Specializing in social marketing and business communications training

How One Man on a Ferry Changed Twitter and Breaking News

360_us_air_crash_0115How would you like to be called “the most famous citizen journalist of modern times?”

The man who changed the way news is reported—and propelled Twitter to the front line of breaking news—is Janis Krums (pronounced Yanis Krooms).

He had a first-hand look at the “Miracle on the Hudson.”

On January 15, 2009, the world was captivated by U.S. Airways Flight 1549.

The plane, piloted by Captain Chesley Sullenberger, had left New York when it hit a flock of birds. Capt. Sully and his co-pilot were able to safely bring the plane down on the frigid Hudson River. Passengers were seen huddling on the wings of the aircraft awaiting rescue. All 155 people onboard survived.

I’ve interviewed Krums a few times about his role in the moments and months that followed. As a former news director and reporter in New Jersey and New York, I am especially grateful for Krums’ insights.

Krums told me he was on a ferry between New York and New Jersey when the plane went down. He had a cell phone, but remember, this is six years ago. Technology wasn’t as prevalent as it is today. This was long before selfies and Snapchat.

Here are excerpts from our interview:

SY: When you first saw the plane in the Hudson River, what went through your mind?

JK: We were all in disbelief, and then I noticed the other passengers taking pictures with their cell phones. I figured I should, too. So I started to snap a few pictures. It’s not my picture that changed the perception and use of social media and citizen journalism; it’s the fact that I knew how to use my technology and share the photo on Twitter.

SY: You were at the right place, at the right time, with the right knowledge and tools.

JK: At that moment, I saw the value in what it was, but I didn’t see the value of what it could become. I don’t think anyone could see that it could be spread around the world the way it was.

Once something is happening, it’s too late to be learning the technology. I had the tools to spread the message and knew how to use them. If you have the ability to spread the message, you have the power.

SY: So you had no inkling of the magnitude or role in which you would play in the way Twitter now seems to break much of the news that happens worldwide?

JK: I had a very modest following on Twitter of less than 300 people. I thought there was a public forum, and I should Tweet the picture because it could be valuable. At that time, Twitter wasn’t very mainstream, so I didn’t see how big it could become. I didn’t send the picture to CNN or Fox. I just sent it to the followers I had on Twitter. And from there it spread. I don’t think newspapers, journalists and news organizations were using Twitter as a source quite yet. It was pretty new.

SY: You became the news crew, the first on the scene.

JK: Traditional journalists will always be second on the scene from now on, especially in the developed world. That’s because more people have smartphones and video capability.

The younger generation is consuming news not through Television or newspapers, but through the Internet. People now interact with their news. You can get into an online community and start talking about a topic. It makes it special for people once they figure out how to use it. The new generation wants to share and have their opinions out there. If a reporter misses something in a story, a commentator can say, “Hey, you missed this”, or “add that”, and it becomes a living story. Before, it was, “This is how it is and you don’t get a change until an update later on.” Now it becomes a living story and not static.

On January 15, 2009, every person in the world was given a press pass.

With that, we each have enormous power, and an even greater responsibility to get it right.

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5 Things Communicators Must Know About Social Media Marketing

Austin hiway rampsI think it’s safe to say we’re well past debating the relevance of fresh content, online etiquette, and building an engaged community. Would you agree?

Let’s take things to the next level. Here are critical areas communicators must grasp, and be able to apply in everyday business:

1. Understand social sales. Short sales are the name of the game in social media. Inbound marketing, calls to action, memberships and affiliate marketing should be part of your mix. Think: Multiple revenue streams.

The Science of Social Selling: 5 Studies that Prove the Power of Social

How to Find the Value of a Lead

12 Proven Ways Your Copy Can Get More Conversions

2. Start spreading the news. Frank Sinatra sang New York, New York decades before anyone muttered the word “Internet.” Today, we must all cross promote and use numerous platforms to spread content and news about our brands, products and services.

Infographic: 25 Tweaks to Capture Attention in Social Networks

14 Podcasts to Make You a Better Social Marketer in 2015

How to Choose the Right Social Media Networks for Your B2B Marketing

3. Think in images. Research has proven that the human brain thinks in pictures, not words. We are visual junkies craving something to look at. Straight text is dull and leaves readers wanting more. Give them more.

