The 1 Quality That Makes You Perfect

The Continental Divide in back, Winter Park in front. Mmm, skiing.

I ski at Winter Park each winter, and each winter I get to see the National Sports Center for the Disabled in action.

The highlight for me came a few years ago.

It was my first run, and as I stood at the top of a groomed black, I wasn’t “feeling it.” I took a moment to look out at the Rockies; if I wasn’t feeling the skiing, I might as well feel the majesty of the mountains, right?

Apparently I wasn’t the only one thinking that.

“Beautiful day, huh,” said someone who had skied up next to me.

Without looking at him, I answered. “Sure is. I just wish I were feeling better about this run.”

“Off day?”

“We’ll see. Slow start. Why don’t you go ahead.”

“Thanks. I’m sure you’ll find your flow,” he said.

Then he skied away, and I saw him for the first time.

He had one leg.

I started to laugh. Out loud. At myself, and at the pity party I’d been having a moment ago.

As I stood there, a blind skier came up along the catwalk, with his guide, and passed me as well.

My laughing got so hard, tears came to my eyes.

Have you ever laughed by yourself? It’s not that easy. This laughter came from a deep place and wouldn’t stop. It was overwhelming.

Disabled? We’ve all got something wrong with us. Some of us deal with physical limits. Others with mental or emotional limits. But none of us have to take our limits seriously.

I’ve had some wonderful moments on that mountain. That one ranks at the top. It wasn’t the hardest run I’ve ever done, nor the best skied, nor even the most aesthetically beautiful. It was the one most filled with pure joy.

I’m not even sure joy is the right word. Imagine the mix of emotions you’d feel if the love of your life were to wake from a 6-month coma and immediately tell the funniest joke you’ve ever heard. The relief. The happiness. The love. The pride. The humor. The wakefulness.

That is the feeling that swept over me and had me in stitches.

It’s a privilege to ski every year with the Sports Center and their skiers.

They don’t know me, I don’t know them. But skiing amongst them reminds me that what makes us each perfect is our willingness to ignore our limits.

It was a simple realization, and one that never ceases to bring me joy.

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by Jason Seiden, CEO of Ajax Workforce Marketing.
connect on linkedin, twitter, or facebook.

Betty or Veronica?

Betty or Veronica

They’ve killed Archie.

Archie comics have been running a series about Archie’s life as an adult. They’ve divided his life into two paths, showing one possible future where he gets together with Veronica, and another where he gets together with Betty.

And now they’ve killed him, so we still don’t know how to answer the Betty or Veronica question.

(For anyone who needs a reminder, Veronica is the rich, high maintenance brunette. Betty is the sweet, girl-next-door blonde. They’re best friends, except their friendship is complicated by their shared love interest, Archie. BTW, think one is more attractive? They’re drawn the same.)

Life is about choices. What leads up to them, how you make them, the repercussions that follow them. What made Archie fun was that the choice was always in front of him; he lived in a world of potential, before the risks and repercussions of choosing became real. 

But here’s the thing: without choosing, there’s no forward movement. You may have heard the saying that refusing to choose is itself a choice. It is! We don’t get to live two parallel lives simultaneously like a character in a comic book. We can only live one. No choice, no living.

So who would I choose, between Betty and Veronica? Between two women who have been fawning over the same guy after 60+ years? Actually, if I were Archie, I’d be looking for someone a little more independent, strong, and decisive than that.

 On the other hand, I did name my car Veronica… so I guess there’s that.

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by Jason Seiden, CEO of Ajax Workforce Marketing.
connect on linkedin, twitter, or facebook.

LinkedIn blogging platform – part 2

The Shine is Off…?

I’ve posted 5 more articles since my first update, and after a couple of early wins, I’ve hit a wall:

1. Pulse selection / categorization.
Any shot at having content go viral on LinkedIn comes from the editors at Pulse picking it up and putting it on their homepage. Yet their process for selecting posts is a black box. I don’t even know what category a post will show up in if it is selected. When early posts of mine started registering meaningful traffic numbers, we’d go category to category through Pulse looking for them. And since Pulse is like a table of contents without the rest of the book, if something isn’t in Pulse,  then it’s only findable from my profile. Which isn’t that helpful because I already have a blog that’s linked to my LinkedIn profile.

2. Tools to get the word out
So, how do you share news about a post? Messaging contacts on LinkedIn is onerous, editorial decisions around Pulse are a black box, groups come with moderation requirements I don’t have time for. That leaves… email, and this here blog. And if I’m using these platforms, then why am I directing traffic away from sites I own and to LinkedIn? Implied credibility, maybe? But what happens when LinkedIn opens the floodgates to their blogging platform, and it becomes just like WordPress? And if I’m a true writer, and I can get credibility by writing for other platforms that will help promote my stuff or pay me, then… There’s a value prop missing here.

3. Mobile access
This is a killer: you know how posts I’ve written only show up on my profile if they’re not on Pulse? Well, that’s only true if logged in through a browser. If you look me up on LinkedIn’s mobile app, you can’t access my content at all, unless you happen to see my status update. That’s a serious problem given that 40% of you access LinkedIn from your phones!

4. Stats 
I have no idea who’s reading my posts, where they come from, or what they do once they’ve read a post. Data will likely be an area of strength for LinkedIn in the future… But it’s not there yet.

5. Comments monitoring 
The way comments are displayed is confusing—sometimes it seems to be chronological, other times it seems to be popularity based. In either case, there’s no easy mechanism I can use to go in and respond to comments.

6. Multi-contributor blog options?
How can I team up with other authors to create a multi-contributor blog on LinkedIn’s platform? Now, on jasonseiden.com, I don’t take guest submissions. But that’s a choice. On LinkedIn, I have no choice.

LinkedIn has, since the dawn of its existence, talked about helping professionals be more successful. What I’ve loved about the platform is its emphasis of quality over quantity. But publishing is an eyeballs game, and getting eyeballs is about mass appeal at the lowest common denominator. Which creates a bit of a split personality scenario for the blogging platform.

I’m not done with LinkedIn’s platform. Not by a long shot. But if you’re going to create content here, you’ll want a plan, and you’ll want to understand the trade offs as LinkedIn threads the value/viral needle.

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by Jason Seiden, CEO of Ajax Workforce Marketing.
connect on linkedin, twitter, or facebook.

LinkedIn blogging platform: latest post

Yesterday,  I posted an article to my LinkedIn blog called

5 Myths about Workforce Marketing, Smashed

In it, I take on the more common assumptions our clients and prospects make when talking to us about engaging their employees on social media—things like whether the program should be open or for high potentials only, and if a full program is necessary or just a little training.

If you’re in corporate leadership, HR, marketing, or communications (corporate or internal), it’s worth reading!

My next post here, by the way, will be an update on my experiences posting on LinkedIn platform. I think you’ll be surprised…

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by Jason Seiden, CEO of Ajax Workforce Marketing.
connect on linkedin, twitter, or facebook.

No, you can’t just have a webinar.

I have a new post on LinkedIn called “Social Media Brings the Biggest Shift in Human Communication in 600 Years, and Your Branding Plan is a 90 Minute Webinar?

if you’re thinking that the answer to getting your employees onto social media is a webinar, then you need to read this.

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by Jason Seiden, CEO of Ajax Workforce Marketing.
connect on linkedin, twitter, or facebook.

car accident update

you might’ve read about my family’s car accident a month ago.

I wanted to close the loop on that: we’re good.

my wife’s ribs are healing, and she sneezed today without incident.

for those of you who have ever broken a rib, you know what a milestone that is.

our girls are good, and I’ve mostly gotten over it, too, although sometimes when pulling into traffic I still find myself edging away from the driver’s door.

but mostly now we’re just handling paperwork.

as an aside, do you have any idea how much 1 day in the hospital is? it’s a shockingly high number. as is the amount insurance says they won’t cover. wow.

what I will say is, Winter Park ski resort was wonderful. when it came to dealing with unused lift tickets, rentals, and hotel rooms, they made us very glad that our family has been going there annually for the past 34 years. (I married into the tradition. I’ve “only” been going there 20 years. my wife’s been going with her dad for 34 years. another few years and I think I’ll be able to call it “my” place, too… yet despite being a relative newbie, they still took care of me, too. thanks, WP!)

it’s been pretty amazing to realize how many people saw my original post—I’ve probably joined two dozen meetings or calls this month where someone kicked it off by asking me how my family was doing.

I truly appreciate that every time it happens.  people talk all the time about how important it is to work with people they like. this month, I discovered something even better:

I work with people who care.

despite the wife’s broken ribs, my psychological after effects, our insurance calls, bills, and other pain in the ass aspects of the accident, that’s probably what I’ll remember most from this whole experience.

from such a scary event… how amazing is that.

ah, life.

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by Jason Seiden, CEO of Ajax Workforce Marketing.
connect on linkedin, twitter, or facebook.

san francisco

sitting in SFO, waiting to board my flight home.

this is an interesting city.

accepting. dirty. small. international. powerful.

I can’t get a bead on it.

the guy across from me is about 50 years old, with a shaved head and 4-inch beard. down the hall is a jehova’s witness on a cell phone. the hipster consultant next to me sports a movember ‘stache (it’s march), while the row of corporate salesmen across from me sport an extra 50 pounds each—these guys have a three-steak-dinner-per-week look about them.  I’m overhearing conversations in at least three languages. two men are selling software, loudly. and a woman who I think used to be gorgeous before she plasticized her face keeps strolling in a lazy loop around the terminal. She seems sad that isn’t capturing more attention.

who are these people? where are they from? why is that kid wearing docksiders with sweatpants? and how much software can the people on my flight possibly be selling? it’s saturday!

there were people wearing everything from flip-flops to parkas here yesterday, because it was 55 degrees and they have no idea what to do with this weather.

does everyone here have a facebook account? what about linkedin? how many of them have heard of vine… from their kids? what percentage of the people I see right now ate sushi this week? what’s the ratio here of cilantro-lovers to cilantro-haters? who here got caught in the rain last Wednesday?

does that woman regret her plastic surgery? are the steakhouse consultants as Republican as they seem?

welcome to how my brain works. usually, by now, I’ve spotted a pattern or come up with a hypothesis of some kind. but this is San Francisco, so I’m going to have to work a little harder.

I was downtown this week, in Pacific Heights, in San Bruno, in South San Francisco. I had exactly 20 minutes “free” yesterday and used them to walk to and through the Mission district. I woke up early the other day and walked through a blue-collar neighborhood I normally would not get a chance to see. man, the sprawl in the Bay goes on forever.

I was as close to identifying what makes this city tick on this trip as I’ve ever… but I didn’t quite get it.

I guess I’ll have to keep coming back until I do.

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by Jason Seiden, CEO of Ajax Workforce Marketing.
connect on linkedin, twitter, or facebook.

update on LinkedIn’s blogging platform

...and that's how you do viral.

J Law + Brangelina. That’s how you do viral.

It’s been 4.5 days since my original post on LinkedIn’s blogging platform… my original post was about CVS’s decision to stop smelling cigarettes and its impact on CVS’s employer brand. Last Saturday, I also posted about how to handle employees who are good with technology but bad at communicating face-to-face. At the same time, my friend and fellow blogger Tim Sackett posted his 11 Rules for Hugging at Work.

Based on the 4-day performance of these 3 posts, I have an update:

  • My original post about CVS’s employer brand has been seen by nearly 3,200 people and has triggered just 360 engagements (likes, comments, or shares).
  • My follow up post about tech etiquette has garnered over 5,300 views and 646 engagements.
  • Tim’s post went viral. It’s been seen by almost 275,000 people and has triggered over 15,000 engagements. I’m name-dropped in the article opening and there’s a link to my blog.

Meanwhile, here’s been the impact of these three posts:

Impact from being name-checked in a viral post:

  • Pretty much none.
  • My site has not registered a spike in traffic from being name-dropped in Tim’s post. (His site links to an old, dead link, but I haven’t even detected a meaningful uptick in 404—page not found—errors.)
  • About 12 people forwarded the article to me. These people included coworkers, colleagues, Facebook friends, and a high school friend who happened upon it after I linked to it in a status update.
  • The engagement I did get was purely social… whether others saw it and were impressed that I was name checked in a viral post (don’t be), I don’t know.

Impact from my own articles:

  • Traffic to my LinkedIn profile last week—which my articles linked back to, but which Tim’s didn’t—was up almost 100% for the week. This was largely driven by a spike Friday and Saturday, and I posted the advice column Saturday, so it seems that both posts had a hand in driving this traffic.
  • The advice column generated at least one comment by a client and has already been shared by at least one other. So maybe it’s keeping me top of mind?
  • My original column, despite having the lowest traffic numbers, has been shared by both prospects and clients, and I know from forwards that it’s been used to support the justification for an actual spend in at least 1 case. Whether that comes back to me directly or not via sales, we’ll see… I didn’t write the post to drive sales, I wrote it to help build the Workforce Marketing category. But this activity means that of the 3 posts, I’m closest to being able to point to an actual ROI for this one.

Comparing things:

  • It was hard, when I saw Tim’s post go viral (I was one of the first to see it because he forwarded it to me; a few hours later saw it had > 70k views), not to want to put up content myself with viral potential. Let’s just get that right out in the open!
  • Tim’s viral post had about 32x the views as my two posts, combined.
  • Tim’s post had 15x the engagement as my 2 posts.
  • Tim’s post generated 2.25x the number of followers I go.
  • But don’t cry for me just yet:
  • My engagement conversion rate was 2.15% better.
  • My follower conversion rate was 15x better (6% vs. .4%),
  • Whereas Tim’s post appealed to a general audience, mine were written for a target audience, meaning that not only was my conversion rate better, but there is a good chance—as evidenced by the client shares of my content—that these are higher quality followers, too.

So what?

So like many other decisions in life, it comes down to whether you want fame or wealth…

If you want fame, go after the mass audience. Focus on reach. Write titles that have numbers, are a little shocking, and if possible, validate people’s’ worldview:

  • 11 Rules for Hugging at Work (duh)
  • 5 Little Known Methods for Getting Promoted
  • 3 Career Mistakes Your Boss Doesn’t Want You to Know About
  • 6 Technologies that Will Save Your Company at Least $500/Month… Each
  • 5 Fool-Proof Influence Techniques Discovered by Marketers (and Validated by Science)

Basically, write like Buzzfeed. Tim nailed it, and backed it up with a fun, light, quick read.

If you want to be rich, go after a niche audience and focus on resonance. Viral won’t do that, as evidenced by the engagement rates of our respective posts.

To improve resonance, I suggest you analyze your sales cycle, identify the buyers, influencers, and gatekeepers, list their issues, needs, and objections… and then write posts that give them the answers they’re looking for.

Whatever your goal, social media is an amplifier… it can amplify reach, or it can amplify resonance… but it’s hard to do both, or to do both well.

Much more to come…

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by Jason Seiden, CEO of Ajax Workforce Marketing.
connect on linkedin, twitter, or facebook.

LinkedIn’s influencer platform

I just got invited to be an influencer. Yea, me! I made my first post yesterday around 6pm. It’s now noon. Here are my stats thus far:

blog stats

This was a narrowly focused article targeting people in the employer branding space (which, for the initiated, is the marketing companies do to attract and retain talent). It’s about CVS’s announcement to drop tobacco products and the unintended negative impact that announcement has on their employer brand: Can $2 billion hurt an employer brand?

So how am I doing? Over 1,500 views in my first 18 hours. Not bad… not bad at all…

But will this translate into meaningful relationships, new business opportunities, and company/career growth? TBD.

Quantitatively:

  • 1,574 views in less than a day. That’s nothing to sneeze at, especially for a niche article. With reach like this, I think we’ll soon be saying goodbye to industry magazines, maybe?
  • My profile view stats are up a little—I think. I’m at about 50 views so far for the week, which is typical, but the trend line looks like I’ll end with an upswing. It’s sort of hard to tell, because I tend to get big spikes when I do webinars or large speaking engagements, and I had one of those last month.
  • Connections are also flat. (And I’m OK with that.)
  • I have 415 new “followers.” 28% of the people who read this article decided they want to know when I write again. I bet I can do better. :)
  • 3% of the people who read my article liked it. Don’t know if that’s good or bad. Don’t know if I care. I don’t write “like-bait,” I write my truth. I can’t really help if others “like” my truth or not, all I can do is try to get it in front of people and then engage with the ones who do. On the other hand, “likes” are social credibility. For that reason, I want you to please click over to my article and “like” it! So I’m of two minds here. I’ll be watching this stat with a wary eye…
  • 13 comments. I’ve read the comments and I’ll say this: they run the gamut. I have no illusions that corporate decision makers are leaving comments. However, the people who are are real people who have chosen to engage with my content, which I love. So while some people might blow the comments off, I’m very appreciative of anyone who was moved enough to write a response to me.
  • My status update views and shares are way up… but here I had already seen a pop pre- influencer post, driven by (1) my blog post about a car crash (apparently we rubberneck online, too), and (2) my announcement that I’d be writing for LI (news ON social media ABOUT social media tends to get an echo chamber bump).

Qualitatively:

I have the same questions any business person would have about these numbers: how do they convert into dollars and cents? Is the value here in the exposure? assumed credibility? relationship building opportunities?

Part of this depends on how I’m perceived by people who matter: am I business owner or a journalist? The former is a solution to a problem; the latter is a go-to resource for information on a particular topic. We live in a world where things are murky and the easiest answer is, “both.”

So, then, how do I shape the conversation while also telling my truth? By choosing the right topics, staying focused, and hammering home those key points that matter to me and my business. Which I’ve begun to do.

All this is what goes through my mind 18 hours after becoming an influencer. But I’m not worried. I’ve done this before. I did it with my blog, I did it with my LinkedIn profile… and now I get to see the path to business from a whole new source of “traffic.”

This’ll be fun. I’ll keep you posted… and before long, I’m sure I’ll have you as company on the platform!

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by Jason Seiden, CEO of Ajax Workforce Marketing.
connect on linkedin, twitter, or facebook.

that moment I knew I wasn’t alone

you're fat and 40—but lordy, lordy!—you're my meat.

you’re fat and 40—but lordy, lordy!—you’re my meat.

I was in shock when I found the cassette in his car.

I had been listening to this music in my dad’s car for years. I liked it so much I swiped the tape for myself. I thought I was weird for liking it—what kid likes 1940′s swing?!

it was a nothing moment for the driver—there was a group of students all leaving high school together to go someplace, I forget, maybe a football game—and I happened to get into his car, and happened to pull shotgun. we barely knew each other. he was a year older. he was one of those guys who not only had friends, but who had people who fawned on him, too… and he didn’t like it. he had charisma enough to attract people, but he also had enough confidence not to need them. he gave off a strong vibe that he was wary of anyone who wanted to be his friend who wasn’t his friend already. so I knew better than to read anything into this ride. this wasn’t an invitation to a friendship. this was “I have a car and there are people who need to go from point A to point B so let’s go.” nothing more.

which is probably why it was such a memorable moment for me.

in high school, I kept a lot of myself to myself. I also let that privacy become the source of self-doubt. sometimes, the fact that you’re keeping secrets becomes a sort of barrier that surrounds you, like a moat. it keeps you separate from the rest of the world. that was me. not all the time… but enough that I often felt like an outsider even when I was right in the thick of things

so share my musical discoveries with others? I would’ve thought the potential for spreading joy was eclipsed by the risk of reinforcing my nerdishness. and then I saw that tape.

I remember asking him if he minded if I played a particular song. he asked if I knew the album. I said yes and put in the tape. we might’ve sang the chorus for the benefit of the people in the backseat. probably not. either way, the moment passed.

 

only when it was over, my musical tastes had been validated.

and in a small way, I had been validated.

I was normal.

it doesn’t take much to shake someone’s confidence. it also doesn’t take much to build someone up, either. sometimes, all it takes is the right person saying, “oh, you like that? me, too.”

much of who I am as an adult has roots in that moment. I never forgot how good it felt to discover I wasn’t weird, wasn’t alone. it’s a feeling I try to share whenever the moment presents itself.

because—to paraphrase a lyric from another album that was a staple in my car—none of us is alone in being alone.

(are you hearing me, Raven?)

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by Jason Seiden, CEO of Ajax Workforce Marketing.
connect on linkedin, twitter, or facebook.