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Want to See More Interesting Blogs? Let's Nurture Smart Writers

A few weeks ago, Mack Collier asked the question of whether your blog is losing its identity. To a great extent, Mack’s post was about the increasing degree of homogeneity in blog content. His perception is that most blogs are going the route of How-Tos, Echo Posts, and Top 10 Lists. It’s an interesting observation considering that most folks will say that its these types of blogposts that get the most visibility and attention.

The post also provoked a slightly different reaction with me. Below is the comment I left with some subtle updates:

Mack, here’s the problem and it’s one that I believe affects all media, both new and old. Do people really want to read original and fresh ideas? Or do they want to read overly-provocative posts from familiar and famous sources? For old media examples, we see hyper-provocative personalities on TV and print get all the attention as well as find run-of-the-mill sitcoms and stagnant dramas remain on-air year after year. This is while smart voices and excellent programming struggles to gain visibility and survive.

If we’re really serious about wanting more innovative and interesting ideas from our blogs, we not only have to write them…we have to nurture them in others. It starts with stepping out of our comfort zones and reading new blog sources. If someone writes really great stuff but it goes unnoticed, it’s very likely that they’ll stop writing altogether or submit to the more formulaic blog writing ideas that seem to attract the most eyeballs.

Now, let’s all do something positive and introduce great AND NEW writings to our own readers.

I honestly believe that if you carry influence in the online space, you have an obligation to use your voice to not just lift up familiar folks you know, but perhaps more importantly, give visibility to smart and talented folks who are less known. This goes triple for A-listers, some of which are better than others in this regard.

So for 2010, let’s make it a point to share visibility with other smart folks who need more attention to their ideas. And I’ll start…here are a just few who I’m excited to see more of their work:

Kelly Stonebock (@kellyopoly): kellystonebock.wordpress.com
A.J. Bingham (@ajbingham): readaj.com
Roxanne McHenry (@roxannemchenry): roxannemchenry.com

What will you do to help bring visibility to smart folks you know?

6

Is Your Website All Pretty and No Purpose?

I hate the holiday shopping hoards and the inevitable battle against the sea of over-tired and under-patient humanity. Thank heavens for the internet. I try to do most of my Christmas shopping online these days, but it’s almost unavoidable that I’ll need to pick at least one gift up at an actual brick-and-mortar store. So it is that I found myself at one of the local upscale outdoor shopping centers that are prevalent throughout Austin. These places are far more than your everyday, pedestrian strip malls. They have immaculate boulevards and well-landscaped walkways to entice us weary shoppers out of our hard-earned money by convincing us we’re far more cosmopolitan than we might actually be. These shopping centers also have their typical upscale retail establishments like J. Crew, Coach and Burberry with their artfully designed storefronts. But as I entered another of these stores, I found myself faced with a parallel to something I see frequently in my work.

The store’s windows and exterior were creatively developed to be eye-catching. I imagine someone painstakingly took their time to design and arrange the various props to entice casual shoppers like me to open the door. It was all so neatly done that I felt compelled to go inside and see if they had a gift for my wife. And here’s where the disappointment hit me like Santa himself swinging a bag of coal at my head. Not one of the sales staff welcomed me, not one asked if I was looking for anything in particular, not one did anything that would potentially complete a successful transaction. As easily as I entered, I left. What the hell was the whole point of the work devoted on the outside if it all goes to waste inside?

Now before you think this is just a problem with the retail buying experience as a whole, let’s think about a similar experience in the online world. Most businesses know they need a web presence to compete and so they go through the exercise of creating a spectacularly beautiful site. It has all the bells and whistles we associate with business or e-commerce websites. It’s chock full of animation and sliding panels and dancing kittens and all the usual links to every single social media network known to man. You look at it and think, “My word, this is the most impressive website I have ever seen and will likely see ever again!” And then what? Well, this is often where all that wondrous and creative design talent goes straight down the crapper. No one ever thought to ask about business objectives or about generating a sale. In other words, your customer just walked through the door based on an artful exterior but doesn’t know what to do next…so they wander aimlessly and likely leave.

Most consumer-driven websites unfortunately don’t focus on the all-important Ask, which is the primary funnel for directing visitors toward taking an action. But there are a few things you can do to ensure that your site not only looks great but fulfills the investment you’ve made in your web presence.

