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Ira Koretsky
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I remember when voice mail was introduced in the mid-80's. I was working for AT&T and, during a visit to the Bell Labs facility in Holmdel, NJ, I recall being awestruck by the presence of the AT&T Model 2500 answering machines on each desk. These machines were, at the time, top of the line models and allowed users to record their own personalized greetings.

At the time, my sales office had a receptionist who would take messages from incoming callers while we were out. The messages were very brief – something akin to "while you were out, Theresa P. called."

Years later, while managing a customer care center for AT&T, I got my own voice mailbox. I could record my own greeting, assuring callers they had reached the right number. Callers could now leave me longer and more detailed messages. Early on, many would zero-out, preferring to speak to my administrative assistant instead.

During much of my professional selling career, voice mail became the preferred medium for communication between my customers and me. Voice mail was ubiquitous and people became more comfortable with it. My personalized greetings were updated each day and I promised to return calls within two hours. Messages were rich in verbal content and were often longer than I would have liked. I used to keep a spiral note pad, where I would methodically write down each voice message I received (along with the time and date).

At some point during the last 5 years or so, voice mail has become irrelevant – at least for me. I no longer record daily greetings, I'm lucky if I get more than two messages per day and I haven't kept a spiral notepad in years. The preferred communication medium is now email, and the standards that once applied to voice mail now govern my email interactions (e.g., personalized email signatures, out-of-office greetings and my own personal commitment to returning emails within two hours). And when I want to communicate with someone, I'll send an email or a text.

Voice mail once played a pivotal role in shaping how others perceived our personal and corporate brands. Not anymore, I'm afraid. After all, when was the last time you left a voice message for someone?

I've always believed sales is not a spectator sport. It truly is a team sport and it requires the active participation and support of everyone across the organization, including: marketing, sales support, information technology, legal, operations, services, finance, accounts receivable and customer care.

One of the characteristics of an established sales culture in any organization is the alignment of these functional areas around "One Team, One Goal." Typically, this goal involves top line growth – in revenues, profits, earnings per share, etc. Sales provides the leadership that fuels the achievement of the organization's growth objectives. The other functional areas work in harmony with, and in support of, the sales team.


Organizations who lack a sales culture are typically ones that struggle to achieve their growth targets. The functional areas I've mentioned above function as silos. Functional goals are disparate and rarely aligned. Sales (and all too often customers) are wrongly viewed as impediments to the achievement of departmental goals and there is little or no teamwork, both within and across functional areas.

Being a salesperson is one of the most challenging jobs in any organization. Salespeople are not only accountable for achieving their own growth targets; they are responsible for driving organizational results and improved shareholder returns. And, as I've shown in the whiteboard diagram above, they are accountable for directing the resources required to achieve those results.

How strong is the sales culture in your organization?


For more on the impact of organizational culture, please see:
The Building Blocks of a Successful Sales Growth Strategy
How Business Process Improvement Impacts Customer Experience
• The Purpose of Marketing Is to Drive Sales

Does your brand have a social media policy? If so, does it include guidance for how employees should respond to unplanned tweets?

A social media policy provides employees with a set of guidelines for communicating online about your brand. While many social media policies include pre-approved responses to anticipated tweets and require employees to submit their posts for review prior to posting, there are times when a little spontaneity is appropriate.

Unplanned tweets – positive or negative – present brands with an unexpected opportunity to interact and engage with customers in a personal way. Conversations between two people are difficult to predict and even harder to script in advance. Designating someone in advance who communicates well and trusting him or her to use good judgment when responding to unplanned tweets are ways to encourage genuine conversations and deeper relationships with your customers.alt


In my experience, one brand that does an exceptional job of responding to unplanned tweets is Lifetime Fitness. I visit my Lifetime club on a regular basis and frequently tweet about my experiences while I am there. Almost always, as in the example above, I'll hear back from the brand (@lifetimefitness) within minutes of posting my tweet. In some instances, they'll even share my post with others by retweeting it.

While social media can be an opportunity for your employees to help build your brand, there is also an inherent risk that an inappropriate post or comment could inadvertently damage your brand's reputation. An effective social media policy can help achieve an acceptable balance between the opportunity social media presents and the risk that accompanies it, with the right mix of guidance, planning and trust.

altTwitter recently announced the addition of a feature that allows users to send group direct messages (DMs) to up to 20 people. Direct messages are private messages sent from one Twitter user to other Twitter users who follow you. Direct messages can now be used for one-on-one private conversations or between groups of users.

While you can only invite users who follow you to a group, the followers you add to your group DM don't need to be following each other to be in on the conversation. Within a group DM, users can share text, tweets, pics and emojis. The current release does not include video sharing capability.

Twitter users like you and me now have the ability to hold ongoing private conversations with a select group of people. I've had situations where a group of my followers retweeted one of my tweets and a subsequent conversation about its content ensued among us. Brands and other savvy Twitter users might now use the group DM feature to target specific groups of followers or advocates with content tailored to their interests.

