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Category Archives: Marketing

Recently I’ve been tossing around this idea of a “Third Identity” for Veterans when referring to career and life, post-military.  I call it a “Third Identity” because Veterans typically had an identity of who they were before the military; they then assume a new identity in the military (as their life and experience in uniform would warrant).  Finally one exits the military and who the Veteran identifies himself to be post-military is rarely the same person he was before or during his time of service.  With all the variables that come with it – there is one common trait that builds the person, and should be minded: Integrity.

I don’t mean just integrity as in honesty; I mean “integrity” as in the consistency, or truancy of behavior.  For this, I’m going to attempt to weave a common thread through the theories, observations and expertise of three gentlemen far smarter than myself – as I’ve interpreted from their books.

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My Personal Jim Joseph Collection, Hardbacks and Kindle combined.

What do Jim Joseph, Joe Navarro, and Charles L. Allen all have in common?  They’ve all stressed the importance of consistency in behavior.  Why?

Jim Joseph is the largely successful, global branding guru – who has experienced success as an entrepreneur, corporate leader, professor, father and author – penning 4 great books (of which I’ve finished three and am due to order his latest “Out and About Dad”).  Jim’s series of “The Experience Effect” reiterates the need for consistency in business, employee, and personal behavior in order to gain positive rapport with a target audience (That is a gross over-simplification, but feel free to read up yourself J).  Jim says it best when wrapping up “The Experience Effect for Small Business”:

Live life consistently with the brand you’ve established for yourself and link it to your small business.  Make personal choices that are consistent with your brand, and make personal decisions that reinforce and support the decisions of the business that will aid in its success.”

Joe Navarro is an acclaimed FBI Interrogator and Investigator and has literally, written the book on detecting deception for the FBI.  You can read his work in “What Every Body is Saying”.  When Joe goes deeper into identifying deception, he repeats both the difficulty in doing so – but also, the importance of “Synchrony”.

Synchrony is as it sounds, when all elements of communication are synchronized in delivering a consistent message.  But, when the verbal message doesn’t match the non-verbal message (body language) something is off.  As Joe will explain, seeing this sort of “asynchrony” will cause discomfort in both the communicator and who the person is communicating with.  It makes sense – how uncomfortable is it to just say the word “No” while nodding your head yes?

Lastly, Charles Lawrence Allen is a published Psychotherapist and Counselor.  In his book, “Why Good People Make Bad Choices”, Charles describes the constant argument all people face.  The argument between stated (and ideally behaved/demonstrated) values, and one’s ego.  The ego, as Charles will tell you, has a purpose that contributes to human survival.  It also has a strong penchant for questioning one’s integrity.

In his book, Charles emphasizes, that peace within one’s self is found as consistency is established with stated values and demonstrated behaviors.  It’s a good read for anyone thinking about how their own brain operates, or why they keep grabbing the King Size candy even though they know beach season is coming up.

The common thread?  Consistency is good; Inconsistency is not.  Inconsistent brand experiences will end up losing your company money; enough so to constitute a national shutdown to commence a day of training (like Starbucks did).  Inconsistent body language – or non-verbal communication that doesn’t match what your mouth is saying, will result in discomfort and distrust with whom you are speaking.  Inconsistent actions that do not agree with your own stated values will cause stress and hyper-tension, discomfort, and lack of happiness.  These are all issues that we all face – and issues that Veterans must face in a condensed timeline when searching for their Third Identity.

That search will likely take longer than your savings account will cover.  However, making it through that identification phase as you find your identity will be much more likely if you take a moment to establish your priorities, and make conscious decisions to reinforce those priorities.  It will be visible with friends, families and on interviews; and to someone searching for a sense of purpose – it will be most importantly visible – in the mirror.

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The Employer’s Equation:

Veteran Recruitment and Retention

One thing I learned in training to become an infantry officer or as a Marine officer in general:  You have to turn the map around.  In combat – that means you need to see how your enemy expects you to act, and then exploit their plan.  In the civilian world I see it as a mix of strategy and desire as described by the amazing and late, Randy Pausch, creator of the Last Lecture at Carnegie Melon University.

