Diversity: the secret ingredient of success!

How important is diversity for your business? A question that any single entrepreneur should ask when starting a company. Nowadays it is quite common to hear companies saying out loud that they have a diversity policy regarding their people and teams. Though, I must say that too many times this is just a branding campaign made convey a message of “respect” by diversity to its key stakeholders. But, in some countries there are quotas ( a minimum percentage) that companies must fulfill regarding certain factors of discrimination, like gender or ethnicity. Nevertheless, a quota is just a quota, and unfortunately it does not change mentalities or real discrimination! Howsoever, it is some times the only way to achieve equal treatment and opportunity to everybody!

A more interesting approach to diversity can only happen after the acknowledgment of its positiveness toward human kind’s evolution. In my point of view, it is amazingly important what a company, a business, can gain with a strong and real diversity policy. However, for this to be truly accomplished, the Human Resources Department (aka People Department aka Human Capital Department aka other any name used for the department running the department related to everything related to people) should have a seat at the board of directors, the place where every single corporate and business strategy is discussed. Why? Well, how can a company define a business strategy without having a serious and well done analysis on the needs and impacts of it on the company’s most precious “asset”, its people? It is, in my viewpoint, impossible to define and implement a business strategy without having the responsible for the people strategy seated at the Board’s table discussing and brainstorming on the company’s key issues. I am leaving this subject for another post or posts, due to the complexity of the subject! I am now more interested in discussing a more specific subject: how can diversity be faced as a competitive advantage for your business? I have written about non-regular factors of competitiveness like happiness, sense of humor, motivation, or people in  general. I am here today to discuss diversity as a factor of competitiveness! How can it work? Well, let’s start by explaining what diversity means to me, it means people with different: cultural background, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion, or demographics. Although, my definition is not a scientific one, it is the way I perceived reality! Reality is full of differences, people absorb that differences, becoming different themselves! Globalization brought together people from different regions, countries, continents. People with different ways of living, believes or faiths. People with different social, cultural, educational, religious backgrounds, that are mixing and evolving together and generating an enriched melting pot full of diversity! These richness can and should be used by companies and organizations in a positive and inclusive way! Companies should be the privileged place where the melting pot happens, and grow! Why? Because diversity, in this sense, can help finding new ways of working, new ideas, innovation, new experiences, new approaches, …! An old saying says: Two heads think better than one! I would like to add that two “different” heads can make miracles! Creativity and innovation are boosted through diversity, and a company can gain a lot by having a diversity policy! Even us, mere human beings, can profit from the interaction with diversity, people from different backgrounds and ethnicities. However, to do so, companies and people must have an open-mind and a true respect by other’s opinions and believes.

Myself, I have learned a lot by interacting with people with different ethnicities, and cultural and religious backgrounds! I have seen the melting pot in action, and I must say that it is amazing the high level results companies can achieve if working with diversity!

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A Premature Generational Gap! Can You Feel It?

On the other day I came across with an amazing cartoon, by Mashable Comics, where a guy says to another “…you kids today, with your “cloud computers” and “Google Docs”…In my days, we attached files to our Emails, and we liked it that way.” And the other replys, “Dave, you are like two years older than me”. This is a behavior that you can assist more and more within companies or even among friends. Can we call it Generational Gap? Yes, though, there is a difference between the Generational Gap from the 1960s, between a child and he’s parents generation, and what we have been assisting, happening mainly between people born in the same generation. Today’s world is faster than ever, and even if you are only a couple of years older you can feel a kind of “generational gap”. This Gap is normally boosted by technology and innovation, and have a broad and deep impact in one’s life. I believe that a lot of people is feeling, or have already felt, something similar to this. I must confess that my first time was back in the 90s when the computers start to be King. Obviously, a lot have changed but the feeling is still the same, a sour taste of falling behind! The problem today is that even if you try to cope with this fast changing, you can easily feel the same way!

How can one face this? And better, how can one overcome this? Everything moves fast, it is difficult to keep up with everything happening so fast around us. And even if you put a lot of effort on do it, you will quickly find out that you are not succeeding! That way, I would go for a better prepared mentality to face the negativity of the falling-behind feeling. Therefore, I strongly believe that better than fighting back or feel demotivated, one should instead acknowledge this new reality and stay focused. I must say that a future-oriented mind would be helpful, and this should probably start with: first, be aware of one’s limitation; second, be willing to continuously learn; and third, keep an open minded regarding novelties. Why? Well, this new century is more demanding on knowledge and asks for an along-life-learning mentality. A faster world is demanding for an open-mind orientation, and an educational system that teaches more about how to learn than on what to know. Although there is no right or wrong solution, it is really important to face this trend with humbleness, open-mind orientation, and willingness to learn in a different and continuously way. In a word, Change is needed and is part of the solution. Let’s win this Generational Gap challenge through the willingness to Change!   

