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Challenge: Can you put your phone/computer away in meetings for ONE WEEK?

I’ve been testing a new tactic lately. It’s called “listening.”

Here’s my strategy. When I go to a meeting, I sit down, take out my pen and paper, and, you know, listen to the people talking in said meeting.

 

It’s a groundbreaking approach, I realize. But, it’s one I intend to stay with. You see, I’ve had it with people (including myself, mind you) who are constantly checking their phones or laptops in meetings.

Laptop in meeting

According to a recent survey, 41 percent of marketers multi-task in meetings. Almost half! That’s insane, my friends.

Let’s think about this logically for a second–and from a business perspective.

You’re invited to a meeting within your company–most likely because you have a vested interest in the project being discussed, or you need to contribute something to the meeting.

You accept the invitation and make a decision to attend the meeting.

You attend the meeting, but you bring your laptop, promptly open it and monitor email during the entire course of the meeting (I tend to think this is fairly common among those 41 percent mentioned above).

You may even RESPOND to an email or two during the meeting.

Sure, you ask a question or two during the meeting. You even contribute, when asked. But, for the most part you’re trying to do two things at once. And, I would even argue you’re most likely putting more brainpower toward the email than you are toward the meeting.

Here’s why this is a bad idea.

1) It’s hard to do two things at once. Oh sure, I know some people have it all figured out. You can chew gum and rub your tummy at the same time–good for you! :) But, in all seriousness, your brain isn’t wired to focus on multiple things at once. Something will slip. Eventually. (Side note: Apparently, I’m not alone in this thinking: Clay Shirky recently demanded his students put away laptops during lectures–and lays out his case as to why pretty eloquently here last week).

2) The meeting organizer asked you to the meeting because she wanted your brain in the room. Not 20% of your brain. Not 40% of your brain. 100% of your brain! You owe it to your employer to fulfill that obligation.

3) You may miss a chance to shine or contribute. Since you’re paying more attention to your email machine, you most likely will miss an opportunity to contribute new information to the conversation–or, better yet for you, to shine in front of our colleagues by adding insight that could potentially turn a project around. Remember again: THIS IS WHY YOU’RE IN THE ROOM!

Now again, I’ve been just as guilty of this in the past as those 41% mentioned above. But, I’m stopping that practice effective today (officially, I started on Sept. 1).

And so far the results have been noticeable:

1) I’m contributing much more. I find myself (surprise, surprise) much more engaged in the discussion and actually feel much better at the end of the meeting knowing I contributed fully.

2) I’m finding additional ways to add value for my clients. By listening more intently and NOT multi-tasking during meetings, I’m able to uncover hidden gems of information I can then use to deliver more value for my clients. Not that this wasn’t happening before–I just find it happening more often recently. I credit that 100% to my NOT multi-tasking during these meetings.

3) My meeting notes are more valuable. OK, so I’m one of 5 people left who take hard copy meeting notes (I’ve come full circle on this), but those notes have proven invaluable in the days following meetings. I’ve referenced back to them many times–often to find information I use in planning docs, content and  summaries. If I were multi-tasking, these notes would be haphazard at best.

So, the no multi-tasking strategy is working well for me so far. Now, I’d like to issue a challenge.

Try NOT multi-tasking in meetings for ONE WEEK.

Just one week.

See if you can do it. See how it turns out. See how it impacts your work life. You might be surprised how more engaged you feel–and how little you actually miss by not having your computer or phone on in meetings.

Please report back with your findings.

photo credit: j@ys0n via photopin cc

4 ways I’d sell this year’s MIMA Summit to my boss (if I had to)

OK, so I’m going to write this post like I would if I were trying to sell my boss on sending me to MIMA Summit. Because, realistically, that’s what I hear a lot.

Full disclosure: I’m on the MIMA board of directors, so it’s in my best interest to get as many people to Summit as possible ;) But, in reality, this has been a great event historically and I think many people in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area would agree with that sentiment. In fact, I’ve heard from many people that Summit is the best digital event in the Upper Midwest.

MIMA Summit

Back to the sell job–because I want you to go! Here are four I would sell my boss (if I had one) on this year’s MIMA Summit:

I will expand my knowledge base

This year, you’ll learn about wearable technology, marketing automation, design, paid media strategies and much more. As usual, there’s almost something for everyone at Summit. And, this year’s theme (internet of things) is a topic on everyone’s mind these days. And while the keynote speakers might not be household names like Guy Kawasaki, they’re absolutely leaders in the internet of things sector. Here’s your chance to really beef up your understanding of that space.

