Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Make Every (Leap) Second Count

A lot can happen in a second. A bumblebee can beats its wings 200 times. A runner can break the marathon world record. A tweet can be sent that may damage a reputation for life. You can change someone’s entire day.

At midnight tonight, on June 30, 2015, we will all be gifted an extra second … a "leap second." Because Earth's rotation is slowing ever so slightly, we occasionally need to add an extra second to re-sync our super-precise atomic clocks to our planet's rotation.

I thought we’d take this opportunity to ask you, our loyal readers, to think about what you plan to do with this extra second with a fun poll.

Don’t forget, some of the best things in life happen in a single moment. 

Use your leap second wisely!



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Monday, June 29, 2015

Being a Corporate Millennial

This week marks an important point for me: three years ago I started my placement at IBM. This is of course punctuated by returning to university, graduating, travelling and then returning to IBM.


I can honestly say that choosing to do a placement was one the better choices I made as a student. Also, turning down a placement offer at another company in the hopes of working for IBM when I was only at their application stage was a risk that paid off. Now 10 months back into IBM as a graduate, I stumbled across an article the other day titled ‘How a corporate cult captures and destroys our best graduates’. A quick synopsis of the article – The corporate machine will take graduates who said they were going to change the world and turn them into some sort of suited and booted, 9-5 terminator.


This article hit a couple of nerves with me for a few reasons. Firstly, great entrepreneurs and innovators who have changed the world have done so in their own, unique way and those committed to it will continue to regardless of whether they started or joined a ‘corporate’ organisation early on in their careers.


Secondly, and maybe most important, the word ‘corporate’ doesn’t mean what it once did (for me at least).


As a millennial, and as those who know me well are aware, I hate being called ‘corporate’. Not because I dislike working for a corporation, but because of the outdated, negative connotations that come with it. When people ask me about where I work they assume I sit in a 4×4 cubicle selling commoditized products over the phone with my Britney Spears-style headset whilst I play buzzword bingo.


Questions I frequently get asked are, ‘Do you ever feel like your voice is heard?’ or ‘Are you just a cog in a big machine?’ Admittedly, working in a 400,000 people strong company can be daunting, but do I feel like I am a voiceless robot while the highest echelons in the hierarchy, the illuminati of Big Blue, dictate every aspect of my life? No. In fact it can be quite the opposite: just the other week a 26-year-old IBM employee successfully petitioned to overturn a company ban on the car service Uber using the internal social networking platform IBM Connections.


An article from the U.S. Chairman of PWC Bob Moritz highlights how millennials want to feel connected to the vision and purpose of a company to remain engaged. While I believe the word ‘corporate’ is changing, companies must also change their goals and strategies to align and attract talented millennials.


For me, working at a company that acts behind the scenes to keep some of our most frequently used services running so we can carry on doing things such as access our favourite websites or use our credit cards to make purchases is pretty cool.


Watching Wimbledon or the 6 Nations and seeing 1 point/Try come to life and being able to say ‘We do that’ is also cool.



However working for a company that’s using cognitive technology to help fight against cancer ... that’s pretty amazing.



If anyone reading this is considering a placement scheme, Do it. If you’re considering IBM, Definitely do it. In fact feel free to get in contact with me if you would like advice!


To learn more about how IBM are changing the way companies becoming more social and pioneering a new way to work, click here.


To read the PWC Article, click here.



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Sunday, June 28, 2015

Life Hacks: Managing & Retaining [Millennial] Employees

It’s time for another edition of the IBM Life Hacks! And as I’m typing this from a plane destined for Las Vegas, about to attend my first SHRM (Society for Human Resource Management) conference, I can’t help but contemplate one of the hottest topics in HR right now – millennial employees. It’s hard to miss the mass amount of news surrounding this controversial generation, and maybe you’re even annoyed by it, but it makes sense to focus on understanding them as they will soon make up 75% of the workforce, even taking on leadership roles in your organization.


Generation Y is the largest, most educated, tech-savvy generation – and with degrees [and debt] in hand, we are entering the job market by the masses … but according to research, we’re not staying long once we land the jobs we so desperately want. This is causing a huge problem for companies, as losing employees is extremely costly.


So what makes this generation different from the rest and what can you do to keep us as productive, loyal employees? Start by understanding the “millennial mindset” and make sure your company fosters an environment where your employees can thrive.