Error: the good, the bad and the unavoidable!

A few months ago I wrote about failing and how can failing be extremely positive on your journey toward success – Have You Ever Failed?. In the same way that failing is, in my opinion, positive as part of the learning process to build something, making mistakes can also be very positive. Errors are part of the growing and learning process and can help you adapting to our word too. When everything is changing at a fast pace, it is normal that what works today can be an error tomorrow and vice-verse. Therefore, trial-and-error starts to be a good way of doing something! Solutions to problems are less definitive. So, I believe that making calculated mistakes can be a way of behaving. However, do not start making mistakes just because you have an authorization to it. An error is a positive thing when it helped advancing into the “unknown”, a way of facing a volatile situation, or a different approach for an ordinary problem in a different environment.

Although I think errors can be very positive, I must say that the systematic error without any special reason is to me a sign of a bad work and incompetence. Errors must lead to lessons learned, a step closer to a better solution, or a new approach to an old situation. If an error does not lead to something or is systematic, then you are facing incompetence, and spoiling resources that are normally scarce.

Final question: are Errors a positive thing? Yes! But they must lead to something, do not afraid making mistakes is a positive thing until the moment you fail because you did not care or understood what was at stake. The threshold here is quite thin and appears in a blur way! So, be prepared, do your best up-front, and be reasonable. You will see that even if the result is not positive you have learned and can take away some lessons from what happened. Learning with your mistakes is key to your success in21st century. Though, chose your errors wisely, it seems difficult but is doable! Fully experience your “good” errors, avoid the “bad”, and deal efficiently with the “unavoidable” ones.

Ah, and face your challenges with creativity, innovation, open mind, try to avoid spoiling resources, and care about the environment by being “green” !

Is there such thing as too much social media?

No, I do not think so! Although I don’t believe in the idea of too much social media, I believe in wrong, uneven, unadjusted, and bad implemented solutions and strategies. What can bring the sense of failure or overwhelming. If one does not have a strong will, a reason to do it, and a good understanding of what Social Media is about, than one should STOP,LISTEN and TRY first!

In my point of view, a verdict of “too much” social media can happen for several reasons, being the most deadly: lack of real motivation and reason to do it! When someone is asked about the whys of investing in a Social Media Strategy and replies, “because everybody is doing it, so I am also doing it”! Something is really Wrong! If you are going for a Social Media Strategy you must be willing to do it because you can see the value in it. You must also be prepared for a totally different reality and open-minded. Social Media is about trial and error, there is no scientific method or secret recipes. Forget the almighty ROI as it use to be! You will have to reinvent you KPIs and go for a strong SEO strategy! You don’t know what SEO means? Well, start studying the key concepts and tools for social media otherwise you’ll be just spoiling money. More to that and also very deadly, If you are defining your online strategy by adapting and sometimes even copying what you have been doing offline on the traditional channels you are already DEAD! You need to be fully and really committed to the experience, try and more than everything don’t be afraid of losing control or fail!  You’ll gain a lot, it is really a one life-time experience!

For those who are skeptic or want a more structured approach, please find here some steps to be done before going blindly on Social Media.

  1. Understand what is in for you, and be open minded to new things. Start by enumerate the reasons why you’re doing it! You should find the following two reasons among your list: “I believe I can connect better with my audience and add value to them”, and next to that “I believe I can increase the value added to my overall business, and that I am building a more competitive and future oriented business”.
  2. Assess your Audience (clients or future clients) through an extensive diagnosis and only after that go for a social media strategy. Accordingly to the Audience you identified as yours, define goals and the strategy to achieve them.
  3. When defining the strategy, choices must be made: plans, channels, approaches and actions. Choices that must be aligned with: the targeted audience, its behaviours and consuming preferences; overall mission and business strategy; defined goals (marketing and PR) and available resources.
  4. Align Audience>Mission/Business Strategy>Goals and never forget to incorporate the company’s culture and uniqueness when translating all the elements into a marketing strategy, only that way it will succeed. Ah, don’t forget to align online with offline strategies, use their synergies to boost your business and make it more future oriented!

