The Core of Your Network and Why it’s Important

The Core of Your Network and Why it’s Important

I have a big network. Approaching 50,000 followers on social media seems like a lot to me. I am not a Kardashian and don’t want to be. Money is not a motivating factor in my activities here. I have been clear on this from the beginning of this adventure, see my post on Raising Your Social Profile. I am pleased with every connection I make, and you should be too. Being helpful and educating with no expectation of a return is my mantra. Doing so will redouble your return from any effort expensed by you. It just works that way on social media. That is one reason why so many just don’t get it; it’s counter-intuitive.

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Your network is powerful, but the magic lies in the very center of it: the core connections. This is where old media and standards come into play. It is here where the new media and technological change we are living with today combine for results. Like a handshake and personal relationship, the core connections make all the difference. Chances are you have shaken hands or talked on the phone with many at the core of your network. I would guess you have not with those on the outskirts of your connections. These are the “long tail” connections, which have their own place and value proposition in your network. They are super special, but here we are talking about the core — the heart of your social experience.

Think hard about who is at the core of your network. Think more about how the list today compares to the list one year, three years, or five years ago.

Has it changed?

Next, consider your satisfaction with your career success. How is that going? Any dislocation between the two may provide a reason why things are going well, or not.

I believe having a growing network with a level of consistency of your core connections is critical. Over time your core should grow at a nominal rate. Your long tail connections should grow at an exponential rate. I connect with more than one hundred people a day on social media. They serve the outer edges of my network and over time feed the core, the core that is the magic of social networking.
At and near the core are the people who will help you solve personal problems or business issues. They will provide the one and only thing that is important after family: opportunity — the chance to help others, give back, make a difference. To make something, solve a problem, create an experience.  Experiences are lasting impressions we make on one another. We can remember and draw on them for a lifetime. They are so powerful that others will remember them and draw on them forever.

So here is the painful part. At some point you have to reconsider and reassess your core connections. If you believe in Jim Rohn’s premise that “you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with,” as I do, this exercise is critical. I don’t get hung up on the exact number being five. I favor a small percentage or fraction thereof as my core. Next, I think about how much time I am spending with them. Sometimes I pare my connections if I feel I am not giving and receiving what I expect from this area of my network. I know this is going to have some shaking their head. This has worked well for me. It served to strengthen my network in totality and the core, specifically. It follows Darwin’s survival of the fittest theory.

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I recently began writing less frequently on some large media platforms. I had been used to thousands and tens of thousands of views. I wanted to control my own content. So I launched my website and blog –    christianjfarber.com –  with the help of a friend. My social media mentor, John White from Social Marketing Solutions, added his expertise as well. We went live last month, and we’re basically starting from scratch. Today I have about 500 followers and I couldn’t be more pleased. Having a smaller audience allows me to be more intimate with them. It offers a way to talk about my work differently. The site is a combination of my career experiences and desires. It serves as a platform for me to teach from and to work out what I want to do next with my career.

I recently left my last employer as I had done all I could do for them. So, I am currently in transition. See, I give and get like I said earlier. The goal is to reach 1000 followers, which I expect in early summer. Of course, this will only happen if I continue to post quality content.

So I have made my network a little tighter and my reach much shorter. I hope to be closer to those I can help and who might help me. I have reviewed the roster of my followers, and there is a super strong core. I expect great results. Give it a try. Review your core, trim if you must, or change your audience and reach. It can be very rewarding.

My best, Chris

How To Make Tough Career Choices

I recently made a career choice. It took a year, but I made it. I decided I wanted to try something new. Sometimes your job becomes like chewing on fat. I had come to that point. I have been in Marketing and Sales for decades. I do love both disciplines and will continue along those roads as I move forward. It is what I do best. I have had success in large and small companies. Also, in high and low performing businesses as well. The key is how you measure your happiness with your work and your success.

What is success?

Money comes to mind. I have made a good bit along the way. Frankly, it is a hollow feeling to look at a W-2 with a big number on it. Black and white numbers on a page. They don’t make you any smarter, better looking or healthier. I would argue having money is better than being broke. I have been both and didn’t like being broke.

