Monthly Archives

October 2016

52 Weeks of Random. Or not..

By | Be Honest | No Comments

Happy Birthday Telltale Ten!

It’s been 52 weeks since I committed to sharing my zany life and work adventures on the Telltaleten.com blog. I have managed to amuse myself, sometimes amuse others and definitely piss a few people off.

For anyone who’s thinking about starting a blog, I warn you, it’s a lot of work. I was the kind of person in college who could write a term paper in a single night after a few cocktails, so it didn’t seem too hard to bust out a BLOG post each week and WOW the world with my amazing thoughts and adventures. Turns out, it doesn’t work like that.

Sometimes you just don’t feel like writing. Sometimes the topics you want to write about are too personal, sometimes it seems like you’re being a whiny little bitch (who wants to read an article about someone running out of gas? It was a metaphor, ok?), and sometimes, you just don’t feel like doing it at all. Telltaleten.com has been all over the map. Each entry connected back to one of the Telltale Ten (you can read about the Telltale Ten here), but I am not sure “consistent messaging” would be among the top ten phrases my readers would use to describe my content. What I can say (since I am writing this and you are not) is that in looking back over the past 52 weeks, almost every story has some purpose to it.

If you are thinking about writing a BLOG, you can just go all ham and start writing about anything whenever you want. Or, you can maybe use one of these top ten tips I learned in my first year as a Blogger.

1. Consistency
My friends who workout know this rule too. To get results, you have to build on what’s there. Bloggers and Vloggers will tell you the same thing. Post on the same day every week. We picked #telltaletuesday as it sounded the coolest as far as days of the week go. You may want to choose based on your personal schedule, the cyclical nature of your business, your audience’s needs etc. Not only does this help you stay on schedule and produce more content, but also it helps build your audience because they know they can look forward to your new posts the same time every week.

2. Inspiration is Flaky
It can take me a realllllly long time to get around to writing my blog. While I would rather eat a mouse than miss a #telltaletuesday, I have pushed it to the 11th hour more times than I would care to admit. My Director of Marketing will toss around ideas (aka – hey, how is the BLOG for tomorrow coming along. How about ________), but that doesn’t work for me. Something has to inspire me and it is anyone’s guess as to what that will be until it happens. So when I’ve finally come up with something to open up the floodgates of those creative juices, I try to take advantage of it as much as possible and don’t stop until the piece is finished. Still having trouble coming up with an idea? Try one of these techniques.

3. Real life makes great BLOG content.
For me personally, it’s way easier to write about things that actually happened to me as opposed to things I just think about. My opinions are formed from life experiences. I never claim them to be right or even useful, but they are always mine. These tips could be considered the Top Ten Things NOT to do – oh well, it’s what I have done for the past year. Have I mentioned that equates to 52 entries? That’s right.

4. Visuals matter.
A well-crafted blog without an image just isn’t the same. Most people need that extra layer of stimulation to draw them in. And not all images are created equally. I’ve found personal pictures to attract the biggest audience, followed by funny memes. Stock photos of a guy yelling into a phone to accompany a blog about frustration are the worst. Please don’t use stock photos. Unless you want to laugh at how dumb they are, then check these ones out.

5. Link out and link in.
I’m not an SEO expert but I was told that your blog will improve it’s rankings by including lots of links to other articles in your blogs, and by having other websites and blogs link back to your blog. Makes sense, right?

6. Research isn’t always good.
Say what? Yes, I am a Market Researcher. But, when writing a BLOG, research may not always be the best way to go depending on your audience and intent. I try to write personal stories, things that have actually happened to me; things I’ve learned and opinions I’ve formed. If I do too much research prior to tackling a subject I end up including too much of someone else’s ideas. My advice is to write the blog first and then link to other articles to back up your ideas, not the other way around.

7. Embrace the blogging community.
For almost every topic you can think of, there is someone blogging about it. There are even a lot of people out there that blog about blogging. (Like I’m doing right now.) What I’m trying to say is that the blogosphere is like a community. Reach out to people who write about similar topics. Share some links. It will help you reach a greater audience and it will lend credibility to your blog. I’ve been published on other BLOGS like the Micro-Business Blog and Executive Vine. Once you start to get published, those people will often come back looking for more content.

