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Sales tips that can also improve your dating life

Raise your hand if you’ve ever done one (or all) of the following: 1) Paced back and forth in front of the telephone, waiting for it to ring (remember land lines?) 2) Stared down your iPhone, willing that text notification to pop-up 3) Incessantly refreshed your email hoping to see Inbox (1) Follow-up question, did […]

PR Firms That Are I-N-D-E-P-E-N-D-E-N-T And Killin’ It

BOOM. CRACK. Sparkle, sparkle, sparkle. It’s the deafening jingle we all look forward to hearing the fourth day of the seventh month every year. While it seems the twinkling cacophony has become nothing more than a prompt for nationwide “oohs” and “ahhhs” — and incantations of “I think that’s the finale…oh wait, no, that’s the […]

Bragging: Right of the accomplished or misguided pastime?

What, pray tell, would we do without the ability to brag? More pointedly, what would everyone around us do without the ability to brag?

We’d never know that snooze-fest, dork-shoes Tami from the 8th grade turned into a supermodel and “feels #blessed to be traveling around the world to shoot in remote locations whilst sipping on organic-infused turtle water with the natives as she frolics in the sand.”

Additionally, wouldn’t it be sad if we couldn’t see every job promotion of that douche from college who couldn’t keep his mouth shut? I mean he is just “thrilled to have been promoted to partner in less than 18 months.

With the advent of social media, the inclination to boast has gone from zero to 100 as we all scramble to keep our feeds and walls updated with the latest and greatest. As one of my dear friends once quipped: “Facebook is like the US Weekly for normal people.”


Bragging about yourselfBragging, boasting, and talking about oneself (or one’s company, or kid, or whatever) is often hidden under the auspices of “sharing” or “keeping everyone informed.” But when is bragging totally obnoxious and when is it somewhat socially acceptable?

By the way…did I mention that I just got invited by like, a really big company, to fly (business class, I know…so fortunate and grateful) over to Europe and stay in a fancy schmancy hotel so that I can share my insights (why would anyone care what lil’ ol’ me has to say?) with some of the leading entrepreneurs in the world? Isn’t that just insanely crazy. I can hardly believe it. #HumbleBrag.

But I really can. And that’s the point. And now you know about it. And I feel much, much better…at least for now.

In a not so recent article posted on Psychology Today – this $#*t is seriously evergreen – author Susanne Krauss Whitbourne Ph.D (braggy title?) dissects the art of bragging and explores the 7 types – only one of which is mildly okay. To be perfectly honest, even that one is a stretch.

As you may or may not know, I am part of a stellar team who has built the world’s leading technology solution for PR Measurement. We have really big, important customers. So we have tons of data around how to best keep people engaged in content, and one of these tricks is listing things out in number form. I will do that here, because as I may not have mentioned, I’m extremely perceptive and really attuned (#naturalgifts) to people-y type stuff.

The 7 types of bragging are as follows:

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Smart Speak: Ditch the business jargon to build trust

As a professional communicator and nearly obsessive people observer, one thing I often find myself doing at events is listening in on conversations between individuals and groups of people. Some may call this eavesdropping; I like to think of it as homework.

While it may seem totally creepy, the rationale is simple: Through these types of observations, I gain knowledge and insights about the evolution of language, culture, business, and inadvertently modern-day communication.

More specifically, I hear the jargon that emerges as we attempt to codify language within certain industries.

Bryan E. Jones, VP of marketing North America and the Dell, makes the point that jargon is typically used for two reasons: “It’s either a shorthanded way to speak to colleagues or others in your industry (which is fine); or it’s a shield that says, ‘What I do is hard and complex and I want you to stay on your side of the line.'”

Anthony Ray, aka Sir Mix-A-Lot, puts it a little more bluntly: “People think it makes them sound smarter.” He adds: “It’s not just the tech industry that’s guilty of this. It happens in every industry under the sun.”

As a longtime entrepreneur (Appboy) and investor (T5 Capital), Mark Ghermezian has seen his fair share of jargon: “I understand why it exists, and there are definitely some environments where pulling out your ‘industry speak’ will work; but it’s all about context and knowing your audience.”

In terms of the technology and business landscape, and in order to decode and rethink some of the most overused and overrated terms, I asked Jones, Ray, and Ghermezian to give me their take.

ditch jargon speak smartHere are their thoughts on some of the most pervasive catch phrases, what they really mean, and suggestions on what we should we be saying instead.

1. “Social selling.”

This something I’ve been hearing rumblings of for the past year. “Social selling as opposed to unsocial selling is pretty ridiculous if you think about it,” says Jones. “As if we would ever say to a customer: ‘Hi, I don’t want to get to know you or your business, but I would like you to buy things from me. Is that OK?'”

Let’s stick to simply “selling” coupled with a genuine interest in our respective buyers, shall we?

2. “Disruption” and “paradigm.”

These two are like the startup world’s Bobbsey Twins: completely different, each with their own adventures, but often finding themselves together at last. Notes Ray candidly: “It goes a little something like this: Company X will completely disrupt the industry and totally shift the current paradigm.”

What to say instead?

“How about just telling us how you’re ‘different,’ and what real-world problem you are trying to solve,” says Ray. “Using jargon is often a cover up for fluff and truly smart folks will see straight through it.”

3. “Data-driven insights.”

“In my opinion, there’s no reason to track data that’s not going to benefit the customer relationship,” remarks Jones. “We have a tendency to want to track every detail, but it’s our responsibility to take a step back and question the utility of it all.”

In other words, we could think of this as “information that will enable us to make better decisions around the customer.” While “data-driven insights” sounds super smart, it doesn’t mean anything short of context and application.

