Sharing Your Story – Amplify Africa

76179138_10220700037997579_5039057868792266752_o

My trip to South Africa this year was phenomenal. It is hard to put the experience into words; family and friends have seen my non-stop posts online. But I want to try and at least paint the picture of my time there for our Girlmade family. Buckle in, this might be a long read.

As a partner with Amplify Journey I attended the 3rd annual Amplify Africa women’s summit in October. I was there to help women play big all the while learning, connecting and growing. I had the amazing privilege of emceeing the event and throughout it I knew I wasn’t going to leave the same. The theme this year was “Share your story”. It was such an amazing space for women to share of themselves, their ideas on how to improve our businesses and organizations – sharpening one another’s skills through engaged dialogue. Best of all moms got to bring their daughters who watched them be lady bosses in action! I later had the chance to work with these girls on a mini impact project that we presented to everyone.

I was grateful to be included in small but significant ways in the South African culture during my emceeing duties: I wore a beautiful blue doekie throughout the summit. For those who aren’t familiar, a doekie is a traditional head wrap that is common not only in South Africa but on the continent as well. A symbolic apparel that is both timeless and is a symbol of power. Something I know African American women can relate to, as it’s part of their cultural heritage here too. It was an honor.

Our team Amplify Africa stayed at the Sibani Lodge during the summit. A beautiful 2000-hectare game farm where the animals roam freely. We certainly enjoyed the tent camping and a powerful mastermind session facilitated by Miss South Africa 1992, Amy Kleinhans – Curd, an incredible entrepreneur whose wine is amazing.

73399956_10220621711719471_584601837043187712_o

I met a number of other incredible women in South Africa. Chef Margot Janse who heads the Isabelo project that aims to nourish the stomachs, hearts and minds of children in the country. Beatrice Deipierre, Executive director of Kidzpositive, an income generation project that creates means for mothers and caregivers of children affected by HIV/AIDS to make a living. We consulted, trained and supported Beatrice and the team of female artisans. I was fortunate to meet, mentor and learn from the GM of Ritsako Game lodge, a female founded game reserve, not too far from the capital city, Tshwane. She’s working on a foundation that will help girls stay in school, read and learn to protect themselves from rape.

76174828_10220740450927877_4518258320686972928_o

In all these incredible spaces of growth, some fun was definitely had in between. Food is a big part of any culture, so taking part in a food jam (cooking session) allowed me to learn more about South African food and foraging. We had ourselves an Ostrich Braai, what we here call a barbeque.

I know that this is only a small token of what was really an incredible time for me and our team. It’s a privilege I hold dear. With so many lessons it is hard to encapsulate them all into one. Perhaps what I can say is where we can often be tone deaf or come in with our own misconceptions into a space, I have learned over the years that allowing those who own the space to lead you not only helps you communicate your ideas and what you can contribute more effectively, but allows growth in oneself too.

73515613_10220693520114636_988386560242089984_o.jpg

As our Amplify Journey’s tagline goes: We are stronger together. Sharing our knowledge across our cultures and continents will only serve to make this world a much better place. The future is bright for all of us, regardless of which continent we are on.

 

Change Management, a required work stream in Social Business

The Fremont Troll
The Fremont Troll
Break through results can only be realized in Communities if your social business strategy approach includes this work stream. Often the time and resources needed to do this right are overlooked or perhaps simply nebulous because we have to deliver on today’s results. It is so hard to insert the argument if your company views the effort as another tool rollout. So, just a few thoughts this morning around key activities in the change management work stream:

1. Do engage with HR to create the conditions or the environment for your program or organization to achieve results. Call it culture change or innovation – but do engage with HR.

2. Share key industry research, white papers or blogs with leadership over time so that they can learn from their peers outside of your organization.

3. Do what your mother told you when you were young – LEAD BY EXAMPLE. Requires a lot of effort, but do work across the organization and departments to encourage cross pollination.

4. Document, post, comment and work out loud in an open forum so that anyone in the organization can find your work at their moment of need. Yes, work out loud.

