The meaning of Labor Day is not lost on educators – SCN Encourager

Denture ModeLearning is in session 365/24/7.

And if what is occurring in the world is frequently at odds with the expectations and standards modeled in our schools, that’s okay.

Everyone’s future will be brighter because of it.

Sometimes the world will say, “Throw on a smile and fake it ’til you make it.”

And sometimes I’ll even try this myself for a few seconds – until the rest of my face refuses to go along with the charade.

An artificial smile I can usually manage.

It’s the wrinkles, gray hair, and big nose that are difficult for me to fake my way around.

Besides, while encouraging smiles is always nice, promoting the “fake it ’til you make it” platitude probably isn’t the best one for our schools.

Especially on Labor Day, as this is our holiday to celebrate hard-working men and women who, through trade groups and other associations, have contributed mightily to our social and economic progress.

I doubt that our nation’s richly diverse economic strength was fueled by millions of fakers just going with the flow.

Not that I wouldn’t have loved to try.

Would you take marketing advice from a doomsday prepper? – SCN Encourager

Did you see Seth Godin’s blog yesterday?

It was titled “The End of Everyone.”

doomsday prepperYou can see why at first I thought it came from a member of the official gloom and doom club.

But in 43 words (plus four fill-in-the-blank spaces), he describes the real-world environment affecting school communicators today with pinpoint precision.

As we continue to strategically see-saw between identified “target markets” and hoped for “common ground,” Godin makes it clear which side is now the heavyweight difference-maker, now and forever more.

About the only universal statement we can make, it seems, is that there are no more true universal statements to be made.

That’s his 43 word assessment, anyway.

You’ll marvel at his clever minimalist style.

In contrast, it’s taken me 130 words just to praise it.

Dang. (Make that 131.)

Have a great Labor Day weekend! (137)


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Crazy busy? Take a break with a ‘deep think’ challenge.

On the lookout for quick tips that’ll extend your reach?

Suricate - Meercat PhotoI am.

I also collect ideas that challenge the status quo about how we do things in our schools. Critical examination, after all, is part of continuous improvement.

These three SCN feature interviews in particular have caused me to stop and evaluate several closely held notions.

Bob Negen of WhizBang! Training got me to see why even public schools in communities with no competing school systems benefit by “marketing” like retail stores. Author Mara Einstein got me contemplating better ways to do school fund raisers — and promote social responsibility. Designer extraordinaire Don Norman pointed out wicked flaws in America’s education system and lamented about why they’re so hard to correct. He’s not a fan of high stakes testing, that’s for sure.

Hope you enjoy these SCN flashbacks. As we start a new school year, it’s a perfect time to ask ourselves: How could we do this better?

Bob Negen

Bob Negen

BOB NEGEN: Co-founder of a two-store chain of specialty kite and toy stores and a popular speaker and trainer. He and wife, Susan Negen, are authors of the book “Marketing Your Retail Store in the Internet Age,” creators of the “The Retail Mastery System” and head up WhizBang! Training.

Interesting feat — Negen founded Mackinaw Kite Co. in 1981. He was only 23 years old, and had just graduated from college. He says he’s always loved flying kites. And, well, the idea of getting a “real job” was just so unappealing. But he’s had to work hard on promotion to endure in a career as an independent retailer.

Key Quote: “Whether it’s kites, yo-yos, plants, panty hose, or public education, it’s all about giving your customers the kind of experience that makes your business memorable and increases their participation.”

What surprised me – Regardless of the size of your community, your schools have competition. How do you make your school or district every parent’s top choice over other public schools, charter schools, private schools and online schools? Negen says schools can benefit from the same customer-experience tips he teaches retailers.

Intrigued? Read my original article.

What if you… planned for all school functions for students and parents with specific customer experience objectives in mind?

Proof he knows what he’s talking about: Check out Negen’s website.

Take a word of advice from Gladys Kravitz – SCN Encourager

And don’t tell me you don’t know who she is!

Screen Shot 2014-08-27 at 5.14.45 PMThe name Gladys Kravitz, based on the behavior of her character in the mid-1960s TV show hit “Bewitched,” is now part of our national lexicon as the epitome of every “nosy busy-body neighbor.”

You’ve got to give actress Alice Pearce credit.

She sure made the best of the bit parts the show’s writers gave her.

And in real-life, she also paid it forward in a big way.

Successful sales and leadership trainer Kevin Jones tells this story.

About 15 years ago, Jones was down to his last dollar and sitting in a coffee shop downtown Chicago.

Feeling low with nowhere to go, he reflected on what a disaster his career as a stand-up comedian had been.

For more than a decade he had travelled across the country – performing nightly in cheap clubs, bowling alley bars, and in motel lounges – and now he could barely buy a piece of fruit.

He looked up from where he was sitting and yowza!

He was sitting right next to Gladys Kravitz! (aka Alice Pearce)

“Hey, I remember you,” he said. “You were awesome in Bewitched. What brings you to Chicago?”

Got a huge decision to make? Don’t overlook this. – SCN Encourager

Contemplating the “pros” and “cons” is only one step.

your story begins...You also need to consider your decision’s legacy.

That is, what is it you’d like to have said about your decision after it has been put in motion?  (and actually impacting people in the real world?)

It’s worth giving this some thought.

Pre-PR is always trumps Post-PR.

