I don’t want to bring back any teenage angst or social anxiety issues that you spent years working out with your therapist, but as it turns out, no, the popularity contest never ends. Especially in a down economy, doing your job well isn’t always enough. Yep, I’m going to do it: you can’t just be good enough and smart enough, your clients, boss and coworkers have to like you, too. Luckily, though, your highschool-self can rest assured that the popularity contest has changed a bit and you will no longer be judged based on the merrits of designer jeans or the car you drive into the senior parking lot.
Last month I attended an event that featured Guy Kawasaki as a keynote speaker. I’ve heard Guy talk before but I was especially enamored by him after this event. He was there to talk about Enchantment, his new book which has been a best seller since it came out in March and is listed as one of Amazon’s best books of 2011. There is no rocket science to this book or Guy’s message, but both are incredibly powerful. Here’s the once sentence summary: by enchanting people, you not only get them to do what you want them to do, you fill them with great delight at the same time.
Much of the book deals with enchanting people with your company and products, and I encourage you to read it for those reasons. For this quick post, though, I am going to focus on some tips he gives for being a more likable, enchanting person.
Easy, right? Yes. But the easiest things to do are the easiest to forget. How important do you think likability is to business success? What small things have you done to enchant people?
Oh, and if you need a daily affirmation, Stuart Smalley has one for you. It's the Halloween edition. How timely?
With so many questions and challenges concerning our energy future and climate change, domestic natural gas has taken off as a “greener” alternative to burning oil and coal. Recent advancements in drilling have vastly expanded the size of the natural gas market. Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking (also, frac’ing) as it is often referred, is the process of stimulating wells to extract natural gas (and oil). It involves breaking shale several thousand feet below the surface of the earth by injecting water, sand and chemicals at high pressures to shatter the rock and release the valuable resources. EPA projects that 20% of domestic natural gas will come from shale by 2020. However, as more and more fracking operations crop up from coast to coast, questions of their real environmental costs are also growing.
Fracking has been going on in the United States for more than 50 years, but recent advancements in horizontal fracturing technology have created an explosion in the number of wells and have brought fracking east to states like New York and Pennsylvania. In a sense, fracking has created a modern day gold rush. And because local and state economies have been under extreme economic pressure due to the recession, many officials and locals have-- until recently--welcomed the added revenue from permits and taxes that move in with the drilling companies, not to mention job creation.
A new source of clean energy right in our own back yards, just waiting to be released? Like most things that sound too good to be true, fracking has some serious side effects. Here is my non-scientific summary of the risks.
The chemicals used in the water mixture that is injected into the wells is toxic, but most drilling companies will not disclose the actual make up of their concoctions, labeling them trade secrets. There are concerns about how these chemicals are handled, the impacts they are having underground, and the potential for spills on the ground when they are eventually transported to waste treatment plants. There have been many complaints about fracking chemicals being released into drinking water supplies and because there are convenient Bush-era exclusion to water-safety regulations in the 2005 Energy Bill, fracking companies are not taking all of the precautions they could. (Note that Halliburton is heavily involved in fracking.)
Fracking is a very water intensive process and in areas where water supply is low, residents are concerned that operations can cause scarcity issues.
Manmade retention ponds or pits are used to hold the water/chemical/sand mixture that break the shale, creating giant pools containing toxins like chloride, barium and strontium in the middle of rural lands and forests. There have been reports of wildlife mistaking these ponds as natural bodies of water and being poisoned. In one recent story, cattle were quarantined based on concerns of sending contaminated meat to market after the animals were thought to have been drinking water from a leaking pit adjacent to the farm.
Creation of new underground pathways
There are concerns that new underground pathways will transport not only the chemicals involved in fracking process itself, but also any other spills or plumes that happen to intersect them.
Methane gas leaks
Methane is one of the greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming. Scientists have documented that methane from fracking can leak and traveled through underground pathways and eventually be released into the atmosphere. .
Fracking Studies Underway
A 2004 study by EPA showed that fracking was not a risk to groundwater, but with the swath of complaints that have arisen lately, EPA announced in late 2009 that it will revisit this finding. EPA is currently in the process of further defining the study that is set to take place starting this fall and into 2012 by holding public meetings in impacted areas. As Pat Coyne mentioned, one meeting that was supposed to take place in upstate New York last week was canceled when 8,000 people were expected to attend. Organizers are now working to find a larger venue for the meeting.