Know your goals before ever thinking about design. Don’t spend all that time on the external window dressing only to ignore the reason why your customers enter in the first place. I can’t say how many times I’ve seen clients get wrapped up in the design process without a clear vision for what they want their site to achieve. It’s the classic case of putting the cart before the horse. Before building a new site or committing to a redesign project, get clear about what you want your site to do to drive business to you.

Be crystal clear and inviting with your Ask. Think of your website’s Ask as the warm greeting your customer receives when they enter the store. If you know your audience’s needs, then your Ask should be a knowledgeable sort of “How can I help you today?” What does your business do and how does your website help you do it better? If your business is built to sell directly to your visitor, then develop an Ask that guides your prospect toward making a purchase or bundle of purchases. Or perhaps you’re a B2B company that uses your site to offer product information and generate leads; if so, then create an Ask that funnels visitors toward a lead generation form. Whatever you choose for your Ask, make it not only clear, strong and tied to your business goals, but focused on the psychological needs of your customer.

Measure your results. You just can’t assume that your Ask is going to be automatically successful. That’s like having a great storefront and a greeter at the door only to take whatever money you receive from purchases and toss it in a bag and forget about it. You have to know whether what you’re doing is leading to achieving the key objectives you set for your business at the beginning. Same thing for your site. Know whether your Ask is funneling prospects toward completing a goal. There are several tools to help you like Google Analytics. It’s free so you have no good reason for not incorporating measurement into your plans for success.

Your website isn’t just there to look pretty. It has a purpose. Help your customers achieve their purpose through a great Ask and you’ll see successful results.

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What Value Is A Piece Of Paper?

There’s a rather lively conversation taking place at Olivier Blanchard’s The BrandBuilder blog about social media “certification” being promoted by the International Social Media Association (ISMA). I put certification in quotations because I question the very idea of whatever this organization is pushing as true certification. I’ve been on the professional association side of things and know how much work goes into developing a certification program, the standards and oversight needed to make it truly legitimate. (If you’re curious about what basics go into developing and maintaining a recognized certification program, here’s a terrific article from the American Society of Association Executives.) Once completing the program, you may receive a certificate, but it is not certification and there’s a huge difference. I understand the proposed value and rationale for a certification program as a ward against snake oil salesmen but based on the site’s info, I wonder about the true purpose of the ISMA’s program.

But lest I go into a more focused rant against ISMA, I actually want to address a tangential issue that arose from Olivier’s post. It has to do with the value of the diplomas and true certifications we earned. Think about the Bachelor’s and other post-graduate degrees you hold as well as the professional certifications necessary to practice your craft. Maybe it was an advanced engineering degree earned from a large university twenty years ago. Or perhaps it was a general liberal arts degree from a small college last year. What is it’s value to you today? If you’re thinking it has little or no value, I’d encourage you to think again. Even if you’re not actually using that degree today, I wager it has had some impact on the way you view the world.

My personal example (and yes, your mileage may vary) is that I went to a small liberal arts school and graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in history. If you know my profile and background, you’ll notice that I haven’t spent any professional time working in museums, teaching history or any other historical-related efforts. Yet, what I learned through my history major has impacted how I view the world around me. I see cause-and-effect differently; I seek out root causes for incidents; I believe there are multiple viewpoints to explore for any event. So while I’m not a practicing historian, I do see and think about my world through the lens of a historian. And that is what adds to my unique value as a professional no matter what I choose to do in my career. Now I’m working on a Master’s degree in Business Anthropology and that further adds to my specialized approach to working with clients.

Try to think about that diploma differently. Don’t disregard or undervalue the learning that you’ve gathered over the years regardless of how detached it may seem to the work you’re doing right now. That academic learning coupled with your experiential learning makes you the unique and highly valuable professional you are today.

Are you doing something different in your career than your undergrad or post-grad prepared you for? More than likely you are…if so, how do you think your academic learning has influenced your professional work? Love to hear your own stories.

4

What Charlie Weis Can Teach Us About Job Failure

More football, you exclaim? Yes, its another football-related post. Sorry friends…when it’s Fall and the weather starts to cool, my mind gets a bit preoccupied with all things pigskin. If you have no interest in the NFL, just bear with me for a few more weeks and I’ll try to make this as painless as possible.

