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Develop Your Skills

89 posts
     Tatiana Pacheco
Tatiana Pacheco
SEO Strategy Lead, Wiley

If you are new to digital marketing, the following three letters might send shivers down your spine: S.E.O. But Search Engine Optimization is not as hard to grasp as you might think. Below are four easy steps to help you get a grip on optimizing your sites and content for search engines. SEO is not optional in today’s world of digital business, in fact, it’s more important than ever. So, let’s get started!

 

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SEO Is Not Difficult to Understand:

  • First, there are plenty of SEO resources online, and many of them are free. Take a few minutes each day to learn something new. You’ll be surprised by the amount of knowledge you’ll gain in just one week.
  • You understand SEO better than you might think. The results of SEO are seen every day when browsing online, reading articles, or looking for a new recipe.
  • SEO is a hot topic that everyone talks about, so don’t be afraid to jump in and ask a question or two

 

SEO Is More Important for Digital Business Than Ever:

  • SEO contributes to your number one business goal – revenue growth.
  • Creating digital content without SEO considerations has little to no value.
  • Creating a website without considering SEO can have an adverse effect on your site’s performance and that results in a waste of personnel and monetary resources.
  • Your online competitors are aggressive, optimizing your site is essential to stay ahead.

 

What is SEO?  SEO is a continuous process of optimizing websites visibility for Organic Search – it’s that’s simple!

 

What is SEO not? SEO is not an afterthought process; you should have an SEO strategy before creating a site, before creating a product detail page, and before deciding on the topic of any blog article.

 

How much time does the SEO process takes? SEO is a job unto itself, but understanding the basics is something every digital marketer needs to understand. Different SEO deliverables take differing amounts of time. Some can take 10 minutes, like briefly scanning through the Google Search Console, and some can take up to 50 hours, like conducting SEO Content Gap Analysis for one of the product lines on the site. Depending on the site size, how often you create content, and business needs you might need anywhere from one to ten SEO specialists serving the site.

 

How Can I Start Learning About SEO:

  1. Start at the Beginning.
    The SEO Beginners Guide is where I started learning about SEO. Read it on your commute to work, while having cup coffee or taking a break from your direct responsibilities—and if you’re a new digital marketer, SEO might very well become one of your direct responsibilities. As a digital marketer, it’s your responsibility to understand and speak the new digital language. Start reading the Beginners Guide on a Monday, and by the end of the week, your SEO knowledge will increase by up to 50%.
  2. Ask Questions
    Be brave! You may not think you can answer simple SEO questions, but if anyone asks something you don’t know how to explain, do some online research à la “Google it”! Search for articles related to SEO, learn how to apply the concepts, and then connect what you have learned with other digital marketing initiatives in which you may be involved.

    What if someone asked you about Rich Snippets. What would you do? Google it – “What are Rich Snippets?” You’ll probably get a Quick Answer. Some SEO strategist did research, tested concepts, wrote an article and optimized it for you to see the information at glance. Test this with your team and see how your SEO efforts affect your content’s organic visibility.
  3. Keep up with the latest trends
    Want to become an SEO expert? Hang around these two sites, bookmark them, and read them everyday.
    Search Engine Land https://searchengineland.com/. Here you can gain more in-depth knowledge of SEO and other digital marketing channels as well as industry updates.
    Search Engine Watch https://searchenginewatch.com/ is another excellent digital marketing resource. Check it out!
  4. Use Tools
    Finally, Download some must have SEO extensions for your Google Chrome browser:
    • MOZ Bar – this tool allows you to see SEO elements at a glance.
    • Redirect Path – enables you to view page redirects.

    • Open SEO Stats – Get site info, traffic, page speed and more.


Happy SEO Learning!

 

Image Credit: Pexels

 

    James Bowen
James Bowen
CEO, Experiential Simulations

shutterstock_62143846.jpgWhat do we mean by risks in a startup and if they ripple?

 

Over the years, I have seen my share of business plans, and in startup-speak, we often talk about calculated risks. (See my entrepreneurship simulation.)

 

Weighing risk requires asking two questions: 1) what might the impact of X be? 2) What is the likelihood of X occurring? Necessarily, every assumption in a business plan is one of risk; who will comprise the management, team? What will the pricing model be? Etc.

 

The creation of a business plan risk score has some value, but more significant value arises from understanding where within the business plan risk resides and then working to reduce it. For example, the selection of a management team is a risk, but hiring a high-quality management team tends to have an overall impact on reducing risk.

 

A calculated risk entails minimizing impact and the likelihood of each risk. How is this accomplished? Startups reduce the number of assumptions by putting them to the test, i.e., will customers pay X amount of money for this product? In this case, the entrepreneurs can reduce the risk associated with pricing assumptions by finding a sample of potential customers who are willing to commit to purchasing the product before its completion, i.e., advance sales.

 

A startup, therefore, is a set of risks differing in impact and likelihood, each with unique significance. I have seen investors who refuse to invest in any company where the management team is unproven. Why? The selection of the management team is one of the highest-impact risks a startup can take.

