It is time to stop the madness

“Peace cannot be kept by force; it can only be achieved by understanding.”                           ~ Albert Einstein 

Read the headlines:
NEW YORK TIMES: ... The city is relatively calm this morning after a night of protests followed a Staten Island grand jury’s decisionnot to indict a police officer for the July chokehold death of Eric Garner.... (photo credit)
DALLAS NEWS: .... Fired Dallas officer found not guilty of official oppression assault ... 
CHRONICLE HERALD: Retired Halifax cop found not guilty of sexual assault ... 
CBC NEWS:  Ottawa police offers found not guilty of assaulting homeless man ... 
CTV NEWS:  “This week’s events are a grim reminder that Canada is not immune to the types of terrorist attacks we have seen elsewhere around the world,” the prime minister said.  “We are also reminded that attacks on our security personnel and on our institutions of governments are by their very nature attacks on our country, on our values, on our society, on us Canadians as a free and democratic people who embrace human dignity for all,” he said. ..... 
It hardly matters where you look:  our world seems to be falling to pieces all around us as brutality, murder, retaliation, terrorism, demonstrations are breaking us apart.  Don't be naive that the police are the root of it all.

Just because an apple looks nice on the outside, does not mean that it does not have some rotting on the inside.  Even we Canadians can no longer feel smug and disassociated by distance, as events unfold across our border to our cousins to the south  Distrust, racism, violence, imploded our own candy colored glasses as we recently witnessed our country shaken by violence at the head of our democratic state in Ottawa just before we celebrated our heroes and fallen soldiers on November 11th.

It brings me pause.  It also underscores my philosophy that instead of just talking or writing about issues that we proclaim are plaguing our society, we should ask ourself what we are doing, personally, to make our world a better place?

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”                                                                             
~ Martin Luther King, Jr.
I realize how important my upcoming volunteer training is for Junior High aged kids on "Diversity" on behalf of Junior Achievement of Canada next week.  It isn't just because my only kids have flown the coop and evolving nicely as great citizens.  For me it is easier to lead by example because I am continuing my principles to work by facilitating learning at an influential age of our kids -- while at middle school or junior high. We can impact how our kids react to diversity by firstly, leading by example; secondly, mentoring and guiding them on what is right and wrong; and thirdly, by not just sitting back and broadcasting our opinions.  We need to be backing up our values by action.
“Nonviolence is the answer to the crucial political and moral questions of our time; the need for mankind to overcome oppression and violence without resorting to oppression and violence. Mankind must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression, and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love.”                                   ~ Martin Luther King
Granted, it is far easier to sit at a keyboard and proclaim injustice, or preach about how to correct a horrible situation, or lecture on how misguided others are. Activism compounds chaos by demonstrations that often lead to more violence. Don't just talk or write about it.  You can do something:   how we guide our children, express ourselves, teach in our schools, show by our actions (or lack of) every single day.
That, and only then, we will truly make a difference.  It is time to end the cycle of madness.  Stop just talking about it!  What are you going to do about it?
“Imagine all the people living in peace.  You may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one.  I hope someday you'll join us, and the world will be as one." 
~John Lennon


VISUALs attract clicks

I've written on the topic before:  why you should use visuals to capture clicks by drawing attention to your article, quote, post or social media profile.  Why?  People love looking at beautiful, funny, lovely images.

One great advantage for viral sharing is its ability to have a domino effect.   Spin offs abound from it, just like "Caturday" instead of Saturday for those who want to be in the know:  just tweet or share an image with a cartoon or cute cat or kitten with the #hashtag #caturday and watch it roll ... reTweet, Shared.

Google Plus (G+) is, in my opinion, the best social media avenue to share images.  There is no clutter, the images are shown in size larger than Facebook or Twitter.  In fact, in Twitter, you have to click on it to see the image.  That is perfectly fine because words are your ammunition on Twitter.  Enhance your words or quote with an image and hashtag it and you will likely have it RT'd and shared even more.  People tend to like to philosophize when they are surfing social media sites and visual stimulation attracts the eyes and then the heart.

Pinterest is THE place where people go looking primarily for stimulation -- whether it be a tip, trick or treat -- the images attract the viewers attention and pretty much guarantee it will be clicked.  The better the image, the more likely it will be shared.

The following are top picks from my viewers .... certainly, I chose them because I liked them ... but the endorsements that others shared them are demonstrated by the number of likes, rePINs or shares:

Animals are always a great idea to emphasize an attitude, just like this tiger has been popularized.

