The Traveling Chassidim

We went to Havdalah with the Traveling Chassidim at Aish HaTorah in Rockville. 


It was so wonderful and spiritually uplifting. 


At around mark 11:00, I get to wear the shtreimel hat and I get to drop the shtreimel hat (that was funny)!


These Chassidim from Monsey and Brooklyn were so wonderful. 


They leave their communities and homes to come out for Shabbat to other Jewish communities around the country and do beautiful outreach. 


So giving, loving, and caring with their whole families. 


The music, song, and joy they bring are beyond words. 


The Traveling Chassidim are wonderful and they make a terrific Havdalah at the end of the Shabbat. 😉


(Source Video: Andy Blumenthal)

Words Have Meaning

words-are-important-jpeg

People can be so careless and callous with their words. 


They say stupid and hurtful things. 


Sometimes, they may try to couch or sugarcoat what they are saying, so you need to put 2 and 2 together. 


Yes, that’s four…bang!


Whether it’s transparent or hiding behind a veil of political correctness or mischievousness, you get the messaging. 


Everyone has an angle, as they say in Hollywood. 


Is it benevolent or malevolent or perhaps just dopey does. 


Either way, words are very important.


It’s called communications and you send out messages verbally and non-verbally. 


Rule of thumb:

“Clarity, conciseness, and coherence.”

Often, the messaging can be confused…like the old game of telephone or just in-coherency of words or thinking. 


So which it it–there is no return policy to speak of or there are no returns allowed.


Tell me damn it! 


Why can’t the English learn to speak english? 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Reach Out To Lead

Shake On It
The New York Times today had an editorial called “Our Unrealistic Hopes for Presidents.”



In this piece, Brendan Nyhan lowers the bar on all leadership, and most importantly on the President of the United States. 



He advocates for us to “give up on the idea of a leader who will magically bring consensus and unity to our politics.”



While I agree that there is no “magic” in leadership or politics, it is precisely a leader’s job to see to the vetting of ideas, compromise and consensus, and a way forward for the people, organization, and/or nation.



The leader, especially the president, establishes the vision, motivates and inspires, so that we are elevated from being focused on our own selfish motives  to being “One nation under G-d with liberty and justice for all.” (Pledge of Allegiance)



Or as JFK stated:



“Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.”

This is the type of greatness that our leaders can raise us to and it defies race, party, or creed.



Certainly it wasn’t easy for the founding fathers of this nation to come together and write the Constitution and Bill of Rights that is not geared to the right or left, but is just plain brilliant and correct!



Yes, this is precisely what leadership is–not blame, finger pointing, go it alone, or defeatism–and that is why NOT everyone is cut out for the “top job” and why we seek the the 1 in 311 million for the job!



Nyhan writes “At election time, candidates seduce us with promises to bring America together, but inevitably fall short and end up leaving office with the country more polarized than when they arrived.”



In plain English…this is called broken promises and failed leadership!



A leader, absolutely, must bridge the divide, create an overall unity, a sense of purpose, bring the commitment of the hearts and minds–whether to feed the hungry, land a man on the moon, or win the war whether against fascism or terrorism.



Nyhan states disparagingly about us that “The public and the news media still want someone…a uniting figure who works across the aisle to build support”—Uh YES, how else will we ever get anything big and meaningful really done?



He tells us to “stop asking who can achieve the unity,” that times have changed, and that instead we should accept the “norm of polarization,” conflict, and disharmony in our nation. 



Sure, there are times of urgency and crisis, when a leader must decide and act in lifesaving haste; however, in most usual cases, decisions and actions can come about by joining together rather than tearing asunder. 



No, we should never stop demanding great leadership–those who can overcome both the petty divides as well as the more substantial differences, to see through to a greater good, common purpose, and a better future for us all. 



We can’t do this as Nyhan proposes by giving up on working together, and trying to go it along, without anyone who thinks differently than us, and “govern well without their support.” 



In corporate America or politics, leadership by decree is known as dictatorship, and that is not what this democracy or for that matter real success is about. 



Whether in the boardroom or the Oval Office, we need to demand leadership that explains their point of view, listens to other perspectives, and is able to form compromise and win-win scenarios.



When one side feels ignored or that they’ve been worked around instead of with, then the result is sure to be bitterness and prolonged fighting to overturn the “my way or the highway” decision or to poke the other side right back in the eye when they have the chance. 



We don’t need excuses, but strong leaders who know how to “work the room” or “reach across the aisle”– to bring facts to the table, and sentiment to touch people’s hearts, to give clear vision to help us see “the bigger picture” of what can be done, if we only can act deliberately as one.



(Source Photo: here with attribution to Niels Linneberg)

Communicating 360

Communicating 360

My daughter, Michelle, is taking a university class in public relations and as part of the class she was asked to interview 3 people about their perceptions of this field.