While our parents saw hard work as putting in long hours, millennials believe in quality of work and being rewarded based on results versus time spent … we have the technology to get things done faster than before, so we expect flexibility in our schedules.  We thrive in collaborative environments where ideas come from all levels. We demand transparency across the organization and ongoing, honest feedback. And of course, we want to be working towards goals we believe in and feel as though our interests are supported. 


This is a mindset that older generations are adopting as well – we all want to feel appreciated, be rewarded for hard work and make a difference. It’s with this insight that I offer the June edition of Life Hacks: Managing & Retaining [Millennial] Employees.


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Thursday, June 25, 2015

Connecting People to Their Waterfront – and to Each Other

Urban waterfronts, like cities themselves, are always in flux. What might be a thriving landscape of shipbuilding, canneries, or ports in one decade might experience a sharp decline in the next as fish stocks deplete or shipping traffic moves elsewhere. While some cities have turned their backs on their decrepit waterfronts and surrounding brownfields, other have sought to turn them into new industrial centers, parklands, public spaces and more. In the spirit of today's Handshake Day, many of these renewal efforts have focused on building communities that connect neighbors to each other. When the quasi-governmental agency Waterfront Toronto set about its plan to revitalize the city’s lakeshore and improve the lives of citizens, it knew that it would have to put collaboration and social capabilities front and center.

Waterfront Toronto’s priorities are to “put people first and reconnect them with the waterfront,” according to its website. The revitalization effort is expected to take at least 25 years and around $30 billion to complete*. More than just real estate development, the project’s goal is to “transform the waterfront into a marvelous public destination with vibrant public and cultural spaces.” As lofty and as admirable as that goal is, Waterfront Toronto knew that it would need both input and buy-in from all stakeholders to make it a reality.

To this end the project teamed up with IBM Premier Business Partner Element Blue, LLC, to create a new community portal powered by SoftLayer cloud and IBM Connections social business software. The portal, dubbed New Blue Edge, brings together current and future residents, retailers, students and staff in a virtual community that includes digital content and services such as wellness advice, an events calendar, social feeds and an online marketplace. The portal also showcases Toronto as a leader among smart cities. In fact, the Canadian metropolis was named the 2014 Most Intelligent Community of the Year by the Intelligent Communities Forum.

As with many great projects, Waterfront Toronto achieved goals beyond its primary vision: In reconnecting the people of Toronto to Lake Ontario, the agency also succeeded in connecting people to each other. Revitalization efforts and strategic initiatives from Miami to Johannesburg to Rio de Janeiro are resulting in smarter cities with more involved citizens. Not just on Handshake Day but every day, portals such as New Blue Edge not only let people engage with one another, they connect them to businesses, services and governments. They give people real-time traffic data, tips on saving water, new ways of managing energy consumption, and an efficient means of providing feedback. With cities like Toronto leading the way, citizens all around the globe will get to live in better communities, and enjoy a higher quality of life.

To learn more about Waterfront Toronto’s efforts to build connect the city’s citizens, click here.

* New Blue Edge website, About section.

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Wednesday, June 24, 2015

IBM and Box forge a global partnership to transform work in the cloud

Organizations continue to look for ways to empower their most precious asset – people – with flatter organizations, data-driven insights, and flexible work styles. To create these more engaging workplaces – which in turn improve customer engagement and the bottom line – organizations of all shapes and sizes are becoming social businesses. IBM has been thinking about this for some time. That thinking, like the 2014 CEO Study, and the Millennials in the Workplace study, has been helping customers understand how leaders create competitive advantage from employee and customer engagement.


The definition of a social business continues to evolve, driven by rapid evolution in technology and employee diversity. It’s a vibrant marketplace, with hundreds of companies cooperating and competing for ways to help businesses harness social engagement. IBM’s leadership in the space is due to our maniacal focus on driving customer success. And I couldn’t be more proud of those results:


A vibrant social business ecosystem is needed to create the right business value for your specific organizational needs. That is why an open, easy-to-integrate, yet secure platform approach is so important. A platform that ideally is delivered in the cloud as well as on premises, to a wide range of mobile devices, and is informed by intelligence and analytics.


Building upon that vibrant ecosystem, IBM and Box today announced a global partnership that will combine the best-in-class technologies and resources of both companies to transform work in the cloud. You can read more about the announcement, including the press release, on ibm.com.


