated in this annual function for over 10 years.  Some questions are consistent from one year to the next. These typically include:

  • How long have you been here?
  • What do you do?
  • Why did you move to Silicon Valley?
  • Do you like it here?
  • Can you really afford a house?
  • How many hours do you work? … (The “sweat shop” term doesn’t come up like it did in the late 1990s)? and
  • Do you ever think of moving back to Canada?

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But by far, the most consistent question is always:

What makes Silicon Valley so special?

Thankfully, this year, Gigi Wang was on hand to address that one!  Gigi is the Chair Emeritus of the MIT/Stanford Venture Lab (where she remains on the Board) and is Managing Partner at MG-Team, an international strategic marketing and business development firm for mobile, web services and telecom companies.    In her keynote, she outlined her perspective on “What’s makes Silicon Valley such a special place?”. Needless to say, she did a much better job than I did in addressing this question.

Listen to Gigi describe the VLAB charter.  Follow X|Media|Lab on twitter

“It starts with the culture” she says, “In addition to the excellent institutions and R&D, governmental support, and access to investment capital, it’s the culture that really makes a region like Silicon Valley so unique and wildly successful”.

an article By Anthony P. Sheehan, eMBA 2013

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 She structures her talk around insights or pearls of wisdom. Each pearl includes anecdotes and examples that help to explain the mystic of Silicon Valley.

Need to Trust: trust begins with openness and transparency, it must be mutual or it won’t work.

Risk-taking: Innovation and entrepreneurship requires risk-taking in addition to passion.

“Embrace cultural tourism” explains Gigi, “go beyond your comfort zone, build a prototype, visit a new place”. She goes on to emphasize her final point:  “but most important of all, know that failure is good because mistakes leads to valuable experience and knowledge”.

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that don’t work.” Thomas Edison

Collaboration People need to share ideas and work on problems together, even competitors

make a bigger pie

This is counterintuitive to most of us. “We guard our ideas and our piece of the pie for fear of losing it”.  “Do the opposite” she explains.  Gigi illustrates the point with how the CEO of Coulomb Technologies, a maker of electric charging stations, openly shared ideas and challenges with a Spanish counterpart.  She describes how the Spanish CEO was floored at this uncharacteristic openness because the two companies target the same market. The executive came to appreciate that “trust, openness and transparency leads to a bigger pie” she says. Make the most of your frenemies.

“In the high-tech world, it’s not about fighting over the existing pie,

but GROWING the pie together.”  Gigi Wang

Integrity: High-level of integrity is required when being open and collaborating

The objective is not about “win-lose”. It’s about give&take and that win-win-win is the objective. She explains the three pronged win as being the success of company, employees and partners in the service of customers as espoused by Groupon founder Andrew Mason.

Accessibility:  access to experience and resources to new entrepreneurs

Gigi’s advice to budding entrepreneurs and leaders: be open, reach out.  “Don’t wait for an introduction; take the risk to introduce yourself”.  As for successful and seasoned entrepreneurs; she suggests that they reach out to young entrepreneurs and share valuable advice and learning.

Lee Fraser, President of the Canadan California Business Council (CCBC) was also on hand that evening. To reinforce the point on accessibility, he cites the C100 as one of countless mentorship program in that regards. C100 is comprised of a select group of Canadians based primarily in Silicon Valley, including executives of leading technology companies, experienced startup entrepreneurs and venture capital investors.  C100 is dedicated to supporting Canadian technology entrepreneurship and investment.

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Constructive Feedback: you must understand what you’ve done right and what you’ve done wrong

Develop and refine your “pitch” skills, embrace continuous learning
  • Stanford offers more free online classes for the world:  Last fall, 356,000 people from 190 countries expressed interest in one or more of the first three classes offered, and approximately 43,000 successfully completed a course. Participants came from as close as Stanford’s Palo Alto campus and as far away as Ghana, Peru, Russia and New Zealand.

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Jealousy (and lack thereof): instead of being jealous when someone else does better, it is viewed as an opportunity to build a relationship with someone successful

The need to develop the right culture and summarizes its key characteristics as:
  • Openness
  • Collaboration
  • High-level of risk-taking, and
  • The “people networking” environment.

“We must instill high integrity into the next generation of global citizens” says Gigi.

“There’s definitely a sense of equifinality in the Valley whereas the success of one does not diminish the likelihood of someone else’s success” says Anthony P. Sheehan, eMBA 2013.

Referencing Wikipedia’s definition of innovation, she couches her concluding remarks as:

Silicon Valley Innovation

Innovation is the creation of better or more effective products, processes, services, technologies, or ideas that are accepted by markets, governments, and society. Innovation differs from invention in that innovation refers to the use of a new idea or method, whereas invention refers more directly to the creation of the idea or method itself.