Randy says, in life there are walls.  But those walls are for other people; those walls help you because it keeps those other people from getting to YOUR dream.  If it’s your dream, you’ll find a way around those walls.  As a vet looking for a job, your opponent, your wall, is not an adversary; instead it’s the need of the employer.  If it’s YOUR job, then you will find a way to get over the translation wall and exploit the needs of the employer by demonstrating your ability to fill them.

But for now, I’d like to share an idea with Employers.  In the 1990s, only 3% of the nation’s population was made up of Veterans, while 8% of CEOs in the fortune 500 were Vets – that’s no coincidence.  That’s what happens when drive, technical expertise, and leadership ability come together.

When employers begin thinking about hiring Veterans into their company it starts with the question:  Why Veterans at [insert company]?  Truth of the matter is… they aren’t turning the map around, and they are asking the wrong question.  Let me correctly rephrase the question:

“Does [insert company name] deserve Veterans?”

Hiring Veterans makes business sense; it is not a philanthropic issue.  I’d like to point out a few issues that face employers who enact a Recruitment and Philanthropy only Initiative, and I present them as an equation that results in Turn-Over or Retention.

Philanthropy V. Business, PvB (negative values for Philanthropy; positive values for Business)

Culture Training, CT (a value of 0 for no training, and increasing positive value for added training)

Mining for Oil, MOe (An exponential, “force-multiplyer” of the sum of the previous two values)

Turn-Over / Retention, “Retention” (a negative product results in increased turn-over; a positive product results in retention and efficiency in recruitment)

Looks like:

Employer's Equation for Retention

Employer’s Equation for Retention

There should be a multiple in front of CT, as internal training on culture for the Vets, and leadership for managers is more impactful to the equation than the PvB in many ways, but I cannot identify a percentage to weight it.  I’m going to give a brief explanation of each component, and then I will explain aspects of the equation in my next article.

Philanthropy V. Business:

Recruiting Veterans is a business choice, and it makes business sense.  Just like any business venture with a measurable ROI, it takes investment and monitoring.   Philanthropy is more like what fighter-pilots refer to rockets as “fire and forget”.  You write the check, sign off on the agreement, and it generates smiles, warmth and a few positive PR effects without much follow-through needed.  It also has hard to measure ROI, and its effects cannot be controlled once committed.  If employers only see Vets as a philanthropy and PR topic, rather than the ability to increase training, retention and desire through-out the company – they will never get the value out of the investment.

Culture Training: 

As outlined well through experience and in documented surveys in Emily King’s book “Field Tested”, hiring a Veteran for their leadership and not helping them adapt to corporate culture is a quick way to increase turn-over (civilians don’t take well to command and control leadership).  However, adjusting this to more of a highly efficient, servant leadership style is easy to do if you plan for it.  Veterans also receive a full-time education on customs and courtesies of the military until it encompasses all they do –this needs to be readdressed with recently transitioned Veterans in the workforce.  Don’t think it is that powerful?  I will address this very issue in articles to come. In the meantime, feel free to revisit the second half of, Isolated.

Mining for Oil:

Veterans are like Mining for Oil… especially the good ones.  If a company recruits and retains a Vet, providing them with a positive experience – the Veteran will tell his friends.  High-quality Veterans that employers are seeking are often connected with each other.  You find one – and you find many.  This works in reverse as well:  Burn one good one, and they will warn off their buddies.  The result is a greater negative effect on Employer desirability in the Talent Market, and increased struggles for the company to find good talent.  With companies like LinkedIn now tracking an employers’ “Total Brand Index”, this is a force to be reckoned with.

I will leave it here for now.  The equation is my gift to employers.  Stay tuned as I carry out the next series of articles centered on this very topic.  Touching further on the level of friendships and relationships Veterans once shared, culture of training, mining for oil, and how quotas (often a product of philanthropy) can hurt your company.

As always – please share, and please share your thoughts.