The growing cases related to fracking operations are quite troubling. When I think about it, I get concerned about whether there will ever be clean, safe energy! It is quite depressing and overwhelming if you let your mind wander… It will be interesting to see where this goes. With any new technology, there are unforeseen risks and it seems like we are just cracking the surface on those involved in fracking …no pun intended. Okay, I realized the pun and left it in so maybe it is intended.
What do you think? Is fracking the next big environmental issue?
This past Sunday morning, I had to get up at 5:00 AM and drive in the snow to a seminar. It was not your everyday business seminar which I attend frequently. It was a USA Hockey Certification and Coaching Seminar. As you might imagine, not many of us were thrilled to be there on a Sunday or frankly any other day.
About six hours later, when I left, I felt like I really got a lot out of it and that I could do a better job helping and guiding the kids. In addition, I was pleasantly surprised about the business value that I got out of the session as I had the opportunity to think about the things we generally do not consider unless we have some dedicated time to focus.
There were 7 points made about coaching beginners that I believe business professionals in commercial real estate, can use to help ourselves, our employees, and our companies. Here they are:
1) You might be the first business person a new hire has ever worked with - remember that you have an important job to do. You just might be the leader that shapes their understanding of how business works (and they will be working way longer than they will be playing a sport).
2) When you stop learning new things-you stop leading
3) There are 8 principles of effective communication - always keep them in mind
4) Don't focus on coaching by telling them "what not to do to correct it, instead focus on "what you would like them to do" to get the right results. If you focus on the negative, then that is what the employee will think about (not screwing up) instead of the desired end result (finishing a project on time).
5) Avoid lengthy, complicated instructions - 3 things maximum at one time (for those of you who know me, you know this one is near and dear to me)
6) What you see is what you coached. Look in the mirror if you don't like the results
7) Fundamental abilities are the natural result of repetition.
There are academic viewpoints that state that to truly become an expert in something; it requires 10,000 hours which in many cases translates to 3 hrs a day for nearly 10 years.
There are a lot of experts out there who have involved in CRE, Phase I's, and environmental due diligence that meet this criteria or come real close. If you are in a leadership position, I would just like to pass along the reminder I just received. Make sure that you share your knowledge and wisdom to ensure the next generation of professionals continues to move the market forward.
I suspect you might be pleasantly surprised at what you will learn from them, how appreciative they are for your time, and what you get out of it both personally and professionally.
For those of you who regularly participate on social networking sites, and those of you who have just started, you probably have noticed a number of different types of member personalities and patterns. In the social networking circles, you can search and find various explanations of the many types of participants as they really don't vary all that much across social communities and also real life.
The three types of members of social networks that we run into regularly include
The members that often can have the most positive impact are the trouble makers - believe it or not. Why? Well it is simple.
When I talk about these types with members, employees, and partners, the question often comes up - "then, how do we know if an answer or content is correct or credible?" I would encourage you to take the following into consideration when you are determining if there is any question about the credibility of the member and their contributions:
In the end, you should always use your best judgment when deciding about the credibility of a post. Most credible social networks provide access to information about the contributor, so it is easy to check the above recommendations, but always use your best judgment like you would with anything else.
Should any of you feel that there are folks who do not meet the standards of the community and violate the rules of engagement and terms of service, I would always encourage that you let the community administrator for the community and other community members know.
The past two months have given me a completely new perspective on the past and future. I won't bore you with too many of the details. Let's just say that I have been forced to reflect a bit more than I normally would.
In my role as VP of Social Media for commonground, I need to balance time between staying on top of what is cutting edge and mainstream best practices, without losing track of goals. I enjoy spending time with environmental and property professionals, executives, coworkers, business partners, friends and family discussing the evolution of how we do both our professional and personal business.
Recently, I have spent a lot of time with a number of individuals in their late 70's and 80's, including family members, on the same topic. It seems like their collective frustrations can be bucketed into three categories - technology, the younger generation, and finances/healthcare costs. They ask questions such as:
Do some of these sound familiar? Those of you who know me are well aware that I am never afraid to throw my $.02 into a conversation at the appropriate time. This one was different. I was the youngest person by a good 40 years and one that has spent a lot of time studying the evolution of the generations. So, the conversation about the above went on for a good 10 minutes and I was quiet. Then, I could not help myself anymore and just spoke my true feelings concerning the topic.
The reason why everything is powered by technology, we all live on our cell phones, and money is often wasted on what might be deemed "unnecessary purchases" is.......you.
You should have seen the faces as I began to explain why.... Let it be known that I did not win any popularity contests with my answers, but I believe them to be true.