Infographic: 8 Ways to Use Instagram for Business

Visuals, Schmisuals: Here’s What Your Business Really Needs to Pop

Grab Consumer Attention with the Power of Images

Flipboard: The Next Big Thing in Public Relations

4. Include podcasting. Podcasts are easy to produce and are powerful because they can be used virtually anywhere. Unlike video, slide decks, or blogs, people can listen to podcasts while driving, exercising, doing chores and flying in an airplane. As a former radio news anchor and news director, podcasting resonates with me. Basic audio, an engaging conversation with a credible guest and a relevant topic are all you need. Use your voice!

How to Successfully Launch Your Own Podcast

How to Make a Good Podcast/Radio Show

Infographic: 21 Tips to Maximize Your Podcasting Results  

5. Concentrate on inbound marketing. Chasing money and potential clients is a waste of everyone’s time, energy and resources. Inbound marketing is not disruptive. It allows you to gather quality leads and interact with people who choose to engage with you based on your reputation and content. This means list building, opt-in boxes and segmentation. If your database includes people who never voluntarily signed up for your information, that’s called spam. Seth Godin says that if the receiver thinks it is spam, then it is spam.

3 Steps to Stellar List Building

6 Key Aspects to Inbound Marketing

Rethinking Today’s Inbound Marketing Mix 

Consider bookmarking and sharing this post, as these shortcuts to fresh ideas and resources can help you easily navigate our new world of marketing, sales, and communication.

PS: For hundreds of tips and ideas on social media and business communication, order my  e-book here.

Do Leaders Really Think ‘It’s a Jungle Out There?’

A leaf on the vineLeaders and business professionals will have plenty of work in 2015, and, hopefully, there will be some downtime as well.

Yes, it’s important to unplug and take a break from the office and daily responsibilities. A change of scenery is equally as important.

Motivational coach and business author Denis Waitley takes an annual pilgrimage to Africa that is worth noting. He has written about The Safari Called Life. The metaphor of the safari and work is what’s most important.

“I view life as a way of traveling on a mysterious, ever-challenging safari, where the trail is blazed by our daily choices, actions and responses,” says Waitley. “There is an oft-repeated cliché I have heard ever since I was a boy: “It’s a jungle out there!”

We hear incessant news reports and dismal accounts of violence, unhappiness and instability around our neighborhoods, cities, and the world. People are hurting. Pessimism is permeating our minds and spirits.

How can we survive and achieve success and serenity in this savage paradise called life, ponders Waitley.

“Life in every environment today is a savage paradise. Savage to the ignorant, uneducated, unskilled, prejudiced and ill-informed. A paradise to those who have learned to adapt to and manage change, remain flexible, unhook prejudices, view failures and mistakes as temporary detours and target corrections, and remain lifelong learners. Our safari guides were comfortable and at ease in the dangerous ecosystem of Africa. We, on the other hand, felt vulnerable, insecure and hesitant. We were the newcomers, the tourists. They were the guides, confident through training and experience.”

Using the safari metaphor, Waitley says the quality of your journey will depend on your preparation, choices and responses. He urges us to become a guide, instead of a tourist.

How will you prepare for your own adventure?

Here are Waitley’s suggestions:

• Learn from those who have gone before

• Travel lightly; no extra baggage

• Be prepared and expect the unexpected

• The more you learn the less you fear

Slow down, watch and listen

• Respect your environment

• Leave your ego behind

• Anticipate, innovate and make do

• Be optimistic; tomorrow did not exist before

• Collect memories instead of souvenirs

• Enjoy the journey

• Celebrate all life, not just your own

So, is it a “jungle out there” or a glorious adventure awaiting each of us?

Do Business Leaders Communicate with Respect?

Train on the tracks in Metuchen 2013It’s not a joke but many senior executives in business are kidding themselves.