Followers of LifebyDamien.com have a fair understanding of my passion for placing well qualified Veterans into the opportunities they have earned and demonstrate themselves uniquely qualified to take advantage of.  It is my passion for the success of my fellow Veterans, and my dislike for the distaste of those who are strictly trying to extort the new buzzword/phrase “Returning Veterans” that leads to today’s article.

First, to my fellow Veterans – Be Warned.  Recruiting firms, more often than not are in this game for Money – Period.  Any marketing plot that will bring them money in the nation’s fastest growing industry in the 2000s (Based on $ spent by major corporations) is fair game.  Placing qualified Veterans is a HUGELY marketable ploy for many reasons.  The main reasons include that many Vets leave the military with unique skills, traits, talents and qualifications that make them the perfect walk-on candidate for DoD jobs, Contractor Jobs, and additional spaces through-out.  There is also the appeal it has to the general public that a company “supports our troops” and is “committed to returning Veterans”.  The truth is, FAR too many of these companies are making claims of commitment, yet they have ZERO or negating proof to support such statements.

Recruiting Agencies, Staffing Firms, Placement agencies… are in it to make money.  Many which try to market themselves as “Veteran friendly”, are using the buzzwords and nothing more.  They have no idea, have not studied, and are careless in truly understanding why Veterans are unique in the traits they bare in addition to the skills acquired.  There is an AMAZING, and overly under-known agency, The Institute for Veterans and Military Families, that has completed and shared empirical research that speaks directly to the FINANCIALLY supported arguments that Veterans make high-value candidates for many of the roles in today’s business world and beyond.  The information is out there – it can be supported!  But don’t be fooled into thinking that all agencies are created equal and will have the knowledge equipped to help you, and guide you, as well as present you to employers.  If this raises question marks behind your brow – please do not hesitate to contact me directly.  I will work with you, do what I can – and it doesn’t cost you a thing!

EMPLOYERS:  Yes – be cautioned.  “Knowing a Veteran”, or just getting excited because your multi-thousand dollar resume screening software found a resume that belongs to a Veteran does NOT make you “Committed to Veterans”.  It doesn’t.  If you would like a start in the right direction, send one of your recruiters to the Certified Veteran Recruiting Program written by Emily King.  It’ll cost you upwards of $3000 or more including tuition, travel and stay for your employee, but that is a drop in the bucket compared to one placement isn’t it?  And what about the lifetime value of a new client that values your demonstrated commitment to Veterans and your quality service in its regard to the clients need and desire to hire Veterans?  Your recruiter will at least have had some sort of formal education to understand Veteran Transitions.  A returning Veteran is more than a catch phrase to add to your write-up when presenting a candidate.  Do your research, and then back it up with ACTION!  Action first, then profess whatever commitment you have demonstrated.  An idea without action is not commitment, it is an idea.

Employers, if you truly do want to crack the puzzle and understand how sourcing, presenting and developing Veterans within an organization is legitimately a smart business move that cannot be ignored, contact me – as I can provide consultation.  I know there are HR teams, and organizations that want to be a part of hiring well qualified, high-potential candidates into their organizations and are genuine in doing so.  I am more than happy to help.  If you are looking for your next gimmick, and aren’t ready to make a true commitment – please continue past and come back when you are ready.

For the record, there are some amazing Veteran focused recruiting firms out there, that TRULY know what they are doing, and they have developed relationships with organizations and companies that also want to make true commitments, while also seeing the great value of bringing Veterans into their organizations.  HirePurpose is one – and by the way, the Founder is a former Marine.  Four Block is another amazing organization – Leading Co-Founder, a former Marine, with co-founding Navy and Army counterparts.  Emily King has revolutionized recruiting of Military Veterans at the Buller GroupDiversant has developed an amazing training and work-to-hire program.

There are many amazing companies doing amazing things such as GE, Macy’s and NYSE Euronext – but I cannot forget to add the amazing effort of networking and coordination for those who truly want to be a piece of solution, and that is the team at GoldenOrb.org.

I always welcome feedback, whether in support of my argument, or in support of higher learning through constructive argument.  I am not a fan of Group Think.

