The Concept

Social networking, leadership, & business strategies on a fundamental level, hand delivered with an edge. (With a heaping side of whatever I find interesting!)

Monday, May 31, 2010

The Birth Of A Movement - The "i Factor"

Last week I wrote a post in a hurry late one night about something I could only think of calling the "i Factor" and it turned into something altogether different!

(Back round) At work I am a member of a whole new type of team. We specialize in Social Media and are carving out a brand new methodology in the contact center world. Where we're taking our insane amount of skill, knowledge, creativity, and drive for success is still a bit of a secret! (I mean seriously, I can't just give away all of our secrets!) But one thing's for sure, we will not let anything stand in our way.

(Now moving forward again) Enter Tim..... Tim is what I would call a lead by example power player. He dives straight into a pile of work and doesn't let up until all expectations have been blown out of the water. Tim's become a good friend of mine and he FLIPPED when he read the post I put up about what I just started calling The "i Factor" and what I thought it meant for Incept.
In that one post I managed to turn the tables in a sense and just put out there that not only did we (the Incept Social Media Team) know that we were on the right track, but much more, we weren't afraid to let it show. We found a winning combination and with all the creativity in our team we are going to change the face of our industry.

Now all of that might seem a little bit, well..... arrogant? But that wasn't how I had meant for it to come across. An interesting result is that people latched onto the idea of the "i Factor" and it now has the capacity to become a movement.

That's a completely different purpose than what I had intended my blog post to create. But sometimes you have to know when to go with the flow and play the hands you're dealt when the good cards come up!

So make sure you're staying tuned into the following.....
@InceptSaves on Twitter
@InceptResults on Twitter
and the Incept Page on Facebook

"Ready, Steady, Go" get out of our way or pay the price of being left in our dust. The Millennials are here, and we only know two speeds, stop and FAST FREAKING FORWARD!!!!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The "i Factor" (What Incept Is Doing Right On Social Media)

I just created in my head an equation. It goes a little something like this:

The "i Factor" + (Company Facebook Page + Employees Engaging Company On Their Own Time) + Unique Company Culture = Recipe For Social Media Success

The "i Factor" is what I'm calling the "Incept Factor" which basically means to me the actions we take as social media specialists (or in Incept terms, an Online Conversational Marketing Expert) to make our social media interactions special.

I can't fully explain it, but there's just something about how we interact with our employees and the fans on our facebook page that build a strong relationship! This week alone we've seen a burst of activity on our page from people who literally just started working with us this week. New trainees who only know a dozen or so people in the company (most of them are in the new hire training class with them) are commenting on our facebook page.

It's amazing to see how people are taking their free time to engage in conversations online with us. And even more amazing how quickly people want to feel like they belong to our family.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

This Post Is Worth 4000 Words (Well Kind Of)

They say that a picture is worth a thousand words..... then that means that this post is worth about 4000 words. I just had this collection of pictures in my phone and had to share them with you guys! Here they are.....

Quaker Steak & Lube bathroom wall poster, read the line on the bottom..... if you can't manage to read because it's too small, it says: "WARNING: ATOMIC WING EATERS SHOULD WASH HANDS BEFORE USING THE RESTROOM" Great idea!

Next up, the "Ghost Market" this one is a true sign of the times. A local grocery store closed because of poor sales stands with it's empty shelves, abandoned checkout lines, and lights on 24-7 (wonder who's flipping the bill for that!?) What's best, there's still jazzy elevator music playing all along the concourse outside all day and all night long! (Great site on a related topic -

Now we have the wall in the training room at Incept. I love how the first thing our new trainees see when they walk in their first day of work is what our values are. And therefore, what we stand for! (Three part post from the Incept Blog where I talk about our values in a different light. 1 2 3 )

And to finish off with, the best of the best..... what I am calling, "The Semi-Scare." This one's great, I saw this "coming at me" on the highway one evening. In reality I was driving at it faster than it was moving away from me..... I'll leave this one up to your imagination to figure out just what's happening!

So there it is, four pictures worth a thousand words each! What a post folks, what a post! :D

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Where Did You Think You Would Be 5 Years Later?

