Should You Quit Your Job?

July 7th, 2013

In this economic landscape, quitting a job is not something to be taken lightly. If you find yourself daydreaming about quitting, make sure it’s what you want. Remember, the grass is greener where you water. However, there are some legitimate reasons why it may be necessary to quit. Here are some reasons to consider.

  1. The company is failing. After 2008, the illusion of job stability and company loyalty was effectively shattered. If you wait until the company goes under, you will be out of work with a lot of other people from your field. Read the signs and quit if your company isn’t going to make it.
  2. Something illegal/immoral is going on. Protect your reputation and get out of there. Do not participate in any illegal or immoral activities and report the activities if appropriate.
  3. Your boss genuinely hates you. If there is no possible way to reconcile with a supervisor, you will probably not get a great recommendation, so there is no point in remaining with the company. However, if there’s any hope whatsoever, try to work it out with a supervisor even if you still choose to leave. Be professional, calm, and focus on solutions in your conversations with difficult supervisors.
  4. You’re in the wrong position. If you can’t handle the workload and find yourself failing at every turn, it may be time to reevaluate whether you are in the right position or field. Don’t wait until you are fired. Be honest with yourself and your capabilities, and try something new. Don’t mistake laziness or a lack of discipline for a lack of talent or ability, however. Before quitting out of a sense of inadequacy, try your best to improve your performance. Ask for feedback and call on your courage. At the very least, you will have done your best. If you feel your skills aren’t being utilized, this is another good reason to find another job.
  5. Your physical/mental health is suffering. If you are depressed and/or stressed on the job, it is going to show on your face and in your body language. Your relationships with co-workers, supervisors, family members, and friends will suffer. Dreading going to work every day is a recipe for disaster, professionally and personally. Make sure it’s your job that is the problem, not a bad attitude. Maintain a positive outlook and practice gratitude daily. If your health is seriously suffering, consider taking some time off, if possible, to reassess. Quitting may be the best option, but make sure it’s the right decision for you.
  6. You have a viable back-up plan. Weigh the pros and cons of leaving, and make sure you can support yourself for a few months if you can’t find a job right away. Ideally have another job lined up before you submit your resignation, but this may not always be possible.

Ultimately, you must be honest with yourself about your priorities at this time in your life. Consider the timing of your departure from work. Think the decision through, give adequate notice, and remain professional up until the end. Don’t burn any bridges, however tempting it may be.

 

John Bradley Jackson

Top Dog

The BirdDog Group

© Copyright 2013

Did you like this? Share it:

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

June 19th, 2013

Since its invention, we have been enamored with the photograph. Why do we respond so strongly to images? And how has this penchant for images been changing the social media landscape.

Photography allows us to capture life’s most important events. We can immortalize famous moments in history, beloved relatives, young children before they grow up, our holidays, vacations, and much more. Images connect with us – instantly – on an emotional level that the written word simply cannot compete with.

The rapidly burgeoning smartphone market means that practically everyone has a camera in their pocket. In addition to holidays and birthdays, we can now visually document nearly every facet of our lives. People post pictures on Facebook of their meal at a fancy restaurant. Parents instantly upload photos of their newborn from the hospital. Those who are oppressed in corrupt countries can post pictures of war crimes and human rights abuses to hold their leaders accountable. As the influence of the internet increases, visual media has exploded as a huge trend. Anyone can be an amateur photographer.

Why do we respond so strongly to images? For one thing, our eyes are the most developed of the sensory organs. We are hardwired to take in tons of visual information every second, process it, and make sense of it. It’s simply faster for us to look at a picture than it is for us to read a paragraph. Information designer Tom Wujec described in a TED Talk how our brains create meaning through images. Wujec says that our brain doesn’t actually see the world exactly as it is, but instead creates mental models based on the information our eyes take in and deliver to the brain. The primary visual cortex, which can only see basic geometric shapes, takes this information and sends it to centers around the brain, including the limbic system. Very old evolutionarily, the limbic system is deep inside the brain and supports our emotional functioning. It also pays attention to color. This is why we have such an emotional reaction to photographs, especially color ones.