 

What if a startup develops a two-dimensional impact versus likelihood chart and assigns values to each to derive an overall risk score? While the term impact could be interpreted broadly, it is typically understood to mean an immediate impact, such as an angel investor who decides not to invest, or a particular partner who does not align with the overall vision of the company.

 

This narrow interpretation fails to capture a more strategic impact such as the integrated nature and the system-wide impact of some risk items.

 

Returning to the example of selecting a management team and developing a pricing model, if the team is of poor quality then the ripple effects can be broad and deep, if a particular customer chooses not to buy the product, then the impact might be short-lived.

 

Generally, the guidance around startups is to reduce risk as much as possible and then proceed with launch. However, this advice is too coarse.

 

The recommendation should be more along the lines of focusing on and reducing the risk items that have the most significant ripple effect across other risk items within the business plan. In other words, startups need to consider the cause and effect of linked risks items. One risk item could increase the likelihood and impact on another risk item(s). Risks that ripple include management team selection, barriers against competition, and the shortage of financing.

 

To wrap this all up in four bullet points, here are the items to consider when devising a risk plan:

  • Understand that assumptions are risks.
  • Some risks have a ripple effect due to their systematic and integrated nature.
  • Identify ripple risks by considering their impact on other risk items.
  • Potential investors who spot ripple risks tend to shy away from financing, so reducing or eliminating them early on is in a startup’s best interest.

 

Reduce ripple risks impact by figuring out a way to decouple them from other risks; for example, create advisory panels for an unproven management team.

 

Do you see ripple risks in your organization? Share your experiences in the comments below.

 

Image Credit: BlackJack3D/iStockphoto

 

    Tara Trubela
Tara Trubela
Content Marketing, Wiley
MA, Columbia University

 

 

Trubela_Vacation_Xia Yuan_Getty Images_533807210.jpgEvery summer, I look forward to our week-long vacation at the shore. It’s a chance for me to unplug, unwind, and just be in the moment: long beach days, miniature golf, and seafood dinners followed by a glass of wine on the deck once the kids are asleep.

 

It’s a great week to reconnect with my family, and I always come back to work feeling refreshed and ready to tackle any unfinished projects that are still on my desk.

 

Most Americans get about two weeks of vacation compared to countries like Brazil that grants employees 22 days of paid leave and Australia that gives workers at least four weeks off plus ten holidays.

 

And even though we’re lagging in the rest-and-relaxation category compared to the rest of the world, Americans still don’t take all of the vacation time that’s allotted to them. In fact, 54% of employees finish off the year with unused vacation days—collectively relinquishing 662 million days.

 

The reasons employees forfeit their days range from wanting to prove their dedication (read: they don’t want to get laid off) to dreading coming back to hundreds of unanswered emails and an overwhelming workload. And some people simply feel guilty about taking a breather from work.

 

However, studies show that never coming up for air isn’t the way to get recognized—but giving yourself a break to recharge is.

 

Top Three Reasons You Need to Book That Vacay Right Away:

  1. You’ll be more productive. When my son was a newborn, I was so sleep-deprived that I crashed my car into my husband’s parked car before ever leaving our driveway (true story). Especially if you have the kind of job that requires mental agility, not getting enough rest can result in damaging consequences.

    According to Dr. Jenny Brockis, author of Future Brain, only getting four or five hours of sleep a night reduces our cognitive capacity to the equivalent of a blood alcohol level of 0.01 percent. The good news is, the Alertness Solutions fatigue management consulting firm founded by former NASA scientists discovered that the “respite effect” of a vacation can increase performance by 80%―and rested employees experience a 40% increase in reaction times once they’re back at work.
  2. You’ll be in a better mood. Harvard researchers found that going on vacation has restorative effects at the molecular level. It only took one week away from the office for the study participants to report feeling less stressed, more aware, and happier—and these positive vibes lasted for about a month. When we take time to rejuvenate, the genes that normally combat stress and heal injuries don’t have to work as hard, and this temporary decrease in the levels of stress-related genes results in a natural antidepressant.
  3. You’ll be rewarded. I admit to checking work email while I’m away, but some people identify so strongly with their jobs that they feel compelled to work all the time. This all-or-nothing attitude is not only detrimental to your health and relationships, it’s also harmful to your career.

    Up to 27% of the work-obsessed are less likely to get a promotion and 78-84% less likely to get a raise or bonus compared to employees who take their vacation days. Eventually, the constant grind will catch up to you, resulting in lack of energy, clarity, and even creativity on the job.

 

The Trend: Companies Are Giving Back Time

To motivate employees to take vacations, some U.S. companies have instituted a “use it or lose it” policy that speaks for itself—either you use your annual paid time off or it’s gone. Other organizations, like the U.S. Travel Association, give their employees bonuses (yup, you read that right) for taking their entire allotment of paid leave. Still other employers are experimenting with implementing “unlimited vacation” to mixed results.

 

Do you use your full allotment of vacation time? Share your experiences in the comments below.

