Tips For Brainstorming At Work

Jul. 01

When brainstorming ideas for business and life on my own, I often enjoy Taking A Hike (or a run for that matter). What about brainstorming as a team at work? What are the best ways to approach a collaborative group brainstorming session at your job? Today, I wanted to share a few insights and tips:

Lightbulb

  1. Approach your brainstorm with a positive, collaborative mindset. All ideas are valid. All ideas are worth consideration. Even if you don’t like a particular idea, please be open and encouraging to your teammates.
  2. Bring plenty of sticky notes and pens. Brainstorming is so much easier when everyone can write down their ideas and then stick them on the wall.
  3. Think outside the box. Bring crazy, big ideas. No idea is too large. Big ideas get the team thinking, even if they are not immediately possible.
  4. Start off the brainstorm with a fun, team activity. For example, go around the table and share your favorite music artist and how their music relates to your company. Anything that gets the team thinking in new ways is valuable. Brainstorming requires unique, new ways of thinking.
  5. Consider involving a variety of contributors from teams across your company, and partners too. The more diverse the viewpoints at the table, the greater opportunity for big ideas.
  6. Be incredibly careful with your words. Do not say anything that could remotely be considered as negative or putting an idea down. Brainstorms thrive in a supportive environment.
  7. Arrive on-time with an energetic attitude. Get a good night’s sleep before the brainstorm, and arrive on a full stomach. Consider bringing snacks too, for the entire team. Brainstorms require energy.
  8. Prepare for the brainstorm. Do a little brainstorming on your own before the big event. Also, prepare background materials that may be of help to the group. That said, also think in the moment and don’t be closed to new ideas. The best ideas come in a team environment.
  9. Be considerate of everyone at the table. Try not to be the only one contributing ideas. Don’t overpower the discussion. That said, make sure you are heard too, and don’t be afraid to speak up. The best brainstorms are all about equality and fairness to everyone in the group.
  10. Take really great notes. Take photos of the board and collaborative notes. Don’t let any of the the great ideas go to waste.

Image of Lightbulbs Brainstorm © iStockPhoto – hjalmeida

Motivating and Making Things Happen

Apr. 05

I truly enjoy customer acquisition marketing because it’s a very operational role. At the end of the day, it’s all about making things happen and driving the numbers. I love that responsibility. That gets us to the topic of today’s post: motivation. You need to be greatly motivated to get stuff done and drive results. I recently blogged about how You Can’t Always Do It Alone, Your Team Is Strength. While your team offers you strength and support, how can you motivate and support your team? Following are just a few tips…

Make Things Happen

  • Always place your team first.
  • Be available at all times. Prioritize your team first.
  • Take feedback and ideas seriously. Foster an environment that rewards new ideas and creativity.
  • Embrace ideas from your team that are even better than your own. Hire those that are incredibly smart, and reward them.
  • Create career path opportunities. Reward excellence.
  • Fight for those on your team.
  • Trust your team with great responsibility. Mistakes are ok, that’s the best way to learn.
  • Make sure your team gets credit for the work. Try to find speaking opportunities, case studies, and more so your team shines. As a manager, you’ll get credit for shining, but you’ll get even more credit if your team shines and represents the team.
  • Be a proud manager. Be proud when your team shines.
  • Send your team to fun events and conferences, even if that means you cannot go.
  • Create a work hard, play hard environment. I emphasize the play hard side of things. When people are working late nights and weekends, it’s all about creating that balance. Reward your team with lunches, days off, and times of less work. It’s all about longevity.
  • Celebrate birthdays, work anniversaries, and holidays. Don’t be afraid to bring small gifts to your team. The thought truly counts!
  • Be ready to help those on your team at any time. Offer strength through challenges and difficult situations. Approach all challenges in an extremely calm and strong manner.
  • Make sure to invest in your team, especially from a technology standpoint. Audition platforms such as Kenshoo. Make your team a very critical part of the process. Purchase those platforms that are favored by the entire team.
  • Get in early and leave late. Managers should always be available at all times, and work hard. Teams will not respect managers at much who do not put in the same hard work as everyone else on the team. More than anything, you should want to do this. Management carries great responsibility.
  • Stand up for your team. Don’t be afraid to protect your team/family.
  • Be a fearless leader. All businesses face uncertainty and challenge. The leader can make such an impact via the right attitude. Be fearless and lead your team through both bad times and good.
  • Grow employees internally, if possible. I don’t like bringing in high-level hires. I prefer to push employees and stretch their abilities. Grow employees internally. Even if they’re not ready, throw them into the fire. Give your employees their own employees. Nothing is more motivating than a manager who truly cares and is doing everything in their power to create a true career path.
  • Be an advocate of people management and get those on your team opportunities to manage new hires. Make it your life’s mission to build great people managers. This is a great way to amplify your impact on your business and the world.

