April 12th, 2013
By Kevin Lightfoot, vice president, Corporate Communications, Xerox
I do have a problem that I’m willing to admit. I’m poor at remembering people’s names.
And this is a terrible problem to have. Fewer things in life help define who we are. Our names could determine our lifelong nickname, our career, and our friends – perhaps even our spouses. Our names can influence our sense of community or our sense of individuality. Fundamentally, our names are part our identity. That is why I feel so terrible when I get someone’s name wrong.
The thing is, I’m good at unique names. It is the familiar or common names that trip me up. My wife and some friends used to believe I purposely got people’s name wrong – just to get an upper hand. Like a neighborhood poker game a few years ago. I was at a table of friendly folks and I kept calling “Mark” by the wrong name. I called him “Marcus,” “Mario,” “Murphy” and I think I even slipped in a “Mercutio” (from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet) until he finally got fed up; picked up his chair (he had a bad back) and left, never to return.
My professional contact list is another example of this vexing problem. That list alone has too many colleagues named “Charles.” There is “Alexander Charles” in corporate public relations. Then there is “Charles James” in corporate security. Finally, I also work with “Charles Fred” from The Breakaway Group. And this list doesn’t include my former boss, “Charles Mayer” or “Charlie” Campbell Jr. Now that I think of it, I had a great-uncle “Charlie” who hugged my paternal grandmother goodbye at the train station in 1914 and left to fight in The Great War.
There are dozens self-help books and articles like Jacquelyn Smith’s recent Forbes article, 6 Easy Ways To Remember Someone’s Name and all of them are legitimate, but I’ve arrived at my own method and it is simple enough.
Build a relationship. Talk with them, work with or tackle a problem with them. That’s it.
Fortunately, none of the “Charles” in my world are clients but if they were …
Follow Kevin on Twitter at @lightfootXerox
April 5th, 2013
By Darrell Minards, Head of Marketing and Communications, Xerox Europe
Many moons ago, Mad Men’s Don Draperwas a creative genius, but he seems to have lost his mojo in recent seasons and I have a theory as to why. Many will say it’s down to his changing relationships with people, alcohol, and money, but I think it’s all down to his time on the sofa (couch for US-based readers). He used to spend hours with the office door shut, laid out on his sofa thinking deeply and undisturbed to find that gem of insight and creativity that would floor the client in the pitch.
In our world of open-plan, 24/7, constantly interruptible and online, the ability to let your mind actually “think” is being severely challenged. Everyone wants a piece of your time whether you like it or not and they expect to get hold of you and your answers in an instant. So when I need to clear my mind and find that piece of insight that can take us forward, I know it’s time to hit the sofa. Now, unlike Don, there aren’t many of us with our own spacious office complete with a three-piece suite, but this world of the cloud and mobile working can set us free if we just learn when to disconnect and focus.
Should we work from home all the time or adopt Yahoo’s Marissa Mayer’s strategy? As with everything, it’s a question of balance and judgment, but when you need to think, write, and create…fire up the tech, turn off the e-mail, let the voicemail take the strain and engage the sofa for some hardcore thinking time. Its where all my best ideas have hatched! Don, I hope you’ve been listening?
I guess we’ll see if he has with the return of Mad Men on April 7. Of course, I know where I’ll be.
Darrell has a keen interest in all things marketing, car and cuisine related. You can follow him @DarrellMinards on Twitter.
July 20th, 2012
by, Henrietta Mackenzie, Account Director, Waggener Edstrom
For many public relations is sometimes considered a dark art. In reality it’s simply a strategic and creative approach to help you sell more products and services. Despite the media representation of PR from the likes of ‘Absolutely Fabulous’ and ‘Twenty Twelve’, Public Relations Organisations, as you may know, are actually busy creative hubs that provide high level counsel, campaigns and content for clients across traditional and social media channels.
