Tuesday, June 25, 2013

What’s Your Social Media Personality?

First of all, a clarification… By “social media” here, I mean “Facebook.”  That’s because, as I’ve said many times, it’s the social media platform for the “Everyman and Everywoman.” With over 1.1 billion (yes, billion) users, Facebook is fairly ubiquitous.  Along with that kind of omnipresence, comes the fact that you have both the initiated and the uninitiated user making his/her her way through there, leading to a wide, but fairly predictable range of “personalities” one will see in his/her newsfeed at any given moment (certainly dependent on the choice of Facebook friends).       

To be fair, personality differences are evident on the other social media platforms as well. It’s just that they, by design, are more subtle. Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, and Instagram are the platforms I’m addressing. They tend to be populated by the more erudite and sophisticated social media users who are more likely to adhere to the social “norms” on these sites. That leads to a narrower band of personality deviation as their users stay “inside the lines,” or risk being branded as plebian and unknowledgeable.  To a lot of Google + users, Facebook is the “Land of the Unwashed Masses.” To that end, because the typical “Facebooker” isn’t into the vagaries of social media propriety and boundaries, that personalities are more evident – the main reason many Google +’ers abandon Facebook altogether.    

So, without further fanfare, these are the predominant distinct personalities I’ve seen, witnessed, and engaged on Facebook (social media). This list is NOT all-inclusive. Note that I am NOT judging any of these or saying what’s good or what’s bad. They just ARE :

The Life Chronicaler – The person who tells you what they’re doing at any given time, what they didn’t or can’t do because of the weather, a backache, or because they’re tired. They will also tell everyone “goodnight” before retiring.

The Comedian – The person who’s always quick with a joke. They have a retort, a funny witticism, a funny video.

The "Hey, I'm Just Here To Keep Up with My Friends and Family" - This is the official "Facebook Fall-Back Position. After all, that IS why we're there, right? 

The Spammer – The person who makes you think their account’s been hacked because there’s always an ad for purses, athletic shoes, or some other item. Note: these are usually bots or phony accounts.

The Cam Girl – Usually from another country, they friend mostly guys and other Can Girls. They post suggestive or downright explicit pictures and try to get these men to go to their sites and “vote” for them.

The Network Marketer – They are the go-to for a particular product. Their walls are replete with pictures of them winning awards, at seminars, before-afters of people, posts telling you how you can supplement your income, and invitations to seminars and meetings.         

The Business – This is the account known as the name of the business only and interacts as if it’s a “person” with its friends. A select group of “insiders” know the true identity of the account-holder.

The Politico – This person posts incessantly about partisan politics. Need I say more?
The Bon Vivant – The partier… Pictures abound of the latest party or event they went to. Several posts appear on their wall of people telling them what a good t time they all had at the latest soirĂ©e.

The Traveler – From Amsterdam to Moscow… Back to NYC, then across to Honolulu. They take you with them virtually with great stories and stunning pics.

The Social Media/Business ConglomerateThey have LOTS of Facebook friends, Twitter followers, Google +, and LinkedIn connections, and are all over all the other platforms. Their posts are aimed at THE WORLD, and are of general nature, with little personal information given out.

Not many of us are exclusively one personality. We sometimes exhibit facets of other of these listed above. One does predominate, however. 

Where do you fit? Are there any others you’ve seen?
 That’s the point!

   - Tony

Friday, June 7, 2013

You Are What You Choose

Choices...  We have them, we make them, we live by them, we die by them. The right one can have as impactful a consequence as a bad one. Needless to say, the ability to make the best one at the right time can determine success or ensure failure.

Every day, as I see my two children leave for school or some other activity, my admonition to them is not the typical "be good." No... I tell them, "Make good choices." Why? Because what happens (or doesn't happen) to them around that activity is solely dependent on the consequences of the choices they make (or don't make). 

We alone have sole ownership over our choices. In an era when people are wont to not take responsibility or accountability for their actions (choices of actions, that is), it's important to get back to that very critical basic. We are a product of our choices. In any situation you ALWAYS have a choice. Think about it... The anticipated or calculated consequences of whatever choice you make certainly determine your choice. That's what decision-making is all about. That's also what separates those deemed successful from those who aren't. It also separates those who are happy from those who aren't.

