It’s The Little Things

Aug. 25

Jimboy’s Tacos, man is that place delicious. I was in the Sacramento area the other day and just had to stop by! (If you are ever in the Sacramento area, I highly recommend trying them out, they have many locations and are so amazing.)

PPC Ian At Jimboy's Tacos

I would have never known about Jimboy’s Tacos if it wasn’t for my amazing friend Suki (most amazing Executive Admin in existence), and that would have been really sad since Jimboy’s is so incredibly delicious. Suki scheduled regular team outings to restaurants like Jimboy’s. Suki has a passion for food. More importantly, however, Suki has a passion for her team, her people. She knew that something little, a single lunch, could literally transform someone’s day. It could get the creative juices flowing, it could become the genesis of the next big idea, it could create a lasting bond between teammates. Suki’s lunches became legendary and made our workplace enjoyable.

I’m here to submit a business leadership strategy for those who care about building amazing, long-lasting teams. I’m here to submit a business strategy for those who care about their people: Focus on the little things, especially the little things not directly tied to the work at hand. It’s the little things that make all the difference. It’s the little things that motivate, empower, and grow careers. It’s the little things that make life fun. As an employer, manager, teammate, or friend, you are responsible for others. Take that responsibility with great seriousness! Strive each and every day to make business amazing for everyone.

Perhaps lunch is not your thing. That’s ok, you have to find your unique way of creating culture. Some ideas I’d like the share (mix several of them and the little things will add up into tremendous culture):

  • Remember birthdays and do something special and unique for each of them. Include everyone from the team, make it a true celebration.
  • Take each team member to Starbucks once a week, on you. Spend your time together talking about the big picture, brainstorming big ideas.
  • Schedule a team lunch and movie day after each big milestone.
  • Don’t be cheap! Invest in your team and send them to the conferences that count. Even during a period of cost cutting, never save money at the expense of your team learning.
  • Have someone on your team that is working especially hard? Give then a half day off (or even a full day off). Tell them they don’t need to use PTO, and can save that for another day.
  • Don’t forget happy hour! Don’t want drinks at the workplace? My favorite happy hour had nothing to do with the drinks, and everything to do with the fresh Samosas each Friday.

Work in an environment with none of these fun, little things? You may have a boring culture, one that is prone to losing top talent. Take a step back from the work and invest time in your people. Find little ways to reward and empower. What you create may become legendary!

Suki, thanks for crafting all those special team lunches. Those are my highlights from our time working together, cherished memories I will not soon forget. Taco Thursday is now part of my schedule forever!

Image of PPC Ian at Jimboy’s Tacos ©
Jimboy’s sign and restaurant © Jimboy’s Tacos

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:


  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