In Denial?

“Delay is the deadliest form of denial.” –C. Northcote Parkinson

De · ni · al:  a river in Egypt; refusal to admit the truth or reality. (Merriam-Webster)

There isn’t any upside to denial at all other than blissful apathy until the realization of what the denial has wrought. It really is bad news all around.

In business, denial will most likely lead to financial failure. Yet businesses are still in denial regarding not only the need but the necessity of social media on a daily basis. Harvard Business Review Analytics Services report “The New Conversation: Taking Social Media from Talk to Action” [Report PDF; sponsored by SAS] discovered that most of the commitment to social is future-oriented. The report went on to say, “Although 79% of the 2,100 companies surveyed are either using or planning to use social media channels, a measly 12% of those firms feel that they are using them effectively.” Only 12%. Pitiful, when you think about how brands are being represented on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest, to name a few.

But is it just the non-use of social media that makes business efforts ineffective or the fact that there is still not an “all in” belief in the necessity of social? Rob Ployhart, a professor of business administration at the University of South Carolina’s Darla Moore School of Business, believes there is a “skepticism” in social media because companies haven’t seen the data showing the return on investment from social media. Ployhart says the ROI data will most likely be available within the next three to five years, making social media more credible in the eyes of some businesses.

Until then, what does a company have to do to engage in the social impact of business? Believe. They have to put their faith in it and engage in it daily or they’ll be left standing on the sidelines in their cynicism.

The facts are all there. Businesses engaged in social media are investing in their own future. Ployhart says, “In today’s world, we are all interconnected. Companies that are thinking about this proactively are the ones that are probably going to have an advantage in leveraging this technology. I’d be surprised if the first few companies that get in there don’t have a lasting competitive advantage.”

The experts are all saying the same thing:  businesses that are engaging in social media have the upper hand.

It’s almost 2014. What’s on the horizon, then, for engaging in social media in business?

According to Simon Mainwaring, New York Times bestseller We First and social branding consultant to Fortune 100 brands, “Every company or institution must now function as a social brand due to the mass adoption and penetration of social media in our lives as citizen and customers (and by social brand I mean an organization that uses and engages in a real time dialogue with its customers using mobile, social and gaming technologies to build its reputation, profits and social impact.)”

So, if you are in business and you are in denial of the social media bull breathing down your neck, don’t turn around. Just get on the social media train and ride it all the way into the station. That’s where you’ll find relevant business being done. Welcome to the new world.

Homecoming – the Way Things Were

Tony the Tiger in the Homecoming Parade – Olivet Nazarene University circa 1983

I hate to even admit it but it’s been 30 years since I graduated from my alma mater! 30 years! I remember thinking, while I was in college, that all these people coming back to homecoming, class of such and such, were OLD people! Now that I’m here . . .

I know it’s called “Homecoming” but it almost seems like homegoing, going, going . . .


Who was the genius who thought it would be a good idea to get people to go back to days gone by when they’re more wrinkled, fatter, and balder?  And the foggy brain syndrome! To remember names of people we knew umpteen years before is more challenging than those chem exams! Thank goodness for name tags!

OK, I’m sounding very grouchy at the moment. My apologies.  I just want to go back to the way it was!

Here’s the point. We go back to our alma mater thinking the “back in the day” days will magically reappear through the people and places where we made all those great memories to begin with. Instead, we are met with grandparents and renovated buildings we no longer recognize having been converted to accommodate the booming student population.

My question is . . .  what do we expect? Time marches on my friend. And it is no respecter of persons. Have you seen Obama lately?


In life or business, we tend to do that same thing. We create, generate, and propagate, thinking “We’ve got it!” – for all of time. But then we look up and realize, things have changed! If we try to rest on our laurels, we will be sorely disappointed; our laurels have wilted (or fallen from gravity:).

Keep yourself from holding on to what worked in the past because, in business and life, there is no “homecoming” – only moving forward.

How DO  you stay in the now? How DO you stay relevant? How WILL you “bring it” today?

Stay fresh, my friend.

The author, third down from the right, on Homecoming Court, circa 1983.

The Passing of Traditional Marketing


TRADITIONAL MARKETING HAS A DEATH NOTE. It says, “You no longer run the game by demanding that businesses spend millions on advertising.”

THE GAME HAS CHANGED If you are throwing brand advertising at the masses and hoping something will stick, you are playing a game that is already over. Sure, multinational companies are still swinging for the fences that are no longer there, but they have millions to blow on creative ad campaigns, for now. And spending millions feels good. Seeing your billboard downtown or your commercial on TV seems like a strategic win. At least you are doing something, right?

