Archive for November, 2007

Go ahead and lol at my expense on this one. Being a Facebook novice, I just did something that may call for age limits for Facebook. Millennials, yes. Boomers, no.

Here’s the scenario: I kept receiving notifications on my Facebook page telling me that I had a message on my Super Wall. On my Super Wall,  a bunch of messages required me to activate the X Me feature. So, I did, for the first time ever.

I saw a list of X Me’s I had been receiving but hadn’t read because I had not activated the feature. I also saw photos of Facebook Friends (FBFs) with words beside them, like “hug”, “love”, “cuddle”, and “annoy”. I didn’t realize at the time that these were choices of things I could send to FBFs.

Beside one FBF’s photo was the word “do”. By now I am all of 40 seconds into this feature, so seeing my friend’s photo, I clicked on it. Then, to my horror, a prompt tells me that I am sending a message that I want to “do” this person.

Remember, I am a Southerner. To us, the word “do” is usually accompanied by another word, typically after we are given a simple instruction. After being told something or given an instruction, Southerners say, “do whut?” So I was waiting for the “whut” part of the “do” message. I was expecting a prompt like, Do write her a job recommendation, or Do send her a birthday card.

I may be a Boomer, but I soon figured out that “do” in this context meant “do” as in, well, you know, that context. Fear swept over me as I had sent a message that is at best inappropriate and at worse, probably illegal in 37 states.

Being a Southern Gentleman, I did the manly thing. I contacted my FBF and apologized for sending that stupid message. She said she never received it. In my utter ineptitude, I evidently didn’t hit the right button to send it. But by now it was too late, for I had outed myself. She then proceeded to lol hysterically for about an hour and a half at what I had told her. “Potter, you complete dumb ass!” she screamed in fits of hysterical laughter. She could not stop laughing over my lack of skill at using Facebook.

As a strategic communication planning and management consultant, I think I have just discovered the ultimate “say/do” conflict.

With life’s little mistakes, there is typically a lesson here for us all. As a college instructor, I was forced to revisit my own lessons for my students:

  1. Never post on Facebook anything — photos, language — that a potential employer might view as inappropriate and skip hiring you. I know for a fact that even my internship sponsors are now reviewing the Facebook pages of potential interns in order to make hiring decisions. If you have anything inappropriate in your Facebook page, delete it now, especially if you are looking for an internship or a job.
  2. Read the instructions. I rushed into the X Me feature without properly understanding what I was supposed to do. As we approach final exams, this lesson is most important. Simply read the instructions.
  3. Think before you post.

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Walking the stage at graduation may not be as much fun as, say, running naked beating a drum at Burning Man, but it has its merits.

But all too quickly, reality sets in. You know, like the next morning at Burning Man. But this time, it’s more than just photos posted online. It’s job search time, baby.

I have a suggestion. A most unusual suggestion. In fact, my suggestion runs deeper than just job search advice for December graduates. It refers to life in general. And, it is respectfully submitted for a wider community than just December college graduates. This one is for all of us. So, here goes…

In all of your doing, practice “non-doing”. Do what, you say?

More than a play on words, non-doing is a Zen tradition that I think needs wider practice in the world right now. It means simplifying your life by purposely including some inactivity. Quiet time. Down time. Time for reflection. Contemplative time. Time devoted to nothing more than thinking.

We need it. For example, observe students when they leave class. The first thing they do is grab the cell phone. Heck, it’s been over an hour since they were able to talk or text. That’s like an eternity. There’s no telling what might have happened to friends. Next, it’s fire up the iPod. Gotta have that stimulation. Repeat cycle until next class. And so it goes.

Business people are worse. Renowned Blogger Buddy Steve Crescenzo posted a piece on being “Bluetoothed” when he tried to engage a fellow in conversation. We all need to put down the appliances at times and just be.

One of the most famous Haiku says this:

Sitting quietly, doing nothing,

Spring comes, and the grass

Grows by itself.

In other words, let go. Stop doing. Cease talking. Turn off all the appliances. Listen to your inner voice for a time.

One of my favorite authors, Marsha Sinetar, says, “In silence and solitude our individuality is affirmed.” You have to be still and know, as the Bible says. Taking time out for reflection and contemplation is the greatest way to recharge your batteries for the battles you must fight.

Lao Tzu added his wisdom by saying, “He who knows others is wise. He who knows himself is enlightened.” This requires inner work, accomplished in the quiet of contemplation and/or meditation.

Lao Tzu would have been cool with your texting friends, maybe even timely Bluetoothing. But he would have you balance it with time for your own inner work.

Marsha Sinetar says something else of great value: “The advancement to wholeness is the real occupation of human existence.” To be successful at this occupation, you must detach yourself from the world for a simplified and more contemplative life posture. You will be enlightened, enriched, enthused, and energized for your effort.

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Thanksgiving 2007

Fourteenth century German mystic Meister Eckhardt is credited with saying that if he only had one prayer, it would simply be “thank you”.  Enough said.

