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

How to Ruin a Business (or Any other) Relationship

Woman-profile-trashOver at the Inc.com blogs, Chester Elton and Adrian Gostick recently posted a great piece about how to mess up business relationships. They share two great ways to screw up a business relationship: inattention, and not being 100% present.

To illustrate their first point, they share a story about a friend, “Sam,” a great guy but he doesn’t get around to responding to responding to emails or phone calls with any rhyme or reason. This can threaten relationships if people begin to believe you don’t really care about them. They then point to a survey their company did with 10’s of thousands of employees for client companies and found that one of the biggest problems affecting employee satisfaction was perceived disrespect from their bosses. When you are too busy to make time for people, they perceive that you don’t value them. Don’t be careless with your relationships, like Sam. Decide what is important to you and work on those things. Don’t let the urgent get in the way of doing what is important.

Which brings us to the other thought, being 100% present. There are tons of things that scream for our attention during the day, especially with 24/7 access to information, it is easy to let the urgent chirp or vibration of a text or email distract us from meetings or other work we may be doing. But is it wise to sneak that peek or tap that quick reply. When you do, you are telling those around you that they are really not as important as that other message. Once again, you are showing disrespect, however unintentional it may be.

John Maxwell says that connecting with people is hard work. If you value a relationship, give it the attention it deserves, and show respect for your connection. This is true whether a colleague, customer, or significant other.

…I guess I need to catch up with some people this next week! How about you?

How to Ruin Business Relationships by Chester Elton and Adrian Gostick at Inc.com

Whose the Leader? You’re the Leader!

A recent blog post by The Mojo Company reminds us that You’re the Leader We Need.

I used to work for a management consulting company that had four core values, one of which was “Lead.”  Our president, Mike Nigro, explained to us that everybody was a leader because even the most junior project team member was there to help our clients understand their problems, options, and recommend solutions. Our actions also provided an example for our clients and team members. While our clients (and supervisors) might want the right to make decisions, decision-making is not the hallmark of a leader. Influencing those who will make decisions is what leadership is all about.

As the Mojo article reminds us, we don’t need to be charismatic or outgoing to be a leader. Rather, leaders are people who can do the hard work of being an example and working to grow the team. People willing to change and grow.

All of this is part and parcel of what my mentor John Maxwell shares in his book The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership.

Are you willing to be an example? To change and grow? Your organization, your team needs you to. You can lead at some level. Will you?

 

You’re the Leader We Need at The Mojo Company

Walking the Talk in Michigan

Man of Integrity: Judge Raymond Voet
The Fayetteville Observer | photo by Greg Barnes

The news is chock full of instances about a leader’s ethical lapse. But how often do we read stories about someone really leading by example? The Associated Press put out a story recently about a Michigan judge, the Honorable Raymond Voet, who held himself in contempt of court in his own courtroom!

Judge Voet has a posted rule in his court that those whose electonic devices interrupt proceedings will be held in contempt. On April 12, 2013, His Honor’s new smartphone started asking for voice commands during some closing arguments in his court. At the break, he held himself in contempt and paid a fine of $25. Judge Voet feels that if he can’t live by his own rules, he has no business enforcing them on others.

My mentor John Maxwell says that you have to live what you teach because you are your message. Judge Voet has sent a powerful message to those who will come before his court that even he is not above the law. That is a powerful message for all civil servants to remember.

Judge Holds Himself in Contempt for His Smartphone by the Associated Press

What to Do — and Not

Man-Working-TableA couple of years back on the Chic-fil-A Leadercast, John Maxwell was having a conversation with Good to Great author JIm Collins and Jim mentioned that he has a “to-do” list AND a “to-don’t” list. Author Peter Bergman recently blogged about this topic at Lifehacker.

Peter shared a story about how busy we can get doing things because we are trying to leverage our time, etc. He was running late to a meeting and as he entered the elevator where his client’s office was located, he pulled out his smartphone and began typing an email to the CEO with whom he was meeting. When the elevator stopped, still typing away, he started to get off when a familiar voice said, “Wrong floor.” Of course, it was his client!

His client was a finalist for an “entrepreneur of the year” award, and was just returning from a meeting with the judges. He had made two explicit decisions before entering the room with the judges: he wanted to win; and he was not going to look at his Blackberry while in the room.

Many of us know what we want, but how many of us know what we don’t want? As Bergman points out, many keep lists of what they want, but how many keep a list of things we don’t want?

Rather than Collins’ cute “to-do / to-don’t” names, Bergman calls his lists:

  • Your Focus List (the road ahead)
  • Your Ignore List (the distractions)

Isn’t that the real challenge we have, keeping focused and ignoring distractions?

Develop your own lists and review them daily. When you know what you really want and what you need to avoid, you will be more productive and increase your influence with others.

