career success

Are We Losing Our Ability to Listen?

We spend roughly 60% of our communication time listening, yet we retain only 25% of what we hear. Author and consultant Julian Treasure explains how our world is increasingly losing the ability to listen carefully—and how it's hurting us. Take a moment to learn from his Ted Talk how to be a better listener and to find more enjoyment in the sounds around you.

Sound Advice

Are you familiar with the four cornerstones of powerful and positive speech? Using author and speaker Julian Treasure’s tips in this Ted Talk you can learn how to use your voice to connect with other people on a whole new level. Discover the keys contained in “HAIL,” which stands for Honesty, Authority, Integrity and ___(see if you can guess the last one).

Use Success Stories to Build Your Company's Culture

Employee engagement and culture development are two of the hot topics in business today. We know that employees have discretionary effort—and those who feel deeply connected to their work will expend more effort.
One technique that can help do both is to celebrate successes—and connect them to your core purpose. Need some inspiration? Check out this video that we produced with San Joaquin Community Hospital to summarize their achievements for the year.
Are you talking about successes enough at your company? How might video help you celebrate your achievements better?

Essential Skills for Tomorrow’s Top Health Care Marketers

The role of the health care marketer and communicator is changing—that’s not news. But what will it look like? In the Sept./Oct.  issue of Spectrum, the member newsletter of  Society for Healthcare Strategy and Market Development (SHSMD), we suggest the critical skills tomorrow’s pros will need to master. Which of these do you think will be most important?

5 Secrets the Best Conversationalists Know


Being a leader or a professional communicator includes polishing one’s own tools for interpersonal communication. Here are five substantive but simple strategies for becoming a better conversationalist—offered by Michael Hyatt.

  1. Strategy #1: Listen with your heart.
  2. Strategy #2: Be aware of how much you’re talking.
  3. Strategy #3: Hit the ball back over the net.
  4. Strategy #4: Ask follow-up questions.
  5. Strategy #5: Provide positive feedback.

Hyatt reminds us that genuine curiosity and interest in others is key to your ability to lead. You can listen to his podcast here.

Is there a Cost to Rudeness at Work?

Rudeness in the workplace is up dramatically in the last 14 years, according to this Harvard Business Review podcast (click below to listen) by Christine Porath, associate professor at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business. And there’s reason to believe there’s a cost associated with it.

As professional communicators, we can help set a tone of civility in our corporate communications and by our own behavior. After all, good manners, at their best, aren’t about being stuffy or pretentious, but about being respectful of our fellow human beings. Living together in a home, community or nation means that our ideas and behaviors will inevitably impact those around us. Civility and common courtesy can act as a lubricant for social behavior—making life more pleasant for everyone.

I say it’s time we buck this trend, and decide that civility isn’t just good for corporations, it’s good for neighborhoods, communities and cities.

The High Cost of Rudeness at Work

Reclaim Your Sense of Wonder

Today it may appear that we diverge from business matters, and yet if you think about it, our business work flows from what is within us—so perhaps we are not diverging at all.

If it has been too long since you allowed wonder, discovery and beauty to fill you, then this Ted Talk will give you a 10-minute space in which to reclaim it for yourself.

Allow wonder to become gratitude, and see where it takes you. Namaste.

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The Secret to Selling: What Great Leaders Know

Why do some companies outperform others? Why do some people achieve things others do not? Why do some leaders inspire, while others don’t?

In this Ted Talk, Simon Sinek asserts that all great leaders think, act and communicate differently than others. They stay focused on the question of “Why?”—which engages humans at a deeper level than facts alone.

Sinek says that people will buy what you sell if they believe what you believe. As he said, Martin Luther King gave a “I have a dream” speech, rather than “I have a plan” speech. In marketing, this means talking more about why we do what we do than about what we do.  

What’s the why behind your business? And how might that inspire others to buy what you have to sell?

A One-Minute Lesson in Creativity from Steven Jobs

Sometimes the best ideas don’t come from within one’s own industry, but from outside of it. Some of the grandest human ideas have been expressed in art, architecture and music—and these still serve as sources of inspiration for us even centuries after their creation.  