That is the one common factor that can be ascribed to the happy and the successful: they realize and have control and ownership over their choices and they realize that they aren't responsible for the choices of others. Confronted by adversity or something bad? Choose your actions and behavior. Triumphant and in a state where all is going your way? Choose your behavior. The results either way then serve to define you.

One of my old Pfizer Regional Managers, Mike Kraft, told me at a time when I had to terminate a pharmaceutical representative in my District that, "whatever choices people make, you've got to understand that their intentions were good." How true is that?  It was just that, in that case, the drug rep made the wrong choice. There's we get into the art of decision-making (a future topic for discussion here, I'm sure), that is, the suitability of the choice made for the time and situation in which it was made.

The empowering thought here is that, whatever happens, whatever is done to or for you...whatever happens, you alone choose your action, reaction, response, and behavior. Whet happens subsequent to that, then, is the consequence. As the saying goes, "If it is to be, then it is up to me." Get me?

So, as you go about your day, be cognizant of all that goes on. Take note of all the various and sundry choices, implicit and obvious, that are required. Then note the results - the consequences of those choices. Take that, and take control of your life.

After all, you ARE what you choose.

That's the point!

   - Tony

Saturday, May 25, 2013

On Turning 55…

Yep, that's me. I’m 55 years old today. By the time you read this, I’ll be 55 and two or more days though, because I sit with my writing partner Michelle Andres, of The Art of the Well Lived Life, on Wednesdays and we write our blogs together. Michelle's is called “The Art of the Well Lived Life,” but I digress.

I say all that because it’s been my history, throughout my adult life (30’s, 40’s, and now 50’s) to get really introspective every 5th year. Well, this is that year. I’ve actually warned those closest to me to “stay away” this day because I anticipate being bad company. The word brooding comes immediately to mind. You know, I brood about my mortality, my legacy, my brand, my family, my friends, my value, my worth, all of that. Guess what? THIS year, I’ll do my brooding right HERE! Ann, that means dinner with you and the kids tonight will be great! 

A couple of years ago, I was given one of the absolute best birthday gifts I’ve ever received. It was from one of my very best friends, Amy Pelletier. Amy’s a writer, a poet, and a real provocateur. Check her out at Wilted Rose where she expounds on, primarily through poetry and erotica, what goes on inside her very attractive head. She’s written two books, Dancing with Madness and In Shadows (and I’m proud to say I have both).  I made a mention about getting older (so uncharacteristic of me), and she replied with this:
"Oh, and you are NOT old! You're the perfect age.....the age 
where a  man truly becomes comfortable with himself....and 
his path in life....he has confidence.....he has loved and 
learned, and now shares that wisdom with others.....he 
refuses to settle for less than he knows he deserves and/or is 
capable of....he knows how to treat a woman, and how to 
truly understand her.....he knows a good bourbon and a 
better cigar.......and last, but not least, he knows what it 
truly means to be a man....."  

Now, thanks to Amy, I live my life to honor what her erudite words have laid out for me… and I LOVE IT!!  Being fifty-five, the “Big 55,” the “Double-Nickel” is really  cool!  Thank you again, Amy.

Think about it, who else is 55? Michelle Pfieffer, Steve Buscemi, Alec Baldwin, Caroline Kennedy, Andie MacDowell, Anita Baker, Reggie Theus, Maria Conchita Alonso, Ellen DeGeneres, Russell Simmons, Kelly McGillis, Denis Leary, Donny Osmond, Sheila E, Lyle Lovett, Donna Dixon, Holly Hunter, Gary Cole, Giancarlo Esposito, Melanie Griffith, Matt Lauer, Laura Branigan, Ice T, Eve Plumb, Gloria Estefan, Martin Luther King III, Timothy Busfield, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Tony Cox, Steve Schirripa (former Sopranos star, now author of my favorite parenting book, Big Daddy’s Rules – yes, I’m a Big Daddy: Big Mouth, Big Temper, and Big Heart), and Linda Kozlowski, to name just a few.