 

Two Lists You Should Look at Every Morning at Lifehacker

 

Empowerment is Influence

MP900341425Susan Mazza, a fellow leadership coach, on her blog at Random Acts of Leadership shared a powerful and touching story about empowerment, taking risks, and the influence it gives a leader… and as my mentor John Maxwell says, “The true measure of Leadership is Influence–nothing more, nothing less.”

Susan’s father, Jim, was faced with a dilemma. Walt was a valuable employee. Walt  was also unhappy. Jim visited him in Walt’s office. After reassuring Walt that he was not going to fire him, Jim offered the junior man two recruiter contacts and suggested that he explore what were his options. “Personally, I hope you stay, but I know a bright guy like you has options,” Jim said. “It is important for you to know what is out there. Please keep me posted. My door is always open.”

Why do this? Walt’s unhappiness was becoming clear to all. Jim realized that creating awareness of the problem and helping Walt figure out what he was going to do would be much more helpful to everyone than Walt continuing to stew and affect the team. Addressing the problem made it safe to discuss openly and constructively.

In the end, Walt stayed. He and Jim became close, lifelong friends, and continued the mentor relationship throughout their careers.  Choose to empower those around you. When your people know that you value them and you help them do their best, you will be able to accomplish so much more than you ever did before. As Steve Jobs said, “Managing is getting people to do something they don’t want to do. Leadership is helping people discover they can do much more than they thought they could.”

The Ultimate Source of Empowerment at Random Acts of Leadership

Related Posts

Leading People: A Guide to Maxwell’s 21 Irrefutable Laws (Part 1) at Leading in the 21st Century

The Job Hunting Front and Getting Noticed

Resume Bar for Nick Begley. Source: ABC News
Resume Bar for Nick Begley. Source: ABC News

Resume Bar for Nick Begley. Source: ABC News

I have seen several interesting job hunting-related articles and posts around the internet recently. Let me share some of them with you.

If you are looking to hire, are you looking at prospects’ social media? Much of it is accessible to the public. Our friends over at Under 30 CEO wrote a post in favor of studying a candidate’s social media. You will learn several things, including:

  • Consistency. Do they say the same things to others they did to you?
  • Communication style. Did they write that awesome resume? Really?
  • What do others think?  …and they weren’t even asked…
  • Modernity. The world is changing. Are they?
  • Reputation. Yours, that is. Customers might run searches on people they are dealing with. Will the candidate embarrass you?

So, this is what employers might be doing. What are you doing to get noticed? You might turn your resume into a candy bar, just as Nick Begley did. Nick’s creativity and hard work paid off, too. I wrote about this and the job hunting environment in a recently published blog post, too. In the end, job hunting is about connection. Are you taking responsibility for your connections?

As you think creatively, be sure you get your story straight. This post by Maggie Tomas at Women of HR reminds us of some of the things we need to do to be ready for an interview. Key points:

  • Know why you want to make the change. Tell your story in a positive way that focuses on the position in question.
  • Be ready to prove your past success in the new role’s core competencies. You want to show that you really do have the goods. Don’t leave this to chance.
  • Demonstrate that you have researched the company. You pay a high compliment to others when you get to know them. You might also be able to link your story to their passions, creating a stronger connection, and perhaps even a new job…

There are lots to think about in the job hunting world. But if you remember that it is about connection in the end, you will do the hard work to reach your goal.

Great Tips for Gaining Focus

Over at under30ceo.com, a great entrepreneurial blog site, Michael Adams has some great thoughts about handling your “always on” brain.

Here are some of his key points:

  • Do a brain-dump. Don’t carry it in your head. Trying to remember keeps you from focusing.
  • Let it marinate. Get away from the list, let your brain rest, and take a fresh look at things. You may be surprised at what you see.
  • Narrow the list. Entrepreneur? Which ideas will make you money? Not an entrepreneur? Which ideas truly advance your values and provide the greatest opportunity to live your values in the largest way?
  • Create POW–Piles of Wow.” Tackle your list and keep a record of the great things you have done. John Maxwell calls that “The Law of Victory.” Celebrating our victories, large and small, reminds us of the value we are creating for ourselves and others,

Stop Thinking! How I Conquered My Mind and My To-Do List

Ronald Reagan on Procrastination

I’m reminded of a great story that was told to me a few years back about former President Ronald Reagan that illustrates what can happen to us if we procrastinate making decisions. When he was a small child, he had an aunt who took him to a shoemaker to make a pair of shoes. When they arrived, the shoemaker asked the young Reagan whether he wanted the toes of his shoes squared or rounded. Not sure of the style he wanted, he told the shoemaker he would come back in a few days and let him know.

A few days later, he returned, only to tell the shoemaker he still needed a few more days to make his decision. As soon as he walked in the door the third time, the shoemaker handed him his shoes with one square-toed shoe and one round-toed shoe. Reagan said years later it was a lesson that stayed with him the rest of his life. When he wore those shoes, he said, “It was a visual reminder that if I don’t make the decision, someone else will.”

–As told by John Maxwell at Success.com