8. Promote your BLOG – even ask people to read it (gasp)!
The goal is not just to drive traffic to your website, although that is great. The goal is to promote your content and connect with your audience and that doesn’t need to happen in one place. Twitter, Facebook and especially LinkedIn are places where my audience already spends time so it would be crazy not to try to reach them where they are. Also, use hashtags. I try to always throw in #telltaletuesday combined with subject related and/or attention grabbing ones. If you want to know what hashtags are trending RIGHT now on your subject, you can go to buzzsumo.com. If you’re not sure how to use hashtags at all, check out this article.

9. Use Your Own Voice
I pride myself in being the exact same person inside and outside of the office. So why would I suddenly get shy when writing my blog? I know when the readers who know me personally are reading telltaleten.com, they can hear me saying the words. I always have at least one person edit my post for the week – sometimes two. Most of the time, I change back whatever they edit as it is not what, or how, I would say something.

10. Don’t Shy Away From Controversy
There is a time and a place for corporate writing. A company website is a good example — full of glowing reviews about the company’s new products, its efficient processes and its competent staff. But if your blog sounds like this, you are doing something wrong. No one wants to come back week after week to read a new marketing piece about your brand – unless you are a super cool brand. I’m not saying don’t paint your company in a positive light. I’m saying be real about it. Talk like yourself. This is YOUR blog. People want to know what YOU think, not what your company wants them to think you think (I think.)

Indecision – The Evil Accomplice of Procrastination

By | Be Clear, Be Reasonable, Inspire Ideas, Take Risks | No Comments

in·de·ci·sion

ˌindəˈsiZH(ə)n/

noun

  1. the inability to make a decision quickly.

in·de·ci·sion

 

I am not a procrastinator by nature. I typically move fast and can’t stand to leave things undone. Some may even say I move maniacally through the day. But when I do procrastinate, it is typically linked to indecision.

When I just can’t figure out (aka decide) what to do, I usually end up in a tailspin pretty quickly. Doesn’t really matter if I am indecisive about something with big impact such as whether to hire or fire someone, or a small decision with little impact, such as what to eat for lunch. The end result is the same – procrastination. BTW, the small decisions are what get me.

When I am unable to make a decision, I’m in that grey area where nothing productive happens. I call it the hallway. Once I know what door I am going to go through, I can handle just about anything. But the time that I am standing in that hallway, trying to pick door number 1,2 or 3, is typically crazy-making for me. Indecision is the great time waster and there is nothing that drives me more crazy than wasting time – especially if you happen to be wasting MY time.

If you are having a hard time making a decision, chances are one of these are the culprit – or at the very least, a contributing culprit.

Second Guessing

While second guessing is second nature to some people, it can be crippling. Assuming you have done your diligence in making your initial decision, GO WITH IT. Move forward. Fear is often the driver behind second guessing. Don’t let the fear freeze you.

Overweighing a decision

There is only so much time you can spend looking at things. Make a list of pros and cons, do your research, talk with a trusted partner. After that, you are pretty much going in circles. A wise woman once told me the most dangerous neighborhood I can hang out in is the one inside my head. There may be no truer true than that. I can talk myself in and out of ANYTHING and drive myself insane.

Asking Other’s Opinions

This could help you assuming the person, you ask is 1) actually helpful, knowledgeable and trustworthy and 2) you actually listen to them and take their advice rather than just ignoring them. There may have been a time or two where I asked my husband, “this one or this one” only for him to pick one and then me to continue to hem and haw for hours longer. Or pick the opposite – don’t do that. That means you are being a pain in the ass.

Putting it off

Procrastinating about making your decision leads to procrastination. See what is happening here? You’re just going around and around in circles.  Staying up all night thinking about things doesn’t help either. That only makes you tired.

The Decision is Not Yours to Make

Sometimes the decision is just simply not yours to make. Maybe it is none of your business, or maybe it is simply not in your hands. In that case, you just have to wait and see what happens. Tip: Don’t try to figure out all the possible outcomes. If you don’t have input and you are not in control, you will waste a lot of time doing that. Whatever is going to happen will happen anyway no matter how many hours you spend trying to predict it. Unless you are a fortune teller. Then you should predict it since that is your job.