They mistakenly believe that they are communicating to colleagues and employees with respect and kindness. But with some brief introspection and coaching, leaders can quickly discover a level of self-deception and betrayal that deeply impacts the performance and behaviors of multitudes of people.

This is the foundational work of The Arbinger Institute, a global management training and consulting company.

One of Arbinger’s best-selling books, Leadership and Self-Deception, explains that there are two kinds of people.

Communicators who are “in the box” have a distorted view of themselves and others. They are isolated and treat others as objects; entities that lack feelings and emotions. Leaders who are inside the box are disrespectful in subtle ways as they operate with an absence of empathy and compassion.

Executives who are “outside the box” are thoughtful and considerate of other people. They are attentive and treat people—including strangers—with kindness.

If two people in a conversation are both in the box, there’s little room for progress, negotiation, and positive outcomes.

A simple way to know

Consider this example from Leadership and Self-Deception:

You are sitting on a crowded commuter train and the seat next to you is empty. Do you put your bag on it and hide behind your newspaper hoping no one will squeeze in? We’ve all been on both sides of this situation—the one who is seated and in the box, and the stressed passenger desperately searching for a place to sit. If the seated passenger was out of the box, he would make eye contact and smile at someone, silently sending a welcome signal to take the open seat.

Those in the box are betraying themselves, according to Arbinger.

Self-betrayal is about a time when you had a sense of something you should do for others, but didn’t.

Read between the lines

When communicating at work, you may realize now that the few words you exchange when greeting your administrative assistant are rushed?

Were you inside the box as your admin responded to your “How are you doing today?” obligatory question as you breezed past the desk? Did you forget that your admin is a human being with feelings?

You may not have recognized your actions as being insensitive but your assistant likely did.

A recent blog post on the Arbinger website explains that garnering respect or disrespect comes not from outward behavior but from deep within the spirit and heart of the leader.

“What is that spirit? In Arbinger terms, we describe it as a leader’s ‘way of being.’ It is how I choose to see others around me. I see them either as people who count like me or as objects to manipulate or ignore. This spirit, or way of being, is a choice with consequences. If I choose to see others as people instead of objects, and hence manifest a spirit of respect toward those I lead, I inspire or invite responsiveness and respect from them. If I choose to see others as objects, and manifest a spirit of disrespect, I excite strong resistance to my leadership, despite the appearance of compliance…This awareness provokes an ‘others-mindedness’ that benefits the whole.

In a responsive way of being, we are open, yielding and present in the moment, whether we are working with people or trying to solve problems. We let the influence of others guide how we see and treat them. We have the freedom and courage to be self-critical and thus adaptive. We become leaders…who are poised for success…”

Self-awareness about being in or out of the box is the first step towards improving your communication and leadership.

How to Carve Out Your Niche in the Proverbial Rabbit Hole

CheshireCat2The tale of Alice in Wonderland was penned by Lewis Carroll some 150 years ago.

Bored little Alice follows the White Rabbit down a rabbit hole, and comes face-to-face with adventure. They encounter locked doors, gardens, secret keyholes, and of course, the Cheshire Cat.

For the past 150 years, the expression, “we went down a rabbit hole” translates to being distracted or wandering aimlessly down an unplanned path.

It’s especially true with the vast amount of information that’s available to us on the Internet. It doesn’t take much to get lost in the rabbit hole known as Google. The maze of links and related topics are fascinating, yet they can make all of us feel like we have attention deficit disorder.

The roadmap to the niche

Is the proverbial rabbit hole such a bad place? Often, we find ourselves pondering, “How did I even get here?” It usually takes some backtracking to recall the purpose of the original search. When we think about the amount of time that’s been pilfered away, frustration sets in.

Social media has served as a keen reminder to business professionals to stay focused on the needs of their target audiences. Author and marketing expert Seth Godin says, “Don’t scream to the masses; whisper to a few.”

In business, whispering to the few is the rabbit hole. It’s not a time warp or a place of distraction. It’s quite the opposite.

The rabbit hole is the niche.

The rabbit hole can be a place of abundance because it forces us to identify our target audience’s needs and challenges. But more importantly, working in the rabbit hole demands that you craft and create solutions for those in the smallest tip of the funnel who need—and can afford—to pay you.