Hope these tips help. How do you motivate your team?

Image of Make Things Happen © marekuliasz

The Values-Driven People Manager

Nov. 23

A few posts ago, I shared some of my tips for the Values-Driven Business Professional. I wanted to follow a somewhat similar theme today, from a people management standpoint. What drives me each and every day? More than the digital marketing craft itself, it’s the people, especially those who I manage. Effective people management takes a special mindset. I have seen (and heard stories about) poor people managers. Don’t be a poor people manager, someone’s entire life is depending on you! Here’s how to do what’s right and manage from a values-driven perspective:

Management Leadership

  • Always arrive at work with great responsibility and purpose. Remember that you are responsible for someone’s (or many people’s) career(s). That is nothing to take lightly. It’s a huge responsibility and involves an immense amount of maturity and purpose to handle the responsibility with care.
  • Do what’s best for the company and the employee, that always involves motivating, mentoring, and growing those who report to you. Happy employees drive the best results for the company, and are most likely to stay and contribute to your company for the long haul. Life is short, everyone should be empowered and doing their personal best.
  • Find ways to get your team in the spotlight. When you’re a great manager, it’s no longer about you. It’s about growing and driving results through others. Give amazing opportunities to your team.
  • Find ways to reward those who truly deserve it! One of the absolute best accomplishments for the savvy people manager is encouraging/championing growth, and then promoting those on your team as they achieve, succeed, grow, and deserve.
  • Act with complete fairness and equality across the board. Always think rationally.
  • Create a family-like environment. Most of us spend more time working than anything else. Those who work together should bond like a family. Everyone is on the same team and shares both success and failure. Everyone in the family looks out for each other.
  • Never, ever act in a self-promotional manner. Don’t brag about your material possessions, your intellect, nor your accomplishments. When you’re a people manager, it’s all about the team and the company. The team’s success and growth will reflect on you. Those managers that brag about themselves demotivate the team. This should seem somewhat obvious to most, but I’m pointing it out because this type of behavior does happen, surprisingly!
  • Not everyone is cut out to be a manager. Are you not only willing, but honored to spend hours helping others through challenges and hurdles (on top of your own work, even if it involves working long shifts)? Are you willing to put your own reputation on the line for someone else? Are you willing to do whatever it takes, no matter how difficult/long, to help someone on your team through a challenge? If your answer is “no” to any of these, that’s ok. People management requires true dedication, dedication that not everyone is cut out for. It takes an amazing leader and self-aware business professional to consciously turn down people management opportunities. Think critically, it is ok to opt out of people management opportunities if it’s not right for you.
  • Are you committed for the long haul? Everyone has had this experience… They have an amazing manager who later leaves, only to get a less desirable manager. The manager is the company to many employees. You owe it to your company and your team to stick around for the long haul, even if tempting offers come your way, as a people manager (especially of a larger team).
  • Are you comfortable in uncomfortable situations? Do you thrive in a challenging environment? Growing careers is not easy. You will have to deliver negative news/feedback. From time-to-time, people may not be happy with you. Can you handle those difficult times, in order to do what’s right? As a manager, you see the long term vision and can lead others through challenging times, even if they don’t see the full picture yet. You are ok taking harsh feedback and criticism along the way, always sticking to your plan of what’s best for your team.
  • Do you like to have fun at work? Do you love what you do? Are you enthusiastic and high-energy? the most successful people managers bring that excitement to the office each and every day. They are true motivators!

Image of Management Leadership © iStockPhoto – Thinglass

What Type of Expressions Do You Make In Meetings?

Oct. 06

As you grow in your digital marketing career, you will find yourself attending and increased number of meetings. All types of meetings… Leadership meetings, staff meetings, 1:1s, team meetings, project meetings, and more. Over the years, I have picked up quite a few meeting strategy tips. Meetings truly are the medium of the manager, and a great opportunity to influence others, deliver results, and inspire. Today, I wanted to share one meeting tip in particular: Pay super close attention to your own facial expressions as you speak and especially as you listen to others.