 

Image Credit: Xia Yuan/Getty Images

 

    Christopher Ruel
Christopher Ruel
Community and Social Marketing, Wiley

I’m an X’er. Members of Generation X were often characterized as slackers, latchkey kids, possessors of bad attitudes, and a bit nihilistic in their cynicism. I am part of the 66 million others known as the “neglected generation” or the “forgotten generation,” and as the citations below reflect, businesses need to pay attention to us, or they’ll miss out on a significant opportunity to grow their revenue, increase organizational performance, and benefit from the generation sandwiched between the Boomers and the Millennials. Here’s why:

 

 

  • We’re smart, even though we envied Ferris Bueller and Jeff Spicoli. 35% of us have a college education. That makes us one of the most highly educated generations ever. The research has also revealed that we like to share our knowledge. X’ers make excellent mentors for younger employees and our level of education is reflected in much that we do at work, and outside of the office.

 

 

  • We’re innovative. 55% of startups have been created by X’ers. Did you know Elon Musk is an X’er.  Because X’ers are a smaller cohort than the generations we’re sandwiched between, we tend to get overshadowed by the great things Boomers have accomplished and the vivacious minds of the Millennials.

 

 

  • We may be self-deprecating, but we don’t like to be ignored by marketers. Traditional media still matters to us, so continuing to place ads in newspapers, on the radio, and on television that are aimed at us isn’t throwing money away. Yes, we like our digital media, but we did not grow up in a digital world.

 

In the end, identifying those born between the mid- to late-60’s and the early-80’s, is a smart strategy if companies are looking to make revenue targets and increase their organizational effectiveness.

 

Not bad for bunch of slackers, eh Wayne? Party on, Garth!

 

For more on managing intergenerational workplace dynamics, check out Unfairly Labeled: How Your Workplace Can Benefit from Ditching Generational Stereotypes.

 

Image Credit: Monkey Business Images/Shutterstock

 

How to Work With Difficult People

Posted Oct 17, 2017
    Christopher Ruel
Christopher Ruel
Community and Social Marketing, Wiley

 

 

Tension among co-workers accounts for up to 80% of all workplace difficulties, but what can you do to improve uncomfortable encounters at work? There are some options. The use of positive body language, keeping control of your emotions, and knowing when to take a stand are excellent starting points. But don’t forget, the colleague you are struggling with has thoughts, feelings, and tensions as well. There are additional skills and techniques you can learn, develop, and improve upon that can your work week more enjoyable, your organization more productive and may grow career opportunities. NetCredit.com put together this infographic with nine practical ways you can learn to work with difficult people. Try out the tips today and see what you can achieve in creating healthy co-worker relationships with open and positive dialogue.

 

Courtesy of: NetCredit

 

    Curt Steinhorst

I have ADD. I speak about our distracted world and gen Y. I also help others speak. I’m relationally focused, sports obsessed, spiritually inclined.

 

I have ADD. As a child, I never took medication. My parents weren’t against it, but they didn’t feel it was necessary. I could work well enough in spurts that my grades were still fine. I learned how to cope.

 

That is, until I started my first business

 

A few years out of school, I started a company doing what I loved most in the world: helping people discover, craft, and share their messages with the world. Every day, I worked with NFL players, TV personalities, and Olympians to help them communicate better to their audiences.

 

(Me with Peyton Manning — yes, that’s actually him and no, I’m not really that short)

 

Steinhorst and Manning.jpg

 

 

It was my dream job. It should have been the best time of my life. Instead, I was miserable.

 

It wasn’t the work that was the challenge. It was that I’d look up and I would have 43 different emails started, two text threads going, and no clue whether my checkbook was evenly balanced. I couldn’t focus on the things that were critical to creating a successful business.

 

Communication was my passion, my entire life’s work. And now it was also destroying my business.

 

Eventually, I hit a breaking point. I was two weeks late on a major deadline I had promised to a client — an NFL Hall of Famer, no less. What’s worse, the Hall-of-Famer was my grandfather’s favorite football player of all time. What’s even worse, is that same Hall-of-Famer had, at my request, just recorded a personal video for my grandmother on her 90th birthday. And here I was ghosting him. This is the third“just checking in” email he sent me — the previous two I completely ignored. It looks friendly — but it was a clear indictment.

 

email chain.jpg

 

What was wrong with me? Why couldn’t I get the work done? I knew it was either: get a grip on things or move back home with my parents. Something had to change.

 

Our Entire Workforce Has Issues With Focusing

It turns out, I’m not the only one struggling. Distraction in the workplace is an epidemic.

 

• The busiest hours of Facebook are 1–3pm during the working day.

• 60% of purchases online are purchased during working hours.

• 87% of people admit to reading and being involved in political discussions on a weekly basis during work.

• People lose anywhere from 1–3 hours on average every day due to personal distractions. In some industries, we lose as many as 6.

 

And we carry the effects with us, at home and in our bodies. We spend 60% more time connected to digital media than we do in conversation with our significant others. A study on workplace stresses found that the more pressure we feel to be available, the more likely we are to take sick days.