I’m in GREAT company!! I’ve also have some amazing personal friends who are 55. So, who am I to not get with the program and be the vital, energetic, stylish, confident, secure, competent, fun, and sexy person that being 55 dictates? 

I never could drive 55, so why start now? This is gonna be a GREAT year!!

That’s the point!

  - Tony

Friday, May 17, 2013

The Fallacy of Social Media ROI

Return on investment, getting one’s money worth, making it “worth it.” We seldom do things with absolutely no thought of a benefit for ourselves, either immediately or somewhere down the road.  Not only does this hold true for us in our personal lives,  it’s ESPECIALLY true in world of business where EVERYTHING is measured in terms of profit and loss.

I’m a businessman… I get that.

I’ve got to say though (those who have listened to my radio show “Socially Business with Tony Gates” on 1TalkNetwork.com or heard me speak know this) that what really makes me crazy (a term I stole from my Pfizer Regional Manager Mike Kraft, another amazing leader) is the fact that so many people look to social media as a typical bringer of ROI. IT’S NOT!!  
If you’re looking for immediate and traditional ROI with social media, look elsewhere, or get someone to explain how it REALLY works. You simply can’t tweet or create a Facebook business page (no, we don’t say “fan page” anymore, unless you’re a bona-fide celebrity with fans) and post your way to immediate revenue.

I would submit that there are things we as people and as business entities do that aren’t necessarily tied to the immediacy of dollars in the cash register. We do them for good will (charitable donations and sponsorships), we do them to “get our name out there” (naming rights and networking), and we do them because “that’s just what legitimate businesses do.” I mean, no one asks what the ROI of that new, big, nice expensive new oak board room table is, do they?    No… These are things that businesses do that are a part of doing business. Is there eventual ROI? Absolutely!

What about the ROI of your email address?

Think of social media the same way. It’s a NECESSITY for doing business in the 21st century. Poo-poo or ignore it at your and your business’ own peril. Your competition is there. If you’re not, you are automatically and immediately at a disadvantage.  Did you know that Facebook business (or biz) pages are now the #1 way customers interact with businesses now? Did you also know that over 1 million websites have integrated with Facebook?  Did you know that  80% of users prefer to connect with brands through Facebook?
They beat out websites 2 years ago.

THAT’S the business advantage social media provides. You can connect, talk, interact, add to the conversation, and, most importantly, brand yourself and add value with social media. Social media is actually a business multiplier.  That people have to ask about its ROI is an indicator that they’re already way behind the power curve. I feel the same way about businesses restricting employees’ use of social media during business hours as well. If you’re a business who does this, stop! Establishing some guidelines, then allowing your employees access to social media can really be a (you’ve heard this before) multiplier. 

They’re using their smartphones to do it anyway! Let them post and tweet about all the good things your business or organization is doing. It’s like having a sales and PR force out there on your behalf.

That’s the point!

  - Tony 

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Where Has All the Civility Gone?

We’ve all been cursed with “earwigs” from time to time. What’s an earwig? An earwig, or a “tune wedgie” as my friend Martha Glunt puts it, is a musical tune that sticks in your head that you can’t get rid of. It tunnels its way into your ear and burrows itself into your brain. Think PSY’s  "Gangnam Style," Carly Rae Jepson’sCall Me Maybe,” or  Katy Perry’sCalifornia Gurls.”

With me, as I was going about my day a while back, Paula Cole’s “Where Have All the Cowboy’s Gone?” kept running through my head.  As this, admittedly catchy, tune kept replaying in my mind, I was also reminded of an ever-increasing frequency of examples of people being, well, just plain mean to other people. This happens almost as much in real life (offline) as it certainly does online.    
You’ve seen it - people cutting each other off, or speeding up to make an entry or passing more difficult on the road, the name calling and degradation in political discussions, the lack of “pleases” and “thank yous,” throwing money down on the counter at stores instead of handing it to the clerk… It goes on and on.

