Trust Your Journey Community

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For every woman that has struggled, questioned, realized, believed, accomplished and triumphed. What a fantastic tag line from the company, Trust Your Journey. This message is put into their products and inspires people to keep on keeping on. It is an inspiring message from two women, a cancer survivor and a young widowed mother, who have dealt with challenging turning points in their lives and discovered along the way that sharing inspiration and stories of hope are an incomparable way to give.

This mighty organization is based in Reno, NV and has for many years supported an American Lung Association, Northern Nevada Stair Climb. They sponsor apparel that the teams sports in ascending 36 flights of stairs. Rather appropriate for such a mighty effort that they would sponsor eradication of lung cancer and clean air advocacy all the while supporting their local parents who deal with lung disease.

I’ve been honored to have met the owner over the years, which embodies her brand in her demeanor, in her character and her integrity. I’m so pleased that I’ve met her on my life journey and therefore felt I should in turn share it with my network. Because it is really about the people as the medium that matters and this inspirational message and business duo sell something that is a vehicle to carry our aspirations, experiences and feelings through their product.
Often in our marketing efforts we find that our campaigns in traditional media lack credibility and these women collect stories and feedback through their communities which gives us a reason to have hope in business and in turn their products provide us with a sheath of protection.

I must brag and tell you that their products recently on QVC sold out in 7 minutes. They are not only ascending the Silver Legacy Stair Climb, but in business also. So, I hope that you find their storytelling in their products laudable.

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.

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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.

Shoestring budget strategy that works for education – a WCSD case study

Case study on communication strategy that works!

Washoe County School District has been transforming itself over the years through leadership transition within the district and the legislature, not to mention the recession.  Which is why the story of how during the turbulent times a small low budget communications department went back to the basics and focused on what was important, the community.  What I mean by that is that there are a variety of audiences that comprise the districts ecosystem with firm resolve to tie all their efforts into the strategic plan.  Yes, that is right the simple recipe to success is several fold in my opinion:

Laser Focus – they tie everything they do into how it allows their resources to impact realizing the strategic plan.

Talent – they harness great talent in the employees, the physical area or business community.

Value – they value and respect everyone that works in the communications ecosystem.

Transparency – they acknowledge mistakes, they share their plans and they have opened up their storytelling through social tools.

Social – they have embraced leveraging social tools as a way to share information, engage with the communications ecosystem members, foster two way real time conversations and learn.

Diversity – they embrace diversity, welcome and celebrate it.

Fearlessness – they embody living fearlessly in their approaches.  What I mean by this is that they ask for help when they need it, they apply for grants and awards and they don’t take no for an answer.  If a door is closed, they look for a keyhole or another door that may open.

Since original publication of this blog, several of the nation’s top educational and school communications organizations have named the Washoe County School District as the recipient of the 2012 Leadership Through Communication Award.

 

Top Five for Content Curators

Content Curation Pathways

Know Thy Tags – make sure that you are familiar with the key tags that your key audience is using to tag their content so that you can ensure that your analytics tools are providing you with the dashboard you need to monitor

Perform Health Checks – ensure you are spending time to monitor new content creation, modifications, tags, shares,  likes, dislikes, subscriptions, followers or changes.  In  other words, pattern monitoring.

Monitor Conversations – carve out time every day to scan questions, answers and knowledge sharing within your key product, service, or content areas so that you can dive into them to respond, augment, thank and/or connect to other areas within the tools or discussions.

Tend the Garden Pathway – it’s important that in your cultivation activities you invest time to review pathways so as to ensure that they are meeting the needs of your members.  This includes pulling inappropriate content, cross referencing relevant or simliar content, facilitate safe pathways or simply invest in time to fertilize or foster social learning as needed.  What I mean by that is that it is important to facilitate an answer to the community content,  watch for new content so t hat you can facilitate the conversation, answer, problem, complaint, etc.  Make sure that content is linked to appropriate other objects such as spaces, pages, videos, blogs, etc.

Practice Gratitude – throughout your daily process, you should spend time to pick up the phone, send a message, mail eCards, and regular cards, send gifts, insert video highlights into online photo booth or simply put names on a marquee.  Just make sure you are demonstrating
gratitude and thankfulness.

Social Artistry – Linking the Unlinkable

In a meeting in San Francisco with Etienne Wenger in 2008, we were discussing the critical role of a weaver in the field of Communities.  It is more commonly known as a community manager.  Etienne described this ‘community weaver’ as someone who is a Social Artist.  This was the first time I had heard this term, yet when he described what he meant, I felt validated in the work that I’ve been doing for years. Being a weaver, or what Richad Koch calls, a SuperConnector.