There are lots of articles on how to face indecision. We’ve included some of our favorites below. Just make sure you are reading them with the intent of improving the skill of decision making and not just putting a decision off.

 

10 Proven Ways to Overcome Indecision — Inc.

5 Steps to Overcome Indecision — Simple Life Strategies

How to Deal with Indecision — Pick the Brain

4 Tips for Dealing with an Indecisive Boss — The Muse

7 Ways to Conquer Indecision — Forbes

 

Bottom line. In order to get shit done, you have to make a decision.

Trade Show Tricks … And Treats!

By | Be Genuine, Have Fun, Motivate Others, Take Risks | No Comments

You’ve heard of “Take-Your-Kid-to-Work Day,” but what about “Take-Your-Marketing-Director-to-a-Trade-Show Day?” Although I’ve been involved in planning SoapBoxSample’s trade show presence for the past several years, it wasn’t until last month that I actually got to be there for an exhibition. Attending the MRA Corporate Researchers Conference in person let me see trade shows through a new lens. I learned a few simple (and free!) tricks that can help any company bring in a big fish.

Focus on what really counts. It’s not just the flashy booth graphics (although they help), the perfectly-worded handout (probably doesn’t help at all) or the even the free giveaways (although I am a sucker for a good stress ball). What stood out the most for me was the people. Here’s what I picked up.

  1. Being Bored Is Boring

You know how you start to yawn when someone around you is yawning? Yeah, it’s not a good look. So cut it out. Keep your energy up. Tell a joke. Do a few jumping jacks. Be silly. It’s better than putting people to sleep.

  1. Avoid Predatory Practices

Have you ever walked through the mall and gotten the sensation that you were being stalked? It’s probably the overzealous perfume counter girl looking for her next victim to spray. Don’t be like this girl. You can feel her stare from a mile away and it immediately makes you want to duck and run. An overly intense salesperson can cause the same effect. If you notice people quickening their pace and suddenly burying their faces in their phones as they go past your booth, someone may be putting off a desperate vibe.

  1. Seven Deadly Body Language Sins

60% to 90% of communication is nonverbal. Closed-off body language sends a clear signal to potential clients — Don’t stop, keep walking. Here are some examples of behavior that can drive people away from your space. If you see anyone on your staff doing any of these things, throw a stress ball at their heads.

  • Constantly checking their phone (or watch)
  • Scratching, picking, poking, or doing anything to their bodies that should be done in private (It’s just gross!)
  • Staring at the ground
  • Standing too close to people
  • Tapping fingers, feet, or worst of all, clicking a pen
  • Fake, frozen smile
  • Over-blinking (or staring without blinking) (Super creepy! Don’t be known as the company of serial killers.)
  1. Don’t Be a Broken Record!

Have you ever gotten a robo-call? If you’re lucky enough to have avoided them, they are pre-recorded telephone calls, usually from a telemarketing company or a political party. And they are THE. WORST. EVER. Don’t let your staff pitch like robots. Robots memorize a script and recite it on repeat. Encourage your team to LISTEN, and ASK QUESTIONS. People want to feel heard. They want their uniqueness to be acknowledged. Show your value by showing off your human side. In other words, be real.

  1. Steer Clear of Smack-Talkers

Market Research is a small, tight-knit industry. People know each other. If I started talking smack about my competition, it would get around. Fast. Even if you work for a huge industry, it’s not a good idea to trash talk your competition. This is especially true at a trade show, where competing companies are sharing the same space and the same food supply. There are ways to show off your capabilities without putting others down. It makes you look desperate, and unprofessional. And it might make people wonder if you’re equally uninhibited about discussing clients and their confidential information.

  1. When the Show’s Over, You’re Still on Display

Before attending this conference, I thought that Market Researchers were a meek and mild bunch (like accountants or insurance adjusters.) Wrong. Market researchers like to drink and party. A lot. And when they start drinking, they start coming out of their shells. (Some of them should have stayed in their shells.) Speaking of staying in, it’s a good idea to look out for … (how can I put this delicately?) overexposure. After the cocktail reception mingling, potential clients should come away with more knowledge of your products and services, not more knowledge of your salesperson’s soft tissues.

And yes, I actually witnessed all of these things first hand. Some even more than once. I was there for 2.5 days.