5. Invite, extend, flex and don’t let the trolls get you down.

As leaders of change programs, we must be continuous learners ourselves. What this means is that we should always ask for feedback, modify, pivot and adjust and adapt along the way. We extend invitations for new conversations and possibilities along the way, while making sure we don’t let any turkeys get us down. Most importantly, work across the organization with your approach so that this new social business program encompasses people, process and technology. If you hire vendors, encourage them to partner alongside the strategy, design, build and engagement work stream so that you can create the conditions that will allow you to realize the business objectives outlined as a part of your effort. And yes do consider thinking about Digital Disruption and Leapfrogging as concepts in your approaches.

HAT Trick for Social Business Strategy

HAT

I grew up in Michigan where hockey dominated every day conversation. It snowed most of the year and as soon as the ice froze, skates were pulled out. Which is why I have drawn the parallel for scoring in social business strategy with hockey?
Certainly being persistent, repeating you and being resilient are characteristics we understand. But what I believe we must embody in our actions and words are:

Honest conversation. From strategy model development conversations to actual community conversation. We look in the mirror through social every day and we must be honest with ourselves, with our words, with our actions and our approaches.

Authenticity. We approach our strategy development and social business validation process with authenticity with our peers, our clients and our ecosystem with that top of mind. A shout out to many great thinkers in this area, including: Joe Pine, Brene Brown, Marcia Reynolds and Sally Helgesen.

Trust. If we do the H and A well in our work, the trust comes later. But it is paramount to successful dialogue, strategy development and conversation to establish trust. By the way, it isn’t monetized yet although people are trying to do so. Trust to me is something that is hard to achieve but easily lost.
Just thought I would take a few moments out of a busy day to share some secret sauce.

Courageous European Community Director

Randi profil
Randi Hognestad directs community and network events in Europe. Based in Norway, this tireless community weaver has deep connections throughout Europe. She has cultural sensitivity and style. She is quick to engender trust, yet is fierce is pursuing business goals. It isn’t every day that you see a community manager resume with her background. She has a law degree and has worked as a journalist with Norway’s leading financial newspaper and with communication in private equity.
Today in celebration of learning on Community Manager Day, I decided to ask her about ‘weaving techniques’ we community managers should consider when developing cultivation and engagement plans.

1.) Demonstrate generosity
2.) Be authentic all the time
3.) Be respectful of the other community members time and efforts
4.) Be mindful that ‘language is powerful’
5.) You get credit for speaking other languages even if not ‘perfect’
6.) Embody cultural diversity
7.) Don’t be turned off if someone comes across not as polite
8.) Remember that not all executives are natural networkers, and may need some TLC to become engaged
9.) Mind the details in all that you do
10.) Be thankful

What I find the most fascinating about her educational background is how her competencies in communication and diplomacy align with those of high powered executives who quickly scale the levels in conversation. She is courageous, has a strong personality, quick wit, emotional intelligence which has faciliated her ability tend her networks. I hope you have the opportunity to meet her in person, because you will feel this great strength in her intense, yet tender presence.

The flight and importance of communication skills

FlightAs a coach and community leader, I set a myriad of ideas and goals for for flight every day. I look at the end of the year as a time for introspection, gratitude and renewal. What I enjoy most about this new calendar year is the opportunity it brings reconnect with my most meaningful and profound work as I peer out on the calendar year in front of me. I carve out time to think deeply about the impact I can have on my networks and in my case that is social leadership, communication and diplomacy. Cornerstones in my change management and coaching practice. Which is why today when I was drinking my morning coffee and reviewing the opinion from Father Jenkins, President of the University of Notre Dame in the Wall Street Journal I was delighted to learn about his new book, “Conviction: The Power of Peril of Our Passionate Beliefs” that Random House will publish later, it reinvigorated my senses.

Why? Because so many of my clients and their communities have great ‘conviction’, yet often times they are lacking the talent and tools to harness the power of conviction. It reminded me of the importance to advocate for persuasion as a key behavior we seek in our talent acquisition programs, in our core competencies and performance management programs and our workforce education and performance support offerings. I’ve found that debate and communication courses are critical skills we need to turbo charge our society, yet without these foundational programs, how can prepare labor for the workplace? As organizations, how can we pivot our strategies without it? It is the lifeblood that runs throughout our societies. I will continue my work and hope that together with many of my esteemed colleagues we can impact and drive societal change.

