Monthly Archives: July 2014

New Beginnings: Put People On Your Staff

Endeavoring in any enterprise often shouldn’t be a solo venture. That’s a mistake most entrepreneurs and small business people make. The reasoning is sound. The rationale goes like this: “We’re a start up — there isn’t much money — I can’t afford to hire anyone to help me.” I felt that until there was a possibility of signing three accounts in one week. That current staff was inadequate to get the job done, so I decided to hire people to work on the accounts. 

As decisions go, it was a sensible. The drawback was I didn’t hire people — just ‘occupants’ to sit at the desks.  Relationships are developed with people. An ‘occupant’ knows that their tenure will be short lived, either because they are going to quit, or will be terminated. A relationship with ‘people’ is an investment in the future. If one can’t see employees as anything more than occupants, that revelation will never occur. Small wonder people walk away. 

There are always good and bad warning signs where employees headed. A good sign is when, in speaking about the business, the employee uses the phrase “we are,” or “our company plans to,” That’s not a Freudian slip. It’s an indication that they want to belong. A bad sign is when the work is never done, or excuses are made justifying the delay. That particular individual feels justified walking off the job, or not even showing up. 

We’re getting to that point where we need to fill a staff different position or two. I want colleagues, fellow laborers toward success. My former business partner suggested freelancers. That didn’t seem adequate. A freelancer may have other jobs lined up. They can be hardly expected to disclose their future ambitions. Will they truly answer that question: “Where you see yourself five years now?” Will they assume I’m trying to get into their personal business or concerned about where they fit into the fabric of company’s future? 

Asking the question may aid me in establishing trust. Business relationships with colleagues, not ‘occupants,’ is healthy for the company. If you want to elevate the working relationship where the ’employee’ is a colleague, there are at least six things that can may aid this more fulfilling working relationship.

  1. If it isn’t viewed as intrusive, ask the co-worker’s interests to discover a mutually beneficial way of matching your business needs with their interests. If they are unsure of where they want to end up in their career, opportunities that may be consistent with their experiences. The end design is to motivate the co-worker into going the extra-mile. Like it or not, you are a mentor.
  2. Assuming you have such a person on staff, partner that individual with the employee. That will assure that there is support within the organization.  
  3. Include them in meetings. Their perspective  and opinions may give a new insight on your business.
  4.  Give them research oriented projects. I’m in advertising and before I pitch a company for business I need to know as much as possible on the company and its industry. A good researcher is invaluable.
  5. Have an open door policy. Again, you are a mentor. 
  6. Have performance reviews but prior to that give regular feedback on status and how they are performing their jobs. I am always delighted when I find out one of my co-workers left to start their own agency. Usually, they didn’t have the gumption to do it until they became your co-worker. Regardless, feedback is important for professional development.

I read and hear people in the ad industry bellyaching about what they do is “just a job,” “trained monkeys can perform the same creative work.” Hogwash. I came from a  background where work was to be an enjoyable experience because its part of who you are. Sometimes it’s okay for to veer away from rigidness and cynicism.  When that day comes, if we are truly watchful, we will get colleagues and not “occupants at the desk.”

 Catch you later,

Bernard Alexander McNealy

New Beginnings: Thank You America

I was watching the former “Military Channel,” now called the Heroes Channel, and caught a marathon on the Revolutionary War. I watched with sheer fascination. Some see that war as analogous to David vs. Goliath, and that may be apropos – but I see it as something more profound.

I truly believe that at the invention of the Universe, in the firmament that was a plan for the United States to come about. This country has survived long and gloriously. It has always been badly flawed. It tolerated an economy predicated on the enslavement of other people – Africans — a group where some of my ancestors came. America in its flaws, some might argue, destroyed indigenous people in its expansion westward.

