Visualizing Information

Part of an Infographic about handwriting (source: educatorstechnology.com)

Part of an Infographic about handwriting

Infographics. Do you remember them? Have you seen any lately?

In our internet, SEO-obsessed world, the question arises from time to time, should we bother with the graphics, especially something like an infographic?

Courtney Gordner  asked “are infographics dead?” at tweakyourbiz.com recently. Seems that many feel that graphically conveying the information is a dying art because SEO cannot really read text in a graphic. Well, my question to you is, are you looking for SEO points or are you looking to make your information useful to others? Courtney points to evidence that they are not, because of the rise of social media platforms such as Facebook or Pinterest. Courtney points out five reasons you ought to use them:

  1. Statistical data is more compelling and easier to understand when placed in charts and graphs
  2. Visual stimulation is the highest sensory detail we have, since 90% of our daily information intake is visual
  3. Most social networks are built on picture oriented platforms
  4. Pictures reach a wider demographic
  5. When someone uses your infographic, they link back to your page

Let’s face it, connecting with others takes work. Infographics take work to create. (If you want to read the one on this page, click the infographic or here to see the full-sized version. It is quite interesting.) But as John Maxwell says, connecting takes work and connectors are willing to do the hard work of creating connection.

If you are interested in infographics, there are plenty of places to learn more. I did a post a few months back on the subject.

Also, if you are really interested in learning to visually display information, you should consider getting one of Dr. Edward Tufte’s books, or even better, attend one of his marvelous seminars. I attended one some years back and, while I have always appreciated the power of the visual arts, Dr. Tufte helps you really understand how to make information live visually.

If you find a way to make information interesting and compelling, you will have no problem with SEO. Rather, you will have people flocking to your site to see more about your compelling information.

Using Infographics For Your Company by Courtney Gordner at tweakyourbiz.com

Advertisements

In the End, Business IS Service

Miracle on 34th Street (1994 film)

Is your team as committed to customer service as Kris Kringle? (source: Wikipedia)

How would you like to have 75% of your business be repeat customers who seek you out to get things? Most businesses would be thrilled, especially if those customers checked in regularly to see what you have. As Jeanne Bliss shared at smallbiztrends.com recently, when your company is clear about who it is and what it does, amazing things can happen.

Using internet retailer Zappos.com as an example, Bliss explores how clarity from the boardroom to the customer service floor can make a big difference in the decisions made, which create a trusted relationship between retailer and customer, keeping them coming back. The company was founded on the idea of great customer service after its founder, Nick Swinmurn, couldn’t find a pair of shoes he wanted back in 1999.

Today, if Zappos does not offer what you are looking for, their customer service reps will help you find it elsewhere on the web–sort of like Kris Kringle in the Miracle on 34th Street sending people to Gimbels when Macy’s didn’t have what they were looking for. As Zig Ziglar said, “when you help enough people get what they want, you will get what you want.” When your customers know you are looking out for their interests, you create an emotional connection with your customers and they will patronize you loyally–even becoming your evangelists.

Are you one of those people who has “internal customers” — other organizations within your company that you serve? They may be forced to come to you for service, but what if you treated them with all of the respect and courtesy of an outside customer? Treating others with respect and providing them great service will also make these people fans of you and your organization, making it easier for your company to meet its mission and creating valuable contacts who might be able to help you in the future.

In the end, business is service because the best businesses in every field realize they must create a relationship with people about an offering. They may have to buy from you the first go-round for any number of reasons, but they will come back because of the relationship. Service provides a means to create that relationship. Clarity about this essential truth will help your organization grow.

Clarity of Purpose: What’s Your Promise? by Jeanne Bliss at smallbiztrends.com

Why You Should Say No

No! No! No!I was reading a blog post at fourhourworkweek.com talking about why creative people should say “no” more often. The author, Kevin Ashton, shared several rejections to the invitation a researcher sent to creative people because he was studying the creative process. The one that stuck with me was from Peter Drucker:

One of the secrets of productivity (in which I believe whereas I do not believe in creativity) is to have a VERY BIG waste paper basket to take care of ALL invitations such as yours–productivity in my experience consists of NOT doing anything that helps the work of other people but to spend all one’s time on the work the Good Lord has fitted one to do, and to do well.

For a several years I fancied myself a leader, and a decent one at that. But my true journey as a leader did not start until the day I realized that, in spite of all my education and skill at problem solving, I was not leading because I was always pursuing someone else’s agenda. Sure, I had goals: I wanted to make lots of money so I could take care of my family; I wanted to be the best at something; I wanted to be loved and respected. Nice ideals, but vague and unfocused. Consequently, my plan was to find and solve problems. “Just tell me what problem you need solved and I will take care of it!” was my mantra. I didn’t realize I was surrendering my agenda to other people.

