Tagged by: Personal

No Excuses. The Ball is in Your Court.

During a leadership meeting at Rackspace this week, Jo Dockery, one of the smartest Rackers, was presenting. She had a slide with a great quote:

Never Gets Easier You Get Better

I loved the quote. What made it special is that it puts the ball on your court. Stop complaining about external circumstances. It encourages you to stop blaming external factors. They are just excuses. Life is hard, deal with it.  

You might have heard Have you hear a story about the guy who gets shot. As he is lying in the ambulance, he is smiling. The paramedics are puzzled as to why someone who has been shot might appear happy and ask him about it. He said “I have been shot, there is nothing I can do about it. I can choose to be happy or sad. I choose happy.  ” You don’t control the circumstances but you control how you will deal with them. 

The grass always seems greener o the other side.  If feels like other people had it easy: They are lucky,  they inherited money, are liked by the CEO, were at the right place at the right time, etc. – and you didn’t.  Maybe that’s why you are not successful. I have thought about this myself, maybe even more than once. Let’s call bull. Life is hard, maybe even unfair. Work is hard. Everyone has problems.

Stop blaming the environment. Stop blaming others. Stop blaming your situation.  You won’t change the world around you, You won’t change your boss. But you can change you.  The ball is on your court. You can do something about you. You can change your attitude, your behavior and your skills.

The alternative is to sit tight, delay success, and wait, hoping things will improve and everything will be easier. It never happens. Life is now.  

You just get better. 

You become clearer on your goals. You figure out how to win. You acknowledge your limitations. You ask for help. You learn. You plan. You study.  You spend time and effort to improve.  You get more resilient. You work harder. You get smarter. You practice.  You ask for help (yes, again). You keep trying. You keep getting better, and better, and better.

How are you getting better today? 

People say I am lucky. But a funny thing happens: the harder I work, the luckier I get” – unknown

Picture courtesy Brian Hindle via Flickr under Creative Commons – http://www.flickr.com/people/dryrot/

During a leadership meeting at Rackspace this week, Jo Dockery, one of the smartest Rackers, was presenting. She had a s...

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Make Someone’s Day

Image courtesy JoseMa Orsini - Creative Commons

Image courtesy JoseMa Orsini – Creative Commons

I was boarding my flight from Atlanta to Austin when I saw a little kid walking down the aisle with his mom. He looked a little bit scared or tired, I could not tell. They sat in the row behind me. The I overhead the lady on the seat next to them tell him “I am so happy I got to sit with you. I usually get sit next to very boring people.” as I turned my head I saw the kid smile. He chatted the entire flight. When we were leaving the plane, the smile was still on his face. All this for one sentence from the lady, who made the kid’s day.

Just a few days later I was chatting with one of my colleagues and simply told him the work he has been doing was impactful. I said something like “You have done a great job. We planned this a year ago, now we have solid results. Your work is having a positive impact for the company that can be seen in our revenue, thank you.”. Two days later my friend was still pumped. He thanked two more people who helped on the project and seemed happier than usual. All for a few sentences.

His reaction was not a surprise, but it made me think we should do more of this, I should do more. It is well accepted that feeling appreciated, recognition and encouragement are more powerful employee motivators than money. Bu you should not only do this because it is the right business decision, it needs to come from the heart. It is so easy to ignore the little things in life like this one that make a difference. They are important, that’s why I decided to blog about it even if it is off-topic for my blog.

How can you make someone’s day?

  • Tell someone in your team they are doing a good job and how they are helping the company
  • Smile to people that walk past you or say ‘Good morning” to people on the elevator
  • Find the person at work that has the most underappreciated job (helpdesk? IT? Receptionist? and thank them for what they do. Every time I am at an airport I thank the TSA personal for keeping us safe
  • Pay for coffee for the person next in line or bring chocolate to the a meeting for no reason
  • Write a sincere thank you note for someone

It’s so simple, it’s contagious, and it’s free. Most of our efforts in life are aimed at making us happy. And yet, happiness is right here, available to you and the people around you if we just make a small effort to create a spark.

Have a great day

I was boarding my flight from Atlanta to Austin when I saw a little kid walking down the aisle with his mom. He looked a...

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Joining Bazaarvoice

BV Logo

It’s been almost three months since I joined Bazaarvoice as Sr. Director for Product Marketing. It has been a very rewarding and fun experience. But let me start from the beginning:

I worked for Vignette in a similar role for about a year and a half. Then the company was acquired by Open Text and I was offered a position to run strategic communications, which I did for a few months. My team included PR, AR, social media and a new CXO/executive relationship program.

This was a very exciting position from the perspective that it was all about influencer marketing. However, I had significant differences of opinion with the senior management team in terms of strategy, company culture and marketing position. Once I started working on that position I felt like I was an evangelist for a religion I did not believe in. Almost at the same time, Bazaarvoice presented me with a unique opportunity.