I will hear from national speakers–for a reasonable price

Maybe one of the biggest reasons I got more involved with MIMA is they were one of the few organizations in town bringing in national, well-known speakers on a regular basis. Chris Anderson, Jane McGonigal, Nate Silver for example. I mean, the list goes on and on. In fact, this Wednesday we’re bringing a leading developer from Sony Playstation to town. MIMA may be one of the only orgs in the Twin Cities that’s doing this routinely–and you’re going to see it in spades at MIMA Summit.

I will have the opportunity to nurture–or start–our recruiting efforts

There’s a reason the recruiting firms in town are some of our sponsors at Summit. Smart firms/leaders know that since MIMA Summit is a digital marketing reunion of sorts, that this is a great place to nurture relationships–especially if you’re seeking new talent. Now, I don’t hire talent, but I will tell you I hear about who’s looking and who’s happy a lot at Summit each year. And, keep in mind, Summit tends to attract those “over-achiever” types–you know, the types who are going to be senior VPs in 7-10 years? Yeah, you’ll find those people at Summit typically.

I will hangout with my colleagues (and get smarter by association)

I was involved with PRSA for years. And, as part of that involvement, my favorite event of every year (and really, still is) was the PRSA Classics. For those outside the Twin Cities, this is our version of the Silver Anvils. But, it’s really much more than that. It’s a PR reunion, of sorts. I see people at Classics each year that I don’t see all year long. It’s my one chance to catch up with them. And I take full advantage. It’s really the primary reason I still attend–especially now, when, as an independent, I would never really submit an entry. MIMA Summit is the same way. It’s the Minnesota interactive community reunion. Your chance to see EVERYONE in one spot for one day.

So, hope that helps you sell your boss. I know it’s an investment, but I believe it’s worth it. And, I think after really evaluating your options, I believe you will, too.

For now, I hope you’ll consider attending. Register today and you’ll get in for just $500 for members and $650 for non-members (after today it bumps up to $600 for members; $700 for non-members). When you think about what you get–a full day of rock solid content, learning and networking–I think that’s a heckuva deal (and I’d say that even if I wasn’t attending as a board member).

Hope to see you there…

Talking Points Podcast: Are Attorneys Killing Brand Newsrooms?

In this week’s episode of the Talking Points Podcast, Kevin and I talk about some pretty meaty topics including Amber Naslund’s post about social media engagement numbers (which was one of my favorites from last week). We also discuss how to best work with your legal group as you map out social content (and responses).

SHOW NOTES – September 11, 2014

“Legal Approvals Are Killing Brand Newsrooms. Here’s How to Get Past Them”

http://contently.com/strategist/2014/09/02/legal-approvals-are-killing-brand-newsrooms-heres-how-to-get-past-them/

“Inside Google’s real-time GIF campaign for Madden NFL 15”

http://digiday.com/brands/inside-google-ea-sports-real-time-gif-campaign/

Madden GIFERATOR

http://giferator.easports.com

“The Twitter strategy shift and what it means to you and your business”

http://www.businessesgrow.com/2014/09/08/twitter-strategy/

“Why Social Media Engagement Numbers Suck (And What We Should Really Worry About)”

http://www.brasstackthinking.com/why-social-media-engagement-numbers-suck-and-what-we-should-really-worry-about/

PR Workload: New “Day in the Life of a Marketer” Study Shows a Need to Work Smarter—Almost 1 in 4 Marketers Logs 10-Plus Hours On an Average Day, AtTask Research Finds

http://www.bulldogreporter.com/dailydog/article/pr-biz-update/pr-workload-new-day-in-the-life-of-a-marketer-study-shows-a-need-to-w

PR Rock Stars: Life Time Fitness’ Nora Purmort

The legend of Nora Purmort existed far before I ever met Nora. She has a sister who is very successful in the interactive world here in Minneapolis (Meghan Wilker). She’s a successful interactive/communicator/marketer at Life Time Fitness. She was on the MIMA board of directors for the last two years. She’s won awards left-and-right, as of late.