 

The Way Out

Over the last ten years, I’ve been on a journey to answer the question: what does it look like to thrive in an age of constant distraction?

 

Using myself as the lab rat, I experimented constantly with new approaches to manage and focus my attention. I spent thousands of hours researching and interviewing CEOs, managers, and employees. I recruited a team of experts way smarter than me: an Ivy League PhD professor, a psychologist focusing on ADD, and a pastor.

 

Together, we discovered a surprisingly simple but profound truth: we have lost our ability to control where we place our attention. And if we are ever going to recover it, we have to revisit every aspect of our work and life. We have to learn to become wise in the way we allocate our focus — placing the right amount of attention at the right moment and in the right context. It won’t be easy, but it is possible.

 

On October 9th 2017, my first book published by Wiley: Can I Have Your Attention?: Inspiring Better Work Habits, Focusing Your Team, and Getting Stuff Done in the Constantly Connected Workplace. It’s the culmination of everything I’ve learned about the science of attention and how to utilize it in the workplace: a comprehensive and holistic approach to become focus wise in the way we approach life and work.

 

Do you battle distraction in the workplace? Share you own strategies for overcoming it in the comments below.

 

    James Bowen
James Bowen
CEO, Experiential Simulations

crystals.jpgAI system voted Entrepreneur of the Year? Not yet, but recently Alibaba founder Jack Ma predicted that an Artificial Intelligence (AI) system will be voted CEO of the year within 30 years.  But can an AI system winning Entrepreneur of the Year within 50 years? Is that possible or is there something inherent to startups such that an AI system will never win over a human entrepreneur?

 

AI comes in a few different flavors including machine learning approaches and expert systems. Machine learning tends to work well in environments where it can learn from past data. Typically, it finds patterns in the data and is able to abstract from those patterns, hopefully acquiring the ability to apply the past pattern of action to a new situation. A weakness would then be operating in a situation that is new and unique and thus might not be represented in the data set, thus inferences extrapolated from the data are not applicable to the new situation. A machine learning situation would then evolve its learning.

 

The questions then become: is it possible to learn from all past entrepreneurial startups such that enough patterns are developed for all future startups? And, is any startup truly unique?

 

Serial entrepreneurs are sought-after individuals, whose success can be duplicated based on learnings and the ability to reason out new situations.

 

With large organizations, there is more structure and change tends to be slow. With startups, much is evolving and sharp pivots at times.

 

Does this suggest that startups are different enough from large companies that an AI system cannot apply its learnings from patterns found in existing data and thus wouldn’t be Entrepreneur of the Year?

 

With startups, there are always unique elements such as different management team combinations, different business model possibilities, or different technology possibilities. Therefore, the question, which I would like your comment on, is: Will there be some percentage of startups that are truly unique and new such that AI will not handle decision-making or implementation well? Alternatively, does it even matter; can we generalize entrepreneurial insights and models such that an AI system could be Entrepreneur of the Year?

 

Share your thoughts in the comments below and check out our experiential simulation for teaching entrepreneurship.

 

Check out my other articles here.

 

Image credit: PzAxe/Shutterstock

    Laura Goldsberry
Laura Goldsberry
Marketing Manager, Wiley

A loyal, productive, and enthusiastic staff is good for your customers and your bottom line.

 

Many unengaged employees suffer from what leadership expert Patrick Lencioni refers to as “job misery.” This condition kills morale and productivity and drives up the cost of recruiting, hiring, and training new employees. But the good news is “job misery” is treatable.

 

Lencioni_(2)_Monkey Business Images_shutterstock_174469118.jpgWhat causes job misery?

According to Lencioni, anonymity, irrelevance, and immeasurement all lead to a feeling of misery at work. Anonymity is the feeling that managers have little interest in their employees as individuals. Irrelevance can take hold when an employee can’t see how their job makes a difference in the lives of others—a customer, a coworker, or even a supervisor. The third cause is something Lencioni refers to as immeasurement, the inability of employees to evaluate their own success.

 

Managers hold the key.

“The primary source of job misery and the potential cure for that misery resides in the hands of one individual—the direct manager,” says Lencioni. “There are countless studies confirming this statement.” Organizations such as Gallup and The Blanchard Companies have found that an employee’s relationship with their direct manager is the most important determinant to employee satisfaction—more than pay, benefits, perks, and even work-life balance.

 

Motivate and retain.

“As simple as the three causes are in theory, the fact remains that few managers take a genuine interest in their people, remind them of the impact that their work has on others, and help them establish creative ways to measure and assess their performance,” says Lencioni. “Managers often forget what it was like when they were a little lower on the food chain and need to remember that the most important part of their jobs is providing their people with what they need to be productive and fulfilled (a.k.a. not miserable) in their jobs.”

 

The good news.

According to the CEB Corporate Leadership Council (CLC), engaged employees are 87% less likely to leave their organization,* reducing turnover and creating a more stable and experienced workforce. These individuals also help attract other quality employees. They show more attention to detail, take pride in their work, and are more willing to help out in areas outside of their own responsibility.