Now, to the issue at hand and it involves the gentleman over to the left. He might be recognizable or he might not. His name is Charlie Weis and earlier this week he officially became the former Head Coach for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish football team. Did he deserve to be fired? Probably, based on the key metric used to assess all sports coaches: wins. However, it was an ignominious end to what was once a very promising career with the Irish. Weis was known as an offensive guru with the New England Patriots and highly sought-after coach in the NFL. But his alma mater of Notre Dame came calling and it looked like a golden relationship for a once-proud college football program battling mediocrity. After the first couple of years of success (and some have argued undeserved), the roof caved in and Weis’s Notre Dame teams returned to previous levels of unremarkable football.

To paraphrase Marc Antony (Roman not singer), I come neither to bury Weis nor to praise him. Instead, I think there are a couple of career lessons we can extract from Charlie Weis’s fate.

Success at one level or different position is no guarantee of universal success. Weis is the owner of four Super Bowl Champion rings as a result of his 15 year career as an assistant coach in the NFL. In hindsight, we might be able to say that this prior success offered no indication as to whether he’d be a good head coach in the pro or collegiate levels. Both career transitions offered their own unique set of challenges that would be new for him. And don’t we face these same challenges any time we receive a promotion to manager or change industries? Here’s the key: recognize that what got us to where we are isn’t necessarily going to take us higher. We have to be prepared to set aside our ego and learn with a child’s curious mind.

Sometimes the view from below is better than the one from above. While the above is about what we need to do when in the gig, let’s take a look at the view of where Charlie is right now. It’s one that many of us have experienced before. Maybe we got laid off or even canned. Maybe we got demoted after a promising rise through the organizational ranks. Here’s the good news, though…these are the experiences in which we grow the most. It’s like the old proverb says, “There’s always more growth in the valley than there is on the mountaintop.” See Vince Young and my earlier post as an example of someone who took the time while in the valley of their life and profession to refocus their efforts toward success. Trust me, I’ve been in the valley quite a few times and it sucks. But I also cherish these times as moments in my life when I was more truthful with myself, more humble toward others and more accepting of the gifts that come in life. They were crucial waystations in my journey and I recognize that I’ll likely visit the valley again at some point in my life.

What are your experiences? Any wisdom you gained while trying to climb a new mountain or trekking through a valley in your work or life? Love to have you share your story with the community here.

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The Myth of Fit

Bob Sutton is one of my heroes. This excerpt gives some indication why:

Does your interview decision-making process end something like this?

I like this candidate. She fits our organization. She’s like us.

If so, it’s time to take a good look at the organization you’re building. In this day and age, do you truly believe the best way to succeed is going to be hiring like-minded people with like-minded outlooks and like-minded skillsets? If so, tell me how the view at the bottom looks. Because here’s the brutal truth: it’s not the like-minded individuals that grow and transform business in this maelstrom. It’s the counter-thinkers, the revolutionaries, the courageous souls who throw all the usual bullshit out the window in order to make room for ideas that transform.

Bob Sutton – Weird Ideas That Work: How to Build a Creative Company (p 11)

How many organizations use their “corporate culture” like a cudgel, bludgeoning and cramming every employee into a narrowly defined sense of what fits the executives’ idea of success? Its always couched in a way that makes it seem like its the best course of health for the business…but is it? For every Zappos that might get it right, there are countless other organizations that flail about with yet another way to control their employees.

Is the notion of corporate culture that’s paraded about today beneficial? Or does it lead to a form of necrosis that threatens the future welfare of the enterprise? Unlike organic cultures, corporate cultures rarely evolve. Instead, they become entrenched, just one more thing that gets added to the mentality of this is the way things have always been done.

What if there’s a different way of understanding culture? Of creating a better workplace that is not only successfully groomed for the future, but humanizes the organization?

As you get ready to enter 2010, take a good, hard look at whether your “corporate” culture is growing and transforming your business. Or if it’s creating Stepford-like employees who think and act alike, now is the time to make changes to your people practices.

It’s okay to embrace values to define your organization, but not at the expense of insisting each and every employee conforms to a top-down, highly limited idea of corporate culture. Stop seeking out and creating clones. Let your employees bring their whole selves to work even if parts of those selves conflict with your notion of “fit.”

