Leading interpersonal culture superpower

There is a saying that has always stuck with me throughout my life from the moment I saw it back then when I was in high school. The saying was something along the lines of “be the change you want to see in the world” and I knew from that moment, I wanted to change the loudness of the negativity in the world.

As unfortunate as that sounds it is true.

Negativity in the world spreads faster and is louder than positivity that is why the first skill I cultivated was to always be kind to others. However, to be kind does not work by itself, it needs to be followed by empathy.

Being empathetic about other peoples’ problems, personal issues and negativity is the foundation of a great leader. Deploying kindness and empathy will grant you (and even both parties) trust and long-term benefits in terms of leading and personal success.

Those two “traits” are the operational superpowers I have been perfecting over time. But there are a couple more that come before these and can be said that they are my foundation for being a great leader.

You are in no place to be kind or empathetic to others if you are not self-aware and accountable for your actions. Funnily enough, I think I had kindness and empathy in my DNA first before I got introduced to self-awareness and accountability.

And for that reason, I was miserable, though I was getting “walked” all over and pointed fingers instead of thumbs.

That changed kind of recently when I moved to another country. I had time to reflect and eventually held myself accountable for everything I had that made me miserable, I made peace with myself.

Eventually, being kind and empathetic turned into superpowers instead of weaknesses (which I thought they were) whilst having strong foundational self-awareness and accountability.

For example, I know that if anything bad happens to the business or a department of one I am leading, I would be self-aware of my feelings at that moment and hold myself accountable for the fault while deploying empathy and kindness to the people that work “with” me. I know from experience that placing fear and stress in the working environment is inimical.

Furthermore, to get out of this situation you must have tenacity and convictions to be able to find a solution. You have to stand by your ideas or plans and be determined to see the end of them. These last two I can say are in the works to further add to my arsenal of leading.

Ultimately, I consider myself a good leader without comparison to others but because I feel in me that I read situations and can understand people and feel deeply what they are feeling.

That is why I listen more instead of talking and try to ask the right questions.

Sometimes the right questions can be hard to come forth and be discussed. But I understand that and because of that, a great leader must establish a mindset of prosperity and happiness by being honest to himself and then to his employees and being kind simultaneously.

Praise + Criticize = The same

Giving praise is something sought by nearly everyone these days. Looking for outside affirmation is the reason or excuse we use to do things and expect something in return.

I have been on both sides;

I have given praise to someone, and I have received many from my recent managers.

When I was giving out praises to those, I have been working with I was doing it with all my kindness and respect for the other person’s work. It felt good for me that I did that, and I guess it felt even better for the person I gave the praise to and probably made his day.

I was like this myself.

I was naturally doing good in nearly everything I got my hands on or worked on. I suppose my determination and intelligence played a huge role in this and when I was getting praise for the work, I felt good, sometimes great, and proud.

But here is the trick, when you value the outside affirmation more than the value you provide through your work to you or somebody else, you are emotionally vulnerable especially when you receive negative feedback.

That I learned the hard way because I was obsessed with the outside affirmation, and for that reason, the one setback I had, overwrote every good thing I did and pushed me to the ground.

Then I learned how to get past this, I give the same amount of attention to both the praises and the criticism which is none at all.

I value more the outcome of my work and if it had a positive impact on others and to me, educationally wise that is if I learned something more regardless of if I got praised or not.

One step back-two steps forward

If only I would have known sooner that playing the long game is what actually matters, I would… probably be in a better place. But this way of thinking is what got me to feel bad, that feeling of regret and thinking of the past or the possible futures. I mean it is ok to anticipate and to plan ahead but not thinking what could have been.

I was asked by a young kid when I was giving an informative speech about me moving to another country and how did I cope with it and all that, he asked “did you regret something you did?”. It stunned me because my mind flashed with all the memories and where I am today, I would not change a thing for the simplest reason, that I surely want everything I have right now as it is. That question led me to realize that I have everything I need, in the moment, love, health, financial steadiness etc.

              The thing is that, when I decided to leave home and move to Finland, I was thinking all the possibilities, the development of oneself and the independence and stepping out of the comfort zone which is why I did it and now I am ready to step again outside of the comfort zone ones more. In two years after I made the initial movement to leave the comfort zone, I am now ready to move on again or at least I think I am.

I am a man of planning and laying down the blueprint before I do something, but I also love the unknown because I value what I have right now so much and by realizing that I have no other choice since the “unknown” is there no matter what. Let me explain that, when I lived in Greece, I had a steady job although it was stressful, parents, security, house, and all that comes with comfortability and I didn’t have anything unknown in front of me, the path was already laid down for the rest of my life.