European brain researchers found out that our visual sense dominates our experiences. The researchers put red dye in white wine, and asked professional wine tasters to describe the win. Every one of them described the wine using vocabulary prescribed for red wines, demonstrating that we believe what we see.

In an article called “The Rise of Visual Social Media”, Ekaterina Walter calls online visual marketing “the breakout trend for 2012.” Websites like Instagram, Pinterest, Flikr, and PhotoBucket are doing very well. People are more likely to click on a link if it has an eye-catching picture, even if it’s something simple. We used to think it was all about content, which is still important, but it seems that visually-appealing images are the key to getting people’s attention.

A 2012 study by ROI Research found that people enjoy looking at pictures their friends post on social networks more than they like viewing status updates, links, etc. Women in particular are drawn to images, perhaps explaining why so many women are on Pinterest.

How can you take advantage of our fondness for photographs? Include eye-catching photographs in your presentations, flyers, and brochures. Frame a beautiful or sentimental photograph and give it as a gift to a friend or loved one. Be aware how your emotions may be manipulated when you see an advertisement with appealing images. Don’t underestimate the power of pleasing images and colors when you are trying to persuade someone.

Visual media is continuing to grow alongside advances in the internet and technology. Better and cheaper cameras allow practically anyone to document their lives, and smartphones are at the front of the movement. Is there such a thing as image overload? Will we eventually tire of the onslaught of images? Not so far.

John Bradley Jackson

Top Dog

The BirdDog Group

© Copyright 2013

Did you like this? Share it:

Tips to Boost Your Charisma

May 18th, 2013

We all know charisma is important, but few of us know how to be charismatic. Many people think it’s something you’re born with and that it’s impossible to learn. While some people’s personalities may be more naturally charismatic, there are some simple tricks to increase your charisma quotient:

Be kind. People are drawn to those they believe have their best interest at heart. Offer constructive criticism. Always offer to help. To project kindness and warmth, try to think of a few things you like about the other person. Just thinking those thoughts will affect your body language in a positive way.

Stay focused and engaged. When you really pay attention to what someone has to say, they feel valued. If you let your thoughts wander, it will show up in your body language, even if it’s almost imperceptible.

Plan ahead. If you’re distracted, uncomfortable, or in a hurry, people can see it in your face. Wear comfortable clothing, account for travel time, and give everyone your full attention.

Be humble. Admit your mistakes and don’t be defensive. Shine the spotlight on others.

Love yourself. Have big goals that inspire you. Practice gratitude and self-compassion.

Olive Fox Cabane, author of “The Charisma Myth: How Anyone Can Master the Art and Science of Personal Magnetism”, writes that in order to project charisma, you must project 1) power, 2) presence, and 3) warmth. In terms of charisma, power means it appearing you have the ability to influence your environment. Presence means really being engaged in an interaction and not letting yourself get distracted by your own thoughts. Warmth means demonstrating compassion and genuine concern about the other person.

Cabane says it’s all about body language. Unfortunately we can’t control much of our body language, because our body displays our mental and emotional states beyond our conscious control. If you feel nervous, you will probably look nervous. If you get yourself into a good mental state, however, charismatic behavior and body language follows naturally.

Barriers to charisma include low self-esteem, negative self-talk, lack of empathy, lack of interest or desire to learn about the other person, any condition that would affect your ability to pay attention (like ADHD), and negative emotions like anger and anxiety. Before you can be more charismatic, you’ll need to address what’s holding you back.

Whether you’re a business leader, student, or a waitress looking for better tips, charisma is important. People look to charismatic leaders to guide and inspire them.

John Bradley Jackson

Top Dog

The BirdDog Group

© Copyright 2013

Did you like this? Share it:

When Does Self-Promotion Cross the Line?

April 1st, 2013

Self-promotion is tricky.  Whether online or in-person, you want to promote your business or cause, but don’t want to appear annoying or boastful.  When does healthy self-promotion cross the line?  How can you avoid common pitfalls that make you seem big-headed or bothersome?