Social Media is all about trying it! If you want to do it is because you foresee something positive about it and you will fully commit to its success! If you are not sure about it, you will fail for the wrong reasons!

Go and try it!

What drives you? [Video] Daniel Pink Animated Talk!

Have you ever thought about what really motivates people? Well, I bet you are thinking about rewards, cash and prizes rewards. Do you believe that what motivated people 50 years ago is still motivating people today? What has changed in the last 50 years? A lot! We live in totally different Age, an Age where information, technology, creativity, collaboration, purpose… are key! So, I will ask you again! What in your opinion motivates people?

Lessons learned: Autonomy, Mastery, Challenge and Purpose are important drivers on this XXIst Century!

What kind of challenges do people and institutions face regarding Motivation and Drive on this 21st Century? A last question & food for thought! Share your ideas with us!

Thanks @DanielPink & @theRSAorg Animation for animate amazing TEDTalks!

Marketing and Sales: 2 Deadly Mistakes!

In my opinion, there are two highly deadly mistakes not only for Marketing and PR, but also for Sales! First, publicizing and communicate something (launch or just a campaign) to not be able to deliver; and last, not having a Marketing (going to market) nor a PR Strategy (nowadays with a good marketing strategy covering from traditional to digital a company can do a acceptable work regarding PR).

Regarding the latest one, I believe that not having a clear idea about how to market a company can be the most deadly of the mistakes a company can make. Why? 1) if a company does not have an idea about how to market itself often means that the crucial Marketing work was not done: market research, audience (clients or customers to target) analysis and its segmentation, market positiong, value chain analysis, mix to offer (product, price…). This means that a company is going to market almost blind with little knowledge of what exists, to whom target or simply where to promote and sale, killing that way the opportunity to win. 2) Do not have a value proposition to communicate or at least do not have the right means to communicate means not leveraging on the proper PR and Branding tools to create a strong a well shaped Brand; 3) No idea about market value or customer lifetime value meaning a short term vision. Well, sometimes what happens is that the company as an idea on all of these aspects but it does not have a structured approach. An old Chinese saying says: “There is no good wind if you do not know where to go”. If the company do not have a vision or a goal to pursuit the company is adrift, spending and spoiling good products, ideas, and scarce resources.

On the other side, if a company has an amazing marketing campaign supporting the launch or special activities but it does not have the correct implementation plan or team to back up and make things happen in the field the company is in big trouble too. It is like shooting your own foot! Normally this mistake happens due to miscommunication between key areas of the business like corporate strategy, marketing, PR and sales (and sometimes operations). However, miscommunication happens often between marketing and sales. Lacking liaison these two departments miss too often to properly communicate what leads to major failures in sales and commercial plan alignment and accuracy. In my opinion liaison is needed within companies, and only a few can do it properly! Sometimes one has the bricks but misses the cement to glue them successfully!

Two deadly mistakes not too difficult to avoid, and that everybody knows but no one wants to act on them! Why? Different reasons being the most strong one the difficulty felt by managers to focus on the holistic plan, leaving their own manors aside! Nevertheless, the 21st century’s challenges are not compatible with selfishness and individualism, instead they need collaboration and teamwork!

Is a Dollar spent in Marketing more valuable than a Dollar spent in Sales?

Why people put always sales vs. marketing? In my viewpoint a company cannot achieve results if it thinks that marketing is more valuable than sales ore vice-versa. What happen sometimes is that one of the two areas has a more structured or a better strategic approach. It can happen also that one of them is more tuned with business strategy and better aligned when defining plans. A lot of times marketing and business strategy are not aligned with and translated into sales strategies.

Depending on the company I have assisted to two main problems: 1) marketing departments completely out of “scope” regarding business strategy, planning unfeasible actions and strategies, and not articulated with sales strategies; 2) sales departments that are not invited to the business strategy discussion and aside the process they are asked to do things without structure; Strategy, objectives and action plan are not aligned nor translating the company’s vision. In my opinion it is a strategic problem regarding the way companies define their business strategy and consequently their business model and go-to market strategies. I believe that a better relationship between corporate strategy, sales and marketing  is key. Not to mention that the whole company should be focused in achieving the same goal and vision by doing their job. A lot of companies fail to understand that the way the different areas interact and the synergies they have are crucial to success. In this case Sales and Marketing are key areas if you want to succeed. if the Marketing understands the market as a whole and proposes an approach to achieve the goal, the sales define a strategy to implement it and achieve the same goal.