I had to figure out what I really wanted, then I had to start saying ‘no.’

Saying no is hard. By nature we want to help others. Further, most of our social training teaches us it is rude to decline to help someone in need. If someone is truly in need — really cannot take care of him/herself — then we should help. But there is a difference between someone truly wanting and someone wanting you to help with the community yard sale…or the Christmas Party Committee. Mind you, doing either of those activities because they will help you and your agenda is a reason to do them. But if there is nothing in it for you, then saying yes is only taking time away from the big things you are supposed to accomplish.

So, first, figure out your purpose. Next, figure out how to do it. Finally, consider others’ invitations to help them, but consider whether the time taken away from your goals is worth the price.

Why (and How) Creative People Need to Say “No” by Kevin Ashton at fourhourworkweek.com

 

The Day Captain Picard Panicked – And What He Did

Patrick Stewart as Jean-Luc Picard

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

He was the icon of a generation — “The Next Generation.” His job was to fill Jim Kirk’s shoes. He didn’t really expect that the show would be a success, but the steady paycheck for a year is something that actors appreciate.

Then, according to Trent Moore at blatstr.com, Patrick Stewart discovered that the show was going to be successful and that six-year contract he had signed was going to be enforced.

Stewart is an artist whose first love is the stage. He had heard of people who had lost their edge because they had gotten into television or the movies, where you have infinite re-do’s if you need them. He didn’t want to lose his edge or his ability to connect with a live audience.

I believe one of the reasons that Captain Picard was such a great character is because a part of him was Patrick Stewart. So it shouldn’t be too surprising that Picard’s alter-ego would also be a thinker and a planner.

To deal with the problem, Picard developed a one-man show that he could do on short notice, so that when he had a chance to get away from it all, he could “relax” by getting in front of an audience and perform, live.

The fix was in, and Stewart was on Star Trek for seven years. He has gone on to continued success outside of the Sci-Fi drama. His name recognition, his fame–which he enjoys–has given him opportunities to pursue the work he loves now, using the skills he did not let fester while doing something different.

As a leader, do you continue to husband the skills you used to get you into your position of influence? If so, why? If not, why not?

Why Patrick Stewart ‘panicked’ when Star Trek: TNG became a hit by Trent Moore at blastr.com

Introverts Are Leaders, Too…

Are you an introvert? Maybe you have taken the Myers-Briggs Personality Type Indicator test and know that your fourth and last digit in your type is an “I”… (I am a borderline I). Maybe you are shy… but shy is more about not knowing what to do in a situation than about being an introvert.

As humans, we all need some company from time to time. Extroverts get their batteries recharged when they are around people, while introverts tend to get their batteries recharged when they can get time alone for a while. (But yes, more shy people are introverts than extroverts.)

The blog at Inc. Magazine had a great article recently about five ways introverted leaders can embrace their tendencies to become better leaders:

  1. Spend solo time thinking about strategy. Since you like to be alone to recharge, why not spend that time thinking about your goals? Focus your vision. Develop specifics. Divine your motivations. These can then be taken back to your team and help it move ahead.
  2. Use the power of one-on-one conversations. You don’t really like big meetings, so why not do one-on-ones. A tip I learned as a management consultant is to try to avoid using meetings to figure things out. Use them to confirm decisions already made. To do that you need to get with people and talk with them ahead of the big meeting. You might not always be able to get thing figured out beforehand, but one-on-one people might say or be open to things they cannot afford to politically when caught by surprise in a meeting.
  3. Notice who the other “Quiet Influencers” are. Introverts often have well-developed observation skills. In meetings, look beyond the loud ones to see who is quietly putting ideas out that move the group forward. Spend time with these people one-on-one to bring out their best ideas.
  4. Identify what you want to change. This is another take on your strong observational skills, introverts. You probably can very quickly figure out what needs to change so that you can keep moving forward. You may need help executing what needs to be done, but awareness is a start.
  5. Make the most of social networking. So, you don’t necessarily like to get in front of people? Well, social media is a way of interacting with them without having to be physically present. How can you use it to help you? Your personal brand?

There are some great things to think about here. If you are an introvert, or you work regularly with introverted leaders, why tips do you have?