But, I didn’t really get a chance to meet and know Nora until about a year ago when I asked her to speak at the 2013 Minnesota Blogger Conference. I expected smart. I expected professionalism. I expected nice. What I didn’t expect was how damn funny this woman was. And, I think that’s why so many people are drawn to Nora Purmort. Her personality and humor are contagious. People want to know her. People want to hang out with her. People most likely really enjoy working with her. So, it was a no-brainer to feature her here in this series. Let’s here more from the woman. The legend. Nora Purmort (did I embarass you enough, Nora? :)

Nora

You’re currently the senior social media manager at Life Time Fitness where you work with two of my good friends–Tony Saucier and Natalie Bushaw. It’s your first corporate job after years on the agency side. What would you tell those who are considering a career in social/PR about the differences between the two?

I consider myself so lucky to have started my career at PR agencies in New York that were founded and staffed by some of the most influential women I’ll ever meet. I’m newish to the corporate world, but I do believe that agency experience does everybody good. There’s no other position where you so quickly learn how to work hard and well under pressure. And yes, on the agency side there’s almost a comical amount of pressure (ask me about the time an intern was having a legit nervous breakdown in the bathroom because the lotion samples she was supposed to have couriered to Allure hadn’t arrived on time — CAN YOU EVEN IMAGINE?!).

Agency has a lot of fun perks: beer! Scooters! Ping pong! Free things! And the energy is really addictive and contagious and just talking about it I miss it a little.

I love the corporate side primarily because of where I am: Life Time aligns very closely with my own personal values. Our health is so damn important, guys. If you don’t already take care of yourself, start today. Also, if you don’t have health and life insurance, please stop reading this and take care of these things ASAP.

On the corporate side, you’re naturally more intimately tied to the performance of your company as a whole. There are certainly plenty of agencies who are truly passionate about your clients, but you truly and consistently see the impact that your work has when you’re client side.

Should I return to the agency side, I’ll be a better partner to my clients having seen this side of the table. Overall, the best thing for your career is diversity. I know some people still start at job at 22 and retire from it at 65 (WHO ARE YOU PEOPLE?) but I’m happy to have had the experiences I have, however varied.

 

You just ended your two-year term on the MIMA board of directors. What did you learn during your term on the BOD that you probably couldn’t have learned anywhere else?

You know what people love to wax poetic about? How wonderful our professional community is here. You know why they do it? because it’s true. A board position for a non-profit is a volunteer position. The worldly perks are generally food related (holler if you’re never touching Jimmy John’s again, fellow MIMA boardies!). That means people are there out of their own passion and love for the community. Flipping beautiful. You tend to forget about that when you’re obsessing over deadlines and to-do lists: holy crap, we’re all a bunch of people, and we belong to this group because we care about what we do and the other people who do it. Lauren Melcher and Tim Brunelle are two people who personify MIMA: much of the great events you’ve been to are directly related to the work they put into that organization and their energy was truly inspiring.

If you’re not currently involved in a volunteer position for something you care about, do it.

 

You may be most well known for your popular blog “My Husband’s Tumor”. It’s an incredible and inspiring read for anyone who has the time. Who’s your inspiration as a writer (because I think you’re a pretty damn good writer)?

My Husbands Tumor

Oh gosh golly, where do I even start? As far as fiction, I can curl up and live inside anything by  Jhumpa Lahiri, Ernest Hemingway or F. Scott Fitzgerald (eye roll as much as you want, both these dudes knew their feelings). For non-fiction, Joan Didion and David Sedaris tell their personal stories like no other.

 

It’s also interesting to me that you use Tumblr for the blog since most of the posts are text-heavy. Why did you choose Tumblr initially as a blog platform and do you believe that’s helped or hindered you along the way?

I chose Tumblr because Tumblr is my platform. I joined in 2007 when you needed an invite (thanks to my long-lost friend Josh for picking me), and posted this incredibly deep thought for my first post in 2008. At last count, I had 15 or so Tumblrs that I was sure at the time were genius ideas (I still think Baby Glares has some promise). My blog wasn’t started with any specific goal in mind other than to document what my husband and I were going through, and maybe attempt to outline that into a memoir (currently in the works).

Tumblr’s helped me in that the platform itself has it’s own ecosystem: my followers there get posts in their feeds, and each of their engagements helps me reach more Tumblr users.

But any average reader doesn’t even know that it’s necessarily on Tumblr, and can engage with or ignore it like they would any other blog. I have comments enabled for Facebook and Disqus. I have social sharing buttons. It does everything I need to do, and most importantly, it’s easy and it’s on a platform I already use. The best blog platform isn’t Tumblr vs. something else, it’s what you’ll use vs. what you won’t.