Making Faces

Meetings are a high leverage activity. You have a lot of professionals in one room and it’s an opportunity to inspire and gain leverage. I’m a huge fan of active listening. When someone else is speaking, I do my best to smile, stay engaged, take notes, and ask questions. Whenever I’m speaking, I always look for those active listeners in the room – they are the ones to focus on the most. My career tip of the day: Focus on active listening.

By contrast, certain people will make “negative faces” during meetings. They can truly take energy away from the speaker. As a speaker, you start wondering, do they not like my presentation? Do they have a different opinion? Those making negative faces in meetings can really derail creativity and collaboration. A lot of the time, I think those making negative faces are completely unaware what they are doing! My other big tip: Check yourself to see if you make negative faces during meetings, maybe you are subconsciously. It’s all about making a conscious effort to listen actively and inspire those presenting in the meeting. This simple tip has a ton of leverage and can truly help in your digital marketing career.

Image of Happy and Sad Faces © iStockPhoto – PashaIgnatov

Creating A Great Corporate Culture Like InsideVault

Aug. 25

Like so many digital marketing professionals, I’m a huge fan of great corporate cultures. It’s so much fun to be part of a strong team, it’s so motivating. Create an amazing culture like my good friends at InsideVault SEM Platform and your employees will be happy, motivated, retained, and growing in their careers. Everyone wants to have a great culture and everyone wants to create one. However, it’s easier said than done. Leveraging my observations of InsideVault (they have one of the best cultures I have ever observed), I wanted to share a few tips on building that amazing corporate culture everyone wants!

Teamwork

  1. Great culture starts with a family-like team. Hire people that work well together and get along incredibly well. As one strategy, consider going into business with familiar faces. If you’re able to hire a core team that has worked together in the past, you will have an instant family-like team. Of course, you also want to hire new faces and welcome them into your family (old and new faces are key to the success of any business). My friends Chaitanya, Brian, and Guillermo all worked together at Nextag so they had that family-like foundation having worked together for so many years. They hired other familiar faces, the best of the best. In parallel, they brought new members into the InsideVault family. What resulted is a true family-like environment where everyone truly enjoys working together, how motivating!
  2. Superior corporate cultures require constant attention and team events. Important note: It does not have to cost a lot. In fact, money is not really a factor at all here. It’s the thought that counts. Teams need time to bond. Teams need time to enjoy each others’ company outside of work. Check out the InsideVault Facebook Page. Every single week, the entire team is enjoying fun events, together as a team! Some recent examples: team lunch from Sushi Plus, good times at a team break, Sprinkles Cupcakes break, horizontal reserve beer tasting paired with food, outdoor movie night, day at the movies, and so much more. These guys do several fun team events each week. Every time I’m over at the InsideVault Office, I see employees working late into the night. Everyone is super motivated! Why? They are a family and truly enjoy what they do. All of the fun event planning truly makes the team and shows the team that the company cares.
  3. Great cultures require a comfortable work environment. Head on over to the InsideVault office and you will see a relaxed environment. These guys have a convenient location, comfortable sofas, a life sized Justin Bieber cardboard pop-up, a fun and relaxed environment, and a casual dress code (t-shirts are ok if you’d like). Keeping things fun and relaxed is key. The mind works better when you are free to be yourself. InsideVault truly invests in their employees by keeping the work environment fun, casual, and friendly.
  4. Amazing cultures require purpose. Every single day, InsideVault is pushing forward to build the best possible SEM platform. They have true purpose. Everyone is aligned behind the goal of making the lives of digital marketing professionals easier and better. I can totally respect that, as someone who has been enjoying the corporate digital marketing career path for 10 years. Anything that can make my day easier and more empowered is something I place great value upon. In speaking with numerous employees at InsideVault, it is clear that they are incredibly focused, driven, and aligned behind a single goal.
  5. Culture requires people that care about people. If you’re just in business to make money, you probably won’t have a great culture. However, if you’re in business to make money, change lives, grow careers, and help people, it’s likely you are set up for a great culture. Have a true passion for people. That’s the foundation of any great culture. At InsideVault, the team truly cares about people, both customers and employees, creating an awesome culture.

Auditioning SEM platforms? Make absolutely sure to reach out to my friends at InsideVault.

Image of Teamwork © iStockPhoto – IvelinRadkov

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