This announcement is about supporting customer choice, open platforms, and heterogeneous environments. IBM and Box will work together to continue integrating their existing services for customers, while developing and reselling a new set of secure and innovative solutions across a comprehensive content management portfolio. For social collaboration, in addition to improving the existing Box Plugin for IBM Connections, IBM and Box will look for opportunities to drive further social collaboration innovation for customers, including not just IBM Connections but also our most recent and exciting addition to the collaboration space, IBM Verse.


We encourage you to join the IBM and Box announcement webcast, “Transforming Work,” taking place Wednesday July 15, 9am Pacific Time. Click here to learn more and register for the webcast.

from Social Business Insights Blog http://ift.tt/1Hi6SiN

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Ingredients for Millennial Marketing Success

Hold the presses. A miracle has occurred. A brand mastered the art of millennial marketing. 

Channing Tatum participated in a Reddit AMA last week to promote Magic Mike XXL and a charity campaign for the Runa Foundation. AMA stands for “Ask Me Anything” and was something created by Reddit users as a way to have an open democratic interview with any individual. The interviewee could be anyone – from the President of the United States to Big Bird, basically anyone with an interesting story. Using the Reddit platform allows for any person in the world to ask a question and the best ones get voted up and are answered in real-time by the interviewee.

During Tatum’s AMA, he was asked the following question by a user:

Hello Channing Tatum! This is something I've always wanted clarified since it happened ... were you ever in Sea-Tac airport at the Chili's restaurant looking for a beer but IDless? I was the one working there who had to make the difficult decision as to whether we could serve you or not.

It all ended with a picture of you giving each of us a peck on the cheek, myself included. It's still one of my favorite stories to tell so I hope I wasn't just duped by a very convincing look-alike.

Tatum answered with the following:

That absolutely was me. Because I love Chili's. And no one believed me that i got into an airport without my id. I just wanted a beer and some chicken crisps, and i actually couldn't get either of them for a while, because i remember you guys didn't have chicken crisps either! what's a Chili's without chicken crisps?

Are you ready for the best part of this story? Yes, it gets even better.

Within hours after Channing Tatum told this hilarious story, Chili’s took to their Twitter to not only personally apologize for being out of Chicken Crispers, but to also tell Tatum that they hoped to make up for his poor experience with a donation to the charity organization he was promoting , Runa Foundation.


















The Channing Tatum story was one of the week’s most popular topics on blogs such as TechCrunch, Mashable, USWeekly, Vanity Fair, Gawker and CBS. Audiences, especially the millennial demographic, couldn’t stop talking, tweeting and posting about it.

So what’s my point? I believe Chili’s cooked up the marketing recipe for capturing the hearts, and wallets, of the millennial consumer: listen and pay attention to what’s going on outside your own social and cultural channels, respond in a timely and personalized way – and don’t forget the side of social responsibility.

from Social Business Insights Blog http://ift.tt/1QNRUHD

Monday, June 22, 2015

A Simple yet Powerful Message

With all of the data and anecdotal stories out there about what makes good vs. poor customer service, it’s astounding that so many companies still get it wrong. Speaking to a human is great, but not when that human has been trained to be overly exuberant as they recite their script telling you that they understand your concern and thank you for calling and it’s a pleasure to serve you and they’ll do everything possible to resolve your concern and how is your day going? You can hear the fake smile plastered on their face. I find that type of phony friendliness off-putting and untrustworthy. When it comes to customer service, it’s better to keep it simple and sincere.

A few weeks ago I installed an app on my phone. It didn’t work. Just froze up. So naturally I uninstalled it. Unnaturally for me, I also wrote a review of the app and gave it a poor rating. Forty-two percent of business leaders in a recent survey said their company has been shamed on social media1 – I’m not sure if my feedback constitutes “shaming,” but I must admit that being able to express my frustration in that way made me feel a bit better, as mild as that expression may have been.

Two or three weeks went by when I received a notification that the company had responded to my feedback. Their message was short but effective: to paraphrase, “Have you tried the app lately? We’ve made a lot of fixes.” That was good enough for me. I didn’t need a big, showy apology – after all, I had not been personally affronted. I didn’t need an effusive expression of how valuable I am to them as a customer. I just needed to know my concern was addressed. So I checked to see if that was the case.

And indeed it was. The app now worked as advertised, and I’ve used it many times since.

Thanks to technology, people have a more powerful voice than ever in the affairs of products and commerce, but I’m one of those people who does not exercise that voice as often as perhaps I should. In the future though I’ll remember how my negative feedback ended up being an opportunity for the company to re-engage with me, and for me to give their product a second chance.

