Mastering Communication in a Complicated Age

From birth to death communication is an intrinsic part of the human experience. For each of us, our first lessons in communication come from our parents. They bring us into the world, helpless and dependent on them for everything. In those early years, they teach us and prepare us for the start of our school years.

In school, children learn more verbal communication, as well as tone, posture, gestures, and facial communication. Communication becomes interpersonal. One step over the threshold on that first day of school changes everything.

As adults, we often find communication challenging. We experience frustration when people misread us. Today, there is more room for error in communication than ever before because of the digital age and the Internet. How well we understand how to use interpersonal skills are strong predictors of how successful we will be in life.

Interpersonal skills include how we speak, how we look, how well we listen and understand.These are the foundation of communication. Interpersonal communication is why we don’t get a second chance to make a good first impression. Interpersonal communication is complicated, irreversible, inescapable, and contextual.

Think about your childhood. More so, think about your parents and their communication and interactions with each other. Do you see in yourself some of the behaviors learned from your parents? This has nothing to do with their marriage, but with how they handled conflict, and then, how you handle conflict. What communication nuances will your children bring with them to adulthood?

The patterns formed in the early years of life are difficult to change as we mature. We don’t know what our weaknesses are until someone else makes it clear to us. The same is true for our strengths. Negative feedback is hard to take while positive feedback can send us to the stars in glory.

Do you wish your communication skills were better? Think about what good might come to you. Maybe you would get a raise at work, or be noticed by your peers and management team?

It’s nice when people respect you for something that seems as ordinary as conversation, or writing, or speaking to a group. These are not life skills that we are inherently born with. They are however, life skills to learn, not just learn, practice. Truth is, we didn’t get what we needed from our parents to be masters of communication. You owe it to yourself to hone your skills. Learn from a master of communication.

 

The Truth About Marketing & PR

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) makes it easy to combine functions that in the past would use a lot of employee time. CRM applications are available for any size business and different price points. When they are not so nice is when users don’t know how to use them. It surprises me when I learn that a business has invested in tech, sans training on all the bells and whistles. It’s as if the investment ends at purchase. That is not true.

Marketing has a direct influence on revenue. Yet in the budget process, sometimes funding is less and not more, on the notion that marketing is secondary to sales. I do not buy into marketing as unimportant or less important, or secondary to anything. Marketing is a well-wrapped present that touches all aspects of business.

First, let me be clear that marketing and public relations are two different functions. True, they are closely related. Marketing is about product and anything to do with product, service, or sales. By any textbook, marketing revolves around product, price, place, promotion. In addition, marketing is cyclical in planning.On the other hand, public relations pertain to anything to do with company reputation, brand, and public affairs, intangible matters that affect the company, its employees, or its name.

Many mid and entry employees do not understand that these functions are two. After all, we usually just say Marketing and everyone seems to know the topic. Or so we think they do.

The truth is people in their careers seldom run a straight line. As human beings, we are prone to forget information we do not use every day. Maybe you never took a marketing course, never considered it part of your business. Maybe you had different plans altogether. Now, here you are with a well-wrapped present from your employer.

I visualize marketing as a well-wrapped present. To make the best use of it, we open it slowly, savoring the anticipation of something grand. Take some time to learn and train, or at least explain, the basic concepts because marketing can fail. That’s not fun. Therefore, we go ahead with our grand opening with care. There are many details. We need to teach our teams the fine art of marketing and public relations. It could be that some of us were not expecting to find PR mixed with marketing.

Good, sustaining PR is something to start and cultivate over time. That is people time, not product time. Generally, product cycles out, where relationships always need tending. It may be a relationship with one sole proprietor or a huge business with hundreds of employees.

What we share in our knowledge, how well we communicate concepts, answer questions is a moderate predictor for success.
It’s important to know the basics, and it is nice to know the new technology. Put them together after the grand opening and keep on trucking with PR and marketing. Understand that information and education, or training is critical to success. Never stop learning.

Make Non-Toxic Your First Choice

I used to feel comfortable about what I do to take care of myself. That changed back around 2009; a year I began to question many things such as what is the point of healthy clean living if the environment, or food or toxic chemicals were causing early cancers in the populations born in the 1950s and 1960s?

It was 2008 two women close to me had breast cancer. Both healthy in body and mind, one in her early fifties and the other in her forties, and the year my husband discovered his late stage rectal cancer. He was 45. Not one of these three had hereditary factors for their cancer. If I ever thought that poor lifestyle habits and genetics were the likely causes of cancer, these three people blew that thought out of the water for me.