Please, don’t forget to stay in touch with me on LinkedIn and follow me on Twitter, @Mr_DamienB

My Personal Brand Part III (Veterans transitioning; from a brand you are given to a Brand you will name)

To conclude my three-part series of “My Personal Brand”, let’s discuss how the dynamics of personal branding changes for U.S. Military Veterans – or at least from my experience.  In the “civilian world”, when it comes to Branding, differentiation is critical.  Without differentiation, your brand is weak and you are not much more than a commodity in your industry – just another number.  In the military, differentiation is largely frowned upon.  Members of the military are the epitome of conformity and uniformity. The only approved and sought after differentiation supported and condoned is that which is based on merit and performance.  It is okay to stand out because your performance is above that of your peers.  Beyond that – don’t try to be different.

To the public eye, a Marine, in or out of uniform is first and foremost a Marine.  Your attributes, both good and bad are first accredited to the Marine Corps and THEN you are considered as a person.  In the Corporate World, an employee’s attributes are accredited FIRST to his personal brand and THEN to his organization.  This is a vital shift in perspective and dynamics that must be understood by Transitioning Veterans.  A Veteran can no longer assume that being part of a successful organization will result in the assumption that he or she is successful as a person.  Rather, an organization will look at your personal brand, and if your brand will contribute to the organization’s success.  From that point forward, your actions will define a brand that is associated with you.  Do you care about money? Do you care about philanthropy?  Can you be trusted? Are you good at your job? Are you dependable?  Anything you do will shape, mold and detail your brand both personally and professionally and you are the SOLE PROPRIETOR responsible for all operations, execution and public relations regarding “I Incorporated” branding.

Professionally, there are two major areas to develop in your brand: Skills and Traits.  This is an idea I came up with while building the Veteran’s Recruiting Division (an architecture I will be using to help Veterans transition).  Skills are those abilities that we can learn in class, through practice, and are taught – often in an academic environment.  One can be taught out to add, type, send emails, develop databases, etc.  There are MS Office skills, athletic skills, software development, writing code, completing a SWOT analysis, folding a t-shirt, etc.  Traits cannot be taught in a classroom.  Traits are embedded abilities, developed over time and speak to a person’s character.  These are abilities that have to be ingrained  trained over time and reinforced through habit and ultimately retained through confidence in their importance to the quality of one’s personal brand.  To give a specific example, the Marine Corps has what they call “14 Leadership Traits”:

–          Judgment

–          Justice

–          Dependability

–          Integrity

–          Decisiveness

–          Tact

–          Initiative

–          Endurance

–          Bearing

–          Unselfishness

–          Courage

–          Knowledge

–          Loyalty

–          Enthusiasm

Having favorable strength in these areas is not something one can build in a classroom.  Traits are force multipliers that vastly improve the efficacy of skill.  The fiscal investment needed to build or develop traits like those listed is far more extensive than any certificate course.  Traits are what Veterans bring to the table. Traits are what Veterans, and most Employers alike, don’t know how to translate in a resume.  It is these traits that will be the guide for Veterans to build their personal brands upon.  Understanding the traits and applying them accordingly is what will build the individual brands of Veterans.  These traits are differentiators.  These traits make skills much easier to acquire and to sharpen.

Skills may provide immediate benefit, and the first 90-days of a job opportunity, but TRAITS are what employers and organizations are truly betting on and will determine success beyond the short-term.  Skills are also the medium in which traits are demonstrated. So it is also important for anyone who is trying to display or build their brand to understand, you may have to invest in your own ability to translate your value through appropriate skills.

Veterans – please remember:  You went from being in a scenario where everything you did gave credit to a brand you were PART OF.  Now you are in a scenario where everything you do DEFINES the brand which YOU are.  Also, trust that the contributions you made to your Service Brand have developed the traits that now define YOUR brand.

“My Personal Brand Part II – Live by the sword, die by the sword”… or do you?