Twenty-six percent of customer experience failures are a result of rude or offensive service2. I’d put fake, overly cheerful service in this category – I’m offended by it! Fortunately for both of us, the app company’s re-engagement took the form of a brief, straightforward message. Instead of ignoring it, I felt if not compelled then at least willing to take follow-up action. As a result, I have another fun app on my phone, and the company has one more regular user. Simple.


1. Lithium Technologies: “Corporate America under Pressure from Consumers' Rising Expectations,” June 2015.
2. SDL Plc: “The Global CX Wakeup Call,” May 2015.


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The IBM Connections Cloud June 2015 Release Is Now Live -- Check it out!

A new post on SocializeMe:Over the weekend we pushed out updates to our IBM Connections Cloud users (for those fathers out there, consider it a Happy Father's Day gift).

You will find updates throughout the experience both in the web and desktop.  For example, for Mac users you can now share files with Communities directly from Finder without ever needing to open a browser. Just right-click on the file, and voilá:

Another update this month was for developers.  Developers can now take advantage of the embedded experience extension point within the Activity Stream.  Each person and community has an activity stream (which follows the ActivityStrea.ms / OpenSocial 2.0 standard) which allows 3rd party apps to inject events into it (e.g. you could get alerts from an app telling you that an approval is required).

One of the first developers to take advantage of this in the cloud is AppFusions. They've now built connectors that are sure to please various roles within an organization. For example, if you want to get updates to files updates in Box, you can.  If you want to get updates when new code has been submitted to GitHub, you can. Or maybe you are a marketer and want to stay up to date with updates from Twitter.

Check out this video to see it in action!

The following slides summarize all the cool new things that are now available for IBM Connections cloud users.  Check these out to get an idea of what else is new:

And stay tuned for more news very very soon...

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Thursday, June 18, 2015

CloseUp with Dorie Clark

Meet Dorie Clark, the author of IBM’s Social Business Book Club selection for June, Stand Out: How to Find Your Breakthrough Idea and Build a Following Around It (and author of Reinventing You). She also happens to be the CEO of Clark Strategic Communications, a marketing strategy consultant and speaker, as well as a frequent contributor to publications such as Harvard Business Review, Forbes, and Entrepreneur - she does it all!

It's time for Dorie's CloseUp...


from Social Business Insights Blog http://ift.tt/1GuMDwF

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

4.74 Degrees of Separation: Bill Higgins

I've always believed the most powerful element of social business is its power to create relationships between people who otherwise would've never met. After learning that Jessica Ramirez had named him as one of the most important people whom she'd met via Connections, it took Bill a matter of seconds to name who that person was for him.


Bill Higgin's Story:


Over the past several years I've studied and embraced DevOps culture and practices to help deliver better products to IBM customers. I wasn't the only one. As IBM increasingly moved its business to the cloud, many other engineers started embracing DevOps practices too. Using IBM Connections, a community of practitioners interested in DevOps naturally developed and through this social network, I started to find other engineers who were able to teach me new things through their experiences. One of the best contacts I made was an IBMer named Trevor Bodz. Even though we were far apart organizationally (Trevor in IBM Commerce, me in IBM Cloud)—and even though we worked at different sites (Trevor in Austin, me in Raleigh)—we began to share DevOps-related links and stories with each other through Connections. Before too long, I found myself connecting other IBMers with Trevor for DevOps insights.


In January, I visited our Austin Design Studio, and ran into Damion Heredia, who had taken over product management leadership for our developer technologies, which these days largely focus on enabling teams to use DevOps practices while building cloud applications and services on IBM Bluemix. Damion said that he wanted to hire a new technical product manager to develop a leapfrog strategy for DevOps. He said, “Ideally the candidate would have hands-on experience and work in Austin—ask around and see if you can find someone.” Damion started walking away and I said, “I found someone!” and told him about Trevor. Flash forward five months and Trevor has been killing it in his role as senior product manager for DevOps. Since then I took a leadership role on our internal DevOps toolchain effort, and together Trevor and I contribute to a joint roadmap for our commercial and internal DevOps strategy.


