Taking Google Glass and #Dairychat to the 2013 Joint Annual Meeting of NDB, NMPF and UDIA

I got my Google Glass on Friday and was able to take it to the Joint Annual Meeting on Monday, Nov 11 and spend the next three days teaching social media and talking with dairy farmers.  It was an awesome experience (my first time at Annual Meeting and hanging at the Arizona Biltmore) but the best time was letting the farmers try out Google Glass.

Most people were amazed at the ability to take photos just by talking to glass.  I have 111 photos from the event and most are me looking at them while they are taking photos of me.  So silly.  Now I know to pull out my phone and take shots of them.

photos-from-annual-meeting-google-glass

The classes I taught were well attended and I got a lot of great feedback of what I should be covering in the future.  Special thanks to all those farmers that signed up for the training and then started using the tools. Many used the hashtag #dairychat for the meeting. Check out the dairychat tagboard below.

dairychat-tagboard

Can’t wait for next annual meeting.  Gonna be a lot of fun.

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Creating Your Digital Legacy For Future Generations

Grandpa Les Schindler 1938-1939

Grandpa “Les” Schindler on the farm around 1938-39

My grandfather (Leslie “Les” J. Schindler) was born January 1, 1918 and passed while I was in grad school – Nov 16, 1998.

He was a farmer and mechanic. On the farm, we had a dairy cow, about 40 head of cattle and we planted corn and soy beans.

Growing up I spent a lot of time on back fender of his tractor until I was old enough to drive one (I think around 6 or 7).

Then we would spend the days following each other around the fields. He would be cutting hay. I would be conditioning. He would be baling. I would be stacking.  He would be picking. I would be unloading the corn.

I learned a ton from him – about hard work, perseverance, and a few mechanical skills. I miss him a lot. Especially now that I have a family of my own. It would be great to understand what he thought about his situation and how he dealt with life’s ups and downs.

But he didn’t leave a lot of things behind. Great memories for sure, but nothing really written down.

If he had I would go back to those writings quite a bit.

I would look to what he said and how he said it. I have just a few of those grandpa quotes I remember – one of my favorites that he would say to grandma at the end of night when company had overstayed their welcome.

“Come on, Mother. Let’s go to bed so these people can go home.”

He had a twisted sense of humor.

I wonder if he had the ability to write down his everyday thoughts, would he?

Would he have been a blogger?
Would he had tweeted about the farm?
Would he had shared about the house and barns he built by hand?
Or the animals he cared for?

Probably not. But if he would have created the text, the pictures, the video, the vines, whatever it was – I would read it all, over and over. I respected the man quite a bit but I don’t remember much about what he thought. I just have a few pictures and a bunch of hazy memories of my childhood.

When I think of the opportunity that social media has given me, it kinda blows my mind. You have any opportunity to share with generations that only a handful of people have done in the past.

You can give you minute-by-minute updates of your life in real time. You can follow and learn as much as you want from others.  It’s amazing how connected and documented we are now. We all have audiences – and these audiences actually care about what we are writing.

Facebook as Digital Diary

What do you think about these digital tools documenting your life?

But it’s more than that.

We are essentially writing the books of our lives with ongoing commentary of friends and family and, maybe some detractors as well. That’s a lot different than a normal diary.

Yes, I keep in mind very well the people that are in my social networks when I’m sharing information. I want them to respond to me and I want to be a value add to their days. But I also need to keep in mind my future generations. The sons of my son, the daughters of my daughter’s daughter.

They will be influenced by what I say here because this will be my only voice after I’m gone.

I say all of this not because I want to scare you into deleting your Facebook account. We have all probably vented a few times too many, gone off on a rant or posted photos that could be taken out of context.

No, I say this, because I want you to keep sharing. I want you to pass along your wisdom to future generations and share with them what it was like to live at this day and age.

The stuff you do daily is actually very important.  If you are farming and sharing that information, there’s a good chance that the people who stumble across your blog or Facebook page or twitter profile aren’t connected to that lifestyle.  The daily stuff is new to them and very interesting. It’s not something they experience everyday.

And when generations look back like we do at the 1800’s when people were documenting their lives to share with others via mail but our future will definitely want to look into the past for insights. The sunrises you saw, the work you were passion about, the people you spent time with, the adventures you have are all part of this crazy social media world and it will be available forever to them.

So maybe this post is a little too sentimental. And maybe it’s not “real” enough because I edit out of social media some things that might be a bit too controversial for my future generations and my audience. That’s ok – I’m not and you aren’t – being graded on this.  You can share the controversial – sometimes that makes for lots of discussion – but just remember to be civil and kind.  It’s ok to disagree. It’s not ok to be a jerk.

