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Not So Superficial, Fail-Mail and Good People in the S%&t‏

BOO & Happy Halloween from Chicago, America! (A brief salute to Fiddler fans). I’m working in The City of Broad Shoulders this week and guess what—it’s windy and getting colder — every cliché fulfilled.

Chicago is my all-time fave major metro; it sits right next to my rural roots, (On Wisconsin!) Buddy Guy & Second City live here; it’s got a Great Lake, and it’s more than alive…NYC w/o the hype — I love it.

This is an extra-short monthly newsletter…a client project, training and travel schedules are “robust” right now. But I hope that you’ll appreciate the following few stories, and as usual, thanks for coming along.

Godec

This Story Really Isn’t As Superficial As It First Seems  

The title of the article sounds like it might have come out of Teen Beat or Cosmo. Keep in mind that there’s a book being hawked here, but the basic principles are very sound, albeit brief:

http://tinyurl.com/l4tpjf9

Email or Fail-Mail?  

Like you, I’m bombarded with email and I do, indeed, get the irony of you reading this email about email. Obviously it’s a fact of work & life and we’d better learn to make the most (and best) of it…

http://tinyurl.com/okljff8

In the S&%t  

I’ve been working recently with a public-sector client that has been under serious public and political fire at the national level. As my military buddies like to characterize it, this client is largely “in the s&%t.”

As a result, my client’s people are terrified, traumatized and many have shut down. It’s absolutely normal, understandable, forgivable…and unacceptable.

My client needs to engage these people more skillfully and compassionately so that they’re able to do their jobs. Here are some suggestions on how to do that:

http://tinyurl.com/lm7qr7c

What They Didn’t Teach You in Grad School  

Godec, Randall & Associates (GRA) and The Participation Company (TPC) train, coach and work with government, corporate and non-profit organizations on authentic public involvement; in managing tough issues and opposition, and moving decisions and projects forward.

We train and facilitate customized, hands-on workshops and courses related to conflict resolution, public participation, facilitation, anger & opposition management as well as risk, crisis and technical communication, presentations and collaborative decision making. We’ll help you connect with the people and stakeholders that you serve.

- “John was the best speaker of the workshop. He kept the audience engaged and really thinking about the message we needed to discover for back home.”
 
- “…after the great job you did with our class last week. Thanks again for the hard work you invested in making sure we had a valuable learning experience!”

- “John, your participation in the conference was invaluable and absolutely added to the success of the event! I sincerely thank you for all of the preparation that you did prior to the conference and the excellent job you did at the conference – we knew we picked the best!!”

GRA and TPC customize exclusive, in-house one-to-five day workshops for a variety of public and private sector clients. Contact us for more information.

The Participation Company LLC is a strategic partner of the Center for Management Strategies (CMS), the provider of International City/County Management Association (ICMA) leading practices for local government.

Please forward this newsletter to anyone that you think might find it useful. We never, ever SPAM anybody and subscribing/unsubscribing is easy.

Remember: We waste our time surfing the Worldwide Interweb so you don’t have to.

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Ad Libs and Your Upcoming Engagement

I’ll be out on an adventure for most of this month so this newsletter’s a little early…

I tweeted a Globe and Mail story last week that’s worth repeating here because it’s the root of what I try to do with this blog/newsletter. New research at a group of business schools reached the same conclusion that, when hiring, employers value one skill above the rest: the ability to communicate clearly. These schools rated the importance of the ability to communicate above the ability to manage by 2 to 1 margin – two to one!

Sadly, those skills are in short supply. As the volume of data and information that’s generated and delivered has exploded, skills in listening, deciphering and translating that data into what’s truly relevant has been lost in the shuffle. Organizations are moving from a top-down (command and control) culture to a flatter, inclusive way of operating. That means people have to communicate quickly and clearly, build trust and nurture relationships.

You can read the full story at http://tinyurl.com/oxtysyn and this issue’s devoted to the topic.

See you in October…I hope.