For more insights on Twitter conversations, please see:
You Are What You Tweet
#ICYMI: Now There's an App for Understanding Hashtags on Twitter
My #FirstTweet


Having traveled around the world both on vacation and speaking, I have come across a variety of interesting food names:

- Chicken with wilted spinach
- Stinky tofu
- Vegetarian meatballs

You may have heard, even tried some of these. By themselves, do the titles immediately make you think “yummy?” or do you mentally cringe? Personally, I cringed at "wilted spinach." Why would I order something out of date or not fresh? Because this was served at a very nice restaurant, I laughed out loud. It sparked quite an interesting conversation with my dining partners.

Quite unintended, I ended up liking the phrase wilted spinach quite a lot as a metaphor for bad messaging. As a result, I titled our approach to testing messages, “The Wilted Spinach Test.” At its core, the test looks to evaluate whether your words/messages resonate with your target audiences. At a detailed level, do your words/messages mean what you want them to mean? Words matter. A lot. To some, one word could be positive and to others, the very same word could be negative.

Do your written, spoken, and social media communications cause audiences to ask good questions, contact you, or skip right past you?

Geetesh Bajaj of shared a new post from Microsoft from January 22 titled, "The Next Chapter of Office on Windows."

Here's the introductory paragraph..

Yesterday’s unveil of Windows 10 showcased a new generation of experiences that will empower people and organizations to achieve more. In partnership with Windows 10, the Office team is bringing a fantastic new set of Office experiences to this platform, furthering our mission to bring the unparalleled productivity of Office to everyone, on every device. Over the past 12 months, you’ve seen us reimagine the traditional Office experience for a mobile-first, cloud-first world. The next step in this journey is the delivery of touch and mobile optimized versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote and Outlook for Windows 10.

The post provides some hint at Office's “universal” apps on Windows 10 and Office 2016.


LinkedIn has released its annual list of the top ten "most overused, underwhelming buzzwords and phrases in LinkedIn profiles of 2014." Open your profile now and check to see if any of these words and phrases are appearing in yours:

   1. Motivated
   2. Passionate
   3. Creative
   4. Driven
   5. Extensive Experience
   6. Responsible
   7. Strategic
   8. Track Record
   9. Organizational
 10. Expert

Are you a highly motivated professional? Passionate about your work? Proud of your track record? Well, then, so is everyone else with a LinkedIn profile.

Your LinkedIn profile is your personal brand. The most successful brands stand out. It's time to stop describing your brand with these overused and meaningless buzzwords and phrases. After all, who among us is not motivated? Is each one of us not passionate about something? And what does it mean when someone says he or she has a proven "track record" of success, anyway?

Instead, replace these buzzwords and phrases with concrete examples of the business results you've achieved. Show potential employers how your contributions have impacted top- and bottom-line performance. Make yourself stand out. Brand yourself as the answer to the challenges your next employer is facing.

For more insights on LinkedIn and your personal brand, please see:
Is Your Personal Brand In Need of a Makeover?
Personal Branding: Stay Relevant with a Current LinkedIn Profile
Make Your Personal Brand Stand Out in LinkedIn

Monday, January 26, 2015

Words to Avoid - “Anxious”

altFor business communications, you should avoid using the word “anxious.” Anxious is a word all too often misused. You’ll hear people saying, “I’m anxious to meet Julie.” Or “I’m really anxious about xyz.”

By definition, anxious means: “characterized by extreme uneasiness of mind or brooding fear about some contingency” (Merriam-Webster Online).

For business communications, always use “eager.” By definition, eager means: “marked by enthusiastic or impatient desire or interest” (Merriam-Webster Online).

If there is a cause to use “anxious” to convey worry, we suggest using “concern” or “concerned.”

Since all of your business communications to your target audiences are related to your relationship and what you offer to them, choose your words carefully.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Selling Beyond Price

It's easy to sell on price, particularly when yours is the lowest. What happens, though, when your price isn't the lowest?

One of my go-to sales training exercises is to ask a group of experienced salespeople to imagine a world where there is no difference between their price and those of their competitors. If price is no longer a differentiator, how would they position their products and services? What would possibly compel someone to buy from them?


This forces them to take a deeper, more introspective look at their selling approach. The best salespeople sometimes default to selling at a lower price, even when their products and services are arguably better. In doing so, they discount the value of the service they provide, the knowledge and expertise they offer, their relationship with the customer and the impact their products and solutions can have on their customer's business.

If a salesperson's first instinct is to offer a discounted price, it's a sign he or she doesn't attach much value to the things that matter most to customers. And if a salesperson doesn't believe these benefits are worth paying more for, why would your customer? 

For more on selling beyond price, please see:
How One Brand Is Growing Sales While Raising Prices in a Weak Economy
Achieving Market Share Growth in a Weak Market
What Makes Your Company Different?

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Are Best Practices Holding You Back?

I like to try new ideas. I like taking risks. And I embrace change. It's how people and organizations grow.

