Gender & Presence

I’m a relatively avid reader, just shy of voracious. One book I’ve read this summer is Amy Cuddy’s Presence.

Wow.

If you’re like me and other 35 million+ who’ve watched her TED talk, then this book will be an extension of her. Though it’d be cooler to sit with her and listen in person, the book’s a reasonable continuation.

Today I want to excerpt a section I find particularly relevant to me and my work. In Chapter 6 “Slouching, Steepling, and The Language of the Body,” Ms. Cuddy shares insight from experiments on girls and boys’ body language, how it relates to power and some of the real world implications. (You’ll need to read the whole thing for this to all make clear sense).

She leads up by telling the reader about how body language studies conducted with young girls and boys absolutely influence the ruts of expectations and power of the sexes. She queries, “What do we do about this, you might wonder?”

“I am issuing a challenge to all of us, and it’s one that I do not take lightly: Let’s change it. When you see your daughters, sisters, and female friends begin to collapse in on themselves, intervene. Show them examples of girls and women in triumphant postures, moving with a sense of power, speaking with authentic pride. Change the images and stereotypes that kids are exposed to. We don’t need to tell women to be like men. But we do need to encourage girls not to be afield to express their personal power. Let’s stop thinking about powerful postures as masculine and powerless as feminine. I’m not advocating that you sit with your knees wide apart or your feet up on the desk while in a meeting or that you engage in alpha body languages in your interactions  – whether you are a man or a woman. I’m telling you that you deserve to adopt open, comfortable postures and to take up your fair share of space regardless of your gender.”

She nails it: power isn’t about sex or expectations of ourselves or pressure put forward by others. It’s about realizing we all have our own power, our power to, as she explains it.

Read the book. It’s well worth it. We can all make positive change happen right now, today. She’s helping explain how.

How does this relate to marketing? Body language is obvious communication. Marketing is communication. Effective marketing and communication changes the world for the better.

Does Your Vision Need Corrective Lenses?

Vision has to be something you can see. With a nod to Mr. Sinek, I wholeheartedly agree.

In my work recently with clients and in talks I am on fire about vision and mission. Vision has to be the first guiding light for every step forward you take. You have to be able to visualize yourself doing what you truly want to do. If you can’t close your eyes and see yourself doing it, then what are you doing?

Kat (r) could see her own business - and now she's made it a reality. Vision in action.

Kat (r) could see her own business – and now she’s made it a reality. Vision in action.

If you can see yourself doing it, then so can others. You can step into the image and make it a reality with hard and smart work.

Everyone has a vision of some sort.

If you’re having a tough time seeing your vision, maybe you need corrective lenses. Hire a pro to get you out of the rut and into the groove, redirect, and refocus.

Be selfish and start with yourself. If you don’t have yourself taken care of first – if you aren’t clear about where you’re going and how you can see yourself – then how are others supposed to see that too?

Questioning

“What you question will set you free.”Jen Sincero

The old adage “Question everything” is true. Even if you think you agree. Even if you think you like it. Even if you think it’s what you’re supposed to think (you’re supposed to think what you in fact do think, by the way).

Jen’s work has been steadily rising in popularity. Me thinks because she plainly and directly speaks a truth so many of us can relate to and want.

In her book, You Are A Badass, she tells her own story, gets right to the crux of getting off your sorry old ass and kickin’ it live and real in your new badassery. I recommend the book for everyone. It’s insightful, fun to read and you’ll likely find points of resonance that help move you to action.

IMG_3045Indeed, after hearing her on a group call, I signed up for one of her programs. LOVED IT. And most importantly found the resonance I needed and wanted, and enjoyed the entire thing.

The key take away for me from Jen is this: Focus on one thing. You can get to the other stuff later, but for now, choose that one thing you want to accomplish.

While I likely knew this in my brain, my daily actions weren’t helping myself out – so to hear the advice we think we need to take from other people was the ticket for me. In my case, it was the focus on my book writing (due 9/16). My frolleague Loren says the same thing in a different way: get out of your own way. Both are the truth.

When I map out my days, when I set up client appointments and work, when I’m pursuing my goals, I first need to be true to me and how I convince myself daily to keep going. Confidence is not lacking for me (and I’m not being arrogant here, I’m really stoked about my work). The key was having an outside voice echo the sentiment of focus I knew I should heed.

When I signed up for her program, I started better marketing me to me. Supporting me first, who will then support and work with others. This sort of self work helps me focus in and ultimately better market myself and serve my clients, since I’m clearer about what my mission is.

So yes, question everything. Thanks Jen.

What’s Your Norm?

“We could see the urinal as an accommodation for the male body, but we treat men as the norm, so we don’t.” – NYTimes Sunday magazine

With the wonderful progress of gender equity for all genders and identifications, this statement should make us all stop short. It makes me think a great many thoughts.

