Open Letter to the KaizenBiz Community

Dear KaizenBiz Community,

It is with some sadness that I write this open letter. So many of you have participated and listened to our conversations on Twitter. Since I took over the chat four years ago, it has been an honor and a privilege facilitating the online chat, finding interesting topics and introducing guests. As you may remember, the mission of the chat was/is to apply critical thinking, enhance our skills and deepen our self-understanding in a kaizen (incremental steps) sort of way as we gathered each week. However, it seems we have reached an end of a chapter.

Explored so many business topics and ideas

Over the last four years we have discussed various topics such as

There are many more topics ranging from leadership, branding, influence that are worth reading and taking the time to consider.

Our guests

We have had such interesting guests over the years that deserve our thanks for taking the time to present their ideas and engage with us as we applied critical thinking. Here are the guests who added so much to our knowledge and understanding:

It is with deep appreciation that I thank each and every one of our guests for the time they put into writing the framing post for their topic as well as being live on the Twitter chat.

Special thanks to the team

Over the last four years, there have been a few people who have helped make the chat work. First and foremost, a special thank you to CASUDI (also known as Caroline Di Diego). CASUDI has been an advocate and inspiration. There have been times when I could not be physically present for the chat and Judy Gombita and Lois Martin were able to substitute as chat hosts. Many thanks for your generosity and high level of competence! Bernd Nurnberger contributed by setting up our LinkedIn page where we can still connect. Many thanks to Cathryn Hrudicka for sharing each and every post on her blog. Her generosity and support is deeply appreciated. Many thanks to another avid supporter is Eric Bryson who helped announce the chat each week. Finally, a grateful recognition to Cathy Larkin who has been my right hand person as well as tech and Twitter chat advisor.

To a talented and brilliant community

Over the last couple of years, our community has changed due to many members becoming busier in their careers. While it is great to see so many deserving professionals becoming more successful, we miss their warmth, insight and expertise on the chat. You, the community, have been excellent participants in taking a deeper dive into all kinds of topics. Due to your intelligence and curiosity, I found myself learning about economics, holacracy and so many other topics. Besides meeting people that I am delighted to know, KaizenBiz has deepened my own skills and knowledge. It has been a joy to have people from Japan, India, Africa, Portugal, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Canada, Colombia, Mexico and the United States sharing their expertise, insight and opinions on so many topics.

That said, over the last six months, attendance on our weekly chat on Twitter has dwindled to just a handful of people. With that in mind, it seems time to put the chat on an indefinite hiatus.

Let’s stay connected

While the conversations may not be as regular as meeting each week on Twitter, it is still possible to remain connected and share ideas in our LinkedIn group. I also suggest that if you find or write an article that is the thought provoking type that we would discuss on one of our #KaizenBiz chats, that you post it on Twitter and feel free to use the chat hashtag. I hope you will reach out and let me know your thoughts about putting the chat on a hiatus due to low attendance. You can always connect with me via my website or on LinkedIn.

As of this Friday, 26 September 2014, we will not meet on Twitter.

My best wishes for your success, keep thinking and developing your skills and you!

Elli

 

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Headline Convo – Gender Pay Gaps, Resume is Dead and CEO Pay

KaizenBiz , Twitter chat,This week is our monthly “Bring Your Own Headline” discussion. This conversation is usually much more wide ranging and even better when someone from the KaizenBiz community shares something that caught their attention. What are you reading or viewing that made you stop and think? This week, we are going to move from topic to topic and see what big ideas are popping up. So, check out these stories and bring your own this Friday to the live Twitter chat, #KaizenBiz at 4pm GMT/12pm ET/9am.

Women entrepreneurs pay themselves less?

We often think of how entrepreneurship can be totally designed by the individual entrepreneur. He or she can designate their hours, their rate of pay and the products and services that are offered. Arecent Babson College study discovered that women entrepreneurs pay themselves approximately 80% of their male counterparts. While the study does not explain why this occurs, it seems rather interesting that there is a gap.