 

It was a land that fought a Civil War where one the issues was over slavery. America rose to the task when Abraham Lincoln held a divided Union together.  And it wasn’t until 1964 that, despite Democratic party obstructionism, the Republican Party led by Sen. Everett Dirksen (a wonderful and forgotten statesman) passed the Civil Rights Act. A Southerner, President Lyndon Johnson signed the bill, but a Yankee, President John Fitzgerald Kennedy, listening to the reasoned arguments of A. Philip Randolph, Mary Bethum Cookman, Martin Luther King, Bayard Ruston and other of the lions of American history.

The United States of America, in its flaws fought against the threat of communism in Korea, Vietnam and places around the world, that I cannot pronounce, knew there was a greater fight — a battle for hearts and minds. Today, we see our nation once again sending its troops to those unpronounceable places to beat back the war declared by radical Islamists. Perhaps it is without real conviction from President Obama, but our men and women under color of arms protect this land — its people — its people — and its flaws.

Thank you America for getting past biases to elect a bi-racial president. Yes, he is ineffective, perhaps treacherous but we tolerated the rhetoric and put aside our differences to see if we could walk together into the pages of history. 

I’m so grateful America because I had passion fueled discussions with a Korean War veteran by the name of Lt. Cleveland McNealy (dad), who told me about struggle, racism, economic deprivation and other evils. I might not have known to appreciate the life I have.

I learned about the flaws of this great country – and I applaud its greatness. I grew up without my father but got to know him later in life. “Believe. Dare to be Great,” was his favorite phrase. Thank you America for letting me start a business – this descendant of Cherokee-Seminole, African, Portuguese, and Scottish peoples, amid my complaining. 

Thank you for allowing me to compete in a profession I love, advertising. Even if I don’t win the pitch, you are showing me the best of times.

I must thank you America for everything about you. You’ve given me a great life. I met Ronald Reagan, worked in the campaign of a diametric opposite, Tom Bradley four time mayor of Los Angeles and that great American hero, John McCain. America, you gave me opportunity to shoot the breeze with Buzz Aldrin, Shirley Chisholm and John Lewis. In every sense of the word they are Americans heroes.

I read a lot of black history. And yes, although I was young, I did my share of hell raising demonstrating for civil rights, and protesting. That’s why I love my country. It has flaws, but is a land of opportunity.

The American Revolution is a textbook study of greatness. It was also a time of political division (rebel vs loyalist, slaveholders vs slaves), while illustrating that from chaos greatness emerges.

I admire Gen. George Washington and consider him the greatest American of all time. Yes, he had slaves. But, there is evidence he also paid them and gave them the choice of leaving. Washington was such a charismatic figure, he could have declared himself King. This is unlike our present situation where we have a minuscule man striving mightily destroy our liberties and become the very thing Washington declined.

By the way, when we decide to make something, the rest of the world can’t match it. They can steal it, or learn to build it — but…

This is an example of American  greatness. It was two days before Christmas in 1783 when Washington strode into the statehouse at Annapolis, Maryland. He address the Congress and surrendered his military commission. Washington declared, “Having now finished the work assigned me, I retire from the great theater of Action—and bidding an Affectionate farewell to this August body under whose orders I have so long acted, I here offer my Commission, and take my leave of all the employments of public life.”

Imagine, he could seized it all. That type of man probably wouldn’t approve of some of the things we have become. Benghazi cover-up, coddling terrorists (Fort Hood killer), IRS scandal,a deserting soldier brokered for Al Quada terrorists and lying about it all. Politicians fan the flames of division, toward what end, who knows. We’ve sent God on vacation from our hearts. 

But this is still the country that Gen. Washington struggled to liberate. I’m grateful for it.

So, on your birthday, the day we declared independence from Britain, July 4th, thank you America for letting me be who I am. Thank you for letting me have a chance to succeed, and to fail, and be given another opportunity to do it all again.

If this is post disjointed, forgive me. There is emotion that swells in my heart when I think about the greatness of America past and hopefully future. Have any safe and glorious Independence Day.

Catch you later,

 

Bernard Alexander McNealy

Carson Dunn Media Advertising