We Are All Influencers

Posted by Richard Moran.

Influencers are everywhere today.  Every celebrity is an influencer. Some cats and dogs are influencers that make a lot of money.  As influencers, athletes can change the trajectory of a team. Crazy Grandmas and every teenager with a camera is an influencer.  Every person in marketing knows that snagging a big influencer is the key to success for any consumer product. 

A follower sent me a message…

Dear Mr. Moran, your recent post changed my life. I was desperate for a change and with just a few simple words you were able to motivate me to change jobs and examine my relationships. I suspect when you write your posts you don’t know the affect your message can have on people. Keep up the good work.

It was not the first time I received a “life changing” note. I am proud to be an Influencer on LinkedIn and know that because of that, my views may get more attention than others but when it comes to life changing, I am not sure I can bear that burden. My intent is not to change lives. The messages in nearly all of my posts are: Take control of your own career; enjoy your work; and stop doing stupid stuff.  For life changing advice my inclination is to direct people to more heavenly sources. But the email reminded me that we are all influencers and we need to own that responsibility.

We are all influencers as a time and a situation intersect to hit a nerve.

Consider this:

  • You don’t have to be an author, a leader or Richard Branson to be an influencer. Every manager and colleague is an influencer and so are you. You may never know who you might be influencing but you are through word and deed. Has someone ever told you, “You had a big impact on my life”?
  • You never know who will influence you. It could be a teacher, friend or someone you met on the beach or on an airplane. Influencers come in all shapes and sizes and can hit you with influence when you least expect it. Have you ever told someone, “You will never know the impact you had on my life”?
  • Like your mother said, “he or she is a bad influence on you.” Not all influencers are positive and it is incumbent on you to glean from the good and bad. Take influencers with caution. You can make your own decisions whether it is about the four-hour work or how to trade in Bitcoin.

Here is my response to the email:

I appreciate and am honored by the fact that my post may have changed your life.  I suspect there were many factors that helped you make decisions and that I was only one small sliver of your decisions. I hope you are on the right track for you and that you find inspiration in lots of places, and maybe a few influencers as you go through life.

Choose your influencers carefully. My own go-to influencer is Paul Newman. He was cool, brave, had a sense of humor and always managed to do the right thing. Find your Paul Newman and ask yourself, “what would he or she do?”

When the “Crazy Uncle” is in Charge

Posted by Richard Moran.

We all know about the crazy uncle. He’s the one who shows up drunk at Christmas and then disappears for three months. He’s the one who pulls up out front in a mobile home and wants to borrow an electrical extension cord. He’s the one who tells the same long stories again and again even though they weren’t interesting the first time. Some of us have that uncle and some of us just know of him through movies and TV. But what if the “crazy uncle” is running the organization? It can be a problem.

The crazy uncle in charge will be out of touch with what is really going on in the organization, like Nero fiddling while Rome burned. He will discuss his vision for the future while the company is running out of money. He will say things are great when everyone knows they are not. 

Crazy uncles like to talk about the old days citing times “when I was at Intel” or any other company that is more successful than the current one. Steve Jobs comparisons are often used although the comparisons don’t apply. The uncle also uses metaphors even when they don’t work or make sense either. When the uncle says, “This is our Kodak Moment”, everyone wonders if they should snap a photo or the company is filing for bankruptcy.  

There are many issues when the crazy uncle is in charge but maybe the worst is that, as the leader, he will have lost credibility and be ignored. Instead of driving change and rallying the organization, people will tune out to his messages. Nothing changes when change is probably needed the most.

Although the crazy uncle is not mean, when others try to help him or even protect him from himself, he won’t like it and will lash out creating even more damage. If the uncle makes a mistake he will say, “sorry about that” and move on leaving the wreckage behind him with no plan for repairs.

Put it all together and the crazy uncle in charge makes for a leader who is ignored and creates a void at the top when leadership is most needed.

You see it happening, what’s to do? As always, there are career choices…

  • Ignore him and hope that other senior leaders are aware and filling the void.
  • Wait and hope that some one with sense will intervene. Or, talk to others and do an intervention before it’s too late. Very risky. 
  • If you enjoy your job, keep your head low and just stay out of his way.  Create workarounds. Keep him out of everything you do to be successful.

Usually the crazy uncle surrounds himself with like thinkers and you may be dealing with an entire team of out of touch crazy uncles. In rare cases the uncle might come to his senses and let go of the leadership reins. 

Don’t confuse characters with crazy uncles. Elon Musk is a character and Richard Branson is a character. They are not crazy uncles and are working their style into the organizations success. Crazy uncles are different.

The uncle almost always makes the place more interesting, but not necessarily more successful.

The Worst Workplace Label: Unresponsive

Posted by Richard Moran.

Lots of words come to mind when describing bad traits that show up as labels at work. Sloppy, lazy, sleepy and clueless are a few that you might want to avoid. If any of these show up in your review, it’s time to hit the reset button. But there is one descriptor that is even worse.

That word is UNRESPONSIVE.

An unresponsive co-worker sends out tacit messages to others that I am too busy to respond or that you are not important enough for me to respond. Either way, neither is a response that will endear you to your co-workers. But you don’t have to act that way. The guidelines on what is appropriate for being responsive are always changing but a few rules seem to always apply.

My first boss told me in no uncertain terms: THESE ARE THE RESPONSE RULES, and they should never be broken if you want to be successful. • Every phone call should be returned within ¬twenty-four hours. Even those from people you don’t know.

• Every memo should have a response by the next business day. Even if the response is, “I am in receipt of your memo, stay tuned.”

• Each piece of correspondence received should be acknowledged and a response prepared and returned within three business days.

These rules no longer apply. Today, it is rare to make a phone call or to receive one. No one even knows what a memo is anymore, and no one receives written letters unless the letter is from the IRS. The rules have changed and are now, well, a little ambiguous. There are some general guidelines that are never written down in an employee manual but seem to generally apply:

• An e mail needs to be returned the same day. Probably.

• A text should be returned within an hour. Probably.

• And a phone call? Depends on who it is. If it’s the boss, return it the same day. If it’s the person calling about a solar panel offer, maybe never.

Some would say that these guideline response times are too slow. This group would say an e mail should be returned within the hour and a text within a minute. This same group would be forgiving on returned phone call times because this is the group that never makes phone calls or would die before posting an automatic out of office response.

Others would say e mails, texts, and calls are the source of all distractions and inefficiencies. This group would choose not to be measured by response time.

The workplace is moving so fast today that “the quicker the response, the better” is always a good rule. Acceptable and exact response times today are a moving target with lots of variables that dictate the right answer. If you are too busy for appropriate responses, a quick, “I got it. Stay tuned” might suffice.

Go ahead. Look up the synonyms for the word unresponsive. These words include: insensitive, passive, cold, and unfeeling. Some of the descriptors are worse. One thing I do know: to be labeled as unresponsive in today’s workplace means you are showing a lack of respect for colleagues.