I just want the future gens to trust me (even if all they know about me is what they have seen when I’m an old man who couldn’t have possibly been young at one time) and know that I thought about them when I was creating. I shared because I cared about them.

So I’m hoping that grandpa would have blogged had he been given the chance.  This way I could go back and visit with him even after he’s gone.

What do you think about future generation viewing our digital profiles? Any issues with it? Does it change how you think about social media?

What’s a marketing mechanic?

don-schindler-working-on-harley

Putting 14-inch ape hangers on my bike, Rosemary.

I was raised in a home full of mechanics.

My grandfather, Les, was a tractor mechanic for Massey-Ferguson for 20+ years as well as a full time farmer.

I used to think we were rich (quite the opposite in fact) when I was little because we had so many tractors, combines, cars and machinery on the farm.

Little did I know that grandpa actually had a standing offer on every broken down machine that came into the dealership – $15. It didn’t matter if it ran or not, grandpa knew it had parts on it that he could use. The farm machinery graveyard right behind grandpa’s house was my playground.

My dad and two uncles were also mechanics and there was a Schindler Auto Body shop on the farm as well.

In kindergarten, I knew the difference between a 9/16 socket, 5/8 wrench and a pair of vice grips. I drained oil and aired tires.  I sanded fenders. I sorted and matched leftover nuts and bolts. Every day I swept the shop to earn a Dr. Pepper bottle from the frig.

I also learned that mechanics fix things. That’s how you measure their value.

So to me, a marketing mechanic is different than a consultant.

Consultants can help you figure out the problem. Consultants can give you advice.

But if you want the problem really fixed, the consultant will tell you what mechanic to call but they aren’t going to get their hands dirty. They need to go consult on another job.

So you end up calling the mechanic and he comes out. He sometimes verifies that what the consultant said was correct (sometimes the consultants don’t get it right) and then fixes it. Right there, right then.

You thank him for his time and then you hold on to his number.  Why, because you’ll call him first next time – what do you need a consultant for.

Everyone knows that it’s hard to find a good mechanic. When people find one, they are loyal to that mechanic. It’s easy to find a consultant.

So you can call me a marketing consultant if you want to because the industry doesn’t use a term like marketing mechanic. But I’m more than just a consultant.

I ran across this post on five skills every auto mechanic should have.  I think it works brilliantly on why I would prefer to be called a marketing mechanic than consultant.

1. Diagnostic Abilities:
Mechanics understand that they need to pinpoint where the problem is. They don’t replace the entire engine – they use the right diagnostic tools to analyze the engine and replace only the part that is broken. Much like that, I’m not going to come in and have you replace all of your communications if just your email marketing is broken. Good mechanics diagnose quickly and get you back on the road to success.

2. An array of integrated skills
Here they talk about understanding the entire car such as the electrical system, fuel system and the air conditioning system. Same here with a marketing mechanic. You need to be able to understand how the marketing communications system is working internally (like the social media team process and the direct mail system process – how are they connected). But you also need to be able to see the entire organization’s culture – how is marketing communications integrating with operations? If the systems are broken, the tactics will fail.

3. The Ability to Stay Prepared
I love how they say “the days of the uneducated grease monkey are over.” How true this is with marketing communications today. The entire world of communications has been transformed by digital and social media. You need someone who is staying on top of the latest technologies and how they can help or hurt your current marketing efforts. Just read my blog and you’ll see what I’m currently looking into and working on.

4. The Ability to Teach Others
I was stunned when I read this because it’s exactly how I feel about mechanics – I just didn’t think that mechanics actually acknowledge that they need to excellent teachers. And good mechanics are great teachers. Great mechanics show others what they learned and why it’s important. I teach and train others all the time on marketing communications and you need someone who is not only going to fix the problem but also show you how they fixed it so you don’t make the same mistake in the future.

5. Career Longevity
I’m a career marketer – granted I didn’t go to school to be a marketer in the traditional fashion (I have an English degree not a marketing degree) but I’ve been fascinated by marketing and communications, reading and writing, creating content for as long as I can remember. This lifelong passion benefits you because I’ve had my fill of mistakes and I can show you exactly how I wouldn’t make them again (I loved Flash early in my career – ouch).

So if you are interested in learning more from a marketing mechanic, then give me a call or email.  But if you are interested in having a consultant tell you to call me to fix it, well I’m sure that can be arranged as well.

What do you think about the differences between a marketing mechanic and a marketing consultant?

How do you run a great meeting? 9 simple steps to successful meeting management

meeting clock

Starting on time is most important

For many of us, meetings are both the burden and badge of honor.  I hear it all the time that I can’t get any “real” work done because I’m back to back to back.

