Working in a Man’s World

IMG_2093I’m excited to have a guest post on Gini Dietrich‘s blog, Spin Sucks!!! She asked me to write it as a woman who has successfully worked with different offices and brands…in a man’s world. It is NOT a diatribe against men.

Go read it!!!

Did You Know Spin is Dead?

spin city_If you’ve noticed anything when reading this blog, it’s that I love being a part of the Spin Sucks community, which is the blog by Gini Dietrich.

She and her team are on a mission to kill off spin. She even wrote a book on this topic, appropriately titled Spin Sucks. (Different link, BTW.)

Yesterday I came across an article titled, “Spin is Dead“. I had to click on the link and read it, because if it was true, that would mean Gini had achieved her goal!

Alas, this was not the case. However, it was an interesting article in that it focused on Tuesday’s election results and the corresponding coverage/interviews that went with the waiting. In this article, the claim was that in politics, “spin, as an art, has totally jumped the shark”. Even James Carville, probably the most famous political spinner, agreed, and even said “everybody sees through it”.

Are the journalists playing a game because they don’t know what else to do? Have they truly forgotten how to interview and debate? I don’t know.

What I do know is that not “everybody sees through it”.  I say that because I’m looking at the bigger picture – not just politics and journalists.

Question: Did you know spin is dead?

Answer: No.

You didn’t know spin is dead because it’s not. Every day someone makes the mistake of thinking they can pull a fast one. It doesn’t matter what company, brand or politician it is, someone makes the mistake of trying to spin a story or statement in their favor. Unfortunately, it sometimes takes a bit of time for the public to realize that what they’ve been told isn’t quite the truth. But when they do find out they’ve been scammed or that an attempt was made to scam them (which I think is worse), boy, do they let you – and everyone – know about it. You’ve seen it happen countless times.

It’s ironic that people always say that the truth comes out. And it does, so why do people still try to spin?

I don’t know.

What I do know is that you can influence a discussion when the topic is “to spin or not to spin”.

  • Ask smart questions (or ones that may seem like you’re being a smart aleck): “If you had to defend this statement in court, could you?” (I’ve asked it! And, it’s a reality check once they realize I’m not joking. Plus, Legal will love you for doing their job for them.)
  • When they want to spin, produce evidence that clearly shows how easy it is to prove the statement(s) aren’t true or are stretched
  • Ask questions that a journalist would ask, probing questions that show how they and/or the public will dig
  • Challenge them to look at the statement from all points of view. If they won’t, then show them.
  • Share examples of what has happened when someone gets caught. If you truly don’t know of any, just perform a search on Google.
  • If they still don’t get it, feel free to pull a clip from the The Daily Show with Jon Stewart or The Colbert Report, in which they prove someone flip-flopped.

Guess what, folks? Spin is NOT dead.

People Don’t Want To Hear People Talk

10703514_10205209093485246_374519295804694692_nI was sitting in a meeting the other day and the discussion centered around animation. Many companies are using animation and video more and more, but I’m worried that in some cases, it’s becoming the new PowerPoint slide. Let me explain.

Without disclosing business details, the back-and-forth revealed insight on why those who managed animation chose to use the tool as an opportunity to share every little detail about how a product works versus high level overviews.

The reason? I quote, “People don’t want to hear people talk”.

As Jerry the minion would say, “WHAAAT?”

Where did that “argument” come from? Allow me to share an ad from 2007. Do you remember the UPS commercials where they guy stood in front of a whiteboard? He drew a few images but he did most of the talking and explaining about how UPS services worked. I’ve linked to an example.

When I watch that ad, I see a guy who has a few images that he uses to help with his explanation. He’s the one talking, though! And I understood the service when he was done. And it took 30 seconds! I didn’t need to see the plane being loaded with packages, taking off, landing, customs, the packages being put on the truck, the truck driving down the road, the guy getting out of the truck, delivering the package, etc. I saw that UPS could get packages to three different countries by the customer’s requested time frames. Did I mention the guy talking is how I understood this?