 

Take the first step.

In their analysis of effective engagement strategies, the CLC notes that the first step to developing an engaged and high-performing workforce is recruitment. Lencioni believes the best recruits have a combination of three virtues: humility, hunger, and people smarts. He refers to these individuals as “ideal team players” and has developed targeted strategies to help identify these recruits during the interview process.

 

Before your next talent search, get Lencioni’s free interview guide, “Reduce Turnover Through Effective Hiring”. It contains thoughtful interview questions and offers insights and strategies to help you identify the right employee for your next hire.

 

Patrick Lencioni is a New York Times best-selling author, speaker, consultant, and founder and president of The Table Group, a firm dedicated to helping organizations become healthy. Lencioni’s books blend innovative storytelling, vibrant characters, and clear-sighted practical solutions to address the most sensitive and important pain points of today’s organizations: how to build successful teams, improve leadership, break down silos, engage employees, and ensure the health of the organization as a whole.

 

*Source: Driving Performance and Retention Through Employee Engagement. Rep. Washington, DC: Corporate Leadership Council, 2004. Print.

 

9 Tips for Pitching to the Media

Posted Sep 21, 2017
    Laura Goldsberry
Laura Goldsberry
Marketing Manager, Wiley

Pitching to the media is an essential task for marketers and publicists looking to get their stories and products blasted out to a wider audience. Follow these tips and learn how to best approach media contacts to increase your odds of media coverage.

 

 

Pitching to the Media.PNG
     David Meerman Scott
David Meerman Scott
Author and Business Advisor

Meerman_Viral_Content_502135795_Yuri_ArcursGetty Images(1).jpgMillions of people around the world share ideas and stories online and many hope their content will go viral. So how can you create something that will be noticed and get shared? Be the life of the party, or more precisely the rave.

 

A World Wide Rave is when people around the world are talking about you, your company, and your products. Online buzz drives buyers to your virtual doorstep. It drives visitors to your website because they genuinely want to be there.

 

But how can you ensure your party will turn into a full-fledged rave? Put yourself ahead of the crowd by remembering a few simple rules when trying to create content worth sharing.

 

1. Nobody cares about your products (except you).

To have people talk about you and your ideas, you must resist the urge to hype your products and services. Create something interesting that will be talked about online.

 

2. No coercion required.

When you’ve got something worth sharing, people will share it—no pressure needed.

 

3. Lose control.

You’ve got to lose control of your messages, you need to make your valuable online content free (and freely shareable), and you must understand that it’s not always about generating sales leads.

 

4. Put down roots.

If you want your ideas to spread, you need to be involved in the online communities of people who actively share.

 

5. Create triggers that encourage people to share.

When a product or service solves someone’s problem, is very valuable, interesting, or funny, or is just plain outrageous, it’s ready to be shared.

 

6. Point the world to your (virtual) doorstep.

If you follow these rules, people will talk about you. And when they do, they’ll generate all sorts of online buzz that will be indexed by the search engines, all relating to what your organization is up to.

 

Creating content people will want to share sets yourself and your company up for success. It builds a base of fans that want to engage with you, and your content because it appeals to them.

 

Learn more about the very latest digital trends and how to reach buyers directly by visiting David Meerman Scott’s New Rules.

 

DAVID MEERMAN SCOTT is the author of ten books including Real-Time Marketing & PR, The New Rules of Sales & Service, and Newsjacking. David's popular blog, advisory work with fast-growing companies, and speaking engagements around the world give him a singular perspective on how businesses are implementing new strategies to reach buyers directly and in real time.

 

Image Credit: Yuri Arcurs / Getty Images

 

    James Bowen
James Bowen
CEO, Experiential Simulations

Hero Images Getty Images (5).jpgConsider an orchestra, we have the different music sections and the conductor leading. Traditionally we think of the conductor as being the leader. When we listen to a symphony, we hear the harmonized music, each section of the orchestra contributing to the whole, each section blending together to produce the sound. The conductor facilitates the blending of the music. If we look at the musicians, each is highly skilled with his/her own instrument.

 

Refer to my early article where I said that leadership is creating an environment where other people can be successful (See here). It’s not a job title.

 

If we define leaders as those that create the environment such that others can be successful, then a leader is the composer. By understanding what each musical piece can do, the composer has figured out how to blend their capabilities together to accomplish a vision.

 

The implication for the organizational world is that leadership can be defined as the person who helps:

  1. Create that musical score (organizational environment) where success is possible.
  2. Each participant understand his/her role in the music (organizational vision).
  3. Each participant derive enjoyment from practicing his/her profession within a larger harmony.

 

Want to be a leader? Be a composer.

 

Interested in leadership and ethics see my simulations here.

 

Image Credit: Hero Images/Getty Images

 

    Nicole Dingley
Nicole Dingley
Customer Success Marketing Manager, Wiley

shutterstock_143837407.jpgI thought about it for days, rehearsing all of the mean things I would say to him once I got the nerve. My supervisor and I had traveled to Chicago to attend a customer conference. On the morning of the event, I started to haul in the goods: promo items, trays of sandwiches, cases of bottled water, box after heavy box of books. Then my phone rang, his number popped up on the screen.