Godec

Ad Lib This  

The other day, a colleague and I were talking about the importance of thinking on your feet and, when necessary, speaking off the cuff. It’s partly a matter of developing the instinct, like finding a doorknob in the dark, so that when the occasion arises you know where to reach. We both know a lot of really smart people (some who are experts in their fields) who just can’t deal with ambiguity or communicate when they haven’t fully prepared and memorized their presentations.  So, in honor of those poor folks who come off as stilted, unapproachable, bureaucratic and boring, here are five tips for winging it without, actually, just winging it…

http://tinyurl.com/mxw4mce

And when you can prepare – which should be almost always – here are a few simple steps to make your presentation a little unforgettable:

http://tinyurl.com/ow9zdvb

And when the going get’s tough and the questions come flying, the ability to think on your feet, maintain composure and answer with skill will help you grow a nice business, community, agency and career. Here are six simple things to consider:

http://tinyurl.com/ppx6ht4

Two words…that’s all it takes:

http://tinyurl.com/lss7t6j

Engaging Your Own People  

I’ve mentioned before that we’re helping more organizations than ever to better engage their own employees. The cultures of business and government are changing (see the opening Globe and Mail story) and long-time bosses and managers need to change with it. Engaging your “Millennials” is essential; it’s the only way you’ll keep the good ones and here are ten ways to do it:

http://tinyurl.com/lg6zy75

Back in the Dark Ages, companies and even government agencies that I worked for were hardly democratic, and my old bosses would have gotten some kinda hoot out of the idea of “engaging” me and the rest of my cannon-fodder coworkers. Here are some interesting thoughts on workplace democracy:

http://tinyurl.com/k4xc3x3

Henry Ford once said, “Coming together is a beginning; staying together is progress; working together is success.” Hank was an interesting guy…a bundle of contradictions but he apparently saw the value of finding, keeping, paying (a controversially high enough wage that his workers could afford to buy Fords) and engaging good people. Here’s a quick three-part argument:

http://tinyurl.com/p88npuj

Skills and Tools You’ll Use Immediately  

Godec, Randall & Associates and The Participation Company train, coach and work with government, corporate and non-profit organizations on true public involvement, managing tough issues and opposition and moving decisions and your projects forward.

We train and facilitate customized, hands-on workshops and courses related to conflict resolution, public participation, facilitation, anger and outrage management as well as risk, crisis and technical communication, presentations and collaborative decision making. We’ll show you how to better connect with the people and stakeholders that you serve.

- “John was the best speaker of the workshop. He kept the audience engaged and really thinking about the message we needed to discover for back home.”

- “…after the great job you did with our class last week.  Thanks again for the hard work you invested in making sure we had a valuable learning experience!”

- “John, your participation in the conference was invaluable and absolutely added to the success of the event!  I sincerely thank you for all of the preparation that you did prior to the conference and the excellent job you did at the conference – we knew we picked the best!!”

We do customized, exclusive, in-house one- to five-day training workshops for a variety of clients but the following courses are open to everyone. Join us!

* The new International Association for Public Participation’s (IAP2) Certificate course will be delivered in Chicago October 20 to 24 at the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP). A great class and a terrific time to be in the windy city.

* You still have time to register for the 2-Day (IAP2) Emotion, Outrage and Public Participation (EOP2) course Las Vegas on October 6-7, Austin on October 16-17 or Chicago on December 4-5.

Just click on http://www.extraordinarytrainers.com to register or call me to explore the options.

The Participation Company LLC is a strategic partner of the Center for Management Strategies (CMS), the provider of International City/County Management Association (ICMA) leading practices for local government.

Please forward this newsletter to anyone that you think might like it. We never, ever SPAM anybody and subscribing/unsubscribing is easy.

We waste our time surfing the Worldwide Interweb so you don’t have to.

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Risky Business, Optics and Underdogs

“No matter what anybody tells you, words and ideas can change the world.”

- Professor John Keating, Dead Poets Society

Thank you, Robin.

Godec

The Conundrum of Risk  

In Atlanta working at CDC last week I was a little surprised at how calm and routine things seemed to be there in the midst of the breathless media and online chatter about Ebola. But the fact is, in the years I’ve worked on public and environmental health issues, I’ve learned from these gifted docs and scientists that outbreaks and pandemics will happen. The only questions are which ones, where, how big and how bad. And for me, how do we get people to pay attention, change their behavior to protect themselves and quite wasting time looking for somebody to blame:

http://tinyurl.com/mrhgps3

It’s been suggested that dealing with irrational fears, rumors and superstition is a third-world problem. Think again…

http://tinyurl.com/om3p97g

And, if you’re interested in digging deeper into this discussion:

http://tinyurl.com/pdnh4xo%20

Optics- The Role of What Seems to Be True  

The League of Conservation Voters has mounted a campaign to force Nestlé to stop bottling, selling and shipping drinking water from California in light of that state’s three-year drought. This isn’t to debate the facts, policy or business wisdom of the issue but to consider how things play to public perception and credibility…

http://tinyurl.com/lrawuuk

It gets more interesting when you consider how people on either end of the political spectrum view the other end. New research published in the journal Behavioral and Brain Sciences identified something called negativity bias that they think helps explain your crazy old uncle:

http://tinyurl.com/ly5bjls

Employee Motivation & Leadership  

Way back in an earlier life, I worked for a guy who enjoyed starting his weekly sales meeting “contest” by announcing that the “winners gets to keep their jobs.” Luckily, I wasn’t a salesman.