From a personal branding standpoint, the first thing to remember is that your personal brand is like your reputation.  You are not a bag of potato chips, so don’t market yourself like a commodity.  Be honest when you describe your accomplishments, and don’t exaggerate the details.  Often it’s best to let your work or product speak for itself: your first priority should be to deliver quality content, not to promote your personal brand.  Communicate how you can help others; people want to know what’s in it for them.  Make it about other people, not just you. Give credit to people who have helped you.  Using testimonials (written responses by others that praise you) are much more effective than tooting your own horn.  Make sure your self-promotion is relevant or helpful to the topic at hand.  Respect your target audience.  Your goal should be to make connections, not “win” supporters.

One of the worst things is to over-do it.  Be careful not to be too aggressive about self-promotion; it’s a major turn-off.  Relentless self-promotion can imply insecurity and self-doubt.   Don’t post links for your websites on forums or sites too often or when it’s irrelevant.  Be cautious about how often you “name drop” illustrious colleagues, programs, or companies you’ve worked with, since this can be seen as bragging.  Don’t be the guy who spams in-boxes with tons of self-promoting emails, especially if those emails are impersonal and of the “one size fits all” variety.  Don’t offer advice when you have limited or no expertise on a subject.  Failure to sensitively self-promote can leave people feeling irritated and manipulated.  If it sounds like a sales pitch, people are smart enough to know what you’re doing.  Don’t post anything that will come back to haunt you.

There is a fine line between appropriate self-promotion and just being obnoxious.  Gimmicks will fool some people, but not all.  You want people to respect you enough to return to your website or services in the future.  Be sensitive about how often you promote yourself, and how you go about it.

John Bradley Jackson

Top Dog

The BirdDog Group

© Copyright 2013

Did you like this? Share it:

Is Your Password Hacker-Proof?

February 18th, 2013

Managing countless passwords for multiple accounts across the internet can feel exhausting.  In an attempt to keep things simple, many people rely on passwords that are simple and easy to remember – but also easy for a hacker to crack.  SplashData released some of the worst passwords, compiled from a list posted by hackers online.  Some of the worst include, “password”, “123456”, “qwerty”, “11111”, “baseball”, “jesus”, and “iloveyou”.  The trick is to find the balance between easy to remember and hard to guess.  While it may take some extra effort, it is worth it to know your information is secure.

Want to decrease the chances of getting hacked?  Here are tips to create safe passwords:

  • Go for length and complexity. Use upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols.  Don’t use simple combinations like “123” or “abc”.  A good rule of thumb is 6 to 8 characters, but the longer the better!
  • Avoid using personal information. Don’t use your birthdate, nickname, children or pets’ names, address, etc.
  • Use different passwords for different websites/accounts. Avoid the temptation to use the same password for multiple accounts, especially for bank accounts and other important accounts.
  • Change your passwords often. You don’t know where you online information could be stored.  Don’t re-use old passwords.
  • Consider using a password manager service. These programs generate complex passwords across multiple sites, and then manage these passwords with a single master password.
  • Use a sentence, catchphrase, or quote and abbreviate to make it harder to crack. An example would be taking “take me out to the ball game” and turning it into “tmo2tbg”.
  • Keep your passwords secure. Don’t save them in a email account that can get hacked or in a Word document that isn’t encrypted.  If you write the passwords down, be very careful where you store this information.  Don’t send passwords through email.
  • Don’t share your password. Be wary of anyone asking for your password, either online or in person.  Be cautious and don’t release your password to just anyone.
    • Be creative. Use multiple strategies and techniques to create a hacker-proof password.  Example: Take a phrase you can remember, like “My favorite movie is ‘Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom’” and change spellings, add other characters, and vary upper and lower-case: “**!Myfav’MovieisIndianaJonez2!**”

 

John Bradley Jackson

Top Dog

The BirdDog Group

© Copyright 2013

Did you like this? Share it:

More than Half of Americans Own Smartphones

September 3rd, 2012

The LA Times reported this August that for the first time, more than half of Americans own smartphones.  The news outlet cited a report by Chetan Sharma Consulting, which also revealed that smartphones comprised about 70% of all phones sold in the United States.  Both facts have significant implications.