Opportunities lie within this crevice.

Going my way?  

The rabbit hole is the vertical within a vertical that’s within a vertical.

It’s the deep niche that differentiates you from competitors. Opportunity presents itself because you know where you fit in within the niche. You’ve researched, studied, learned, and made mistakes. You’re entrenched in this narrow pinpoint that offers opportunities most will never experience or understand.

The rabbit hole represents a fine balance of comfort and curiosity. You don’t feel trapped or bored with “cabin fever” for one reason: You have a true sense of deep and wondrous curiosity within what appears to be a tiny place. It keeps you intrigued rather than yearning to escape.

The rabbit hole where successful people dwell is the niche, the sweet spot, the vertical, the real differentiator. We must view the rabbit hole as the golden place to reach, a space that has doors of opportunity awaiting us. It’s a vast niche.

Don’t think of the doomed rabbit hole as the wasteland that pulls us off task. Instead consider the rabbit hole the specialized knowledge and expertise that you have that’s missing in the marketplace.

Go there.


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How Leaders Communicate Their Vision

YOU editedIf you’ve ever had your pupils dilated during an eye exam, you know the frustration of the distorted vision that lingers for hours.

People in all walks of life and occupations deal with blurred distorted vision every day.

  • There are eye doctors who have no vision. No, they don’t need drops to dilate their pupils. They are bright, educated professionals with tunnel vision and closed minds.
  •  There are graceful and poised dancers and actors who can make all the right moves on stage. Yet they can’t seem to get out of their own way.
  •  Ever spend leisure time with teachers who know everything?
  •  Have you talked to truck drivers who have no sense of direction in life?


Leaders must have clear vision, the right moves, the willingness to learn, and the discipline of direction to be successful.

The ‘Ralph Kramden’ big idea moment

There is actually nothing mystical about vision, states a post on Bates-Communications.com, an executive leadership consulting firm.

“A vision is a picture of what an organization could and should be. A hallmark of great leaders is that their vision includes big ideas. Big ideas get people excited. Nobody wants to do something small. Leaders want to feel motivated about coming to work, because what they do matters. Some examples of big ideas that most of us are familiar with are Martin Luther King’s ‘I Have a Dream’ speech and President John F. Kennedy’s vision for the space program, ‘We choose to go to the moon . . . not because it is easy, but because it is hard.’”

The post goes on to say that great business leaders also know how to paint a vivid picture of the future. They make it look easy. However, most of them have worked hard to develop and articulate their powerful thoughts.

Steeped in value and structure

Matthew Richter is a global management performance consultant who says leadership requires a vision that isn’t just a picture in someone’s head. It has to be a complete understanding for the big picture of where the leader wants to be.

“Leadership guru Stan Slap says that the vision should be a better place than where we are today. It should be a clearly communicable picture of the future, steeped in value, and philosophy, as well as structure,” writes Richter. “A clear vision provides direction and establishes purpose. For example, a training department may have a clear vision for curriculum development. They know what it will look like three years from now. When a problem arises, their vision facilitates them toward a solution. When their vision is challenged by outside forces, they have the structural strength to defend it.” Richter points out that not everyone has to agree on the vision, as it belongs to the leader.

The followers work with the leader to find the best way to get to it, he says.

“Great visionary thinking utilizes a symbiotic relationship between the leader and the follower, fostering collaboration, innovation, and camaraderie,” notes Richter.

Speaking of vision

Leaders also know when to speak about their companies and articulate their visions.

Stanislav Shekshnia is anaffiliate professor of entrepreneurship and family enterprise at INSEAD. He has interviewed many Fortune 500 leaders, and concludes:

“Not only did we feel the sheer passion of these individuals, but saw that their personal ambition is merged into the goals of their organizations. They appeared to be on a self-defined mission, rather than on a job.”

What do you envision?  Is it clear?


5 Ways to Add Immense Value to Clients

Sunrise ocean editedThe word immense is an adjective that’s defined as vast, huge, immeasurable, boundless.