Old ideas (i.e., "what's worked before," "what others have done," "the way we've always done it," etc.) are all too often packaged as "best practices" by leaders who are risk averse and resistant to change. When someone tells me the reason for not trying something new or taking a risk is "best practices," my first instinct is to call them out on it. I'll ask them to show me their best practices or I'll go online and search for my own "best practices" on how to drive change and transformation.

We live in a dynamic world. Change is all around us. We can either embrace that change or we can fight it with legacy thinking and traditions.

The New Year is a great time to look ahead and think about the things you're going to do differently in the year ahead, especially if you're a sales professional. Change is a constant in sales – the result of evolving market conditions, increasing competition and sales quotas with year-over-year growth targets.

You can embrace this change with these ten sales resolutions:
   1. Spend four more hours in front of your customers each week
   2. Learn one new fact about your industry each week
   3. Establish yourself as an industry expert on one social media channel
   4. Give your prospects one big reason to engage with you, outside of price
   5. Give your customers one big reason to expand their relationship with you and your brand, outside of price
   6. Make every customer interaction about them, instead of you
   7. Include five reasons to buy in every proposal, with a focus on value
   8. Sell high and wide within your customer organizations, with a goal of meeting one new decision-maker or influencer on every call
   9. Obtain one new customer testimonial each month
 10. Empower your customers through conversations that include words like: "and" (instead of "but"), "do" (instead of "try") and "yes" (instead of "no")

You can do this. Make 2015 the year of the customer, and your best year ever, with these resolutions.


For more insights on selling, please see:
Achieving Market Share Growth in a Weak Market 
If You're Selling, Are You Showing or Telling? 
The Power of the Human Touch in Sales 
If You're in Sales, Tell Me Something I Don't Know 
Are Your Customers Looking for a Better Deal?


While content may be king in the digital age, it needs to be delivered to the right audience at the right time and at the right place to make it meaningful and relevant.

This shouldn't come as a big surprise to marketers. After all, the central premise behind every successful sales presentation is knowing your audience – what their pain points are, what they're doing about them and how failing to resolve those pain points will impact your prospects both personally and professionally. It's also helpful to know where your audience is going for answers to those pain points – your competitors, trade associations, industry consultants, scholarly journals, white papers, social media, etc.

I was reminded of this recently during a visit to one of the big-box home improvement stores. I was looking for a rust-inhibiting spray paint for use on a bathtub when an associate started telling me about the store's promotion on kitchen cabinet re-facings. His knowledge level of cabinet re-facings was impressive. What he failed to realize was, at that moment, I could care less about re-facing my kitchen cabinets.

Great content, for sure. The same cannot be said for the context in which it was delivered. My pain point was a rusting tub, I wanted to repair the tub with a rust-inhibiting paint and the impact of my failing to find an answer to my pain point might be a potential water leak (which, incidentally, could cause extensive damage to the kitchen below the bathroom where the rusting tub is located). I also had previous experience with a rust-inhibiting spray paint and just needed to know where I could find another can in a different color.

Think about your digital content. I'm guessing it's awesome stuff. Now think about the context in which you are delivering it. Are you targeting the right audience? Are you delivering it at the right time and place? Are you present in the places where your target audience is going for answers to their questions? Or, are you trying to sell kitchen cabinet re-facings to a guy who simply wants to repair a rusty bath tub?

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

Good Spelling Leads to Good Selling

When I was an undergraduate marketing student at Fairfield University, my English professor would remind us of this simple admonition: "Can't spell, can't sell."

I didn't appreciate the power of his words until a few years later when I became a salesperson. As a young account executive for a Fortune 500 technology firm, I was selling more than just the latest information technology. I was selling ideas, solutions and my company's (and my) reputation.

Few things did more to challenge my credibility with customers than incorrectly spelled names and words in my proposals and presentations. These seemingly simple errors were perceived as evidence of indifference, insufficient preparation or a lack of attention to detail. It was also a stretch to claim expertise about some thing if I couldn't even spell its name correctly. In an instant, spelling errors could potentially unravel deals worth hundreds of thousands of dollars that were months in the making. 

So, as it turned out, my professor was right. Good spelling leads to good selling.


For more on how to increase your sales, please see:
Increase Sales with Better Storytelling
If You're Selling, Are You Showing or Telling?
If You're in Sales, Tell Me Something I Don't Know

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

You Are What You Tweet

Do you remember when you first signed up for Twitter? It might have been for personal use. Or perhaps it was on behalf of a corporate or professional brand. You started with a blank slate, building from the ground up. You could be anything you wanted to be.


You crafted a brief bio. You added a profile and background photo. You chose your words and images carefully because you wanted the world to know you in a certain way.

Then you started tweeting about topics that interested you, your friendships with other people, activities you enjoy and happy moments in your life. You built a small following of like-minded followers. People formed impressions of you and your brand.