I have always known, that having a decent trade show presence can be expensive and time-consuming. But if it’s done well it can have a great ROI. In other words, you can be the best Marketer in the world, but work with your leadership team to make sure your hard work isn’t ruined by a salesperson with a creepy stare who picks his nose in your booth.

Work Out Road Show

By | Be Reasonable, Inspire Ideas, Motivate Others | One Comment
  • Running around the ruins in Rome!
  • Warm up in front of the Chicago skyline.
  • My running buddies in Nice, after an intense training session.
  • The Ritz Carlton gym in New Orleans. And my two suckers...I mean co-workers.
  • Free water in hotel gyms!
  • Dead tired, but sporting my SoapBox gear.

 

I love to workout. I am one of those annoying people who talks about it, takes pictures doing it, and of course, broadcasts my workout accomplishment of the day on various social media channels. I also travel a ton for my job – mainly to tradeshows and conferences. I find ways to work out on the road. People think I am just magically motivated to fly to some exotic location and workout. Truth is, it doesn’t work like that. I often have to trick myself into doing it.

Yes, I’m exhausted after spending 10 hours in an exhibit hall and would rather network, eat free food, drink free drinks or sleep during down time. Oh, and let’s not forget that despite being away, business is still going on back home that needs my attention.

I hear things from people who claim they want to work out while traveling all the time like “I can’t.  I don’t have time. I have jet lag. My day is too full. I ate too much, or I drank too much (yes, people use this as an excuse not to exercise – counterintuitive I know).”

News flash. If you want to work out on work travel, you can. Here is a few of my tricks to trick yourself.

Find a partner, AKA sucker

Some of my most favorite workout moments have been on business trips – with other colleagues, employees and attendees. I’ve run through Rome with a colleague, ran through Nice and visited some awesome, and not-so-awesome workout rooms. Find the crazy exercise fanatic in the group, or someone who is willing to sacrifice themselves to you, and tag along with whatever they’re up to. I’ve brought employees to work out and watched them puke. (Yes, really) (Go SoapBoxers Go)!

Pre-plan your workout time

Check out the agenda in advance and plan your workout time into your schedule each day. Even if it is just 30 minutes, that is ok. If you wait until you get there to find time, I can almost guarantee you won’t. I plan my time slot for each day along with what I am actually going to do. I plan a workout for each day, knowing that I may miss one. If you are only there one day, don’t use this tip. 30 minutes actually accounts for only 2% of your day. Really? 2%. C’mon, you can do it.

Network in the gym.

So I will admit I hate talking to people when I work out. But… people who work out, tend to have an affinity for others who work out. Even if you don’t recognize someone as being a fellow conference attendee, you may notice when you see them later. They may turn out to be your next biggest client. There’s no telling where opportunity may strike. A great networking moment is just as likely to happen in the gym as it is anywhere else.

Or, you can get super bold and dye your hair platinum-whitish-grayish and people will recognize you – that’s what I did. Or you could just wear branded gear in the gym (branded with YOUR company, not Nike). Also, you might just avoid one of those awkward elevator moments with another attendee gets on the elevator and there is a weird silence. It is way better to have a “hey, I saw you in the gym today” moment.

Accountability from Afar

If you have a trainer or just a friend who’s into fitness, have them text you a workout AND agree to text them back once you are done. Or post it all over social media if that is how you rollIf you don’t have any fitness friends (or friends at all) you can find 10 million “hotel room” workouts online. I am guessing you know how to google.  In case you “don’t have time to google” here are a few links.

20-minute Hotel Room Work Out (Nerd Fitness)

The Ultimate Hotel Room Work Out (Shape)

Vacation Work Out (Men’s Fitness)

I am obviously feeling extra thoughtful today.

And just because I love you all so much, here is my “I am too cheap to buy hotel water and drink a gallon a day” tip.

Fill up your water bottle in the hotel gym because it’s free.

Most of the gyms are open 24 hours. The water is free. And cold. And paying $6 for a small bottle of Evian is pure insanity. Free water is an unadvertised perk of that hotel occupancy fee you see on your bill – or at least it is as far as I am concerned.
Have your own tips for staying fit while traveling for business? Tweet me, @jax_rosales