Teens rivaling, but in a healthy way for their communities

This time of year people can get lost with wrapping gifts, buying new outfits or planning events.

iPhoneNovember2012 014

I agree for many people, this time brings excitement and joy, but for others in need or without a voice, it can be a difficult, scary and lonely.  Which is why I thought I’d share the story of teenagers in Reno, Nevada, rivaling, but in the good way.

Cyrus Moassessiand Kienan have been holding their annual food drive fundraiser for several years in Reno.  They donate 100% of their proceeds to the Northern Nevada Food Bank.  In fact, their mother, the grateful foodie told me she will go through twenty pounds of flour this year with all her baking.

Isabela and her sister Maya have been fostering kittens with Nevada Humane Society for a few years.  They have seen how these little kittens through love and socialization get nursed back to health and placed quickly into loving homes.  Yet the foster kitten program isn’t without its expenses, which is why Isabela wanted to give back.  In fact, she created a slide show video on her blog to help document her experience and market the event.

Cyrus and Isabela both student leaders and supporters of the American Lung Association have been friends for years.  They have grown up with both allergies and asthma, so they have witnessed how important nonprofits can be to families through their own struggles and advocacy.  Perhaps this is why Isabela decided this year to hold her fundraiser at the same time as Cyrus and Kienan.  Simply put, nothing like good ole rivalry like boys against the girls to raise the stakes, drive more passion and hopefully donations.

As a parent, there is nothing more satisfying than watching your children blessed with life give back to others while having fun.  I thought it was noteworthy to call out these community heroes in order to highlight that rivalry can be fun, if put to good use.

I hope you join me and Caroline by supporting both these fundraisers.  Better yet setup your own stand for another noble cause during this season of giving.

Motoring Community Member Experience

Expectations were in fact exceeded during a recent experience as a member of the MINI community.

Time for a powdered donut!

The synchronous and asynchronous community experience were integrated.  I could hardly believe it.  I found a marketing organization, sales force and customer service ecosystem truly aligned.  Now for someone like me, who is seeped in community. this is noteworthy.  Why you ask?  Because more than anything, MINI approaches the buyer’s journey through building high trust personalized relationships.  What, trust you say?  Yes, they approach the car buying discussion with full disclosure.  They assess quickly asses your needs and personalizet he experience through actions and words.  In fact, Barry Bell, my MINI motoring representative in Reno has 26 years’ experience and shared with me that he believes the car buying experience should be anything BUT complicated.

It becomes obvious that the workforce education, sales process, leadership training and post sales support are aligned. Yes, I love the Mini Owners Lounge. Not to mention their talent acquisition process.    Yes, they hire down to earth people who sell a motoring experience.

From the threads the motoring representatives ‘sport’ to the dealer decor and throughout the web, it’s consistent, fabulous and fun.  They create an experience whereby you can hang out online with likeminded individuals in the owners lounge so brag, swap pics or share stories.  If you prefer the in person experience, ask your dealer or search online to find a local MINI motoring club.    In fact, I’m smacking my lips as I enjoy my MINI chewing gum while I think about warm weather and cranking up the numbers on my top-o-meter.  It’s a gauge that is all about fun.   It keeps track of how many hours you have been ‘driving topless’.   Taking my kids to school should be fun, right?  So this is why MINI was the right choice for me.  Hand gestures, the nice one’s are all about the MINI cult or click.  You keep one thumb hooked under the steering wheel with the other four up to acknolwedge their MINI style and get the same acknolwedgement back.  It is truly about ‘many’ smiles, warm hearts and camaraderie.

Snow angles got alot more fun to make!

As a busy working woman, I appreciated how they infused the process with fun.  They provided me with ‘many’ options which allowed me to customize my ride.  In fact, if you build your car, they simulate the warehouse and virtually allow you to see your car while in production.  You are able to lurk on the manufacturing process, which in and of it psychologically get you more attached to the car pre-delivery.  In fact, you can track it with GPS on the container if needed and soon I imagine FOURSQUARE will allow you to stamp where your ‘vehicle’ is in route and allow others to join your in the brand experience.  From the customer service agent that checks in pre-sale, to the delivery process, it’s integrated, it’s seamless and it’s FUN.

Simply said, if you want to be ‘transported somewhere’ – check out the MINI motoring experience for both the physical and emotional transportation.’’