  • Create what the market wants, and
    • Design exceptional products
    • Conceptualize, design and prototype
    • Collect lots of feedback, lots of it
    • Iterate, iterate, iterate
  • Market creatively
Highest Paid Person’s Opinion

I especially liked Gigi’s closing comment on the root of innovation:

innovation from the bottom is ‘chaotic’ whereas 

innovation for the ‘top’ is ordered.

Silicon Valley innovation is clearly “chaotic” and that’s what makes this place special.

Long live high-tech wizardry and entrepreneurial witchcraft!

Additional Information:


Silicon Valley   wiki reference

Sign commemorating the site of Schokley Laboratories. Instagram Photo taken by me in 2011.

NPRThe Birth Of Silicon Valley: A Timeline  (This graphical presentation covers the period from the formation of Hewlett Packard in 1938 to the 1971 first appearance of the nickname Silicon Valley in print.  Includes a picture of the garage where William Hewlett and David Packard founded Hewlett-Packard Co. in 1939)

NPR:  3 Part Series on Silicon Valley by Laura Sydell

A History of Silicon Valley: The Greatest Creation of Wealth in the History of the Planet by Piero Scaruffi and Arun Rao

A Guided History of Silicon Valley:  iTunes App:  Silicon Valley Roots & Shoots

iTunes App, an insider’s guide to the companies, people, and products that created this vibrant center of high-tech innovation.  More info  Tracking down the roots (the pioneers) and shoots (the spin-out companies) of the digital revolution is made easy with this unique guide to over 150 locations and resources in the southern San Francisco Bay Area cities, campuses and industrial parks.  Each location has many photos, concise descriptions, maps, and links to additional information.

Age of the Inspired Riff: Learning from the Golden Gate on its 75th  via The Wall Street Journal

Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson

Imagine: How Creativity Works by Jonah Lehrer.  Includes a section on San Jose and Silicon Valley.

Cisco Acquisition Strategy

In The Plex: How Google Thinks, Works, and Shapes Our Lives by Steven Levy

Facebook’s History: From Dorm To IPO

Tesla Motors was founded in 2003 by a group of intrepid Silicon Valley engineers who set out to prove that electric vehicles could be awesome.

SiliconBeat  The people and companies driving the innovation of Silicon Valley

The Silicon Valley Way, Second Edition: Discover 45 Secrets for Successful Start-Ups by Elton Sherwin

Silicon Valley Community Foundation

Top 10 Tips for Effective Communication

You’ve done the work, packaged the findings, laid out the business case, and developed the ask and recommendations. Whether your software of choice is PowerPoint, Keynote or SlideRocket, you’ve turned your presentation into a work of art. Crafting and packaging your message is very important but the rubber meets the road when you communicate it.


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In 1967, UCLA sociolinguist  Dr. Albert Mehabrian published papers based on two studies: “Decoding of Inconsistent Communications” and “Inference of Attitudes from Nonverbal Communication in Two Channels”.

In his studies, Mehabrian comes to two conclusions. The first one being that there are basically three elements in any face-to-face communication:

    • Words,
    • Tone of voice, and
    • Nonverbal behavior.

They are often abbreviated as the “3 Vs” for Verbal, Vocal & Visual.

I’m so thrilled to be here …

The second conclusion emphasizes that the non-verbal elements are particularly important for communicating feelings and attitude, especially when they are at odds such that if words disagree with the tone of voice and nonverbal behavior, people tend to believe the tonality and nonverbal behavior.

Mehrabian combined the results of the two studies to obtain the ratio 7:38:55 which is known as the 7%-38%-55% rule.

The rule argues that overall credibility in communication is distributed as follows:

  • 55% of meaning comes from presentation,
  • 38% of meaning comes from tonality, and
  • 7% of meaning comes from the words themselves.

Building on the 3 Vs in Mehrabian’s 7%-38%-55% rule, I’ve included an introductory piece and packaged the “Top 10 Tips for Effective Communication”.

Read the Tea Leaves: Catch the Cues

The art of tasseomancy (reading the tea leaves) involves interpreting patterns that loose tea leaves leave in a cup or in a saucer. Some believe that the pattern made by the leaves can be interpreted to tell the future of the one who drank the tea.

In preparation for your presentation, you should try to “read the virtual teas leaves” so that you’ll  be able to catch the cues and maximize your chances of success. I summarized them as follows:

1. Understand The Rules Of The Game

2. Dress For Context

3. Know Your Audience

These three tips will help you set the stage for your presentation.

Visual: Body Language

Jerry Weissman is undoubtedly one of the best corporate presentation coaches. In one of his blog posts, he explains the notion of the “body wrap” which is a natural anxiety response and the opposite of owning your own space.

This is not Jerry Weissman!