Keeping good people happy, productive and motivated is a very big deal for employers. The rules have changed and it looks like Maslow’s wrong:

http://tinyurl.com/njotzvq

Of all of the social media success stories, Twitter might be the Beatles or Stones of the pack. Twitter’s founder, Biz Stone (cool name, huh?) has advice for leaders today…

http://tinyurl.com/k58t3gy

Size Matters: Bullies vs. Underdogs  

This article contrasts the perception, or public relations battle between Israel and Hamas in that terribly sad and difficult situation. I’m suggesting that a similar perpetrator vs. victim principle plays out regularly between government and citizens, and businesses vs. customers in a variety of ways.

There’s a clear lesson here: consider your bully position and don’t be one or you’ll deal with the consequences…

http://tinyurl.com/pj2rxyx

The public credibility of institutions, government or business, seems to be based, at least in part, on size. Bigger isn’t better:

http://tinyurl.com/k9tm2f9

Hands-on Learning

Godec, Randall & Associates and The Participation Company train, coach and work with government, corporate and non-profit organizations on engaging the public, managing wicked issues and opposition and moving decisions and projects forward.

We train and facilitate customized, hands-on workshops and courses related to conflict resolution, public participation, facilitation, anger and outrage management as well as risk, crisis and technical communication, presentations and collaborative decision making. We’ll help you connect with the people and stakeholders that you serve.

- “I just wanted to say thank you for presenting such a captivating seminar last week in Chicago…I thought the material was fascinating and your presentation was compelling and succinct.”

- “Thank you so much for the excellent job of facilitating and recording our meeting.  You guys are fantastic!”

- “…great job you did with our class last week.  Thanks again for the hard work you invested in making sure we had a valuable learning experience!”

In addition to customized in-house workshops for our public and business clients, some courses are open to everyone. I hope you can make one of these:

* The International Association for Public Participation’s (IAP2) recently updated Certificate course will be in Chicago from October 20 to 24 at the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP).  A great course and a great time to be in the city.

* The 2-Day (IAP2) Emotion, Outrage and Public Participation (EOP2) course is coming to Las Vegas on October 6 & 7, Austin on October 16 & 17 and to Chicago on December 4 & 5.

Just click on www.extraordinarytrainers.com to register or contact me for more details.

The Participation Company LLC is a strategic partner of the Center for Management Strategies (CMS), the provider of International City/County Management Association (ICMA) leading practices for local government.

Please forward this newsletter to anyone that you think might like it. We never, ever SPAM anybody and subscribing/unsubscribing is easy.

We waste our time surfing the Worldwide Interweb so you don’t have to.

 

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Altrocentrics, Fools and Adults Behaving Badly

Look, I’m really glad that you’re reading this and I’m truly grateful that people seem to like this little blog. But for your sake, I hope you’re reading it sitting on a beach; next to a cooler or a campfire or in an upgraded room just down the hall from the ice machine. Wherever your happy place is, is fine. CBS says Americans give up 429 million days off every year – we’re lousy vacation-takers.  I know it’s not easy sometimes when (self-confession alert) you’re generating your own paycheck, and the “do-more-with-less” business mindset does a great job of advancing the careers of cardiac caregivers. Europeans typically take at least six weeks off every year and my Aussie pals almost never actually work (ha ha)! So go get some sand in your shorts, America!

Godec

Altrocentric vs. Egocentric  

A federal agency manager contacted me last week looking for advice on a staff engagement plan — a popular topic these days. Egos are out and engagement is in. That, in a nutshell, is the difference between old style egocentric leaders and the new and improved altrocentric leadership style that demands less power and control and engages employees, competitors and customers better.