So she posed some questions to me and here is how the interview went:

1. In your own opinion, what is public relations? Why do you think of public relations this way?

Public relations is simple, it’s about relations with the public–communicating and connecting with people about what you do, why you do it, how you do it, for whom you do it, when you do it, and where you do it. It is includes marketing and sales, customer relations, investor relations, government relations, relations with partners, as well as crisis communications, and maybe even recruiting talent to the organization.

2. What do you think of when you think of public relations? Why do you think of this/these?

When I think of public relations, I tend to think of many of the big, well-known brands like Nike, Coca-Cola, Allstate, and so on–they do a lot of advertising and communicating with the public. They invest in this and it has a pay-off in terms of organization, product, and brand recognition.

3. What do you think the skills are that are needed to work in public relations?

Creativity, visual thinking, messaging, branding, marketing, sales, and psychology.

4. Would you distinguish public relations from marketing? If so, how?

Public relations, to me, is broader than marketing. Marketing has to do with getting product awareness out there and selling, but public relations involves not only connecting with customers, but also investors, suppliers, partners, even the government, and international players.

5. Can you give examples of what you think public relations is today?

Public relations is how an organization interfaces and communicates with all its stakeholders. It is mainly external or outward facing and differs from internal communications which is inward facing, like talking with employees. Public relations uses advertising, media, commercials, messaging, branding, logos, newsletters, mailings, to get the word out from the organization’s perspective–good news and also countering bad news.

So how did this “IT guy” do with answering questions about public relations?

Not my field, but maybe the MBA and private-sector experience helped, a little. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Communication, What Comes From The Heart

Communicating_from_the_heart

Leaders always seem to be trying to get their message “right”.

They ponder what will it take to win the hearts and minds.

They may hire consultants to tell them what they should say.

They engage fancy speechwriters to say “it” just so.

Then, they monitor the polls to get feedback and see how their message was received.

However a new article in Harvard Business Review (April 2012) throws a curve ball at this whole notion–stating: “It seems almost absurd that how we communicate could be so much more important to success than what we communicate.”

From my perspective, there are many factors that contribute to the success of our communications:

Firstly, let’s face it–personality, likability, charisma, and charm go a long way to influencing others–and yes, it seems like this is the case, almost at times, regardless of the message itself.

Then there is everything else from emotional intelligence and political savvy for “working” the audience to doing your homework in terms of getting your facts right, making your presentation engaging, using back channels to build support, and giving people the opportunity to ask questions, contribute, and buy in.

According to the HBR article, successful communication directly impacts team performance, this occurs through:

– Energy–“the number and nature of exchanges among team members”–with more interactionbeing better.

– Engagement–the distribution of communications among team members–with more equal distributionbeing better (i.e. communication isn’t being dominated by one person or a select few).

– Exploration–this is the communication between a team and other external connections–with more outreachbeing better for creativity and innovation.

For all of us, communicating is as much about the way and how much we interact with others, as with what we actually have to say.

That’s not to say, that what we have to communicate is not important, but rather that the mere act of communicating with others is itself a positive step in the right direction.

We have to genuinely interact and connectwith others–it’s a critical part of the influencing and teaming process.

Only then, does honing the message itself really make the difference we want it to.

People communicate with other people and this happens in  a very direct, personal, and emotional way.

There is a Jewish saying that my wife often tells me that her grandfather used to say, “what comes from the heart goes to the heart.”

I think that is the correct notion–sincerity is at the core of it takes to really communicate effectively with others.

(Source Photo: herewith attribution to VisaAgency)

Misappropriating Twitter

By now we are all familiar with the news story regarding a prominent lawmaker, recently married, who admitted to a longstanding pattern of inappropriate sexual exploits via Twitter.

 

As The Wall Street Journal (9 June 2011) notes, the individual got caught when he “mistakenly sent the photo to tens of thousands of Twitter followers,” rather than as a private message.

 

As a public servant who is a proponent of social media technology used appropriately, I was very concerned when I saw this in the news (note: all opinions my own).

 

The government needs social media tools like Twitter. It is an important tool for sharing information and alerts. It is obviously not for “sexting” your followers, especially with a Twitter handle that is apparently coming from someone in the government.

 

Twitter is an important means of engaging the public in important ways, moving this great country forward on policy issues and a vision that is noble, righteous, and for the betterment of our world. What a shame when these tools are misappropriated!

 

So while I cannot say “with certitude” what exactly this person was thinking, I am certain that we need social media in government and that there are numerous positive ways for it to be applied.  With the caveat that the basis for social media by anyone in government has to be truth, transparency and genuine outreach on issues of importance to the people.

 

A lot of government people and agencies are doing a good job with Twitter and other social media tools. Let’s go back to focusing on the positive work that we can do with them, even as we note with caution how badly they can be misused. 

 

>Beyonce Moves Us

>

This video is funny and enjoyable to watch; only 20 million views on line…am I late to this one?

Leadership lesson: some things are just primal (like music, song, dance…) and we can reach people on many levels through intellect, emotion, spiritual, and so forth.

People are not just one sided, but complex and you never know when even a baby will just get down and move to Beyonce.

Thanks to a colleague for sending this to me.