Pass the Buck

What comes to your mind when you hear the phrase “pass the buck?”

My first thought is negative, as in, avoiding responsibility.  However, after reading Exodus 18:13-27 recently, my thoughts about “passing the buck” began to change.

Here is a little background.  Many are familiar with Moses and him leading the Israelites out of Egypt.  There were stone tablets called the Ten Commandments and there was the parting of the Red Sea.  I’m hoping you’re following.  Well, Moses spent a lot of time with a nation of people and as luck would have it, he was appointed by God as their leader.  As a leader, he most likely felt obligated to hear and resolve arguments.  The problem was, he was the only one doing this.  It says in Exodus 18:14 that everyone stood in line “from morning till evening” waiting for Moses to settle their dispute.  Probably not  a good use of his time.

Enter the wise father-in-law, Jethro who offered him this advice (Exodus 18:19-22)

Now listen to me, and let me give you a word of advice, and may God be with you. You should continue to be the people’s representative before God, bringing their disputes to him. Teach them God’s decrees, and give them his instructions. Show them how to conduct their lives. But select from all the people some capable, honest men who fear God and hate bribes. Appoint them as leaders over groups of one thousand, one hundred, fifty, and ten. They should always be available to solve the people’s common disputes, but have them bring the major cases to you. Let the leaders decide the smaller matters themselves. They will help you carry the load, making the task easier for you.

In essence, Jethro is telling him to “pass the buck.”  As leaders, we can’t do it all.  This is one of the lessons that I’m currently learning in some of the things I’m involved in today.  Early on in my career, I was focused on doing everything.  I had to.  That was my job.  As I now have more responsibility, I need to learn to let go and trust in the abilities of those around me who are tasked with the responsibilities of helping me get things done.  As Jethro tells Moses, “They will help you carry the load, making the task easier for you.”

The other benefit of delegating is it shows your leadership by allowing others to learn by doing.  It grows them personally and professionally.  As leaders, it is important for us to nurture and teach those around us.  It allows us to focus on the bigger picture, strategy and end results (a certain smarty pants from Chicago recently wrote about this).

As you lead, are you delegating?  If not,  you may want to consider passing the buck.  Your move.

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Getting To Know…Ryan Knapp

Last week I started a weekly post called “Getting To Know…”  As I mentioned then, I really wanted you to get to know some of the influential people in my social circles.  I also wanted the people I feature to go a little deeper and get to know them a little more personally.  Many of these folks are successful business men and women but I know that isn’t what defines them…so why not ask them questions non business related and see how they have been influenced!

This week, I’d like for all of you to get to know Ryan Knapp.  I first connected with Ryan when he was featured on Gini Dietrich‘s Spin Sucks.  When I saw that he was a soccer fan, I knew I had to get to know him!  You can find out more about Ryan and his passions by going to ryanjknapp.com.  I will admit that it’s a little hard to really get to know someone by answering only four questions but that’s the beauty of the comments!  If there is more you’d like to know about Ryan, feel free to comment!

Ryan Knapp

Who is the most influential person in your life and why?
My wife.  She is always pushing me to be the best I can and she challenges me like no other person in the world.  While she may not be too happy when I’m taking on loads of new projects and responsibilities, she constantly remains by my side and often gets the short end of the stick for it.

Guilty dessert pleasure?
Ice Cream.  I eat a small bowl every night while watching Daily Show/Rachel Maddow.  We always have a stockpile of various kinds in the freezer.  I’m a huge sweet tooth.

What is one piece of advice you’d give someone?
Find what works for you.  I’m completely guilty of not doing this.  In the world where you can google every question or find the answer to just about anything, we tend to do what others have done before us and not find what works best for ourselves.  When we cannot trust ourselves to make good decisions or to find the best way to solve a problem, we cease to be who we really are, and that is a true shame.