 

"Hey, I'm going to need to stick around the hotel today. I've got some reports due this afternoon."

 

A year earlier, I would have rolled my eyes and carried on. But today was different. I was six months pregnant and downright furious. As I unpacked each of those boxes by myself, a thin trail of sweat surfaced down the front of my white maternity shirt. I stewed over how rude and insensitive he was. And I swore I would never get over this. Never.

 

Big or small, slights in the workplace are hard to shake. We all join our professional environments with a range of temperaments and experiences. I, for one, come from a long line of accomplished Italian grudge holders. I nodded knowingly when I read that line in Liane Moriarty's Big Little Lies: “They say it's good to let your grudges go, but I don't know, I'm quite fond of my grudge. I tend it like a little pet.”

 

And while it may feel good to harbor ill will short-term, research shows that bitterness is both physically and mentally detrimental. Loneliness, isolation, and pent-up animosity cause an uptick in cortisol and a reduction of oxytocin which translates into harmful stressors on the body.

 

I turned to Monica Wofford, leadership expert and author of Make Difficult People Disappear, to get to the bottom of what makes workplace conflict so complex.

 

“Workplace disagreements include the same challenging attributes as personal agreements, such as gender differences, generational differences, personalities, and of course, history,” Wofford explained. “The primary difference is that layered over those factors in workplace disagreement is the element of power, not to mention authority and consequences.”

 

The trick is to prepare for conflicts before they happen by developing a mindset open to a range of possibilities. Wofford offers these tips to get on the right track:

 

  1. Examine the “shoulds.” Everyone comes to work with a mental set of “shoulds” for their co-workers. Quiet but persistent, these “shoulds” often make us feel entitled to stand in judgement of our peers. Thoughts like “she should speak to her female co-workers with more respect” or “He should have been better prepared for that meeting” fuel our disappointment and anger when our expectations aren’t met. We have to look closely at the legitimacy of these “shoulds” and how they color our thinking. 
  2. Recognize our differences. There is a general tendency to label behavior that is different from our own as “difficult.” Think back to the classmate who couldn’t sit quietly through the school assembly. Even then, the dominant thought was that she was difficult. Knowing what we know now about the myriad reasons children are challenged by a solid hour of sitting, it’s clear that she might simply have had different needs and limitations. Bringing that same mindset to the workplace gives us the ability to release expectations. Don't be afraid to work out your personal differences. Connecting dots in a thoughtful manner supports positive outcomes.
  3. Explore your fears. There’s an unspoken fear factor to workplace candor. Rather than telling someone what’s on your mind, it is often easier to quietly grouse about the unfairness of the situation. Are you holding back from an honest talk with a coworker because you’re afraid you’ll be perceived as too blunt? Are you hesitant to share your idea at the team meeting because you’re scared you’ll be put down?  This aversion to being truthful makes it very difficult for others to live up to your expectations; they have to know what you want in order to respond appropriately.
  4. Be vulnerable. Vulnerability in the office can be tough. It’s generally the first thing we look for in others, but the last thing we want to reveal in ourselves. Dr. Brené Brown, one of the world’s leading researchers on authenticity, found that one of the critical components for great leadership is the willingness to be vulnerable with others. She also connects vulnerability to increased innovation, trust, and engagement. People don’t trust perfection. By sharing our vulnerability, we start to form bridges with colleagues who might not have otherwise trusted us. 
  5. Look to the leaders. Some people are naturally inclined to be vulnerable and recognize differences in others without judgement. Look to those peer leaders to get cues on how to make connections.  According to Wofford, “Those who are highly skilled in empathy will sit and listen to the problems of their co-workers, even clear off their desk and schedule to do so, thus inviting more of the same. These people begin to be seen as someone who ‘gets me’ and the dramatic sharing repeats.” This dramatic sharing results in a better office climate, ripe with truthful feedback and support.

 

Ultimately, I was able to let go of the grudge I held against my former supervisor for his absence at the customer conference. It was tough to abandon my unhealthy, albeit comfy, nest of grievances. But doing so led to five more years of a positive work relationship.  Wofford says this is the whole point of examining and freeing these resentments:

 

“Releasing grudges provides additional brain space and potential energy to be spent on more productive efforts, but the most important benefit is having a clean slate in your workplace relations.”

 

Your turn: How have you managed workplace disagreements? Let us know in the comments below.

 

Image Credit: racorn/Shutterstock

 

How to Negotiate Your Salary

Posted Aug 25, 2017
    Christopher Ruel
Christopher Ruel
Community and Social Marketing, Wiley

With a recent survey showing that over half of U.S. workers don’t negotiate their salaries, it’s clear that many are uncomfortable with the process. You might wonder, “Am I asking for too much?” or “Am I shortchanging myself?” Underlying these questions may be fear, but you can overcome your doubts to feel confident the next time you need to navigate the salary waters. The short video below offers some great advice.