It is easy to focus on the US since this conversation about salary gaps has been going on for some time. It even made a mention in the 2014 State of the Union address by President Obama. However, there is a bigger picture. There is gender wage gap all over the world (here is an infographic from Time). While there are some who will argue that it has everything to do with the types of businesses women found. After all, some work is valued more than other work. There is always the argument that women take time off from work due to family obligations. Still, there are questions about what the disparities mean in real life.

What are the possible business reasons women entrepreneurs pay themselves less?

How does looking at men’s pay as the standard skew our perceptions of what are appropriate salaries?

If we make the picture more global, what sorts of socioeconomic reasons exist for women entrepreneurs to pay themselves less?

Just when you thought job hunting could not get more complicated

There are always reports that something is “dead.” Now it is the resume (or the CV, curriculum vitae) that is passe. With the global economy growing (albeit sluggishly), many companies are hiring new staff. While this Forbes post is self-serving the author, he does point out how different things have become in the job hunt. With potential employers looking at social media, search engines and in-person networking, the resume simply confirms information about you. This certainly puts the resume fairly low in importance. Interestingly, in a post by BlueGlue (a managed recruitment service firm based in the UK), the cv is described as less important than the online information and digital portfolios. If the resume and the cv are being phased out, this may become a stumbling block for many job seekers.

How much weight do recruiters and human resources professionals put on resumes/ cv’s versus online information?

If resumes and cv’s are less important, what social ramifications are there for job seekers?

LinkedIn is mentioned as a resource for both job seekers and recruiters. To what degree is this social media site used around the world?

 The relationship between CEO pay and performance

Periodically, there is a conversation about CEO pay. There are often huge gaps between what the CEO is paid compared to others in the company. Another area that gets people talking is how CEOs are never really punished for failing as they get golden parachutes. The connection between these two conversations is whether or not there really is a relationship between CEO pay and performance.

It certainly seems that CEOs of large companies are much like the manager or head coach of a sports team. When things are going well, the CEO is praised and when things are going badly, well, the CEO is at fault. They are paid very high salaries which makes one wonder if they truly have the skills to merit such a reward and do they really matter that much to their organizations.

Gilles Hilary, INSEAD Associate Professor of Accounting & Control, states that CEOs do bring quite a lot of value to their organizations. In a HKUST Business School study, they discovered that if there is good governance and strong shareholder rights, CEO compensation is a good predictor of success. But as Rick Wartzmann asked in his Forbes post, how do you define performance? There is a temptation to aim for increased revenues and profits but that could result in undermining the long term health of the company, discouraging innovation or weakening the overall vision and strategy of the company.

What criteria must a CEO meet in order to be described as performing well?

How is the pay of CEOs of smaller organizations tied to performance?

To what degree are CEOs involved with the actual performance of the company?

 Time for your suggestions

The above topics are my suggestions for our lighting roundtable discussion on the Twitter chat, #KaizenBiz. If something caught your attention this week, bring it the discussion on Friday, March 21, 2014 at 4pm GMT/12pm ET/9am PT. Remember to include the link and even  one or two discussion questions

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Is Culture Orange and Bitcoin a Bad Investment?

Have you come across any interesting posts or new stories that make you stop and think? Often I find so many interesting business topics that it is hard to choose which one to focus on for the Twitter chat, #KaizenBiz. However, this week we are going to borrow from those talk shows that move from topic to topic and see what big ideas are popping up. So, check out these stories and bring your own this Friday to the live Twitter chat, #KaizenBiz at 5pm GMT/12pm ET/9am

What is culture really about?

Orange? Really? In a post on Fast Company, the focus is on Avalara which is a sales-tax assisting company. Tax compliance is certainly not the most shiny or sexy thing you could do and Scott McFarlane readily acknowledges that and sales tax? Well, for some people, it is a lot of work keeping track of the various rates in various locales around the world. According to their site, Avalara takes care of the accounting and filing.