Then one day, you lost your composure. A frustrating experience with another person or a brand prompted a torrent of angry tweets. Your tweeps spread the word through RTs and marked them as "favorites". Eventually, you got the attention you wanted and your issue was resolved. Your followers, and others outside your follower base, began to see you in a different way.

Or maybe you decided to include something edgy in your tweets, like an NSFW image or some RTs laced with profanity. Once again, your tweeps spread the word through RTs and marked them as "favorites". You even picked up a few more tweeps along the way. Your followers, and others outside your follower base, began to see you in a different way.

Before long, prospective followers, customers or employers began looking you up online. They wanted to know more about you and the kind of person you were. What they found on Twitter told them everything they needed to know about you and your brand.

You are what you tweet.


For more on branding with Twitter, please see:
Why Social Media Marketing Is Right for Your Brand
Make It Personal: How to Communicate with Greater Impact
Reputations of Non-Social Brands Are Fair Game On Social Media, Too

One of the easiest ways to monitor your online reputation is to Google your name and see what comes up. This is particularly important for job seekers, consultants and others who are marketing their personal brands online.

You can refine your search by adding your skills, experiences or specialties after your name. By doing this, you're essentially using a long tail keyword and it's a more specific way for recruiters and other searchers to find more specific and relevant content about you. Long tail keywords can help boost your visibility in search results, add credibility to your brand and increase conversion rates (e.g., LinkedIn connections, requests for interviews, invitations to meet, etc.).

I'll use myself as an example. A recent search for my name on Google returned a total of 3,290,000 listings. Among the ten highest ranked listings (i.e., the ones that appeared on page one), three included links to me. There was one to my blog profile at The Chief Storyteller (#2), one to my Twitter account (#6) and another  to my LinkedIn profile (#8). By scanning the brief descriptions that appear with these listings, you might get the sense I'm a regular contributor to The Chief Storyteller blog and my work experience includes marketing, sales and social media.


Now take a look at what happened when the search was narrowed by adding the keywords, "marketing and sales," to my name. This search returned 82,100 results. Marketing and sales-related content from my social media profiles, blog posts and SlideShare account appeared in nine of the top ten listings. The content associated with these listings was deeper and more relevant to anyone who might be considering me for a specific marketing and sales opportunity or engagement. While the number of overall results returned was far lower than those from the general search, their quality was much higher.


Take a moment to Google your own name and see what comes up. Once you've done that, try narrowing the search by adding keywords that describe skills or experiences you have. Are the results consistent with the way you would want others to perceive you and your brand?

Strong relationships are built on trust and two-way communication. This is true of relationships online as well as off. We tell stories about our experiences and share relevant information with the people we are closest to. They, in turn, respond by engaging us in further conversation. Over time, a bond of trust develops and a relationship is formed and nurtured.

Brands who want stronger relationships with their prospects and customers are increasingly turning to content marketing strategies that move beyond the traditional view of self-promotion.


By publishing useful and entertaining content, brands are building trust. They're doing it by telling stories of their successes with other customers and sharing useful information that might help their prospects and customers achieve their personal and professional goals.

They're also engaging in two-way conversations with their prospects and customers. People are seeking information from the brands. The brands are responding to and engaging them in real-time, much like you and I would if we were having a face-to-face conversation.

What does this mean for brands and their marketing teams?

The brands whose content marketing strategies will yield the strongest relationships are the ones whose marketing teams embrace customer interaction and engagement. My own experience tells me it is virtually impossible to understand and translate customer insights into strategies that build and nurture relationships without first investing in those relationships. It's the age of the customer and marketers can no longer afford to dictate strategies from behind focus group two-way mirrors or from the insular environment of "behind closed-door" offices.

When I showed up to my daughter's after school classroom, I was greeted by her class' election day voting.

For Governor, Jake won by a landslide. Superman barely earned Sheriff. Senators Pook and Eeyore won handily.

For the House, Elsa crushed and Anna sqeaked by Ariel.

I thought it quite clever how the teachers used the children's favorite characters to teach and demonstrate our voting.

What can you do to make learning/training more interesting?



When was the last time you updated your resume? Revised your LinkedIn profile? Networked with people you've never met before? Took a class to learn a new skill? Searched for your name online?

If you can't remember, maybe your personal brand is in need of a makeover. The unexpected loss of a job, a decision to pursue a career change or an application for a promotion are all situations where a relevant and engaging personal brand can accelerate the achievement of your career goals.

Your personal brand is the story that you tell with your resume, LinkedIn profile, business networking activities and interactions, investments in continuing education and your online presence.

Tips for updating your personal brand include:
• Maintain a current resume; include recent jobs and the quantifiable results you achieved for each
• Update your LinkedIn profile regularly; add a compelling headline and a current profile photo
• Leverage business networking opportunities; meet new business contacts and refine your elevator speech
• Learn new skills; attend classes at local universities, participate in webinars hosted by alumni career services staff, industry experts and vendors
• Be deliberate in your social media postings; include content that reinforces the message you want to convey

Your personal brand is one of your strongest career assets. You get out of it what you put into it.