As a parent, you encouraged us to get the best possible education and manage our time so that we could find a good job. You told us we had to learn about computers as "they are going to be the future". You told us we had to, like it or not, in order to have the best chance at being successful. You were the ones, our mentors, who encouraged innovation, effort, and teamwork. You experimented with new things (insert things here) and organized Woodstock. You invented game changing things like powered windows in cars vs. cranks, call waiting, handheld mobile devices, computers that could automate just about anything, and the world wide web. You introduced us to TV, video games, and remote controls. You taught us to use the microwave because it was faster. You brought us to McDonald's because it was easier when things were hectic. You taught us that if we truly believed in something to go after it and you would support us (even if we got in a bit of trouble). You also told us that in order to get rich, you needed to invent something. Whether we want to admit it or not, our culture has collectively embraced the things you taught us. And, what you taught us was right. Technology has become a way to maximize business and personal efficiency - efficiency that is required in order to keep up. And because we have to keep up, the younger generation may seem like it is not paying attention. I would argue that more times than not, they are multi-tasking.
Then, I politely closed with this comment - before we spend too much being negative about how things are today and will be moving forward, I encourage you to look in the mirror because you are as much to blame as I am. You may not agree with my opinion. However, I just thought it was important to openly and respectfully share my feelings on the subject, which of course is another thing you taught us to do.
Some of you may perhaps read Lauren Rosencranz's Blog titled Fresh in the Field. If you don't, I would encourage you to check it out as she often addresses topics like this and the changing business landscape.
Even though my blog post has nothing to do with Phase I ESA's, Contamination, or REC's, sometimes we need to think through why things are the way they are and accept responsibility for our actions both now and in the future. Wouldn't you agree?
Just something to think about...... the next time you look up from checking your blackberry, while at Starbucks -- to see if the line has moved yet.
For the past year or two, many of our work lives have been defined by layoffs, cuts to resources, refocusing efforts to profitable markets while sacrificing others, searching for new revenue streams, taking on additional tasks and doing more with less. Considering the professional turmoil that many of us have gone through lately, it is understandable that defining our purposes, prioritizing our efforts, and feeling like we are working toward something achievable can be extremely challenging. Sometimes, don't you just feel like you are spinning your wheels and not moving forward? All too often we get lost in the specific tasks we have to do each day and forget what ends we are hoping to reach.
In the work I do for the commonground community, we are going through a similar situation. We've made great strides in the past year, which our team is thrilled about : we've increased membership, participation, and our web presence. Now, we are looking to take it to the next level. While we want to continue with the things we've been doing for our core members, we also want to expand our reach and make the community a place where members see real return on investment for their participation. There are a lot of opportunities ahead of us and a lot of directions we could go in. It is extremely difficult to decide which initiatives to go after, especially when the day-to-day activities take up much of our time. We are faced with the questions: Who are we and who do we want to be in the future? To solve this problem we've put together a group of people on the community's advisory panel to create a mission statement for the community. This got me thinking, it might be useful to come up with my own mission statement.
By going through the exercise of creating a personal mission statement, either for your current job or your career, you can better determine which tasks and goals are most important to you, which do not contribute to your objective, and which things you should be doing that you are not currently.
For people who are unemployed, considering a change of employment, thinking about going back to school, or starting their own companies, this is probably even more important.
Here are some questions that you can use to help create your own mission statement:
I'm going to work on this over the weekend. I encourage you to do the same!
One of the reasons why I am very passionate about social networking is that in the business world, it is still considered a new and emerging trend although it really has been around for many years. With any "new" trend, there are so many challenging questions to answer and try to figure out that it never gets boring or dull to me.
One topic in particular that is constantly scrutinized and debated is "participation".
For any of the social networking experts and newbie's, we often struggle with participation metrics. What is good? What is bad? How come only a limited number of members seem to actually participate and so many seem to lurk? Why is it that someone will email me a question and not actually post it within the community? It becomes this heated debate with a lot of great viewpoints and questions about the viability of a network, what the resulting hesitancy means, and ultimately whether the the members are receiving enough value.
Anyone who reads my blogs regularly, likely notices that often times I mention that I "recently had a conversation", or "was attending an event", or "was meeting with friends, coworkers, or relatives", and a topic of conversation intrigued me.
When you consider your family functions, your teams, your office - any situation where there is a group of people with a common bond having a conversation - whether it is a serious one or one at a bar over beers. Did you ever notice that only a few folks talk 90% of the time and the vast majority listen? Some members listen for a bit and walk away. Some stay the whole time and do not say a word. And some can stand around as part of the group the whole time and never say a word - ever. The two or three folks who talk tend to control the conversation and command the attention.