Babies and kids illustrate cuteness.  
Even the most  skeptical hard noses, can't help be drawn into the innocence captured by others who share in adoration.

Stunning expressions, faces and humanism are popular amongst viewers.  In fact, my FACEus board on Pinterest has one of my largest following.  People are drawn to humanity, especially life's experience etched with wrinkles and profound expressions:

Doesn't a quote on wisdom just beg to go with this image?  People love this one.  There is nothing beautiful or fancy here, just mesmerizing eyes that speak of laughter and weariness from life and experience.  The next one is popular for individual people's reasons, if not for the beautiful photography and capture.

The secrets of talented, seasoned photographers may be guarded while we all get to participate in the experience simply by gazing upon a marvelous visual interpretation of the mystical innocence of youth.

Mothers with children or babies are significant in their contribution towards society.  However, a father who sheds his masculinity in his embrace of the sheer wonder of holding his child was identified by many who loved this.

Magical moments where the subjects are oblivious to a photographer capturing the essence of feeling and enable the viewer to participate as though they are there is a wonderful way that images appeal to many.

Flowers, beautiful objects and stunning photography evoke a sense of peace and inspire love for our world.   Lucky for many, it is captured to be shared for others to feast upon in its gorgeousness.

Scenery abound: trees, bridges, buildings, fields, forests, pathways and hidden gems are applauded by those who appreciate seeing new places and landscapes virtuall.  This is as good or even better because it lingers in our eyes and reaches our souls.

A burst of color explodes to grab our attention like nothing else.  I hazard to guess that the photo manipulation software "PhotoShop" was used to enhance the colors in this photo.  I think that is cheating and offensive to Mother Nature because often she doesn't need any help.

For many, who have not had the chance to touch or feel snow firsthand, the pictures of snow wonders are popular among all viewers.  Thankfully, without the cold, others can relish the sereneness and quietness that untouched nature invokes in us profoundly.

We love the sun, especially sunsets.  Waves of joy cascade over us when we visually embrace them all at once.  Visions of water attract viewers in their quest to impress.

All seasons and events are celebrated visually with stunning creativity as though we are in the pumpkin patch ourselves and allowed to pick the biggest and best one for ourselves and others to enjoy.  Our giddiness and excitement for Halloween while we scheme our costumes meant to amaze or amuse. Imagine being in this pumpkin patch in a field of orange.  We cannot quite feel the bumps and creases, yet we can conjure memories from days past where we took our time to choose the best pumpkin.  For others, it reminds us to be thankful as the time surrounded by family, friends and good cheer with great feasts upon which we bowed our heads together in prayer.

Sometimes there is no event, mystical reason or plain purpose for something to be so popular.  This is the most recent image that has been rejoiced and shared, as though the splashing is cause for a festivity or the merriment we feel by this fun image and graphic appeal to so many. 

I hope you have enjoyed the combination of creative images that I have enjoyed along with so many others who have embraced them or shared -- thank you ALL!  

You are welcome to join me on PINTEREST to gaze upon wonderful images.  I have simply compiled the favorites from those who have agreed with me.  Photo credits are found there.

Discover your own wonders and underscore your message, blog, post, comment, quote, share, tweet, G+ with an image.  I'm confident you will be amazed at how wholeheartedly others will nod in agreement by their share.

Comments encouraged, shares applauded, subscribers rewarded and questions answered .... do you have something you would like Jeannette to answer?  You may be surprised when she devotes an entire Blog to it.

How is your VISUAL inventory?

