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 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