A new study called Leadership 2030 considers how business is changing which is usually a precursor to changes in the public sector.  A lot of managers are gonna hate this:

http://tinyurl.com/kcwkgxe

Audience Connections  

I’m working with a client on a long-term, dicey and complex issue requiring the company to host a group of experts presenting technical and normally boring information to regular people. My task is to help my client communicate their information in the language of the people that they’re trying to communicate with. It’s not that it’s too hard to do…it’s convincing people who hide behind technobabble of the importance of connecting to real, affected human beings.

http://tinyurl.com/qgfaywe

Seinfeld pointed out that, just ahead of death, public speaking is most people’s number one fear. As such, you’re probably better off in the casket than delivering the eulogy. But when you connect with people, magic happens:

http://tinyurl.com/n259llj

And when you’re ready to step it up a little, consider the following…

http://tinyurl.com/o4j8mkh

Presentations are the bread & butter of this business… here’s the final sermon for this issue:

http://tinyurl.com/mxn47vd

What a Fool Believes  

Borrowing a Doobie Brothers title seems a fair way to introduce this NY Times story on a subject we’ve talked about in the past here, one that has huge implications in communicating and influencing science, policy and truth. A client of mine forwarded me this next story. At its essence, it says that providing evidence alone won’t change people’s beliefs if those beliefs are grounded in cultural and political views:

http://tinyurl.com/q3mqpyb

There’s another theory that beliefs on politically contentious topics are often rooted more in opposition to perceived attacks than anything else-an instance of “motivated reasoning.” This story was in The Atlantic…

http://tinyurl.com/mup7xxx

A friend of mine at CDC in Atlanta just shook his head when I asked him about how much damage he thought Jenny McCarthy has done to autism research and getting kids vaccinated against serious illnesses. Chalk it up to the unintended consequences of a Playmate of the Year using her celebrity status:

http://tinyurl.com/oojxzfu

Adults Behaving Badly

So often the stupidest things that people do are done in groups. My freshman year with my roommates Ritchie, Skeeter and Bugs suddenly comes to mind…but I digress.

I’m a big supporter of old-fashioned American public protest. But there are times when it goes off the rails like the recent Cliven Bundy gang showdown in Nevada or the more recent Murrieta immigration protests.  A quick explanation follows…

http://tinyurl.com/n5o8nbk

 

 

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Truthiness, Consequences & Wing Nuts‏

I was on a bike at the gym reading the paper yesterday morning (a little depressed from thinking that my plans of becoming an underwear model may never be realized) and found my horoscope with four and half stars and the comment: Don’t forget about the element of madness that should be factored into every human equation. Learning that the paper horoscope guy is a lot more sophisticated than the fortune cookie guy brightened my morning. As such, you’ll find this month’s newsletter taking various looks at risk communication, perception, engagement and other factors of human madness.

Godec

Truthiness & Consequences  

Twenty percent of adult Americans believe that vaccines cause autism. About the same number still think cell phones cause cancer. According to a recent report from the University of Chicago, 37 percent believe that the FDA withholds natural cancer cures because of drug company pressure. Add the moon landing, climate change, Area 51, gun control and the Kennedy assassination to that list of conspiracy theories and beliefs. Reason, facts, science and evidence have depressingly little to do with what too many people think.

http://tinyurl.com/oojxzfu

I probably don’t have to remind you that not everything on the Internet is true, but just in case I’ll remind you anyway. And yes, the University of Chicago study is also on the Internet.

http://tinyurl.com/na2an86

Which Wing Nut is Nuttier?  

It’s easy to place the blame on whatever side you’re not on. But, according to Politico, you would also be wrong. And yeah, I know, Politico is on the Internet.

http://tinyurl.com/kron9wb

It may appear that I’ve “jumped the shark” and gotten into politics but that’s precisely what I’m trying not to do. It’s bigger than that – it’s about ideology and hypocrisy.

http://tinyurl.com/q2f8hrj

The Question  

Spending several formative years in broadcasting with great teachers and role models gave me lots of opportunity to practice interviewing people – all kinds of interesting, dumb, mad, boring, sad, smart and scared people. I had no idea how much asking good questions would pay off later.

http://tinyurl.com/n3yopy5

So the moral of the story is that good journalists can make pretty good public involvement people and mediators — if they can stand to lose a little cynicism. Here is a useful interview story featuring a very good journalist.

http://tinyurl.com/ppqm97w

Huh?

