Language – written and spoken — is the primary tool people use to communicate. While babies are not born speaking, they begin to acquire language skills relatively shortly after birth. By about one year old, babies are babbling and saying some words, and by two years of age most toddlers are learning new words daily and starting to form sentences. Based on the results of over 2 million people testing their vocabulary on www.testyourvocab.com, by age 9, the average American test-taker already has a vocabulary of 10,000 words and most American adult test-takers have vocabularies ranging from 20,000-35,000 words. That is for Americans learning one language: English.
It is generally believed that a person with a large vocabulary is better able to communicate with others, and that is usually a sign of intellect. If language is tied to intelligence, then it stands to reason that someone with the ability to speak more than one language would thus have an even larger overall vocabulary and would be even better able to communicate with others. Yet, there has been a great deal of debate in the U.S. over the years regarding teaching and speaking “English only”. Indeed, only 19.7% of Americans speak more than one language, versus 56% of Europeans. Looking at this issue strictly from a business standpoint, it appears that having bilingual or multilingual employees is good for business. Recent research shows that being able to speak more than one language is not only useful to businesses in places with a lot of diversity, it also makes for better – as in more talented – employees even in places where everyone speaks English. Continue reading
It’s been said that “if you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you always got.” The point is that sometimes you have to break routines and try new processes, products, systems or strategies to find better ways of doing things. Innovation usually leads to improvement, and refusing to ever try new things is futile and foolish. Consider the Luddites. The Luddites were 19th-century English textile workers and weavers who, fearing the end of their trade, protested against newly developed labor-saving technologies between 1811 and 1816. New inventions such as the stocking frames, spinning frames and power of the Industrial Revolution threatened to replace Luddites with less-skilled, low-wage laborers, leaving them unemployed and obsolete. The Luddite movement culminated in a region-wide rebellion in Northwestern England that required a massive deployment of military force to suppress. So famous was their rebellion that today the term Luddite has become synonymous with anyone opposed to industrialization, automation, computerization or new technology, in general.
Of course, there is also an argument to be made that a business that is always changing processes, products and strategies may find itself wasting both time and talent. It can be expensive to constantly be shifting gears and updating systems. Learning new software or revamping procedures takes time and can be confusing – and even frustrating — for employees. So change for the sake of change can also be counterproductive and costly. It is important for businesses to evolve, but it should be done carefully and thoughtfully to ensure it causes the least amount of disturbance, distraction and distress internally and externally. Continue reading
There is a silent (or sometimes not-so-silent) battle waged between what the sales department wants and what the marketing department can and should deliver. Business leaders may only be vaguely aware of this tug-of-war but it exists in most organizations. There are two reasons for this. First, salespeople are always under great pressure (internal and external) to make sales. Not only does the company want them to sell more, but they themselves want to earn more. But selling requires a lot of time and effort. To ease the burden, they look to marketing for help. Second, salespeople are bombarded by other companies’ impressive marketing efforts. Newsletters. Email drip campaigns. Remarketing Campaigns. Seminars. Blogs. Billboards. Ads. Videos. Tradeshow exhibits. Competitor marketing is particularly irksome. Logically, salespeople believe that if they do the same marketing, they too will succeed. This is the business equivalent of “keeping up with the Joneses.”
In most companies, this ‘sales-marketing tug-of-war’ plays out with sales making infinite demands for marketing support with little understanding of the budget or resources required for implementing those ideas, or if those strategies fit in with or duplicate existing efforts. Sales teams claim that they either cannot meet their sales goals or they can be exponentially more successful if their specific marketing ideas are implemented. Unlimited sales demands are thus made on marketing departments that have limited resources. What is the company’s leadership to do? To handle infinite sales demands with finite marketing resources, leaders should implement this three-step process. Continue reading