1

Stay Focused And Work On Your Craft

How many of us have ever felt like Vince Young, quarterback for the NFL’s Tennessee Titans? He was once a heralded first round draft pick by the Titans but after a knee injury in his first game of the 2008 season, he was relegated to a backup role for the remainder of the year and first six games of 2009. It was only after the Titans started a woeful 0-6 this year that Young got a chance to start again. Since his return as a starter three weeks ago, Tennessee is now 3-6.

Vince Young’s story is still unfolding but haven’t we all been in his shoes before? I’m thinking specifically about our work. We’re good at what we do and receive accolades from our managers. Then, we make a mistake and are demoted to some form of a lesser role in the organization. Or we find ourselves entangled in a layoff. Or we simply find ourselves burnt out of the job. It becomes easy to just stop caring and giving our best. This quote from Young as told to Sports Illustrated’s Peter King shows how important it is to stay out of the muck and mire of self-defeating, internal dialogue.

A couple of times last year, when he was most frustrated, Vince Young would text Kobe Bryant, who had become something of a mentor. He’d write something like, “Man, I wanna play so bad. What do I do?” The answer would always come back from Bryant with something like this: “Stay focused. Work on your craft.”

When we’re faced with bad situations in our work, often the best solution is to remember that its temporary and can turn around at any point. We need to stay focused and committed to improving our selves and our capabilities. You never know when you’ll be asked to return to the starting lineup with a chance to be even better than before.

0

Three Keys to Social Media Success…But Are They Enough?

Recently, Aaron Strout at the Powered blog wrote about three absolute musts for social media success: authenticity, credibility, and transparency (otherwise known as the ACT trifecta).

I dig Aaron’s work and how he thinks about the impact of social media, but there was something that needled at me while I read his post. By the end, a question formed that continues to tumble around in my head: are authenticity, credibility, and transparency enough? Let’s create a hypothetical company, one that exemplifies each of the ACT qualities. They are open, honest, and human in their interactions. These are important features and we should begin to expect them from the companies we engage with. But something just feels like its missing.

In my comment to the post, I tossed out another quality (or actually it might be more of a condition) for success: amplification. I know of many companies and individuals who embody authenticity, credibility, and transparency in their work…yet they remain in the shadows while the companies that already have the spotlight such as JetBlue, Zappos, Ford and Best Buy receive attention.

What do you think? Is authenticity, credibility, and transparency enough to garner success in social media? Or is there something missing that needs to be added to the discussion?

4

Anthropology In Business And Industry: A Synopsis

As I’ve talked with folks about my academic training and work in the field of business anthropology, one common response I get is: “Wow! That’s cool! So, what in the world is business anthropology?” One of my assignments this week was to read a chapter written by Marietta Baba from a book called Applied Anthropology: Domains of Application and write a synopsis. I immediately saw it as an opportunity to post information on the field based on the writings of someone I greatly respect.

I know it’s lengthy but hopefully it gives a sense of the history behind the field and how we anthropologists can be exceptionally useful within business. Enjoy…and feel free to leave any of your own questions or ideas in the comments.

Anthropology in Business and Industry: A Synopsis
2005 Baba, Marietta L. Anthropological Practice in Business and Industry. In Applied Anthropology: Domains of Application, ed. Satish Kedia and John Van Willigen. Westport: Praeger.

Summary
In this chapter, Marietta Baba provides a brief, yet comprehensive history of business anthropology in the twentieth century and compelling insights into how anthropology can benefit the objectives of private sector organizations.

The Historical Development of the Field
Business anthropology may seem like a recent offshoot of applied anthropology, but its roots lie further back in the twentieth century. Baba links the origins of the field to a set of experiments that took place within Western Electric Company (now part of Lucent Technologies) and its Hawthorne Works. Starting in the early 1920s, the executives of Western Electric tried to determine how to improve working conditions and set up experiments to test their hypothesis that manipulating just one variable (such as factory illumination, incentive pay or number of rest breaks) would generate sufficient conclusions. Unfortunately for the company’s management, the test results were almost always highly contradictory.

Elton Mayo, a Harvard psychologist, was asked to help interpret the results. What he and his colleagues observed was a much more complex social system at work where changing just one variable affected several other variables. Mayo knew about anthropology and its potential usefulness in understanding these social systems through his friendships with Bronislaw Malinowski and A. R. Radcliffe-Brown. Mayo was introduced to W. Lloyd Warner, one of Radcliffe-Brown’s students, who consulted with Hawthorne researchers to develop the next phase of the experiment – the Bank Wiring Observation Room (BWOR) in 1931. Baba argues it was this event which gave birth to what we now call business or industrial anthropology (223).