If you think that throwing money at media is the only way to reach your prospects… IT’S NOT. Think about Jared Fogle, the Subway guy, who told a compelling story of how he lost so much weight, simply by eating Subway. During the duration of the Jared campaign, Subway sales more than doubled to $8.2 billion. His story was useful. It was inspiring. It was educational. It was not “brand advertising”. It was relational marketing – people could relate to Jared.

According to Amy Hall of Social Chorus, “Millennials are the most important consumer generation. They are the largest generation and have more combined purchasing power than any other generation. However, they are fundamentally different than previous generations, which is a challenge for brands that are trying to market to them. These digital natives grew up with technology, have fully embraced social media and are living in the age of connectivity. One of the most significant challenges that marketers face is the fact that millennials don’t trust brands’ advertising.”

So what are the practices that are dead and gone? Not all traditional marketing is but here is a list to place on a death note to traditional marketing – what to avoid:

  1. Big dollar traditional marketing – you’re throwing those dollars to the wind when the wind isn’t listening
  2. Ads in any form – Millennials aren’t paying attention – they skip the ads
  3. Any spamming in any form – again fishing for anything to bite but no takers – it’s wasted effort and wasted time

What other practices would you put on the “death note”?

Great Expectations . . . or are they all that great?

I’m going to try and balance this blog with some perspective since I think not only my own but also others’ perspectives on expectations can be skewed.

There’s probably no greater detriment to a person’s ability to operate on a daily basis than for expectations to be unmet. Yet if we don’t have expectations, how does the bar get raised and accomplishments are achieved? That’s where balance comes in.

ex·pec·ta·tion  [ek-spek-tey-shuhn] noun

1. the act or the state of expectingto wait in expectation. 2. the act or state of looking  forward or anticipating. 3. an expectant mental attitude: a high pitch of expectation.


This definition and various modifiers seem rather neutral – neither good nor bad. So, it’s safe to say that in and of expectations themselves, they aren’t the culprit to creating issues. What is the problem then?

In my own analysis of creating expectations, I see them as both useful and dangerous. It’s really a two-sided coin that just comes with the territory. If you have an expectation of something, you may find yourself being pulled in by disappointment if those expectations aren’t met.

I’ll give you an example: a clean kitchen in the work room. My expectations USED to be that I would arrive at work with a pristine kitchen in which to make my coffee every morning. That was until I started working with four others, to remain nameless and genderless, who insist on placing their lovely used, crusty dishes and numerous plastic containers in the sink (which is all of 12” X 12”) and on the counter when there is a fully functioning dishwasher at their disposal.

Yes, the expectation to have a clean kitchen is a good expectation to have. Otherwise there would be a mountain of dishware and nothing clean to use when you need them! Let alone, it’s less of a health hazard! However, the problem lies in the fact that I can have this expectation but that is not going to change the behavior. I can complain and crab about it, but it won’t necessarily make a difference. I can beat them over the head with their own Tupperware to get them to change, but that’s not my goal! My goal is to have a clean place to look at and not worry about cockroaches doing the backstroke out of our Keurig! (I do have to give props to one, lone cohort in the office that has begun to feel bad that I’m the only one cleaning up—thanks TC.)

When I acknowledged that it was more important for me to come to work and see a clean kitchen than get certain people to clean the kitchen, I came to a peaceful, resolution within myself. My expectations had to change, otherwise I would be miserable. Now I come in every morning expecting to see something in the sink. I happily move it to the dishwasher, make my cup of coffee, and get to work.

If you’ve ever read the novel Great Expectations by Charles Dickens, you’ll recall that one of the main themes of the book is that Pip is driven by his own expectations of self-improvement and achievement; a good thing. Right? Yet, Pip realizes that even after he torments himself about his lack of morality of performance and he arrives to live a higher class life, he finds there is not more happiness on that level than when he was a blacksmith living in poverty.

I used a rather inane example of the kitchen of how expectations can either hinder or move one to action. Expectations also live on much deeper planes i.e. performance, relationships, finances, etc. If you are miserable right now, in some way, in your job or at home, more than likely, expectations have something to do with it.

What’s out of whack? Why? Start by looking inside at your expectations of the situation or people. You probably know the answer already. What’s it going to take to be happier in this situation? Life is TOO short to be miserable! Do something about it. It’s within your power—it always is.