What is my point?
We are all wound a bit differently. My personality is such where I am a very transparent person who is very social and far from "shy". I also like to both listen and participate. You might be like me, but you also could be the type who would prefers to remain quiet. It is just who we are. Therefore, my advice is to consider these very basic fundamentals when thinking about quantifying the success of your social networking success. Don't look at situations and think that everyone should be participating - realize that some people never will, but they will get significant value regardless of whether they ever say a word or not if the content of the discussion is intriguing and deemed valuable. Therefore, focus on generating compelling content if you truly want to improve participation and not on overanalyzing participation patterns.
Each year the same family members attend family functions, each week that team shows up for their weekly hockey game, and each day those coworkers come to work - even the ones who don't talk as much as I do.
There is no reason why you should expect the online channel to be any different....
Forbes Magazine listed the fear of public speaking as the 9th most common fear in the United States. Death did not make their list. Think about this: You’re sitting in a room full of people listening to someone speak and you know that you are the next person who has to give a presentation. You work yourself up so much that you start to think that you’d rather die than stand up there! It is completely irrational but we’ve all been there at one point in our lives.
The fear of public speaking is also commonly referenced as one of the biggest obstacles holding people back in their careers. I was told once by a public speaking trainer at Dale Carnegie that only about 10% of working Americans are willing to speak in public. Of those, only 2% are effective speakers. So, if you can deliver a good presentation, you have a huge edge over your peers and colleagues. Public speaking is definitely a skill to learn and hone!
Tomorrow I will be participating in a webinar for EDR’s lender clients. While I will only be doing a short piece of the presentation and I have delivered many similar presentations in person in the past, I will likely still be nervous before I begin my short talk. I once read that in public speaking, preparation is the cure for perspiration, a concept that really clicked for me! My husband opened a fortune cookie last week that had a similar theme: “When dealing with stress, work is better than whiskey”. The concept applies to almost everything you want to achieve in life, but especially to public speaking. So, in preparation for my speaking engagement tomorrow I started looking over materials from a few of the public speaking courses that I’ve attended. Here are some of the best tips I’ve received from both training courses and mentors over the years:
1. Know what you are talking about and what you are going to say. This seems obvious but it is so important that I have to include it. You really need to understand all of the ins and outs of your subject matter. One way to test yourself is to give your presentation to at least one person who is unfamiliar with your subject matter and at least one person who really knows your subject matter. Tell them to ask questions during your talk. If you can answer them, you are probably in good shape. The second component refers to the organization of your presentation. You want your words to flow, so make sure you have a strong outline or well organized slide presentation, if you are using one. It is okay to repeat yourself, the audience usually needs to hear important concepts at least 2 or 3 times before they understand them anyway, but make sure you aren’t bouncing all over the place.
2. Stop apologizing. How many times have you heard a public speaker apologize before they start speaking? So many speakers give excuses for why their presentation is going to be bad before they even start! What is the audience supposed to think?
3. Know that you will get nervous and what to expect when you do. This was a tip my college advisor gave me and one of the best I’ve heard. She told me that she always wears a turtleneck when she speaks in public because as soon as she starts speaking she starts to turn red on her chest and this redness continues to spread upward until she gets comfortable. By wearing a turtleneck, she doesn’t have to worry about this reaction. If you are a cougher, bring some tea with you. If you tend to fix your hair when you get nervous, pull it back.
4. You know that you are nervous, but the audience probably doesn’t. I took one of those public speaking classes where they film you and then you have to watch yourself on tape. Yes, this sounds like a nightmare come true! But actually, it was a great exercise because it made me realize that the little slip-ups and nervous jitters that I had did not come across in my voice at all. You can test this theory using your webcam or one of those nifty flip cameras that are available for about $150.
5. Ironing boards have more than one use. Most presentations I give are preceded by a night in a hotel room. The best way to prepare for a face to face presentation is by taking out your ironing board and using it as your podium. Look at yourself in the mirror as you speak. Are your shoulders slumped? Are you moving around too much? Are you boring yourself? This is a great way to check up on all of the “make or break” components of a presentation. If you don't have/need an ironing board, the same advice applies: Practice, practice, practice, and when you think you have practiced enough, practice one more time!
6. You are your own worst enemy. This is an original tip courtesy of yours truly. We’ve already established that most people hate to speak in public. Knowing that, your audience is generally rooting for you to do a great job! Don’t get down on yourself while you’re speaking or you will enter the downward spiral. Only you control this. If you start to walk toward the black hole, stop! Take a breath. Start your last sentence over on a new note.