  1. Why do we assume that the common denominator is male? Where does that come from since there have always been at least 2 genders? The more important question to ask is why is it the way it is – and how do we change it today.
  2. Everyone needs to identify with their own norm, in whatever shapes and forms those come in. Decide what your norm is and support it, speak up for it and help make positive changes happen so we all see that ‘norm’ is elastic.
  3. Virtually everywhere I look, listen and read there is gender bias, in some direction. Whether it’s the chest thumping pinkification of some women’s groups or the total absence of females in currently “male dominated” industry. Every single one of these instances can be changed to be more representational of the general population.
  4. We all can and must stand up, step up, and speak up to make changes happen. There’s no blame game to be played, no passing any bucks….we all get to change things. Start right now.

The slip of paper I saved with the opening line printed on it today was spurred on by what I noticed at a rodeo I recently attended. At the rodeo the norm was clearly male. Here are my observations:

  1. The vast majority of the competitors were male, in all events, exclusively male with the exception of “Women’s Barrel Racing” (vs. “Cowboy” this or that), and mutton busting (mixed children). The very words to begin with are off; if you say Women’s say Men’s; if you use Cowboy then use the reciprocal Cowgirl.
  2. The music was almost 100% male voices. There’s a world of female musicians, bands and singers out there. The DJ’s and program directors must include, equitably, females for all to hear in balance with the males. This kind of subliminal perpetuance is immediately changeable.
  3. Interestingly enough, the singers of our national Anthem were both young females. This is just as imbalanced. A teeter totter is the model here; back and forth between the groups.
  4. Lastly, for now, I saw but 1 female working in the arena, the rest male.

Let me be clear: the men aren’t to entirely fault here.

Today is the day to turn gender 'norms' around.

Today is the day to turn gender ‘norms’ around.

Women must see this – so must men – and actively question and change it. Women must ask, push, nudge, demand and inquire as to how they can have a seat at the table. Men must see the lack of population representation and actively work to change it by inviting, suggesting, pushing, nudging, and otherwise demanding the same.

The world is better where gender parity, equity and equality are much more realistically in harmony with the global population. Aim for a 50/50 split, factoring in an ebb and flow, come and go of change – yet always knowing that a mix ill always be better.

What does all of this have to do with marketing? Everything.

When we see ourselves in our world around us, in all the messages we’re bombarded with each day, we engage. When we don’t see ourselves, we unconsciously and consciously don’t participate. Not me? No thanks then. The aspirational (seeing that we can be) and the inspirational (seeing that we are) need to work together.

Marketing is communication. It’s communicating with the audiences you wish to attract and work with and for. Marketing must be honed in on who is going to support whatever your endeavor is. Your norm is your target client. Your norms are how you conduct business. And your norms should strive to include the entire community, no matter who your ultimate buyer is. The entire community supports and surrounds the buyer anyway.

When I hear a female announcer at a rodeo, I’ll be happier. Then I’ll look around to see what else I see. Actually, I’ll contact the rodeo to offer my services. It’s not enough to wait around for someone else. “Someone else” is a fantasy that won’t happen, unless I make it so.

What are you going to do with your marketing today to speak to women and men? What’s your new norm as of right now?

Dogs, Death & Marketing

Two months ago my beloved Belle met her final fate and we ended a very quickly dramatic evening of her demise. It’s an extremely difficult thing to do – to cut the power, to end the life of a family member, especially ones of the canine nature.

Belle nose, so to speak...

Belle nose, so to speak…

They give us everything they have, whether we want it or not, and ask very very little in return.

She gave me everything for all of her remarkable 15 + years. I joked with her that she still needed to sign that 30 year contract (she never got around to it). And I knew her longer than my husband.

So why am I blathering on about her on my marketing page? Because her death brought forth an interesting idea for me.

While I actively post on Facebook for my business, I rarely do so on my personal page. Belle’s death was one of those rare times I did post. And what an outpouring of support it created.

Flowers were dropped off at our door, cards came, texts and calls. While I was unable to make complete sentences in talking about her for many days, all of these gestures mattered and help me and my husband bear the load of her death.

The avalanche of thoughts and wishes from people all over – many sharing the same gut and soul wrenching understanding what it is to have a furry companion and then experience their demise and death. No one feels it precisely the same way, and all who have cared for another animal can grasp the basic understanding.

My friend Walt perhaps gave me one of the most heartfelt and meaningful thoughts. “Sorry to hear about Belle. But as my people say, Now she will live in your heart forever. It’s a good place to be.

P1000181I learned in this very unintentional exercise that personal interactions are how we market ourselves to our friends, relatives and non-business acquaintances. I was reminded of the compassion well that is deep and plentiful within the communities you foster and invest in. And I was reminded that I never, ever want to be dogless. It’d be more agonizing than any single death could possibly be.

So – today is a rather person reflection of how Belle, once again, surprised me and brought out the best in me and humanity. It’s how I see marketing too – a very personal and human way to connect with other people. I’ll use this experience going forward.

