A Look At The FUSE Conference

I found this fun little video today:

As fan of Debbie Millman’s work, especially her podcast: Design Matters, I really got a kick out it. Now, it’s a bit out of date (2013…wow…in some respects it seems like just a few days ago, and also like a hundred years ago).

I haven’t made it to a FUSE Conference yet. This is something that I find very intriguing and want to experience. Maybe not as bad as Burning Man, but, well, you know…

Anyway, I love the effect of leaving through the notebook. Very charming.


Brene Brown: About Vulnerability, Authenticity and Belonging

I finally was able to get a walk in last night. One of the critical elements for a good walk, in my system: a good podcast. For several years one of my favorites has been Design Matters with Debbie Millman (I’m not sure how long I’ve been listening, but this post of mine from 2014 says I’d been listening for a few months.) I highly recommend subscribing, even if you’re not a designer or artist. Design thinking’s value extends far beyond graphic arts and design.

The episode from October 23rd features Brene Brown. Sadly, I’d never heard of her before. It’s sad since I have a deep interest in the subjects of her work. I’ll be adding a few of her books to my reading list. Plus she has two, TWO TED Talks that I have missed. So, I’ll be addressing that over the weekend.

I particularly appreciated her thoughts on vulnerability and trust.  Elements which are critical for healthy for relationships, but far too scare, I’m afraid. And the current political environment does nothing to help. But I digress.

Anyway, give the podcast a listen (below). I’ll also put in links at the bottom to connect with her.

I’ll leave you with my favorite quote of hers: “Courage is contagious. Every time we choose courage, we make everyone around us a little better and the world a little braver.” A great idea with which to move forward, methinks.


Connect With Brene:

Her Homepage

The Cure’s “A Forest” and the Evolution of a Band

I’ve heard this song countless times. Today, Youtube popped this up in the recommended list and I happily listened. Seeing other versions in the sidebar from 1979, 1981, and 1992 made me wonder about how different each one sounded. I enjoyed witnessing the evolution of Robert Smith’s personal style as well.

Below is the 1979 version, which has a more traditional punk vibe (it says something that I can say “traditional” and “punk” without any sense of irony).

This one is from 1981. Not a huge transition, but I notice a less punk style and something that becomes much more recognized as The Cure.


By 1992, we have a clearly distinctive style that is The Cure, and not confusable with anyone else.


Thanks for giving a few minutes of your journey through the vast wasteland that is the internet. Let me know what you think in the comments, and give me a share, if you’re so led.

Seth Godin’s: The Toxic Antidote To Goodwill

I’ve long admired Seth Godin’s writings and blog posts. Today’s post got me thinking, since it covers situations I’ve needed to respond to, and on many different sides.

The toxic antidote to goodwill

Seth points out:

“Anyone who has done the math will tell you that word of mouth is the most efficient way to gain trust, spread the word and grow.

And yet…

It only takes a moment to destroy. Only a few sentences, a heartless broken promise, a lack of empathy, and it’s gone. Not only that, but the lost connection can easily lead to lawsuits.”

I’ve had team members act this way, seen my leaders act this way, and, most importantly, received this attitude many times: “It’s not my fault. I did a perfect job. Tough luck.”

It destroys connection. Word of mouth now will work against you. In today’s highly connected world, these sorts of slip-ups can go viral and bring you a great deal of negative attention. And, sorry, I don’t buy the “any attention is good attention”.

When I was at Starbucks, I was part of the Corporate Social Responsibility team. Environmental issues, business practices, and corporate charitable giving were key components of our work (though that’s not all inclusive). When asked once, what value we brought to the company, my reply was “being allowed to stay in business”. More and more people are expecting companies to live ethically (within a range of definitions of “ethical”, of course). Considering such things as communities protesting the building of Wal-Marts, it’s clear, to me, that companies are going to face expectations of behavior that they ignore at their existential peril. And expecting to wait 5 years before acting is probably the most fatal of all thoughts.

Over the years, I’ve had Milton Friedman’s statement “a business’ responsibility is to maximize shareholder value” presented to me many, many times. Though I my eyes roll at that (I’m firmly buy into the Triple Bottom Line engagement model),  I find the response of “what time period are we talking about?” to be the best. “Maximized shareholder value” for today? This minute only? Should the future ability to operate be sacrificed for maximized profits for the next earnings report? How many times has Wall Street rewarded such short-term thinking? Massive layoffs create a super strong quarter? Exciting! Except now the company can’t scale, or, sometimes, can’t even meet their current business flow. Considering the long-term detriment for such short-term decisions needs to be rewarded.

One additional thought with all this: the power of the individual. Sure, I can post a nasty critique of <insert evil company> on <Twitter/Facebook/Instagram> and get thousands/millions of views, have the “contact us” section of your website crash, and your phones ringing incessantly for days. But there’s the other side of this. The power of the empowered employee who chooses to engage, and solve problems. Sadly, it won’t be as powerful. It would be great to see “Oh My God, <company x>, your <employee name here> did <awesome thing> and our lives are so much better” end up with 1.5 million likes and RTs. But that won’t happen without a significant cultural shift. But that pushes you in the right direction. And if you don’t have a huge global presence, that’s the gold. Might actually be the only gold. Which, once tarnished, is so terribly hard to get back. You might not be able to make that investment in time/money/energy to repair before your company fails.


The Power Of The Simple “Thank You”

I pride myself on thanking people. I see this as basic. Time and time again, though, I hear how rarely it happens.

Really, one of the most basic elements of community building: acknowledging each other. An element of “namaste”, of seeing each other at a deep level, of valuing each other. Appreciating everyone’s unique gifts and contributions.

So often, in the comms world, we focus on solving some problem. Once the solution gets executed, off to the next thing. All the work teams put into the resolution vanishes into vapor.

Perhaps the easiest action to take, and one that reaps rewards in terms of connection, yet so often forgotten.

Want to stand out as a communicator? Well, remember the “thanks”.

Thanks for reading!

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Contemporary Communications

A current cultural value: speed. Faster, faster…get more done sooner!

So, with that, one of my recent personal observations: I need to slow down. In the grand flurry of work, I find it easy to wrap myself up in the frenetic nature of life and reactively communicate. My most common culprit: email, though other medium catch that, too.

Taking that moment to consider “what am I trying to say?” and “what do I want to happen?”, then evaluating my content against those proves itself valuable again and again.

Also valuable: thinking through medium. Is an email the best tool to get the results I need? Sometimes I end up shifting to a phone call after a few emails where we talk past each other.

Quite often slowing down, getting focused on quality ends up being by far faster. In my experience, I find that true more often than not.