In a uniquely anthropological approach, the BWOR used ethnography to observe what workers actually did rather than listen to what they said they did via interviews. It became the “first systematic observational investigation of a work group’s social system, or, as we would call it today, the work group’s organizational culture” (223). The experiment also revealed a complex, and up to that time poorly analyzed, relationship between management objectives and the work group’s own productivity. The Hawthorne conclusions provided the first empirical evidence of “informal organization, defined as the actual patterns of social interaction and relationships among the members of an organization that arise spontaneously and are not determined by management” (224).

Out of the Hawthorne study, business anthropology in the 1940s was dominated by the human relations school of thought which posited that any conflict between management and employee was due to a disruption of a natural equilibrium. Therefore, the aim of this school was to balance the equilibrium between manager and worker and create beneficial relationships that ensured optimal performance. This asymmetrical power relationship would ultimately be called into question by anthropologists and it lost much of its influence as a result.

However, in spite of its early successes, the field of business anthropology faded from the anthropological landscape in the 1950s and would not return to prominence until the 1980s. Baba lists four primary reasons for this decline:

  • Failure of first generation of industrial anthropologists to produce a second generation.
  • A theoretical shift from human relations school and rise in contingency theory, which based findings on primarily quantitative research and statistical analysis
  • Changes in academia where more anthropologists were able to find tenured work due to increased college admissions from baby boomers.
  • Political and ethical issues raised by anthropologists who viewed working within corporations as unethical. This had a devastating impact as the American Anthropological Association instituted principles of professional responsibility in 1971 that prohibited any research that could not be freely disseminated to the public. Baba notes that since industrial research can often be proprietary, “this code of ethics virtually banned anthropological practice in industry for the next two decades” (230).

By the early 1980s, the economies of other areas of the world began to compete with the dominance of the United States. Industries in Western Europe, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and Singapore increased their own power which meant not only new competition but new markets for U.S. goods, as well. U.S.-based companies knew very little about their new international customers but recognized the importance of what we have come to understand as globalization. Two important developments would help resuscitate the field of business anthropology at this time: industry providing a demand for tools to better understand new cultures and their markets; and an overproduction of PhDs relative to few academic positions forcing changes in the professional code so anthropologists could accept jobs within industry.

Business anthropology also received a lift in importance as the concepts of “corporate culture” and “organizational culture” resurfaced in the business lexicon. As American industrial superiority began to decline in the face of challenges from foreign companies, executives in the U.S. sought viable reasons and solutions. Two best sellers published in 1982 from Deal and Kennedy (Corporate Cultures) and Peters and Waterman (In Search of Excellence) highlighted the role of culture and its connection to successful and unsuccessful businesses. However, by this time, studying organizational culture was no longer solely an anthropological activity. Business efficiency consultants, organizational development specialists and other social scientists were poised to offer insights into the issue of culture.

While each discipline has demonstrated its own particular strengths within business, it is important to point out the special capabilities that anthropology delivers to help organizations better understand their customers and their employees.

Anthropology’s Approach to Business Needs
Within business anthropology, there are two major subdomains that address business needs: the external consumer marketplace and the internal corporate work organization.

Consumers and the Marketplace
Baba comments that consumption, as the engine of a modern capitalist economy, is far more significant and complex than often recognized. There is a particular cultural significance underlying our purchases which rarely receive attention, yet “research has shown that such actions are integral to our individual definitions of self and reflect cultural patterns at both the societal and subgroup levels” (236). In other words, we typically buy goods and services that reflect our own identity. These purchases can be conscious decisions that promote a certain status or unconscious decision where it is other individuals who attribute meaning to our choices. There is a symbolic value at work here as our consumption acts as a type of interpersonal communication where the “coding and decoding of signals [is] dependent upon deeper meanings that have their roots within a particular cultural context” (236).

For marketers, anthropology provides unique insight and guidance into how a company can best position its goods and services to customers. As human behavior is not predetermined and the creation of meaning can be uniquely peculiar, marketers face a near-constant dilemma. Their challenge is to figure out what meaning the buyer will create from the product since it is the consumer who derives meaning from a thing, not the marketer. An anthropologist who is trained in cultural theories and ethnographic methods can develop the research necessary to gain a deeper understanding of patterns that impact product concepts, functions and design. They are also positioned to uncover the subtle cultural meanings that consumers may attach to these products, for example, by comparing and contrasting what a buyer says and what they actually do.