 

You’re a working mom in a two-worker household. That in itself, would be tough (I know, because my wife and I live that scenario!). But, add your husband’s health concerns to the mix and (I’m sure you get this a lot), but I don’t know how you do it. What’s the one thing, above all else, that allows you to get through the toughest of tough days from a work/life balance standpoint?

Nora

I do it the way you do it, and your wife does it, and every other working family or working single person, or just any other human in general does it: because it needs to be done. The world doesn’t stop spinning just because your own universe has ground to a halt. And really, your own upended world rights itself eventually. Or you just get used to the new angle. Everything I’ve learned about life I’ve learned through my husband Aaron: it’s not that hard, it’s not that serious. Be grateful, be good, be happy to be here. It’s a fucking miracle in every sense of the word that we even made it on this planet.

But, on really hard days, I for sure just cry in my car. Benefit of a long commute!

 

You were recently recognized as part of AdFed’s #32Under32 list–quite the honor. You were also listed as one of Minnesota Business’ “Real Power 50″. You wanna leave some for the rest of us? :) In all seriousness, what’s next for you with all the great professional success you’ve seen lately?

Five years ago, I was living in New York City working in beauty PR. 5 years before that, I was starting my first job after going through an entire interview process not understanding what the company actually did (you’ll not find that job on my LinkedIn so don’t even try). 5 years before that I was a high school senior convinced I’d someday be an attorney. I wouldn’t have accurately imagined any of my life the way it turned out, and not because I have a bad imagination. We have an ingrained desire to flip ahead to the back of the book and try to overplan our lives. All of the best things in my life, from my job at Life Time where I get to help people live healthy lives, to my husband and our son, were completely unplanned.

Aaron and I were married a month to the day after he had brain surgery to remove a malignant tumor. Aaron had his second brain surgery three weeks before our son Ralph was born. Tony interviewed me when I was (obviously) 6 months pregnant. None of these seem like auspicious times for something wonderful to happen, but they were.  When you’re focused on what’s happening now vs. what’s next, you free up a lot of mental energy.

I don’t know what’s next, and I never have. Whatever it is, I feel like it’s awesome. 

How to impress your new client in the first 30 days

You just signed that new client.

You’re excited. Anxious to get started.

And you want to knock their friggin socks off out of the gate.

Flowers

But, how the heck do you do that? How do you really make a great impression on that new client right away in that first month (other than the obvious–do great work)?

A few things that have worked for me over the years–both on the independent and agency sides:

Under-promise and over-deliver

This is key. Resist the urge to make crazy promises out of the gate (which will be tough). And focus on over-delivering on every key promise. Do that, and you will have one very happy client.

Get to know your client

Yes, the work is important. Of course. But, so is the relationship. One approach I learned along the way that has served me well is to ask at least one personal question when you first sit down with your client. How is your family? How was vacation? How was that Twins game you were at last night (obviously, they lost, but did you have fun watching them lose 8-1? :)? These kinds of questions will serve two purposes: 1) You’ll get to know your client better, building a long-term relationship, and 2) You’ll learn all sorts of things about your client that may come in handy down the line (think: Birthday/Holiday gift ideas).

Do one little unexpected thing every once in a while

Things I’ve done under this umbrella over the years: Delivered donuts to a early morning meeting; sent a few links along about a recent social media trend I thought might impact our work down the line; sent a handwritten thank you card just thanking the client for hiring me; and showing up to a mid-afternoon appointment with an iced coffee as a “pick me up.” The idea? Just think about one little thing you could do that would surprise your client each week. Early on, you want that client thinking: “Man, am I happy I hired this firm/person.”

Achieve at least one “quick win” in the first four weeks

Sometimes this is outside your control. Sometimes there are no “quick wins” early on. But, search for them nonetheless. Because they are big for your long-term success. Sure, the long-term success of your engagement is what matters, but again, those first few weeks are key. That is when the client is forming his/her initial impressions of you and your firm. So, you want to make sure those impressions are positive. If you can find just one quick win to notch–whether it’s project-based or simply making your client look good in front of his/her boss, you want to find that opportunity and take advantage. Trust me.

Those are my tips. What about you–what have you done to impress clients in that first month of the engagement?

photo credit: Nomadic Lass via photopin cc