It is certainly not some crazy cool techology or even a remarkable social idea but they found something that communicates who they are with the color orange. When all is said and done, communicating culture is about symbols. The use of certain colors, offering perks to employees (game rooms, yoga classes, monetary incentives, etc.) and corporate behavior are symbols that communicate the organizational story.

Has Bitcoin peaked?

Bitcoin is an intriguing idea. Given how much of our life is spent in the digital world, it seems to follow that there would be a virtual currency. There are certainly groups of people who would be interested in a form of money that could not be tracked or taxed. On the other hand, you do need real money to buy Bitcoins and then there are limited places (even the illegal ones) that will accept this virtual currency. The Atlantic has an explanation as to why you should stay away from Bitcoin altogether.

Bitcoin presents some interesting points. There are a limit of Bitcoins and there will be no more Bitcoins after 2040. Unlike most conventional currencies, Bitcoins are supposed to increase in value because there is only so much of it. According to The Atlantic, the Winkelvoss twins have filed with the US Securities and Exchange Commission  “to launch an exchange-traded-fund (ETF) that would trade like a stock, and track the price of Bitcoin — and only Bitcoin.” The post goes on to point out that there are some problems with investing in Bitcoin with the Winklevoss Bitcoin Trust:

  • it is a volatile currency
  • the Trust could be hacked and all your investment could disappear
  • there is illegal and undesirable activity paid for by Bitcoin (drugs and pornography) which is generally avoided by mainstream investors

There may be another issue with Bitcoin not noted in The Atlantic post and that is that Thailand declared the virtual currency illegal. It seems pretty obvious that there are plenty of questions to ask about Bitcoin and the idea of a virtual currency.

What headlines have caught your attention?

So, here is your invitation to bring an interesting blog post or news story to the chat. The culture and Bitcoin topics are just conversation starters. Join  us Friday, August 2, 2013 at 5pm GMT/12pm ET/9am PT as we look at interesting topics from around the web.

Culture:

How do companies communicate their culture?

Is it more important to communicate your culture internally or externally? Why or why not?

To what degree do customers really care about your corporate culture?

 

Bitcoin:

How does a virtual currency fit into the current global economy?

How valid are the concerns put forth in The Atlantic post?

What is your analysis of Bitcoin’s future performance and/or value?

 

 

 

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Support KaizenBiz With a (Virtual) Latte

This guest post is written by #KaizenBiz community member and sponsor, CASUDI (also known as Caroline Di Diego). CASUDI is a long-standing member of the chat who many of you have connected with online and offline. She explains how to support KaizenBiz and why your support will make this endeavour more valuable to you, the community.

We ALL want to support!

So many of us are really committed to our Friday east coast lunchtime chat, #kaizenbiz However we need to support our chat just one little tiny bit more.

A Virtual Latte?

Let’s buy a virtual latte for our leader @3Keyscoach and let’s support #KaizenBiz, better yet let’s support the community and buy one every week or at least whenever we join the chat!

What does a virtual latte cost? How do I buy it?

Buying a $5.00 virtual latte is simple and easy ~ “all you need is a PayPal account or credit card and to select the donate button here or in the side bar.”


Virtual Latte Support




This is the kind of Latte I mean…

Support KaizenBiz with a Virtual Latte

Now comes the important WHY? 

#Kaizenbiz is an online community providing ongoing quality content for each chat and this costs time and money. Time has been a donated commodity so far by Elli and Cathy mostly and a very little bit by me.

Behind the scenes

There is an amazing amount of behind the scenes work to keep a successful chat going, as some of you have found out when you guest host, and what is more we have been going for three and a half years, which is one of the longest running for any twitter chat.

How will the virtual latte be used?