But the real feeling of enrichment comes from doing something meaningful. Something that has a positive impact on others. A job that is fun. I often say my greatest years were in a financial technology start-up, Albridge Solutions. I worked there from the beginning in 2000 until we sold it in 2008. But From 2004 to 2006 was a special time for me. I didn’t know how much money I made and didn’t care. I couldn’t wait to get to work each day.

Why? It was fun.

I worked with a great team of smart, entertaining people. We were destined to change the financial advisor world with our technology. And we did just that.

I had a good run State Street Bank in the earlier years of this decade. I had a great team of smart people who liked a good laugh and making a difference for clients.

Sound familiar?

I have tried other things and had some successes and some that didn’t go so well. But the unequivocal similarities were people, purpose and a sense of humor. I really believe it just might be that simple. I am on a hunt to find the next great team to lead. I can’t wait to meet them.

In the meantime, I am continuing to work on my personal brand. That is something that is super important. I recently had a conversation with John White from Social Marketing Solutions. We both write a lot on social media. I was looking for an idea and he suggested I tell my story. Talking about my brand and what I want to do next sounded reasonable. It inspired the post you are reading now. It serves two purposes. Someone who reads it just might learn something from my experiences. Also, writing is therapeutic for me. Thinking through what has made me successful and what I want to do is helpful to me too.

So I made a list of words that describe me. This is a really meaningful exercise I highly recommend.

Here they are: passionate, market focused, clients, sales, marketing, integrity, creative, storytelling, experience, writing, leadership, risk, emotional, relationships. I am sure there are more but this is a good sub-set to work from.

Why is the list important?

For one reason, I can use the list as I assess a new opportunity. Most important will be finding a company that has good people, a purpose for performing their work and doing so with a sense of humor. Next, I can apply my descriptive words to see if they fit in with the culture of the company.

I believe in this quote by Jim Rohn “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” That is super smart. So I made my list and mapped it against different points in my life. And wouldn’t you know it. My list changed. I got away from the very people who had helped shape me into a successful executive. So the soul-searching has produced some things I like and want to do. We have also learned something to get back to.

Next is the job.

I have managed Marketing, Sales, Support, and Relationship Management. Certainly, my next role will be some combination of these disciplines. What I have learned through speaking with my coach is that I have found success in growth, high growth, reinvigorating and turn-around environments. It all depends on where the company is in the S-curve, how much revenue they have and the time it has been in business. To me, I can see myself managing one or any combination of these functions. That takes a back seat to two sets of requirements. The people, purpose and culture of the organization. Also, how I fit with them and the status of the company. I have decided growth and high growth are areas that I enjoy the most. So that is where I want to focus.

I will continue to chronicle my activities as my search for the next great growth opportunity unfolds. I will describe what is going right and what needs tweaking. I hope that I can share some practice experiences for others to use in their journey.

My best, Chris

Creativity Is Currency. Put It In The Bank.

Ideas flourish in the minds of all of us. We just need to have the balls to push them forward. Sometimes they work; most often they don’t. I actually like it when some of my ideas don’t work, because it means I am getting closer to one that will. Also, I try to be dogmatic to prove a point. I put myself out there and fail to teach someone a lesson. Sometimes it’s my staff; often, it’s me.

There is risk here; however, I have never cared about the downside. If you’re worried about failing, you will never stretch yourself and maximize your potential. You don’t want to be lying on your death bed thinking you should have done something or tried harder. I think it would be much more rewarding to feel good about your accomplishments, pass on some wisdom, and call it a day. I have come to the conclusion lately that when you die, it is over.

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It certainly feels great when you dream up an idea and see it through. It’s even better when you exceed your desired results. Particularly if the “No Storm” crowd was spending extra time pointing out why you shouldn’t waste your effort trying. Oh my – the perpetual “No” people drive me crazy. The only people worse are those that start a sentence with “You don’t understand…” I actually go out of my way to distance myself from these folks. I never hire them. I don’t expect YES woman and men; I just want to be affiliated with people who try. If we try and fail at something, so what. You gain from the experience and learn a thing or two, so when you try it again you improve your chances of success.

I like to perform in an enriched atmosphere that fosters creative thought. I once worked for a leader who said. “Chris, when I see you in the office with your feet up on this sill, music playing, and you staring out the window, I know you’re doing your best work for the company.”