Linked In is a magnificent portal for enlightening business articles, self-improvement, business etiquette, leadership that allows one to attract and connect with a vast number of thought provocateurs, inspirational professionals. Many would argue that it is largely used by recruiters, job seekers and sales professionals. That may be, however, I like to think it fuels perceptions and first impressions for anyone brave enough to put up a profile and get involved by reading, commenting or sharing valuable content.
Whether you are a job seeker, sales professional or executive promoting your organization or "YOU, Inc." it is wise to manage the perception, especially when it transcends into an interview for a job or meeting with an important client or potential customer.
Do you take stock or inventory of your image? There are loads of articles on Linked In and elsewhere that offer wise advice on professional appearance, attire and conduct. Still, I recommend you examine how that all stacks up. I suggest that you match your professional inventory with your visual inventory:
  • Is your photo recent? Similar to dating, when people meet you, they don't want to be alarmed that your photo is decades old and the real person is much older. That can be considered misleading.
  • Are you smiling in your photo at least? It is wise to present warmth and an inviting personality
  • Do you take care in your appearance in person? A professional photo is wonderful on Linked In, however, if you don't take the same care and attention to that first visual, the other party may be disappointed if you don't match up. Dirty fingernails or super long funky nails may be a turn off.
  • Are your shoes shined? I've read years ago that gentlemen should have shined shoes because that is where people gravitate towards looking at. It is not limited to fellows only. Take a minute and go into the washroom and wash your hands and use the damp towlette to wipe your shoes done at least.
  • A firm handshake exudes confidence while I would say that a nice smile displays confidence underscored by a warm personality. Check those teeth in the mirror to ensure no leftovers are stuck in between.
  • Pleasant body odor. Girls don't plaster on the perfume to cover unpleasant smells and guys unload the cologne. If you have to smoke to squash the nerves, that can turn off a lot of people. Personal hygiene is critical in first impressions and should never be overlooked.
  • Are you a surprise? Your tone in communications, your resume, your qualifications may be impressive. However, if the greeter has somehow anticipated a bubbly blonde enthusiast and you show up dark and foreboding, that meeting or interview may be really short.
  • Do you fit the look or culture of your audience? Abundant reminders are out there to do your homework .... check out the photos of those influential on their web site and try to mirror their image in a way that is not over the top or too obvious.
  • Did you connect with the person you are meeting with? It never is a waste to at least look up the person you're scheduled to meet on Linked In. If you extend an invitation, it should at least encourage the recipient to check your profile out as well as demonstrate that you are going beyond investigating the company, it shows you are interested to learn more about the person you are meeting.
  • Ladies: cleavage or shirt skirts don't belong in the board room, interview or reception. Guys: casual or business casual is a fine line you may lose balance on. Don't under estimate the importance of the service, the customer, the position's meaning to your audience. If you show respect for the importance of your audience by how your dress, your message will be absorbed effectively.
There is an ugly side to first impressions. Chewing gum in any business environment is a pet peeve of mine because most don't chew discretely. Unfortunately, race, color, gender, age can knock you out before you even get to say hello, use that firm handshake, exude that confidence, personality plus. If your audience is going to be that tacky or miserably unwelcoming, at least if you have a profile up on Linked In with you smiling proudly and looking professional. Remember that invite so they will at least have the option to check you out? If they have any bias, you can be relieved if you aren't invited in for an interview or do business with them.
You can avoid any unpleasantness by following a few of these basic tips. I'm certain their are oodles more out there. Take the time to do your own visual inventory. Everything else is gravy because you did get a foot in the door already. Give your visual inventory the same care and attention that you did for that resume, white paper, sales pitch, whatever.
"I think that being happy makes the biggest impact on your physical appearance."
~Drew Barrymore
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jeannette Marshall's background includes the launch of a national magazine in Canada, leading regional sales and marketing for telecommunications startup, business development and operations in digital printing, project management in IT infrastructure while pioneering many web enabled sales tools, print ordering, document and project management processes.
Sales expertise has been accumulated from over 20 years. Claim to fame: CONSISTENT top performance including multiple Presidents' Clubs, regional and national awards in North America. She has worked for Fortune 11 and 500 companies to afford her the experience on business, customer service, leadership and sales.
Since creating her pseudonym Brand @optioneerJM in 2010, Jeannette has refined her skills on social media by writing, intellectual and visual curation on social media. She is trusted as demonstrated by Top 1% KRED and 77 Klout Score influence distinctions.
Jeannette looks forward to your comments and sharing, thanking you in advance -- it provides encouragement and motivation to continue writing to help others succeed by going beyond average to remarkable!  

Feel free to ask Jeannette a question or request her advice ....  You never know, she may just write an entire blog on the topic!  

Onboarding IS important

"What we learn only through the ears makes less impression upon our minds than what is presented to the trustworthy eye."                                                                 ~Horace