A few years ago this month I walked across the stage at the Canton Memorial Civic Center as a part of the GlenOak High School 500+ student graduating class of 2005. At the time it seemed like an end to one story and the beginning of the rest of my life. Now I look back and see it as more of an end to the preface of my story......

If you would have asked me where I planned on being in 5 years my response would have been something like, "Graduating from The University of Akron with a degree in Music Education and looking for a teaching job at a local high school." Today I stumbled across my diploma in a box buried in the back of my closet. I thought to myself, "I wonder what that kid all those years ago was thinking?! Was he nuts?!" Because I have checked off none of the above yet.... and I won't be checking them off.... well, ever. I quickly realized that music education wasn't for me, that I wanted to add a high priority item to my goal (getting engaged) and found out what kind of person I really wanted to become.

Now I think to myself, where do I want to be in 5 years? And my answer is kind of complicated..... I want to be married to the love of my life. I want to have a house. I want to start back to school to get a degree in Organizational Communication. I want to continue working for Incept. (hopefully making a huge success of our social media team!) And I want to start a family.

It's strange how a few years can change ones priorities. Maybe, conditions willing I will still be writing on this blog (or some blog for that matter) in 5 years. And when that day comes, I'll make sure to revisit this list before I attend my 10 year class reunion and see just how much my priorities have changed again.

Who knows where a decade can lead you, but I'm right in the middle of that trip. And I don't really know where my "life's GPS unit" is taking me. "How do I get this darn thing to stop giving me directions in French!?!?" :P

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Getting To Know #8

Over the last year I had an amazing chance to get to be a mentor for a fine young man from Canton, Ohio. He will be graduating from GlenOak High School this month, and was a captain on the varsity soccer team, proudly wearing the number 8 for over a decade.

His name is Bryan, he will be graduating with an award of merit and soon will be attending Malone University in the fall. He will be pursuing a degree in nursing, and has intentions of playing soccer on a collegiate level. I can't think of a more appropriate example of leadership, hard work, and academic achievement.

This fine young man, is in fact, my little brother! And the other night, I stood next to Bryan in the auditorium at GlenOak High School during the class of 2010's Senior Recognition Night. That night I had the great honor of singing with him, what in just a few days, will be our Alma Mater.

It makes me feel proud that he has achieved so much in such a short time. And I have to say that I've been blessed to get to watch him grow up. And all of this was a chance for me to learn, that even though we come from the same parents, the same house, the same back round, that we can become two completely different people. Bryan's an athlete, and a logical thinking student of math and science. I am an artistic, free thinking and creative problem solver. And I love that we now (and never before....) compliment each other so much!

Bryan, congratulations and I am so proud of you! You have more potential than I could ever wish to have!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Transparency Failed - A Strange Example

I know I've blogged about my experience at the Get Motivated Seminar already..... but I had to tell you about a GREAT parallel I noticed during the final speaker of the day. Rudy Giuliani, the man who held New York City together when time stopped on September 11th, was on stage to close out a great day. I was getting really into the presentation but something caught my eye about 3 minuets into his speech.

Standing in front of the stage steps was this HUGE security guard with a nice suit on, shoulders broad and hands crossed in front of his waist. This guy was a monster, he towered over Rudy when he came off stage, but he wasn't alone! On the floor, next to the corner of the stage closest to the pathway the speakers took to the back stage area stood another security guard. I started looking around and I noticed another back by the camera man Rudy was primarily speaking towards. Then another in the main seating section next to the large hallway leading out of the Civic Center. Then there was the trio "guarding" the door leading backstage. I looked up in the rafters and saw three more of these guys..... It clicked right then, these mystery men were either secret service or really expensive private security.

They were trying really hard to be transparent but they failed miserably at it. I'm guessing someone had them worried because they all started "Coughing/Talking Into Their Hands" at the same time. It was just highly entertaining, while they were trying to not exist the truth be told they were drawing away from the show on stage!

The whole thing got me literally laughing out loud because I'm thinking about all the conversations I've had lately with Nate Riggs about companies being transparent online. And here were these security/secret service/whatever guys trying to do just that, but sticking out like a sore thumb. Even in an environment where a good 80% of the people in the audience were wearing suits or business casual dress, they still just jumped out at me!

Oh the irony..... oh the irony.....