The other critical piece is the listening part. It’s wisely said that “waiting for the other person to stop talking so you can start is not active listening.” Active listening fixes lots of sins in public involvement, resolving conflict and just connecting with your team:

http://tinyurl.com/pqa9oc8

Like anything else, you have to work at it to get good and stay proficient. This story is brief and pretty good:

http://tinyurl.com/l3ej8a7

Check this Out

I’ve done a little work on distracted driving campaigns for the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) the past couple of years. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) says texting and driving is now the leading cause of teen driver deaths – a huge problem! I found the following video and would like you to take a look. Tell me what you think.

http://tinyurl.com/pafwsaq

 

 

 

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Dinosaurs, Motivation and Loving the Crazy People

Between Donald’s Sterling performance on CNN and Newt Gingrich defending Hillary Clinton against Carl Rove attacks it’s like living in Bizarro World this week. But as always, there are lessons to be learned everywhere, just look around.

Godec

Dinosaur Communication  

Back when tyrannosaurs roamed Wisconsin and I was starting college, one of the first texts that an English professor forced me to buy (with money that could very easily have used for beer) was Aristotle’s “Rhetoric.” Of course, at the time I thought it was gawd awfully boring, irrelevant and now, timelessly brilliant. After reading – I don’t know how many – papers, books and blogs over the years, the building blocks of human connection still boil down to credibility, empathy and logic:

http://tinyurl.com/mum33hy

The essence of “Rhetoric” is a foundation to the work that we do, and trust and respect have taken on hugely important added aspects of public decision-making and consensus:

http://tinyurl.com/kvq8mz5

Motivating People

I ran across this story and really liked its universal truthiness. All communication should motivate people to think or do something — so think four words: bribe, feelings, progress and cult.  And never forget – story:

http://tinyurl.com/m93sjqn

At first blush, the title of this story looks like it came from People Magazine but don’t dismiss it too fast:

http://tinyurl.com/lf74rgq

Choosing exactly the right words is extremely important and most of us know this. But I guess I’d really never given considerable thought to the perception of people’s names. Check this out…

http://tinyurl.com/ld56apz

Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word

Did you see Anderson Cooper’s interview with Clipper owner/train-wreck/facelift aficionado Donald Sterling this week? As we’ve said so many times before, there’s no substitute for authentic apology…and to do it publicly is a learned skill:

http://tinyurl.com/lo79cdc

Some things Sterling might have considered…

http://tinyurl.com/mkgwrzr

And, maybe he needs a Fred Taylor:

http://tinyurl.com/pgkd5b8

Listen to People You Don’t Agree With

High profile speakers are bailing on graduation commencement addresses this spring because of opposition from students who don’t want to hear from people that they disagree with. This is a bad precedent and probably a really stupid thing to do…

http://tinyurl.com/myzgdn5

Some Love for Crazy People

News this week about Apple CEO Tim Cook’s style compared to that of the late Steve Jobs reminded me of a great passage:

“Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.”

– Apple Inc., Think Different

Shameless Promotion and Training

Godec, Randall & Associates Inc. and The Participation Company LLC train, coach and work with government, corporate and non-profit organizations on engaging the public, managing thorny issues and opposition and moving decisions and projects forward. We train and facilitate customized workshops and courses with organizations on topics related to conflict resolution, public participation, facilitation, risk, crisis and technical communication, presentations and collaborative decision making. We help clients connect with the public and the stakeholders that they need to connect with.

* We’re bringing the International Association for Public Participation (IAP2) new and improved Certificate course to Chicago October 20 – 24.

* And we’re planning the  (IAP2) Emotion, Outrage and Public Participation (EOP2) course for Austin and Las Vegas this fall, and scheduled to offer the class in Chicago on December 4 & 5.

Call me for details.

The Participation Company LLC is also strategic partner of the Center for Management Strategies (CMS), the provider of International City/County Management Association (ICMA) leading practices for local government.

Please forward this newsletter to anyone that you think would like it, it’s ok if you SPAM your friends but we never, ever do and subscribing/unsubscribing is easy.

Remember, we always waste time surfing the Worldwide Interweb so you don’t have to.

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Fascinated and Unconvinced‏

Now that it’s stopped snowing for a few weeks in Green Bay and Buffalo, the world feels a little less frostbitten and brighter. The flowers are blooming, Claritin and Zyrtec commercials are filling the air and, gosh darn it, my sippy-cup is half full. I’m confident that this month’s blog will make you slimmer, younger, give you shinier hair and whiter teeth.  Antihistamines effect each of us differently.

Godec

Fascinating…  

“The needs of the many, outweigh the needs of the few. Or the one.”

