It’s hard to believe – 2014 will soon be over. This year has demonstrated tremendous lessons, both personal and professional. Here are my top five:
1. Great leaders make the difference. When the wrong people are in position, it can be damn near impossible to get things done. Being a capable leader doesn’t simply rest on your credential or a title. I’m means articulating a vision and trusting your team to execute. It means leading by example and never stooping to the lows of office politics. It means openly, genuinely and frequently recognizing the accomplishments of your team and not magnifying their failures. Dear friends, not all are built to be leaders.
2. Social customer care is everything. I’ve always been obsessed with social customer care before I even knew what that meant. Three years ago I tweeted at Anthropologie and I remember, clear as day, they responded, located the item I was looking for and sent me a coupon within a matter of hours. To this day, I tell that story – they have set the standard for me. I cannot tell you (I’d be too ashamed to) the amount of money I’ve spend with them since then. Yes, I love the uniqueness of their merchandise. But more an that, I’m a fan of the brand and how they handled that incident. This year, as I encountered Pret a Manger, USPS and everyone in between, I carefully watched their moves when it came to customer response. Strong customer response via social matters to the bottom line.
3. You can’t control everything.
This year almost everything that I thought I could control slipped right out of my hands. I won’t go into too much detail but we have all heard the saying, “if you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans.” That’s the absolute truth. At the top of the year, I became aware of the Sand Mandala. It is is a Tibetan Buddhist tradition involving the creation and destruction of mandalas made from colored sand. A sand mandala is ritualistically destroyed once it has been completed and its accompanying ceremonies and viewing are finished to symbolize the Buddhist doctrinal belief in the transitory nature of material life. . It amazed me that these individuals would spend so much time creating something so ornate and then destroy it. It’s great to focus on a goal but not to be so tied into the process of how you get to the finish line.
4. Take a risk and if you fail, take another. This year, I continued to try out new ways to engage my organization’s social audiences. The previous year, our Facebook and Twitter Chats had been successful. I decided to explore the possibility of using livestream video to bring our annual plan meeting to various stakeholders. Weeks of planning went into the ‘how’ as it was the first time the organization would attempt this type of broadcast. There was hurdle after hurdle: we didn’t have the proper equipment, the internet speed at the venue was shaky. Even two minutes after we went to air there was a glitch – Youtube shut us down as it was picking up the ambient house music and that was in violation if copyright regulations. My team quickly worked on a resolution and it was fixed just as the Chair and CEO stepped to the podium. Had we given up at any point, if we were not relentless about achieving the goal at any cost, we would have failed.
5. You belong. I’ve been attending conference after conference for a solid month. I wanted to gain knowledge in my area of expertise, showcase my skill-set as well as meet leaders in my industry. There was a VP of a worldwide company who was set to panel at one of the events I attended who I was anxious to connect with. I checked his name on the program, determined to speak with him at some point. At the end of day two, I had my opportunity: there he was, packing up his bag and standing alone. Yet, I felt my legs carry my body right past him and out of the door. “Wait, what are you doing?!” I literally said aloud. I walked back to him, stuck out my hand and introduced myself. Long story short, he gave me his direct line and email address. Had I allowed fear to grip me, I would have walked right out of the venue and been cursing myself on the ride home.
In the next 30 days, my focus will be on mindfully observing and influencing the above areas. I’m a strong believer in pushing hard the last leg of the race. Usually, I crank up my Jay Z and I go numb as I run to last mile. Nothing else matters. I’ll let you know how I do.