My question is why? Where, indeed, has all the civility gone?  In “Where Have All the Cowboys Gone?,” Paula Cole tunefully muses,  “Where is my John Wayne? Where is my prairie son? Where is my happy ending? Where have all the cowboys gone?” It’s a harkening back, a yearning for classic chivalry, classic politeness. She hit the nail right on the proverbial head.

To me, it has it’s genesis (as so many things often do) to childhood and parents. It’s a culture we’ve developed into… Immediate gratification, parents treating their children as friends, giving them what they want, when they want - sometimes just to keep the peace, assuage guilt, or just to make sure their children “love” them back. Whatever the reason, it needs to stop - now.  I mean, a simple incident of a teacher   It must be that the teacher’s lying because of some bias against their sweet little bundle of joy. If you doubt me, volunteer to ride a school bus and see how “these little angels” behave.  
Reporting that a child has misbehaved almost requires that the teacher – the authority figure and professional, by the way - have an attorney. Parents now, almost reflexively, believe that THEIR child couldn’t have POSSIBLY misbehaved!

Getting back to classic child-rearing (Ann and I are big fans of Dr. John Rosemond), teaching politeness and respect for adults and authority, having children address adults by their titles, not their first names, teaching them to say “please,” “thank you,” and “excuse me” is a great start. Even better, how about we adults  
MODEL that behavior? We adults (parents or not) are role models for children. They watch and see how we respond and behave in situations and model that very same behavior.

So, “Where is my Marboro Man? Where is my shiny gun? Where is my lonely ranger? Where have all the cowboys gone?”  If you think about it, they all really haven’t gone. Civility really hasn’t gone. It’s still there, hanging in…hanging on.  We see it pop up in stories of police officers buying boots for homeless people, people rushing in to help or rescue others in distress, gentlemen offering seats to ladies in crowded buses, conversations that could easily turn toxic and uncivil, that, suddenly, thankfully, deescalate as the participants let their better selves surface.

Civility has gone nowhere. It remains where it’s always been… in our hearts. Let’s let it come out.

That’s the point!

    - Tony            

Friday, April 26, 2013

Focus on Your Strengths and Delegate Your Weaknesses

The rules in the Gates-Grottveit household are simple: last one out of the bed makes it; keep non-food things off the kitchen counters where food is prepared; feed Blade (the younger puppy) at 5:30 pm, and feed Vader (the adult dog) and Bella (the elderly cat) at 6:30 pm; and he/she who is better at something is the one who does that thing. What that means, practically speaking, is that Ann handles the finances and I handle the laundry. Ann cleans inside the house, I clean outside the house.  Ann handles our family social activities, I handle the maintenance and upkeep of our cars. You get the drift.
(Vader - larger and Blade - smaller)
Simple, right? Ann would fade and shrink and discolor our clothing, and she can’t iron at all. I would quickly, stylishly, bankrupt the Gates-Grottveit conglomerate by buying everything and anything that suited my fancy at the time. We’ve learned that it’s best and things run the most efficiently and smoothly if we each stay in our respective lanes.  There are some caveats to this, however. We reserve the right to delegate these tasks to our 13 year-old boy-child, and our almost 11 year-old girl-child for the sake of their development. Face it, they’ll both need to learn to cook, manage their own finances, and clean, etc. What better learning laboratory for those domestic tasks is there than the home, right?  

Now don’t get me wrong… We don’t totally abdicate these tasks to the other. We have a system of checks and balances that keep each other “honest” and informed.  Absolute power does corrupt absolutely, and all that. There’s also the “in case you’re hit by a bus” contingency as well. We have regular briefings to keep each other updated on the goings-on of the other’s area of expertise.  I call that oversight.

Ultimately, we are each responsible to the other for the conduct of the business that is our marriage and our household. Yes, I said it... Marriage IS a business.

The same holds for more conventional business. If there’s an area of your business, be you an owner, a senior-level executive, a director or manager, or a staff member or associate, if there’s something you’re not good at, DELEGATE it to someone who is. The caveat to that is, especially applicable to those at the staff-associate level, you may well have to get training and acquire that expertise yourself. Otherwise, you’ve been hired, selected, appointed, or otherwise chose to embark on that path because of your qualifications and potential, so if there’s a specific aspect you’re not good at, get help and get someone in there to manage that for you.

