Monday, November 26, 2007

Open minded employers. A refreshing change.

Two weeks ago I was invited to join Terry Walsh, CEO, Cisco Canada in a one-on-one fireside chat about top employment practices and what it takes to be a top employer. The funny thing is that CISCO Canada is a top employer! They were among our six 2007 featured employers who were awarded this year as Employers who Walk the Talk. CISCO was specifically acknowledged for excellence in their family friendly practices.

This fireside chat on Nov. 15th was broadcasted live across Canada to all Cisco employees. Terry specifically asked me not to sing their praises but instead, to share with them what we have learned from other top employers and how they can improve. This open mindedness surely has a lot to do with why they ended up in the top six for the second year running. I was truly impressed with Cisco's spirited, family friendly culture. I enjoyed being there and have found their engagement to be refreshing and inspiring. Thanks Cisco!

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Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Are women better networkers than men?

Or, could we all use some room for improvement? Barbara Moses, one of Canada's great career gurus recently ran two back to back columns in the Globe and Mail. The first, running on Oct. 16th covered Neworking Faux Pas and this last week on Oct. 26th she covered How to be the Consummate Connector. And, she is absolutely right! In our career culture we put very little thought into the connections we make. We rush to set up a meeting and then don't prepare enough to make it meaningful for both parties. Finally, we forget the follow up.

One of my favourite writers on this topic is Keith Ferrazzi, author of Never Eat Alone and columnist for Fast Company. He takes networking to a level of science that we should all appreciate. The best networkers out there get out what they put in. It takes effort!

So, what do you think? Are women better networkers than men? And, what makes them different?

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Friday, October 26, 2007

Making an Impact on Employers

We hope that the Walk the Talk message gets through to employers. And, sometimes it does! Chris Carder, President and CEO of Thin Data attended our Toronto Walk the Talk Best Practices Forum on Oct. 23rd and was so inspired with what he learned that he is implementing new best practices and employment standards in his workplace. Chris recently blogged about this on the Canadian Marketing Association site.

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Thursday, October 11, 2007

Walking the Talk. A key ingredient in driving employee loyalty.

So, what does Walking the Talk mean and why is it important to employees? We often hear about employee engagement, productivity, retention and other standard human resource vernacular but are we measuring what is really important to employees?

With the changing employment landscape, employees are now defining their careers differently and with that comes major challenges for employers looking to attract and retain talent and staff up where shortages are now becoming more obvious as the boomer hits retirement age. Employees have more employment options then ever before and are no longer seeking the security of a full time, conventional employee role. With employees in the driver’s seat, employee retention and attraction are at the top of Employer lists of challenges to address into 2010.

So what does it take to keep employees in the game? Market Yourself Smarter conducted its second annual Walk the Talk Survey, organically polling employees across Canada on whether they feel their Employer walks the talk.

Last year’s 2006 survey ranked the Top 10 Eastern and Western Canadian Employers who Walk the Talk and unveiled that employees defined Walking the Talk as being honourable, authentic, transparent, supportive and open to new ideas (2006 award recipients . This year’s employee definition was extended to include listening and respect as key attributes.

The process:

-Employees anonymously completed a five minute online survey –
-Employees also had the option nominate their employer directly through an online nomination form
-To qualify for an award, employers required a minimum of 10 completed employee surveys, needed to be headquartered in Canada and have a minimum of 50 full time employees
-Survey question format included a combination of numeric ranking and qualitative, text-based answers
-Survey responses were 51 % positive, 37 % negative and 12 % neutral

The 2007 Walk the Talk survey will award three companies in Eastern and Western Canada that where voted in by their employees based on a common Walk the Talk theme. These six companies have exhibited excellence in one or more Walk the Talk areas and will be recognized with these awards to be released and announced at the upcoming Walk the Talk Employee Perspective Forum on Oct. 18th in Toronto and Nov. 1st in Vancouver. Details available at . The 2007 Walk the Talk report will be released later in November with highlights available for download at .

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Monday, October 01, 2007

Oct. 1st Malcolm Gladwell on "Work is Getting Tougher"

Malcolm Gladwell chimes in with his perspectives in this morning's Globe sharing his take on the new workplace and what a career will look like in the future. I would be curious to ask him a few more questions with respect to what employers need to do today to embed loyalty into their culture and create a competitive employment environment.

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Monday, September 17, 2007

Why do we love to hate strong, smart women?

Belinda Stronach and Hilary Clinton. Okay, many wouldn't put both of these women in the same sentence but they do hold a few things in common. They are strong, high profile women (in and out of politics) that many women love to hate. We have so few women who rise to the very top-- but often when they get there, we sabotage their success.

Take this weekend's spotlight on Camille Paglia, another pop culture contrarian who I enjoy, in conversation with Margaret Wente on Hilary Clinton . In this article, amongst other observations, Camille notes that Hilary "doesn't possess core values". While I love a devils advocate, isn't this going a little far?

And what about other fallen female CEO's like Carly Fiorina or Eleanor Clitheroe, left to sweep up the residue from their very public corporate exits. Who takes responsibility for the long lasting effects these negative "stories" have on their personal and professional reputations?

Who is celebrating and supporting the success of these brave women who are breaking through barriers and making a difference?

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Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Remembering Anita Roddick

Sadly Anita Roddick passed away on Monday Sept. 10th, much before her time. Anita, Founder of The Body Shop, was an inspiration to all female entrepreneurs with her impassioned views and zest for life, the world, and making it a better place for all. Thank you for all of your life contributions. Anita, you will be missed!