I did not like that at all, it was the worst-case scenario of living for me, how can somebody evolve as a human being if he stays at the consistent of comfortability all his life; an important variable for me.

              So, taking a step back for you to take two steps forward in the long-term is always the go-to method. Quick solutions and fast-paced actions last only for so long and its immediate response will wear up quickly. The smartest approach to achieving greatness and success is eating shit in the beginning while playing the long-term game to rub your success only later in everybody’s face and seeing you rise! Thinking of this I can only imagine what the feeling feels like and that puts a smile on my face. I am determined to play the long-term game in my own way.

Everyone has their own way to reach ultimate success make sure which one is it and go for it!

An introvert at full throttle

A tribute to Gary Vaynerchuck

The moment I am writing this I am in an airport hotel listening to some lofi beats and waiting for my flight’s timetable to be set in action. I am flying to see my family that I haven’t seen for two years amidst these difficult times we are going through, and I am very excited. With me, I have my fiancé with whom we’ve been together for 10 years and she is the love of my life! I moved to another country in search to find myself, growing as a person and finding a career in which I would not have to call it “a job” never again. Amongst also other things, I am taking the courage to write this letter to you since as an introvert (hence, the title) I have it easy with the written word.

            I found your videos when I started looking for marketing in the educational aspect of it because when I moved, I started studying in a university for a degree in BA. From that moment your content became my bible and whenever I need anything I jump on to your videos, which I am relating to almost all of them. I have always been the guy that let everybody step on to, that said “yes”, that worked hard to satisfy everybody else regardless of what I felt, that didn’t have an opinion of my own, that have shut everybody out because I was disappointed by them when actually I was disappointed in myself and all that eventually led to a downward spiral. But I decided to step up, leave the toxic environment and the community I was living in, and I must admit my family did not know anything about my situation (especially my father who more specifically did not know what was good for me) so I left them also behind. My spouse followed me all the way because she was also in a similar situation. I must say here I was 24 when I left which I thought I was late for these kinds of decisions until I consumed your content.

I have to confess that I went to study because I didn’t know well other means of education (that is probably a lie) and as it turns out I am very good at it not because I study too much because I try to see the world through your eyes, which is the actual world. Your content changed my perspective on many things and gave me the confidence to stand up and stand out from the masses, speak (or write) the truth, and trust people again. When I read about the Sorcerer token, I thought that it would be my greatest opportunity to write to you Gary and now that I’ve reached the ending, I realized that the hour that has passed writing this I was feeling the more comfortable and in love with it. So, I would like to thank you from the bottom of my everything and tell you that this token (if won) will not go in vain and even if I am not the one, I already feel privileged writing to you.

P.S. Keep showing the world how they must treat themselves and each other!

Marketing from Inside-Out

              I am always excited when I get to write about marketing and its aspects from my very experiences and perspectives. Marketing has many faces and all of them have their roles to play in the business world. Personally, there is one marketing concept I am the most interesting in and that is “Internal Marketing”. In short, internal marketing is the promotion of a company’s visions, goals, etc. within the organization. Furthermore, internal marketing is helping to build brand awareness and establish valid foundations for its expansion. Nowadays, with the situation we are going through, more and more companies are adopting this process to create a bubble of brand security between the organization itself and its customers. So, why internal marketing is important in the short- and long-term business growth and development?

            Nothing else has such high importance when linking external and internal marketing than starting from the internal communications. When a message or a value proposition is marketed externally, then the same message needs to be passed on to the staff within otherwise it leads to huge misunderstandings on the company’s integrity and brand confusion. Also, I have seen that many companies have misjudged that it is their product or service that creates value between the two. While this statement is correct in some way, the actual engaging and emotionally evocative value creation can be achieved only by creating the brand first from the inside. Companies need to look at their employees as the people that are working with them and not for them. They need to look at them as a source of customer understanding and as brand advocates. Only then the link can be strengthened, and true branding creation can be made.

             Another important thing to consider is how message communication can be done successfully without any misleads. The answer to that is through storytelling marketing. There is no greater tool to communicate with your audience than stories. Storytelling is one of the most powerful ways to breathe life into your brand and, stories are captivating for a reason. We are mostly drawn and learned by our life experiences, the journeys we embark upon, and then when we get the opportunity to unleash them, we evoke such emotions that with no other “tool” can be done. Storytelling marketing can create personal connections not only to your customers but also to your employees. When an employee sees and feels the vision and the story behind the company, he tends to react to it in the most positive way possible.