It may be that the dying words of Spock from Star Trek II – The Wrath of Khan, is one of the reasons that it’s one of my fave movies. It sort of defines public participation, doesn’t it, the foundation of the democratic process. The storyline pivots when the logical Vulcan Spock leaves this world in a very human-Spock way. Humanity is in the DNA of successful organizations:

http://tinyurl.com/nyj49by

Inconvincible: How Not to Argue  

One advisory-type citizen group that I’m working with has a member who manages to insult and alienate the other members at almost every meeting. In spite of various facilitation techniques, enforcing ground rules, numerous offline conversations, etc., the behavior continues. To complicate things, this individual brings an important and unique perspective, as well as tons of historic knowledge, which adds to the challenge, but this offensive approach means everyone else immediately tunes out when the regular and predictable speech begins.

In my search for some insight and a solution, I ran across the following and thought you might find it useful…

http://tinyurl.com/lz4cowd

Lots of news coverage during the past two weeks about the ever-growing evidence of climate change caused by human activity, yet the skeptics remain entrenched. Someone recently called this communication challenge the most profound in human history. If so, here’s a thought on this debate:

http://tinyurl.com/ozyf5o5

Successful On-Line Groups  

Talking to one of my less-than-tech-savvy pals the other day, (his Y2K party invitation just arrived) he was lamenting about the difficulty of managing online traffic and ongoing, nasty Web feedback for an issue that he’s dealing with. For starters, I sent him this…

http://tinyurl.com/mva6dfn

Nailing it Without Crutches!  

Honestly, this is, like, literally the best article on verbal crutches that you will, basically, read today:

http://tinyurl.com/pntlwxx

When you see or hear a great presentation you tend to know it. You’ll notice a lot of what works but it’s often tough to replicate it because some of the subtleties are a little elusive. This is a nice tutorial that’s similar to what I use in helping clients connect with their audiences:

http://tinyurl.com/nnsl8ju

And just last week I attended a technical presentation in which those immortal words were uttered, “Now, you may not be able to read this, but…”  Please…let’s not utter those anymore, ok?

http://tinyurl.com/n5xbu5q

Coaching and Training  

Godec, Randall & Associates Inc. and The Participation Company train, coach and work with government, corporate and non-profit organizations on engaging the public, managing thorny issues and opposition and moving decisions and projects forward. We train and facilitate customized workshops and courses with organization around topics related to conflict resolution, public participation, facilitation, risk, crisis and technical communication, presentations and collaborative decision making.

In fact, we’re helping the International City/County Management Association (ICMA) with a day-long community engagement workshop in the Village of Hoffman Estates, Illinois (Chicago metro) on May 1. If you worked for a city or county this might interest you. Click on the link below to learn more:

http://tinyurl.com/ov9xzkm

Feel free to send this newsletter to anyone that you think would like it, it’s ok if you SPAM your friends but we never, ever SPAM anybody and subscribing or unsubscribing is easy.

Remember, we waste time surfing the Worldwide Interweb so you don’t have to.

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Elephants and Figure Skaters‏

Spring formally arrives Thursday, except where it’s still snowing, Rob Ford’s making Canada proud again, and watching college basketball until your eyes are ready to fall out of their sockets will be the biggest accomplishment for the next three weeks in the U.S., so lower your work expectations.

Godec

Why Elephants are Better People than Tanya Harding  

Nothing to add, the proof’s in the story…

http://tinyurl.com/prc835c

Empathy relates to trust which reminds me of a recent client interview. The guy said that his organization’s reputation could be traded like stock. He believed that losing credibility wasn’t a big deal because he could buy it back with a few well-placed community donations. I asked him to think again:

http://tinyurl.com/pngwtc3

A recent Stanford corporate reputation study looked at JP Morgan Chase and how they might fix that monster. The full study doesn’t seem to be online anymore but this synopsis is worth reading:

http://tinyurl.com/l9d9mv3

Stage Presents  

I’ve been getting a lot of requests for more tips on presentation and public speaking skills under normal and tough circumstances. So, here are a handful of gifts. If you watched the Oscars a few weeks ago, you saw a few good and bad examples. This isn’t just celebrity fluff, read on…

http://tinyurl.com/jvjrf76

Our ability to communicate and influence has less to do with content and more to do with packaging. Hand gestures can play a huge role:

http://tinyurl.com/obyn9ea

Held Hostage in Public  

Someone once told me that dealing with “the public” felt like being held hostage. That’s kind of a stretch, but dealing with tough issues and people does correlate to hostage negotiation. Here are six really good lessons:

http://tinyurl.com/nk6d5mv

On the subject of hostage taking, I think you’ll like the following article. It sorta ties the previous story to the following one:

http://tinyurl.com/mdo6hkz

It takes all kinds, as mom used to say, and I’m sure that you’ve run into interesting and challenging “publics.” One of those is the bully and, as I’ve long suspected, it seems that bullies are narcissists:

http://tinyurl.com/o8eb2bu

Outsourcing Our Humanity

One of the more talked-about films during Oscar season was Her, the Spike Jonze movie about a guy in a relationship with his smart phone. It raises interesting issues about our connection with technology and how healthy that may or may not be. Wired magazine thinks we’re becoming sociopaths…

http://tinyurl.com/qb6lpns

And how much is too much of a good thing, eighteen hours maybe?

