Change Can Be Inspirational


Spent last week in Miami speaking at The Women's Congress conference. The Women's Congress is a 2-year old organization with a mission to bring small business owners and corporate executives together for mutual learning. Change_posterI knew the conference would be great. What I didn't know was the day would be inspired by change.

My thanks to Rebecca Weeks, Director of Business Development, Real Girls Media Network, Inc. for the invitation to moderate the panel on Web 2.0. In addition to Rebecca our session included two other savvy divas - Anne Murray, Senior Director of Interactive Marketing, Southwest Airlines and Virginia Simmons, Online Communications Manager, The ONE Campaign. Sidebar: Biz Blog Profile interviews coming soon. Love that networking online and off digital too! 

Companies are tightening their training and travel purse strings and one of the first to feel the pinch is professional development conferences. Moments before our panel we changed direction. We decided to merge the Web 2.0 and social media sessions. So .. we tossed out the preplanned Powerpoints and the agendas. We pulled chairs into a big Conversation Circle and in true bloggy style, and similar to what I had done at the Healthcare Summit last fall, we trusted in our audience to tell us what they wanted to know. And they, of course did! Again, the feedback we got was "Best session I attended." "I learned so much." I must admit that having successfully gone down this road before I was pretty comfortable with the formate and new direction. Something to be said of experience. (smile)

Sidebar: Slides from the Healthcare Summit are posted. If you're looking for a basic 101 How to Create A Blog Strategy check it out.

What made this especially fun was my friend and winner of the Entrepreneurial Champion for Women Award (!) none other than Ms. Lena West, xynoMedia Technology, was the moderator of the social media panel. The panelists included Nina Kaufman, Making It Legal, and Cory Edwards of Symantec. Yes, the conference did include a few smart men .. and Cory is that indeed.

The session on Leadership And Change Change Management was particularly interesting to me since for so many companies a dive into social media marketing constitutes not only a new strategy but a change in company culture. The panel members not only shared their experiences about leadership, change and how women are likely to handle change differently than men (more talk, more involvement, more sharing of information) but were inspiring. The prestigious panel included: Jeri Dunn, Chief Information Officer, Bacardi Limited, Juanita T. James, Chief Communications Officer, Pitney Bowes Inc., JoAnn Lilek, Chief Financial Officer, DSC Logistics. Lisa Gibbs, Executive Business Editor, The Miami Herald.

For your reading pleasure my notes and a few random thoughts.

"Ships are safe in harbors but that's not where ships are suppose to be." Like sailing a ship change involves risk but you don't grow unless you sail out of the harbor." Jeri Dunn, Chief Information Officer, Bacardi Limited

On Change

  • Systems are just tools.
  • People often feel that change is a threat that is done to them on a personal basis.
  • Remember when you institute change within an organization you also change people's lives.
  • It's critical to clearly articulate both the vision of the new direction and why the need to change.
  • You need to learn the rules before you can change them. 
  • You can not influence change in isolation .. it takes team work.
  • The role of communication in change management is critical for both (internal) employees and (external) stakeholders e.g., customers, media, shareholders. Communication must include: listening, understanding and then talking.

On Leadership

  • Leaders grow over time. A good leader understands the culture and how to work within to make changes. Listen to the experts but in the end you must form your own opinions. 
  • You may not always have all the information to make a decision but a good leader understands what is essential and what is nice to have. 
  • Understand the role of everyone in the organization and treat all with respect.
  • Employees will share knowledge with you if you ask them; don't overlook some one who appears shy or quiet. 

On Mentoring and Personal Learning & Values

  • Get yourself a good mentor. Mentors come in different packages; you may find a mentor in a peer or a younger person.
  • As important, help others realize their full potential.
  • Make yourself vulnerable. Openly seek and accept feedback from wherever you can get it. Learn not to take it personally.
  • Your personal values must align with the values of your organization if there is a disconnect that's when the work  and your life begins to unravel.

You can not define yourself by your work, by your title or by your position. Those are things that people can give and take away from you. Juanita T. James, Chief Communications Officer, Pitney Bowes Inc.


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I am so sorry to have missed you. I attended the event on Thursday and looked for you while there. I asked some of the organizers if you had checked in yet. Unfortunately (for me) I could not be there on Friday!

I know you were fantastic as was the whole Congress. Next time you are in South Florida, let me know and I'll take you to lunch...

Heidi Richards

Posted by: Heidi Richards on Feb 1, 2008 5:27:32 PM

@Heidi - Completely forgot that you were in South FL. Sorry I missed you too. Next time we'll plan better. Promise!

Posted by: Toby on Feb 1, 2008 6:06:32 PM

Thanks for this shout out, Toby.

You kept our join session going! Its so nice to work with someone who really knows her stuff - and not just the social media stuff...the ins and outs of moderting panels, etc. Youve just got it going on across the board...

Posted by: Lena West on Feb 1, 2008 7:10:08 PM

The change is company culture is what is most underestimated and scary to organizations. My response to the use of social media is something like -- sure, we can do anything we want, are you ready to back it up? Rather than a program du jour this has the potential of changing the way you need to look at things -- are you on board with that?

Posted by: Valeria Maltoni on Feb 3, 2008 4:35:29 PM

In addition to budgets being tighter, has anyone looked at the "travel hassle" effect on conference attendance? Methinks that as travel becomes more and more of a pain-in-the, that alternatives to in-person conferences will grow in popularity, if not attendance.

Food for thought...

Posted by: Martha Retallick on Feb 4, 2008 10:30:34 AM

@Valeria - Thanks for continuing this thread. As always you add much to the conversation. Can you go a little further with you insights? Not sure I understand what you mean by "can you back it up?" versus internal change. Do you mean you don't talk of change management when you work with clients?

@Martha - If you mean companies will bring people in-house to conduct workshop for large groups of employees, yes I'm seeing that happen. It's a smart idea.

Posted by: Toby on Feb 4, 2008 10:56:56 AM

That is my question to those who wish to pursue a social media strategy. Using social media to speed up pushing messages in the marketplace does not work. Will the company (and the content experts) make the necessary commitment to walk the talk?

Posted by: Valeria Maltoni on Feb 4, 2008 11:04:23 AM

@Valeria - Excellent. Thank you. An additional though .. unless there is a champion of the initiative the strategy will fall apart. If your company is exploring including social media, especially something like blogs that are like a marathon race and not a sprint, it's critical to have a person on the team who takes ownership and is committed to the success of the program.

Posted by: Toby on Feb 4, 2008 11:14:12 AM

Toby, thanks for this. I always learn so much from your posts. Reviewing your random comments on change and leadership reminded me of a book I am now reading, "Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done" by Larry Bossidy & Ram Charan. Eric Schwartzman was reading it in between sessions of his PRSA New Media Boot Camp here in Atlanta couple of weeks ago; what a valuable two days and, as you experienced at the Women's Congress Conference, life changing. That's what I like about new media; we are all telling the story and learning from each other. It's from competition to collaboration. Thanks again. Best, Julie

Posted by: Julie Squires on Feb 4, 2008 12:21:07 PM

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