Monday, May 2, 2011

Full-Circle Communications Lessons: Social Media & Successful Careers

Throughout the semester, I have had the privilege to listen to and learn from some of the top communications leaders in the Dallas area. From food, to electronics, to oil and gas- our class has heard a bevy of first hand experiences and lessons that have helped us to expand our knowledge and perspective of “real-life” communications: the good, the bad, the ugly- we have heard it all!
To culminate our weekly Wednesday get-togethers, we met with Katherine Bradford and Lee M. Gillis to learn about their roles, experiences and advice regarding digital technology, social media and strategic marketing. This was a class every college student should have the chance to listen in on because the lessons can be applied further than just the communications realm. These lessons were communications related that apply to everyone- regardless of your area of study.
Mrs. Bradford is currently the Vice President of Development for NOVO1, and even though she is a Raider at heart, is a long-standing contributor to the CCPA program at SMU. During her 20+ years in the communications field, she has honed in on the “digital footprint” aspect of communications that we all must be aware of. If there was a social media guru- it would be Katherine Bradford.
She walked us through the most important go’s and no-go’s of social media ranging from e-mail etiquette, to Linked In professionalism, and everywhere in between. She stressed the importance of having an online plan for branding yourself and being aware of the digital footprint that is trailing our identity in the WWW. She told us to be repetitive, consistent, and most of all, relevant. Make it clear who you are, what you do, what area you are focused in, etc; don’t leave any ambiguity as to who the real “business” you is. Whether you want to believe it or not, employers DO use social media as a screening tool, and your email, Facebook, and Linked In etiquette and portrayal can make a difference in getting the interview, and/or getting the job. Don’t sell yourself short, but don’t you dare fluff something you can’t back up; using the internet correctly is key. Just because you didn’t put it out there, doesn’t mean it isn’t there- do a check of your own digital footprint. Be cautious about your Facebook, its settings and what your profile reveals about you. Google yourself and see what comes up and don’t hesitate to try your full name because you have to see what angle your identity has taken in the digital world.
In addition to Mrs. Bradford, our class was introduced to Lee M. Gillis, an Executive Vice President for EMS (Excel Marketing Systems, Inc.). For over 16 years, he has held vital roles in many top-rated BPO companies and worked with multiple Fortune 500 corporations. Recently, he has worked with many of these corporations to incorporate some of the social media-related techniques he has established over the years. Mr. Gillis refers to his techniques as “response driven” social media offerings that pertain largely in part to the communications and call-center divisions. Mr. Gillis opened with a very noble lesson. He told us to always be impeccable with our word; “Integrity means the world to clients and employers.” Being as we are in a global world now, this applies to more than just human face-to-face interaction. We must “maintain integrity” and stay “impeccable to our word” at all times. Mr. Gillis continued this theme while introducing another theory he lives by. He believes his role is largely in part to enhance the lifetime of customer value. Mr. Gillis’ honorable morals, is honored, will make any communicator respectable and successful in regard to their reputation in the communications field- which is something we should all strive for.
I think these lessons were a great note to end the semester with because they bring all the speakers and all the lessons full-circle, back to what it really means to be successful. First, you have to have the foundations from Mr. Bradford’s lesson and then once you have mastered this, Mr. Gillis’ lesson must be applied in order to honor and continue to be regarded highly and be respected in your field. In the end, I believe respect and honor are major contingencies to the measure of success we will achieve in our lifetime.

Special Guest, Agi Geva: Communications Week

                We can read as many books, and study as many articles, watch as many movies, and visit as many museums as we want, but there I think there is no better way to learn then from first-hand experience… and the 2nd best way is to hear about it and learn about it from someone who has experienced it first-hand.  The Holocaust is always a sensitive topic and I am sure we have all heard different stories about it and different perspectives and learned about it in different ways. I have been to the US Holocaust Memorial Museum in D.C., and the Imperial War Museum in London, read about it in text books, and seen multiple movies about it, but nothing compares to hearing about it from Agi Geva, an 81-year old holocaust survivor from Hungary.
                Agi Geva, her mother and sister were all deported from their home to Nazi Death Camps. Geva was first sent to Auschwitz, then Plaszow, then back to Auschwitz and lived to tell her story that led up to this, during, and after the “silence.” The stories that Geva shared with our class were far beyond my realm of knowedge and were some of the most extraordinary instances of courage I have ever heard. Geva’s mother was strategically smart enough to decipher what the different selection lines meant and what they needed to do in order to stay together- which they did, the entire time.
                Her astounding personal accounts of the Holocaust are extremely rare and are a representation of strength and determination in the face of pure evil. Agi Geva currently works with the US Holocaust Memorial Museum and speaks to audiences eager to learn from her and about her personal experience. Decades passed between the end of her imprisonment and when she began to speak of her past. She did say some things she cannot remember, but the things she does, are still vivid images that she illustrates to her captive audiences. The strength and courage Geva has to recount and revisit her past is truly amazing.
                The Holocaust it not an easy topic to discuss, but it is important that we do, and that we hear from the survivors like Agi Geva while we still have the chance. My generation is one of the last generations to hear about it and learn from the generation who experienced it first-hand. Like it did mine, just hearing Geva’s story will change your life. It is up to us to continue to tell their stories and pass along their lessons and like George Santayana once said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. 