Favorite childhood memory?
This may not be a favorite, but it is something that will stick with me forever.  My father passed away when I was 14 years old from brain cancer and kidney failure.  He was a mechanic and worked in a warehouse all his life, something that most people nowadays wouldn’t be caught dead doing.  The thing that struck me when he passed away was the amount of people he had touched throughout his life.  The line for his calling hours stretched one block outside of the funeral home and the funeral itself had to be moved to a larger church because the medium size church was standing room only.

Seeing the outpouring of support taught me you can have a huge impact on others no matter what your job is or how much money you have.  We think of influence as something which is only reserved for those who have power, but the ability to be kind and help others in our daily lives has a much greater impact.

Getting To Know…Gini Dietrich

A lot of my friends feature a person on their blogs each Friday.  If you go to Gini Dietrich‘s blog, Spin Sucks, she features someone she knows professionally.  Today, it’s Patti Knight and I highly recommend you get to  know Patti.  She’s awesome!

Well, I’m going to begin this weekly post for you but add a more personal touch to things.  Today I’m beginning this weekly feature called “Getting To Know…”  I’ll be asking each person 4 questions…2 somewhat serious and 2 that are a bit lighthearted.  People have depth and I often find the most interesting stories are when they share personal things.  Today’s feature is none other than Gini Dietrich!  Many of you know how much I’m a fan of hers and we have become really good friends since we first met on Twitter a couple of years ago.  So off we go!  Get to know Gini!

Bryan Willmert, Gini, Mr. D and myself at the Lions - Bears game last September

Who is the most influential person in your life and why?
Just one person? It really depends on how you define it. Personally, it’s my mom and Mr. D.  Professionally, it’s Sheryl Sandberg (I want to be her when I grow up), my team, certain bloggers, and my Vistage group.  I also have a handful of really close friends who are pretty influential.  It’s hard to choose one as the most.

Guilty dessert pleasure?
Gelato.  Hands down.  In fact, I think I’m going to make some tomorrow.  I know Pete the Tapeworm will be happy about that.

What is one piece of advice you would give to someone?
What is it with the one symbolism?  Jeez.  It’s the thing my mom said to us nearly every day growing up, “Remember who you are and what you stand for.”

Favorite childhood memory?
When I was in seventh grade, my grandpa (Poppy) was really sick.  He’d had triple bypass surgery twice.  He came to live with us and it was my job, after school, to make sure he got outside and went for a walk.  Those walks were some of the best memories I have of him.  It makes me sad that my younger siblings were really little when he died and don’t remember him at all.  Just thinking about that time I got to spend with him before his death makes me cry now.

EDITOR’S NOTE: I still firmly believe that the Lions were robbed during this game.  Calvin Johnson caught the ball.  It was a touchdown.  (I’m not bitter.)

Is Social Media Dying?

This post originally appeared on my friend Gini Dietrich‘s blog, Spin Sucks on June 22.  Just thought I’d share it here as well.  You may also want to check out the rebuttal from Jelena Woehr and decide for yourself what side of the question you’re on.  Let me know in the comments below!

I recently read a blog post from Justin Kistner (through SocialFresh) where he theorizes that “social media” will reach its peak by 2012. If social media is dying how can organizations set themselves up for success in this continuously growing and evolving area?

We’ve all read blogs or articles that say “90 percent of social media is just showing up” and we likely know that success in this space can only happen if leadership embraces the strategy and is willing to invest in it. A good friend of mine, Bryan Willmert, gives an example in a post where references Ford is investing 25 percent of its marketing budget in the social web.

He also gives five thoughts on how companies can embrace the social web:

  1. Allocate budget to hire a “Social Media Guru”.
  2. Find the right person for the job (leverage social tools such as LinkedIn or Twitter to find that person).
  3. Work one-on-one with your “Social Media Guru” so they know how to market you (no one knows your business better than you do).
  4. Let them run with it and teach you along the way so you understand where your investment is going and what is coming back.
  5. Keep an open mind and don’t hang on to the ways that you always have done things.

In my perfect world, I’d structure the organization to have a Community Manager who manages a department responsible for the social web and new technologies. (Note: I’m coming from the perspective of a large corporation and this may not apply to smaller companies.)