  • Web hosting & development
  • Chat transcript services and time (Storify,TweetReports, Hashtracking)
  • Apps &Tools like BufferApp

Supports our editorial freedom

Our chat and website is based on the idea that we apply critical thinking to business ideas so we continuously improve. As each topic is researched and guests are recruited, we get to explore both the ideas and ourselves.

Elli noted,

 “In a recent conversation, several participants expressed reservations about having a chat sponsor who might be inclined to direct the chat in only their direction. This could diminish the quality and value of the chat”

KaizenBiz would of course embrace a Larger sponsor(s) but Elli is committed to maintaining the quality of our chat and will not take on a sponsor who is not aligned with the goals of the community or who will change the content (or essence) of our chat.

 This is your opportunity to give back!

Wouldn’t you really be up for taking Elli or Cathy or me out for a latte break every Friday?  That’s not even the cost of lunch and your virtual latte can really make a difference to the #kaizenbiz community!

So, I came up with the latte support. A $5 virtual latte donation for the chat – just to help maintain the value we have and provide sustenance for the chat going into the future?”

What does our community think of this?

What do you think about this and do you have any other ideas on how to support our chat?Comments below if you are inclined? Best of all, please Donate a virtual latte! I am donating as well as asking, but this is of course absolutely optional and you are always very welcome at the chat.

About the author: CASUDI (Caroline Di Diego) is an active KaizenBiz member since July 2009.

CASUDI is a multi-faceted entrepreneur with parallel careers. In the one she focuses on Architectural  & Landscaping Design solutions and the other (where most of you know her) she does what it takes to move start up & early-stage companies, from “concept” or “chaos” to fundable and/or profitable.

She has designed & produced award winning television film documentaries, corporate marketing and product videos and television commercials. Storytelling is her thing

She mentors small business and says “we all learn!”

Photo by CASUDI, Latte by Danielle at Vois café Seattle

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Brands and ChitChat

This post is by guest blogger, Ric Dragon. Ric is the author of Social Marketology and CEO and co-founder of DragonSearch. We continue to celebrate our 3rd anniversary of this Twitter chat as we explore how small chat can help brands connect with people more effectively this Friday, August 10th, at 5pm BST/12pm ET/9am PT on #KaizenBiz.

“Abandoning idle chatter, he abstains from idle chatter. (…) He speaks words worth treasuring, seasonable, reasonable, circumscribed, and connected with the goal. “This is how one is made pure in four ways by verbal action.”-Anguttara Nikaya

Ric Dragon, allogrooming, chitchatIn the American evangelical tradition, the concept of gossip has been shaped by particular biblical translations, where the notion of gossip is closely associated with slander. One writer was explicit, “Satan started gossip.” [It is Written, by Kelechukwu O. Okafor] Continue reading

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KaizenBiz Turns 3! Tell Us How It’s Inspired You

When Valeria Maltoni, the Conversation Agent, started the Twitter chat, #Kaizenblog, I wonder if she had any inkling that this chat would still be active at three years and continuously evolving. Valeria is a great advocate for conversation, exploring ideas and connecting people. When I became sole moderator for the chat, it was certain that we would continue using her foundation for the chat.

Kaizen is a philosophy for growth… Continue reading

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Working Towards Incremental Respect For PR

Judy Gombita and incremental respect for PRThis post is by guest blogger, Judy Gombita, co-editor of PR Conversations and a senior/hybrid public relations,communication management and social media specialist. Please join us to explore “Towards Incremental Respect” on the Twitter chat, #KaizenBiz this Friday, June 15, at 5pm BST/12pm ET/9am PT.

The art (and science) of communication

Back in the 1980s, high-school English teacher, Mrs. Fielding, drew a memorable analogy about two iconic Canadian literary figures: established author Margaret Lawrence and the emerging Margaret Atwood. Both were equally important, but for very different literary styles and impact.