He was right.

The culture, atmosphere, and people who created them allowed me to work at my absolute best. I do that work when I am comfortable. I wear jeans to work most every day. Shorts and tie-dyed Ts in the summer. When we’re visiting with clients, I match their dress but always tell them how I prefer to dress.  Most of the time they agree and say that’s how they dress on the weekends. I don’t like the separation. I am the same guy on Saturday and Sunday as I am Monday through Friday.

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One year I shaved my head, and I scared my wife when I came downstairs. I continued to do this for the next five years. It is not a coincidence that this was a period of dramatic growth at the company I worked for and where I was one of the early employees. We weren’t successful because I shaved my head, but we were successful because we created an atmosphere where you could be bald or have hair down to your shoulders. It was about being contented. We sold the business for several hundred million dollars during this period.  I was there when we received our first wire payment from ING for $2400 just seven years earlier. Over the years we created a culture of hard work, creativity, and fun. Culture is super important and building one from scratch, though not easy, is better than changing one.  Culture also supersedes strategy, as Peter Drucker is claimed to have said, or thought. See my article “Culture Eats Strategy For Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner.”

I believe how you dress reflects how you feel about yourself. How secure you are in your own skin. The environments you work and play in affect how you feel, which, in turn, affects how you dress and how relaxed you are. Comfort enables creativity, in my experience.

Check on the environment you work in. Do you feel comfortable there? Do you get agita on Sundays knowing you have to go to that place on Monday? Worse, is the hangover from your experience from Friday bleeding into Saturday? If so, you are in a perpetual world of hurt from where you work. You have almost no chance to draw on your creative energy to develop and act on an idea. If you can, try working from home. We belong to a cabana club on the Jersey Shore. It is beautiful, and we are so lucky to be members. This year when it has been nice, I have been working from the club. When I need privacy, I close the door. If I don’t, I sit on the beach. I have Wi-Fi, two iPads, and two phones. I am connected to my company and staff. More important, I am in an atmosphere where I feel great. I can move from a contract negotiation call to dreamy thoughts about how we are going to develop a new lead development technique in minutes.

Let your freak flag fly, and create an environment where you enjoy spending time. You won’t realize you are working and your creativity will soar. In time, you won’t be surprised to see the results start to pile up.

My best, Chris.

What to do when your conscience shows up

Temptation by definition is, well, tempting. Every one of us has had the feeling. To take something we crave, that isn’t ours. Or to say something to convince someone to do something that benefits us more than themselves. There are any number of desires we can act on for our gratification. And even if we’re sure no one will find out about it, we resist.

That’s your conscience, and it is powerful. 

People without a conscience, or who ignore it, do cruel and hurtful things. If caught in the act, they risk permanent damage to their integrity and reputation. At some level, how others view your actions is all you have.

Charlie Sheen doesn’t have a conscience. Neither did Hitler or the gunman in the Pulse nightclub attack.  These guys could care less about the consequences of their actions.  Trump seems so preoccupied with what people think of him he is willing to do almost anything. His behavior includes ignoring his conscience to advance his agenda. I wonder about his commitment. Hillary seemed to want the highest office in our land. The problem is how she might have used it. Some of her actions define a lack of conscience. The email scandal is a perfect example.

The mere mention of the word conscience conjures up the word guilt. Freud and Nietzsche had their thoughts on guilt and conscience. I don’t want to go down the road of id, ego, and superego. I am just not educated enough to do that. What I can do though is show some practical examples of the use and misuse of conscience in business.

I am conscious of who I work and associate with in the corporate world and life. I take great care to curate a team that has high character. My teams have a conscience related to their business dealings. In short, they have to know the difference between right and wrong.

I often stress the importance of pricing integrity as clients and prospects talk to each other. If the devil pops up on your shoulder and whispers,”it’s ok to price inconsistently” that it wrong. Especially if the deal is similar to another, and you are charging a higher rate. You will get caught. Listen to the angel on your other shoulder. She knows what is best.