This is the level of work and commitment that’s required of all professionals who want to be successful. Whether you own a business or work for someone else, you must show up big every single day. Or you risk being replaced. It’s that simple.

Here are five ways for you to show up big, and add immeasurable value to those who pay your wages.

1. Anticipate, don’t react. Adding value to client relationships is obsolete. You must consistently add IMMENSE value to clients. This requires you to study, distill, learn, and have a deep understanding of your client’s niche, industry, and team. When you know their business inside and out, you can head off problems in advance of disaster. Anticipate their challenges and offer creative solutions BEFORE problems arise. Don’t have clients coming to you fretting about a problem they heard in a webcast. Today’s business climate demands that you share solid and quantifiable information long before the buzz begins.

Hint: This strategy goes well beyond reading trade pubs and dropping in on a LinkedIn group every few weeks. It’s hard work, too.

2. Hit the accountability jackpot. Own everything you say and do. Author Elizabeth Gilbert (Eat, Pray, Love) says she used to wake up and think, “Who can I blame today?” In order to experience the growth she yearned for, Gilbert says she had to take absolute responsibility for all of her choices and behaviors. Period.

Hint: Reframe the blame game. It’s a new day.

3. Focus on focusing. This one act of paying attention will completely change every single one of your professional and personal relationships. Your willingness and ability to fight mental distractions and enter into the deep, “in the moment sphere” of listening is rare in today’s world. But it is so desperately needed.

Hint: Be patient because this requires awareness and discipline.

4. Sell a vision before discussing details. Fifty years ago, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his “I Have a Dream’ speech in Washington, D.C. Simon Sinek writes in Start with Why that Dr. King didn’t say he had a plan, but rather he talked of a dream and a vision. People bought into the heart and emotion of Dr. King’s message. The details and logic came later.

Hint: Relevance resonates.

 5. Convert chaos into order. The human mind craves patterns and organization. We need order. Somewhere amid the voluminous irrelevant material that crosses our collective radar every minute is a chance to deconstruct the crap and make sense of things. Be the person who stops the confusion and brings order to relationships and conversations.

Hint: Tie it up in a neatly wrapped box with a bow on top. Give the gift of order.


Are You Applying Agility in Sales?

3 Texans Bandera editedOrganizations—not people—have typically been recognized as agile, based on technology and business processes.

However, as communicators and professionals who market and sell, we must focus on human beings and the roles that people play within agile organizations.

At a recent training program I led for an inside sales team in the financial industry, we covered agility. How could the team improve collaboration and competency when working with their business-to-business clients and prospects?

On the Dime

When executives and analysts talk about agility in business, the word pivot is almost always in the conversation.

Being able to pivot means that you can strike the balance between what your plan is/was, AND still assess new opportunities with a high level of flexibility.

Henry David Thoreau said, “Obey the spur of the moment.”

To apply agility to your communication and sales, it’s imperative that you have a 360-degree view of your relationships, partnerships, prospects, clients, products, services, and self.

This is not a one-time analysis or critique that’s done periodically.

Your 360-degree view is ongoing because change is constant. To keep up with the twists, turns, and trends in your industry, you must always be reading, studying, learning…and applying your newly acquired knowledge.

Intensity Counts

Agile professionals are thoughtful, deliberate, and decisive. Their time zone is real-time.

This is what differentiates agile thinkers from the as-soon-as-possible thinkers.

If you want to be the go-to person—the agile professional—you have to:

Immerse yourself in your industry. Your daily formula for success: Study. Simplify. Apply.

Help clients reduce inefficiencies.

Think from the customer’s perspective.

Pay attention in a way that is smart, creative, curious, and proactive.

Contact clients and prospects to share new information, updates, and relevant news. Translation: Don’t check in, follow up, or touch base. Bring value.

Uncover problems BEFORE they occur. Don’t wait for customers to contact you when they have a problem or challenge. That’s too commonplace, and mediocre. Agile communicators and marketing and sales professionals contact their clients FIRST, explaining that a problem is looming and offering a recommendation or insight.

Agile professionals solve problems before they arise, making consistent and invaluable contributions to their client’s success.


Saving Face at the NFL: What’s the Cost?