Corporate Cultures and Organizational Change
The anthropological study of corporate culture is more in line with fieldwork traditionally conducted by practitioners. It is also a direct descendant of the Hawthorne studies from the 1930s which proved that employees within organizations are rarely bound to the formal, rational objectives designed by management. Again, accepting that human behavior is not predetermined, anthropologists study how people who form working groups develop their own shared systems of meaning that persist over time. These shared, open systems also evolve and shift spontaneously in response to perceived challenges from both inside and outside the group’s scope of operations. Further, anthropologists possess the conceptual tools and methodologies to understand the relationships between the various layers of culture that exist within and outside the organization.

Organizational cultures can also come into conflict, such as the culture promoted by management (referred to as a rational system by Baba) versus the culture that organically emerges throughout the workforce (or natural system). To assist an organization, anthropologists can serve as a type of “knowledge broker” by recommending ways to allow the natural systems to adapt to changing situations without suffering harm. Anthropology can also negotiate agreements between rational and natural systems that allow management to design objectives while promoting conditions necessary for employees to co-create healthy work communities that align with those objectives.

Benefits of Anthropology to Business
There are three primary knowledge domains that anthropology brings to business: general knowledge of culture and culture theory; competency in the practice of ethnography; and specialized knowledge of particular cultures and languages.

General Knowledge about Culture
Since culture is a somewhat amorphous term, Baba offers a definition that is particularly salient for business: “The distinctive, shared patterns of behavior, thought, and feeling that emerge from a group’s historical experience in a particular environment and that are taught to new members as the correct way to live” (251). Out of this definition, an anthropologist is relevant to a business’s needs by answering questions related to culture’s impact on its success. Anthropology’s application is one where a business learns “what decisions it should make and what decisions it should take in light of its interests and goals, one the one hand, and cultural realities on the the other” (252).

Baba proceeds to present some aspects of the value proposition that anthropology brings to any business (and I would add that these work for not only private enterprise, but nonprofit and government organizations, as well).

Anthropology:

  • Offers a holistic approach integrating a wide range of social and behavioral phenomena in describing and explaining culture.
  • Recognizes that history is an important factor in understanding the origins of cultural patterns and what shapes them over time.
  • Values multiple insider (or emic) perspectives as a way to understand the varied layers within a culture.
  • Offers cross-cultural comparisons that generate insights into how different groups relate to each other.

Competency in Ethnographic Practice

Ethnography is a term gaining prominence in business circles but with this increase in awareness comes a danger in it being poorly executed. Anthropologists are trained in ethnographic practice and Baba notes some best practices described by others (254):

  • Requires that anthropologists conduct significant fieldwork. The degree of fieldwork needed or possible within a business organization is usually dependent on time and fears of distraction and disclosure of confidential information.
  • Uses multiple methods and techniques. These include interviewing; direct observation and videotape recording of behavior, events and situations; census and surveys; focus groups; and network analysis.
  • Conveys a sense of being there. Ethnography captures “detailed and nuanced portrayals” of a field site.
  • Searches for and provides details and conclusions that are unexpected or counterintuitive. Business decision-makers need help discovering issues that may be hidden or unknown. Ethnography can be exceedingly helpful in making sense of contradictory data.
  • Offers a model or theory. Ethnography goes beyond just surface-level description and aims to provide explanations as to why something is the way it is.
  • Contextualizes its findings. Again, ethnography is holistic in its objective to relate human thoughts and behaviors to multiple contexts of history, geography, environment, society, politics and economics.
  • Emphasizes both what people say and what they do and the disconnect between them. Some of the most valuable insights anthropologists gain through their ethnographic work is locating discrepancies between verbal behavior and actual practices.
  • Looks closely at how language is used. Ethnography captures the unique emic terms, phrases and expression cultural insiders use to describe their points-of-view. This language is often a condensed form of cultural meaning.
  • Protects the people being studied. Anthropologists are professionally committed to the principle of “first, do no harm” in whatever field site they work. This commitment ensures informed consent, respect for confidentiality and agreement to not engage in projects that endanger or degrade a people’s livelihood. Baba notes, “Our particular sense of ethics in a business project may be one of the most important features characterizing anthropology in the private sector” (257).
3

Six Criteria For A Healthy And Effective Workplace

Sick and tired of being sick and tired about work? While indicators for workplace health my be declining, all is not lost. Ellen Galinsky at the Families and Work Institute notes there are six ways organizations can promote a healthier and more effective workplace.

