What You Can Learn from the Chicago Bulls

By Tom Baer

In case you’re not a sports fan, I’ll fill you in on the sad story of this year’s Chicago Bulls.  After playing well for the entire regular season, led by last year’s MVP Derrick Rose, the Bulls ended up with the best record in the league, earning them home court advantage throughout the playoffs.  As the number one seed, their first playoff opponent was the Philadelphia 76ers, who were seeded eighth  in the Eastern Conference, and most NBA experts picked the Bulls to sweep the seven game series.

But with a little over a minute left in the very first game, with the Bulls leading by 12 points, Rose jumped awkwardly into the air to make a pass, came down even more awkwardly, and was lost to the team for the rest of the playoffs (and well beyond, I might add) with a torn ligament in his knee.

Without their MVP, even though many experts felt the Bulls would still win the series, they went on to lose, four games to two.  OK, that’s sports – everyone, even die-hard Chicago fans are ready to move on.

But before you do you should think about what this might tell you about your business.  Whether you’re part of a corporation, an association, a DMO, an agency, or any business, you could lose your Derrick Rose at any moment.  To injury, an accident, an illness, or maybe your company’s MVP gets an offer he or she just can’t refuse.  Are you prepared to replace them, or will your organization’s performance drop significantly as the Bulls’ did?  And disaster can strike in many ways other than losing a key player.  Anything from a legal issue, to losing a key alliance partner or client, to a terrorist attack, to the weather can have a tremendous effect on your business.  Yet most companies don’t even think about these things.  They assume it will never happen to them, or if it does, they will deal with it then.

What should you do?  Simple, plan ahead.  Think about what things can go wrong in your business.  Really wrong.  Then determine what you would need to do if the worst happened.  Write a plan and keep it on file.  You may even need to go as far as purchasing some equipment or arranging contingencies with outside resources.

Most companies plan for future positives – what additional services they will provide, what employees they will add, how they can get more space and incorporate new technologies.  Only the smart ones put together disaster plans.  Maybe because they’re not fun to do.  But they are necessary.  Just ask the Bulls

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Learn from a Teenager

Teenager multitaskingby Tom Baer

OK, everyone in the workforce, no matter what the industry, knows the value of experience.  As you grow in your career you continue to learn, and that experience makes you a more valuable employee.  It’s why as we grow older we move into more senior positions.

But there’s at least one skill where teenagers outperform seasoned veterans hands down: multitasking.   

At an MIP Junior panel discussion this past October, Donna Friedman Meir, Chief Innovation Officer at InsightKids, highlighted that teenagers spend an average of 218 minutes a day watching television, 169 minutes online, 128 minutes using mobile phones and 57 minutes playing games. 113 minutes are spent on books, magazines and other forms of media, for a total of 8 hours and 19 minutes of media consumption a day.  And that doesn’t even include non-media tasks they are performing, such as eating, driving, shopping, hanging out with friends, going to classes and maybe even doing a little homework.  How do they have time to do all this?  Simple, they do the majority of these things at the same time.

With the economy forcing many companies to cut back workforces, time management has now become an essential skill in the workplace. Think about your workload.  Is it more demanding than is was a few years back? Chances are the answer is yes.  If so, how do you deal with it?  My suggestion, learn to multitask. You may think you already do this…but do you do it well?  The key is organization and prioritization.  You have to know which tasks demand your full attention, and which are less demanding ones or ones with down time that allow you to deal with others at the same time.

Think of learning to multitask well as job survival, because there are millions of teenagers who are experts at it who will be in the workforce soon.

C-h-i- What?

smart phoneby Mark Adamski

Being that this is my very first contribution to the venerable Heads Up blog, I figured it would be appropriate to talk about finding my way in marketing.

Don’t worry, I won’t bore you with a flowery narrative about my career path. Rather, I want to talk about the nearly microscopic GPS receiver in your smartphone that has the potential to revolutionize the world of marketing and meetings.

Last week I when I landed in Seattle, I opened up my Safari browser while the plane was still taxiing to the gate (yes, the flight attendant said it was okay to use cell phones at that point, and yes, I have an iPhone; Steve Jobs is “the man”…or rather was). As I started to type the name of the restaurant I intended to visit that evening, it only took three fingerprint smudges to jump to a recommendation for “Chisou Seattle.” Ta-da! That’s where I had planned to eat. At the moment I didn’t think this was anything unusual, but then it occurred to me that my domicile is a city that begins with the same letters, c-h-i, and there was not one mention of a place with 3 million+ people! (Perhaps you can guess the city.)

That Chicago-something didn’t appear under the recommendations, or “c-h-i-anything else” for that matter, was somewhat shocking because Chisou is a tiny little restaurant in the Fremont neighborhood of Seattle, not a sprawling metropolis, or even the world’s most populated country, which also happens to begin with “c-h-i.” Of course, it was no mistake that happened. As soon as I powered up my iPhone, it launched a relentless search for its whereabouts on planet Earth, unbeknownst to me.

The need to satiate my belly’s craving for mediocre Japanese food is just the tip of this iceberg.  GPS technology now offers a new world (loose pun intended) of possibilities when a meeting or conference comes to town:  there are thousands of new people who roam the host city (some might even call them tourists), exploring a place that’s to them mostly unknown.  Applications abound for GPS to be used to enhance the event for attendees, pre, during, and post, and even as ways to drive new sponsorship revenue.

Of course the gaming industry has been leading the charge for a while now with location based smart-phone games like Four Square and others, but it’s time to look into how GPS technology can add to your meetings.  “C-h-i-me” in with your thoughts on how to best use it by commenting below!

NEW THINK for Fall

by Karen Hamilton

Fall leavesNow that the Labor Day weekend has come and gone I’ve heard a number of friends and industry colleagues bemoan the seemingly shorter days that are ahead and the inevitable end to the carefree Summer routine. While there is undeniably a change in the air, there is something refreshing and invigorating about Fall. I recall that “Back to School” time seemed to signal a time for a fresh start – whether it was a new pair of gym shoes, a new teacher, meeting new friends, signing up for a new activity or trying out for a sport. It was also a natural time to set new goals, start that next chapter and decide “who you were going to be” and what you were going to do in the “year” ahead.

While I no longer have to worry about trying to remember a new locker combination, I still use this time of year to look ahead and refresh goals and reassess project status and progress. Client needs continue to evolve, the dynamic world around us impacts business decisions, and what better opportunity to take a step back and challenge yourself to embrace “NEW THINK” in this “new” year as you refine your goals. What do your stakeholders really need? What value are you providing and how do you deliver that value. Too often we focus on the conference or event and forget that there are 365 days in the year where stakeholders need, want and expect value. A NEW THINK approach will help you uncover these opportunities.

At MYB we believe “NEW THINK” creates bigger possibilities and we hope our mindset resonates with you as you approach upcoming projects.

So take out your No. 2 Ticonderoga and Composition Book, (or iPads or netbooks, as the case may be), and share with us how you’ll get to the head of the class this year.

PS – And don’t forget to take time to make one more trip to the ice cream truck!