Since then, it seems to me, random occurrences of cancer have become frequent. Indeed, the World Health Organization (WHO) is predicting an increase or a surge of 57% worldwide in the next 20 years.  The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) lists the top five cancers being prostate cancer, breast, lung, and colon and rectal cancers. Do you know someone diagnosed with any one of these early in life? I’ll bet you do.

As a society we have learned to question ingredients in our food. We know that artificial ingredients in processed food, while cheaper, are not good for our bodies. Whether we like it or not, we have learned a great deal about the food we eat, the water we drink, and the air we breathe in the last 10 years.

Still, there is more that we need to understand, such as the safety of things like soap, cosmetics, hand or face cream, deodorant, toothpaste, hair spray, shampoo, any product that projects itself as a cure or enhancement. Women and girls are the targets for cosmetic enhancers from body shapers to manicures and pedicures. Let’s not forget ink. It’s popular in recent years for men and women of all ages to alter their skin with permanent tattoos. Tattoos might be another post altogether, but for now I’ll just say I don’t trust “ink” as a safe enhancement, embedded in the skin by anyone.

Our skin is the largest organ of the human body. Its function is protection. It protects our internal organs, our skeletal and muscular systems; it supports and houses our cardio, nervous, and immunity systems. Ultraviolet rays are not the only threat to our skin. Toxins found in everyday items are just as deadly, just as carcinogenic. Over time, these things that seem mundane to us actually leave a trail in our physiology. Over time, chemicals break down the safety barrier that is our skin.

Some manufacturers and companies have taken a stand to remove carcinogens and toxic chemicals. Johnson & Johnson is one such company. The Subway franchise and their use of an unnatural ingredient was found by Vani Hari (the Food Babe), a blogger and activist. With 50,000 signatures in a petition and media glare, Subway cleaned up by removing azodicarbonamide from its breads.

I can’t help but wonder why Johnson & Johnson, Subway, and many others would originally use carcinogens or any unnatural ingredient in their food. In other cases, companies use industrial type products that just don’t belong in our bodies. P&G recently agreed to remove bits of plastic from toothpaste. Those tiny flecks of color made it easy to sell as something better, more innovative, than it was.

The FDA, while they may have standards, does not inspect or regulate in this regard. We are left to ourselves to “trust” big companies with the little details of consumer safety. The job belongs to each of us to question and seek answers for the greater good.

What You Need to Know About Strategic Planning

Starting a business; what a wonderful dream it is. I would say it’s right up there with writing the next great American novel. Live according to your own terms. Be your own boss. Leave a lasting legacy, and so much more.

Where do you begin? What is the first step? A business plan is what you need. It’s not something you can start and finish in a day. I find it easier to start with an outline, like a skeleton. When the skeleton is complete, the details will be easier to show.

The purpose of a business plan is to serve as a guide through the life of your business. You will need the complete business plan to apply for funding of any sort. You will find it helpful to stay on course with your goals.

Part of the business plan is the strategic plan. The strategic plan identifies goals and actions for the growth of your business. As you move along in your business, the strategic plan will streamline practices, boost productivity, and help expand markets.

Consider that the strategic plan output relates to high level goals and initiatives. The plan improves communication and teamwork. This is not to say that everyone who starts a business, and develops a strategic plan along with the business plan, will be successful. Communication is crucial to success. Think hard and be honest about how you communicate to others. What’s your style? How do people respond to you?

There are five components of the strategic plan. You should learn them in the following order:

  1. State your purpose or vision for you business. Be brief yet blunt.
  2. State your goals. State them in a list or a paragraph.
  3. What are your strategies?
  4. Strategies require action. What are your actions?
  5. Monitoring plan; you must have one. This is where  your document benchmarks, checkpoints, and milestones. Via the monitoring plan, you will see what strategies work and what do not work.

When you arrive at this point in working your business and plan, you have achieved an efficient business. Pat yourself on the back but don’t get too comfortable. There is still a long way to go.

 

 

 

 

What you need to know about seasonal blues | LinkedIn

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Thank you for reading my work. I am happy and proud to say that I am writing on LinkedIn. When you see a link like the one below, please click to see it on LinkedIn. You do not have to have a LinkedIn profile to see it.

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What you need to know about seasonal blues | LinkedIn.

Using Devices and Apps to Get Fit Quick | LinkedIn

Hello!

Thank you for reading my work. I am happy and proud to say that I am writing on LinkedIn. When you see a link like the one below, please click to read the text on LinkedIn. You do not have to have a LinkedIn profile to see it.

If you like it, please give it a thumbs up on LinkedIn.