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3 Reasons CEOs Should Ditch Individualistic Bravado

Handsome man humor funny gesture in a mirrorIn my opinion, nothing is more unappealing than ego-driven anything. When arrogance and bravado are the core principles of a leadership team, the result is often one of three things, if not all of them:

1. Your employees will despise you.

2. The press will generate negative stories about your company.

3. Your customers will vote with their feet.

The antics of particular CEOs (who will remain unnamed) notwithstanding, this type of behavior is generally bad for business on a variety of levels, not to mention out of vogue. How a leader operates both in and out of the boardroom defines the company culture, setting the tone for inter-employee communication and the expectations for the group as a whole.

The most successful leaders I’ve encountered are armed with empathy, patience, and intelligence while emphasizing trust and strong team bonds. To prove my point, I tapped a few CEOs whom I respect to provide insight on how they lead without raised voices or harsh words, and why it’s a much better approach to leave inflated egos at the door.

#1–Trust is an “inside job” that will lead to “outside success”

Reprimanding and bullying employees for poor performance can often lead to crushed morale for both the person and the people around them; it may scare up immediate results, but it doesn’t create long-term inspiration. Instead, slowing down and talking things through can often be much more effective.

“As a leader, I make a conscious choice to let bothersome things process and settle before bringing them up,” says Dippak Khurana, Co-founder and CEO of Vserv. “When they surface, I try to make it part of a thoughtful discussion in a face-to-face or small group situation. I’ll state my case, listen to the response, and try to see all perspectives, particularly when it involves big decisions. I’ve found that it builds the most important thing any successful CEO needs: trust.”

Not only can you fix a problem at the root cause, employees will feel safe to express their thoughts and ideas. That environment can propel the whole company forward.

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AirPR Fights for “Title Equality”

Company Institutes Mandatory “CSO” Position For All In an effort to fight for one of the most controversial equality issues of modern day tech culture, Title Equality, technology company AirPR has announced it will change all employee titles to CSO. “This was not an easy decision to make, because at first glance it seems to […]

How to Think About Gender Inequality and Diversity in Tech

Last fall I attended the very fashionable and mildly geek-chic Anita Borg Institute’s Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing event, now home to “Nadella-gate.”

There, I observed a sea of 8,000 women aged eighteen to eighty who were there for one express purpose: to understand the technology landscape and future of computing and how it may affect their respective lives–career and otherwise.

My thinking around gender inequality (in this particular case, with regard to the technology industry) tends to align with GoDaddy CTO Elissa Murphy’s thinking when we sat down at the conference to discuss gender gaps, among other things: “I never got the memo that I wasn’t supposed to go to the computer lab, or play baseball, or do any other thing I wanted to do. Being a girl never had anything to do with it.”

On the flip side, as Erica Lockheimer, Director of Engineering Growth at LinkedIn, pointed out: “When you talk to younger generations, the stereotypes about being a girl in computing still exist: we’re introverted geeks who lack social skills and just want to stare at a computer screen all day. It’s in everything from the things they watch on TV to what they see on the Internet.”

What is the truth about why more girls don’t pursue engineering careers? Is it because men are holding them back? Is it because “the system” (that beast! The thing we blame when we can’t identify a culprit) is sending the wrong messages?

If we put gender aside for a moment, and focus on the benefits of diversity within industries and organizations, the thinking ever so slightly shifts into a solutions-based paradigm. The by-product of this modification is a distinct emphasis on a person’s love for a particular subject matter, area of expertise, or knowledge base that allows them to thrive. Along with continued discourse and a general awareness of “unconscious bias,” I am almost certain that if we focused on the following things, we would see seismic shifts in terms of the number of people (who happen to be female) who pursue careers in engineering and other technical roles.

EDUCATION: Thinking about computing education as art, rather than just science

It’s very easy to get stuck in our thinking that pursuing a degree in computer science means one is only adept with numbers. But the truth is that “coding” is actually very similar to learning a language; a language that happens to be numbers based. When curricula systematically approach engineering from the standpoint of science or math, they fundamentally deny those with a propensity for learning languages or a passion for art the opportunity to pursue this path. We have done a disservice by talking about STEM in terms of left-brains, rather than a creative pursuit that requires a different set of skills, often soft skills, in order to master it.

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8 Brand Voices We ♥ Like Whoa

I woke up today thinking about the amount of passion, time and energy that goes into building something you truly care about. The sheer volume of attention, commitment, and care entrepreneurs must demonstrate day in and day out to realize their visions is staggering. And really what it all boils down to, is love.

How fitting given the impending holiday where chocolate, roses, and winged cherubs rein supreme!

Business professionals don’t typically use the word “Love” very much. As Gapingvoid’s Hugh MacLeod astutely asserts:

“It embarrasses the grownups.”

But then, if love isn’t a part of the daily equation, how do we accomplish anything truly meaningful? Love is everything. It’s an emotion underpinned by thoughtfulness, empathy, and selflessness…all stellar qualities for any business to personify.

If Valentine’s Day is all about showing your love and appreciation, we’d like to take this opportunity to shout out 8 brands and business that make us swoon. They inspire us, give us insight, make us think differently, and encourage us to be the best versions of ourselves!

Not only do they care deeply about what they do, they are also ever mindful AND just plain delightful.

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A Case of the PR Funnies

Sometimes being serious is just so…well…boring. And while it is certainly necessary to wax poetic and pontificate about important things like PR Measurement and the future of this fun lil’ industry of ours, once in awhile it’s even MORE important to get in a good laugh between pitches, memos, strategy meetings, and the laundry list […]

Have a cow, no seriously…

One of my favorite go-to phrases in PR consultant-land was always: “You can’t put lipstick on a pig.” Translation: “Hey, listen buddy, if you have a crappy product, a less than stellar website, and missed the market trend by more than two years, ain’t no press in the world gonna save you now.” And yes, […]