Monday, June 28, 2010

And The Winner Is...

The randomly chosen winner of the Birthday Blog Contest is...

Dr. Bob

Dr. Bob, please e-mail me with your address so I can get your copy of The No Asshole Rule sent out to you.

Thanks to everyone who participated in the contest. You've left me a lot of great ideas of things to write about. Look for another cool contest coming later this summer, and don't forget to check out this week's regular column.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Second Acts: Women in Business (and Politics)

Many people felt that having a woman on the Republican ticket for the 2008 presidential race would help the party. And I know many felt that Sarah Palin was a bonus to the party – at least initially. For me, McCain’s choice of Palin as the vice-presidential candidate had the opposite effect.

I’m not afraid to say it. I am not a Sarah Palin fan.

As a woman who advocates for other women to succeed I feel badly saying this, but I view Sarah Palin as setting women back about thirty years. I really want to see a woman elected as President or Vice-President of the United States – but not at any cost. (In the interest of full disclosure, I will tell you that I am a registered independent with republican tendencies, but I don’t vote along party lines.)

The first female President should be intelligent, articulate, decisive, and not afraid to take risks. She will undoubtedly need to endure never-ending scrutiny with ease (including scrutiny about topics like their hairstyles and children – topics her male colleagues don’t have to put up with). She should be an exceptional leader.

Most of all, our first female President or VP should be the right female President or VP.

That’s why I am so excited to see strong effective female business leaders winning their primaries in California. Meg Whitman, former CEO of ebay, not only won the Republican race for Governor, she won by a landslide. Carly Fiorina, former CEO of Hewlett-Packard, won the Republican nomination for the Senate race, also with a very healthy lead.

These are women who have broken through the glass ceiling in Corporate America. These are women who are resilient.

My optimism about these women stems not so much from their political views. I fully expect them to take strong positions that not everyone will agree with. My optimism stems from the fact that they are terrific role models.

Could it be that Corporate America is the right training ground for women in politics? Could one of these two women be the right choice? What do you think?

Friday, June 18, 2010

A Blog Birthday Celebration and a Contest!

It has been a full year since I launched this blog with my first post, A True Story. Seventy-five posts later, despite the fact that this blog was started largely as an experiment, there continues to be never-ending fodder to write about, and I continue to be amazed that anyone at all is reading.

I want to thank the 43 followers and 90 subscribers who visit here weekly, especially those who have been with me from the beginning, as well as the 200+ visitors who come here weekly via Linked In discussion groups and elsewhere. (After three decades of measuring and analyzing I just can’t seem to stop.) In total, more than 9000 readers have visited this site!

There’s a lot to celebrate, including the fact that some of my articles have been picked up by Forbes.com, Yahoo.com, and the Huffington Post, and my weekly column now also runs at Forbes.com Work in Progress blog.

Many of you have given me ideas to write about with your 400+ comments, and at least 5 times that many comments have been left from you on Linked In forums, Facebook, on the Work in Progress blog, or via e-mail directly to me. Your interaction is what keeps this dialogue interesting.

Now for the fun part, blog birthday party time!

In honor of this blog’s birthday, I am giving away a hardcover copy of The No Asshole Rule. This highly rated book by Robert I. Sutton, advocates eliminating all assholes from the workplace – something I think most of you will agree with.

Here’s how to enter to win:

Option 1: Leave a comment on this blog post answering this question: What is one thing you would like to change in the workplace? Since we’ve already covered eliminating assholes, you need to pick something else.

Option 2: If you don’t like that question, leave a comment here answering this one: What is one thing you would like to see stay the same in the workplace?

Option 3: If you don’t like answering questions, leave a comment with a suggestion on a topic to write about for a future column.

Option 4: Heck, if you don’t like options 1-3, just leave a comment. Respond to someone else’s comment, send birthday wishes, talk about the weather, whatever… Just leave any comment on this blog post and you will be entered in the drawing.