4. Self Awareness

5. Own Your Own Space

6. Demonstrate Competence With Confidence

Verbal: Voice

I recently enjoyed the audiobook version of Tina Fay’s bestselling book Bossypants. Her book includes business advice through the use of humorous examples. In one such example, she explains that in order to convey confidence, you must not finish every sentence as though it had a question mark.

7. Project With Passion & Volume

8. Use Downward Inflections

Upward Inflection

When you use downward inflections, you essentially get rid of that implied question mark. Amy Gonzalez, Director of Women Unlimited’s Western Region thought me a technic that I’ll never forget and that works perfectly well for mastering downward inflections. She recommends that you silently say <damn it> to yourself at the end of each statement.

For example:

  • My name is Lina Arseneault <damn it>,
  • I’m here to present a business case <damn it>,
  • You’ll walk away from this meeting thinking that xxx is the best solution <damn it>

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Not only will it eliminate the diminishing silent question mark, it will also provide much needed pauses allowing you to breath (and possibly prevent you from fainting).

Contrast that with:

  • I’m Lina Arseneault? (upward inflection with an implied question mark):

Implication: audience is wondering if you’re actually even sure about that?

Words: Message

9. Focus On How You Say It

10. Eliminate Qualifiers, Tags & Diminishing Words

In this Harvard Business Review blog post, Jerry Weissman discusses the importance of avoiding filler language in presentations.  Filler words are short phrases or questions that have been used and abused to the point of diminishing your connection with your audience.  Examples include:

      • Does that make sense?
      • Like I said …
      • You know … 


Watch the YouTube video of Top 10 Tips For Effective Communications.

To communicate the message of your presentation with confidence and competence, remember to read the virtual tea leaves and mind the 3 Vs” of communications:  verbal, vocal & visual.


Would you add anything to the list of tips?



Additional Information:

Download the Slideshare companion presentation.

Are You Preparing An Important Presentation? Be Sure To Avoid Filler Frankenspeak

Read a summary of Jerry Weissman’s Power Presenter

Lina Arseneault is Millennial at heart. Follow her on Twitter.

Cafélina uses Royalty free images.

Potpourri Food for Thought: 20 Proven Things All Great Leaders Always Do

What do you keep around your office and how is it helpful to you?

When I’m in need of inspiration and perspective, I look over at the bulletin board in my office. That’s where I’ve placed various clippings and pictures. Recently, I added 20 Proven Things All Great Leaders Always Do.

In an unstable, inconsistent world, great leaders are consistent and stable

writes Dan Rockwell a.k.a Leadership Freak. Dan’s blog has an engaging format that aims to help leaders reach higher in 300 words or less. Follow Dan on Twitter @leadershipfreak

Check out 20 Proven Things All Great Leaders Always Do and identify which behavior you find most challenging and/or effective? 

I especially like:

  • Always act in the best interest of your organization,
  • Get results through others,
  • Receive criticism, and
  • Listen more than speak.

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In my office, 20 Proven Things All Great Leaders Always Do is pinned it up next to Everything I need to know about business I learned from playing golf.

“Everything I need to know about business I learned from playing golf” by Rick Spence.

You can find the Everything I need to know about business I learned from playing golf presentation companion here.

What do you keep around your office and how is it helpful to you?


Send suggestions for future Potpourri Food for Thought features.

Lina Arseneault is Millennial at heart. Follow her on Twitter.

Cafélina uses Royalty free images

Grow Your Business: You Fuse, You Win!

Guest post for Talance

Talance is a full-service agency specializing in Web design, interactive development and e-learning. They create attractive, usable websites and online courses for non-profits.

Are you a for-profit organization looking for people who will help make more money than they will cost the business? 

Are you a nonprofit employer seeking employees with passion for the cause you serve? Does your workplace use the full breadth of talent available to it?

Are you attracting the right candidates?

The key to making the most out of these challenges lies in embracing generational diversity. It will foster a culture of flexibility and collaboration in which everyone is responsible for the high quality and timeliness of the final product.

Fuse: Making Sense of the New Cogenerational Workplace by Jim Finkelstein with Mary Gavin, includes a bonus chapter by Ayelet Baron.

I love to read! A few weeks ago, I went to visit my parents in Northern Canada.  Not only was I looking forward to spending time with them but I was also looking forward to the long plane ride from San Francisco so I could indulge in uninterrupted reading time.  For this trip, I selected a few books includingFuse: Making Sense of the New Cogenerational Workplace”.  My colleague and friend Ayelet Baron, VP Strategy for Cisco Canada, contributed a bonus chapter to the book and I wanted to check it out.

Fuse isn’t just another generations book.  It’s a thought provoking, entertaining and useful read that will have you questioning your beliefs about how to get the most out of generational diversity.  It shows you how to weave together the experience of Boomers and the techno-smarts of Millennials in ways that benefit you and your organization. Authors Jim Finkelstein and Mary Gavin suggest that common points of fusion exist in all of us.