Giving oneself the time to take in life outside of our limited vantage point may lead us down more creative paths. Steve Jobs knew this, and summed it up well:

"Ultimately creativity comes down to … trying to expose yourself to the best things that humans have done and then trying to bring those things in to what you're doing.... I think part of what made the Macintosh great was that the people working on it were musicians and poets and artists and zoologists and historians who also happened to be the best computer scientists in the world.”

Why not take a moment today to expose yourself to ideas outside of your industry, and see what happens?

Four Ways to Improve Your Customers' Experience (And Be Happier)

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In this business, we pay attention to image because image matters. We also pay attention to substance, because without substance, image makeovers won't matter. So when it comes to retaining customers, paying attention to every interaction a customer has with your brand is imperative. But as professionals, our job is also to create the narrative that inspires your organization to thinking about customers in a way that builds strong alliances.

No, you can’t do this alone. But don’t underestimate the power of our words and the images to  inspire a perspective that improves the customer experience—and ultimately sales. Here are four ways you can do that:

  1. Engage, don’t perform. Help your organization decide in its collective heads and hearts that they really are interested in helping your customers achieve their goals. Tell the stories of happy customers. Make them compelling, real and personal. (This, by the way, is also a very happy way to live.)

  2. Deliver compulsively on your promises. This is where the executors separate themselves from the going-out-of-business businesses. Build an ethos that talks about how that looks. Help the team see how quickly they can rise above their competitors by returning calls, following up on promises, making notes, reviewing notes, delivering actions.

  3. Help orient your team to the long-term. It is not only immensely more pleasant to have mutually satisfying long-term relationships than making an extra buck—it also allows yourself to truly invest in, and therefore become an expert, on what your customer needs.

  4. Put yourself in their shoes. Be the voice in your organization that inspires your team to treat people the way you’d like to be treated. Showcase examples, tell stories.

The facts are, anything you needed to learn about selling your mother has probably already told you. Share. Care. Listen. Be polite. Keep your promises. As professionals, we can help nudge our organizations in this direction by modeling this behavior and by shaping our company’s narrative.

As Geoffrey James so wisely said in his Inc. article. “The secret to customer loyalty lies in putting the interests of the customer ahead of your own. It’s really that simple.”

15 Year Anniversary: A Time to Be Thankful

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Celebrating a milestone like our 15th year in business immediately brings to mind the clients whom we have been fortunate to serve over the years. Many of them have been with us since our earliest days, and have helped our business grow primarily by word of mouth.

The creative work we produce with them is a direct result of how they manage, inspire and work with our creative team. Today we want to say thank you to those of you who have trusted us with your company’s image—and sent us other clients because of your referrals. 

Need inspiration? Step into your right brain.

Jill Bolte Taylor, a brain scientist, suffered a stroke in the left side of her brain and learned what it really means to be a right-brained thinker. She's spent the last eight years recovering her ability to think, walk and talk, and has now become a major advocate for stroke recovery.

From her experiences she hopes she can inspire others to think differently about thinking. "Right here, right now, I can step into the consciousness of my right hemisphere... [where] I am the the life-force power of the 50 trillion beautiful molecular geniuses that make up my form, at one with all that is. Or, I can choose to step into the consciousness of my left hemisphere where I become a single individual, a solid. Separate from the flow, separate from you."

Innovation comes from right-brain thinking. So when lacking inspiration, try stepping out of the structured left-hemisphere of your brain and into the creativity of the right. lists several ways you can tap into the power of right-brain thinking:
  • Use your non-dominant hand. If you are right-handed, trying using your left hand for common activities such as brushing your teeth or combing your hair. 
  • Try some brain boosting body moves. Certain body moves are known to balance the brain, such as juggling, walking while swinging opposite arms and legs, and marching on the spot all help to get the left and right side of the brain working together.
  • Do some creative planning. Doodle rather than writing word lists or linear notes. You can daydream, scribble and sketch your way through a problem-solving session and find yourself stress-free and resourceful when you emerge from the other side.
Regardless of what your natural brain lead is, you can develop both sides.