 

Learn more on salary negotiations here.
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How To Create Messages That Stick

Posted Aug 15, 2017
    Paul McGee
Paul McGee
Author and BBC Contributor

Vicky was excited. I mean extremely excited. A friend of hers had arranged an opportunity for her to attend their company staff conference, where a former Olympic athlete would be speaking. The organization was investing a considerable sum of money for this celebrity to address over 300 staff.

 

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A week after the event, Vicky and I met up. As a professional speaker myself, I was keen to hear about the impact the celebrity had made and the ways his message would help his audience.

 

‘So what was he like Vicky?’

 

Vicky appeared starry-eyed as she recalled the event.

 

‘He was gorgeous. All the women instantly fell in love with him. In fact, some of the guys probably did too.’

 

‘Interesting,’ I replied. ‘But what would you say you took away from his message?’

 

‘Well,’ continued Vicky, clearly excited as she relived the experience, ‘if you were patient you could wait around at the end and have your photograph taken with him and his Olympic medal.’

 

‘That's brilliant Vicky, but can I ask you this: what was your key takeaway from his presentation?’

 

Vicky paused before finally replying: ‘That's a tough one. I can't remember exactly, but I know he was really good.’

 

It got me thinking. How often do we hear a message but very quickly forget it? Sometimes that might be acceptable if the speaker's message was meant solely to entertain. But what if it isn't? What if you have an important message to communicate that you need people to remember?

 

The problem is we're often so busy focusing on what we're going to say that we don't take time to think about how to say it in a way that people will remember.

 

The challenge you face as a communicator is not that the attention span of your audience is necessarily short – it's that their attention is constantly being bombarded by messages and distractions screaming ‘listen to me, notice me’. Believing that saying something once in a potentially unengaging way is going to be remembered by people is, I'm afraid, a reflection of either naivety or arrogance, or perhaps even a combination of both.

 

Advertisers know they need to get your attention and then communicate their message in a way that is memorable. After all, what's the point of an organization investing in advertising if you then can't remember the point of their message? They know that getting your attention is just the start. They then need you to remember their message.

 

That's crucial for us to remember as communicators.

 

Ever heard the phrase ‘people won't remember what you said, but they will remember how you made them feel’? Personally, I think that could be a cop out. How about when we communicate with people, our aim is that they'll remember how we made them feel AND what we said?

 

Here's the deal:

We need to learn how to cover our message in Velcro, rather than coat it with Teflon.

 

Making his message sticky and memorable was a priority for Steve Jobs. That's why, when he wanted you to remember something, he'd repeat it over and over. Why? Because repetition aids retention. I'll say that again – repetition aids retention. He wasn't bothered if people said ‘Steve, you mentioned that earlier’. He knew that. But he intuitively knew the following:

Your message needs to stick if it's going to be a hit.

 

Repetition is one way to do that. We'll be exploring lots more ways throughout the book, but let me share one approach I've used to make my message sticky and memorable – using visual and quirky language. And the reason? Well the reality is, the more people hear overused and overfamiliar phrases, the more those words will over time, figuratively speaking, ‘go in one ear and out the other’.

 

So, for example, in my book SUMO (Shut Up, Move On) I explore a number of SUMO principles. Here's what they could be called if I expressed them in a more familiar way:

  1. Take responsibility.
  2. Have a positive attitude.
  3. Set goals.

 

However, the language I use to describe each principle is phrased in a less-familiar way:

  1. Change your T-shirt.
  2. Develop fruity thinking.
  3. Ditch Doris Day.

 

Here's the deal:

     The unfamiliar gets our attention. And through repetition it also gets remembered.

 

Here's another way I've used the above strategy to get remembered.

 

My name is Paul McGee. I think you'd agree there's nothing particularly memorable about that name. My appearances in the media are occasional at best and, compared to many people operating in the world of motivational speaking, my life story is rather tame.

 

But my brand name –‘The SUMO Guy’ – gets me remembered. It gets people's attention. It immediately conjures up a visual image and creates interest. Agree? The reality is I don't wear a sumo outfit or prance around on stage dressed in an oversized thong. Which might disappoint some, but probably comes as a relief to many. Either way, my brand name is memorable.

 

Then, explaining that SUMO is an acronym which can stand for Shut Up, Move On (or sometimes Stop, Understand, Move On) also gets me remembered. It's short and simple (words that have often been used to describe me, in fact). But because it's short and simple, and also different and memorable, it sticks in people's minds.

 

Now relax. I'm not suggesting you have to come up with some weird or wacky way to communicate your message. I've simply shared a strategy that works for me. You're going to be learning many more, but although the context in which you speak is likely to be vastly different to mine, you might want to start thinking about how you could use less-familiar language to express a familiar idea.

 

The point I want to stress is this: Having a great message is one thing. Getting it remembered is another entirely.

 

If you were to focus on one of the ideas we've briefly explored to make your message more sticky and memorable, which would it be?