Next to recruitment, the hiring process and managing foreward, onboarding is an organization's playbook that communicates how important its employees are. After going through this process numerous times, often one can correlate how their onboarding experience predicts how the remaining career may go. Turnover or churn costs money, drains profits, and can be avoided. I recommend organizations evaluate its "first impressions" and escalate the importance to be in line with recruiting the best talent.
Fortunately, I have had the distinction of being hired by some heavy weights. Unfortunately, the size or reputation of the organization does not guarantee a strong onboarding experience. Often the vision statements and first day experience don't match up. Size or reputation don't necessarily align with onboarding excellence. Circumstances don't dictate whether it will be positive either -- whether you were hired by the President or an HR professional tasked with recruiting.
It shouldn't matter who is being hired: an executive, a middle manager or frontline employee. An onboarding strategy communicates to new employees how important they are in the scheme of things and can foreshadows events. Minimizing first day enthusiasm is detrimental to your organization.
Those on Linked In or elsewhere spend a lot of time helping others get hired, then skip right into organizational issues -- leadership, best/worse bosses, communications, etc. etc. Yet onboarding, tends to be flat or ignored altogether: a foray of forms, introductions, etc.
Thankfully, there a few organizations that are fluid in all its dealing with new employees, from its recruiting to hiring to onboarding. They haven't skipped over to organizational charts, assigning responsibilities, setting performance metrics. Simply said: a "produce or perish" mentality doesn't bode well for the most optimistic or talented individual. An avoidable poor tone can override any excitement and compound nerves that can carry forward for days or years to come. After all the tests on intelligence, cultural fit, experience and reference checks, why isn't onboarding as important as all of that? Seems like a no brainer to me, yet it is often overlooked. I can identify with poor onboarding experiences. I've seen colleagues start on their first day, not know who will greet them, no ID badge, no computer, no computer log on, business cards, parking pass, etc.
According to WIKIPEDIA "onboarding" means (adapted from Bauer & Erdogan, 2011):
Onboarding, also known as organizational socialization, refers to the mechanism through which new employees acquire the necessary knowledge, skills, and behaviors to become effective organizational members and insiders.[1] Tactics used in this process include formal meetings, lectures, videos, printed materials, or computer-based orientations to introduce newcomers to their new jobs and organizations. Research has demonstrated that these socialization techniques lead to positive outcomes for new employees such as higher job satisfaction, better job performance, greater organizational commitment, and reduction in occupational stress and intent to quit.[2][3][4] These outcomes are particularly important to an organization looking to retain a competitive advantage in an increasingly mobile and globalized workforce. In the United States, for example, up to 25% of workers are organizational newcomers engaged in an onboarding process.[5]

Image source: Google Search Result: HR Council

There you have it: organizational socialization. Any organization that demonstrates a caring for that new employee usually has planned this important "first impression" that lasts, disguised as onboarding that communicates:
  • We're happy to have you
  • You made a great decision to join us
  • We will prepare you for your job
  • We will ensure you know who, what, where you will start
  • We will support your success in every step of the way
  • We will onboard you: orientation, training, and an Agenda
  • We will ensure that someone will be there to greet you
  • We will assign a mentor who shows the right behaviors
  • We will ensure that you have all the tools from Day 1

At minimum, a new hire checklist with assigned responsible party should be mapped out and assigned:

  • A computer with log on credentials - IT
  • An ID badge - Security
  • Someone to greet you: your manager or a mentor
  • Where you will go: a training room, an orientation classroom, a desk - HR
  • An agenda: what you can expect in the upcoming days until you start assignment
  • Paperwork: forms, more forms to fill out, Policies, Code of Ethics, etc.
  • Training or orientation: a classroom or boardroom where you are given an overview, history, expectations, paperwork, benefits
  • Anything that communicates the company is happy to have the new recruit
  • omething that communicates that the company is happy to have the new recruit
  • Lunch with your new Manager, Mentor or team
  • Executive welcome on your first day in orientation or training room
  • An orientation or training environment where you meet others on similar first day
  • A video or something that intimately introduces your company (marketing, testimonial videos from happy customers, happy employees)

You can sweeten the experience and establish first day traditions:
  • Anything that communicates the company is happy to have the new recruit
  • Lunch with the new Manager, Mentor or team
  • Executive welcome on the first day 
  • An orientation or training environment to meet others who share the first day
  • A video or something that intimately introduces your company (marketing, testimonial videos from happy customers, happy employees)
Granted, logistics, schedules and a whole whack of other interfering factors can hamper that first day experience. Simply said, don't assume the manager can ensure all the particulars are taken care of while multitasking: taking care of business, supervising other employees, meeting with customers, etc.. You can't assume either that HR has it all covered. They may be assume it is the recruiting or benefits, payroll forms. IT may have a serious matter to take of that distracted them from their responsibilities.
By having an ONBOARDING Agenda with responsibilities assigned (and those assigned have backup designated) is as important as any and all recruiting process. Even better, if it is mapped out visually like your organizational chart. Just don't assume that it is taken care of.

"Never assume everyone knows something:  that only guarantees nothing will get done"                                                                 ~Jeannette Marshall