We're great partners today and it's incredible to think that without Connections, we may never have even heard of each other.


from Social Business Insights Blog http://ift.tt/1KW5qUQ

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Design Thinking —Not Just for Designers

In today's increasingly market-driven workplace, companies are always on the lookout for new ways to engage their internal teams. Organizations across industries are developing tools and services that delight users, and collaborating and working smarter with colleagues around the globe. The companies that are tackling these tasks most successfully are those taking a people-focused approach to practical and creative problem solving. At IBM, that approach is called IBM Design Thinking.


Many large companies, IBM included, are challenged to practice people-focused problem solving because, while it works great for small, co-located teams, it’s difficult to scale this methodology. Only lately has the possibility for globally dispersed teams to practice human-centered product development become a reality. The members of IBM Design’s Education + Activation (E + A) team are the major proponents of this process. Over the past three years, they have developed unique programs that bring IBM Design Thinking to IBMers around the world.


Part of what makes the IBM Design Education + Activation (E + A) team’s work unique is the breadth of their programming. Designcamps—for product teams, product managers, and executives—are a cornerstone of the E + A’s programming. These immersive learning experiences make IBM Design Thinking accessible not only to designers, but also to people who haven’t previously considered design as part of their workflow or function. 


“We're practicing design thinking at a global scale and at a level of complexity that's never been seen before,” said Doug Powell, Education + Activation Program Director “With product teams dispersed around the world, collaboration and alignment among key stakeholders can be extremely difficult.”


In 2014, the IBM Design’s Education + Activation (E + A) team engaged more than 5,000 IBMers. Participant feedback has been overwhelmingly positive:


“I’ve never had an experience at IBM like this before—and I’ve been here a long time. I’m more excited to get back to work next week than I have been since I started working with IBM [more than 20 years ago].” — Executive Architect, Mobile Innovation 


On June 3, 2014, the IBM Design Education + Activation team received industry recognition when it was honored with a Professional Notable achievement award by Core77, an online community dedicated to the practice and produce of great industrial design. All honorees recognized by Core77 have the opportunity to participate in the Community Choice Awards—described by the site as the “Winner among Winners;” voting is now open.

You can learn more about IBM Design Thinking in the following ways:


  • If you're an IBMer, participate in the Designline webcastAn interactive series, Designline offers an hour-long deep-dive into the practices and principles of IBM Design Thinking. On the show, practitioners and subject matter experts come together to present case studies, share best practices, and answer questions. Note that this is only for internal IBM employees.
    • “It’s like listening to NPR. You mix a perfect blend of practical knowledge, actual case studies with IBM guests, and examples of how we can improve our own team’s work. More, please.” — IBM UX Designer 




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Monday, June 8, 2015

The Magic Words That Can Help You Sell Social

I recently attended the IBM Global Business Services North America Executive Summit, a meeting to gather over 500 partners and some of the foremost industry voices in the business division for professional development and knowledge sharing. As an arm for event support, I helped partners navigate workshop rooms and had another small job: running a Twitter 101 demo to help partners create Twitter profiles and learn about the importance of a social media presence.


I knew many partners were on Twitter already and had amassed large community followings within their respective industries. I was there to help the ones who weren’t. There was no doubt that these partners had a lot to share and I figured it would be easy to convince them to use Twitter. It’s ubiquitous. It has a wide reach. It has access to real-time content. Many of their colleagues are on it. Should’ve been an easy sell, right?


As I set up the booth with a digital poster on “Twitter 101,” I waited as partners began to register and walk in. I scribbled a couple points on why Twitter was important and then sprang into action. I would walk up to partners, ask them if they were on Twitter and barrage them with some selling points if they weren’t. Most responded with resistance and the results reflected that: In three hours, I signed up five people.


I presumed that most people didn’t see the point of Twitter; it was definitely a hard truth for a social media junkie like me to swallow. I decided it would be best to dig into the root causes. The next morning, I tried a new approach. If I got an individual that wasn’t on Twitter, I would ask them a simple question:


“What holds you back?”


To my surprise, many more people stopped. These became my magic words. I hardly got anyone who said “I don’t see the point of Twitter” or “I don’t think it’s worth it.” Instead, I got variations of the following:


I don’t know where to start. I’m too old. I can’t keep up with the changes. I wouldn’t know what to share. I have no idea how to search. No one is interested in what I have to say. There is too much to learn. I’m late to party. I feel like I don’t have the time.


I realized that these reasons had little to do with Twitter and its offerings. They were more personal. They had more to do with fear and self-doubt than any perceived flaws in Twitter’s search tool or interface. Most people knew what Twitter was. They knew it was important. With the watershed IBM-Twitter partnership signed last October, many partners knew Twitter would have heavy industry implications. It came down to the fact that they were simply nervous.