The fine print:

Yes, you may leave a comment using a pseudonym or anonymously and you will still be entered. I will use the timestamps on the anonymous comments to identify the winner. (The winner will have to let me know a real name and address via e-mail.)

If you leave more than one comment you will be entered each time. This is mostly to make it easy for me to pick a winner, but also to encourage discussion.

For those who visit via Linked In discussion groups, please note that your comment must be left here to be eligible for the drawing.

You have until Thursday June 24th at midnight to leave a comment and qualify for the drawing. A winner will be picked randomly, and announced here on Monday June 28th.

While you are here, I invite you to sign up for the special announcements newsletter (see sidebar) to ensure you don't miss out on future contests. (If you want blog posts by e-mail please use the 'subscribe to posts via e-mail' button.)

Thanks again for being here with me!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Is Twitter a Colossal Waste of Time?

Do you remember when you first started using instant messaging tools? Once you realized how easy it was to have an immediate one-on-one conversation with someone you were hooked. It was instant gratification. You could even have a private conversation with someone while you were in a group meeting. After using instant messaging, you wondered how you ever lived without it, right?

When cellphones were able to handle data, text messaging became the new trend. In fact, many of us choose text over voice because it can be done quietly and asynchronously. And we wonder how we ever lived without it.

And now there’s twitter.

Now you can have a conversation with anyone, even perfect strangers. Correction – now you can have a conversation with everyone. The big difference between standard text messaging and tweeting is that all of our messages go out for the world to see.

Do I really need to know that @(name) finally had a bowel movement, or that @(another-name) rescued her kitten from a tree? No, I really don’t.

Yes, an argument can be made that twitter is a colossal waste of time.

For a long time I thought twitter was just noise. Clutter. One more time drain. Call me slow, but I have to say that I finally get it.

I now understand the magic of twitter.

Sure, there’s a lot of garbage out there. And no, I don’t need to read most of it. But there’s also a goldmine of free market data on twitter. It’s an essential tool for companies looking for information about their products, or their customers’ needs, or their competitor’s products.

If you think nobody is tweeting about your products or services, think again. Even a topic that some might consider old-fashioned like “mainframe” gets discussed on twitter.

If you’re not tweeting about your business someone else is. If you’re not setting your own business message on twitter someone else is. But more importantly, if you’re not listening to what your customers (and potential customers) are saying on twitter someone else is.

Think you can’t afford to tweet? Yes, it does take time – which is why I predict that most successful businesses will hire social media marketing managers over the next few years to cover this essential space. Even with tools like Tweetdeck and HootSuite that help you manage your searches and hashtags, it takes time and skill to sift through and mine the data. But, the real question is: Can you afford not to tweet?

If you want to join me on twitter you can follow me @cfmjewels.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Is Your Name on the List?

When the second to last episode of Lost aired recently, the blogosphere was abuzz. Jacob crossed Kate’s name off the list of his potential successors because she was now a mother. He assumed (possibly incorrectly) that she would no longer want the job. Even in the fantasy world of Lost, there appears to be a glass ceiling.

What fascinated me even more than the possible discrimination was the fact that there was a list.

Jacob stole a technique from Corporate America. He identified candidates to be his successor and created a list – written in chalk in a cave.

Managers and executives make all kinds of lists. Promotions aren’t spontaneously decided; they are planned well in advance using candidate lists. There are lists for management candidates, executive fast-track candidates, and more. It’s a great technique to help with succession planning and manage skills. But it’s also a technique that leaves behind a great number of employees. Be assured that if your name isn’t on the list for an opportunity you’re pretty much out of the running.

What’s worse than your name not being on the list? Having your name crossed off the list.

Even though Jacob responded that it was “just a line of chalk in a cave,” when Kate asked why her name had been taken off the list, I would argue that it’s much more than that. When your name is crossed off the list, you need to fight three times harder to get it back on.

Then again, maybe if your name gets crossed of the list you’d be better off somewhere else anyway. What do you think?