Using Devices and Apps to Get Fit Quick | LinkedIn.

See the latest update on states implementing or not, the Medicaid Expansion.

State Level Decisions Impacting You

I am passionate about better healthcare in this country as well as educating folks everywhere about being their own advocate. Now is a great time for consumers to demand what they want. In fact, there has never been a better time for people to make change. I think we know our government is not able to change. We however, are capable of moving mountains.

As years pass we all have certain experiences with our health as well as the systems that manage our care.

We learn quickly there are many gaps in our current system. One problem with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA, Obamacare) is that while it is the law, some states are in and some opted out. There really can be no opting out if we want to curtail the spiraling costs associated with making healthcare too expensive for families. Those states that are in have accepted the funding from the Obama Administration to grow and improve healthcare. Technology has a huge role in moving from paper to digital, and the technology must be precise in compliance rules and privacy as stated in HIPAA.

Now, I want you to know a bit more about me.  I finished college on my schedule, not the schedule of traditional peers. I was a bit older. I was older still when I did my master’s. However, let me be clear about this: I am not old, and I am definitely not a dinosaur.

Beginning my master’s degree brought me to a point of decision. I had to think deep about who I am. Would I be cautious or would I embrace new rules?

I decided to embrace a new normal. I have studied, adopted and adapted to our social society. Like many who grew up before all of this fabulous technology became the norm, I was cautious. I know some did not adopt or adapt. Some left jobs to avoid learning the new rules, as comedian Bill Maher likes to say. My long view was that I have 25+ working years ahead of me. I’m here to play and I’m here to stay. I would like to relax in my later years and write novels.

Since then, I have pursued my passion for writing and health communication. I have bigger dreams and I want to meet them. I hope Elizabeth Warren and Hillary Clinton see this. I continue to believe that I have time and a purpose.

Here’s a chart you ought to see. It’s a great depiction of the value healthcare holds in each state.  After seeing the chart, are you satisfied or not?

See the latest update on states implementing or not, the Medicaid Expansion.
See the latest update on states implementing or not, the Medicaid Expansion.

Facebook Friends and Enemies

Facebook is a great social networking site as it allows us to communicate with our friends and relatives. Worldwide people and businesses have their own Facebook account. In the beginning of Facebook, the user experience was great in that Facebook was free.

Nothing is free. We know now, as if we didn’t before,  that nothing is free applies to Facebook as much as any other business.

“Users must stop being cogs in its profit-generating wheel and start mucking up the machine,” I thought this was an interesting start to an article recently, without attribution, by E. Alex Jung’s article, Is it time to quit Facebook?

When in history have consumers not been cogs in profit generating? Never, that’s when.

Facebook knows this and while I feel Mark Zuckerberg was as surprised as anyone by its growth and success, the company is playing a risky game with business owners, small and large now. Small business doesn’t matter to Facebook. Entrepreneurs included in the small group.

However, it’s bad karma to deliberately, across the board, invite your friends in and then not make them feel at home. Does this ring true with you?

Carol Steven, in her article also titled Is it time to quit Facebook?, appearing on LinkedIn Pulse, concludes her essay on the side that Facebook is still a good value. “Consider a small fee, like a dollar a day.”

A while back, when Facebook was still the rage, entrepreneurs and start-ups could rely on the Facebook advertising model as affordable and far-reaching. Not true anymore with the change in algorithm affecting news feeds.

I like Facebook for what it offers with family and friends. As a start-up myself, Facebook appealed to me for the reasons above. I stopped putting quarters into the machine however when some questioned if Facebook pays people to Like pages in ads. This was after a change in which organic views dropped dramatically, and Facebook made no secret of the fact that going forward, organic Likes and Follows would be few and far between. In the Facebook forum, Facebook did not directly answer the question. It’s possible that a third-party unknown is in for easy money. I don’t know.

I guess I’m a bit disappointed that a company like Facebook cannot find space within itself to help small businesses get established with a following that is real and organic. Doesn’t such willingness to help ultimately behoove both Facebook and start-ups? In my mind it does.

The platform is there. It’s ready to go. But Facebook today is a busy place making millions every day off the backs of its followers.

Don’t expect any help or service from Facebook, even if you pay for it. You’re just a cog in the wheel, as the saying goes. Now I have to think of a different original title for this post. I hope it scores.

No-Nonsense Caring & Daring Self Discovery

I love it when people ask me what I do because I am not just one of anything.  The truth is, some folks are just one thing; like a banker, an insurance representative, a chef, a dentist, a doctor, a nurse, a programmer, and so many more hard-earned career titles. However, that is not to say that anyone is one-dimensional. We are all multi-dimensional in different roles through out each day.