            Equally important to the previous points mentioned is that internal marketing is the most successful way to increase productivity inside the organization. When an employee has understood and personally connected with the company, he tries his best to achieve the best possible outcome for him and his workplace. In my opinion, you need to also give them the understanding that, they do not work for you, they work with you. People inside an organization need to be treated equally for them to feel welcomed and connected with the managerial sector. Besides, including the employees in the company’s vision and mission, increases their engagement thus, making them more productive. In addition, internal marketing increases productivity by making people feel they are part of a team that is brainstorming and working to reach the desired outcome.

            In conclusion, I believe the three points mentioned in the previous paragraphs answer the question that was set in the beginning. The link between internal and external marketing communications is vital for an organization to avoid any confusion and negative thoughts on the brand. Moreover, we give the audience value and brand connection by correctly communicating it through the means of storytelling. Emotion, authenticity, and engagement. That’s what storytelling is. Additionally, productivity can be achieved through either with the previous points mentioned above or by itself with the inclusion of the employees to the company’s activities. If a company is struggling to grow and develop, maybe looking to build the foundations internally is the way of achieving ultimate growth and development.

Summary of an interview with a Marketing Specialist

Question 1: “When you as a company set off to design a marketing strategy for a client what are your main principles and where do you set focus at first”

  • First and foremost, communication and goal setting between us and the customer is our key activity. We cannot talk further on the implementation if we do not clear the path (and minds) first. We come back to the customer with questions and then with our recommendations. But, most importantly at the beginning, we are looking to create value between us to set the foundation of good cooperation.

Question 2: “Are the companies interested in creating a brand at some point and how important is it to differentiate from the competition?”

  • Unfortunately, at that customer scale we are working on lately we do not see any turn in that direction yet. Most companies are looking to promote more instead, establish their presence either online or in their physical space. However, there is a minority that is looking further to branding and we’re getting excited when that happens. Differentiation is a huge process for us, and we take it very seriously. Huge amounts of research and future planning are taking place in the process

Question 3: “What are the main obstacles that companies face when following a strategy and how do they cope with changes in the market?”

  • The most important obstacles our clients face are problems in communicating the strategy to executive employees and the rest of the staff. Also, the other issue they face is the ineffective training their employees get to adapt to the strategy. We often see companies fading away from their strategy but that’s why they hire us. Changes in the market we see all the time, some we may have foreseen so to change is as easy as flipping a switch. While others need to look close to find the “entry point”.

Question 4: “How much have marketing strategies changed with the new situation of the pandemic?”

  • Everything went digital in a blink of an eye. For those that were still working on conventional marketing and promotional campaigns they pivoted immediately and now the focus of their budget falls into digital ways but still investing some into other ways. Now, it is a great period for companies to do some branding and strategically market their offerings and their brand since they can now focus on their existent clientele and build strong relationships between them so they can prosper later.

It was interesting hearing the perspective of the CMO of a marketing agency. I was nervous about this interview because I wanted to hear thoughts and processes from the source, from the people that handle marketing every day and are monitoring its changes. Our conversation lasted about 20 minutes and we had a great discussion on the questions. I can point out here that I strongly agree with his thoughts on every question especially with his thoughts on branding.

For me branding is having a place in people’s minds, whenever they think of a product/service immediately they relate it to you (of course if your company is related to that).

Also, being there for them when they need you is crucial for building a brand. Another thing I would like to comment on is his opinion on the obstacle of not communicating the strategy to the rest of the staff. You cannot possibly succeed if your company is not working as a whole in the same direction and that starts from the executive persons.

You also cannot take for granted that your employees will work as hard as the people who run it.

You must give them the motive to follow your strategy. It was again another eye-opening experience and sure made room for other questions to be answered.

How important is Planning in Business and in Life?

To simplify, I will put it like this: Imagine yourself living with no strategy, ambitions, goals to achieve, and missions to complete. You will be a human being without a soul!

Storytime: I was like this with no goals or unrealistic ones without a strategy or again if I had it must have been unclear. I was living like a zombie for 5 years trying to find moments of peace and silence.

When all of a sudden it hit me, what if I had an ACTUAL plan of my life in 5 years’ time? Long story short my planning led me to move out and change countries. Simple as that, I just went for it.