Asking people what held them back allowed them to reflect and reveal their insecurity around social media. While Twitter’s technology would be hard to change, it was a lot easier to change someone’s mindset and attitude towards using Twitter every day by assuaging their expectations. I would share my own insecurities, teach them miscellaneous tips and tricks around content generation, branding and time management, and even taught some of them, to the chagrin of their teenage children, how to “selfie.”


I learned one big lesson: It’s not enough to understand the technology to sell social business. Whether its Twitter or IBM Verse, we have to understand people, their motivations, and their setbacks. We have to first empathize with the complexity of the human before we blame the complexity of technology. While in consulting training, I learned that big recommendations don’t have a “one-size-fits-all” approach; I realized customized recommendations were important even when taking 20 seconds to persuade others to use social media.


The results changed significantly after time was invested into understanding the resistance and many more partners signed up the over the next two days. Bottom line: Don’t make assumptions before you really try to understand the “why.” People might surprise you. 



from Social Business Insights Blog http://ift.tt/1BUfypK

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Even Doughnuts Aren’t Enough for Great Employee Engagement!

Mmmmmm, doughnuts. In offices everywhere on Friday, people will bring in dozens of old-fashion glazed, Boston creams, jelly-filled, crullers and bear claws to early meetings or just to leave outside their cube – whether or not those people realize that June 5 is National Doughnut Day. Doughnuts are a tasty way to say thanks to a team mate, to gather people for an announcement, to bring visitors to your cube, or just to celebrate Friday. But while a box of doughnuts might be a great shortcut to engagement, it’s not enough. It’s easy to guess that employees might like to start their day with a guilty pleasure, but knowing what they really want out of their jobs takes careful listening, and careful listening requires the right tools.

The larger the organization, the more difficult it becomes to listen to employees in a meaningful way. Allianz, a provider of insurance, banking and asset management products and services, has about 148,000 people operating in more than 70 countries. With an organization that large and complex, having a strategic plan for employee listening is critical. Allianz knew that companies that don’t listen have disengaged and unproductive employees, and those employees were more likely to leave for jobs at competitors.

Furthermore, Allianz realized that training and development are necessary to help employees reach their full potential. With all of these factors in mind, the company launched a regular engagement survey to better understand employee motivation and identify areas for improvement. Working with IBM Kenexa Survey Enterprise, Allianz asked staff about their views on the company, their careers and their personal work environment.

More than 100,000 people participated in the survey every year from 2010 through 2014. Senior managers were able to view high-level dashboard reports that gave breakdowns of results from the entire survey as well as from their own departments. Leaders of teams and Allianz subsidiaries could then draft their own strategic plans based on the results as well as on individual opinions, giving greater weight to the voice of every respondent.

As a result of the listening and follow-up program, global engagement at Allianz rose six percent between 2010 and 2014. Local initiatives that were started after the introduction of the survey include a stress-reduction program in Romania and a plan in Spain that allows workers over 61 years old to spend their last years before retirement in a part-time role training a replacement.

 “We want to understand our strengths, opportunities, and what motivates and engages our workforce, because creating the right work environment has a major impact on business performance,” said Chief Human Resources Officer Dr. Christian Finckh. Measuring that impact is Allianz’s next move. When the numbers are in they will in all likelihood confirm what seems intuitive: giving employees a voice and taking action on their feedback makes good business sense. It might even work better than doughnuts.

To learn more about Allianz’s employee engagement efforts, click here.

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Tuesday, June 2, 2015

How to Stand Out in the Social Business Era

We live a world where you can now watch simulcasts of the Metropolitan Opera (instead of buying tickets to regional opera performances) or “study with” superstar professors in MOOCs (instead of settling for the instructor nearby). That’s amazing for customers and top talent, but it means there’s less room for average performers. Your company – and you - can’t get away with being the best option at hand. In a global economy, standing out becomes imperative.


There’s a lingering cultural belief that if you just work hard enough, you’ll be lauded as an authority if your work merits it. Unfortunately, that’s a recipe for professional disaster. People are overwhelmed by the clamor of their direct reports, Facebook friends, and Twitter followers; they just aren’t paying that much attention to you. Individuals – and the companies they work for – must be willing to invest time in developing powerful ideas and sharing them with the world.