As it turns out, if I put all the pieces of my past together, I am a writer, a health communicator with a nice mix of clinical experience from working in the trenches as a Licensed Nurse’s Aide, and industry experience from a decade in health and financial services, a marketer of services and products, a director, an entrepreneur three times up to bat.

I am not much of a sports enthusiast. I will say I like baseball. I can follow the game, and as a visual person and writer, the baseball metaphors are fab. I am also a wife and a mom, and we have four dogs; two Tibetan spaniels, one Shih Tzu, and one hound mix getting on in years. I am also an advocate for change in many social issues. I’ll save that for another day.

What makes me different, is my young midlife. I often feel that I’m too young to have a husband with terminal cancer diagnosed in 2008. I’m too young to have to support his illness and illnesses that go along with cancer; to be strong in the face of his weaknesses.  I fear I can’t possibly be strong enough for him and me, and our son, and all that goes along at end of life.  What scares me the most today is knowing all treatments and therapies are exhausted. If you have stood in shoes like mine, you are different too. Life like this changes people and families and friends.

So, once again, I am trying something new in my professional development (Batter up!). In an effort to support my family and hopefully to help others like me, I  am going the Full Monty on ideas I’ve put off for various reasons. Mainly anxiety and fear.  I must stop self-defeating thoughts. We all have demons, a point so poignant and clear with the suicide of actor and comedian Robin  Williams. There is a saying that writing is easy,  just open a vein. The truth is, we really don’t know where our talents lie until we try.

Don’t be mislead. I’m not going the Full Monty nude. I mean that I am going transparent with facts and fears blocking my path (Play ball!). I’m going to dare to dig deep on issues I’d rather run from. I have found faith, and some peace through yoga, and the benefits of physical fitness. Maybe I’ll rediscover my quirky sense of humor. I have to admit, I’m tired of all the seriousness of the day.

Bring your best brand to market

Still, after all this time it happens that someone new to me says they don’t take part in social media. I smile and accept the statement, generally. However, if it comes from someone at the helm of a business, they are not tune with today.

  • True, not everyone is on Facebook.
  • True, not everyone is on Twitter. Twitter is another animal altogether. It’s not so much that Twitter requires skill, Twitter requires a good deal of chutzpah.

You need someone on board full-time to really benefit from social media, all platforms. Two, at the rate things are changing. Keep this in mind at budget time.

Sometimes the objection is fear of having to converse with a customer or visitor to their Facebook page. After all, isn’t that what Facebook is about? Other times I hear “Oh, I couldn’t learn that at this point…”

  • True,  I try to avoid using too much energy and time with folks who have no interest. I’m not a salesperson, I just help your business with what tools I have. Online chat requires chutzpah. Feeling out of control is a pervading issue for those intimidated by social. Yet control is in your hands, you can mold it as you wish. Are you the messenger or is your chosen platform your messenger?
  • You have control over the message and messenger. Say you have a brand message you want others to know about, be they in your community or across the country or around the world, nothing gets it there faster than Twitter. However, there are contenders. One tweet, no matter how finely tuned the 140 characters are,  if it’s not delivered repeatedly,  it’s lost. So are you.

In my experience,  the business chief of whatever who recoils from Twitter, not watching or participating is lost at the need for repetition. They don’t see it because they don’t look at it, therefore don’t understand. Look back in time (or watch Mad Men on Netflix like I did) and it’s a lot like planning your television ad campaign. Repetition is so necessary that you deserve a dedicated person in the budget. Think Mad Men style of advertising and branding yet realize engagement is crucial. It takes a measure of understanding and investing to get the mixture spot-on. If  a dedicated social media expert is not a budget item,  you will spend far more than you need to. Choose not to take part and you lose market share, new customers, or worse, lose to your competition. Social is that important.

Know who your customer is and target your effort to where they are. If you target  millennial clients, Facebook is not where you want to put all of your muscle, but it cannot be omitted from the mix. You want a mix with a bullseye on your target audience. This requires thought and planning.

  • True, Facebook boasts 50 million pages, 1.28 billion active users
  • True, there are several other sources of social that cannot be overlooked in today’s market: Instagram, Google+, Snapchat, YouTube, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Vine, and of course, blogs.

That’s all for today. Other sources and the importance they carry will be the subject of posts to come.  Oh, let’s not forget the nail biter, analysis, and what it all means. I’ve had a debilitating case of writer’s block for some weeks now. I hope the worst is behind me.

Please stay tuned, bring some friends in and stay social!

 

(source: Social Media 2014)