The legacy of your decision is shaped BEFORE it’s ever finalized, written down, tweeted, or uploaded with a cute kitten in the foreground on YouTube.

The full texture of your story actually begins WHEN you discuss and outline the conversation you’d like to see others having about it months down the road.

Particularly since much of it will occur in the speedy-kwik lane on social media.

Only after a clear direction and message framework has been established, does all of your financial projecting, resourcing, touting, implementing, and wowing make sense.

I know you know this.

Because I know this.

Tech Tip Tuesday: Using Canva to Update Your Social Media

Using Canva to Update Social MediaMore and more parents are turning to social media to find out what’s going on in their children’s schools.

As a mom to a 3-year-old, I love it when I see posts of her playing at her daycare/preschool whenever I take a quick Facebook break at lunch.  And I’m not the only one.  Many schools are turning towards social media platforms as a way to quickly deliver information in a place they know parents will see it.

Let’s be honest: are parents more likely to head to your school website or a Facebook page?

This step-by-step Canva tutorial will show you how to easily update your school’s Facebook cover image. This feature is just one of the several options you have in Canva when it comes to social media – there’s also Google Plus headers, Twitter headers, Facebook posts, and even Pinterest pin templates.

Here’s the video…

Stay tuned, too, because I have one extra Tech Tip using Canva. You’re not gonna believe this… but it was all Tom’s idea.

Can your “big plan” survive a punch in the jaw? – SCN Encourager

Knockout leadership advice from boxing champ Mike Tyson.

How often do you get the chance to agree with Mike Tyson?

Well, today’s the day!

Screen Shot 2014-08-24 at 6.45.01 PMHe nailed it when he observed, “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.”

I’m not alone in believing this.

While I only heard this quote for the first time two weeks ago, I’ve discovered successful three entrepreneurs and authors since then who have adopted it as their primary strategic planning maxim.

One CEO even has the quote engraved on the hair-dryer in her bathroom at home. (I’m taking her on her word about this…)

Apparently, what has these leaders full of praise for Mike Tyson’s statement is its truth.

As school communicators living in times where the advantage often goes to the speedy-kwik, our district’s Plan A must also be able to take a punch, change direction, and get off the canvas before the count of ten.

And if our prized Plan A can’t survive Round One, we must have a directional Plan B waiting in the locker room ready to step into the ring in its place… along with a “common language” communications tactical plan that supports it.

Want killer marketing advice? Just “take it easy.” – SCN Encourager

Or better said… MAKE it easy.

easy Shot 2013-08-04 at 3.02.05 PMChris Lema spoke at WordCamp-Grand Rapids last Saturday.

From his vantage point as a longtime San Diego based tech guru and business start-up specialist, he described several marketing and communication blunders he’s seen quality organizations make.

Had my superintendent been in the audience, he could’ve added a few of mine to Lema’s list.

But he wasn’t there… so I didn’t have to sweat it. (This time, anyway.)

Lema told us we should never take our customer base for granted or fail to connect with their hopes and dreams.

He chronicled his two decade’s worth of “behind the curtain” experiences with Adobe Flash and three other “we own the planet” software platforms.

While all four companies were rocking’ it and raking it in for a good bit of time, not one was able to reach its full potential once their customer bases began to decline.

Chris said there was one big reason for their self-inflicted peril.

They refused to innovate with their customers needs in mind.

Surveying the big picture – insights from a higher plateau

On the lookout for quick tips that’ll extend your reach?

Suricate - Meercat PhotoI am.

But we both know that tightly focused, numbered lists like “The Five Things You Must Do” or “The Three Things You Must Avoid” fail to convey the BIG picture of what it takes to become an effective communicator.

Following are three articles from the SCN archives that I wrote after interviewing communication pros who shared insights that caused me to step back and take in a wide-angle view.

Sometimes we have to observe and reflect on the big picture before we can understand what’s at stake and jot down bullet points about what to do next.

Hope you enjoy them.

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David Zach

DAVID ZACH – A futurist and speaker who’s given more than 1,400 keynote addresses. (Even an awesome one at NSPRA!)

Interesting feat: David says the best way to navigate a changing world starts at a young age by digging deep roots into the past. He advocates reading the classics and engaging in intellectual inquiry.

Key Quote: “In our grandparents’ time, people could focus on a single thing for about 20 minutes. Now, it’s about nine seconds, which is not much better than a goldfish. We’re heading the wrong way on the evolutionary scale.”

For more context, read my original story.

What surprised me: David believes schools get sidetracked with fads when they should be exploring time-honored topics like love and hate, war and peace, and other big questions of the human condition. He even recommends that students be required to memorize and recite the Gettysburg Address and other texts that contain core values.

What if you could… Focus your attention on what’s most important and empower others to do the same?

Take a timeout from your “Back to School” rush – SCN Encourager

Zach, Jensen, and Wohlfeill sounds like a law firm.

solicitorsBut it isn’t.

These are the last names of three amazing men who care deeply about our public schools and the roles we have as school leaders and communicators.

I’m sure there are lawyers out there who also care deeply about our public schools and the roles we have as school leaders and communicators.

But I doubt any of them could top these three.

Judge for yourself.

Take a brief trial run at SCN feature writer Kym Reinstadler’s latest version of “Insights that may surprise you.”

The nuggets she entered into evidence on our behalf deserve a positive verdict.

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