Why do people go to conferences and pay to hear people speak? Why do people watch news or television shows or movies?  I can tell you why I listen to people speak. I want to hear the dialogue, the story, the opinion, and I want to debate or discuss what I’ve heard. I want to ask questions, especially if it’s a new idea or I don’t quite understand something.

In trying to cram all of a product’s information or how it works into one animation, you can lose the audience’s attention and/or dilute your message. This is similar to cramming all of your bullet points onto one PPT slide.

Don’t get me wrong. I adore visual storytelling. However, I do believe that dialogue ensures your audience walks away with the message you wanted to deliver.

Let me know. Do you want to hear people talk? Why or why not?

Photo courtesy of Gini Dietrich. Used with permission.



Egads! Computer issues prevented me from posting on Thursday, but now I’m back for our regular Tuesday/Thursday schedule.

First, though, if you don’t know, I was on the Spin Sucks Inquisition hot seat on Friday! I was absolutely thrilled to be interviewed by THE Gini Dietrich. If you haven’t read it and want to know a bit more about me, go check it out.

Moving on!

Today’s post is about responsibility. This topic has many sub-topics, but today I’m focusing on lessons learned from a third grader.

My daughter is in third grade this year and it’s been an eye-opening experience for both of us. There is more homework than I’ve ever seen, and extracurricular activities such as dance has been put on hold. (And it was my daughter’s decision.)

Before third grade, responsibility meant two tests a week, feeding the dog, setting the table, etc. Now it means remembering to to bring home the correct books and workbooks everyday, studying every night, projects, etc.

The problem we’ve been working to overcome is for my daughter to be responsible when it comes to her homework. She has to understand the lesson, know what her teacher wants, and deliver. And delivering is key for her. If she doesn’t deliver, she doesn’t succeed. (And she wants to go to college!)

Here is where we get to the heart of my post. My angle on responsibility today is that being responsible means meeting with your client, understanding their business, needs and wants, committing to an agreement/contract, and then delivering.

Let’s be real. Some of your clients are going to test your nerves, but until you reach the point where you decide to go your separate ways, you will have to deliver.

What we’ve learned

Just like a student who isn’t responsible, if you:

  • Don’t understand the lesson (the business)
  • Don’t understand what the teacher (client) needs and/or wants, and
  • Don’t deliver -

you  will fail.

Don’t fail. Be responsible. It’s your reputation and work on the line.

Do You Give A Damn About Your Reputation?


I’m going to answer a question I received regarding my post, “How To Survive the Nightly Conference Party”. It is about the, ahem, “hooking up” that sometimes happens at conferences. Originally, I wasn’t going to get into that, but after receiving the question, and then having Gini Dietrich mention it in the comments, I decided to address it.

Let me begin with a true story.

Early in my career I attended a financial aid conference. (I was a marketing representative for student loans back in the nineties.) It was a tight knit group because there are only so many colleges and universities in the state of Florida, or any state for that matter.

As I mentioned in my post, my boss was a smart young man who wasn’t too bad looking. And, he was single. Of course, this meant that many of the young women in our state industry had their eyes on him. He didn’t help matters by flirting with them, but no harm, no foul, right?

Back to the conference in question. It had been a long conference and it was the final night, which meant people were really letting loose. As the night wore on, my boss and a client were getting “close”. The rest of us weren’t too worried because the boss had never crossed that line.

Weeelllll…the next morning I was waiting on the elevator. The doors opened and the client was standing there, horror in her eyes as she looked at me in recognition. You see, she was wearing the same clothes from the night before, and it was clear that she was doing the “walk of shame”.

I think it’s clear what happened.

The aftermath? The client was so ashamed of herself that she quit her job.

What we learned

Regardless of why the hook-up happened, it happened. The result was a loss of reputation, and damage to another. In addition to the client quitting her job, there were numerous awkward encounters between my boss and clients after that.

You must remember that you’re always working when around clients or co-workers. There is no free pass if you do something embarrassing. Even if people laugh it off, it’s still a part of your reputation.