The people in this role have a working and personal knowledge of how to leverage tools such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Foursquare, and CitizenTube for business growth. They use the tools daily and have first-hand experience. They become a knowledge center for the company to educate other departments (c-suite, sales, marketing, customer service, HR, advertising, and PR) on how to best leverage for their area of expertise.

I’ve seen too many examples of companies that “sort of” jump in, because of the pact mentality, and add “social media” to someone’s already full plate.

Now…will this organization exist in 2012 where Kistner’s theory says social media will reach its peak? It may not in its proposed form. The social web, Web 2.0, or “new media” will continue to evolve, but it will be part of how companies are run, no matter what it’s called.

Are you and your organization prepared to evolve with this shift in how we get our information and communicate? Or will you just “sort of” get it?

It’s In Your Hands

I was going through my Google Reader this morning and came across this beautiful post from Seth Godin:

When are you going to start acting like it?

The idea that you are a faceless cog in a benevolent system that cares about you and can’t tell particularly whether you are worth a day’s pay or not, is, like it or not, over.

In the long run, we’re all dead. In the medium-long run, though, we’re all self-employed. In the medium-long run, the decisions and actions we take each day determine what we’ll be doing next.

And yet, it’s so easy to revert to, “I just work here.”

Like most things I read, my mind starts to think.  Yes, I know that’s dangerous.  In a few words, Seth reinforces something that we all know already…we are responsible for making the most of what is given to us.  No other person can really determine our future except us.  Our future is in our hands.

It’s easy for me to feel like the “faceless cog” Seth mentions in his post,  especially working in such a large company like General Motors.  However, it doesn’t have to be that way.  For example, most of you know how passionate I am about the internet, technology and especially the social web.  Although I don’t have responsibility for it at work, I’ve made it my hobby and brought it into my everyday life through my Twitter feed, Facebook, and this blog.  The work has paid off.  I’ve made some great connections with people in the social web community, been recognized as knowledgeable in the space by my peers and recently guest blogged on my friend Gini Dietrich‘s blog, Spin Sucks.  Other opportunities to guest blog have recently come and I plan to take advantage of those too.

My point in all of this is that the Social Web gives you a voice when you may have thought you don’t have one.  Networking, building relationships, providing value, etc. are ways you can build your own community.  The challenge is being patient enough to build your community and look for those opportunities to do what you love and are passionate about.

“If you build it, they will come.”  It’s in your hands.

“I don’t get Twitter!”

“I don’t understand Twitter?”

“I don’t care what people had for dinner!”

“What is the value of social media?”

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard these statements made to me when talking about social networking tools and their value.  Well I’m here to give you 2 real life examples of how being active with social tools like Twitter have benefited me.

The first example is Gini Dietrich.  I’ve referred to Gini in prior posts but she is worth mentioning again because I think that highly of her.  She is the author of SpinSucks.com and chief executive officer of Arment Dietrich, Inc., a firm that uses non-traditional marketing in a digital world.  She and I were introduced through Twitter and have developed a great friendship and mutual respect for each others talents.  It also helps that we have the similar beliefs on why social networking tools need to become such a vital part of B2B and B2C companies.  The neatest thing about this was that I met her face to face for the first time today at a conference she was speaking at about social media.  What I learned about her through Twitter and Facebook was confirmed after meeting her in person…she’s smart, talented and if you are fortunate enough to know her, you’re lucky.

The second example is Bryan Willmert.  Bryan is the author of Soul Excursion, his personal blog where he says he “loves to dream big.”  He and I first started talking on Twitter but it was soon after that we met face to face.  He is the Service Director at my church, Kensington Community Church.  After talking briefly, I knew there was something about him that I liked.  We have different backgrounds but one particular thing in common…a passion for all things social media.  He “gets it” and why it needs to be a part of any communication to consumers today.  He and I have become pretty good friends and I’m very blessed to know him.

So there are my examples.  They don’t have anything to do with profits or ROI.  They deal with the true value of social networks…people and building relationships.

What are your thoughts?  Do you have any examples of how Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn has benefited you?