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I have been around software sales and marketing for a long time. I have seen demos of real products that were in production. I also have seen fake demos that were slicker than the production offering. As long as there is disclosure, I have no problem with it. Many years ago I left a firm who demoed without setting this expectation. There was so much smoke and mirrors the pre-sales consultant believed his bullshit. Over time, the company was shut down.

Expense management is everyone’s responsibility in your business. For the past eight years, we have had an interest rate problem. Low rates make it harder to make money in the financial sector where I work. So, expenses are under a lot of scrutiny. If they are not it is only a matter of time for layoffs to start. I have seen guys get fired for booking their personal vacations and expensing them to the company. Are you kidding me? This cavalier entitlement attitude has to go. 

So how do you ensure you are running with the right crowd?

One option is to start a company from scratch. That is not easy. Also, you can only hire people you know and have worked with other places. While that is hard to it is what I do for critical positions. I keep my most trusted people in my network updated on what I am doing, then one day I pick up the phone with an opportunity.

I am doing this now as I search for the next place to hang my hat. However, I know that joining a new business always feels great in the beginning. When the honeymoon ends, you can assess the situation. What kind of shop did you join? Do they have a conscience?

Next, you have two and only two options, and they are to stay or go. If you aren’t comfortable with the company and how it does business, you have a chance to bring on change. Change is unlikely unless you are in a senior position and have the backing of the BOD, but it is an option. If successful in turning the company around you will have a hell of a business success story.  Your next employer will dole out the money to entice you to join them.

If you decide you are not a good fit for the company, it is likely you will choose to take your talents somewhere else. At the next place, you have the chance to fit in and be comfortable. Also, your likelihood of success will increase. Most importantly, you will be able to sleep at night, with a clear conscience. 

Like a fork is the road, when your conscience shows up. Take it. 

My best, Chris

I Quit, I Was Fired and Now…

Over the course of 30 years, a career can teach you a lot about yourself and the kind of person you are. You will likely develop some opinions about the type of businessperson you are as well. I have had the chance to try many different things with many levels of success and failure. I have no regrets.

I Quit:

I walked out of a small software company. Why? The guy who ran sales was one of those jump-on-the-desk-and-tell-you-you’re-stupid kinds of leaders. He would threaten to fire you daily. I refused to go through the abuse.

  • The Pros – It was over, and I could focus on something new. I felt good being away from all the negative energy and I clearly wasn’t going to learn anything I wanted to emulate. I learned many things “not” to do at this company.
  • The Cons – Loss of income, especially as my wife was pregnant. I selfishly created stress for those around me. Some feared I might be labeled a “quitter” though that never really bothered me. Labels suck.

I Was Fired:

A large brokerage firm fired me. Why? I refused to sell proprietary products to my clients, so my production fell, and they showed me the door.

  • The Pros – Few people who get fired are surprised, so there is some element of relief that comes with the experience being over. I could sleep again. I had checked off one more thing I wanted to try; it didn’t work, so I was one step closer to my career ambition.
  • The Cons – Loss of income, as my wife was pregnant again. Being on the 72nd floor of the former World Trade Center was –  bar none –  the most dynamic environment in which I have ever worked. A couple of hundred brokers and traders who were smart, witty and equally adept, whether male or female, at telling the best jokes on the planet. I still miss them, 25 years later.

Then I Retired … Well, Almost:

After we (the executive team I was part of) had negotiated the sale of the software company we managed, I walked away from a large retention bonus and took a shot at retirement. Why? I worked every day for eight years and missed every significant milestone important to my kids and our family.

  • The Pros – Time, free time to do whatever I wanted. I got to spend time with my beautiful and wonderful sister before she died. I learned how to go to the supermarket, and I enjoyed it. I cooked a lot.
  • The Cons – I had too much free time. I had no plan, no bucket list. I had all this time and nothing to do. I don’t play golf and am not a boater. I stayed up late, slept even later and developed every vice a middle-aged man with a few bucks in his pocket can have.

In my quest to experience everything in my career I think I have just about closed the book, but there is a lesson learned here.  With all I have experienced, I still have a thirst to learn and try new things.  That’s why I went back to the business world after retiring. I think  I am improving my business skills and still have career-related goals that I would like to achieve.

So I have quit, been fired and retired and just don’t recommend any of them… at least not for me. There are still many mountains to climb.