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Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Walk the Talk Revisited

Well, the 2007 Walk the Talk survey is now open and will be until September 27th. If you have something to say about your employer-- good or bad-- we want to hear from you. If you have a good news story you can nominate your employer today. This year we will be featuring the Walk the Talk survey highlights at our upcoming Think Tank events-- The Ideal Workplace of the Future: The 2007 Employee’s Perspective scheduled for October 18th in Toronto and Nov. 1st in Vancouver.

If you are an Employer, take advantage of this opportunity to give your employees a voice.

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Monday, March 26, 2007

Thrive or Just Survive?

Also posted on Corporate Women.

"Be distinct or be extinct. To be in business today, the most important job is to the the head marketer of the brand called you." Tom Peters has been touting the importance of personal branding for years. So, how does this apply in your world of business? Marketing yourself is less about emphasizing the one or two things you do really well and more about the marketing campaign you launch and sustain to sell yourself on a day to day basis.

Does the idea of that turn you right off? Well if you answered yes to that question you would be like most women in the corporate world, and, many female entrepreneurs for that matter. Women often feel that being a high performer and delivering in their job is enough. And, frankly, it should be given all of the extracurricular responsiblities that we have to fit into a day. But the fact is that it just isn't enough to stand out and get noticed.

So, the idea of marketing yourself seems trite, vain, superficial or below you-- right? Well, whether you know it or not, some of the smartest female and male executives in the market today have a personal marketing plan and can clearly articulate what it is if you asked them. In fact, we did just that in February in conversation with six top Canadian executives in Toronto and Vancouver at our recent "Finding Your IT Factor" events. There is an art and science to marketing yourself in today's competitive business world and it all starts with self awareness.

As a starting point, ask yourself the following 6 questions:

1. Are you aware of the way you are perceived by others you work with?
2. Do you consider yourself to be well networked externally?
3. Do you have strong office alliances?
4. Do you have a coach or mentor who is helping to guide you in your career path?
5. Do you actively promote yourself at work?
6. Can you, on demand, clearly articulate your strenghts and how you add value?

If you answered "yes" to all of the above, you are probably doing a pretty good job. If you answered "no" to one or more of the above, you have some work to do. We recently ran a poll asking women what they thought was their IT factor or key success factor. The number one response was a "positive attitude" and the second was "great communication skills". As we move up the corporate ladder or build our businesses what we learned in business school becomes less important and what we might have learned in finishing school takes on a whole new meaning. This is because the way that we present, are perceived and can relate to people around us is paramount to our success.

If you are left with any doubt, you can take a page out of the book of any of today's popular celebrities or musicians who have put countless resources behind building their personal brands. Business people have lots to learn from other industries.

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Saturday, January 13, 2007

Innovate or Stagnate

Have you ever given any thought to how business people and their marketability is like a product or a business? If you look around at today's most successful businesses and business people dawning the front covers of Fortune, Fast Company, Wired and Time, you will notice that marketability and innovation is the key ingredient resident in most of them.

As business people we need to always be thinking about the currentness of our 1) knowledge and the currentness of our 2) mindset.

1. Let's start with knowledge:

Businesses are laser focused on trying to avoid reaching the maturation and decline stages of the Product Life Cycle. Don't we all want to stay in growth mode on the way up the hockey stick? This takes a lot of good information and instincts as well as the ability to position your business as one which anticipates market changes, innovates, or is a position to be immediately responsive and adaptive to innovation in order to capitalize on opportunities as they arise. If you want a dose of business inspiration, follow Google's innovative moves. Innovate or stagnate.

Business people are on a similar life cycle in their career, seeking to avoid peaks and valleys and remain forever in growth mode while avoiding maturation and decline. Remember how it felt to get your first real career job? Remember the pace of your learning and your eagerness to immerse yourself in every little detail so as to learn the ropes quickly, get noticed and move up? Over time however, as you become more comfortable in your middle management position you may become comfortable, assimilate or not be as eager to find that big idea. Sometimes you lose touch with the pulse of the larger, outside market and slow down your pace of learning. Innovate or stagnate.

We can often forget that we are in charge of our own individual brand and responsible for our marketability.

2. Now, let's deal with mindset. Mindset is as important as knowledge in innovation and marketability. What are the qualities of a business with a successful mindset?

Successful businesses today have a few common qualities when you dig down to the basis of their executive mindset and guiding corporate values. They are open to new ideas and anticipate, rather than resist change. They have a willingness and want to learn. They listen. They find a healthy balance between risk taking and stability. They care about and support their people and their human capital. They are fair, ethical and transparent. And, they innovate-- testing new ideas without fear of failure. They "walk the talk".

Successful business people today have similar qualities. They have a high emotional intelligence and are aware of people and the world around them. They communicate well with others and are aware of their individual goals and how they map to their career goals. They take a proactive, leadership role in life and work. They are fair and open and have a want to genuinely support the people around them-- both above and below. They are adaptive and constanting learning and evolving. They innovate. Interstingly, Google makes #1 on Fortune's Top 100 list, just released.

We can all benefit by taking a more conscious look at our unique strengths and how marketable we are. On the journey of career and life take a moment to do a pulse on your innovation factor. Remind yourself that you are in a constant state of creating yourself. We are all work-in-progress. Innovate or stagnate.

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