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January was as most January’s were only a little more frenetic with the crazy weather in the Midwest. So, after a particularly busy holiday season – with two less weeks between holidays – everything seemed very amp’d up. Mostly the clients. It seems those schedules that we all try to enforce and stick to, i.e. “Let’s have the year laid in by Dec 15th” were less likely to happen than my Detroit Lions going to the Super Bowl. Sad, but true.
Fast forward to early February, and a couple clients are asking where we are at on certain issues. Normally an easy answer, but not so this year. Everyone is behind, and understanding that is an important key to keeping everyone from jumping off the ledge. It may be your deadline, your “perfect” date to align forces, but there are forces stronger than you and we need to learn how to judge those times.
So, in lieu of a normal one week call, make it one and a half weeks and perhaps it is a brief email. Gently move back into discussions with a compassion for someone who possibly is pushing many deadlines. Having been on both sides of the desk, it never ceases to amaze me how some reps think you should bend over backwards for them. That is not the way it works.snow Trust me you get more flies with honey than you do vinegar.

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I am starting the new year off with a bang. Literally. It has been non stop since January 1, 2014 came up on my iPhone calendar. The business I have designed for myself is starting to mimic my beliefs, my likes and my causes – all without forcing the issue. I really enjoy what I do, and the biggest problem I am faced with these days is how to enjoy it.
Interestingly, I have been at this for 11 years now and it seems like I should have a little confidence that I know what I am doing. The feelings of confidence ebb and flow – much like anyone who owns their own business. I came out of last couple of years educational sabbatical feeling worried (of course!) that I would be penniless and client-less. But, as things often happen if you have faith and put one foot in front of the other, I wasn’t bored too long.
This year I will continue my mantra of “working with people I like and making my housepayment” and we will see where the path takes me.

Trust

This is a very important issue both in our personal AND our professional life. Since this blog is a professional blog, how trust works into our professional life is the context at which I will position the topic.

In my professional life, I have adopted the attitude and philosophy of honesty and always being candid. Now, that being said – those positions can sometimes have an adverse affect on your professional relationships, especially when people forget that it is business – NOT personal. But, I digress.

In some businesses, the trust issue is an ethereal idea that clients and their employees both contracted and full/part time struggle with for various reasons. In the situation of direct employees, struggling with trusting their employer can be a problem. Having a feeling of being replaceable, of being sub standard and unworthy can wreck havoc on morale and subsequently manifest itself in gossip, or worse – high turn over in staff. It is unfortunate and unnecessary – because it comes from a lack of trust AT THE TOP.

Turn over in employees of both categories can be caused by lack of trust or job security. What most employees don’t realize however is that the real problem is that the higher ups second guess themselves and don’t trust their OWN judgement. Unfortunately this results in the a fore mentioned lack of morale because employees are constantly looking over their shoulders waiting for the axe to drop. No one can work and produce at optimum levels in circumstances that make them feel insecure. Additionally, the higher ups put out negative vibes to justify their own insecurities, i.e. “blowing out someone elses candle to make their own shine brighter”.

So, with all that in mind – TRUST your self, TRUST your judgement, TRUST your staff. You will see productivity and sales rise as a result. You know who you are.trust1

If the last couple of years have taught us anything it is that nothing will ever be the same in business.  We can try – but the awful economy has changed the way people think and new media has changed the way people do business.

There has never been a better time to be an entrepreneur.  The resources at your disposal are endless, and people who want to partner with you are out there as well.  Now, that being said – some partners are not the kind of partners you want.  Partners who take and want so much more in return  – no real win/win are the ones you need to stay away from.

I really believe that the recent economic downturn has resurrected a spirit of fairness and trade, at least in the people I choose to deal with.  Gone are the days of big costs, and large budgets and in vogue is a sense of camaraderie and joint ventures.  I think we have evaluated truly what is important – I know I have.  I really never wanted to be one of the Koch Brothers (for more reasons than you can imagine) … I always wanted to work with people I like and make my house payment.  I get the sense there are a lot more like me out there now – and I think its better for all of us.

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A couple weeks ago I was lamenting the fact that I did not feel like I fit into any particular category within the current business environment.  This morning, while having a lengthy conversation with a friend/peer it occurred to me that I was not that far off base.

You see, I was thinking along the critical and self berating terms, when in reality I should have been kinder to myself as it relates to my skills.  Without sounding too pompous, I am good at what I do, I have great knowledge about my industry and I should just shut off the ass kicking machine and get on with it.  I decided 10 years ago to push forward and create my own place in the world because of the uncomfortable and skewed world of inter-market hiring practices.  Especially in my market where people seldom leave, and the same group of people just keep rotating the atmosphere while newer “stars” come up underneath and join the constellation that is Detroit Media.

Of course I am going to feel left out of a world that only hires to make an impact and buzz in the market, not what is best for the company.  Having been in the market for over 15 years – I am damaged goods.  No longer the “glamor hire” that will get tongues wagging.  Case in point: this friend I was talking to has enormous amounts of media smarts, she is good with clients, knows how to sell media and is well liked among her peers.  So, did she get the job?  No.  This company hired a young man with limited media experience who had “good contacts”….translation: a green media person who was recommended by a buyer, or who they could give a limited list to and have him harvest the rest.  Most likely someone coming from a smaller station, another medium, or worse a friend of a friend.  Did I mention my friend is in her early 50’s?  Hmmmmm.

Now, all that being said, it is easy to judge, easy to complain about the inequality of hiring practices, the bitterness felt when you get overlooked because of your age.  What I find most interesting is that all of these people doing the hiring are in that same age group.  I wonder how they would have responded if they were the ones in the interview chair.  Well, this I know for sure: within the next 5 years they will get their chance.  That’s how we roll.

Art for a Citys Sake

Can you feel it?  That rumble coming up from the ground?  It is the sound of creativity making its way into the hearts of people in the Motor City.  I am especially happy to living in Detroit right now because of it.

Sure, Detroit has haters…a LOT of them.  For some reason it is important to use Detroit as the benchmark for all that is wrong with the U.S.A.  We were too married to industry causing lack of public transportation, we had diversity until the riots of the 60′s sent a lot of people to the suburbs.  We are not what the media would have you believe however.

Detroit is quickly becoming the nerve central for all things creative.  Creative technology, creative thinking, creative funding, creative living.  We are sick and tired of you feeling like you haveIMGP0113 something on us.  I lived in Chicago for awhile.  When I moved back I felt like had to sell this city back to the people who lived here, they were believing the hype.  No longer.

For the record; Chicago has a 10.25 sales tax, think Kwame and Coleman were corrupt?  They actually auctioned off city jobs under Daly.   No offense to the Detroit Bad ass gangs – but Chicago gangs make ours look like West Side Story.

At the front end of all is this is artists.  Detroit and the state of Michigan over indexes the rest of the country in creative jobs.  Look, you will see it — Artists buying homes in Hamtramck, Artists living in New Center.  People like Dan Gilbert and others investing in a city that has all the same markings as any world class city and then some.  We have a riverfront, we have history, we have talent and we are running with it.  Do yourself a favor and look to Motown for your creative needs, we are ready for our close up.