When Marketers, Public Relations Professionals, and the entertainment and sales industry in general speak about brand, they speak about the image of any one entity. Don’t they?  Yes, yes they do – much as I described in Part I.  There are many things that go into building a brand, and actions of that entity is one of them.  Media, be it internet, television, print, or even word of mouth, is an major avenue – a super highway – for communicating actions to the public. Talent aside (and in many cases not even needed) for those in the entertainment industry, the media is also the vehicle to success.

When you use a vehicle to get to work, and you are dependent on that vehicle to get you there – aren’t you also responsible for the maintenance and less glorified aspects of vehicle ownership?  Are you exempt from the oil changes?  Getting Gas?  Getting it washed?  What about getting a flat tire – as inconvenient as it might be, do you not still have to change it or call a tow?  Of course, we have to – it’s our vehicle to well-being, allows up to put food on the table and gets us to where we need to be in order to do our job successfully.  Does anyone ever look down on you for taking care of your vehicle?  Are you less successful because you had a flat tire?  I’ve never heard someone lose credibility for taking care of their vehicle.  I’ve never heard of anyone losing credibility because they had to take on the expenses of their vehicle for the sake of the benefits.  I have however seen people lose credibility because they felt they should be exempt for the expenses and deserved to still have the benefits.  If you stop putting oil in your car’s engine – no matter how great you are at your job, your vehicle will stop, and will not get you to work.

Case in point: Beyoncé.  She is an entertainer; media is her vehicle to success.  Media is not her job, rather singing and dancing is.  Through media, her vehicle, she has developed a brand which has allowed her to do additional branding and expand her brand and credibility.  She can definitely sing, and I haven’t heard an argument that could prove otherwise.

Round 1. – At the inauguration, she lip-synced the national anthem.  Be the circumstances what they were, I am not arguing whether that was smart or not.  However, when she chose not to address the allegations, and initially tried to pull it off allowing others to assume she sang live – she was neglecting her vehicle.  Had she tended to her vehicle immediately, it would not have been nearly the story.  But she didn’t, and like a tire low on air, it only gets worse.  She finally addressed it, but by the time she did, it was like changing a tire on the side of the road, when all she would have needed if done promptly, was put air in the tire.

Round 2. – Beyonce put on a great show at the Super Bowl half-time show.  After the Super Bowl was done and passed, a rather unflattering photo of her started to grow presence on the internet.  Again, Media, being her vehicle to success was in need of maintenance.  It’s fair to say, anyone who is in entertainment has had less than flattering pictures published, and they continue on. Especially of entertainers in the midst of a performance – it happens.  And there is nothing wrong with it.  It is a cost of maintaining the vehicle.  In this instance, Beyoncé (as has been rumored to happen in the past) went on a PR campaign to ask and persuade any website from hosting the picture.  In this, Beyoncé did not feel she was subject to the same costs of her vehicle, and that she shouldn’t have to bare it. She wanted someone else to do it. She wanted those who use the internet and ratings to take a hit on THEIR behalf for the sake of her benefit.  Sure, we’ve all asked for a ride from friends to get to work.  But how does it look when you have to ask for a colleague to drive you to work and drive out of their way – just because you don’t want to drive your car in the rain?

If you expect to reap the benefits of something, you have to accept the costs and responsibilities.  The moment you feel that you should be exempt from those responsibilities – you will start a slow deterioration of your brand – er… vehicle.  I think it would have come off better if Beyonce just made fun of her own picture – much the way Gov. Chris Christie ate a jelly filled donut on Letterman’s show.  Do I think her asking to have the picture taken down makes her any less talented? No.  But do I think it showed neglect and disrespect for her vehicle – same vehicle that has allowed her become the brand she has? Absolutely.

Know your brand, and respect the vehicles that have built it for you.  As soon as you lose respect for the vehicles you travel in, and the paths you’ve had to travel them on, you will lose credibility in your brand – don’t leave you brand counting on the jump-start of a passer-by.

 

Thoughts?