Find out if your organization is cogenerationally savvy, take the Fuse quiz.

There are vast differences between employees fresh out of school and their more seasoned counterparts. As a team, working in more flexible ways gives you a chance to leverage the best qualities of each generation. That means young people can learn how to be professionals at the same time that older or less knowledgeable team members can come up to speed on their technological skills. To find out whether your organization is cogenerationally savvy, take the Fuse quiz. Your results might surprise you.

Are you attracting the right candidates? How much time and effort do you put in crafting the right job description? Does it have the correct tone? Resist the temptation to save time by recycling a generic job description. Instead, you should consider an extra step. The Fuse authors explain the importance of tone and positioning in job descriptions.

A Millennial won’t read past the first sentence of a job description unless it hooks her.  If the first line doesn’t explain why the organization is great and how it’s making a difference in the community, city, county, state, country, world, or universe, chances are the Millennial won’t bother applying.

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Contrast that with the old approach of leading with the laundry list of all the job responsibilities. It might be worth taking the time to audit your job description template to ensure that you include the emotional hook in that key first sentence. In doing so, you’ll have a better chance of enticing high potential candidates to read beyond the first sentence. Consider emphasizing employees, community, and environment. Other considerations (as long as it’s true) are the promise of meaningful work and access to technology.

Does your organization have a reverse mentoring program?  Reverse mentoring was first popularized by former GE Chairman Jack Welsh and it’s been around for about a decade.  It’s a relatively new type of mentoring where the traditional roles are reversed and junior employees take on the role of teacher to their more experienced co-workers. The Millennials are coming into the workforce with networking and global-mindedness skills from which older generations can learn. In addition, Millennials are technology natives who can drive a role reversal by mentoring technology-challenged Boomers.

Read about how Nitin Kawale, President of Cisco Canada benefits from reverse mentoring.

If you don’t have a program in place, the good news is that reverse or reciprocal mentoring can take place within existing company mentoring programs.  What you’re looking to do is match up employees of different generations and encourage them to meet on a regular basis to exchange ideas. Mix and match: don’t restrict mentoring relationships to people of the same gender or same fields. There so much to learn from people who are different from ourselves.

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If you don’t have a program in place, the good news is that reverse or reciprocal mentoring can take place within existing company mentoring programs.  What you’re looking to do is match up employees of different generations and encourage them to meet on a regular basis to exchange ideas. Mix and match: don’t restrict mentoring relationships to people of the same gender or same fields. There so much to learn from people who are different from ourselves.

How frequently do you communicate with your team and how do you do it?

Millennials expect management communication to be:

In person, if the message is really important

There is no need to take time to listen to a voice-mail when you see a number on your smartphone – just hit redial.

From Fuse on “How Millennials view communication”

Millennials are fast becoming an influential factor in the workplace and an increasingly important part of its future. They grew up with computers and cell phones the way Boomers and Gen Xers grew up with typewriters and corded telephones. Boomers see technology as a tool, or even a toy, while younger workers see it as an extension of themselves. Millennials see themselves as “technology natives,” sensible multitaskers who get a lot done. Most of them mix entertainment and work.

The Kids Are Alright: How the Gamer Generation Is Changing the Workplace, by John C. Beck and Mitchell Wade, is an excellent reference on the impact of video games on young people. The authors argue that gamers collect valuable knowledge from their entertainment and that they’re poised to use that knowledge to transform the workplace.

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Move over Stephen Covey, these are the 7 Habits of Highly Typical Gamers 

1. Everyone Can Succeed
Gamers grow up in a world where literally everyone can succeed at just about anything. By working hard enough (and long enough), it is possible for every player to win these games.

2. You Gotta Play the Odds

This generation grows up playing games of chance. There has been a probability algorithm built into almost every game they’ve played.

3. Learn From the Team, Not the Coach
Whenever you can, resist the urge to dint; often you “teach” better by introducing a group of gamers to a problem and then just getting out of the way.

4. Kill Bosses: Trust Strategy Guides
Share hand-won knowledge. Position yourself as a fellow player who has been there and can offer some strategy tips, not as a boss.

5. Watch the Map
Gamers count on the “meta-map” that shows where they are in relation to other players, goals, obstacles, and resources.

6. Can’t See It; Ignore It
The action is all on the surface. This generation can become confused, baffles, even furious when thwarted by unseen forces in organizations.

7. Demand the Right Team
Good gamers flee places where there aren’t enough high-quality players. They do the same in other parts of life as well.

Why not help the gamers you care about find teams that match their level — and their passion for a particular challenge — and you’ll be amazed at what they can do. Are you beginning to see how you can make Millennials’ habits work for you and for the gamification of the business (it will happen whether you like it or not)? Respect is the starting point of any relationship. All it takes is the genuine desire to learn from each other.

Additional Information: