Monthly Archives: September 2008

Fun Day on the 2nd Floor

Today was a rather interesting day.  After hearing a rather thoughtful, insightful and spectacular speech in the morning, I had the opportunity to sit in on two broadcast interviews with our Chairman.  First up was PBS Nightly News followed by Fox News.  Interviews were good, but the way he handled the questions were truly amazing.  It is a pretty empowering feeling when you have such confidence in your leadership.

Also, always cool to see what it takes to conduct a satellite interview on a major network.  Don’t know that I provided much guidance today, but also very cool to have the level of executive visibility.

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FedEx Cares Week at The Memphis Food Bank – UPDATE

In my last post I described my view of the FedEx volunteer effort that took place on at the Memphis Food Bank earlier this week.  Today, Wayne Risher of the Commercial Appeal gave his account. The article featured a great photo of a FedEx team member in mid-haul–see photo below.  I was even quoted in the piece, but with all the great people there I wish one of the volunteers would have gotten some coverage.  Although, I did roll up the sleeves in between “working” and sorted some food.

It was a great piece highlighting the great efforts of some great people.

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FedEx Cares Week at the Memphis Food Bank

Forklifts, pallets of boxes and 50 Memphis WorldHub day sort employees.  That was the scene at the Memphis Food Bank distribution facility.  After just 4 hours of volunteer work over 18,000 pounds of food had been sorted and destined to United Way area charities, over 300, that depend on the food bank to feed their constituents.

With an orchestrated chaos that was just a couple of million packages shy of the normal Hub operations, FedEx team members sorted boxes of food by type into containers.  The spirit of the team was infectious as the team worked to music and the barking direction of The Food Bank foreman.

It was amazing that these employees chose to work on their day off to lend a hand to their community and support the United Way campaign.  This isn’t the first time FedEx has helped The Food Bank with its mission, earlier this year FedEx took first place in “Operation Feed” for being the overall top contributing company.

It was truly an exciting day.  Susan Sanford, The Food Bank CEO & president, said it best, “I love seeing all the purple shirts.  We are very grateful to FedEx and these people for all the help!”

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Career Advice from a Shark

My son’s favorite thing in the whole world is sharks. Loves them.  He can name about 20 different types by just looking at them and he’s 3.  We read the same book about sharks every morning, every lunch, every afternoon, when I get home from work and at night before bed.  You get the point.  Reading this book is a very hard thing to do because by now I hate the shark book, but the other night as I was reading it became apparent to me how similar my career and a shark just are.

1. Sharks were here before dinosaurs and exist today because of adaption. Surely everyone hasn’t  been working before the dinosaurs, but one thing is for sure, without being able to evolve your skill set,  perceptions, attitude and craft you could be out like a dinosaur.

2. There are over 200-300 dinosaurs in the world and they are all different. Knowing that you are part of a larger species of working class ecosystem, you are your own type of shark because of the qualities you possess. Knowing how to make those qualities work for you, instead of trying to be a different shark, will help you make your way through the crowded sea.

3. Fish have shiny scales, shark skin is tough like sandpaper. Well I think this is pretty obvious, if not cliche. You have to have some think skin in business to make.  Whether it’s the constant battering you take on a day-to-day basis or those times when nothing goes right.  While it’s the fish that have the flashy scales and glimmering appearance, it’s the sharks that sit at the top of the food chain.

4. Fish have swim bladders that allow them to float. Sharks don’t. They rely on their fins to help them glide through the water. For most sharks if they’re not moving, they sink. Sharks are always moving.  Looking for the next opportunity.  Depending on the type of shark they’re either looking for food or looking for big food.  It’s important to note that within a career it’s important to always be looking for the next project, client, opportunity or lunch.

5. When a mother shark gives birth to its pups, it’s stays in shallow, warm water to provide a safe hunting ground for its babies. When you’re beginning your career-or new job- it’s okay to take a bit of time to get acclimated to the position, the people and you’re new life.  One of the best things I was forced to do in my current job was to take my time and ease into it.  If you stick your neck out of the warm, safe water too soon, you become lunch for a bigger shark.

6.  When a mother shark gives birth to its pups, the pups get the hell out of her way–because a hungry mother shark isn’t picky or emotional and will eat its pups. So, you’re probably thinking, “I need to leave my house because my mom will eat me?” No. I look at this as go after “low-hanging fruit.”  There’s always a quick and easy meal around you.  Find out where it is and go after it.  The quick ones are usually the most tasty meals. High value, low output.

The last half of the book talks about how Great White sharks attack humans and how squid is a tasty meal for blue sharks.  Which really is appropriate reading for a night-time story. This was a very quick look into the subject, but I think there’s something pretty funny similarities between your career and the shark.  What animal could you compare your career with?  Interested to hear what you’d say.

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Wild Day on the 4th Floor

Today was a pretty special day.  Not only did I have the opportunity to work on the earnings communications team, but I was invited to assist in a pretty cool photoshoot.  Fred Smith, chairman of FedEx, was being photo’d for an upcoming issue in a top-tier publication.