Reputation or character?

Legendary UCLA Coach Wooden understood how to inspire success in others. His focus on character was foundational to his leadership. As he put it, character is what you are, and reputation is what you are perceived to be. This is true not only of people, but of companies. Although our work as communicators is about building reputation, it is always in adjunct to the organization’s work to be a company of character.

Wooden also believed that how we make the journey is more important than our final destination, and redefines winning by how we conduct ourselves along the way. “You can outscore another team and lose, and you can be outscored by another team and win,” he says in this inspirational interview.

You Can Be Indispensible

Ever notice how easy it is for all of us to see all that is wrong with the world? Anyone can point out problems, but it's the one who brings solutions to their organizations that stands out.

You will be surprised how quickly you can distinguish yourself by observing this one simple rule. By seeing and addressing the strategic issues that impact the success and future of the organization, you can establish yourself as a visionary, a leader and a valuable member of the team.

More often than not this requires more persistence and positive attitude than it does brilliance. As Albert Einstein once said, "It's not that I'm so smart, it's just that I stay with problems longer."

Execution Trumps Brilliant Idea

Being brilliant can be an asset, but knowing how to execute a strategy—that's what will make you a rising star in an organization. Many strategies fail in the execution stage—even though the original idea was a winner. That's because big ideas are much easier to come by than the long, hard haul of building a service or product.

If that weren't the case, there'd be myriad knock-offs for every business success. Who can't walk into a McDonalds and observe their big ideas in action? Yet few are able to replicate this operationally.

Pay attention to the people in your organization who know how to execute an idea successfully, and see what they have to teach you.

Faster, Farther, Bigger

A week's worth of information found in the New York Times is believed to be more than what a person obtained in his/her entire lifetime in the 18th century. Our ability to send information globally at unprecedented speeds creates a world of opportunities—and challenges. This insightful video highlights the research done by Karl Fisch, Scott McLeod and Jeff Brenman on the explosion of connectivity, which has implications for how marketers and communicators do their work.

Are you solving problems your boss or customers care about?

The workplace is filled with people who are brilliant, capable and talented—but who never achieve the success commensurate with their career achievements.

It is possible to provide superior work, and still fail in the workplace. Often, this is because one has failed to find solutions to the problems his boss or customers see as most significant.

Want to set yourself apart from the rest? Figure out the biggest challenges your boss or customers have, then recommend and implement solutions to them. You will likely find that a problem solver will rise in both responsibility and esteem.

Struggling to obtain adequate marketing budgets?

If so, consider these tips used by those who have mastered this function:

  1. Identify the budget decision-makers. Sometimes these include people without the official titles, but who have influence among decision makers. Make sure they understand the rationale for your request.
  2. Speak their language. If these individuals are left-brain thinkers, they'll respond well to logic supported by data. Here's an example of how you might make your case: "Market share has declined by 10% each year for the past two years. We have data to support the assumption that competitor X is offering a similar product at a lower price, and that the market for this service is growing nationally by 8% per year. We believe the following five-point plan will reverse that trend."
  3. Focus on the benefit to the institution. Instead of asking for funding, present a proposal that will provide a desired benefit. Marketing is never just an ad or a campaign, but a business strategy designed to produce value.
  4. Evaluate and report. Re-evaluate the data periodically, adjusting the strategy as needed and reporting results back to the budget decision-makers. As they see results, they will come to recognize that an investment in marketing can improve their image and drive revenues to the bottom line.

You will be surprised to see how funding can be found for projects that are deemed important to the company's future—even in budget-challenged times.

Five Simple Ways to Make Yourself Indispensible

Want to stand out from the rest of your co-workers? Here are five simple tips:

  1. Volunteer to take on a project that matters to your company—but is in need of leadership.
  2. Do more than is asked of you.
  3. Have a positive, can-do attitude. If you don't know how to do something, be willing to learn.
  4. Follow through on your promises.
  5. Communicate results. While others struggle to increase their budgets, you'll find funding more readily available when you can show the results of your previous efforts.