I feel the same way today and most every other day. I am thankful for all I have and all I can do.

If you are reading this, then I am thankful for you, too.

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If Yoda taught Integrated Marketing Communication (IMC),  he would most likely be considered a Constructivist.

Yoda was the teacher of Jedi knights in Star Wars. He was the senior leader, the Grand Master, of all Jedi masters. He was strong in the power of the Force. As a teacher, he urged Luke Skywalker to see an outcome and work through the problem until the outcome manifested into reality.

The design model for Constructivist Learning Environments (CLEs) conceives of a problem, question, or project as the focus of the environment, with various interpretative and intellectual support systems surrounding it. The focus of the CLEs is the question or issue, the case, the problem, or the project that learners attempt to solve or resolve. Students learn domain content in order to solve the problem.

To instruct my students in IMC, I use Case-Based Learning. Based on my 35 years of experience as an organizational communication management professional, I develop case studies that mirror real world situations that the students will face when they enter the job market. 

Applying IMC to real life situations is quite complex. There is no “one size fits all” strategic thinking and management solution to contemporary organizational situations. Therefore, my instructional design must accommodate the development of strategic thinking skills and abilities that graduates can apply across a wide spectrum of organizational problems and opportunities.

Constructivist learning assumes that knowledge is individually constructed and socially co-constructed by learners based on their interpretations of real world experiences. As an instructor, I must become Yoda, that is, to be coach and helper in that construction. But instead of saying, “Student, use the Force,” I say, “Student, use your strategic thinking skills.”

To develop those strategic thinking skills, I use a combination of what instructional designers Wiggins and McTighe (1998) called “backward design”, which is similar to Stephen Covey’s 1989 advice, “begin with the end in mind.” Backward design is seeing an expected outcome and working to manifest it into reality. It is very Yoda-like. For example, a relationship problem with a key public. What is the organization’s desired end result or outcome? A mutually beneficial relationship with that key public.

Now I must teach learners how achieve that outcome. I must teach learners a strategic way of thinking that will lead them to the right actions. Following Wiggins and McTighe’s model, that includes three basic steps that my instructional design must follow:

  1. Identify the desired results or expected outcomes. This is what the learners must know, understand, and be able to do to be successful on the job. In other words, to think and manage IMC strategically.
  2. Determine acceptable evidence. This refers to how I will know as an instructor that learners have achieved the strategic thinking skills and abilities necessary to be successful on the job. What evidence of students’ understanding and proficiency will I accept?
  3. Plan learning experiences and instruction. This refers to the activities I must design that will equip students with the necessary knowledge and skills to be successful problem solvers on the job in real world IMC situations. What do I need to teach? How will I teach it? What materials will I need to prepare?

I believe that having students work with case studies provides the best learning to prepare them for success on the job. Combined with internships and participation in student professional associations (PRSSA and IABC student chapters), I believe that students will have a well-rounded education to develop their skills for career success.

Or as Yoda might say, “Strategic thinkers are we, not this crude matter.”

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I’ve been traveling for the last few days and unable to write. Yeah, I know. With a portable computer and high speed internet connections everywhere, that’s no excuse.

But I was with my new granddaughter, now two weeks old. I simply could not put her down to pick up a Dell Latitude.

So, what’s so great about grandkids?


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Social media meets the CMA

Online I’m out in Hollywood 

I’m 6 foot 5 and I look damn good.

Even on a slow day

I could have a three way

Chat with two women at a time

I’m so much cooler online

Yeah, I’m cooler online

I’m so much cooler online

Yeah, I’m cooler online

  — Brad Paisley, from his hit song, Online

I am watching the 41st Country Music Association awards. Brad Paisley just sung his hit Online. His playful take on social media is as funny as it is compelling. Country or not, Paisley rocks.

It fascinates me to hear a country music superstar like Paisley sing about social media. Country music is about real life. Country songs tell stories of the human condition. Contemporary country songs are about topical issues that we all face in life no matter where we live or what we do.

So why not a country song about the social media phenomenon? Paisley’s song merely illustrates the permeation of social media into all walks of life. Whether we drive a GMC half ton on the farm in Puberty Rock, Idaho or an E Class in Chicago, wear boots or Birkenstocks, the social media revolution is us, and we are it.

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Professional communicators who offer student internships are providing them with one of the best educational experiences and career preps the students can have. Internships give the students hands-on, practical work experience under the guidance of working practitioners. Being able to apply lessons learned in the classroom in an internship is extremely valuable. One or more internships is also a great competitive advantage for the students when they enter the job market.

The organization gets a motivated worker who is excited to take on day-to-day challenges, make a contribution, and build a portfolio of work samples. Interns are usually not compensated, but the students get course credits. Some interns are paid, which is terrific for students who need it. Many internships lead to full-time employment, proving that internships are excellent recruiting devices for employers.

If you are in a position to provide internships at your organization, please do. It’s a win-win.

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