http://tinyurl.com/n6ed6dh

Online communication increasingly dominates how people now exchange ideas and form beliefs.  Every tidbit and variation of information and opinion is just a click away which is astoundingly useful and helpful, except for the outrage porn part.  Everybody’s mad and we love it!

http://tinyurl.com/pyjk7um

We’re addicted to outrage:

http://tinyurl.com/l6mkht9

And, on a related and disturbing note, it seems that the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is in the process of deciding what new endings it will allow to compete with .com, .net, etc. As of this writing, one apparently still under consideration is .sucks. If this happens, every domain will be forced into buying it to keep it out of the hands of people who don’t like you or want to shake you down. The implications of this truly suck.

http://tinyurl.com/lfx9xmp

No Girls Allowed

This clip has no socially redeeming value at all and, if you’re a girl, just don’t watch…

http://tinyurl.com/qx62lmf

Coaching and Training

We’re working with the International City/County Management Association (ICMA) these days and I’ll be part of a group offering a day-long community engagement workshop in the Village of Hoffman Estates, Illinois (Chicago metro) on May 1st. Click on the link below to learn more:

http://tinyurl.com/ov9xzkm

We train, coach and work with government, corporate and non-profit organizations on engaging the public, managing thorny issues and opposition and moving decisions and projects forward. We facilitate customized workshops and courses with your folks in as little as half a day or as many as five days. Call us.

Feel free to send this newsletter to anyone that you think would like it, it’s ok if you SPAM your friends but we never, ever SPAM anybody and subscribing or unsubscribing is easy.

Remember, Randall wastes his time surfing the net so you don’t have to.

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Humanity, Storytelling and Persuasion‏

I got caught in Winter Storm Pax (the Latin word for peace) in the Southeast two weeks ago. Dealing with multiple flight cancellations and plan changes provided the expected firsthand experience: constant airline busy signals, endless phone trees, seemingly eternal information droughts and rental car/hotel 800 number phone-bank drones reading from scripts. In other words, this was the new norm of big corporations, customers and service.

Of course I wasn’t traveling with toddlers and hundreds of thousands of people were in the same boat. My situation wasn’t a life and death issue…it was just inconvenient, so no big deal. The silver lining was that there were some incredibly gracious and professional people who worked their tails off to help. Of course, they were greatly outnumbered by the throngs of headset-hangers sitting in front of screens somewhere in the ether reciting mantras and pushing keys, but I still appreciated their efforts.

The first set of articles below are dedicated to the brands that I plan to avoid in the future…enjoy!

Godec

Oh, the Humanity…  

These were words used by radio reporter Herb Morrison to describe the Hindenburg disaster in 1937. At the risk of sounding melodramatic, “the humanity” has vacated too many companies and agencies that are supposed to be in the people business.

In spite of the fact that the Supreme Court decided that corporations are people, we don’t trust companies or other big institutions…

http://tinyurl.com/nyj49by

And employees don’t trust their bosses…

http://tinyurl.com/odzmwbs

Nor do we trust each other…

http://tinyurl.com/ot2y94f

If you were expecting an easy answer to a complex problem like this, perhaps you should be watching Fox News. However, after pondering this for a while, I think the following two stories illustrate an interesting place to start:

http://tinyurl.com/kqz4ctv

http://tinyurl.com/m9kc6jk

What’s Hot in Communication  

Jeremy Galbraith is the chief strategy guy for Burson-Marsteller, the global PR and communication behemoth. He’s listed the 10 Global Communication Trends for 2014, which I think you’ll find interesting and useful. Some of its common themes have to do with personalization, the changing definition of news and good storytelling:

http://tinyurl.com/kvdcugz

And, once upon a time, there was a very good story that really stuck with the people who heard it:

http://tinyurl.com/qcayp3v

Visual stories tend to be most effective. If you’re offended by graphic violence, then don’t watch this next clip. If you’re not, then I’d like to hear your opinion about the effectiveness of the following PSA. And please…remember who they’re trying to reach and persuade:

http://tinyurl.com/n3llszq

And Speaking of Persuasion…  

When I first started working in this field several hundred years ago, I read Influence by Robert Cialdini (then a mere psychology and marketing prof at Arizona State University). It was and is an important work that has influenced much of what I’ve done.   Working mostly as neutrals, it’s been argued that persuasion has no place in what we in the communication biz do for a living. However, good communication of any kind is about transferring information skillfully.