Within any PR organisation there are naturally many distractions and pressures of running a business, however for us, clients always come first. On a day to day basis, our priority is always helping our clients be successful whatever the PR objectives and metrics are. How do we do it? Overall, by creating a strong partnership with clients and ensuring our strategies always connect to sales. On a more tactical level – acute organisation, always meet deadlines and be flexible where required. Also it’s important that we’re passionate about our client’s business, get to know the key stakeholders and regularly suggest new ideas over and above the brief. And at the end of the day, have some fun and maybe share a beer or two.
I’ve done a variety of additional things for clients: hopped on a plane to Delhi and jumped on the Eurostar to Paris at the drop of a hat – as well as searching for the right kind of Buffalo ice cream at Taste of London and managing the pimms flow at Ascot – to name but a few..
So, despite the busy distractions of running a business, in our world clients always come first – even before the Queen..!
Henrietta Mackenzie filed this content as a guest blogger to Xerox. The content is the author’s opinion and does not necessarily reflect the views of Xerox.
June 22nd, 2012
Today marks the start of my favorite nine days of the year in Rochester, NY . . . it’s time for the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival! This event grows every year, with thousands of artists and hundreds of shows attracting more than 185,000 jazz lovers to the heart of downtown Rochester. It makes me proud to be a born-and-raised Rochesterian, and prouder still that Xerox is the title sponsor of this event.
Why would Xerox sponsor a jazz festival? At first glance, you may not see the connection between the two, but just like any other business, there are back-office and behind-the-scenes functions that need to be taken care of and that is where Xerox comes in. Typically, these are the types of things that distract producers from programming and producing a nine-day festival. As a jazz and Rochester fan, there is nothing better than working side-by-side with the producers and staff to simplify these processes and help them to create the best possible experience for festival attendees and represent my home town.
Like virtually every other major entertainment and sporting event, festival counterfeiting is a big concern. We have put safeguards in place within the passes, which include MicroText marks legible only with a magnifying device and Correlation Marks, which is text that’s only visible when superimposed by a “key” overlay. To provide an added layer of protection the passes use Xerox® MicroGloss, text that’s only readable when viewed at an angle. The final security measure: printing on the ultra-durable Xerox® NeverTear stock, which makes counterfeit reproduction virtually impossible while keeping passes safe from the elements and everyday wear and tear.
We’re also offering up a free listening station. Attendees can sample the sounds of festival artists broken down by the subgenres they represent. Once they find their favorite, they can visit one of three photo tents stationed around the festival to get their picture taken and made into a poster featuring the jazz style of their choosing—right there on the spot. To really bring the ‘jazz’ to Rochester, we developed a free smartphone app called JazzFinder, which uses augmented reality to bring the game badges and posters to life and immerse you in a world of jazz. This is our way of giving people a snazzy way to learn about the festival, jazz music and the artists, and share a large amount of information in a well-organized way. Creating ways to logically share information is one of the things Xerox is all about, and serving it up in a way that is organic to the business we’re helping is the icing on the cake . . . or the fermata on the high C, if you will.
A true fan of jazz with a creative flair of her own, Lori spends her time at Xerox focusing on making sure that what goes on behind the scenes seems easy.
June 15th, 2012
By, Alex Charles, Xerox Public Relations
Years ago, I took a professional profile assessment that revealed my dislike for meetings. With meetings so essential, I respectfully disagree with my assessment and would like to add the needed qualifier. I dislike unstructured meetings.
The free-for- all meeting is not an opportunity for a natural introvert to shine. So when I’m faced with putting together a meeting or attending a meeting, I go through a checklist to keep my focus. The following are things that help me get the most out of my meetings.
Pass/Fail- If I’m considering putting a meeting on a calendar, I first ask myself “do we really need a meeting?” Or can I achieve my objective through an email or quick phone call?
Maestro- Because it’s so easy to go off on tangents and meander, there needs to be someone who keeps the meeting on task. Think of this person as the one who turns up the music during a speech that goes a little long during an awards show. Rather than gradually turning up music, the maestro might use the often used “we’ll take that offline” route.
