Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Twerking for Dummies

Originally published in the Alaska Highway News in my column "From the Desk of the Green Eyed Girl"

Last week I “danced like no one was watching” and I stubbed my toe so badly that it bled. You know when you hit your foot against the corner of the wall and it separates the big toe from the toe beside it (the no name Presidents Choice toe)? Well, that is what happened. No one was home and that infectious song “Happy” was playing on the television. Jumping up, I began to dance around the living room, my two dogs (who are confused and thinking I am having a seizure) are barking and darting in and around my legs. Sweat begins to bead onto my forehead and I wonder, “exactly how long IS this song?”. But still I continue to dance. Abandoning my fur lined slippers, I begin to move much like I imagine Beyonce might move. My too short, stained pajama pants with the ragged draw-string tied into a ball of knots float about my body and I begin to twirl like Stevie Nicks. THAT is when it happened! Pain like the pain of a thousand childbirths shot through my foot and I crumpled to the floor: barking dogs now panicked because they are CERTAIN that I am seizing and probably afraid that they will not get fed. Dizzy with the pain, I attempt to see if I have truly injured myself. I see blood…….not a lot of blood, not enough for a band aid, but there was some blood. Wiggling my big toe and then the no name toe beside it, I check for broken bones and am relieved that they both move freely (note to self: make a pedicure appointment).

What the hell is happening to me……I used to be agile like a very short, stout Ninja and now a simple Twerk attempt is going to be my demise?

The previous week I tripped going “up” a flight of stairs to an aircraft. Envision my laptop case on shoulder, purse that technically should count as a carry on over the other shoulder and carrying a suitcase that I am going to try to coax into the overhead bin on the aircraft. Smiling…..pleased that my flight was on schedule and we were boarding on time, I begin to climb the stairs. On the fourth step I tripped and because my arms were full, I pitched forward in slow motion with my chin coming to rest on the ledge below where the Flight Attendant was standing. Her non-reaction indicated to me that she had seen this kind of thing happen before and she waited for me to struggle to my feet. I understand she was practicing a type of “tough love” and that I needed to realize that perhaps I was loaded over my maximum GVW. I did get the impression that she might have been holding back a snort of laughter/a guffaw (her shoulders were shaking so she was either crying or laughing).

I managed to navigate the final steps successfully and find my seat, where I now have to put everything away. This is where the “objects may be smaller than they appear” thing happens. I try to force my suitcase into the overhead bin. It SHOULD fit…..I did size it using the metal sizing device located in the boarding lounge. The Flight Attendant no longer looks cheerful and comes up beside me, “Is it too large?”.  The look on her face was reminiscent of the look my sister Jessie would give me when she dared me to do something. I matched her steely look with one of my own and responded, “no…..it will fit, I KNOW it will”. Determined, I huffed and pushed, until finally it slid down into the bin. Embarrassed that I scuffed up the edge of the opening on the bin of what appears to be a brand new aircraft, I saw the Flight Attendant glaring and imagined she was thinking, “this is why we can’t have nice things”.

My point is….twice this month I have taken a tumble and I am wondering if I need to enroll myself into one of those “I have fallen and can’t get up” programs. Is this a slow metamorphosis beginning to occur? Will my next order from Zappos be for Velcro closing runners? Will I begin to wear my progressives ALL the time? Stay tuned……

Friday, May 30, 2014

Even Teflon can break…...

Originally published in the Alaska Highway News May 30, 2014

My hands tremble as I write this, fearing that the universe will somehow get back at me for actually saying this…..out loud….in my column in the newspaper…and now here.

Okay….here goes, “Am I alone in my distaste/dislike/it smells funny reaction to the latest WestJet viral video?”. Titled, “WestJetters read tweets” and a takeoff (that was a pun) from the late night talk show host who has a segment, “Celebrities read mean tweets”.

WestJet might have missed the mark this time.

I realize that WestJet was voted as Alberta’s #1 brand, and was listed in the top100 Canadian Brands and well…....I almost feel unpatriotic writing this. (You see…..I am truly Canadian because I am apologizing before I even begin). I am hoping that by drinking a Tim Horton’s coffee while writing this will reverse any “bad Canadian” karma.

On Monday, I tossed it out into the universe (my Facebook friends) to get a reaction to the video. This is what I said, “I like the direction they were going but question their use of profanity (even though the profanity was bleeped). I think that this is one video that might backfire on them. Unless of course their brand is so solid that it is Teflon and things bounce off (do things bounce off Teflon or slide off?). Just an observation - I would like to know your thoughts”. Immediately after watching it, I felt that they had deviated from their wonderfully crafted brand. They are known for smiles, laughter, jokes and reuniting children with stuffed animals…..that brand is big! that brand is huge! that brand is the envy of many and does not include reading mean tweets.