Stay tuned next week for Part III – Veterans transitioning; From a Brand You are Given, to a Brand You Will Name)

My personal Brand Part I (Part I – of a three part series)

I was introduced to a concept called “I Incorporated” during my final year of college by one of my business professors, David Bennett.  It was mentioned often in our Career Development class.  Now, I had a concept of what it was before he mentioned it, but I didn’t have a title or a real grasp of it until then.  Since, I have found myself to be a very conscious purveyor of personal branding, or what “I Inc.” is referring to.

Branding is largely what differentiates products that would be commodities based on the consumers experience with that brand.  Or is it that unique experiences received by consumers through actively differentiating products that would be otherwise be commodities is “Branding”?  Maybe it works both ways.  For the sake of this article, the most important concept of branding in the larger sense is that Companies…ahem… successful companies, actively seek to provide their consumers with unique experiences through the companies’ products as an act of branding, in order to garner product and further, brand loyalty. The difficult thing about Personal Branding is regardless of what you say, your actions will constantly provide your audience data/information that will be used to make a conclusion about YOUR brand.

Jim Joseph, a Finalist for the 2013 PR News Social Media Icon of the Year Award, has a great series of books known as, “The Experience Effect” (you can see them listed here under Recommended Reading).  I believe a 3rd part to the series will be out soon enough.  Joseph starts the series with The Experience Effect with large scale branding.  The Experience Effect for Small Businesses is, well, self-explanatory.  The third – as I anticipate will follow the trend – and is sure to give great input on “I Incorporated”.

With this I ask: What do YOU want to be remembered for?  That is part of a brand isn’t it?  When you think of a brand, you don’t think of what they DO; you recall what you REMEMBER them for!

Let’s try it:

BP?…

Xyience?…

Exxon-Valdez?…

Coca-Cola?…

FEMA? …

Johnny Knoxville? …

Alright, the first things I recall: BP – Gulf Oil Spill, gas & snacks; Xyience – UFC, working out; Exxon-Valdez – Oil Spill in Alaska, Questionable drilling practices in South America; Coca-Cola – Caravan of lit-up Coca-Cola trucks, Polar bears, Christmas and great with Rum; FEMA – Have they ever figured out how to do their job? & Katrina; Johnny Knoxville – Jackass.

You might have had different experiences, so the brand associated with each figure or name may be different.  I venture to say that the more successful companies are both better at translating the same brand experience consistently AND better at making each individual experience unique – but still consistent with the branding they desire.

A Brand can have a positive or negative effect.  Clearly, when thinking of personal branding, we cannot afford a negative effect.  This is something I think about in my daily activities, my projects, my efforts, and my goals.  What am I doing that I can influence that is will build my brand?  Well, a good solid base is something I and my peers like to call, “being a good dude”.  Now, what do I want to be known for? Well – reliability, determination, drive…

I know that my brand will be incorporated in anything I do, and it drives me to do even better.  Every person I meet, every interaction I have, and most importantly every action or inaction I take and whether it coincides with what I say, is a reflection of my brand.  What will people remember of me? What do they recall when they think of LifebyDamien.com?  What feelings does my name provoke in others?  How am I, and how WILL I be remembered?  Needless to say, I have a lot of personal branding to do – and it is never over.

I look forward to building the Veteran Recruitment Division at Creative Solutions Services, and I know its brand, as a tool for Veterans and Corporations alike will be based largely, on the my personal brand – until it takes on a brand of its own.  I am leveraging my own brand, to gain initial support for this new product, this new brand.  My leverage will only go so far.  Even more so, if the VRD brand does not prove successful, my personal brand will take a hit.  If the VRD brand does grow to be successful, as will my personal brand grow in reliability.

Stay tuned for “My Personal Brand Part II” as we discuss “intent vs. result” and examine choices some have made to protect their brand and how the efforts turned out.   Then to conclude, “My Personal Brand Part III” as we discuss the conflict and what Veterans Need to be aware of as the dynamics of “I Inc.” change upon leaving the Military.