As with the example for my home-life, that delegation does NOT mean abdication. You remain responsible for everything your enterprise does and everything it fails to do. You’ve got to check, follow-up, insure, question, and all the other common-sense things that go along with delegation. 

You’ll find that doing this makes you a better, more effective leader, business-owner, staff-member, associate (not to mention partner or husband/wife). You’ll have more time to think, to plan, to expand and to execute your vision.

That’s the point!

  - Tony

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Just Shut Up and Get It Done

I saw a post someone “put” (spelled s-p-a-m-m-e-d) onto my Facebook wall last week. It was encouraging me to click on a link and see how some doctor would show me how to take the “Law of Attraction” even farther by showing me techniques to actually implement it.  Just for funsies, I clicked on it. As I figured, it was a really general description replete with the compulsory big words and jargon, but no specifics. No… for the specifics, you’d certainly have to plop down your hard-earned money and buy the CD, DVD, book, and/or fly to Florida or somewhere warm to attend the in-person training. 

Typical, right? 

I actually commented with my thoughts on this type of scam. Don’t worry, I didn’t spend a lot of time on the response because I really didn’t think anyone human would see it anyway. I felt a little bit better, though! Cathartic, y’know?

I hold what may be a really controversial stance on people like this. I won’t call out any names, but you’ve seen them, the motivational gurus who claim to help you make tons of money, good-looking, big smiles,
secrets of life, get rich by listening to me, just follow my system and everything else will take care of itself, blah, blah, blah. Well, I’m not buying it (or anything they sell, for that manner). I’ll admit, part of my disdain may be jealousy that I’m “missing out” by not jumping in with my own “system” (honestly, ANY halfway competent salesperson can do it). Good PR, good marketing, good timing, a good look, you really can do it.

I’ve heard (and really believe) that the only way to make money from a motivational, get-rich, self-help book is to write one. The industry (yes, industry) and people involved prey on the helpless and desperate and use the money gained from them to propel themselves upward and give the impression of even more success, which, in turn, draws more desperate people.

Why not just do it all yourself? Like the ubiquitous Nike tagline… “Just Do It.” Really! Say what you will, but big business does a lot of things right. The techniques and lessons learned really can be made applicable to the small business and entrepreneur. These are tried and true and are written and used by successful people  
to help successful people, or people who aspire to be successful. They don’t involve the wishing and hoping and hocus-pocus aspect a lot of these other books and systems tend to have, There are no baits and switches, no training sessions in warm locations, no bells, or whistles that do nothing more than enrich the “guru.”

The preeminent book, in my opinion, you should get, read, digest, and implement is Execution – The Discipline of Getting Things Done. 
See? Even the title is no-nonsense, let’s get to work. It’s written by Larry Bossidy, former Chairman and CEO of Honeywell International, Ram Charan, who also wrote What the CEO Wants You To Know, with Charles Burck. I got it as a District Manager at Pfizer and have used its tenets to make me an even better manager and leader. Apparently, I’m not the only one. It’s been reviewed and praised by the CEOs of various and sundry Fortune 500 companies, world-renowned business publications, and a bevy of others, including Jack Welch.

Where this book, and thus, this philosophy, goes is far away from the “forces of nature,” “fate,” karma,” and “spiritual forces” thing of which I see way too much.  What I like to call “the discipline of getting things done” is just that – a focus on discipline, accountability, metrics, and success versus failure, all aimed at getting what needs to be done, done. You don’t see that with the standard self-help fare.  That very discipline is one of the two main things that separate the successful from the unsuccessful. The other is decision-making. Timing runs a close third. Look for future thoughts on those two factors from me.

As I intimated in “The Price of Words,” it’s not what you say, much less hope or wish for, it’s what you DO that counts. Let’s get away from spending and wasting valuable resources on someone else to get you up, motivated, at it, and successful… The only person to do that is YOU!

That’s the point!

  - Tony