Margaret Lawrence

Margaret Lawrence was the consummate water colour artist (think of Impressionists) who slowly, deliberately and wondrously created a canvas and characters with little dabs of subtle colours and shadings, filling in all aspects of her creations with scenarios and people—not always immediately recognised or understood. Mrs. Fielding declared Lawrence’s novels should be revisited every 10 years as we’d react differently to characters and circumstances, depending upon our current age and experiences; appreciation would be enhanced with long-term study and reflection.

Another pertinent point: Lawrence’s fictional Manitoba town and its inhabitants make an appearance in all of her novels, so her entire output should be read for maximum impact.

Margaret Atwood

Literary critic, poet and novelist Margaret Atwood is a different kettle of creator. Think radical and modern artist, favouring vivid oil paint squiggles and slashes, interspersed with pools of blacks and browns. Although strokes are bigger and bolder (maybe the metaphorical canvas is larger in size), her focus is limited to a few main characters, rather than an entire town, per Lawrence. Atwood’s writing tends to have an immediate and forceful impact.

Atwood pushes boundaries, raising the literary bar and inventing new tropes. Topics such as dystopia capture attention and challenge. She’s an artist that’s hard to ignore with her compelling worlds we often marvel at and admire.

The connection to PR

So what do the Margarets have to do with an incremental respect for a company’s public relations function?

I propose Margaret Lawrence’s style is akin to corporate PR, whereas “sister” Margaret Atwood aligns with the marketing discipline. Lawrence remains important but is less recognised and possibly stereotyped as old-fashioned and dull—not all appreciate her subtlety woven tales, especially in a fast-paced world of shock and awe.

Atwood’s style and reputation is recognised and lauded…similar to marketing’s goals and objectives, particularly in B2C companies who entice customers with exciting, often bold, branding and ad campaigns.

Like a Lawrence novel, PR involves a wider cast of stakeholders (unlike marketing’s consumer focus) and many important connections are one-to-one over aggregate (unlike market research). Think of the important internal public, as an example: employees.

When a company is under the microscope (especially during a crisis), relationships promoted by public relations receive scrutiny for honesty and if they are in the “public” not just corporate interest. Think about the BP oil spill and the company’s relationship with workers, media, communities it impacted, US government environmental regulators, etc.

The three pillars of focus

My writing focuses on the strategic—the “why?” and “what”—involved in reputation and issues management for public relations, with fairly universal application. I’ve adopted the tweetable Terry Flynn shorthand for a three-pillar definition:

  • reputation
  • value
  • relationship building

During #KaizenBiz I’d like to focus on reputation, value and relationship building rather than stereotypes and turf wars re: tactics and ownership (e.g., “spin,” “black hats,” PR standing for Press Release and/or limited to marketing PR). Let’s also avoid the idea that PR is solely determined by “third-party” validation/earned media, whether traditional or social media properties and scribes.

Colleague Sean Williams declares, “All marketing is communication, but not all communication is marketing.” For 60 minutes, let’s tease out an understanding of effective non-marketing communication and connections to incrementally improve a company’s reputation, value and relationship building.

Great public relations

The PR Conversations’ PRoust Questionnaire asks, “Who do you think has great public relations?” Italian PR guru Toni Muzi Falconi:

“In most cases successful organisations do not have overt public visibility. Or, when they do have a high profile, they don’t betray their anxiousness or obsessive need to be liked.”

If you accept Toni’s answer, the way to achieve effective public relations may lie in trying not to have a high organisational profile, at least from a negative POV—not to be confused with accessibility and/or frequent and honest communications to stakeholders (with needs or interests).

And, like a Margaret Lawrence novel, consider how various stakeholders can shade and subtly influence an “organisational narrative.”

Questions

  1. Which stakeholders potentially have the greatest positive impact on an organisation’s reputation? Why?
  2. Which stakeholders potentially have the greatest negative impact on an organisation’s reputation? Why?
  3. What incremental PR best practices would help to increase the positive and decrease the negative impact on reputation?
  4. From your perspective, name a stakeholder group and indicate what is valued in companies from a (non-product or service) PR point of view?
  5. How can an organisation subtly communicate or weave these value propositions into its narrative?
  6. Think outside the traditional relationship-building box: with which groups could or should an organisation pursue a relationship?