My best, Chris

How I Turned A Weakness Into A Strength With Social Media!

I have been an introvert all my life. Put me in a room full of people I don’t know and I am uncomfortable. Further, put me in a room full of people I do know but don’t trust, and my response is the same. I say little. Lastly, put me in a room with the small group of people I am comfortable with, and I will talk their ears off.

I was one of the first handfuls of employees at Albridge Solutions in the summer of 2000. I was a member of senior management but never attended one company picnic or any of the many social events. I did attend the holiday party each year because it was just too hard to avoid. If given the choice, I would likely have passed.

I hate it when colleagues ask me to go out for a drink after work. When the day ends, I want to go home and be with my family. I will go out when I travel, but that is about it.

We have lived in our home for 22 years, and I barely know our neighbors.

There is an oxymoron here, though.

I connect with approximately 15k people on LinkedIn, 17k on Twitter and 500 on Facebook. 

So over 32k connections across social media. Sounds like a lot. I do value those links, but I don’t know or have relationships with all of them. I would say the quality relationships I have are likely about 1/2 of 1percent of my connections or say, 160 people. Of that, those I am close to number less than 10, these are also the people I call close friends.

Seems depressing but it’s not to me.

Social media connects many people and can connect us all. No one ever promised our networks would make us all best buddies. I imagine that could happen to some individuals who link online. Some meet spouses and partners on social media. Online dating is big business.

There is value in having a lot of connections. Somewhere between zero and my 32k connections is Gladwell’s tipping point.I sense it is as about 10k connections. That is when things changed for me.

Along my writing journey, my post views increased steadily and then shot into the thousands. I have more work to do here to continue growing. Big networks of connections contain the necessary ingredients for rapid growth. I use my network for messaging, distribution and more networking. It sounds like advertising and sales to me, and you know what?

It is!

Indirect and passive communication are wildly powerful messaging channels. These allow an executive with trust issues to run marketing and sales at the many companies I have worked at. This work is what pays our bills.

Social media has provided me a platform and raised my profile in a way that I could never have accomplished on my own. I feel safe on social technology platforms. I have worked hard and paid extra attention to how I am viewed and perceived online. The most important thing I have learned is to be helpful to others. It will be returned exponentially back to you. The Golden Rule plays out big time on the Internet.

For example, I recently posted an article and asked people to criticize it. My hope is to get it published on The Huffington Post website. I received over 50 responses highlighting suggestions so my post would read more fluidly. I incorporated the changes and now have more than 1100 views, 153 likes, 34 comments and 58 shares. Not one person said anything that wasn’t helpful, no nasty or smug comments at all.

So I looked at who was responding. I noticed that some were folks who wrote articles I have commented on, liked and shared. There were other people who were new to me. These folks all get it. They gave, and I am poised to give back when they post or ask for help.

Here is a tip that has paid itself back many times. Every person who shares one of my posts gets direct thanks from me through LinkedIn. It takes about 10 seconds to say.

John, thanks for the share. CF.

I would say about a quarter of these folks say “thanks” back to me for thanking them. Unreal but effective. Some make a comment about something they liked in the post. Often this is a day or two later which makes me feel good knowing I had an impact and they remembered it.

One more best practice is to make sure you comment to everyone who makes a sensible comment on your post. I try to do this within 24 hours. Often I respond before I leave for work in the morning, so I do not have to worry about it. If you get a nasty comment or troll, don’t engage with them. If you do engage with a troll here is what you can expect (per my friend John White of Social Marketing Solutions). John taught me the following lesson. You will endure 48 hours of unpleasant exchanges – so don’t waste your time.

Lastly, pictures are super important.  As we all know, they mean so much more than anything you may write. Here is how I choose my photos. I receive many comments about them, so I think I am doing something right. I type into Google exactly what image I want. The first one I like, I choose. I don’t spend any more time on it than that. I think our first instincts serve us well.

Here is an image of social media.

So remember to put yourself out there. Be helpful. Comment, Like and Share and say “thank you” to those who went out of their way to read your content and respond to it. In short, all these activities add up to the exact definition of the word engagement. But perhaps the best thing you can do with social media, in my opinion, is to have fun with it.