Thank you to everyone who sent me the virtual hugs and support. As I finish this post, I am flush with gratitude for you all.  Especially Belle, who taught me so very much and reminded me that every interaction is an opportunity to wag, please, and make life better for someone else.

RIP Belle, 2000 – 2015. I miss you.

You Can’t Kill An Idea

“You can’t kill me – I’m an idea.”Eddie Meltzer, Orlando Florida

I heard the interview on NPR by Ari Shapiro of Mr. Meltzer in the aftermath of the Orlando Nightclub shootings and was moved in a few ways.

The one that has stuck with me was the above quote from Mr. Meltzer. You can’t kill ideas. He’s right.

You can’t kill an idea. Ideas keep coming and going and coming back. They float to the surface, they fall to the floor, and yet….yet… they are always still there.

Ideas are everywhere.

Ideas are everywhere.

Marketing involves ideas. Some would call them intangibles – I’d never accuse them of that inability, since they are as alive as every one of us. Ideas live in creatures – us along with all the other animals roaming and swimming and flying the planet.

You can generate ideas. You can foster them, nudge, share and manifest them. You  can’t kill them. There may be ways to squash those who are generating ideas – but you cannot kill the actual thought. Suppressing is not the same.

Make the time to let the ideas come, flow and ferment. Ideation is a large part of how we solve the omnipresent challenges of marketing – of bringing our products, goods and selves to our market constituency. It’s a big piece of the communication puzzle – how, where, when, who. All of those are ideas to pursue.

Embrace ideation, brainstorming and the idea of Ideas. With a nod to Mr. Meltzer, give them life, help them grow.

Marketing Myth #5: Keeping The Wrong People

It’s a HUGE misconception that keeping people – the wrong people – in roles – the wrong roles, or wrong for the organization all together – is better than having a vacancy.

Doubt the default of leaving things as they are if you think you’re better off. You’re not. You’re only prolonging the agony and getting in your own way.

I’d absolutely bust that myth wide open. Here’s why.

  1. The wrong people in the company, firm and organizations around us do more damage than good. If they’re under skilled, moving about ineffectively and in general not serving the vision, then get rid of them. Now.
  2. The wrong people in a company are usually unhappy. Free them up to pursue other endeavors that will be more of a gratifying and suitable fit. Rip off the band-aid.
  3. The wrong people tend to not be happy. See above. Plus the unhappiness = unmotivated = non-optimal contributions = dead-end for everybody.
  4. The wrong people in the wrong roles are a double whammy. Time to see these situations for what they are (damaging all the way around) and change it today.
  5. It’s better to have a hole that other people can help temporarily fill than have the wrong person. Put your resources where they’ll make a difference, not where they’ll simply ‘just do’ until someone else is found. You’re wasting someone’s valuable time on earth leaving the wrong people in the wrong positions. All while hurting the company as well.
Be your own superhero: be brave enough to develop the right team, and release the rest.

Be your own superhero: be brave enough to develop the right team, and release the rest.

Clear the decks and take a serious look at what’s going on around you. If it’s not all going as you think it should, closely evaluate where it is going with current crew. Like Jim Sullivan said, if your whole crew were in the water after a shipwreck, who would you save?

For the record, I’ve been fired or released of duties before. It stinks. And it lead to other opportunities I’d not have considered had I not been let go. Jon Acuff covers this well in his book Do Over. I highly recommend you read it.

You can afford to keep poor players off the team.

It’s time to save yourself first. Put the right people in the right spots. Get help if you’re unsure, consult with qualified professional advisors and improve the status quo right now. Today.

Everyone will thank you for it.

Enemies Of Marketing

“Ignorance + Inertia = Enemies of Business.”

I heard this at the 2016 CBC and will agree with it in a Marketing capacity.

  • Ignorance as an adult is selective. You can choose what you learn and absorb, just as you can ignore and dismiss what you don’t really want to know or learn.
  • Inertia (sluggishness in a word) is also our own choice. Whether you’re on fire about what you do or letting it all happen and eat all parts in between: it’s up to you.
Make friends with the enemies...make them extinct.

Make friends with the enemies…make them extinct.

Put the two together and you’ve got either a solution (solve them both and you’re going somewhere) or a huge problem by choice (waiting for ‘the universe’ to sort it out for you).

I vote for the former: Doing something with both of these concepts can help you create marketing strategy and tactics, and with business development. Ignorance can be turned on its ear to be replaced with education – which, in my opinion makes the world go ’round. Inertia can elementally be changed, with movement and progress making sluggishness extinct, replaced by energy and advancement.

It’s time to make friends with the enemy. Reading books like Desert Queen simply bolsters my desire to be in charge of y own progress, not at the mercy of what I may choose to blame for business lethargy.

Get moving. Make friends, not enemies.