Archive for the ‘Leadership’ Category
Has InkHouse succeeded because we’re lucky or because we’re smart and we work hard? According to Facebook COO and Lean In author Sheryl Sandberg, while men tend to take credit for a company’s success, women often ascribe success to “luck, help from others, and working hard.”
Sandberg has started a national discussion that has gone from the Silicon Valley, to Oprah, to The Daily Show and last Friday, to Boston at a breakfast hosted by the New England Venture Capital Association at the Harvard Club (if you missed it, you can watch the livestream video).
One of Sandberg’s tenets is the importance of fostering confidence in women. This week, Andrew Ross Sorkin interviewed Irene Dorner, president and CEO of HSBC USA in The New York Times. She said the problem of the glass ceiling is matched by the “sticky floor” (women who don’t proactively seek higher-level positions).
At a time in America’s history when the threat of war was pervasive and the future unclear, President John F. Kennedy stood in front of the nation and delivered his now infamous inaugural speech where he requested of citizens: “Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country.” That request came after the newly elected president painted a picture of the grave situation facing the country, and the need to band together with allies, and against enemies.
Fast forward 52 years to a more recent example of a request to band together – albeit not nearly as grave, but a request nonetheless. Marissa Mayer, CEO of Yahoo! has recently asked that all “Yahoos” return to the office, banning the flexible work-from-home environment in place at the company today. The request came in a 246-word memo emailed to employees from the HR department.
Yesterday Tina and I were interviewed by CBS Boston TV about Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer’s decision to eliminate working from home at the company.
I understand why Mayer made her decision. Working from home is great if you only have to collaborate with small teams. In fact, when InkHouse began, we had a 100 percent work from home model. We relied on phone calls, Skype, IM and email to collaborate. And we thought we had it down.
Fast forward to today, we have more than 40 employees and InkHouse is one of the fastest growing private companies in Massachusetts. Had we kept the work-from-home model, we would not be where we are today. Our growth only took off after we took formal office space where we have realized the tremendous value that comes from impromptu brainstorms and hallway conversations.
People were really upset about that whole replacement referee thing, huh? To quickly sum up the situation for those who weren’t following it, the NFL’s collective bargaining agreement ended at the completion of last season and since no agreement could be reached prior to the beginning of this season, replacement referees were hired. And the results were not good; blown calls, unnecessary fines, dogs and cats living together, mass hysteria! That, combined with learning there will be a bacon shortage, was basically my own personal hell last weekend.
The funny thing about being a blowhard communicator is that, eventually, it comes back to bite you. Look no further than former Red Sox ace turned video game entrepreneur Curt Schilling. When Schilling was in his prime he was a fierce competitor, tireless worker and driven to succeed. To some, he also came across as somewhat crass and arrogant. Whether he was giving the beat writers assembled pre-game in front of his locker a hard time or calling into WEEI as “Curt in the car,” it was clear that he had an opinion and demanded to be heard.
Back then it sure seemed that the only thing Schilling liked to do more than pitch was talk, and no subject was safe from Curt’s version of reality. In short, he was the ultimate blowhard. The media was only too happy to put the microphone in front of him.
A career in PR is one part anxiety and one part triumph. The anxiety stems from a lack of control – at the heart of PR is a mandate to convince someone else to do something we desire. We must convince clients to agree with our recommendations, and then convince reporters that the news/point of view we’re pitching is relevant and worthy of coverage.
The convincing is the hard part. People come into the world with an innate aversion to being convinced. They feel the slightest push and they instinctively push back. However, good PR people overcome this many times each day through the power of persuasion, which hinges on a fundamental understanding of the tired, yet true adage, “perception is reality.”
You may be a media maven or a social superstar, an astute strategist or a canny writer, but in the PR agency world, this means little if the client ain’t happy.
I’ve been a PR consultant as well as a client so I’ve seen both sides of the fence. I know what it’s like to operate on the outside, trying to read the tea leaves to figure out what’s going on in my client’s world. And as an in-house PR manager, I’ve also experienced the frustration of my inherited PR agency not completely being on the same page as me (I corrected that quickly).
Walking in your client’s—or your prospect’s shoes—is an essential skill for any PR practitioner. It’s not something you can learn in a book. It’s a state of mind, a commitment.
Tonight I discovered on Twitter that Steve Jobs had passed away and did a double take. I was not expecting it so soon. A Google search turned up nothing, but Twitter was logging posts faster than I could read them. It was true and as the hours went by, Twitter felt more like a choir than its usual fire hose. And now, the world feels a little less certain in his absence. A very bright light we all looked to for inspiration (and often hope) has gone dark long before its time.