P.S. My article Career Irony – Why I Never Cared About Corporate Values! is featured on the Huffington Post site. Thanks to all who helped me.

My best, Chris

Career Irony – Why I Never Cared About Corporate Values!

While in college in the early eighties, I decided I wanted to be a secondary education teacher. I added the necessary course work and continued down that path. One of the requirements was to attend and observe a class in one of the local schools. After doing so, I promptly dropped Education. That following spring I limped my out of Lycoming College with a BA in Sociology.

Next, I did what any recent college grad with an obscure major would do; I worked as a laborer for the summer and in the fall headed off to Europe to travel with friends. Armed with our Eurail passes and backpacks, we moved from country to country over the next few months. We had delayed the inevitable job hunt until the holidays arrived.

I was fortunate that my friend whom I traveled with landed a job in Human Resources at Chase Manhattan Bank. The bank was looking for entry level recruiters. I applied and landed the $19,000 per year job with two weeks vacation. My thinking at the time: “Wow! Whoever thought I would work for a bank on Wall Street in New York City?”

A few weeks later I discovered that my friend, who had the same job as me, was making $19,500! He was making more than me, and we had the exact same position and level of experience: Zero! Over time, he explained to me the reason he made more money than I did was because he went to Catholic University, and I went to Lycoming College. It wasn’t an issue for us. But it was the premium the head of the department put on his choice of university back in 1984. The $500 difference became my first step into what I would learn was the bullshit people believed differentiated us in the workforce. Where you attended school, your specific major and the number of degrees earned would turn out to be the biggest hoax for career success.

Consider this:

I am the head of sales, despite being a lousy salesperson. I was firedfrom a sales job at Morgan Stanley years ago.

I am the head of marketing and never took a marketing or business class. To reiterate: my primary area of study was Sociology.

I have carried C-level titles in small companies and large ones alike but do not have an MBA.  My post-graduate studies include only a few courses which happened to be in employee benefits, not exactly what I’m doing today!

I have been a featured writer on several platforms but had to work hard to maintain a C average in my college English classes. In fact, my first boss back at Chase, during a performance review, told me that I should feature my verbal communication skills because my writing sucked.

In short, from an education standpoint, I went to an ok school and did ok. That said, I have competed with and won against any number of elite business school types. Over the years many of these men and woman  would report to me.

I have quit, been fired and retired. After voluntarily leaving the workforce many times, I have found and succeeded at bigger jobs.

I have had a long and fruitful career in financial services technology despite never taking a business class and only one technology course.

Perhaps the most blatant irony in my career is that I have spent the last twenty years managing, marketing and selling accounting systems – while never having the skills needed to prepare my personal taxes… Go figure…

Thinking back on it, here is what I did do which made all the difference in my career.

Stopped caring what others thought of me and my career decisions. I just went for it. I did what I wanted to do.

I had and have a genuine and supportive partner in my wife, Susan.

Read everything that interested me. Mainly business, marketing, and personal challenge stories.

I worked hard. Never a face time guy for 30 years (I rarely have spent more than 40 hours in the office) my mind constantly is thinking about my work and always has.

I have been fortunate to surround myself with A-players.  I also actively engage with a network of A-players whom I hope to work with in the future.

My intent with this article was not meant to celebrate my career but to highlight one key point. If this man who never aced school or took a formal course related to his career could choose to be successful, so can you!

Ironically in retirement, I plan to teach and lecture. I guess that one hour class I attended as an observer had some impact on me after all.

My best, Chris

Experience Trumps Book Smarts Every Time!

I often tell young people it doesn’t make any difference where you go to college. What is most important is that you go to college. Sure, there are some advantages from going to an elite school. Specialty areas of study, an active alumni network and the sheen that comes from the reputations of some of these schools all help. Some open doors of opportunity. Often when some doors shut on alumni, for almost any reason, another opens. That’s good.

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If it doesn’t work out the way you planned and you have to settle for a B-rated school, so what. Wherever you go to school, some things will happen. You will get four years older, depending on how long it takes you to graduate. That’s real important, those years between 18 and 22 are significant maturity years. Young men and women gain practical experience figuring out how to live on their own. Millennials, who believe they are entitled to respect and an award for everything they do, will learn valuable lessons when mom and dad aren’t there to fix everything they don’t like.

