January 2020 Edition Say Hello to 2020 2020 is likely to be one of the most interesting and chaotic years you’ll ever live through. Two topics for t

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January 2020 Edition

Say Hello to 2020

2020 is likely to be one of the most interesting and chaotic years you’ll ever live through. Two topics for this newsletter: the first is an important commentary by Richard Levick on the new and far more caustic trend in social media.
Next, one of the most powerful connectors with people I have ever seen is the power of personal notes. Seems like a good time to think this personal strategy through and resolve to do more thanking, congratulating, and acknowledging others through this sensible, important, and personal approach. A personal note can be mightier than a social media posting.

Welcome to the New “Shouting and Shaming” Social Media

We are now solidly in the era of weaponized social media activity. The original purpose and expectation of social media to provide a platform to express ideas, thoughts, opinions, and little else, is gone. The new strategy is shouting and shaming designed to cause extraordinary and instant damage. It is working! Richard Levick, chairman and CEO of LEVICK, a global advisory firm, offers a sensible, four step response approach when you become a social media target.


The New "Rules" Of Corporate Social Activism

By Richard Levick

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The sudden and hard-to-understand criticism of Peloton for alleged sexism in one of its Christmas commercials has board members and executives all over the world scratching their heads. How should companies handle hyper-viral criticism, especially when it triggers a rapid decline in stock price? (Peloton lost over $1.5 billion in value in less than a week, though the stock price is slowly climbing back towards pre-commercial norms.) The exercise company smartly stood by its advertisement, following Adlai Stevenson’s oft-quoted advice, “Don’t just do something, stand there!”

When does a company need to do something – or nothing – after they become the focus of controversy? Grappling with the new exigencies of corporate social activism isn’t easy these days. Given the divisiveness of today’s climate, companies find themselves under increasing pressure to Do Something, Dammit! – even when the value of that “something” isn’t always evident.


Jim and Steve’s new book, “The Decency Code”, will be released March 17th, 2020 by McGraw Hill

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From a friend and fellow, PRSA Fellow:


Thank you for reaching out and sending the reading material. I remember reading your article, “What Makes A Fellow A Fellow,” when it was posted on social media last summer. I felt a sincere sense of purpose after reading it. I have gained so much from my professional organizations. I’m honored to have the opportunity to give back. You continue to impress me with your generosity of time and wisdom. I regularly recommend your book “Why Should the Boss Listen to You” to young professionals. It helped shape my approach to providing advice and counsel. So, I look forward to reading your new book.


The Fascinating Power of Personal Notes

If you want to be remembered, remember others.

The main reason I publish notes sent to me is to show you examples of ways to thank others and recognize their contributions, achievements, thoughtfulness, aspirations, and what they do that matters for others. These notes are truly powerful and personally energizing.

My personal belief is that every senior manager and leader has an obligation to look for others who do outstanding things, then take the trouble to personally recognize their accomplishments. These powerful communications often have lifelong impact.

My First Lesson

I first learned this lesson when I was 26 years old and a junior manager in a retail music store. The way they went about teaching management was to put junior managers in charge of something real. One of my first “real” management jobs was to oversee the stereo components department in the company’s downtown store. I had a pretty tough, old fashioned supervisor who had only a few requirements for my first month as manager: conduct a sales meeting on Tuesdays at 7:30 AM, present a new selling idea to the group of five, and write at least one complimentary note to a sales staff member during the month. More than one note was encouraged.

One day, one of the long-time salesmen passed away. It wasn’t my fault. My manager came down and asked me to go through his desk to make sure there was nothing embarrassing to him or the company. The family was coming in to spend some time in the department where the salesmen had spent most of his working life.

I went through his desk, an old-fashioned World War II surplus desk with deep drawers. In the back there was a big box of papers; I couldn’t make heads or tails of it, but I soon noticed that everything inside the box was in chronological order, with the youngest documents first. As I was trying to figure out what it was all about, I noticed that on every piece of paper, going back more than 30 years, there was a handwritten note from somebody making a nice comment about this gentleman’s work.

There were even several notes from more than 30 years ago, from the company’s founder. Some were just scribbles, “Great job with the Wilsons, we couldn’t crack them, you sold them”, “Thanks”, “You really did a great job resolving the concerns of the Olsons, they kept the merchandise after all. Nice going.” Then it struck me that he had likely saved every positive piece of paper he received. There, on top, was my recent handwritten compliment. I kind of teared up.

When the family came, I put the box on the top of his desk, and his family members began going through it and talking about how many of these notes they knew about. Seems he talked about them at the dinner table whenever he got one. As I think back over that dramatic day, in the context of my career, something I could have done a lot more would have been to consistently and constantly thank people, compliment people, and to congratulate people. The lesson and perhaps the moral is if you want to be remembered, remember others.

A Classic Story from Reader’s Digest

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