Recently a former colleague was mentioning that they missed my role in the community.  She was lamenting the fact that I’d rolled off that closed community project as I was invited into a new community project.  What she was described to me in great detail in terms of the void that I
left in the community was that of the Social Artist role.  This is why I’m writing this blog post, to help provide more visibility and credibility to this capability as it’s not yet mainstream and therefore something that CEOs and other Executives don’t value within their organizations.

Wikipedia describes it as a technique, “Social Artistry, [6] represents a new model for leadership. Houston, working through the United Nations Development Group, has been training leaders through this modality since 2003. Under the direction
of Monica Sharma, [7]then Director of Leadership and Capacity Development for the UN, Houston traveled to developing nations throughout the world bringing Social Artistry techniques to leadership groups. As of 2011, Social Artistry  trainings and projects are ongoing in a number of countries and new leaders are being trained on a constant basis. This work is supported through The Jean Houston Foundation.”

Puzzle Pieces Cory Doctorow from London, UK

Social Artistry is a leadership skill where someone provides the glue and holds the entire community or network together.  They have an innate ability to see strange divergent connections between disparate concepts together via culture, human beings, and notions of progress and development.  They link the unlinkable.   They foster a feeling of connectedness despite the divergence and most importantly they communicate openly and authentically.    They make what could feel like a fragmented bunch of networks, instead the sense a community has is one similar to that of a puzzle that was recently completed, when you as a member visualize that last single piece snapping into place, which resonates
with your interpretation of that image. It just fits.

Community Cultivation Planning

Wild Northern Nevada Mustangs

Now that I have a community, a community manager and member –what’s next, they ask.  It all depends as one size doesn’t fit all.

I’ve been invited into many conversations regarding what to do once you have a community in place and what I’m consistently finding the
question that begs an answer is, “Do you have a cultivation plan?”  What are you doing as a community manager to tend and nurture your members?  Well, I’m spending time creating FAQs, facilitating webinars for training and answering support questions.  Those are all excellent activities and what I find in my client engagements is that you

need to customize your cultivation plans to the community charter and have
participation architecture in mind as you evolve this notion of a plan.

Here are some elements to consider:

  • Evaluate the health
  • Provide feedback
  • Give recognition
  • Foster cross community connections
  • Identify and develop community leaders
  • Consider  face to face element programs
  • Incorporate social responsibilities
  • Infuse notions of gamification
  • Send out personal thank you notes – yah I said it, use the old school post
  • Refresh your existing approach with on-boarding based based on analysis of members digital habitats
  • Consider cultivating a welcome wagon

These are all examples of things that could be part of your cultivation plan.  I encourage you to ensure that you are thinking about a myriad of approaches to tend and nurture your community as you do any garden.  Good luck and continue to reach out to me with your feedback and
questions.  There is no ‘right’ answer, rather it’s the journey, so consider it an adventure of how you can entice the wild horses to drink from a

Redefining the “People” Experience

Transparency, Trust and Authentic Communications are keys to the kingdom.  This was my take away with conversations that I’ve had with, Senior Vice President of Human Resources for the Disney/ABC Television Group (DATG) is that Steve Milovich is focused on refining the employee experience, from improving professional development, to growing strong capable leaders, and strengthening collaboration across DATG and The Walt Disney Company. The path to success, according to the DATG HR leader, “will be inspired in part by Disney/ABC’s achievements in connecting with and engaging consumers.“  Steve further states that, “This notion of collaborative approaches within the ecosystem of organizations is main stream in large organizations, which is exciting for those of us who understand that networks exist today.  There are collaborative people who are brokering informative actively today that we can help organizations really fly.  Sharing and transparency will help to broker and connect employees, partners, customers or prospects and lead to innovation and new product and service development.”

I’m honored to have had the opportunity to meet someone that is such a progressive leader within a world class organization that truly understands the importance of an
open and dynamic organizations – he truly is an example of the #futureofhr.

In fact recently during a conversation with Jay Galbraith, he reminded members at Executive Networks the importance of implementing an organization that builds alignment using his methodology of the star, which emphasizes strategy, structure, process, rewards and people.  He has found in his work over the years that good matrix organizational structures have strong networks and emphasize social capital.  They not only reward but also recruit the best people.

Overall, the trend line continues to emphasize the importance of authentic people who can help communities, organizations and families realize new heights.  We continue to have opportunities abound and I do hope you will join this important effort of “people” whether they are on during offsites at a luxury hotel, canvassaing for an election or within an organization.