The fact that most Americans today have smartphones means that business and culture at large are changing.  Employees are often expected to be on-call to answer emails at night and on weekends.  Without sitting down to a laptop, people can now Google anything they want, anytime they want.  Need directions to an unfamiliar?  Easy, use the GPS built into your smartphone.  Out with friends and want to find a top-rated restaurant in the vicinity?  No problem.

If you don’t have a website for your business that is formatted for these mobile devices, then you are missing out.  If you do have a mobile website, make sure that it is user-friendly and easy to read.  It is not particularly expensive or difficult to contract someone to set up or improve your mobile website.

The fact that smartphones are being sold more often than regular cell phones means that this trend is set to continue.  Smartphone prices are dropping as more customers begin to buy them.  People who were in contracts are switching to smartphone as soon as they can, and people are more likely to “trade up” than to return to a regular phone.

According to Business News Daily online, people aged 25-34 are the largest consumers of smartphones.  However, smartphone ownership has increased markedly in both younger and older age groups, as well as people who make less than $30,000 a year.

It may seem like everyone and their grandmother has a smartphone these days, but keep in mind that a large segment of the U.S. population still does not own a smartphone.  Beware of sounding condescending or elitist when discussing the ubiquity of smartphones, depending on your audience.

But for many people, smartphones mean instant internet access 24-7.  People check Facebook in their cars while idling at a red stoplight, order items off Amazon while out to dinner, and update their Twitter accounts during staff meetings.  This obsessive-compulsive web-browsing can have serious consequences.  Distracted drivers can kill or injure themselves and others.  Emailing and texting (rather than calling or visiting in person) can be less effective and rather impersonal.

Smartphone use is widespread, and will only become more pervasive as prices continue to drop. Why does matter you ask? If you own a website, you must offer a mobile version —- do it now!

 

John Bradley Jackson

Top Dog

The BirdDog Group

 

Did you like this? Share it:

Promotional Products: Beyond the Coffee Cup

July 6th, 2012

From mouse pads and bottle openers to lip balm and mints, you probably have more promotional products at your home or office than you realize.  These useful items quietly advertise their parent company through logos and slogans imprinted on the objects.

Traditional promotional products can be effective, and are certainly better than nothing, but think about expanding your horizons beyond the coffee cup.

For a product that suggests innovation, technology, and an eye to the future, electronic promotional products like laser pointers, iPad cases, mp3 players, headphones, calculators, USB drives, and digital cameras may do the trick.

Want your company to be synonymous with elegance and good taste?  If you have the budget, consider high quality lighters, fountain pens, golf sets, automatic corkscrews, fancy pocketknives, bottles of wine, cigars, fine leather items, watches, and jewelry.

To be truly memorable, consider using a promotional product that is goofy or creative.  Whoopee cushions, talking toys, slippers, bubbles, and other gag or novelty items will make your promotional product unforgettable.  Use a pun or catchy phrase to highlight your business.

The only drawback to imaginative or wacky items is that they may not be as useful (and therefore lasting) as more traditional products, like pens and staplers.  If you promoting an event or short-term marketing campaign, a promotional product that is catchy and inventive might be the way to go, even if it eventually gets tossed in the trash.

A great idea is to customize your promotional product to reflect the values or theme of your company.  This will appeal to your target customer while reinforcing your business’s dedication to its field.  A solar company might give out eco friendly shopping bags or notebooks with recycled paper to emphasize their commitment to sustainable living.  A travel agency might order luggage tags or binoculars to give their customers a useful item while traveling.

You can also take a traditional promotional product and reinvent it with a simple twist.  Add a funny quote to a coffee cup, in addition to your logo.  Add a funny tassel to the end of your promotional pen.  The possibilities are endless.

The bottom line: Try to find something useful and enjoyable for your customer, and something that also reflects the values of your business.

Janet Hill Jackson

Gratitude Marketing Specialist

P.S. Be sure to watch this video

 

Did you like this? Share it:

Why Promotional Products Are Effective

June 19th, 2012

Even if you have never heard the term “promotional product”, you have undoubtedly used them.  Promotional products usually have a company’s logo on it.  Traditional promotional products include pens, T-shirts, USB drives, coffee mugs, refrigerator magnets, and more.  Notice that all these items are cheap to purchase and distribute, but are they are all items that are useful in daily life.