5 Leadership Tips for Introverts by Stephanie Meyers at Inc.com

Drift

I posted a couple months back about this post. I said, “read it.” I was reviewing my posts for the last several months and looked and felt that the advice was wholly inadequate, so I thought I would tempt you with a little bit of Leadership Freak Dan Rockwell’s excellent post.

Seriously, you owe yourself the favor of reading the post. Dan’s posts are always excellent, but this drifting is a particularly pernicious thing because we often don’t realize it is happening…. until we are in it thick and it is slowing us down.

Eating Yummy Healthy

Yummy 100-calorie snack: Yellow-tail Tuna and miso soup. From Womenshealthmag.com

We all want to eat healthy, but we also know that hunger and snacking seem to be something of a way of life here in the good ol’ USA. What’s a body to do? Welllll….. why not ask a dietician?

Lisa Drayer, R.D. had a recent article on Woman’s Health Magazine’s web site, sharing 28 100-calorie snacks. You should go see the article, here, because the photos of the items are awesome. (The picture at the start of this column is one of them.) The list shows that you can eat sensibly, get good taste, and overcome the nibbles.  Here is the list:

  1. Sliced Tomato with a sprinkle of Feta and Olive Oil
  2. Vitamuffin VitaTop
  3. Starbucks Tall Skinny Latte
  4. Banana
  5. 1/2 c edamame (measured shelled)
  6. 3 c Air-Popped Popcorn
  7. Quaker Instant Oatmeal (regular flavor)
  8. Yoplait Light Yogurt (fruit flavors)
  9. 8 Shrimp and 4 Tbsp Cocktail Sauce
  10. 2 Sargento Light String Cheese Snacks
  11. Curves Granola Bar
  12. 1 c Baby Carrots with 2 Tbsp Hummus
  13. 1 1/4 oz Turkey Jerky
  14. 1/2 Cantaloupe
  15. 1 c Vegetable Juice, such as V8, and 2 oz Oscar Mayer Oven-Roasted Turkey Breast
  16. 1 Tbsp Peanuts and 2 Tbsp Dried Cranberries
  17. 1 c Strawberries and 3 Tbsp Cool Whip Free
  18. 3 Amy’s Cheese Pizza Snacks
  19. 1 c Raspberries with 2 Tbsp Plain Yogurt and 1 tsp Honey
  20. 2 Egg Whites with 1 Slice Whole Wheat Toast
  21. About 1/2 c Frozen Yogurt
  22. 5 Hershey’s Special Dark Chocolate Kisses
  23. 2/3 c Barbara’s Bakery Cinnamon Puffins Cereal (dry)
  24. 1 oz Yellowtail and 1 oz Tuna Sashimi with 1 packet Kikkoman Instant Tofu Miso Soup
  25. 18 Fat Free Rold Gold Tiny Twists
  26. 2 oz Veggie Land Veg-T-Balls with 2 Tbsp Muir Glen Chunky Tomato Sauce
  27. Chocolate Milk (1 c nonfat milk + 1 Tbsp Hershey’s Lite Chocolate Syrup)
  28. 1 Nutter Butter Granola Bar

One thing I love about this list is that it has it all — protein, carbs, fiber… even chocolate milk. Yes, if you love your Starbucks, there is a way to have it on a 100 calorie limit. (OK, if you cannot abide the taste of non-fat milk, you probably won’t go for that one.)

The real point is that if you take a few minutes and think or research things, you can put yourself into a position to win. If you don’t, you’ll probably go for the 200 calorie Krispy Kreme glazed donut  (but who can eat just one of those, especially when they are hot off the line!). Seriously, What makes all of these list items great is that they can satisfy a craving your body might be having without going overboard, and that is what it really is all about.

Do you have a go-to low calorie snack you enjoy? Why not share it in the Comments section below?

Top 28 Best Healthy Snacks by Lisa Drayer, R.D. at Women’s Health Magazine’s website

150 Billion Bits of Purpose

Did you know you only have 150 billion chances to live life purposefully? It seems like an absurdly large number, but follow along with me and you will see that perhaps it isn’t…

The 99u.com blog claims to be about empowering people to use their own great ideas. It is very eclectic. A great thought I read there recently comes from Sam Spurlin. He wants to challenge people’s way of thinking about productivity. He posits that our brains can process about 100 bits of information a second. Assuming you live 80 years and sleep 8 hours a night, that gives you about 150 billion bits of information that your brain processes. (I know that some of you are thinking that this is the capacity of the conscious mind, the subconscious does 100 times that — the point is still going to be the same, so just play along…) Now, Sam says reading takes up about 50 bits a second, leaving the other 50 to take in the sounds, scents, and other senses. And we can only follow so much before something goes by the wayside. Try following six people talking at the same time. You will only process so much of that information — at least at the conscious level.