Some of my friends agreed, others admitted that they enjoyed it. So….I took to the internet to see if there was as much buzz about this video as there was about the Christmas Video or even the April Fools Joke Video. There wasn’t……and I think I know why.

First: not every video is guaranteed to be a home run. WestJet has a wonderful way of engaging with their guests and nine times out of ten, they have tremendous success.

Second: The use of profanity (even though they were reading it and bleeping it). When you see professionals using profanity, we lose respect.

Third: Some of their guests may find this video offensive and be offended that WestJet called out some of their detractors. A sector of the population believes that the customer is always right. Sharing those negative comments might be perceived as disrespectful to the client base they serve. Those individuals showcased in the video might be extremely embarrassed, humiliated.

Fourth: Perhaps a better idea for a video would be showcasing some of the amazing things that happen as a result of using Twitter as well as Westjet does. They could have read tweets that were extraordinary or tweets that were really unusual or funny. Would that have gone “viral”?

So where do we go from here? Obviously the WestJet brand is very solid and a misstep (in my opinion) like this will not hurt their brand in the least. They might have lost some public respect, and in particular, those who had a different opinion of the airline – one that equated them with Disney. That wasn’t a video you could have shared with your children.

As always I am in awe of their ability to master social media and lead the industry in online engagement. I will continue to enjoy their witty videos and twitter responses, but I wonder……..will they do that again?

Okay……I am waiting for the lightening bolt…..I smell smoke….wait! is my hair on fire?

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Walking with Scott

I have run marathons, half marathons and 10k's…….but you would never know it. Over the past 5 years I have been lazy, lazy, lazy and with my daughter's wedding coming up in September, I know I will regret not taking my fitness and my overall "look" a bit more seriously. I have exceeded my maximum GVW and it is GO time!

So today I began walking with Scott. Just for clarification, I am not actually walking with Scott, rather I am listening to Scott Stratten. One would think that I would download Gaga or Katy or Kanye, but no……I am a social media junkie so I downloaded every @unmarketing podcast onto my ipod and went for a power walk.

The first unpodcast I listed to? "Why Crowdsourcing Matters" - funny, insightful and sheds a light (as always) on the ridiculous in the world today.

Anyway……I digress. Observations from  today's walk:

Self Magazine should be ashamed of themselves and will retain their spot on the "mountain" for quite a while….in fact, my next walk might be complete with a "tutu" (you have to listen to the podcast for that to make sense.

I need to invest in better, sturdier "underpinnings"

I didn't die….nor did I feel like I was going to die (all good things)

I walked for approximately 34 minutes of an undetermined distance.

Unpodcast "Why Crowdsourcing Matters"

Monday, November 4, 2013

Meeting Peter to Hire Paul - Leveraging LinkedIn

Over seven million Canadians are using LinkedIn. Are you one of them?

Recent statistics state that Canada is the fifth largest user of the site that boasts over 200 million members worldwide.

Why would you want to create a LinkedIn profile? Well…..in Canada, recruiters from many diverse sectors are logging into the site to find talent. According to sources, 50% of Fortune 100 companies hire through LinkedIn.

How does LinkedIn work? It has been described as the “professional person’s answer to Six Degrees of Separation” (about.com). This is a perfect analogy, because it is about leveraging your own connections to make new ones.

Recently, while I was waiting to depart Calgary for Las Vegas, the aircraft I was booked on experienced mechanical difficulties, which grounded it for the night. As the airline located an alternate aircraft, we all waited in the holding room. Fortunately for me (I like to think in terms of Serendipity) I sat beside a woman heading to Las Vegas to attend a LinkedIn convention. Kelli Nsofor, a Recruiting Specialist for Compucom Canada Co., (a national IT services and solutions company), was attending the conference to learn more about how she can better apply and employ all of the amazing features of LinkedIn.

In our short time waiting for the aircraft replacement (yes….they had an alternate aircraft available in TEN minutes!) I asked if she might be able to provide some pointers that I could pass along to my readers and she graciously said yes. Thank you Kelli!

What role does a Recruiter play in our social media world?

The role of recruiter has certainly changed due to social media.  It used to be that you looked for candidates by posting jobs in the paper or on the job boards and the only way you networked with candidates was networking events in person.  It was much more “word of mouth”.  Now recruiters tweet about jobs, post on all social media, and network through virtual groups.  Companies have profiles on Facebook and LinkedIn, employees tweet about the goings on etc.  Recruiters have become more company/brand ambassadors than ever before.  We are usually the first contact candidates have with the company usually through some form of social media.

What roles does LinkedIn play with recruiters?:

Over the last 2-3 years, the movement has been for recruiters to become more and more dependent on LinkedIn as a hiring tool.  Before LinkedIn, we would search the internet and job boards looking for candidates while we posted the roles on the various job boards and in the papers looking for candidates.  This was time consuming and could be quite costly.  We would push hard on referrals with everyone we met and hope that through one of these means, we found the right person. Now most of my time is spent sourcing in LinkedIn, especially for more technical roles, and working my network there.  The ability with LinkedIn Recruiter to work as an applicant tracking system is helpful.  It allows for storing candidates in categories making it easier to find them in the future decreasing the time it takes to find and reach out to these individuals.