Indeed, building a strong professional reputation is the single best way to protect, and advance, your career. As I describe in my new book Stand Out: How to Find Your Breakthrough Idea and Build a Following Around It, when you’re recognized by others as an authority in your field, clients and employers want to work with you, specifically.


To succeed in today’s economy, you don’t have to be a worldwide superstar, but you do have to be deliberate about identifying the place where you want to make a contribution and starting to share your ideas. The competition is fierce, but if you even begin to develop thought leadership, you’ll dramatically outpace your competitors, most of whom never even try. Here’s how to start taking action.


First, create the space to develop your ideas. Research by Professor Teresa Amabile of Harvard Business School shows that even though multitaskers who are operating under time pressure feel like they’re being more productive, that’s actually an illusion. Take more time, slow down the pace, and you’ll allow your best ideas to percolate.


Second, don’t be afraid to mix perspectives. In Stand Out, I profile Eric Schadt, a noted scientist who made a mark as one of the first to leverage the power of Big Data in biology. Why was he able to see its potential early on, when so many of his colleagues didn’t? It turns out that his original training was in mathematics and computer science; his familiarity with quantitative analysis gave him a unique skillset that became a competitive advantage. Similarly, you can mine your own background. What skills, experiences, or perspectives do you have that might shed new light on your own projects? (If you’d like to learn more about how to develop your own breakthrough ideas, you can download my free 42-page Stand Out workbook adapted from the book.)


Third, share your ideas. You can’t become known for your ideas if you don’t share them. I interviewed more than 50 thought leaders for Stand Out, and they all worked to spread their ideas through channels like blogging, speaking, contributing on internal employee discussion boards, etc. It can be intimidating at first to speak up, but the rewards are vast: you become known as a thoughtful professional who has a contribution to make, and the ideas you care about can have a greater impact.


Finally, build a community around your ideas. Your ideas may be brilliant, but if you’re the only person talking about them, they’ll never succeed. Instead, you have to motivate others to buy in and start spreading the word. Whether it’s through creating in-person meetups or online discussion groups, it’s helpful to enable others to connect around a shared vision and goals. At a local level, in Stand Out, I profile Robbie Samuels, who brought together Boston’s nonprofit community by launching an innovative Meetup group. On a global scale, author Eric Ries’ Lean Startup has become a true movement, with more than 850,000 Meetup participants in 85 different countries.


Join the conversation

I’m pumped that Stand Out is IBM’s Social Business Book Club selection for June, and I’d love to continue the conversation about how you stand out in the workplace and what that means in the social business era. Here’s how to dive in:

* Participate in our #socbizchat on Twitter on Thursday, June 11th at 1pm Eastern with me (@DorieClark)
* Download your free
42-page Stand Out workbook



Dorie Clark is a marketing strategist who teaches at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business. She is the author of Reinventing You and Stand Out, and you can receive her free Stand Out Self-Assessment Workbook and follow her on Twitter.

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Monday, June 1, 2015

Not Your Typical Sales Listing

My boyfriend and I have an odd game we’ve been playing for years. We love looking at NYC apartment sales listings and sending each other the links to the ones we would buy if we were to strike it rich by winning the lottery. 

As I took my usual fifteen minute lunch break today I stumbled across the best apartment listing I’ve ever seen.

It wasn’t the apartment itself – although I certainly wouldn’t mind living in a gorgeous, $6+ million, 2 bedroom and 2.5 bath apartment with private terrace right on Gramercy Park. Rather, it was the listing description that struck such a strong chord with me.

Instead of a typical listing written by the real estate agency’s copywriter, the agent asked the current apartment owner to write about his experience living in the apartment. This didn’t read like a typical sales listing. It’s a personal story about a man, his apartment, and the extraordinary life he lived in it:  


Lately it seems like “millennials,” “marketing,” and “the power of storytelling” are written about in every article and spoken about at every TED Talk and conference keynote across the globe. Yes, we’ve heard it a million times, especially in the digital age. But I dare you to read this apartment listing and tell me that the idea behind the power of personal storytelling isn’t valid.

If you can pull at the heartstrings and capture the attention of a millennial (like me) with a simple story about a man’s 46 years spent in his apartment, imagine what you could do with the story of your brand and your products. It’s time for people to start thinking more like this real estate company and less like marketing machines. Authentic, honest, emotional stories – these may be millennial buzzwords but they are buzzwords for a reason.

Here’s hoping tonight's Mega Millions jackpot has my name on it!



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