Growing up in the 1970's, I had a front row seat to a community-driven communication effort that was launched by people who either wanted to help other drivers outsmart traffic or find service stations with shorter lines and lower gas prices. The citizen-based effort was launched in response to the nationwide fuel shortages and the Federally mandated 55 mph speed limit, both of which resulted from the 1973 OPEC oil embargo. Anyone with a CB radio and a command of "CB slang" could participate.

I can still remember hearing words like these on my dad's CB radio as we traveled the highways:

"Breaker 1-9, this is Big Daddy and we got a bear taking pictures northbound on I-81, over at mile marker 200."

"10-4, Big Daddy. This is Mad Dog and I've got you in my back pocket. You've got a clean shot through Woodstock."

Almost four decades later, people are still sharing information about traffic, speed traps and the best places to buy cheap gas. Things are moving faster now and we live in a digital world. Congress repealed the mandatory 55 mph speed limit in 1995. More and more Americans are now carrying smartphones enabled with mobility apps like the ones that allow drivers to share directional guidance and travel information, ostensibly for the purpose of saving everyone time and gas money. 

So when a friend told me about Waze, one of the world's largest community-based traffic and navigation apps, I was eager to give it a try. Take a look at the image below. It tells the same story as the words I remember hearing from my dad's CB radio, in a more visual way.   


Like the CB radios of the 1970's, Waze relies on drivers (or their passengers, I hope) to share real-time information on traffic jams, police activity, accidents, road hazards and the lowest gas prices with others in the Waze community, who are known as "Wazers." The medium for sharing no longer consists of spoken words in "CB slang." Instead, traffic information is now shared visually on a smartphone, with a variety of icons for noting different alert types and Wazer moods. To minimize the potential for distracted driving, audio alerts can be delivered via the smartphone or car radio, if Blue Tooth is enabled.


Four decades from now, we can be certain drivers and their passengers will be sharing directional guidance and travel information with others in their traveling communities. What is less certain is how they'll be sharing that information. After all, the way we communicate is evolving and it's an exciting ride.

In the meantime, please drive safely, keep your eyes on the road and leave the Waze updates to your co-pilot or passenger(s).

I'm excited to be part of the third Cleantech Open Southeast Regional Summit in the Washington, DC area. If you are at all involved in green, energy, cleantech, etc. I strongly encourage you to attend. CTO is a global organization with partnerships in every sector working with cleantech.  alt

Here's the write-up of my portion, taking place right before the reception and gala dinner, Wednesday 23 October, 4 to 5pm. I'll be the emcee and facilitator of the ~15 companies presenting their elevator pitches. I'll keep it interesting, lively, and provide some constructive suggestions to everyone.

Cleantech Open Semifinalist/Alumni Showcase and Technology Demo – Join Ira Koretsky, the Chief Storyteller®, and Cleantech Open semifinalists and alumni companies as they showcase their technologies. Audience members will cast ballots for the company that will win the “People’s Choice Award” to be announced at the Awards dinner and celebration.

 Here's a partial listing of the many distinguished speakers and panelists:

- Heidi VanGenderen, Director of Public Engagement, U.S. Department of Energy
- Najada Kumbuli, Investment Officer, Calvert Social Investment Foundation, Inc
- Robert Griffin, Director, Renewable Energy Office, U.S. Department of the Navy
- Sara Hanks, Founder & CEO, CrowdCheck
- Honorable William Euille, Mayor, City of Alexandria
- Scott Dockum, , Program Manager, SBIR, U.S. Department of Agriculture
- Dr. Barbara Kenny, Program Director, Division of Industrial Innovation and Partnerships, NSF
- Manny Oliver, Director SBIR Programs, U.S. Department of Energy
- April Richards, Director SBIR Programs, Environmental Protection Agency
- Walter McLeod, Principal, Clean Power Group-Africa
- Stephen Morel, Climate Finance Specialist, Overseas Private Investment Corporation
- Aneri Patel, Energy Access Officer, UN Foundation, and Executive Director, ENVenture
- John Spears, Sustainable Systems International & Clinton Global Initiative Advisor
- Elizabeth Dougherty, Director of Inventor Education, Outreach & Recognition, U.S. Patent & Trademark Office
- Ed Greer, Venture & Business Development, Dow
- Jim Efstathiou Jr., Editor, Energy & Commodities Bloomberg News




When was the last time you updated your LinkedIn profile? Do you even have a LinkedIn profile?

A LinkedIn profile is a great way to tell others about your personal brand – who you are, the experience you have and the value you bring. A good LinkedIn profile is more than just an online resume. It's a form of marketing content designed to build an audience and generate interest in your brand. It is and should be an integral part of your overall job search strategy. A current profile reinforces the brand-building efforts you've made through prior job performance, volunteer activities, face-to-face networking, personal connections, informational interviews, social media outreach and engagement, job applications and, of course, the formal interview.


