Still searching for meaning



I love the results of a recent study done by researchers at the University of Sussex and the University of Greenwich It confirms that bosses have virtually nothing to do with how meaningful employees feel their jobs are. Viktor Frankl had the right of it. Meaning only comes from within.

The researchers interviewed 135 people in ten jobs ranging from priest to garbage collector. They found that people feel they have meaning as a fellow human being; it’s personal.

This can happen when others find what they do matters.  They label this self-transcendent.

The feeling can occur in a situation that is uncomfortable or even painful, what they term poignant

Purpose is not a constant. It is episodic and comes and goes according to circumstances. It also takes a while before we realize that something meaningful has happened upon reflection.

Bosses get in the way when they interfere with employees’ values, judgment, or supporting relationships.

Dr. Adrian Madden of Greenwich’s business school says organizations that master this concept will have greater success in attracting and retaining their best employees.

That only makes sense, right? Who wants to go to work every day thinking “What’s the point?” Why is it so hard for companies to get this?


Propel yourself to marketing success

Propel book Front Cover (1)


I am no stranger to marketing; I’ve done it in both the for-profit and non-profit arenas. Yet even this old dog learned a few tricks in Propel: Five Ways to Amp Up Your Marketing and Accelerate Business by Whitney Keyes. If you, on the other hand, are a newcomer to the field, her five marketing principles lay out everything you need to know very clearly. They apply equally to big business, small business, and even personal branding.

Keyes breaks it all into five sections aspects: strategy, story, strength, simplicity, and speed.

A lot of thinking goes into marketing before you ever take any actions. The Strategy section thoroughly defines the basics: mission, vision, values, and SMART goals and objectives. Keyes also covers SWOT analysis, how to do market research, and what to do with the information you discover.

Keyes talks about the process of branding and finding target audiences in her Story section.

Strength comes through developing and then leveraging authentic relationships with customers as well as collaboration and alliances with other businesses and with the media.

Simplicity is the result of focus on priorities and setting action plans to avoid wasting time and money.

Speed is not only about being able to move quickly to take advantage of opportunities but also being able to judge quickly whether your actions are getting the right results.

What I particularly liked about Propel are the numerous examples all along the way from Keyes’ own career and clients. These clarify the concepts she offers and demonstrate how they work in real life.

If you need a crash course in marketing or just a refresher, you will find it in Propel.



Over the past 20 years, Whitney Keyes has worked as a senior Microsoft manager, strategic adviser for American Express and a marketing consultant to thousands of individuals and organizations around the world. She is a member of the National Women’s Business Council, a non-partisan federal advisory council created to serve as an independent source of advice and counsel to the President, Congress, and the U.S. Small Business Administration on economic issues of importance to women business owners. Whitney was a winner of the Small Business Administration’s Women in Business Champion of the Year Award for Washington State.

Whitney serves as a professor and fellow for the Center for Strategic Communications at Seattle University and guest lectures for the University of Washington and other academic institutions. She teaches Global Reputation Management and related marketing communication courses. She also manages a consulting practice, delivers keynotes and facilitates workshops for organizations including the Small Business Administration and Port of Seattle.

To Tribe or Not to Tribe

Do you have a tribe?  I tend to be someone who would rather do it all myself, so functioning in a tribe doesn’t come naturally to me.

Best-selling author Seth Godin says that the Internet has made mass marketing passé. He says tribes are what matter now. People want to be connected. Because of the Internet, people can easily find other people who care about the same things they do. Rather than a shotgun approach, marketers need to target special interest groups. Quality over quantity marketing.

Just caring about an issue or a product, though, isn’t always enough. Sometimes people aren’t satisfied with the status quo. What happens next? Sometimes a leader steps forward.

These leaders tell a story, connect a tribe, lead a movement, and make a change happen.

Dave Fleming’s definition of a tribe is a group of people, infused with passion, who are working toward a shared outcome.  He consults with such groups and advises them the best way to get things done is through tribal alchemy. I’m part of a nonprofit group and heard him discuss these concepts recently.

In his model, a group or tribe first sees a challenge or opportunity. Then they give it a name, engage it, and transform it. It is a collective effort. They take the raw material of their situation and turn it into something better in some way. Instead of looking too far outside the box, Dave says they should look at secondary relationships. People who can help them advance their cause are probably already connected to someone within their network.

I know the adage two heads (or more) are better than one is true. How else would it have become an adage? Yet I’m still struggling with trying to work in a team.

Am I the only one who feels this way? How can I get over myself and get with the program?