How important is our LinkedIn profile?:

Your LinkedIn profile is very important.  Without it how do we find potential candidates?  If you don’t have yourself posted on any job boards or located on the internet somewhere, or attend any networking events, how do recruiters find you? 

LinkedIn is a great tool that connects you with previous and present co-workers as well as friends and family in a more professional way than Facebook.  It allows for recruiters to reach you and for you to connect with both interest and professional groups.  You can also follow companies and professional organizations that you are interested in.  You can learn more about the organizations and what they do, as well as career opportunities and future endeavours.   At any time you might be called upon as a subject matter expert, to connect with someone in your field or for a career opportunity.  You can customize what you want.

Kelli’s Top 5 Tips for professionals looking to update/improve their profile

  • Ensure your Profile is 100% Complete and up-to-date.
  • Have a “professional” photo on your profile, not a picture of the fish you caught last summer.  Save those pictures for Facebook
  • Practice adding value to your profile.  One of the best ways of adding value to your network is through LinkedIn Updates. If you share relevant and helpful insights, articles, blog posts, presentations, links to videos, or other content, not only are you helping your network by spreading excellent quality information that might help them, but you’re also going to drive traffic to your LinkedIn profile.
  • No typos, spelling or grammatical errors.  Please proof read your profile carefully.  It is difficult to be looked at as an “attention to detail kind of person” when you have spelling errors on your profile.  It’s the first impression someone is going to have of you – let’s make it a good one.
  • Get involved in Groups and Discussions - This is essential if you want to keep a high profile. This means you will need to ask questions, answer questions, link up news articles and other relevant information (see point 2 above) and you could even moderate a group. By providing value, you will be noticed by others in your industry.

Thank you Kelli for providing such valuable information. Remember….you never know who you might be sitting beside waiting for a plane. If you will excuse me……I need to go and dust off my LinkedIn profile……….


Monday, October 7, 2013

Be a Customer Service Superhero

When I was in Atlanta this past August, I was lucky enough to meet Leotis Watson, the superstar Concierge at the Emory Conference Centre Hotel.

Leotis had a desk in the lobby, but it was a rare moment when you would find him sitting at the desk… instead he was constantly moving throughout the area, engaging with hotel patrons, dazzling them with his friendly smile…..making their day a little brighter.

What struck me about Mr. Watson is that he remembered my name from the first time we met (and we all know that I am not that memorable) and used my name during each of my many comings and going through the lobby.

The day I checked out of the hotel, I had an opportunity to chat with Leotis and told him how impressed I was with his superior customer service skills. His response was (I am paraphrasing….his response was much more eloquent), “Everyone is good at something. Everyone has something with which they excel. I am good at customer service, it is what I was meant to do”.

“The key to great customer service is to always be humble” said Leotis. And with that, he spied another patron entering the hotel with an armful of bags and dashed off to help.

Reminded me of a superhero….dressed impeccably in khaki’s, a starched button down shirt and a knitted vest – I am sure the cape was there……it was invisible.

Returning home I went online to Trip Advisor to see if anyone else was talking about this amazing superhero concierge. Of course they were! Comments like, “Mr. Watson at the Concierge greets you with the warmth and fervor and amazing zest for life which is so infectious” and “The Concierge was among the very best I’ve experienced in my travels ……made sure if I was standing in the lobby (and everyone else too) that I/we were being taken care of and didn’t need anything (he always called me by name)”.

Leotis Watson provided me with an experience during my stay at the Emory Conference Centre Hotel. He made me feel like he appreciated my business…..a feeling that I get very rarely these days.

Can anyone be a customer service superhero? Probably not……but many can improve their customer service by modeling Leotis’ behavior.

Here are some of them:
  • Be a MacGyver!: Remember how each week Richard Dean Anderson would get out of tense situations using only a piece of duct tape, a toothpick and a swiss army knife? You can also become a Customer Service MacGyver. A friend experienced such a situation recently, “I was silly enough to let my car run out of gas, and the nearest station didn’t have fuel cans. The lady there was so nice she called her daughter to bring one from their home for me”.  No duct tape required…..simply the ability to think outside the box.
  • Remember my name: The first thing we all receive when we are born is our name. When someone remembers our name and uses it properly, it speaks volumes. 
  • Eat a small piece of humble pie: Leotis said it! The key to providing great customer service is being humble. The customer is not there to serve you….you are there to serve the customer and the act of doing so should be  a courteous, respectful, unpretentious exchange. 
(blog post was also published in October 7 edition of the Daily News - "Be a Superhero")