If one or more of these characteristics apply to your LinkedIn profile, it might be time for a refresh:
  • A missing or outdated profile photo
  • A default headline that shows your current title and company
  • The presence of overused buzzwords and phrases (e.g., "extensive experience," "results-oriented," "proven track record," etc.)
  • An incomplete profile with a noticeable absence of employment history, experience or results
  • A lack of credibility (e.g., few or no endorsements and recommendations from supervisors, peers, subordinates, customers and suppliers)

Go ahead. Take a look. What is your LinkedIn profile saying about you and your brand?


For more insights on how you can improve your LinkedIn profile, please see:
Personal Branding: "What Do You Do?"
5 Insights for Marketing Your Brand on Social Media
LinkedIn Announces New Profile Section for Volunteer Experience
Make Your Personal Brand Stand Out in LinkedIn
Is Your LinkedIn Story a Best Seller?

On one of my military-focused LinkedIn Groups, Army Veterans, someon recently posted this question, "Can anyone recommend a good military to civilian resume writing service?"

For professionals who have spent a career in the military service, it can seem like a daunting task converting military speak to corporate speak.  It certainly does take time and patience. Here is my response I posted along with some how-to article links at the end I wrote.



Four suggestions:

a) Assuming you seek out professionals, ask to see 10 or more samples of military to civilian resumes--make them prove beyond a shadow of a doubt, they can turn your experience into language/messages corporate professionals understand and in the end say, "I want to meet Troy;"

b) To avoid generic language, think Q&Q, qualify and quantify. Look at position descriptions posted on the Internet (e.g., Dice, Monster, Ladder, etc.). Examine critically the PD. What language/phrases do the PDs have? Can you identify and establish trends? Yes, consider including them. Next do searches (e.g., google, bing, yahoo) for position will be amazed what appears--full resumes from people around the world. Again, look for language/phrases you "should have" in your resume.

c) Do some some introspective thinking to develop your own ICP - Ideal Company Profile. Culture, work habits, zip code, industry, position, opportunity for advancement, etc. This will help you create a much more focused job hunting campaign--this makes it easier for everyone when you are searching for the right fit. Recruiters will ask you all of the questions anyway, friends will know what companies to make referrals into, and your time will be effectively used;

d) Visit the organizations mentioned above (phone, internet, in-person for Veterans Affairs,, Armed Forces Support Network, Disable Veteran Outreach Program (DVOP), and more). There are a lot of people with great ideas out there. Get different perspectives until you find the path that matches your style, personality, and goals.

Feel free to email me your ICP and resume. I can share some suggestions.

I have written several how-to articles, links below.

Tell Me About Yourself: How to Wow Your Interviewers

Communications Audit: 10 Critical Communication Elements for Your Career Success

Every Accomplishment Should Be Great: 5 Steps to Compelling Resume Accomplishments

LinkedIn for Job Hunters: Tips to Create a Must-Read Profile

67 Tips for Using LinkedIn to Help You Find the Job You Want

18 Tips for Job Hunters, New and Experienced

Does Your Resume’s Summary Scream? How to Write a Summary Section that Screams “Schedule an Interview with me Today!”

The “What Do You Do?” Answer: A Key Tool in Your Sales Toolbox

Tell Me About Yourself - It's the Most Important Answer in Your Interview

Join me at what will prove to be a highly useful business summit. Hosted at the beautiful Marriott Fairview, the Turkish American Business Group Annual Small Business Summit, offers a variety of speakers and panels all designed to help you grow your business.  The agenda includes:

2:00 - 2:40 Check-in

2:40 - 3:00 Opening Keynote by Varol Ablak, CEO of Vocelli Pizza with Emcee Dan Nainan (old friend of mine)

3:00 - 3:50 Access to Capital, Commercial Lending and Alternative Funding

3:50 - 4:00 Coffee Break

5:00 - 6:00 30 Tips in 30 Minutes by 3 Experts to Grow Your Small Business (Ira Koretsky's program)

6:00 - 7:00 Reception

8:00 - 9:00 Gala Dinner with Congressman Rob Wittman, Talha Sarac, President of PERA Construction and Chairman of the Turkish American Business Network, Nick Spanos Co-founder of Bitcoin Center at NYC, John S. Powell, SVP of EagleBank, and William D. Euille, Mayor of Alexandria



Soon to be a Veteran? Veteran? Spouse? Looking for hands-on career advice? Join me and a distinguished group of presenters providing free career workshops at the annual Association of the United States Army (AUSA) conference in Washington, DC.

I was part of the 2013 program and look forward to this year's event. While the event is Army-focused, any service member, veteran, and spouse is welcome.

The American Freedom Foundation workforce hiring event at AUSA is presented by Sourceamerica® and GES.  12 workshop sessions take place October 13 – 15 to provide resources and information for veterans and transitioning military.  I'll be giving my program, "“Your Upcoming Tour on Main Street:  How to Positively Engage and Influence Hiring Managers with Your Words and Stories" on Monday 10/13 10:30am to 12noon and Tuesday 10/14 1pm to 2:30pm (list of all programs)

AFF "mission is to honor the men and women of America’s armed forces, raise awareness for their service and sacrifice and raise money for organizations that serve and support our Veterans, active duty military and their families." 