    1. Using repetition more.
    2. Using less-familiar language to communicate a familiar idea.

 

 

What techniques have you used to drive a message home? Let us know in the comments below.

 

The above post is an excerpt from: How to Speak So People Really Listen: The straight-talking guide to communicating with influence and impact.

 

Paul McGee is one of the UK’s leading speakers on the subject of change, workplace relationships and motivation. His provocatively titled book SUMO (Shut Up, Move On) became an instant best seller and his book on Self Confidence reached number one in the WHSmith’s business book chart and remained there for a further 24 weeks. He has appeared on BBC Breakfast television and is a regular contributor on BBC Radio.

 

Image Credit: Rawpixel.com / Shutterstock

 

     Mary Charles Byers
Mary Charles Byers
Marketing Intern, Wiley

This summer, I was one of 1.5 million interns hired to work at large and small companies across the country. These days internships are considered a resume-building necessity for new graduates entering the job market As such, it’s important for corporations and students alike to realize the difference between a good internship program that focuses on valuable experiences and one that simply provides a student with an impressive title. It has become imperative for corporations to create internship programs that revolve around meaningful work and solid experience, rather than menial tasks no one else at the organization wants to do. On the flip side, students need to seek out the good from the bad before taking on an internship. Sometimes that can mean leaving your comfort zone. In my case, that meant leaving Texas, where I attend college, for an internship in Indianapolis.

 

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The Value of the Intern

Let’s be honest, there are many organizations that either see no purpose in hiring interns or do not have the resources to facilitate an internship program. They may have a fear of environmental disruption, an inability to find willing mentors, or even financial limitations that hold them back. I don’t want to downplay these concerns, but at the same time there’s often a Catch-22 situation which arises. Some of the same companies that lack internship programs require entry-level applicants to have industry experience. Quality internships enable students to gain skills, learn about an industry, bolster their marketability and build confidence through experience.

 

At the same time, there’s a clear upside for organizations.  Interns often provide a fresh, creative perspective. They bring added energy, and they push themselves to make a difference in a short amount of time. All of this has the potential to inspire and re-engage existing employees. Internship programs also help to develop leadership skills and promote mentorship among permanent employees, while building relationships that may lead to an intern’s full-time employment and future company success.

 

Not All Internships are Created Equal

During my college years, I have held a variety of internships with companies ranging in size from fewer than twenty employees to several thousand. This summer, the corporation I interned with employs over three thousand colleagues across the world.

 

Why did I leave Texas for Indiana? My goal this summer was to learn more about the type of job I want after graduation. I eventually want to work for a larger company, so for me, that meant spending my summer in Indianapolis. The program I joined was well organized and the internship positions provided a thoughtful, well-mentored, and collaborative experience. I did a range of meaningful work and gained a better understanding of the type of position I’ll seek out when I finish school.

 

Weekly one-on-ones with my manager imparted a sense of accountability, I also participated in many informational luncheons with senior colleagues who provided information on a variety of departments and different roles within them. My daily tasks included marketing campaigns, gathering information for the creation of several blog posts and even the assignment of my own blog post to write. (Hint: it’s this one.) Along the way, I gained an insider’s view of the company’s mission, its goals, and its culture. Fortunately, that culture was dedicated to providing meaningful experiences for its interns and values what they have to offer.

 

If an internship is about fetching coffee for someone else, you, fellow student, didn’t do your homework. And companies, if your internship program is about menial, meaningless tasks, why bother? Corporations—big and small—need to continually ask their intern(s); What other experiences do you want to have here? Are we providing you with what you need? Do you feel like a valuable part of a team or an outlier?

 

The Title Is Not What Matters

Many internships lack the concrete goals or key takeaways that an intern should achieve or understand upon completion of the program. To prove the experience meaningful, there should be evidence to show what was gained in the weeks or months spent working at a company. While it’s easy to put a good title like “Financial Analyst Intern” or “Product Marketing Intern” on a resume, in the end, does it really mean anything? Does it prove that the candidate acquired the skills needed to jump into a full-time, entry-level position in that field upon graduation?

 

To my benefit, my internship provided me the opportunity to compile documentation of my work efforts, such as examples of the content I created, email exchanges between myself and colleagues, and a detailed letter from my manager outlining the projects in my portfolio. While this documentation from a supervisor is important, it’s also key that the manager take time to mentor his/her intern once the program has come to an end. Continued support can lead to a lasting relationship that will enrich both the mentor and the mentee.

 

Take a Chance

As I head into my final year of college. I have constant anxiety around landing a full-time position. But what provides me with confidence are the professional skills and qualities I’ve gained through my participation in various internship programs. The skills I’ve learned allow me to prove my mettle, empower me to be poised and ready for job interviews, and above all, demonstrate that I haven’t just sat back and witnessed a company at work. Instead I’ve done real work in a real world environment. I encourage all companies, big and small, to give students the opportunity to have these meaningful experiences. The benefits are invaluable.

 

What Are Your Thoughts?

What do you think are the main benefits of creating an internship program that revolves around meaningful work?  Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

 

Image Credit: Getty Images