Monday Mornings with Madison

Monthly Archives:
November 2015

Vision in Business

Every business owner, leader and manager wants to have ‘vision’ or be considered a visionary. But what does mean exactly? According to an April 2013 article by Dave Lavinsky in Forbes, “Vision in business requires that you clearly see where you choose to be in the future and formulate the necessary steps to get your organization there. Creating and sustaining a vision for an organization calls for discipline and creativity. A business leader must have the passion, strength of will, and necessary knowledge to achieve long-term goals. A focused individual who can inspire his team to reach organizational goals is a visionary business leader.” Lavinsky cites passion, discipline, creativity, strength of will, knowledge and focus as the skills needed to be a visionary in business. Others believe the qualities of visionary leaders include openness, imagination, persistence, and conviction. Harvard Business Review says a visionary leader is opportunistic, diplomatic, an expert, an achiever, individualistic, strategic, and an alchemist. Arguably, these are all necessary traits. But Lavinsky stated first that a business visionary must clearly see where he/she wants to be in the future. So the starting point of being a visionary is to see with clarity.

In this context, Lavinksy was not referring to physically “seeing” with one’s eyes. Most likely, what he meant was seeing “in one’s mind” the where, what and how of an organization’s future… having a mental picture, so to speak. But, for most people, actual vision – as in the ability to see physically with one’s eyes – probably plays a part of being successful in business and life. Probably even a large part? Sight is a blessing which many scarcely give any thought to at all. But, without it, how many would have the life or business career they are currently living? And what role does actual eyesight play in an individual’s success in business? How many business people can be visionaries without vision? Continue reading

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The Blessing of Hearing and Power of Sound

In listening to the news, one might get the impression that the world is a terrible place. Global warming. Rampant pollution. Persistent wars. Growing income inequality. Epidemic diseases. Gun violence. Discrimination. Religious intolerance. We hear constantly about so many problems in the world. The thought of all these problems might make some wonder – especially at this is the time of year when most people stop to reflect and give thanks – just what is there to be thankful for?
There is always – always — something for which to give thanks. Loving family. Deep faith. A solid job. Liberty and freedom. Good friends. Kind colleagues. Even those who aren’t blessed with a good job, supportive family or friends, still have so much for which they can be genuinely thankful… if they just look beyond the surface. Consider the basic things that are often taken for granted. The gift of hearing. The blessing of sight. The delight of being able to smell. The present of being able to speak. The pleasure of being taking deep breaths of clean air. The ability to walk. The good fortune of health. Each of these gifts makes life richer, fuller and easier. What would life be like without just one of these gifts? What if you could not hear? Continue reading

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When Companies Dare to Radically Change Employee Compensation or Benefits

There has been a lot of discussion lately about employee compensation and benefits in the U.S. Candidates running for President are spending a lot of time (in debates, interviews and during campaign stops) discussing topics such as income inequality, paid family leave and other bread-and-butter issues that are part and parcel of the business world. To a small extent, these issues are regulated by legislation, such as federal and state minimum wage laws which dictate the least an employee can be paid hourly. However, the vast majority of these HR issues are really under the purview of business leaders and owners. For the most part, individual companies the U.S. decide how they want to compensate their employees. Because of that, the usual array of wage and benefit packages – albeit a fairly wide range – has developed for employees at every level, from entry level to C-Suite positions.

However, from time to time, some companies step outside the usual selection of employee pay and perks. Those outlier companies dare to go beyond the typical assortment of compensation items to offer employees something that is unique or bold. For a time, the audacious actions of those companies capture the attention of the media and lawmakers. They garner a lot of attention and usually generate a lot of applause (and scrutiny). But are those actions altruistic? And do such creative perks have any impact on what the majority of companies pay and offer in the way of employee benefits? Do those high-profile HR initiatives move the needle of employee benefits nationwide?
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The Changing Face of Search

Most people use search engines with little or no understanding of how they actually work – such as why one listing ranks higher than another or what cookies do or even how search engines are monetized. This is partly the fault of the search engines, who keep a lot of what they do a secret. But it is also partly because most people don’t really care how it works. As long as it provides a wealth of information easily, accurately and quickly, the functionality hasn’t really mattered much. However, business owners, managers and professionals should care, if they want their products or services to be ‘findable’ on the World Wide Web. Without understanding how search engines work, it is impossible to ensure that a company’s desired messaging will be found by potential clients or customers.

What is interesting is that, while search engines may seem static and unchanging to users, the reality is that search engines and the world of search is constantly changing. Search engines adjust their algorithms (the step-by-step functions to be performed to find and deliver information) regularly to stay a step ahead of those who manipulate online information for their own needs or wants. Updates are rolled out periodically that alter how information is ranked. Moreover, the search engine market is constantly evolving to meet the needs and concerns of those using search engines. And the search engine market is growing exponentially. But how will all this affect business? Continue reading

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Converged Media: A Mix of Owned, Earned and Paid

It used to be so much simpler to market a company 25 years ago. That was before a computer programmer in Switzerland named Tim Berners-Lee introduced the World Wide Web in 1991. In the days before the Internet, search engines and smart phones, marketing consisted primarily of campaigns to targeted audiences using a controlled number of channels and a controlled message. Practically all marketing efforts were paid for and directed by the company. That’s not to say that getting the message across or selling a customer on a product or service was easier. It wasn’t. But for companies trying to communicate a message to a customer, the approach was simpler and more direct. There was less messaging ‘noise’ to distract and confuse audiences.

Today, we are overwhelmed by sales and marketing messages coming at us from every direction. To be heard, companies must use a variety of approaches and a multitude of channels. This includes Paid Media, Owned Media and Earned Media efforts. Today’s marketing efforts must converge these to create a mixed approach. Each is a different way for potential clients or customers to learn about a business’ message. Each functions differently. And each has its pros and cons. In order to reach a target audience, a company has to understand and determine the right mix of its owned, earned and paid media efforts. Let’s look at how they work. Continue reading

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