Running from one meeting to the next, I can barely keep up with email (another burden/bragging point – I’ve got over 1,000,000 emails in my inbox).

I think the reason that we are in so many meetings is that there are a few false assumptions about meetings.  Also, before I start, a lot of the advice I’ve gotten on meetings is from Manager Tools (ran by Mark Horstman and Mike Auzenne).  One of my favorite podcasts that I recommend you listen to. I’ve been a faithful listener for at least four years now.

Meeting Cost Calculator

Simple Meeting Cost Calculator on App Store – FREE!

First, I believe that people see meetings as “free”.  They are not – they are actually one of the most expensive things that can happen on a project.  If you do the ROI of a meeting and think about the cost of the people in the meeting tied to their salaries – a meeting can rack up an amazing amount of cost quickly.  Here’s an app that can help you calculate it.

Second, people see meetings as where decisions get made.  But I rarely see this happen because many meetings don’t have well-defined agendas and many are used for discussions not decisions.  They get sidetracked and people run out of time before a decision can be made.

So how to do you make your meetings more efficient and effective?

Before you agree to go to a meeting – make sure you absolutely without a doubt have to be in the meeting.  If the decision can be made without you then don’t go.  You have too much work (digging out of email hell – I’ll have a post on that as well) to do and another meeting isn’t going to help it get done.

Schedule work in your calendar before people can grab it for meetings.  I used to schedule work blocks (half hour blocks of time to focus on real work, email, etc…).  I would recommend less than three meetings a day if you can do that. I know, haha.

If you’ve decided that you need a decision on something and the project can’t move forward without it, then schedule the meeting.  But before you do schedule it, there are several characteristics of a really good effective meetings to consider.

Best Run Meetings Characteristics:

  • Set Meetings to 45 minutes or shorter
      • Any meeting that can get done in an hour, can be done in 45 minutes. We tend to take the time we have to talk things through.  15 minutes is going to get filled with useless banter.
      • This also allows people to get to another meeting if they have to. (I don’t know how many times decision makers have left the room to get to another meeting – highly frustrating).
  • Put together a solid agenda
    • Here’s an example

Welcome and Meeting Purpose
Item One
Decision To Be Made
Item Two
Decision To Be Made
Follow-Up and Next Steps
Adjourn

    • Without an agenda and an idea of the decision that needs to be made, a meeting is just a meaningless discussion.  There’s no execution and you’ve just spent a lot of company resources to decide nothing.
  • Prioritize agenda items starting with the most important
    • Don’t lead with small items because you think those will be the easiest to discuss and solve.  In fact, if it’s small maybe it shouldn’t make the agenda.
  • Set a time limit to every agenda item
    • So if we look at our agenda again

Welcome and Purpose – 10:00
Item One – 10:05
Decision To Be Made – 10:25
Item Two – 10:30
Decision To Be Made – 10:35
Follow-Up and Next Steps – 10:40
Adjourn – 10:45

    • Then you need to be diligent about following the clock and stopping anything that looks to deride the schedule.  It’s not that you need to be crazy but many meetings without clock watching wander around and fall into disarray.
  • Must end with solution per item (next step)
    • There is always a solution to every item.  If there wasn’t then why did we subject ourselves to another meeting? 🙂  If people can’t agree on the solution, then maybe it was too early to be having a meeting about the subject.  Meetings are there for solutions not discussions.  Brainstorming and discussions are not meetings and should be tried differently.
  • Parking lot anything that goes off agenda
    • If you have a time limit on your items then you will quickly realize when things are going off-track.  The meeting facilitator needs to be weary of anything that can take away from the meeting and should parking lot those discussions for a future time.
  • Start on time ALWAYS
    • When meetings are back to back to back, people sometimes give a grace period.  This sets a horrible precedent and shows the people in the room that have made the effort to be there, that their time is not as important.  BTW, leaving a meeting early does the same time.
    • If you start on time, people will start showing up on time.
  • Always have a scribe
    • I am a proponent of everyone taking good notes – I, myself, do my own notes in Evernote (love that software)
    • But for people that can’t do notes and be engaged in the conversation, you should have a scribe that will share the notes with everyone after.  With as many meetings as we have every day and week, it’s wonder anyone can remember anything.
  • Give your full attention
    • If you are distracted by your technology, then turn it off or put it away.
    • If you use it to take notes, that’s great but just make sure you are taking notes.  Shut off your notifications.  I believe that we get distracted by our technology because we are back to back to back.
  • Sit upright and face the speaker
    • Posture means everything in a meeting and if you are slouching, or looking around aimlessly or disengaged, the rest of the room notices and causes them to disengage.

What are your favorite tips and tricks for running effective meetings?  I would love to add them.