Time limit- We each have competing priorities and a finite number of hours in the day. Meetings should have a hard beginning and hard end. When a time limit is not indicated, the pace may become languid and sluggish. When there’s a clock ticking, participants are more apt to get things accomplished.
Essential Players- Have you ever sat on a meeting and wondered why you were invited? One of the keys to a successful meeting is knowing who can contribute and who can benefit from attending. If participants of a meeting can successfully put a call on hold and field a second call and jump back on the first call unnoticed, are they really integral to the conversation?
Meeting participants should be able to share information, benefit from information or ideally a combination of both.
Today, meetings are unavoidable with teams separated by varying time zones and geographies. To get the most out of your meetings, use these tips to help you focus and maximize the time spent with your teammates.
If you would like to discuss further, we can discuss “offline”.
June 8th, 2012
by Karen Arena, Xerox PR
Prior to joining Xerox as a full time employee, I didn’t think much of my boss’ warning about e-mail volume. In my former role as a consultant to more than one client, I knew about e-mail volume. So after her warning, I thought , “piece of cake.” Yeah, right.
Every day I receive about 200+ e-mails, three phone calls, and no real mail.*
I’m thinking you’re pacing at about the same clip.
So, when you’re not doing mission critical work, are you constantly managing your e-mail?
I hate every minute I have to. Considering the many alternatives and organizing software available, why are we still wrestling with it? IMHO, behavior and corporate culture are hard to change, and software only organizes the volume, not get rid of it. A colleague wisely informed me that the less I use e-mail myself, the less I’ll get.
So, I started a behavioral experiment:
- I substitute e-mail with collaboration tools: Instant Messaging, SharePoint, Twitter, Yammer and WebEx.
- I stopped answering notes with “thank you” or one word replies. Easy, because it annoys me when people send them to me.
- I respond to non-critical messages slower, or not at all if they don’t require a response.
- I do not “cc” a bunch of folks or “reply-all” or forward messages if not really necessary.
- I even pick up the phone to do in three minutes what would otherwise take a string of multiple messages.
- I meet with people face-to-face. How novel!
Was my colleague right?
I changed behavior and therefore spend more time on priorities, like promoting Xerox.
*BTW, If you really want my attention, call me, send a handwritten note, a letter or personalized direct mail.
Karen can be spotted on I-95 traveling between her home in New Jersey and her office in Norwalk, CT. Appropo, since steering the Xerox narrative is a significant part of her work, and colleagues might add that she drives them crazy too! You can follow Karen at @arenak on Twitter.
June 1st, 2012
By, Celeste N. Wallace, Xerox Analyst Relations
I did it. I’m not sure how, but I planned my own wedding, and the day went off without a hitch (….well, almost).
As I quickly learned, and many of you can appreciate, being a working bride can be downright difficult. Talk about competing priorities! Menu planning and seating arrangements can become all-consuming.
I’ve helped plan dozens of professional events, but somehow I felt particularly daunted by the thought of planning my “big” day. With every bridal show I attended and every WE tv wedding show I watched, I began to feel increasingly overwhelmed.
I made the decision early on to prioritize the things that would always matter most throughout the entire process: remaining a productive member of my work team and simply walking down the aisle to join hands with the man of my dreams. I made these two priorities my “business” – my north star where I could always keep my focus. That was refreshing.
However, it didn’t take long to realize all the grunt work needed to make my priorities happen. Come on – who really knows about wedding cake baking, seasonal flower arrangements or invitation design? None of these areas are my specialty. Yet, I had to focus on them long enough to know enough to be dangerous and make decisions that impacted my larger goals.
Reflecting on my 17 months of wedding planning crystallizes for me what Xerox does for our customers. We let our customers stay laser-focused on their ultimate business goals, while we take care of the behind-the-scenes work that, while important to the final outcome, would typically compete for their focus.
All in all, I had a picture-perfect day, and my team hasn’t replaced me. But, I must admit – a wedding planner would’ve been nice!