The first article below is a nifty 59-second explanation of one way that persuasion works. The second, that which we call BYAF, is the essence…

http://tinyurl.com/of5lkz5

http://tinyurl.com/b4x9lux

Coaching and Mentoring  

We train, coach and work with government, corporate and non-profit organizations on engaging the public; managing thorny issues and opposition and moving decisions and projects forward.

We facilitate customized workshops and courses with you and your folks in from one to five days. Contact us to explore the options.

Please send this newsletter to anyone that you think would like it. After all, it’s ok if you SPAM your friends, right? But we never, ever SPAM anybody and subscribing/unsubscribing is easy.

Remember, we waste our time surfing the Internet so you don’t have to!

 

 

 

 

Posted in General

Yellers, Crabs & Credibility‏

As Arizonans enjoy 75+ degree days, I thought it’d be fun to start off the New Year on a nice, negative note so I’m bringing you some thoughts on the loud, obnoxious, angry people that helped build my career.

Chris Christie is graciously giving the SNL writers a lot to work with these days, so I also thought it’d be helpful to revisit the art of apology; take a look at the language that we all use and some other stuff.

Stay warm!

Godec

You’re Going to Hate Me for Getting Mad Again  

As the number of Independent voters goes up, the number of people who self-identify as either Republican or Democrat continues to fall. Extremists get louder, but mostly inside their own “ache chambers” where they spend their days yelling at each other.

We work on tough projects with passionate people from all sides of the issues. Our success is predicated on understanding these issues and working to achieve effective, measured solutions. Conversely, passionate extremists invariably believe that they will succeed just because of their passion – the theory that whoever hollers loudest wins. The problem is that the only people who pay attention to extremists are usually other extremists.

The lesson here is, if you want credibility, don’t get sucked into your own echo chamber:

http://tinyurl.com/pr3ldjx

And, don’t you just hate people who hate stuff?

http://tinyurl.com/k37po3q

Anyone who still picks up a newspaper or regularly checks Web news sites will find plenty to complain about, right? But you also know people who manage to find the black lining in every non-media cloud…the ones who can suck the joy out of Santa and your baby’s first birthday party. It appears there’s a gene for that.

http://tinyurl.com/mwbw5qc

Words Matter

Impeccable is not just an adjective meaning “without pec.” It’s also used to describe how best to use words. Six things to consider before you open your mouth or start writing:

http://tinyurl.com/kf85e86

We see it on almost every project we work on…corporate jargon and government-speak stop communication, consensus and getting things done:

http://tinyurl.com/omn4u98

How Best to Screw Up an Apology

In the past, we’ve talked quite a bit about apologizing. However, the tactful need to do so continues to present itself in the public arena with everything from the Obama Care website train wreck and New Jersey vs. the George Washington Bridge to the latest Hoboken Mayor debacles. It’s a tough pill to swallow for the perpetrator; however, not doing so when it’s the only way to move on is quite simply nuts:

http://tinyurl.com/mpow9yr

This second article is one that I’ve been saving for just such a Chris Christie moment. Technically, it’s just about YouTube apologies. However, it really makes the generic case for learning how to apologize the right way and the monumental importance of the non-verbal aspects associated with being sorry. Truly, nothing is more important when you need to right a wrong…

http://tinyurl.com/l8z4xru

This last one gives props to Christie’s efforts. Now, whether or not he’s still really presidential material is your decision:

http://tinyurl.com/lkwmoxl

It’s Not All About You

This is one of the better and simpler things I’ve run across about establishing rapport with people. You’ll use this…

http://tinyurl.com/qdqxkcf

Communication from Your Handshake Forward

The nuances and analysis of body language sometimes seems over the top and I’d never before run across this level of detail regarding a simple handshake. See what you think:

http://tinyurl.com/lov6pvu

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Please send this newsletter to anyone that you think would like it, it’s ok if you SPAM your friends, right?  But we never, ever SPAM anybody and subscribing/unsubscribing is easy.

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