My Social Media background

For the last almost 10 years I have been working with social media and online communities. At Motorola we created the first mobile developer communities back in 2001 for the earliest smart phones. Developers have relied on peer-based online and offline communities for learning and support. Then I had the unique opportunity to lead Microsoft’s community strategy starting in the developer division and as the driver for the Broad Customer Connection initiative company-wide. Looking back, we did some pretty amazing stuff back then that would still be considered leading edge today.

During my time at Vignette, I helped the company transition from Enterprise-content management to a vendor that uniquely understood how to manage both enterprise content and social media content. The Vignette social media strategy was looking good until the acquisition.

Four Areas of Social Media

I see four discrete aspects of social media as they relate to how companies interact with it.

  1. First there is the Social Web made mainly of social networking sites: Facebook, Twitter, Linked In, Flickr, eVite, eBay, Slideshare – etc. There are many case studies about how companies are using these tools to connect, listen, respond, interact with customers. I have a pretty cool story I will share in a future blog post.
  2. Peer support communities proved their value many years ago. This includes developer communities, support forums, NIkeID and others that are mainly knowledge based or break-fix.
  3. Social media in the enterprise, better known as Enterprise 2.0 took the concepts of social media and Web 2.0 into employee Facebook-like applications converging with collaboration and knowledge management. SharePoint and Salesforce Chatter have a good chance of dominating this market.
  4. Standalone marketing community sites. Often times these appear as complements to brand sites, as promotional micro sites or as standalone sites that aim to capture a conversation, increase engagement and somehow magically produce business results. I feel like this is the least mature aspect of social media. This is the space where I will focus the rest of this post.

Build it and They Will Come

The initial idea was great. Essentially marketers love the idea of being the center of attention, of hosting the conversations around their brand and their market. If your business is selling guitars online it would be very compelling to be the Facebook of musicians and host the space where they would gather and chat about stuff, giving you “permission” (in Seth Godin’s terms) to market to them and turn them into buyers.

The problem: Facebook won. Music aficionados are on Facebook. They are probably also fans of organic food, classic rock, the Gap, etc. But they don’t think about these brands when they want to discuss topics related to these markets (food, music, clothing) because their conversation is happening on the social web, where their friends are today. In Jeremiah Owyang’s words “fish where the fish are”. 

Think about it from your perspective: how many things are you passionate about, how many brands you like. Do you maintain a profile in each of these brand’s communities? Are you active there? Or do you do all your social webbing on Facebook and twitter?

The idea sounds great but it’s a myriad. I recently blogged about this in what I think is a controversial post that includes some informal research about the failure of online marketing communities.

Where’s the beef?

For the last two years companies have been hiring social media experts. Many of them are good communicators, experts in the use of social media tools but lack the track record of driving real business results. Companies realized they needed to do something in social media and given their lack of experience CMOs had to trust social media experts and give them free reign to do whatever they wanted. They wanted a social media strategy.

Last year companies started asking themselves, after doing this for a few months, Where is the ROI? How much should we invest next year in social media? How do we know what tools to use? Facebook fans don’t make payroll. Business week published an article “Beware of Social Media Snake Oil” based on ideas from David Armano. A year ago, my presentation at Web 2.0 focused on the lack of measurement and idea that you don’t need a social media strategy because social media is a tool that should support business objectives.

Some stats: (about a year old) . eMarketer found 84% of marketers don’t measure social media ROI at all. A survey I did with the Marketing Leadership Roundtable shows only 12% of Web 2.0 initiatives are rated as effective. The Marketing Sherpa Social Media benchmark shows social media has been most effective at influencing brand reputation and awareness, improving search engine rankings and increasing traffic. 

Social Media has produced soft benefits: awareness, participation, customer feedback. There is no question Social Media is a great tool to interact with customers, listen, broadcast and solicit feedback. What about making real money?

Enter Social Commerce

Social commerce is the practice of leveraging customer interactions to drive real business value. It started by taking customer’s opinions to help other customers make decisions on what to buy: ratings & reviews. Today, ratings and reviews are one of the primary drivers of eCommerce sales. Think about the last time you bought something on Amazon. As soon as I land on a product page I scroll down past all the traditional marketing content to land directly on ratings and reviews.

Now social commerce leverages not only opinions – also knowledge (questions and answers), experiences (stories), the Social Web, mobile shopping and a number of innovative tools. The direct correlation to business results is proven: higher sales, lower costs, reduced returns. For more stats see www.bazaarvoice.com/stats . Furthermore, social commerce can help companies breathe customer oxygen to understand the voice of the customer and derive insights that transform every aspect of the organization.

The secret is in what I call contextually relevant community. It is about using social media in a way that is relevant to the user based on their intent (what they are trying to accomplish) and their desired experience (i.e. the websites where they go to accomplish this). Social Commerce makes relevant, trusted advice, opinions, knowledge and experiences available to people as they look for products, decide what to buy, or learn how to use a product.

The conversation is not about what you had for lunch last week or the pictures of your dog: it is about the relationship that exists between you and the brand: the products you like, the people that enjoy products like you , your knowledge about these products, experiences you have had with them. It is contextually relevant to the brand as well.

Why Bazaarvoice

Leaving a global, public company with hundreds of millions of dollars in sales, in a job where I was innovating how to work with influencers and had three directors reporting to me to a small startup in Austin was a difficult decision. There were tradeoffs and risks.