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

My Experiences: Get Motivated Seminar

Today I spent an entire day at the Get Motivated Seminar down in Canton. All I have to say is, WOW! I have so many ideas after spending a single day soaking up all the knowledge I could. Imagine what you could do with three days, or a week of this kind of exposure.
The event featured a lot of great speakers, but I wanted to outline a few of them that I think made the most impact on me:
-Krish Dhanam
Krish kicked the entire event off with a very literal Jump Start to my day. He was really funny and I LOVED listening to him. But smack in the middle of his segment he said something that struck deep:
"Political correctness will be the death of this great nation!"
Couldn't agree more! Here's a little clip of his speech today.

-Rick Belluzzo
Rick is legendary in his own right. If you haven't heard of him, I've linked his profile from his current position at Quantum for you. Rick said a few things I'd like to share with you.
"Times of change & disruption is where real opportunity exists."
" be a strong leader, you need to be hard headed & soft hearted."
"Stay humble!"
I'm going to be honest with this next bit. I really wanted to see Zig Ziglar live, it was a major factor in why I went to the seminar. Sadly, due to an accident, and Zigs old age, he has lost a lot of his memory. And even with his daughter there to help guide him through his speech, he just wasn't completely there..... And it breaks my heart to see a mind with SO MUCH value become a locked treasure chest that can't be opened like it used to be. But none the less, I was overwhelmed to see Zig live!

A lot of other great speakers were at the event, but I think those three made the most impact on me! It was a great day, and I not only met some amazing people, but I gained a head full of cool new ideas. I am definitely going to give the Get Motivated Seminar two thumbs up!

Speakers: Eric Mangini

Today, I spent an entire day soaking up some really great material! There's so much going on in my head, there were so many good speakers that made such an impact at the Get Motivated Seminar. I can barely keep it all straight in my head. Lucky for you, I kept notes ;)

I'd like to dedicate some time here to talking about a speaker who I was expecting little out of, but I was blown away by him, Head Coach of the Cleveland Browns, Eric Mangini. Mangini spoke a lot about motivating a team and leading them to success. He used a lot of quotes that I really liked, I'm just going to throw them all down at once here.
  • "Talent sets the floor, character sets the ceiling."

  • "Discipline isn't something you do to somebody, it's something you do for somebody."

  • "Every battle is won before it's fought."

  • "Each day you must choose, the pain of discipline or the pain of regret."

  • "The willingness to succeed is nothing without the willingness to prepare."

  • "Everybody has the capacity to lead in their own way."

  • The core values the applies to coaching the Browns: Communication, Focus, Finish, & Trust

  • "...each day they (referring to his players) get to write whats on 'their label'."

I have to say that I was really impressed with Mangini as a speaker, he shared some highly insightful information and I think I walked away from his segment with more information in my notepad than any other speaker!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

My Experiences: Hope For Children Gala Hosted by Cross International

On Friday I went to work like any other day. But the evening that followed was anything but normal. At 7PM I walked through the doors of the Hilton Akron/Fairlawn and into a world of caring, giving, and hope.

I had walked through the hotel lobby and straight into the 3rd Annual Cross International Hope Gala, "Hope For Children." A charity event put on by Cross International to raise money to open schools in Haiti that were closed because the donors who sponsored them before all left.... they walked away from the children that relied on them and just closed the schools. The goal of the evening, to reopen 10 schools for one year, at a cost of $2000 per school. (To put it in perspective, $2000 will keep the school open, teach the children, give them somewhere safe to go, and feed them one hearty meal a day for a full year!)

I saw generosity I would never have expected. When the auctioneer asked, "Who wants to sponsor a school for a year?" A gentlemen in the front row raised his hand and said, "I'll cover three of them...."

I've never seen such generosity out of a group of people so far disconnected from the children they were supporting. All the miles between our little corner of Ohio and Haiti melted down to nothing because these people were willing to open their hearts, lives, and wallets up and let the generosity flow. It was amazing, and it changed my perspective on a lot of things.

Next up on my event list is the Get Motivated Seminar on Weds, May 12th. I have a funny feeling that the "push" I get from that event is going to work reversely and help me find a way to make an impact on the mission Cross International is working on. I guess time will tell.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Work Hard Play Harder

I'm a firm believer in the saying that heads up this post. I work hard, so I can play harder!