Whatever I was planning ahead that included me staying in the same country just didn’t match with my ambitions and goals. In the conclusion of this short story, I just wanted to point out that without planning even in your personal life nothing essential will come out. Same as in businesses, with no planning you cannot share the importance, the vision(s), the difference, the objectives, the achievements you set out to reach.

From my perspective I see five points on why an organization or a company needs a strategy regardless their aims or missions:

Prioritize

  • First and foremost, you need a strategy to set a direction and establish priorities for your company. The direction will define your visions and the priorities the actions you need to take to make these visions a reality.

Simplifies decisions

  • Secondly, having a strategy set in mind, decision-making will be simplified and more easily done since the goals or objectives are clear to everyone and the decision-makers.

Maximize performance

  • Also, in your organization, you may have people working hard but with no effect, because without a strategy, they are not following a scheduled and prioritized plan resulting in not maximizing their efforts.

Communication

  • Having and understanding all the parts of the strategy are vital to better communicate the “message” to others that are working with you towards the same path of the company’s success.

Strategic thinking vs. planning

The difference between strategic planning and strategic thinking is simple. Strategic thinking’s purpose is when we imagine or envision the future of the organization to rewrite and develop strategies that have a greater chance of success and competitive advantage. To think strategically you answer the questions “what?” and “why?”.

As opposed to that, strategic planning is when you lay down the plans to achieve the visioning by answering the questions “how?”, “when?” and “to whom”. It includes the steps your organization needs to take.

Instantly when I think “strategy” it comes to mind the strategic video and non-video games I used to play when I was little. When you had to figure out your next move to crush the competition and win the game. This is no different than leading a company only that this is real life.

Thinking of strategy now also brings images of people working together brainstorming and being creative when setting the foundations called planning. In my opinion, the best way to transfer the vision from a few to the many is by setting a story behind it.

Stories are what make people empathize with each other and the company’s vision. Share a story on what makes this company and how do you see it in the future and people will share with you their thoughts and empathy. The rest will fall into place.

Vision in Strategic Planning

When I think about strategically planning a marketing campaign or a sales plan or even a financially driven plan about a promotion, I immediately think of: “What are my goals, what I want to achieve, and what have I envisioned to succeed in the future?”. So, what I first do is to set off what I want to achieve with this action, what is my vision? I believe vision is a concept in which we fantasize ourselves, the company, or others inside of it or a project, into what can I or we achieve out it. Besides, we can say vision in strategic planning is there to inspire us and to provide a roadmap to the future for the people that work with us. Eventually, we can easily translate that vision is based upon our imagination and our needs and wants for the future.

Planning is everything

Dwight Eisenhower said that “Plans are worthless, but planning is everything”. A statement that confuses everybody that reads it and has many meanings. From my point of view, I agree that plans are something that fluctuates all the time, and you cannot rely on them entirely. But, when I think of planning and combining it with the concept of vision, I can see what he was talking about. Plans are looked at objectively but planning is something imaginary. So, when planning a strategy, you are immediately called to action and that is to imagine or look ahead of what do you want to get out of it. That is called vision.

Ultimately, I believe that you need to first see where you see yourself (company, etc.) in five, ten, or fifteen years from now and then start to work backward, year by year, and strategically planning your way to what you have envisioned yourself.

Involving staff in visioning

Sharing the company’s vision with the people that work WITH you (and not for you, don’t get confused here) is vital for the company’s growth, smooth operation, and creation of value between the management and the personnel. The most important tool for this is storytelling. The best way to share your vision is by sharing the story behind it. Right now, there is nothing more important at creating value than that of stories and the language they are used to be told. There is this thing called internal marketing that people in HR are familiar with. It basically includes the idea of marketing between the management (company) and the staff. Including your staff in the company’s vision creates tons of value for them and for you. It’s a win-win strategy. I will say it again, you need to give them to understand that they are working with you into achieving the company’s vision and absolutely not for you. Resulting in your employees translating this vision into something else and thus not transferring the value to your end customer. Think about the consequences that have on your sales, growth, market share, etc.

Keep on Learning. New Completion certificate

Winston Churchill said “I am always ready to learn although I do not always like being taught”. That quote describes me right to the point, however, I do get inspired by the people that taught me things and especially things that interest me.

I recently completed my first copywriting course that was enormously helpful and simple put on how to land copywriting jobs with value to your customer and their target audience.

Of course I am not going to stop there. I will further educate myself with other courses around story writing for video game purposes or script writing.

And I will be quoting Mahatma Gandhi -“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever”. Until next time.