About the author: Judy Gombita has more than 20 years of communication management and public relations experience, primarily in the not-for-profit and educations sectors. Now a hybrid public relations and social media practitioner, she is currently the co-editor of the highly respected international group blog,  PR Conversations and has been the Canadian contributor since the blog was launched in 2007. PR Conversations was named a Cision Top 50 blog. You can also find Ms. Gombita’s primary blog appearing in Bulldog Reporter’s Daily ‘Dog Blogs (also since 2008) and it is frequently included in ComPRO.biz’s Top Blogs. She also writes a monthly Bytes from the PR Sphere column on Windmill Networking (about the intersection of public relations and social media).

If the above #kaizenbiz chat topic interests you, Judy recommends you read her organizational narrative post and her co-editor, Heather Yaxley‘s companion digital/social media version one. Recommended reading from Windmill Networking includes her introductory post, Connections Byte, Profile Byte, Employee Byte, Culture Byte, Social Capital Byte and Crisis Byte.

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Quality of Connections and Content Marketing

If marketing is about about building connections and relationships with the Consumers and Content Marketingconsumer, could we be changing how we define connection and relationship?

Content marketing includes curating information, creating avenues for conversation and user generated content. This week on Forbes.com, there is an interview with Julie Fleischer, Director of Content Management of Kraft Foods in which she explains how Kraft builds connections with consumers. She explained that engagement and traffic are very important but more important is identifying attributable sales growth. Fleischer has a great question for knowing if content marketing fits your organization. She asks, “What is your basis for conversation?”

“Content marketing is a marketing technique of creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire, and engage a clearly defined and understood target audience  – with the objective of driving profitable customer action.”

                                                                                 The Content Marketing Institute

Conversation, not talking at, is what creates connection in the first place

Marketing has traditionally been companies talking at us. “We’re a great company and this is a great product (or service) because…” Now, marketing includes being where your customer is. As Susan Gunelius noted in her post, “That’s because consumers build brands, not companies.” But that may be oversimplifying because the consumers need a starting point.

Healthy connections and relationships are a two-way street

Companies have to produce content that has some kind of meaning for their target audience. And this meaning has to spark some kind of action. For Kraft, having people sharing their recipes using Kraft products encourages good will, enthusiasm for the products and, of course, purchase of the products.

In a recent presentation by Clay Collins, he recommended a system where you engage with your followers to tell you what they want your next product or service to be and then sell it to them before it is even created. Through email, surveys and other channels, his system enables your consumers to get exactly what they want when they purchase from you.

Using social media sites and blogging seem to be the most natural place to have actual conversations with your customers. There is a natural give-and-take there.

Content marketing may speak to a larger sociological trend

If I am responding to the online spokesperson (or spokespersons), it would make sense that I would feel a connection to that person or persons. Much like shopping at a small business on your Main Street, you might share information or a laugh. There is a wine shop I go to occasionally. They always greet me like I’m their favorite customer. When it comes to online interactions, can you give someone that warm fuzzy feeling so they want to do business with you? If you are creating some kind of platform for people to share their experiences and uses of your product and service, are you really creating a community or a group of people with similar interests. Communities have been made up of people who some kind of relationship with one another. Connections repeated over and over create relationships. Multiply that into a network involving companies and consumers and what do you have?

*Please join us this Friday on Twitter at 5pm GMT/12pm ET/9am PT on #KaizenBiz to explore this topic further.

How is the relationship between company and consumer changing?

With content marketing, how is community defined?

Do consumers have a relationship with the product, the company or the person they are interacting with? Why?

How could using more content marketing affect our perceptions of authenticity?

If the market is perceived as fragmented, how do companies connect with their specific audience?

How do you see content marketing changing our participation in communities?

 

 

 

 

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