As a manager or executive, how does your organization rank based on these criteria?

  • learning opportunities and challenge
  • a good fit between work and personal life
  • autonomy
  • having a supervisor who supports job success
  • economic security
  • a work climate of respect and trust

More from the CNN Health article…

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Five Things My Running Routine Has Taught Me

A little over a month ago, I was inspired by Alex, my business partner at BaileyHill Media, to start running again. Way (way, way) back in the day, I used to be fairly in shape. In college, I could run a decent eight minute mile but through the intervening years I stopped running regularly. Oh, I tried to pick it up again every so often, but I’d find an excuse to stop and let myself get out of shape again.

As with all men who find themselves getting older, we begin to see our friends cope with health issues and weight problems. And then we wake up one day, look in the mirror and say (or curse), “Oh crap, when did I start to get fat? And why I am tired so often? And why is my doctor (plus wife and parents) nagging my about my cholesterol?” For the longest time, I heard all of this from my internal voice but chose to ignore it.

So one day in early September, I decided it was time to stop ignoring my health and do something about it. I decided to commit to the Couch-to-5K running program which is tailor-made for my slug-like self and also downloaded the C25K app for my iPod Touch (which turns out to be the best $3-4 dollars I’ve ever spent on myself). And as the cherry-on-top, I learned a few things about persistence and motivation.

Learning #1: Starting out sucks, but it gets easier the longer you stick with it.
The first week, I was sucking wind after only running for a couple of minutes. By the time I got home, I was a sweaty, pained mess. I’m convinced the only thing that got me through it was a deep commitment to keeping with the program and seeing it to the end. Far too many times in the past, I’d figure out a way to shirk off an exercise program and never finish. But not this time…I had a burning desire to complete the C25k program. And then, I noticed that week two was a little easier even though the intensity of the run schedule increased. The burning in my legs and lungs was more manageable. It was similar for weeks three and four. I felt stronger and I discovered I enjoyed the way I felt after a good run.

Learning #2: Start small and accept small victories.
The C25K Program eases us couch potatoes into a running routine by starting with incredibly short runs mixed in with longer walks. Each session gradually builds up so that after roughly nine weeks on the program a slug like myself can plan to run a 5K. From the start, I gave myself lots of internal applause and praise for just making it through a run interval without stopping. Then, I’d do the same when I finished a week. And now that I’m up to running eight minute intervals, I continue to do a little celebration. The key is to not be stingy with the internal encouragement. Give yourself props for the small victories and the bigger ones will come naturally.

Learning #3: The right equipment means everything.
It doesn’t matter what you do in life, don’t skimp on your equipment. I started running again using the same shoes I bought at a running store in 2004(!). Hard to imagine why my knees hurt like hell those first couple of week, huh? If I was going to get serious about running again, I needed to visit a good running store (like RunTex here in Austin) and get fitted for quality shoes. Since then, I’m happy to say I’ve had zero knee pain.

Learning #4: Find a partner (or partners).
Partners can make everything easier and more rewarding in life. Like the partner I love and have been married to for nearly 15 years, Caroline. Like the partner I’m building a business with, Alex. For my running routine, I usually run alone but I still have a partner. His name is Ray Lewis and he’s a linebacker for the Baltimore Ravens. He’s a complete figment of my imagination, but when I need someone to help me push myself up a hill or finish off a long run interval, Ray is there. Why Ray? Because he’s intense and I can only imagine that if he was running with me, he’s be pushing me to move my ass. It’s sort of a “What Would Ray Shout?” kind of thing.

Learning #5: Goals are important.
I know, this one almost goes without saying. But I can’t tell you how much motivation I get during each run knowing that I’m working toward being able to race an official 5K in early November. It adds just a little more psychic nudge when I’m feeling like not finishing a run hard. This goal is also exciting because I have a couple of partners, Julie and Chris, who are going to run with me for this 5K race. And I’m also roping my father into running a 5K when he comes to visit me next spring.

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