I was on photographer watch and helped setup the room, plan the photo session and haul a huge Boeing 777 model airplane up an elevator for the shoot.  After some discussion of the upcoming Washington Redskins schedule and a couple of clicks, the shoot was over.

Very cool day.  Earnings went well.  The FedEx Newsroom continued to perform well.  All is well.

-UPDATE-

The Fortune article this post was about has been posted here: http://money.cnn.com/2008/10/03/magazines/fortune/fedex_okeefe.fortune/index.htm

Yes, it was that plane in the photo I was standing behind for Mr. Smith.

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The Enterprise Takes on Social Media – It’s about behavior not Tools

I’ve been fortunate/excited to be involved in several social media conversations with various departments inside the “enterprise” lately. This isn’t the first time I’ve talked to people about my ideas on social media or how to better collaborate, but this is the first time director-level executives have been at the table. Before that an interesting phenomenon had been taking place—individual contributors from all areas of the company were having informal, impromptu phone conferences, coffees and lunches to discuss how to sell social media to their management chain.

In all these conversations there is a growing trend I’ve noticed. People don’t know exactly where their place is in social media inside the enterprise. Now, I realize there are plenty of other large companies doing social media inside and out of the firewall successfully. This trend is what I’m seeing inside a company who has dipped its toes in the social media hot tub and is still deciding if it’s warm enough.

So, on to the title of this post. During these conversations I’m learning that most people have personal blogs, Twitter and Friendfeed accounts. So, it’s not that people don’t know about social media or haven’t engaged in it. However, when it comes to communicating work-related topics and ideas there is a definite pause.

The pause comes from the understanding that these tools are great for communicating, but who’s listening. Blogs, wikis and message boards have existed inside the firewall for some time, however participation is usually high in the beginning and then tailors off after the new blog smell wears off.

Here’s my point. For social media to work inside the firewall and out, it will have to take into account the behavioral change. I’ve noted before on this blog that my twitter adoption was almost forced at the beginning and now I can’t live without it. Keeping up with this blog has been a behavior change for me, because with two little ones at home and a busy work schedule, it’s been hard finding the time to write.

I’ve put together some ideas on how to force behavioral change within an organization below:

  1. Place important documents on your wiki to ensure participation. Nothing drives people to an online community like having important schedules, memos, documents, etc. If it’s the only place to find them, they will have to come.
  2. Provide communications on the organization blog. The idea here is if you want to be informed on executives thoughts, ideas, etc., force people to make this a destination.
  3. Be old school about it. Emails, in-person reminders and quick “Top 3 Things Your Missing List” would be great reminders for low-tech people struggling to adopt the new communication tools
  4. Have advocates. There’s a reason why the number of community managers and social media evangelists job positions are opening up. The human aspect of behavior change cannot be forgotten. These people act like consultants and provide support others. These positions should be proactive in nature and look to promote the tools and objectives of a social media organization.

For many, these ideas are a no brainer. If you were to generalize the enterprise social media standouts you’ll see that many of the companies doing a great job in this space are technology-based. I believe there is a reason for that—the employees of those companies have a technology behavior mindset. Hopefully, for those of you who don’t this post some what helpful.

As always look forward to hearing your feedback. If you have any tips for making a social media behavioral change in your organization, I’d love to hear them.

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Things to do on a Long Flight

  1. Listen the sound of fighting and screaming children and think about what they are fighting over
  2. Read Sky Mall and think of ways to work a frog statue into your home garden
  3. Write blog posts
  4. Organize your folders on your computer, so that you at least look like your in control of your work life
  5. Organize your photo album
  6. Try not to stare too long at the person next to you sleeping and snoring with their mouth wide open
  7. Write long-winded, aggressive and aspirational plans that will never come to fruition
  8. Curse the new year when your airline miles turnover and your lose elite status and your first-class upgrades
  9. Wish you had downloaded more apps and videos on your iPod
  10. Question why you bought a venti drink when you’re in the middle seat

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New Media is No Longer New

It’s been awhile since my last post, so I have to post something to get back into the habit.

I’ve been thinking alot lately about how social media has maybe turned the corner to the mainstream.  We have a SVP here at FedEx with over 100 friends on Facebook (exectuve buy-in), I watched CNN use Twitter to capture viewing audience sentiment of the political conventions (Mainstream media adoption) and now I’m seeing Texas newspapers (localized adoption) encouraging the use of Twitter to get hurricane updates.

New media is no longer new.  I’m officially changing my lexicon to social media.  So, from now on it will be traditional and social media.  There’s nothing new about web-, application-based software.  Call them networks, sites, tools platforms, but whatever you do place social in front.

This is a great moment in time really. Think back to when the .com craze just became the internet and now the new media craze is becoming just social.  With all the conferences, “experts”, job descriptions popping up on the medium the honeymoon is over.

Now the social networks will try to monetize (yes, I said it) and corporations will start to think how to adopt.  The start-ups and influentials and early adopters can rejoice.  Their hard work is done.

Now on to the really new thing….

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