So the question is, how will you invest your 100 bits per second? Some people want to be as productive with their lives as possible, and try to figure out how to win more time by finding tricks and shortcuts to get things done. But does being productive always equate to being effective?

Some think being productive is effective. But being effective isn’t just about getting things done faster, it is about getting the right things done. One can be very productive on meaningless things… think of most reality TV.

To get the right things done, you have to know why you are doing things. You have to tie what you do to the things you value. I wrote about rituals the other day. They are a way to deliberately live your values and put purpose into some of the things you do.

In the minute or so that you have taken to read this article, you have processed 6000 bits of information. Hopefully, you didn’t simply read them to be entertained. My hope is that you will take a few of those bits over the next few minutes and think about your values and your purpose and begin to align your actions with them!

It’s Not About “Productivity.” It’s About Living Purposefully. by Sam Spurlin at 99u.com

To Succeed, Ignore These People

“You can’t live a positive life around negative people.”

So begins Marc Chernoff’s post, 7 Negative People You Need to Ignore, at marcandangel.com. Marc and Angel regularly post great stuff that makes you think and can help you live a happier life. So, who are the 7 people Marc wants you to avoid? Here is the list:

  1. The hopelessly hostile drama queen. Our tendency is to confront those who are hostile toward us. Don’t react, respond if you must deal with them. Keep your cool and look for resolution, seek to be kind.
  2. The person you have failed to please a hundred times before. All of us have some people in our life whom we cannot please. Perhaps they don’t want to be pleased by anything you do… who knows? Don’t hate them, just ignore them.
  3. The naysayer who always dumps on your dreams. Why are we so eager to listen to others when they put us down? If you listen and accept what others say, you will become what they say. And that’s not what you want, so ignore them!
  4. The manipulator. These people are trying to force you into their plans. It isn’t wrong to take part in other people’s plans, but do so because it fits into your plans. Otherwise, stay away from them!
  5. The stubborn one who insist you should be someone else. Some people want to force you to change, others won’t let you change. Either way, you are living to someone else’s expectations, not your own. Grow because it is what you want to do. If you are changing to please someone else, you may become bitter with time if they change their mind about who you ought to be.
  6. The unforgiving friend who refuses to forgive you for your mistakes. Mistakes are part of life. Friends help one another grow past mistakes and become better for it. If people hold too tightly  the past and not forgive you your mistakes, they are making a grave one themselves.
  7. The inner critic. Yes, this is you. Sometimes you need to ignore yourself. We humans love to compare the best in others to the worst in ourselves. We also tend to take on the six roles above when dealing with ourselves. When you do, shut that person up and move on with your plans.

If you are to grow and become the person who will achieve the great big goals and visions you have for your life, you have to decide who you are now and who you are going to become. Avoiding people who do not want you to grow is crucial to your transformation.
Oh, and if you really want to make sure you avoid these people, find others who will support you and give you room to grow. The best way to avoid bad friends, like bad habits, is to replace them with good ones.
7 Negative People You Need to Ignore by Marc Chernoff at markandangel.com

Those Pesky Salespeople!

Bad salespeople may get sales, but they often do it at someone’s expense. In the short-term, that might be the customer, but in the long run poor salespeople hurt their own companies. In a recent post at the Inc.com blogs, John Treace makes this point, sharing the 5 Worst Mistakes That Salespeople Make:

  1. Blaming the company for mistakes. Sure, sometimes the company is to blame, but shouldn’t a sales professional be seeking a solution instead of blame?
  2. Failing to recommend a competitor. Your product isn’t the best for all customers all the time. Sales professionals are trusted advisors, so tell the truth when the competitor is better for a particular situation.
  3. Putting the sale first. When a sale becomes about what the salesperson wants and not the customer, it puts the relationship at risk. You might get that sale, but will you ever get another one with them?
  4. Not honoring commitments. Sales professionals keep their commitments because that builds trust. If customers cannot count on you, they will go elsewhere.
  5. Making “trap” presentations. Nobody wants to be goaded into a purchase they aren’t ready to make, so avoid “If I could show you X, would you buy today?” presentations.

As you can see, good sales professionals work to create relationships based on trust with clients. They take responsibility and put the customer first, always. Are you a sales professional? What do you do to create trust in your relationships with customers?

5 Worst Mistakes That Salespeople Make by John Treace at Inc.com