***UPDATE 3/18 *** There has been a major change.  However, I do not want to “change history” so to speak. So my original article will remain as is.  I will simply provide an update here.  After completing the Business Architecture for the Veteran Recruitment Division at CSS, the company made the decision not to invest in the expansion, and has ceased it’s formal Veteran Recruiting initiatives. With that, I am no longer working with the organization.  It may have not been the right time – and luckily for the Veterans I have been working with, we were able to identify that early in the process.  The good news is:  I will continue with the architecture I have built and use it to work with Veterans, and feverishly offer my consultation services to employers seeking to develop Veterans on-boarding programs.  With that, if you are struggling in your transition or know a Vet who is, please do not hesitate to direct them here and have them reach out!

***Original article below***

 

So… I want to take a turn from the regular.

Appropriately so... Consider this your Warning Order.

Appropriately so… Consider this your Warning Order.

I want to take a moment to make an update on what I am working on.  I am very excited about it, and I am happy to be in a position where I will be pushed, urged and encouraged to continuously make it better. What is “it”?

I am responsible for developing the Veteran Recruitment Division at the Executive Search and Placement firm, Creative Solutions Services, LLC.  I will be continuously building relationships, my own personal knowledge base, and opportunities for U.S. Military Veterans.  I will be doing so, by developing programs and events that help Veterans make the transition into the Corporate world and at the same time, helping large corporations and small companies understand the vast array of talents and unique skills offered by U.S. Veterans.  But, I’ll be the first to call it out… there are TONS of organizations that do this, and transitioning is still dreaded… isn’t it?  I think it is.  Do I think I will be THE solution? No.. probably not.  But, I will be at least A solution, at least A spoke in the wheel.

So, here are some of the things I will be working on:

–          A NON-Hiring Mixer.  Yes, a non-hiring mixer.  This will likely be one of the first events I put on, sponsored by CSS, LLC.  I will organize HR managers and members from companies from the NYC Metro area with hiring authority, along with skilled Vets, who are transitioning, recently transitioned, and either will, or are looking to start their careers or career paths.  The event will be an informal, social event with a brief introduction, an open script.  The plan is to give HR managers and Veterans a chance to view the battlefield from the other-side, or as many military planners might say “Turn the map around”.  This will be a chance for Vets and Civilian employers to see what creates the “translation gap” as I call it; make connections; ask questions and get, not answers, but insight!

–          Skills Translation & resume FunShop – Add fundamentals and workshop, and you get a FunShop!  This will be geared towards Veterans seeking employment and guidance in their career track.  We will take information continuously gained by my firm from hiring managers.  Then, instructed by myself, a Veteran, with the possibility of additional guest speakers.  We will be taking a sample of common Military Occupational Specialties and translating their skills, into the proper verbiage that hiring managers understand.  We will discuss just what gets a resume “flagged” in a good way, and what gets it just looked right past.

–          Additional feedback and Skills translation seminars for hiring managers will be offered with Corporations and companies looking to capitalize on the benefits of Veteran experience in the workplace.

–          Even more events will be planned in coordinated efforts with strategic partners in the education track, employment track, skilled trades, professional track, and continuing/higher education programs.

Whether you were a Soldier, Sailor, Airman or Marine – your training did not end after boot camp or basic training.  So why should your training…better yet, education for being successful as a productive citizen end after a two week crash course?  It doesn’t have to – and I, with the support and encouragement of Creative Solutions Services, LLC and its partners will be doing all that I can to ensure it won’t be.

My Wife says I’m insensitive… I say it’s not my fault my grandmother had a refrigerator!

Beach BBQ 2007

Fighting Fifth Marine Rgt – Beach BBQ 2007

To please my on-going fascination with behavioral psychology & general interest into why people behave the way they do and further to find out what motivates the behavior, I have recently grown more attentive to the conversations that hide in plain sight – Body Language.  I have found it very interesting and have read a couple of books on the topic.  The Definitive Book of Body Language by Allan and Barbara Pease, and What Every BODY is Saying by Joe Navarro.  I suppose my curiosity to human behavior, the motivators, and how to read it might be tied to my love for understanding consumer trends, and for leading others.  Being able to accurately read what people are saying without words is a vital skill to social life – and perhaps survival in general.