If you need any more information please let me know (contact me here).

 American Freedom Foundation’s Warriors to the Workforce
Hiring Event at AUSA Announces Workshop Sessions  

12 Workshop sessions will take place October 13 – 15 to provide resources and information for veterans and transitioning military 

Attendance at Warriors to the Workforce Hiring Event is FREE and open to veterans, military service members and spouses.

Presentations will include topics such as mental readiness, confidence building, networking and presentation skills, resume writing, interviewing techniques, job searching, career planning through goal setting, translating military skills and training into civilian life and corporate experience, among others.

In addition to these transition workshops, veterans will have the opportunity to meet with some of the country’s largest and most veteran friendly employers including Aerotek, ASM Research, ATK, Inc., BAE Systems, Calibre Systems, CSC, Didlake, Inc., Easter Seals Veterans Staffing Network, esri, Elbit Systems of America, First Command Financial Services, General Dynamics Information T echnology, Goodwill Industries, Hendrickson International, Kaplan University, Linden Industries, Melwood, Navy Federal Credit Union, Pride Industries, RNDC-­?USA, SAIC, Still Serving Veterans, TFD Group, University of Phoenix, USACE, VETS Group, Working Warriors Nations–MVLE and Department of Veterans Affairs.

Attendance at Warriors to the Workforce Hiring Event is FREE and open to veterans, military service members and spouses.






Sales is one of the hardest jobs in any company. There are daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly and yearly commitments to be made. And in organizations that are serious about sales growth, a good portion of the salesperson's compensation is at risk.

Sales and its sustained growth are requirements for long-term financial success in any organization. During my own career in technology sales, I lived by the mantra, "If you ain't growing, you're dying." Done right, sales drives revenue growth, which in turn drives growth in profit margins, net income and shareholder value (e.g., earnings per share). No sales, no growth.


Yet the responsibility for sales growth is not the sole purview of the salesperson. There are many building blocks to a successful sales growth strategy. They include marketing, sales support, contract administration, finance, billing, customer service, operations, implementation and post-implementation services, and virtually everyone in your organization, from the CEO on down.

In my view, everyone is a salesperson. Everyone is accountable for growing the business. A sense of urgency, timely responses to emails and phone calls and the prioritization of customer-impacting issues over internal projects and reports are some of the ways these other functional groups can help support sales growth.

If you're looking for a simple way to keep everyone in your organization focused on your sales growth strategy, here's an idea. Invest in a set of building blocks, like the ones you see in the image above. Spell out your growth strategy (I chose "sales" in my example). Then hand a building block to a representative from each functional area. Ask each person to display their block on his or her desk as a daily reminder and to bring it with them to their weekly team meetings. During each meeting, ask the block holders to report on what they've done in the time since you last met to support your strategy to grow the business.

If your sales results are not meeting your growth expectations, take a closer look around the organization. Are the building blocks of a successful sales strategy in place?

For more on sales growth strategies, please see:
How One Brand Is Growing Sales While Raising Prices in a Weak Economy
Achieving Market Share Growth in a Weak Market
The Power of the Human Touch in Sales
Is a "Can-do" Attitude Part of Your Business Plan?
What Makes Your Company Different?

As an MBA graduate of the Robert H. Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland, I am excited about next week's presentation.  I'll be presenting "Executive Storytelling" with fellow part-time MBA students. 

It was a serendipitious meeting with Megan, the professional development program chair. We met at a Smith School Event for International Development. After chatting a bit, I learned Megan worked for the Department of the Army and I'm an Army veteran. Soon after, we talked about a variety of topics, which led to the "What do you do?" question.

A few months later, I'll be sharing some great video clips, thoughts, ideas, and exercises on business storytelling. I'm looking forward to a dynamic exchange of ideas.


According to the 2013 Social Media Marketing Industry Report published by Social Media Examiner, the top three benefits of social media marketing are greater exposure, traffic and marketplace intelligence. It's no wonder 97% of the marketers surveyed indicated they were participating in social media marketing.

If your brand is represented by the remaining 3% of the sample who has yet to make the leap to social media marketing, let me share some thoughts on how social media has helped me market and grow my brand:
  • Higher brand awareness
  • More traffic
  • Increased access to market intelligence and insightful content

When I first created my LinkedIn and Twitter profiles over four years ago, my personal brand was nothing more than an idea in my head. Since then, I have added Facebook, Pinterest, Foursquare, Snapchat and blogging (here at The Chief Storyteller) to my social media marketing mix. I've become a curator of insightful content, both others' and my own, on a focused set of subject areas like marketing and sales, social media, fitness and outdoor recreation.

A deliberate, integrated marketing communications plan that utilizes a blend of the social media channels I participate in has helped me to expand awareness of my personal brand, driving more traffic to my posts and ultimately increasing others' exposure to me.