Today I am 100% confident I made the right decision. There is energy and passion at this company. I work with really bright people. Our executives are smart. Brett, CEO inspires me. I enjoy every day at work. My wife told me after two weeks I am a different person at home. She loves Bazaarvoice too.

It’s good to be part of a successful company. Today, Bazaarvoice serves over 600 of the leading brands globally, including over 50 of the top 100 retailers in the U.S. We are hiring as fast as we can. There are probably 80 open positions on our website today. We have close to 10 full-time recruiters. Our ability to grow is only limited by our ability to hire top-notch people.

If you have heard about Bazaarvoice you probably heard about the culture. Our CEO has made it a priority. Proof? The vacation policy is entirely based on trust: “take as much as you need”. Many employees enjoy the weekly massages, guitar hero in the game room, free snacks, etc. Others enjoy the wacky sense of humor. Austin Business Journal named Bazaarvoice the number one place to work in Austin. All the pampering reminds me of the dot com days, except that this company is a real business that is growing on solid footing based on delivering real value to our clients.

Steve Joined Bazaarvoice a few days after I did. We have similar views.

At Bazaarvoice I can employ my experience in product marketing, my passion for customer centricity  my background in web technologies and  e-commerce and my 9+ years of experience working with social media. It’s a pretty good fit.

In these first three months, my team has delivered tremendous value for the organization. We are making a difference. I feel very proud of what we have done. I feel super excited about where we are going. Fasten your seatbelts. It will be a fun ride.

Hey, if you have read so far – thank you. This is a long post. I owe you one. Leave a comment. Say Hi. My promise is to blog more often. Here and on bazaarblog.com

Gerardo.

It’s been almost three months since I joined Bazaarvoice as Sr. Director for Product Marketing. It has been a very rewar...

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The Key to Success in 8 Words

This is the holy grail for entrepreneurs and employees. How to be successful.

I have thought long about the key to success and I have been asked often about what makes people successful. I have my own credo (maybe for another post) but I found this video to be pretty close to what I believe the keys to succes are. A video well worth spending 4 minutes watching.

Seth Godin blogged about the same topic this week . malcom Gladwell wrote about 10,000 hours of effort being the magic number for being successful. Seth disagrees.

“You win when you become the best in the world, however ‘best’ and ‘world’ are defined by your market. In many mature markets, it takes 10,000 hours of preparation to win because most people give up after 5,000 hours. That’s the only magic thing about 10k… it’s a hard number to reach, so most people bail.

Yo Yo Ma isn’t perfect… he’s just better than everyone else. He pushed through the Dip that others chose not to. I’m guessing that there are endeavors (like being CEO of a Fortune 500 company or partner at a big law firm) where the rewards are so huge that the number is closer to 20,000 hours or more to get through the Dip.

But, ready for this? The Dip is much closer in niche areas, new areas, unexplored areas. You can get through the Dip in an online network or with a new kind of music because being seen as the best in that area is easier (at least for now). You can get through the Dip as a real estate broker in a new, growing town a lot quicker than someone in midtown Manhattan. The competition is thinner and probably less motivated. “

It’s been a couple years since I posted this and I thought I should update with three words that I really like.

Fire, Focus and Faith

Fire is passion and drive. You either have it or you don’t. It’s what pushes you to work hard and to persist.

Focus is the wisdom to know what you want and to eliminate distractions. It’s especially hard in today’s world.

Faith is ethics, principles, the need to transcend, to help others, to do something meaningful.

 

– Time is our most precious resource. Use it wisely. Live each day to its fullest.

– The most important thing is that the most important thing remains the most important thing.

– Most people think money will make them happy, waste their life trying to get more money then they find it is not.

– Vices give you instant pleasure, meaning all the goodness is gone after it.

– Doing things for others gives you perpetual happiness that remains in you forever.

This is the holy grail for entrepreneurs and employees. How to be successful. I have thought long about the key to succe...

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Humility, Pride and Ego

I am an avid reader of Harry Joiner’s blog. He is a recruiter

He has a few posts about the importance of humility. Humility is an interesting concept, hard to describe. One can say Humility is the lack of Ego or it could mean seeing every other person as equal to you. I just checked Wikipedia, which defines Humility as a quality of a humble person: someone who does not think that he or she is better or more important than others.

How can you be bold, how can you be a leader if you are humble. Think of the business leaders or people you admire: Steve Jobs, Steve Ballmer, Sam Walton, Ghandi – who has the right “angle” on humility? how do they combine their passion for success and for being the best in their field with the need to be humble?

I tend to think of it from the perspective of Pride versus Ego. The difference is relativity: someone who has a strong Ego evaluates his accomplishments in relationship with his peers. He feels good about being better than the others. On the other side, someone who has Pride evaluates his accomplishments in relationship with himself, with his potential – independent on how the other people do.

I think of myself as someone with great Pride but low Ego. That’s who I want to be.

I am an avid reader of Harry Joiner's blog. He is a recruiter He has a few posts about the importance of humility. Humil...

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