Cluttered windowI’d like to thank the NFL for bringing the horrific issue of domestic violence to the forefront of our social conversations and values. Maybe lives will be saved.

I’d also like to vomit on the NFL for downplaying (actually ignoring) this horrific issue of domestic violence. Maybe the NFL’s face can be saved.

But at what expense? 

Thankfully, there is outrage from the public who has taken to social media and other communication channels to ensure their voices rise above Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson.

Meredith Vieira, thank you for having the courage to stand tall and proud against NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s deafening silence in the cases of Rice and Peterson.

I realize neither Rice nor Peterson have been convicted. Please don’t whine about ‘innocent until proven guilty’ because you can refer to Rice’s video and press conference with his wife, the woman he knocked unconscious in a casino elevator in New Jersey before they were married.

And Peterson, the towering, powerful NFL player who thinks it’s OK to hit his four-year-old and call it discipline.

Has anyone checked this person (I wouldn’t call him a man at this point) for a concussion?

Peterson, who is also accused of hitting another one of his young children, says this form of discipline is what he knows. After all, his father used physical beatings, and he (Adrian) is just fine.


Was Peterson’s father a professional football player with a similar physical prowess and power? No, he wasn’t. Clearly, Adrian Peterson is confusing the use of the word ‘discipline.’

For Peterson to make it to the NFL, didn’t he need discipline and mental fortitude to compete and succeed?  If he could apply his mental prowess to the game, why couldn’t he apply it to his child, and choose a different form of ‘discipline’ without beating the boy?

Did Adrian Peterson not realize that he is taller and bigger than his son, which makes him the grown-up?

And where has Commissioner Goodell been hiding these days?

Goodell is hiding from women who are using their voices to express outrage over his acceptance of this repugnant behavior.

In New Jersey and California, women who serve in state government are calling for the Commissioner’s resignation.

“When someone sucker punches an innocent woman or takes a switch to his son, something is terribly wrong,” all 10 Assembly Republican women from New Jersey said in a statement. “The league either delays disciplinary action or issues a slap on the wrist of the offender. The victims are vulnerable to the power of these men. Commissioner Goodell is unsuccessfully trying to appease the fans and advertisers that the league takes these actions seriously.”

And there it is.

Why is Goodell as quiet as a church mouse?

Because football is big business first and money is speaking louder than the victims of Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson.


Food Trucks Heat Up Networking Opportunities

Mr Softee truck editedThere’s power in food.

The growing popularity of food trucks is playing a curious role in workplace communication and networking. These mobile munch mobiles are helping break down barriers and boost comradery. And there’s fun along the way.

Employers are taking advantage of the food truck trend, which makes Ross Resnick happy.

Resnick is CEO and founder of Roaming Hunger, an online catering hub and dispatch for mobile food. He has 4,500 food trucks in his network, and says the majority of requests they receive are from businesses.

A New Form of Networking

Food trucks often set up in business parks across the U.S. and serve workers from many different companies that are based in the complex. “We consider it a new form of networking.  The barriers come down, everyone’s looking at the menu, and sharing a common experience.  And the cost is relatively low,” says Resnick.

“The activity of getting in line with other people from your workplace, waiting to order, and mingling for 10 minutes or so while food is prepared creates great opportunities for employees who may not have touch points during the regular day,” explains Resnick. “It’s a tremendous way for employers to get people outside and talking to each other in a different way.”

Resnick points out that it’s the kind of experience that inspires comraderies across all levels of an organization. “Senior executives are with the rank-and-file and everyone’s in the same boat. It’s very democratic and everyone is on a level playing field.”

Adding Flavor

Another intriguing business dynamic is that employers are getting creative when hiring food trucks. They are bypassing old favorites like hamburgers, hotdogs, and pizza, and opting for diverse ethnic foods. Experimenting with new foods can help spark conversation and educate people at the same time.

“We’re bringing out Indian, Greek, and Thai foods, things people aren’t eating every day. It gives people a window into other cultures and I think that goes a long way. If an employer can play a role in the cultural education of their employees through food, it’s a wonderful benefit,” explains Resnick.