Losing the Art of Connection

Ah, social media. We’re “connected” all the time. We know all about your dog, your outfits, your new hair style and your relationship status.  We “see” friends and family that we may not have been in the presence of in decades. We support people we’ve never met who 216773_1031748287320_3793_nare a world away and get glimpses into their lives from a digital portal. We peek in on the famous or successful and study their posts or photos for insights. We can engage on the periphery of your life and never have to talk to you.

As a marketing professional, I weary of faceless rants on social media to complain or provide a one-sided story. I tire of the presentations about insights, research and identities. I disdain a world that is so automated, so precise and so technological that our customer is a perfectly served up bundle of data called a “persona” and companies rarely have to personally intersect with humans. Instead we know exactly what you want and like without ever having to talk to you. We design our websites, our slick IVR, form emails and letters and automated service options to meet your specific expectations. We chase you around the internet, we find you on your phone, in email, we “know” all about you, yet I have no idea if you like rain, if you prefer the bus or a car, if you hope to be a teacher or a service professional. I really don’t know much about you at all.

As a leader in a service industry, the one thing that fills my sail, more than anything else, is to hear from the customer themselves. To hear my team take care of them, empathize and work to solve their needs.

I’m a big fan of Human to Human interaction. I wonder how smart we really are…I believe that the organization that figures out this balance is who will ultimately really win.

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A Work Related Post – YOU are the Definition of Marketing

20121209-175900.jpgI have worked in the world of marketing and communications for a long time. There are parts of marketing that remain the same, but I have found the role of marketing is completely different, depending on the leadership at the organization. And ultimately, as the marketing director, the definition of marketing is mine to create.

There are those leaders who see the world of marketing as collateral and things. In my experience, these have typically been “old school” minded leaders (not old, many young leaders operate this way too) who focus on numbers, stats and operational measures of success very heavily. Problems are seen as threats, people are appreciated mildly and every issue has someone/something to blame. Leaders seem to get their confidence from being right, in charge and are threatened by initiative that touches their areas. Marketing is a responsive department, a bow-making department that creates pretty flyers and things out of operational plans set by someone up top. These are challenging placements and usually boil down to the marketing team becoming educator and executor at the same time. The opportunity is to teach leaders the value of marketing by sticking your neck out and bringing proposals that meet a business solution. Show them data, provide them reports, market intelligence, dashboards and summaries that spell out the value of marketing. It can work. I’ve seen it. I’ve been part of it.

Working with leaders who get marketing and understand its strategic value to the organization is a dream. These are usually pretty open leaders who understand that collaboration goes a lot farther to achieve goals. And by collaboration, I mean there is no threat, no “my way” or harsh edicts. Problems are not a threat, but deserve examination and consideration. These leaders are hard on process and not on people. They do not get their security from their position, title or accomplishments, but from the overall success of the organization and the greater team. Marketing’s role is integrated, visionary and essential to achieving business goals. Likewise, in these settings, marketing should use their insight into competitive and market pressures, identify needs and trends and be an important part of strategically leading the organization. It works. I’ve seen it. I’ve been part of changing the course of the organization.

As a marketing director, it’s my role to lead, regardless of where I am working. Each day, each campaign, each project is my opportunity to innovate, initiate and challenge the status quo, to move the company forward, to help our team and our leadership be successful. Each day I have an opportunity to make a difference. And ultimately, that is what keeps me coming back to this world I love and that we get to work in.

Seasons on the Creek

IMG_5923 We have the blessing of living along a creek. I love the changes of the seasons and the variety that each brings. This place is like a slice of serenity in the middle of the city.

Spring is full of mallards, Canadian geese and their babies. They live along the deep shore grasses, closely watching over their young.  Ducks give much more room to their young. The mom is in front and all of the little chicks speed from creek edge to creek edge almost as if they are running on the top. She will stop and count and if any are missing, begin quacking until they all gather again. They are very protective of their young, watching for coyotes, hawks, eagles and other predators. It’s part of nature, but hard to watch the families with 8, then 6, then 4 babies in tow.

The geese families band together. Some adults swim in the front and some in the back with all the babies in the middle. At first they just swim along the banks eating seeds and treasures in the grasses. They seem to be able to protect more of their babies this way, as their attrition is not as great as ducks.

Summer brings the diving and flying lessons. As the babies grow, they are patiently taught how to dive under the water for food. The splashing and kicking of little feet is fun to watch. Much like when our own children were learning to go under and it involved a lot of splashing.

The flying lessons begin and the geese fly low to the water because, occasionally, there’s a little bump of the belly on the water, as they get the hang of it. Our wildlife babies are growing up. The beaver and muskrats remain busy, pulling leaves and twigs. And occasionally an entire tree disappears from the view. Their patterns are the same. Every evening they swim the same route at the same time. Nature is predictable and wonderful and full of surprises all at once.

goldeneagleFall and winter brings a change of guard. The geese begin to leave, the ducks remain, now grown, and wood ducks arrive. Herons are present and spend hours watching for the salmon and little fish. The eagles come and go to look for meals along the creek and the raccoons make an appearance looking for tidbits.

Year round in this space is a wonder and there is nothing more beautiful or peaceful after a long day at work than time observing the seasons on the creek.

Dear Brother….

Sometimes you just gotta dance, regardless of what people think.

My hubby and I are both from families of eight children, so celebrations around the holidays are always big. We had 24 people at our 1500 ft2 home on Christmas. Thank God for good weather that allowed overflow into the 300 ft2 covered deck. And this year, because we had the combination of great weather, our outdoor sound system and the awesome sound track from Guardians of the Galaxy, I danced with my oldest brother for the first time in my life. Officially my favorite Christmas memory ever.  “Hooked on a Feeling” at the top of our lungs, while others looked on like we were drunk, crazy people. I didn’t care. We were having a blast together. That moment of pure unhindered fun was something that I will never forget.

Now my brother is having health issues and I know that I have prayer, I have the memory of our dancing and the absolute love and respect for who he is to keep him strong. Life has not been easy for my brother and I’m sure there have been times where he has judged himself too harshly and taken credit for choices of those near him. But I know he’s been a good man, done everything he could and carried a lot of pain, guilt and burden.  That’s not his to carry.

Brother, from your youngest errrrrr…you have a great heart and I know you have done what you could. Some of it is out of your control. You have to let it go. You have to separate it from who you are. We love you. We surround you and adore you. Be strong brother, I’m praying for you. I need you to get better and take care of yourself. I love you brother.

You are an amazing man. I don’t care if you agree. You have to take my word for it, I’m the youngest and know best! 🙂

None Other Has Ever Known

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I love old hymns. One of my favorites is, “I Come to the Garden Alone,” and while these are not roses, the rain drops on these reminds me of the joy that comes as I “tarry there” in the garden. Can’t wait to see these beauties again this spring!