To me that means giving everything I have at work, so I know the job's done right, then taking the time to just relax and let life show me what wonders it has hiding away at the lake, or on the hiking trail, or in the parking lot at a DCI show. Whatever it might be that I'm doing to unwind, I make sure I go full throttle. No other way to really enjoy it!

By far, my favorite two activities to unwind are fishing, and going to University of Akron football games! And I realized there's a lot of things about both of these that ties into the workplace.
Fishing- Trial & Error, Problem Solving, Creative/Abstract Thinking, Free Thinking, Determination

Football- Teamwork, Loyalty(fan loyalty that is), Strategic Planning, Leadership Skills, Hard Work & Practice, Determination

So when I'm relaxing, I'm actually working?! Wait a second.......... I thought work stayed at work, home stayed at home. I've realized that that will never happen. My friend Nate Riggs was just telling me before a meeting we had, "I have to turn it off when I'm with my kid." Referring to trying to unplug the work mind and plug in the family mind. Not that easy, so I've just started letting the two carefully compliment each other. I like to use the time when I'm down at the lake fishing to work through problems in my head, to think about new concepts or solutions.... to "Reboot" by solving every variable not accounted for while I was on the clock while I relax.

It's a careful balance, but it works. I catch a few fish, but solve a lot of problems and develop a ton of new ideas all at the same time. Hooray for multitasking.


Perspective. It's all about perspective.... that's what my supervisor and good friend Adam tells me...... I took to a bad perspective the other day. And I wish I wouldn't have opened my mouth.....

I learned a lesson today, my words pack a lot of punch..... a lot more than I thought they did to be honest. (I had no idea how much influence I had on my co-workers) I didn't like something, I let my emotions really get in the way of my judgement. And it didn't end well..... I took some time to clear my head today, and I realized that it's all about perspective. Just like Adam said.

Next time your in a situation where you feel like there is no way out. When you feel like that rat in your head is gnawing through its cage and threatening to let the panic out.... let the situation blow over a little, then look back with some clarity. And see how a fresh perspective can change it all!

What a way to start a week..... mental storm clouds followed by bright perspective and a chance of creative breakthrough late in the day on Wednesday.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

The Power Of Misinformation

Just the other day at work, I took an inbound blood bank call..... it was a nice young girl who was literally FREAKING OUT because as she stepped off of the donor coach at a blood drive her employer was hosting a friend yelled at her. They told her, "You shouldn't donate in the 'blood bus' because they sell your blood!!!!!"

This poor girl was having an emotional breakdown because she was afraid her blood was going to be sold off on some black market to the highest bidder for some freaky experiment or something! Bottom line is that the blood given at these drives is put right into the community supply just like it should be. (Here, have a look at one of my favorite blood centers blood supply, does it look like they can afford to just sell it off! These centers really need those units of blood!) But this guy had been told some very incorrect information, or he was just being a jerk and trying to scare this girl senseless. (If it was the later of the two he succeeded!)

What I'm getting at here is the power of being misinformed is huge! People will believe just about anything, including the wrong thing. If at all possible, when you find yourself in a tight spot, and some bad intel has been leaked, try to stamp it out before it snowballs. But in my opinion the best way to deal with these types of situations is to have a good public interaction team who can fix the problem. LIKE ME and the team at Incept! :D Have a good team of customer service reps available to interact with your clients and be there to make them feel safe and secure! A soothing voice can go along way....

Misinformation is a deadly monster that spreads like wildfire. And you have to get a handle on it before it gets the handle on you!

Picture Of The Week

So here it is. I found this one on an old memory card in the digital camera. It is from behind the Guzzetta Hall Dance Extension at the University Of Akron. There was originally a parking lot here.... but they plowed it under and built onto the perf. arts building where I spent most of my time while I was a student.... I just think this pictures awesome. The sign is standing firmly in the middle of a grass field...... bordering a cement walkway...... and I LOVED how it looked just standing there, spreading its word of parking forewarning to no one at all. Even though it's time had long since past to be torn down..... Great picture, lots of memory and history to that old sign.