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The average age of a full professor is fifty-five. Therefore, this September your child will be taught by someone more like your age. If we blame the entitlement culture on the parents of Millennials, keep this in mind. Those professors care about their kids the most. Therefore, your son or daughter will expect much but receive less. After complaining to you that something isn’t fair, you will light up the switchboards at the college. Fortunately, the calls will go unanswered, and your child will have to figure out how to do things on their own. What a valuable lesson, it is almost worth the tuition you will be paying. If you are a student don’t spend all your time planning everything, you’re bound to fail. You want to go to Harvard, great. Careful what you wish for.

See what it feels like when you get there with all the top students in the world. You will quickly find that there are many who are smarter than you are.

The high school hero often becomes the college zero in some of these environments. The suicide rates for MIT are alarming with Harvard not far behind.

Think there is a relationship? And for parents how about this one: sounds great to be in the top 1% of income or net worth doesn’t it? This population owns 40% of the nation’s wealth. When you get there, though, you realize how far it is from the top to the bottom of the range. That must be why we have basis points (a basis point is one-hundredth of one percent). Our generation grew up with things. The more toys, the more you were a winner. But, nothing trumps toys like money. Making a cool half million must sound great. However, you won’t bump into anyone from the top of the 1% at cocktail parties. You can’t afford to go to them, and there is no chance you will get a free invitation.

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The point here is some of us baby boomers produced those Millennials. We held their hands through thick and thin. We cried foul when they didn’t get enough playing time or make the team they coveted. We rewarded them for first steps and missed steps to make them feel better. Now we are complaining because they don’t want to work in restaurants or on the back of garbage trucks for money before they go off to school. They demand respect when they haven’t earned it. They want to be treated like us.

Why?

Because we raised them that way.

Now they all want to go to Stanford, Harvard or (insert school name here) because that is what we taught them. Well, the news here is most of them won’t get into one of these schools. They will be disappointed and have to settle for something they believe is less.

In this case, it just might turn out that less is more. To be successful in life, this generation of young men and women will have to figure out how to do things on their own.

That’s always a good lesson.

They most likely will do this later in life than we did and that’s our fault. We are the ones who raised them to depend on us. We changed after 9/11; we drew our family and kids closer never wanting to let them go or to make a decision on their own. In the end, they will figure out that success in life, love, and work takes effort. A lot of it and a little more just might get them there.

Ten years from now they will be working their asses off trying to establish a career. Twenty years from now they will be in the throes of hard work and the beginnings of how success feels. Thirty years from now they will be telling their kids, they wanted to go to Harvard but couldn’t get in. They will follow this up with the reasons they became successful, hard work and experience.

 

My best, Chris

Raising Your Social Profile And Why It’s Important!

I often say if you raise your profile in life by definition you raise the profiles of those around you too. Unfortunately, the opposite is true as well so be careful who you run with.

Your profile is all you have. It is defined primarily by who you associate with, your actions and how you communicate your thoughts and beliefs. That’s about it.

To raise your profile, there is simply no more effective way than using social media. If you are not an active user of social media, you will need access to the press or some other kind of platform on which to stand to make yourself known. It also helps to be successful in your career which often draws attention and people to you.

Social media is highly cost effective and really just requires your time. If you go down this path it will take real time to do this right so getting some help is a good idea. There are consulting firms like John White’s Social Marketing Solutions who can add valuable strategic and tactical components to your social media efforts as well.

Always be thinking of ways that you can give back to your network by sharing your knowledge for free, providing valuable links, insightful videos, thought-provoking quotes, and being helpful. If you read a post and find it useful click the “like” button. If it moved you in some way, “share” it with your network, they will appreciate the new insight and view you as a thought leader.

In May of 2015, I began a crusade to raise my profile and that of the company I worked for. I started to write posts just like this one on LinkedIn Pulse and have published 82 times through this outlet. My topics range from business to social and humor. I have also begun to publish outside the platform. A friend suggested I submit my work to The Good Men Project, I have and am featured in each of my submissions.

So here is what has happened to my social profile since I started doing this. My connections and followers across platforms have risen 33x to approximately 33,000. I think these are some good results but here is the question some people ask me.