Promotional products are effective because they last a long time.  Unlike traditional advertising, which lasts for a few moments, promotional products last much longer.  Because the items are usually small and useful, people are unlikely to discard them.  Why throw out a perfectly good pen or mouse pad just because it has a logo on it?  The person ends up looking at the item more often than they realize.  They subconsciously associate your company with the utility they receive from the item.

Also, even if they do not keep the item, chances are good that another person will use the item.  Pens get borrowed or taken, and other items get recycled either on purpose or by accident.

According to research done by L.J. Market Research, 71% of participants had received a promotional product in the last year.  33% of those people actually had that product with them at the time of the study.

Even during hard economic times, promotional products can be cheaper to order and distribute than traditional advertising.  They hold value because they last longer than regular advertising.

However, choose your promotional product wisely.  Some people stick with the basics: pens, mugs, etc.  You can be more creative (and you should be), but make sure the item is still useful.  Choose an item that reflects a theme for your company in general, or for a particular advertising campaign.  Consider your distribution method, and make sure your target audience (and maybe even beyond) actually receives your promotional product.  To state the obvious, a box full of promotional T-shirts collecting dust in a storage room does not promote your company.

Janet Hill Jackson

Gratitude Marketing Specialist

P.S. Be sure to watch this video

 

Did you like this? Share it:

I Got an E-mail From Jesus

June 10th, 2012

My spam filter let an e-mail from am “unknown sender” named Jesus get through to my mail box today. My first reaction was to immediately delete it or hit the spam key, but instead I opened it. I thought to myself, “What if…?”

What if the “big guy” had something to tell me? Would he e-mail me like this or would he do the “burning bush” trick? Surely he is hip to the web and the possibilities of social networking. The burning bush is so last millennium (or, maybe older). I suppose Jesus could have left me a voice mail or sent me a text message. He must have many options to call upon us these days.

The e-mail read “Be grateful”. That’s all it said. No link, no parable. It just said be grateful. I paused a moment and then wrote this blog.

Hmmm. I guess I do have a lot to be grateful for—-a beautiful wife of 27 years, three great kids, my health, a good horse in the barn, enough money to do as I please, etc. The list could go on and on. I am truly blessed when compared to the others in the world; I recently read that over 800 million people go to bed hungry at night.

But, wasn’t this just a spam message? If it was just spam, now you understand why spammers spam. This unsolicited e-mail caused me to think and to take action, which is the goal of every spammer—they want to change the world (for better or worse) in some small way.

Essentially, spammers spam because they know that spam works. It may be that one out of a million unsolicited e-mails that only a few hundred people respond to the call to action. That click through rate may be enough for the spammer to feel successful (or grateful).

I responded to the call to action. This time the call was not to buy Viagra or hit on a link to a porn site, but nonetheless I did what the spammer wanted me to do. The spammer made me think.

Or, was it an e-mail from Jesus?

John Bradley Jackson

Top Dog

The BirdDog Group

 

Did you like this? Share it:

Smaller E-mail Marketing Lists Are Better

June 10th, 2012

Contrary to popular opinion, large e-mail databases are typically not better. Often large databases will include “dead” e-mail addresses which exaggerate the “monetary value” of the list.

It makes good business sense to cull your list regularly. This includes a prompt management of “opt-out requests” which are people who are not receiving value from the relationship with you. Move fast on these requests or the recipients will report you as spam. Additionally, a periodic revisit to all opt-in recipients with the request to opt-in again can significantly improve your list quality. Of course, it can make your list smaller.

Here are some additional reasons why it makes sense to cull your list:
– A better list provides better statistics about your list since the dead or unresponsive e-mails are removed. For example, your open rates will be higher. In truth the number of total opened e-mails does not change, but now the open rate statistic is more in tune with reality.
– It makes economic sense that fewer e-mails sent costs less money.
– Your spam complaints will go down since you are not sending e-mails to uninterested readers.
– Improved deliverability should keep you off blacklists.
– Your reputation score should improve.

Thus, smaller lists make good business sense.

 

John Bradley Jackson

Top Dog

The BirdDog Group

 

Did you like this? Share it: