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posted by Kelly Davis Feb 18,2016 @ 03:37PM

With a little love...

When was the last time you stopped and offered a kind and sincere word to a co-worker? Just a little thought on what you appreciate about them or what makes them special?

Last week, our social committee asked everyone to respond to a short, anonymous survey with a word or short phrase of something that we appreciated about each of our colleagues. A compilation of these thoughts was placed on each person’s desk on Monday morning, the day after Valentine’s Day.

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I share this with you not to say, “Hey, aren’t we great?” but rather to encourage you to think about that simple gesture of kindness that you may want to express to the people around you. If you know the folks at Riggs, you might also find yourself nodding in agreement.

Here is a glimpse into the things that we appreciate about one another:

Alexandra Frazier: Detailed perfection with impeccable wit. Thoughtful elegance in all things. She sees the beauty in every single thing, from a word choice to a baking ingredient to a human emotion.

Cathy Monetti: Kind soul with a big adventurous spirit. Generous in every sense and unfailingly so. Takes such a genuine interest in all our talents, careers and lives.

Courtney Fleming: Smart, talented, competent, trustworthy, fun. Wise beyond her years. The ultimate team player with the highest of good intentions. Impeccable taste in hip-hop.

Courtney Melendez: Her smarts. Her beautiful, soulful spirit. Her light-filled smile. Her willingness to make everything better. She embodies grace in everything she does, and in every interaction she has with people.

Katy Miller: Smart, stylish and sophisticated. Whatever it is, she has the smarts, insights, and intuition to just see through to the right, true thing. A great example of service leadership.

Kelly Davis: Thoughtful mentor. Incredible teacher and friend. Soft-spoken brilliance. Able to see all the way around a thing. Calm, measured demeanor.

Kevin Archie: Patient and willing to help. Thoughtful and talented. His perspective on life shines through in everything he does, teaching those of us around him a little more of what really matters in life.

Kevin Smith: Witty, clever and fun. A brilliant conversationalist with an encyclopedic knowledge of pop culture and a keen interest in a great diversity of things. Makes everyone smarter.

Jillian Owens: 100% fearless. Creative. Quirky, distinctive style. The ease with which she moves in the world.

Julie Turner: Joyful and encouraging. Endless optimism and fun. Always sees the good. Lover of words and bacon. The best, most distinctive laugh of anyone in the building.

Marcus Williamson: Imaginative. Enthusiastic. Friendly. Helpful. A vessel of light and positive energy, and his work shines through that. Quietly gets things accomplished with great attention to detail.

Michael Powelson: Perceptive. Brilliant and talented. Gifted. A highly evolved soul. Not satisfied with surface thinking. Sees the humanness of it all.

Ryon Edwards: Sincere. So thoughtful. Everything is designed with clear-minded intention. Honorable. Wildly talented and equally generous. He is the heart of all things beautiful here, not merely in design but in spirit.

Taylor Craig: Open-minded. Brings energy to everything. Love her willingness to observe, absorb and thoughtfully explore all the possibilities as part of a team. Making it happen with grace.

Teresa Coles: Such a beautiful blend of brains and compassion. Grace under pressure. An inspiring and thoughtful leader. A true giver. Committed. Generous and kind.

Tom Barr: Conscientious. Helpful and diligent. Envy his wit. Knows so much about so many things. He makes it all work. So smart, so thorough and so patient. Keeps the rest of us grounded.

Will Weatherly: Thoughtful, intelligent and kind. Capable. Committed. Smart. Insightful. Understands that being effective with people is more important than being efficient. Has a knack for asking the kinds of questions that draw people into meaningful conversation.

Yanti Pepper: Always cheerful. Brings out the best in people. Dependable. She makes everything fun. Keeps us hip to what the kids are into. She brings joy to other people in a way that continually astounds us.

posted by Apprentices Feb 10,2016 @ 01:41PM

Perfectly human

The other day I came across this quote from Donald Miller’s Scary Close:

“I am willing to sound dumb. I am willing to be wrong. I am willing to be passionate about something that isn’t perceived as cool. I am willing to express a theory. I am willing to admit I’m afraid. I’m willing to contradict something I’ve said before. I’m willing to have a knee-jerk reaction, even a wrong one. I’m willing to apologize. I’m perfectly willing to be perfectly human.”

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I had it stuck in my head all day. Except unlike a catchy, overplayed song, the meaning behind the quote really stuck with me. As I recited it over and over again, I thought particularly of my work. 

“I am willing to sound dumb.” I often ask dumb questions at the beginning of a new project to make sure I understand all aspects of what I’ll be doing.

“I am willing to have a knee-jerk reaction, even a wrong one.” I had to laugh out loud at this. Most times, my knee-jerk reactions are the wrong ones.

“I am willing to express a theory.” In planning sessions, theories are the most important part.

The more I studied the quote, the more parallels I was able to draw. And I realized this: vulnerability accomplishes that which perfection cannot. Steadfast perfectionism can only lead to stubbornness. The belief that your way is the only right way inhibits collaboration in a team environment.

There is something inherently valuable about being willing to admit that you’re wrong. You’re afraid. You don’t understand. You’re sorry. In my eyes, these qualities are far more admirable in a professional setting (or any setting, for that matter) than many traditional skill sets.

Perfection, in any capacity, is overrated and largely unattainable. Make your mistakes, own them, and make up for them. I know I will. I’m perfectly willing to be perfectly human.

posted by Teresa Coles Feb 01,2016 @ 04:38PM

Long live the communicating arts

I can’t recall the exact date this little gem popped up in conversation, but it stopped me in the proverbial tracks.

“She’s not a writer; she’s a content developer.

It was all very innocent, a casual didn’t-you-know-that’s-what-it’s-all-about-now comment made to me by a colleague several years ago. Nevertheless, it cut to the core. Not because someone corrected me in my assumption over the proclivities of a potential hire. Rather, it was a moment that threw my head, heart and gut into a tailspin over the potential demise of the communicating arts.

If I sound overly dramatic here, know that is my objective. As one who has been in marketing and communications since the hot-waxed type, proportion wheels and rubylith days, I bring a longstanding appreciation to the craftsmanship that is the hallmark of effective communications.

Since the day the MacSE entered the marketplace, followed closely by online stock photography, we as marketers have been lulled into the belief that technology is the new currency of our profession. And that if we use it to make more and more marketing stuff, people will immediately notice us, hire us or buy our wares.

It’s a well-meaning, yet dangerous notion.

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The enemy here is not technology, but the lack of intentional thinking behind it. The way we’ve allowed the beast and its mouse to marginalize the essential ingredients of effective communications: A well-turned phrase that can ignite action. Intuitive design that captures eyes, ears and hearts. Imagery that belongs to one brand, only.

What are we to do to protect ourselves from this slippery slope? I urge you to consider three truths that separate making marketing content from mastering the communicating arts.

The right words, in the right order, matter.

Don’t confuse this with an argument for flowery prose or corporate narrative. The technology that drives modern communications forces us to be more selective with our language than ever. Gifted writers are adept at articulating a brand’s truth with relevance and brevity. And it’s not because they have a big vocabulary or well-worn thesaurus. It’s because they have the imagination to transport themselves to the consumer’s point of view, and to speak with honesty and clarity.

This skill is increasingly important as we’re faced with the need to engage audiences within content marketing programs. Effective writers know how to shape artful conversations that are centered on consumers’ needs and interests, as opposed to producing an endless stream of it’s-all-about-me content from an organization.

Design controls the eye and moves the heart.

Brands are fighting for their share of attention in a world of stimuli that runs roughshod over a consumer’s brain. Each of us is paralyzed to some degree by an overabundance of news feeds, emails, texts, digital and mobile ads.

Thoughtful and intuitive design is not worthwhile merely because beautiful is better. As the palette gets smaller and smaller every day — from television to desktop, tablet and mobile — the designer’s understanding of visual flow, typography and color becomes more critical than ever. It demands more — not less — judiciousness from trained and talented designers.

No one person can do it all, well.

While the appetite for content developers — those who can seemingly write, design and command marketing technology at the same time — is at an all-time high, marketing managers will be wise to align their expectations with these combined skilled sets. To believe one person can command all three skill sets equally well is to short-change the power of effective brand communications.

So what’s the answer for a marketing leader seeking to balance the scales of content volume with well-honed communications? Consider the resources you have available to support your marketing program and determine where you can make the highest and best use of distinctive marketing talent. Then give your team the time and space to approach their work as purveyors of the communicating arts.

 

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