Mentor Monday: Arik Hanson talks about the changing nature of mentoring.

Business mentors have been around since the beginning of business.  Like many other aspects of business, while the concept of mentorship remains the same, new developments in tools and technology allow us to practice these concepts in new, and possibly more efficient ways.

This mentor Monday, I am honored to have a guest video post from Arik Hanson, a mentor of mine.  In this video, he shares some thoughts on recent trends in the way professionals build mentor relationships, and how mentors and mentees interact.


View all Mentor Monday posts.

Personal Branding from 9-5

clockAt last night’s #u30pro chat we asked the participants to share professional obstacles that they’ve been facing, and then turned it over to the chat to discuss how to overcome these obstacles.

The final obstacle that we discussed left me with a few questions. It was about using twitter while in the office.  This person’s superior asked them not to.

This question forced the young pros that were participating to take a hard look at themselves in the mirror.  Few who have worked in an office can honestly say they’ve never peeked at their facebook, or twitter once in a while.

Then Meghan Butler brought up the “advantage of personal branding” for the company.  That’s to say that to build your personal brand benefits the company, and so it should be alright to do it on company time.

Now I’ve spoken about the battle between your personal brand and your company’s brand before.  In that post I said that your company’s brand should take priority over your personal brand.

This is different though.  It’s about company time.  Should employees be allowed to spend time building their personal brand, while they’re on the clock?  Should they be allowed to use social networks at all?

EDIT: To add to the conversation, Dan Schawbel just tweeted about a research report claiming “24% of employees have been disciplined at work because of social networking”.

Two Guys, A Girl, and a GIANT Leap

Today, I’d like to take a moment to share with you three people, who have been inspirations to me since day one, and who have recently taken a GIANT leap in their career.  Keep an eye out for these people and the work that they will be doing in the future…

ArikArik Hanson just made his huge announcement that he will be launching his very own consultancy, ACH Communications on Monday, October 12.  If you’re interested in a social media consultant, here are the services he can provide for you.  Just email him at arik.hanson [at] Arik is an extremely intelligent and hard working individual that will certainly do huge things in his new venture.

keithKeith Burtis has decided to change things up in his career.  He is finishing up his work with Best Buy and is currently seeking a different opportunity, one where he can “flap [his] always passionate wings”.  I’m really excited to see where Keith goes next and you should be excited too! Why?  Because during this transition Keith is working with some clients on a consultancy basis.  If you’d like to work with a true leader in the social media space, I highly suggest you get in touch with Keith.  Dop him an email at keith [at]

HeatherHeather Whaling has recently announced that she’s leaving her current position at Costa DeVault to pursue a new adventure.  In December, she will be moving to Ohio and launching Geben Communications, a new agency that will work with emerging brands, established small businesses and nonprofits.  The site is in the works but if you’d like to talk with Heather about future opportunities email her at heather [at]

Obviously as I’m writing this post, I highly recommend all three of these individuals, and have all the confidence in the world that they will do great things moving forward.  It takes a lot to make that leap in your career.  Many spend their whole lives wishing they had pursued that risk.

Congratulations to Arik, Keith and Heather, and I wish you the best of luck.

Is this Fish Bowl Half Empty?

Photo cred: Joe Plocki
Photo cred: Joe Plocki

I know I know.  The fishbowl is the dark buzzword of the social media space.  The mere mention of the word can send one to the dark side, questioning social media values and speaking against the leaders of the movement!

My definition of the “Social Media Fishbowl” concept: The social media space is a tight community of professionals who tend to communicate with, agree with and repeat each other causing them to lose sight of the big picture outside of the “social media fishbowl”.

Even I have written about problems with “back patting” in the social media space…

…but what about the bright side of the fishbowl?

Gone are the days of cut-throat business tactics…not in our bowl. Our focus on networking, and willingness to help each other out may have caused us to be less critical of each other, but it has also created a circle of people you can trust to help you when times are rough, and support you in all of your endeavors.

Name another professional field where you can announce a huge career change, one that might actually compete with others’ business, and still enjoy the support of hundreds in the same space? (Notice how highly I recommend Arik in the comments, if you’re looking for a social media agency)

Try taking a shot at someone in our fishbowl and see the response you get.  It won’t get you much more than some temporary buzz.  We know who’s genuine and will support those that we trust, all the way.

Perhaps you’re down in luck and you need a a little help. (I’ll never get tired of reading this story)

The social web is full of random acts of kindness.

Few other professional fields can say they enjoy such an amazing support system.  It’s something to be proud of.

Perhaps the fishbowl isn’t so bad after all.  It’s important to shake it up once in a while to stay keen and critical.  We just have to remember that the walls are clear, and to explore the world outside of them.  If we can recognize that, and remember to stay respectful of one another while remaining critical, perhaps we can truly make changes for the better in the world of business.

…and yes, I know, the fishbowl in the picture is neither half full nor half empty. You clever little…

7 Social Media Lessons that You Can Learn From Golf

Photo cred: Lu
Photo cred: Lu

I’ve recently started playing golf.  Now, I’m pretty terrible, but I can’t help but look forward to heading out every weekend to play.  Of course, being the professional loser that I am, I am always thinking about social media.  My father (NOT Jon) jokingly suggested that I write a post comparing social media to golf, and I said…ok.

Golf Terms. If you don’t understand something.

Here are some lessons that golf can teach you about business and social media:

1. A hole in one is HIGHLY unlikely, especially when first starting out. No one gets a hole in one when they’re starting out, and even the more experienced golfers consider themselves lucky to get one.

