Quite often you hear people say the common phrase, “I learned something new today.” With each of our team members unique in their own way, this is something you’ll quite often hear us say. But what’s great is that learning new things doesn’t just end with our team, but we find that through the process of working with our clients and partners we’re frequently learning something from them too. As the team reflects on this week, here are some of the most important things we’ve learned.
Marsh: “Sometimes you can help someone help themselves”
A few years ago we had a client who was really heading down the wrong path on some things. The client team we worked with knew it was the wrong path but that’s what they were told to do by their senior management. From our perspective, they were going to hurt their brand, plus waste money, time and effort ¬– and our immediate client representatives knew this – but they were going ahead because they were told to and their organization did not/does not embrace “Truth to Power.”
When I got some time with our primary contact I asked him about this. His assessment was, “You’re making a big mistake. Don’t try to help us help ourselves.” I responded that we didn’t know how to do that. We both laughed about it and moved on, but I’ve always carried that with me.
Don Quixote, Pollyanna, whatever, our goal is to guide, to coach, to transfer wisdom when we can, and most of all to help clients reach their goals. Yeah, I get that this sounds like so much blah, blah, blah. But today I saw a client who was willing to learn and grow to reach a significant goal, and we were able to help them do that.
So what’s the most important thing I learned this week? Never give up on doing the right thing. Never say yes because it’s easy. And always stick to your guns when you know in your heart you’re right. When you can help someone else reach their goals and learn from each other in the process it’s a beautiful thing.
Gretchen: “Use Your Words”
Driving from a client meeting the other day we passed a billboard stating “safe” then showing a car and the words (dot) com. Marsh asked what did I see? As if I were playing an old-school game of concentration, my response was “safecar.com.” Clearly I would’ve lost because the correct response was safeauto.com.
My lesson is relatively simple. You hear people say an image is worth a thousand words, well sometimes an image alone isn’t enough. Don’t rest on the fact that you can use a visual to convey your message. With the popularity of social media platforms like Instagram, we have certainly become a more visual society, but you might need to do more to tell the whole story. In the case of the billboard, they may not have been able to tell a story per se, but I’ve encountered instances were the same thinking has been applied to digital marketing. Don’t expect visuals to communicate what you mean and especially when the subject is complex. Give your message justice and use your words.
Colin: “Know when to just ask”
Being a recent college graduate I find myself running into situations where I don’t have the solution right away. This isn’t a bad thing, and can often lead to a good learning opportunity. And while being resourceful and putting in the time and effort to find the right answer is both beneficial and shows initiative, it can also be time-consuming. This week I learned that sometimes just asking someone for the answer can be the better route. Being efficient and effective trumps a learning opportunity in certain situations.
Even a problem as small as getting your email to work can create a timely search for the answer. I spent more time than necessary re-entering, searching for answers, and getting generally frustrated trying to get my email to allow me to send messages. Eventually, I gave in and took it to the geniuses at the Apple store. I walked out fifteen minutes later finally able to respond to the emails that I could have been responding to earlier had I just know when to ask for help.
Sonya: “Look back more often”
I reward myself for making healthy choices by buying $15 items on Amazon. This week it was the Retrobit Nintendo 64 game controller for Mac. Plugged it in, and started my first favorite game, The Legend of Zelda. The music, and even holding the controller, quickly transported me back to my parent’s house where I grew up. Somewhere in 1987, staying up late with my dad and beating the game for the first time.
Trends like #tbt on Twitter and Instagram have had me searching through old albums and photos looking for images to embarrass my sister with. It had been years since I’d gone through those photos. And it reminded me of the foundations I had growing up. I was blessed with a great family, and have great memories that have helped shape me. So often, with technology, and business, and marketing… we look to move forward. To not dwell on the past, but to leave it where it is. And while I think it’s important that we not be discouraged by past mistakes and regrets, there is still value in our memories. Looking back can be a reminder of why we are the way we are. It can help us determine, the things we are good at, and what we can get better at. And maybe most importantly, it can allow you to recognize the people who helped get you where you are and to thank them for just that.
Luke Pierce: “Unwritten Goals Mean Nothing”
We are finishing up a big contest project this week for a client and everyone involved couldn’t be happier with how it went. But I can’t seem to shake this dubious feeling I have. Let me explain.
At the beginning of the project we talked internally about what we thought we be successful for the project, we even quantified it with the team that was working on it. Then during the initial meetings with the client, we asked, as we always do, “what will define a win on this project?” We got an answer and great direction to take the project in. However, we never actually put metrics around our goals and we definitely never wrote them down.
We reported metrics every week to the client and were totally transparent about all happenings in the project. We knew we were on track the whole time to hit the goals we had talked about in the beginning, but now that the project is over, it doesn’t feel real. They were false goals because we never accurately communicated with everyone involved about what they were, and we never wrote them down.
This week I learned to make sure everyone involved in a project can be confident in the project’s outcome, one must accurately define and communicate goals, quantify them, and WRITE THEM DOWN!
Shannon Blair: “Always back up your computer”
Here’s the thing… even all the way back in middle school my teachers were telling me to save my Word doc. in case something happens. I always took it kind of lightly and just thought people were a tiny bit obsessive. When I came to Shout Out my team mentioned backing up our computers and my thought was, “but everything I use is online?” Well folks, then the Coffee Incident of 2014 happened to me. Starting my day off right, with blog reading and a hot cup of coffee, I set my coffee down on the corner of a stack of papers and it took a tumble right into my keyboard. Now, I sit mortified at how stupid the decision had been to never back up my computer because let me tell you, I had documents on that bad boy I hadn’t thought about in over a year that now I miss dearly.
Nathaniel Seevers: “Sometimes the problem is the solution.”
My contribution to this post is a few days late. While not ideal it has been a reminder of something important; sometimes the problem is the solution. When I sat down to write my part for the post, on-time with the best intentions, I blanked. It wasn’t that I didn’t learn anything over the course of the past week. We’re all constantly learning every single day. It was that when I tried to rehash the lessons I’d recently gathered I came away with a paragraph of forced, uninteresting, borderline trite…. whatever. I questioned how it was useful to our readers and so, I stopped. I trashed what I had down and I politely bowed out.
As I read back through the contributions from my team I realized not contributing is what I had learned. Sometimes you have to not do anything to move ahead. You can be too close to what you’re trying to accomplish. Sometimes the problem is the solution the whole time.
Photo Credit: Jackson Latka