Glossophobia is definitely a fear worth facing. The most important step towards overcoming your fear is by saying 'yes' next time someone asks you to speak in public. Take on the challenge and feel the sense of pride that you get after delivering a great speech! I hope these tips are helpful!
Have you ever decided just for kicks to search for yourself on Google to see what the results look like? Try it.
When I type in Mark Wallace - commonground, I see my blog on commonground, my Linkedin Profile, Facebook, Twitter, and other social networking sites right at the top of the search results. Try a few people you know too. I looked up a few other members of commonground too - Mike Kulka, Alan Agadoni, and Larry Schnapf. After you try this, what is the first thing you notice that we all have in common?
Perhaps you see that since each of us are members and bloggers on commonground, we benefit from great marketing exposure via Google. Perhaps you quickly notice we are all members of LinkedIn. Perhaps you see how all of our professional qualifications are easily found because each of us chooses to make that information public. Perhaps it is all of the above.
From conversations with many environmental professional members of commonground, I realize many of you are trying to digest the value of social media outside of just being a member of commonground. One very easy to see way is your personal profile when someone searches for you. There are 14 Billion web searches done each month according to Comscore. Your future customers, partners, and potential employers are very likely going to search for you to find out what your credentials are. Therefore, it is important that when someone searches for you, they find the right you.
If you do not have a LinkedIn membership because you are skeptical, I encourage you to join the 43 million professionals who are members and who generally benefit from having their public LinkedIn profile come up in the top 5 results when someone searches for them.
To maximize your results and LinkedIn effectiveness after you have signed up, I thought I would share some LinkedIn Tips from a recent article on CBS moneywatch.com by Elaine Pofeldt titled Facebook, Twitter, and More: The New rules of Social Networking. In particular, there is a section that addresses how to shape your personal brand on LinkedIn. Here is a summary of her key points.
1) Seek out recommendations from past bosses, key clients, colleagues, and direct reports to create a 360 degree picture of your strengths
2) Instead of a generic job title at the top of your profile, use a short description of valuable credentials you can quantify
3) Fill out the interests section with pursuits, such as charitable projects, that reinforce your value to potential employers and clients
4) For consistency and branding, use a good head shot of yourself as your photo and try to keep the photo consistent with photos on other social networks
5) Opt for a free vanity address for your profile that uses your full name, such as linkedin.com/in/jandoe (this is not always possible, and if it is not, use one that makes sense given how you are represented on other social networking sites).
Again, see the above referenced article for more. It might sound pretty basic, and is, but the benefits are many.
I would also recommend you take your vanity address and drop in your autosignature. Why? It makes it easier for other folks to see your credentials, help you build your connections, and it is valuable in the event your email is forwarded to someone new.
Good luck and congratulations on letting your credentials tell the story you want to tell when someone searches for you.
I returned on Monday after a much-needed, never-before taken, fall vacation. It’s funny how when you step away for a week you start to notice things you didn’t see before! EDR started its new fiscal year on October 1st. (We should all vacation more often!) Inside our walls, a lot has changed over the past year, (or two)—but it seems that our focus on surviving the downturn in the commercial real estate market has now completely shifted to a focus on growth and getting ready for what comes next. They say that most innovation happens during, or right after, a downturn in the economy and I seem to be seeing signs of that everywhere I look.
Just last week the environmental jobs board on commonground had four new posts added for environmental professionals in different parts of the country. In my conversations with EPs lately, I know of many other companies that are looking to hire new people. We’ve had several recent college grads who were hired by environmental consulting firms over the summer go through our commonground University classes. I’ve also heard of some recent restructurings at companies…unfortunately that has meant post-recession layoffs, but even these seem to have a different feel to them, like companies are in change to be the most competitive company we can be in 2011-mode rather than don’t drown-mode.
I’ve also seen signs in my personal life: I have had three emails from friends (all in the marketing/media/PR industries) letting me know that their companies are hiring and asking me to pass information on to anyone I know who is in the job market. My husband, a structural engineer, got a call from a recruiter last week on behalf of a company looking to hire. A friend of mine who left her career in marketing just a few weeks ago to pursue her dream of running her own professional photography business is so busy that she has just hired a college intern part time to do administrative work and a person to clean her house.
Is it just me, or has there been a shift lately in the economy and the job market? I know the statistics for new jobs and unemployment aren’t there yet, but it just feels different to me!