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12 posts from January 2014

Thriving with Google and Bing in 2014

If your communications with prospects is being served up by Google and Bing (and it is), then you have to understand how they present you to your audiences. Tq140113vdLearn how to correctly feed your information into the search engine results page (SERP), and if you don't do this yourself, check and make sure someone's doing it correctly for you.

Search Engine Land: SEO Changed Forever in 2013. How to Adjust and Thrive in 2014, 2013-Dec-3 by Jim Yu

Since the future SERP is already here, the time to start engaging these capabilities is now. Below are two keys to making sure your site appears in Knowledge Graph results.

  • Implement structured data and rich snippets. Structured data allows Google to organize the information on your website and deliver it in rich snippets that help you stand out from the competition
  • Claim your Google+ and Google Places for Business pages. This gives you greater control over what the search engine reads and displays to users, such as images, hours, current menus, rates and promotions.

Using emotional intelligence to drive innovation

The article cited below focuses on the ways that emotional intelligence can be harmful or useless, but the author also mentions how helpful it is for solving communications challenges. Tq1401010edWhen you have to explain the need to change, a different set of skills are needed than those for identifying the best way to change.

The Atlantic: The Dark Side of Emotional Intelligence, 2014-Jan-2 by Adam Grant

In a recent study at a healthcare company, I asked employees to complete a test about managing and regulating emotions, and then asked managers to evaluate how much time employees spent helping their colleagues and customers. There was no relationship whatsoever between emotional intelligence and helping: Helping is driven by our motivations and values, not by our abilities to understand and manage emotions. However, emotional intelligence was consequential when examining a different behavior: challenging the status quo by speaking up with ideas and suggestions for improvement.

Emotionally intelligent employees spoke up more often and more effectively. When colleagues were treated unjustly, they felt the righteous indignation to speak up, but were able to keep their anger in check and reason with their colleagues. When they went out on a limb to advocate for gender equity, emotional intelligence helped them keep their fear at bay. When they brought ideas for innovation to senior leaders, their ability to express enthusiasm helped them avoid threatening leaders.

Context trumps automation...

When we move up to the next level in management, we'll be able to use computer data to help us do a better job.

HBR Blogs: Algorithms won't replace managers but will change everything about what they do, 2013-Dec-20 by Walter Frick

Walt Frick: What skills keep that human from being replaced?

Tyler Cowen: People who can judge that there’s more to the matter than the software can grab; people who can judge the fact that there’s a need for a different kind of software for the problem; people who know when to leave the software alone and get out of its way.

Those are difficult to acquire and often quite intangible skills, but I think they’re increasingly valuable. You can think of other professional areas, like law or medicine, where you let the software do a lot of the work but you can’t uncritically defer to it. Software is bad at common sense in a lot of ways and it misses a lot of context. It’s people who can provide context.

How to find better ways to give

Giving is such a tricky procedure, especially when it comes to your children. Jenn Choi has a wonderful perspective on this problem. Instead of a solution, she has an approach. Tq140104dgExcept in crisis relief (and maybe even then if it's not cruel), thoughtful giving needs to be matched with thoughtful receiving. I recommend reading this short article about how she got her kids to thoughtfully receive a basket of Lego bricks.

Quartz: How to give your kids everything but a sense of entitlement, 2014-Jan-4, by Jenn Choi

[An article recently read] encourages families to make their children do chores and express thanks for their meals and other gestures. But I have young kids and those tactics felt too abstract.

Wisdom seekers commenting on wisdom seekers

Scott Adams' new book continues to attract wonderful commentary. Tq140103tdI'll have to read it soon. In the meantime, these comments reinforce my plan to think about more about having good routines, than about goals, than about anything else really.

Farnam Street blog: How to Fail at Almost Everything... by Scott Adams, 2013-Dec-19 by Shane Parrish

Goal-oriented people mostly fail. If your goal is to lose 20 pounds, you will constantly think that you are not at your goal until you reach it. If you fall short you’re still a failure. The only way to reach your goal is to lose the 20 pounds. It’s a state of near perpetual failure.

What you really want is a system that increases your odds of success. Even if that system only improves the odds a little it adds up over a long life. In organizations this means, for example, you should care more about the process by which you make decisions than analysis. It also means that you should focus on building a system that evolves, improves, and survives ego. Systems increase the odds of getting lucky. Or, if you want to put it another way, they reduce stupidity.