How easy to make someone’s day

I just received this note from a former co-worker whom I hired to be my Marketing Project Coordinator a few years back…

“I am remembering fondly when my boss, you, would be at work before the rest of the staff and stay longer than the rest. When there was direction, team meetings, goals, and purpose. The glory years!”

I can only hope I’m serving that same role now in my current position…

Thanks, Christine.

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Hire outside your industry

When I was with Capital Newspapers, I developed an informal rule of not hiring anyone from within the organization.

The newspaper industry was already facing some challenges before the rise of the Internet as a news source started seriously eroding its readers. The only chance for the newspaper industry was to get a jump on their Internet presence and try and deliver news – especially local news – in a way that others couldn’t.

This was a time for new ideas, and I didn’t think I was ever going to find the combination of talent and fresh perspective it was going to take to make the kind of difference I thought needed to be made.

So I decided that I was not going to hire anyone from the newspaper industry – not from Capital Newspapers and not from elsewhere. Over my ten years, I hired a number of excellent designers, copywriters, research analysts, project coordinators, freelancers and agencies. The thing they all had in common is that they had no experience with newspapers or any sort of news publications or providers.

They were simply intelligent and innovative marketers who understood their crafts and how their roles fit into a greater marketing plan. They also followed their professions and were on the cutting edge of what was happening around them.

Together, we became one of the best and most well-known marketing departments in Madison, but also an internationally known marketing department within the newspaper industry.

Thanks to numerous awards from the International Newspaper Marketing Association for innovation and creativity, I fielded calls from newspapers around the globe wanting to know how we approached our problem-solving or wanting more details on some of our innovative marketing approaches.

It is with this demonstrated success by hiring people from outside of an industry that I’m always puzzled by those who insist on hiring from within. There was a point at which I was having conversations with a local accounting firm about being their marketing director. The recruiter told me I was at a disadvantage because I didn’t have experience as a marketing director in an accounting firm.

I explained to him that this was, in fact, my advantage. Whomever they hired with past accounting experience was simply going to come in and do the same things they had done elsewhere. I would bring a fresh perspective and bring innovations that they may have never tried – maybe things the industry, as a whole, was not trying.

Certainly, I understand the argument regarding hiring someone with experience in an industry. But if you hire the right marketer, they will eventually reach the level of the experienced professional… and then they will surpass it in ways unanticipated.

This was not the first time I’ve run into that thinking and probably not the last. But given my past success, I simply don’t agree that you need to hire a marketing person from within an industry. If you hire a truly innovative and experienced marketing professional, they’ll be able to walk into any situation and turn it into a success.

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Learning to play with 3 fouls

In November of 2017, I was asked by my daughter’s new varsity girl’s high school coach, Carlos Humphrey, if I would assist him for the season. It was both of our first years, and I said, “sure.”

It was never my goal to be a high school basketball coach, but I thought I could do some good, so…

I’ve worked with Carlos for about four years, and I think kids (and parents) can learn a lot from him. We both share very strong Midwestern sensibilities, so I think that’s why we see things similarly.

For example, when one of our players would get three fouls early in the game, scorekeepers, players, and parents would start trying to get our attention to tell us we had a player in foul trouble. That’s fairly typical. (You only get five, and then you’re out of the game.)

What amused me about it was that they didn’t appreciate Carlos’ philosophy on this: Sometimes in life, you’re going to have three or four fouls, and you’re going to need to learn to play with three fouls or you’ll get knocked out of the game. And there’s no better way to learn than being in that situation. Your coach can’t help you. Your teammates can’t help you. And your parents can’t help you.

While everyone else is caught up in the moment and trying to win, Carlos never loses sight of the bigger picture. He’s always thinking about what lessons his players can learn from his coaching and the game of basketball.



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What to do about homophonophobia

There’s a rising trend in America that we must work to reverse: homophonophobia.

This is the fear of words that sound the same, but mean different things.

There’s a terrific example in the “Spectrum” Monty Python sketch:

“Bow” and “bough.”

In my research of this trend, I came across a startling discussion of the homophonophobia problem in this article by Gretchen McCulloch.

This, of course, is not to be confused with homographobia, which is not a fear of graphs, but instead, a fear of ambiguity.

I think I know a few people with that affliction. Personally, I thrive in it.

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Helping you get a job

When a friend of mine is seeking a position at my company, I act aggressively.

First step is to get their resume and some sort of cover letter-ish email to me that I can send on. Then I figure out who the hiring manager is and head over to their desk to tell them I have a great candidate for them.

After I tell them about my candidate, I forward on the email with the resume to make sure they have it and all but guarantee an interview.

Not much more you can do at this point, but my role isn’t to get them the job. It’s to knock down every potential obstacle to give them the best chance of earning it.

Forwarding the resume to the recruiter, when they’re already getting hundreds of resumes, is less likely to work unless you go talk to that recruiter, in person, and give them some detail about this person they simply “have to talk to.”

This is what I do when someone needs my help. But if there’s an even better way, I’m all ears. I love helping people find employment.

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