Friday, April 29, 2011


            I never really thought my blogs for this class would go beyond the eyes of my classmates, professor, guest speakers, and well, my parents (but only because I wanted to prove to them I was actually ‘blogging’). I was wrong.  Brenda McEwan, a representative for Flink12, contacted me a couple weeks ago because she stumbled upon my Blog! Whoa, this goes to show, if it’s out there, and if its public, it can be found!
McEwan suggested that I take a look at Flink12, a brand new, Playful, easy, private sharing social media site that encourages its users to Focus on the people who are the most important in their life. Flink12 is a new and completely different social network that encourages private sharing in small groups. It is not like every other larger social networking site because it prioritizes the serious issues around privacy, security, and a dilution of the meaning of "friends," first and foremost. Flink12 is the first of its kind to focus solely on the connections that are the most important in your life in a simple and fun way.
A few weeks ago, I touched on the concept of ‘over-sharing’ in our social media lives and how I think it is important that we think twice and be careful about what we are making public about out private lives. McEwan found my ideas to be very similar to the founding reasons for Flink12! So, I encourage you all to take a look at it too- you never know, this could be the next “big thing,” and you could be one of the first to know about it. She included the link to a micro-site that has more info, images, videos, banners and more: Check it out!
The reason why I am now blogging about this, is because I believe this is an effective and appropriate use of social media and networking. I applaud the Flink12 team for really appealing to the route of the social networking overload. McEwan and Flink12 are strategic and appropriately affective in their drive to encourage the importance of privacy, in this increasingly public world!
Brenda McEwan gave me permission to post her contact information if any of you would like to contact her to learn more about Flink12!
Brenda McEwan

Best of luck to you all at Flink12!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Communication, Technology & Globalization Short Film

I made this video for my Technology & Globalization class. In short, the assignment was to create a short film about a topic we are passionate about that we think will be of interest to our peers. I hope you enjoy it!

Friday, April 22, 2011

There Is Always Time To Do One More Great Thing In Life

How many times have you found yourself back-pedaling when you are trying to explain something that seems so simple to you, yet the receiver just doesn’t quite understand? It’s frustrating, and I will be the first to admit that. Frank Roby has mastered the art of communications and has a pristine way of conveying a message that will be acknowledged and understood by both himself and the receiver. For 35 years, Roby worked in traditional business roles, but a few years ago, he decided it was time for a change. He has done so many great things in his life time and he has seen the good and the bad of communications. As a result, Roby admits that “I have found some things I feel very strongly about.” Mr. Roby asked our class what we thought information was, and more importantly, what we thought its purpose was. He continued to expand upon the notion that how we understand and receive information helps us to communicate.
Most of the time, we focus more on the message we are sending and there is an inherent problem with this. What is important to us and our message may not be important or received the same way by others. Roby encouraged our class to focus “less about what we want to send, and more about what others will receive.” Mr. Roby’s message really hit home with me because it is so relatable, on so many levels. When you think about it, this lesson can be applied to just about every communications scenario. We all understand things differently and if we apply this lesson, our efforts for effective communications can be more thorough and precise.  
Roby credits his communication skills for saving him from sticky situations; “I’ve always relied on my ability to communicate to work my way out of problems.” Roby basically helps people communicate more effectively for a living. Not too shabby if you ask me. There is one other obstacle Roby mentioned about information and communicating the message. Roby insists that “our skills are our bias; our answers are what we tend to be best at.” Consequently, we must strive to find a balance in the spectrum. In order to be a communicator, it means we must make balance without going to either side. If you are able to send a message that someone can receive, the better chances you are that your message will resonate and be acted upon.
Frank Roby has mastered this skill of balance and strives to be the voice of reason. Since his change in career path, Roby has recognized and embraced the special gift he has for communications. When Roby embarked on this new career path, he was just trying to compliment what he has always done with his life; do great things. Roby admits that “My life came together in kind of a backwards way” but now, he has found his passion and his calling, which in the end, is a reward in itself.