Why is this important?

Some of these followers and connections are sticky. They come back for more and over the past year the number of them has risen substantially. People have asked me to help or write for them too. For me writing is therapeutic, so it doesn’t feel like work. In fact, it is fun. As my plan is to become an adjunct professor in retirement I think it will be helpful to have my syllabus complete before I do. My business related posts will become just that. Addressing Millennials is key for me as that is a group I want to influence and connect with. There is no better way than sharing the experiences of a long and successful career as they begin their journey through work and life.

Again, why does it matter?

If I raise my social profile by definition, I will have risen the profiles of everyone in my universe of connections on social platforms. I went through the effort to connect with every person in our company so I could raise their profiles on the back of mine. We are effectively building a communication platform for the business to talk to the marketplace. You have to do this first before you begin a dialogue; then the market can talk back. Once this happens it becomes real marketing, which is my job.

What do you need to get to the next level?

Enterprise commitment. If I can have such an increase in connections and followers, the potential across the company will have a multiplier effect that reaches into the millions. I did the math here. As a marketer, do I want to reach millions? Hell yes. In those millions is our target market. Once our range is vast and comprehensive, there are segmenting techniques that will unearth the target market and create the dialogue that will be for the benefit of my company and everyone connected to me.

My best, Chris

My Biggest Fear in Business? Losing My Network!

Most people associate fear in business with losing a job and becoming unemployed. That is a reasonable thing to worry over.  It has never been anything that has concerned me though. I have been fired and quit as well. I often reasoned that I was getting closer to the place where I belonged. You know, where I wanted to be.

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I have spent my career developing a network of people who come from all walks of life. I have over 33 thousand connections and followers that cover dozens of industries and thousands of different titles. I count connections in many countries. That is important to me because I have held roles with global responsibilities. Some are C-level people, and many are middle management folks. There are a lot of Marketing and Sales professionals in my network. They make up the core of it. I take special care with these folks because that is where my career is. In short, it is how the Farber’s pay their bills.

I have been fortunate to have added some new and exciting professionals over the past 18 months. I have been writing articles for various social media platforms.  I have added: writers, authors, poets, editors, professors, consultants and a handful of others. Many with diverse backgrounds from my own. They add a unique quality to my network. The number of connections I have is large however, it is also increasing in diversity.

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Why is that important?

Diversity in your network provides differing opinions. This allows you to ask for feedback from a broad array of professionals.  By definition, you think more strategically. You also tend to think bigger, I believe.

If all I had were connections to 33 thousand sales people, that would be powerful. But imagine if just a third were sales people. Now think about the other 22 thousand connections. What if there were 1000 connections across 22 different professions? In comparison, I would take the latter network every time. 

Why?

I want as many people from as many differing backgrounds opining on my writing. Often I put business problems or opportunities out in my posts and ask for feedback. In fact, I wrote a piece seeking help on a goal I had which was; getting my work on the Huffington Post. My network responded. A week later I was published on HuffPo. I had many Emails, Inmails, Tweets and even a phone call offering help. All I did was offer some advice and ask a question. Remember, people are kind and want to help.

Here is how I think about my network. I imagine it to look like a pyramid. In my view, my network sits on top of me. I don’t consider myself to be an Egyptian King or anything. I do believe my network dwarfs me and is far bigger and influential than I could ever be on my own. That is why I try to handle it with care. A mishandling could upset the delicate infrastructure and cause it to come crumbling down on me.

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Imagine if, for some reason, people started disconnecting from your network. Say you did something illegal and it ended up on the front page of The Wall Street Journal. One by one, day after day, people would disconnect from you.  All the potential good you could receive from your network OR provide TO your network would go down the drain.

During times of career challenge or trouble my network has provided help and bailed me out. During the good times, my network has provided encouragement. It has also helped me to maximize my opportunities.

When I publish something, I get the same feeling every time before I hit the enter key. I hope my writing is good and will make a difference for someone. I give the best of what I have and hope that someone learns something. If so, that person might think it would be a good idea to become a part of my network.

The fear of putting out poor quality and the consequences that come from it is a healthy motivator to do my best work. The fear of losing my network is just too great.

My best, Chris