During the past four years, my personal brand has enjoyed steady and phenomenal growth. Yours can, too, with the right social media marketing strategy.

For more insights on social media marketing and branding, please see:
Content Marketing: Why Blogging Should Be Part of Your Growth Strategy
Make It Personal: How to Communicate with Greater Impact
Reputations of Non-Social Brands Are Fair Game on Social Media, Too

As consumers, we love to share our opinions of a brand and our experience with it –
the people we encounter, the products we buy or the service we receive. Most brands expect this type of customer feedback. Smart and successful brands, in fact, invest considerable resources analyzing this information and use it to inform their marketing strategy.

We expect it, too. What we don't expect is for brands to review their customers...and to share their feedback on what their experience serving us was like. So you can imagine my surprise when I received an email from a shipping company I had hired to transport my son's motorcycle to college recently.


The subject line in the email read, "Feedback for your recent uShip transaction." Before even opening the email on my iPhone, I assumed it was an invitation for me to provide some feedback on my shipping experience (which was outstanding, by the way). When I opened the email, I saw the words "Positive Feedback." Following that were a few lines describing the shipper's experience working with me and thanking me for my business.

The review I received was a good one and it made me feel great. I wondered, though, what would have happened if the shipper thought I was unreasonable and difficult to work with. Would they have shared that feedback with me, as well?

I also wondered if there were other brands who share customer feedback with their customers. As a consumer, if you expected to be reviewed on how well you conducted yourself, would that change how you interact with the brand and the people who serve you?

It's something I'll be thinking about the next time I am in line waiting to be served, interfacing with a salesperson or otherwise interacting with a brand.

For me, business networking used to mean early morning meetings, a Metro ride into Washington DC, several cups of coffee, lots of face-to-face introductions and a steady exchange of business cards. All told, each networking event required a three- to four-hour investment of time...until I discovered the George Washington University (GWU) LinkedIn Virtual Networking Hour, a monthly speed networking event sponsored by the Office of Alumni Career Services.

Over the course of one lunch hour, participants select one or more industry clusters they would like to network with. They are then randomly paired with fellow Colonials (i.e., GWU alumni) for several 8-minute text-based conversations. Participants exchange career goals and advice, contact information and connections. In lieu of business cards, the Colonials connect with one another on LinkedIn and, in some cases, make arrangements to continue their conversations in person over coffee or in email.

While I am still a proponent of face-to-face networking, I've come to appreciate digital technology as a tool for more efficiently making new connections and expanding my business network. During the last few months, I've made some valuable connections and have given and received helpful career information...all over a fresh cup of coffee from the comfort of my home office.

For more on business networking, please see:
Spring Is a Great Time to Revitalize Your Professional Network
Your Brand Story in 30 Seconds: "What Do You Do?"
The Power of a Personal Connection
Why Likability Is the Key to Your Personal Success
How to Make the Most of Your Network

"How to Create Your Unfair Competitive Advantage"

Snag your spot now for a jammed-packed program with Social Marketing Maven Kim Walsh-Phillips.

This is the next exciting event from my organization, Ignition Shift.

Join us for this interactive workshop to discover:

- How to get inside your prospects heads to close more sales without conducting expensive research
- The marketing formula of  promotion +  giveaways to produce more sales in 29 days
- How to leverage social media and advanced strategies to outpace your competitors without spending more on marketing

Plus when register, you will receive a Facebook Ads Guide, a step-by-step ads blueprint to create Facebook Ads that sell lead to market domination! (Discounts expire this week - so CLICK HERE to get your spot now!)


Results you will get include changes you can make in your operations to drive deeper, more meaningful, and more valuable relationships with your marketing dollars!  Join us!


The West End Cinema (best indy theatre in DC!) and patio is a great, convenient location for us to enjoy connecting with other growth minded, accomplished business executive teams.

Your Ignition Shift team is excited to craft a fun and socially engaging experience for all of us to connect with the ceos and executives joining us for Kim's workshop. We'll have a red carpet interaction before Kim starts, and a fun, gift filled, social opportunity to run your marketing challenges by Kim post event!



About Your Speaker  
Kim Walsh-Phillips,, is the award-winning Speaker, Author, Strategist and CEO of IO Creative Group, a direct response social media agency.  She is a techie marketing geek with great shoes, a hatred of awareness campaigns and an obsession for marketing with a sharp focus on ROI. Kim has worked with brands such as Sandler Training, Dan Kennedy, Pamela Yellen, Harley-Davidson, Chem-Dry, and Hilton Hotels to increase revenue through direct response marketing. Kim is the author of "Awareness Campaigns are Stupid and Other Secrets to Stop Being an Advertising Victim and Start Monetizing Your Marketing" and the upcoming book co-authored with direct response marketing legend Dan Kennedy, "The NO BS Guide to Direct Response Social Media Marketing."
(Again discounts expire this week -  CLICK HERE & grab your spot now!)

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