This skill to communicate through the understanding of the body language we display and receive is not anything new to us, as humans or even as mammals.  I’ve seen it referred to as implicit communication, emotional intelligence, interpersonal skills (a new HR/recruiting hot-term), social skills, etc.  There is much to be said on the topic, and I by no means am a professional or expert.  However, I do feel I have noticed a trend – the greater “Social” media has become a part of our lives, the greater the focus on “Emotional Intelligence” and “Interpersonal Skills” in the work-force.  I have to wonder if it is looked for with more ferocity now because we, as developing and technologically advanced people, are less frequently able to apply interpersonal skills – in person.  Do we over-interact virtually, and under-interact face-to-face?

I have no hard evidence, nor am I in a University Laboratory and able to spend the time and resources to gather the data and write a scholarly article to say one way or another.  I can say, that since Sears-Roebuck made home deliveries possible thanks to the railroad, and shortly after refrigerators became a household product in the 1920s and 1930s, our social interaction became limited by design. We no longer had to make daily trips for perishables from a market where we interacted, face-to-face.  Nor did we need help to haul large items because they could be delivered from catalog.  Recently, since Facebook, and Myspace were launched in 2004, and the ever growing online forums and communities, not only do we not have to go out for necessities that limits our chances to interact, we don’t even have to go out to “interact”!

Could this be why we now need so much instruction to understand “Emotional Intelligence”, or why we have to be educated on “Interpersonal Skills”?

A Sense of Community – Opportunity Missed.

Starbucks, Macy’s, Dunkin Donuts, McDonald’s, Party City, Game Stop, Modell’s Sporting Goods, New York & Co, Motherhood Maternity, Dress Barn, Payless Shoes – All could stand to learn a lesson from Wal-Mart.

Wal-Mart has been trying to establish its brand within New York City since 2005 – and has yet to gain a foothold.  Its opposition has been at the conglomerate of unions, citizens and local businesses through-out the city.  While the major retailer and largest private employer in the nation’s existence within NYC is controversial, I am not going to take one side or the other.  However, I do believe Wal-Mart, as even one of the largest retailers in the world understands how important it is to be a part of, and accepted by the communities that generate each location’s revenues. (New York Times: 2012)

I took my kids trick-or-treating in the Parkchester region of the Bronx, NY.  The neighborhood is quite diverse, and knowing which house is celebrating, or if the building is even a house, or just a single front door with many apartment doors behind it is a bit of a guessing game.  With that being the norm, it has been tradition that all the trick-or-treaters go business-to-business, versus house-to-house.  I was able to pick up a bit of a mildly surprising, and disappointing trend.

Nearly ALL of the “Mom & Pap” type shops were active and involved in the festivities, anxious to hand out candy and participate in the excitement of the kids and adolescents involved!  That is not the disappointing part.  What was disappointing was that the majority of big brands and major retailers did not participate (all mentioned at the opening of this article), and simply hung “No Candy” or “No More Candy” signs (We were out from 4:30-5:30pm).

Why does this bother me?  As a Dad, I want to see my kids enjoy the festivities and be as excited and involved by a huge community event!  It is not often we get to see so many of the youth of our community out for a common cause, and I wanted them to have the best time with it!  As a marketer, I feel like these major brands missed what would normally be a good opportunity, but under current conditions, was a HUGE opportunity.

NYC was just hit by what may be the WORST environment and economically damaging natural disaster in its history, Tropical Super Storm Sandy!  Halloween, 31 October 2012, was the first day that retailers had a chance to show to the members of their communities that they were a PART OF THE COMMUNITY, to be there and understand the hardships, struggles, and perserverence to move forward with everyone in the community. The gesture would have been possible with the simple gesture of partaking in the festivities at an EXTREMELY low cost (and likely a great marketing opportunity to include a leaflet or flyer; isn’t black Friday just right around the corner???).  I could continue, but I really feel like the brands missed the mark on this one.  Was it the brand and the big wigs behind the big names, or was it a failure at decentralized leadership at the ground level?  Likely a combination of both.

 

What’s your take?

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