Social Media: For those that jump into the social media space, and get frustrated when you can’t seem to build a huge community around your brand…relax.  It takes time, and most things won’t “click” the way you think it will.

2. The driving range will only teach you so much. Practice makes perfect and the range is a great way to work on your swing. The golf course, however is a completely different game.  It might be intimidating, but you have to get out there if you’re really going to learn the game.

Social Media: Get your hands dirty! You can read blogs and watch from your seat all you want.  True, it will teach you a lot, but if you actually want to learn the ins and outs of the space, you HAVE to get out there and just do it!   You can’t be afraid to jump in, which leads to the next point…

3. Sometimes Often, you will shank the ball. You might even whiff completely! You’ll spend some time in the rough, looking for your ball.  Some people might even scoff and laugh at you. But guess what?  They all learned the same way you did.

Social Media: Be ready to make mistakes.  If you plan on doing everything right, you might as well quit now.  The key is what you learn from those mistakes, and how you move forward afterward.

4. A tree might block the way. It may be best to shoot sideways, or even backwards, to get the ball back on the fairway rather than shoot through the trees for the green.

Social Media: Remember to occasionally stop and look at what you’re doing.  Is it working?  Do you need to pivot, or even take a couple steps backwards in order to reach that final goal?  It’s okay if you tried something that didn’t work.  It’s not okay if you don’t realize that it’s not working.

5. You have to look good to play good. This is my friend Jon’s line, when I asked him if having golf shoes actually help at all. Pretty self explanatory.

Social Media: Compare this to having a strong personal brand.  In both cases, it’s not true that it will necessarily make you better at what you do, but it certainly makes you look like you know what you’re doing.

6. A teacher makes things a lot easier. Golf is a TOUGH sport.  There are a lot of things to remember and the littlest pointers can really help you improve your swing.

Social media: Get a mentor.

7. The tough part is stringing good shots together. Want to know what’s frustrating? Driving a ball 250 yards down the center of the fairway, and taking 6 more swings to finish the hole.

Social media: You may have built up a lot of buzz about your video, or wrote a killer blog post.  Unless you’re able to leverage those numbers and tie it to the end goal (money), it doesn’t matter how well you started off.

Alright I’ll stop. Great now I want to play golf again…

5 Benefits of a Reverse Mentor

Photo Cred: whereisyourmind
Photo Cred: whereisyourmind

A reverse mentor is a mentor that is younger than the person that they are mentoring.  A relatively new term, but an old concept, reverse mentoring requires an open mind and a willingness to learn.  A great mentor can extremely valuable, regardless of the age of either party.  We all have something to learn and contribute from one another.

Not sure what you stand to gain from a reverse mentor?  Here are a few benefits…

  1. Fresh Ideas. You’ve been in the game a long time.   You’ve developed habits over time, from doing similar projects many times over.  With such repetition, it can be hard to think outside of your comfort zone.  A reverse mentor can shed a completely new light on a situation. A fresh perspective from fresh eyes.
  2. New Tools. Again, being in the game for a long time, you’ve probably become comfortable with certain tools and technologies.  Perhaps you haven’t updated in a while.  A younger professional that is just starting off, will probably start with the newest tools and technology, and so they can introduce you to it. (Not to say you are less tech-savvy)
  3. Reignite Your Flame. Over time, perhaps you’ve lost a bit of your excitement for your profession.  Take the ambition and eagerness to learn from your reverse mentor (assuming you chose a good one) and use it to get yourself fired up again.  They can help you reignite your own eagerness to learn.
  4. Teach to Learn. This one might not work for everyone.  Whenever I had a test coming up in school, and I explained a question or topic to another student, it helped me understand and remember it better.  By teaching a younger professional, you may end up touching on things that you haven’t had to do in a while, or haven’t been so comfortable with, and it will force you to understand it well enough to teach it.
  5. Just Learn. Sometimes, age will have nothing to do with it.  You will just learn from the thoughts and insights of another professional that happens to be younger than you.  Don’t let a stereotype prevent you from learning.

Ultimately every mentorial relationship should be a two way street.  Both the young, and the not as young professional should learn from each other.

What else would you add to the list?  How has a reverse mentor helped you?

Remember to thank your mentors every Mentor Monday.

Don’t Stereotype… Use Your Baby Eyes

Photo cred: Sean Dreilinger
Photo cred: Sean Dreilinger

Assumptions can be dangerous, unreliable and unfair.  The problem is, they’re inevitable.  People are judgmental, and they form stereotypes in order to satisfy their natural need to classify and organize.  The minute people meet each other, they are analyzing who the other person is and how to classify them.

A baby doesn’t make assumptions.  It sees everything for the first time; everything is new.  That shouldn’t change. Everyone is different, and should be approached as something new.

Age, sex, race, size, culture, personality, style….everything about us carries a stereotype.

Stereotypes are usually based on some truth.  They don’t develop out of thin air.  They’re developed based on experience.  If someone has a number of experiences with a certain “type” of person, they assume that the same experience will occur with others of that “type”.

Still think Millenials are great with social media?  Or maybe you think they’re entitled and lazy. The only thing that you can say is 100% true about a millennial is their age.  Same goes for Gen X, boomers and on… Anything you assume as a result of that age is based on stereotypes.  Whether it’s a positive stereotype, or a negative stereotype, it is still dangerous, unreliable, and unfair.

Use your baby eyes, like you’re seeing everyone you meet for the first time (I know…ridiculous).  You’ll be surprised how much more you can learn and accomplish with people when you eliminate assumptions.  Thinking about stereotypes may be inevitable, but if you recognize that it exists, it is unfounded, and focus on the specific person as an individual, you can overcome them.