Posted On: 2005-11-24Length: 18:51
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What can I say? There's a beauty and a power in the simplicity of your own voice. It's something that no one can take away from you, no one can imitate and no one can every deny. We use our voice for expression. We use it to express fear. We use it to express sympathy, hope and individuality. Many times the system in which we exist denies that voice for various reasons. Maybe it's not the place for it. Maybe it angers some. Maybe, just maybe it reveals a truth in ourselves that perhaps we don't want to face but we need to. Voice is important now more than ever. As you're riding along on your way to work, at the gym, or walking on the street, you're participating in a new modern dialogue, one where we seem to isolate ourselves into an on demand personalized cocoon of communication. This new dialogue has the implication of creating a society in which we lose our voice because we forget to speak up outside our own little comfortable cocoons. Twenty-something's, in particular creative 20-somethings are integrated into the workforce and taught to believe you only speak if you're spoken to. To remain in our own cocoons unless we are told we can go beyond that. We're taught that other people know better because that is the way of things. As well, the way you look, the way you look around you, imagine what it's like inside other people's cocoons, other people's spheres of communications. What voices to they hear? What perspectives could they benefit from and how can you benefit to learn from others? The problem is this: we'll never know unless at some point we take the headphones off and we ask someone how they're doing. Granted I realize that this would be a little bit creepy, and I do want you to listen to the rest of the show. However, I do think it's about time that some of us broke our own silence, for us to gain our voice and to create something out of exchanging perspectives. Submitted for your approval, the 20-Something Marketing Forum's episode #17, "Speak Up Damn It!"
Rise and shine 20-somethings. It's time for the 20-Something Marketing Forum with your host Jared Degnan.
And greetings and hearty Thanksgiving salutations marketing fans. I hope you guys are all at home enjoying some well-deserved time off, and if not, well, pull up a bottle of Southern Comfort right now, settle in, cause this one should be a good one. Now I wanted to make a quick comment that if the show sounds a little bit wonky today, that's because I'm recording from my dad's office here at home. My parents are in the other room watching Larry David on their brand new big screen TV and they're just absolutely ecstatic over it. So, it's going to be interesting. So, in case this is your first time tuning in, my name is Jared Degnan, and you are listening to the 20-Something Marketing Forum, an informative, engaging look at marketing and life as a 20-something professional dealing with the realities and of course the drama of the modern workplace. As always, a reminder you can find out more about what we talk about here on the show as well as interact with like-minded young professionals on our website at 20somethingmarketing.com. That's two zero something marketing dot com. Now a couple of quick notes before we kick it off today. First of all, I'm going to try to keep this episode short and sweet, and I know some of you need to try to stifle your laughter on this one. But given that it is the Thanksgiving holiday and I've got some programming set up over the next couple of weeks. I've got some fantastic enterprising guests, but really as the season approaches and the holidays get under way, I may edit the calendar a little bit on the show production, knowing that you guys are probably going on vacation, and so the downside is that you're probably not going to get a show a week for the next couple of weeks. But the upside of this is that I will try to publish something every week that gives you guys an update and entertains you or something. And the upside of this of course is that I will throw in a couple of bonus vidcasts for good measure, in fact, my parents just went out to dinner with me and we discussed actually kind of taping some of the Thanksgiving stuff. So stay tuned for that. Second of all I want to remind you guys about the best boss story competition. It's now open. So if you've got a great upward management story that you want to tell, you could win yourself a 20-Something Marketing Forum official coffee mug which has, yeah, you guessed it, a coffee mug on it, only on marketing can we get this creative folks. And lastly, just lastly, and I'm really intrigued by this and I'm going to have a lot of fun with it. But if you were in the Washington DC metro area, or at least have access to a gay and lesbian, bi-sexual transgender bookshop in your city, I want you to go up and pick up this week's issue of the Washington Blade. I want you to turn it to the Arts and Leisure section and you maybe, just maybe will see a certain podcaster you know. Even if you can't get to it, I will post it on the site at 20somethingmarketing.com under my show notes. So I'll have an online link to that version of the paper. So, with all that out of the way, let's roll with it shall we?
All righty, well today's show is all about speaking up and what better time to do this than now, the season of sharing. Now for some of those of you who might not be too familiar with the premise of the show, let me share this with you. I started this up for two reasons. The first of which is to create a forum to talk about marketing and number two, to talk about surviving the wilds of the modern workplace. Those sometimes we talk about it's not just about marketing and it's not just about being a young professional. It's really about being happy doing what you're doing and discussing the how and why of certain topics, and then drawing out what's important to take away from that. Now the idea is to do a weekly show that expands your perception of your own personal situation and kind of creates a framework and suggest tactics that help you tackle some of the biggest issues both in marketing and as a young professional. My viewpoint is that you can tune into a pure business podcast and be bored off your rocker, Albert Rogien, or you can tune into a pure entertainment podcast and really walk away with nothing more than a few humorous moments. The way that I like to say is that this show threads the needle on what you want to learn and it fuses with a heavy dose of my own sardonic caffeine-induced take on things.
Now when we're talking about voice, we're talking about just that. Your own take on things. Now in the most general sense, it's called personality. In marketing it's called creativity and in the rest of business it's basically called among other things, quirkiness, turn a phrase, or just you know what, a reason to be fired. Voice is a double-edged sword sometimes and we got to acknowledge that. It gives you both distinction and sometimes has a tendency to put up road blocks. You know what, if you don't use it right, voice can impress upon your coworkers the idea that you're not with the program and that you're a trouble maker. Now it's been said that being an individual's the bravest thing someone can do sometimes. In the professional world we grapple with this all the fricking time. Now, I feel as if I'm uniquely qualified to speak on this topic just because of the same reason many people tune in to this podcast, and that is that I've met significant resistance in some areas of my professional life, because I choose to exercise my voice. Now personally, I don't like to mince words. I think if something is stupid, poorly presented or were even contrary to achieving maximum results chances are I'm going to call a spade a bloody spade. In business one rule has been emerging. It's never been more apparent than ever that it's either the quick or the dead. It's in that reality of marketing, and it's in the pressure that's been put on 20-somethings to kind of really produce results that really makes you want to effect the bottom line and create a perception in your mind that you shouldn't do something unless you're going to do it right. Now the company hired you to produce results, not necessarily just make people happy, right? Well, that can certainly be the case, but you learn the hard way, especially if you're right out of college, that the one thing that you can do to older coworkers to make them hate you more than ever is to be a progressive smartass that is going to upstage them at every turn. Now, and, of course those of you who listen to the show on a regular basis know exactly what I'm talking about with this. Now 20-somethings have been swept up into a changing office environment no doubt. We're much more casual in dress, casual in tone, we call people by their first names, we call the CEO by their first name, for gosh sakes. The last thing that many of us want to hear is that we have to change who we are to appease others. Now especially when we think we're right, which by my count is very frequently if you subscribe to the fact that we as 20-somethings know everything. So the question is, can you retain your own voice, your own personality, not sell out and yet still get the things done that you want to get done without pissing people off? Well my friends, that is the eternal conundrum of marketing. I'd like to put it this way. Creativity and personality is what it takes to cut through the noise many times in today's marketplace. You have to be continually keeping it fresh for people to pay attention. However, if you're in marketing or design, or advertising for that matter, the number of great ideas that are left on the cutting room floor as you well know is absolutely staggering. Why is this happening? Well it's happening for a couple reasons. There's personal preference, it's different perceptions of what's right and what's wrong and what's going to be effective. And just frankly, different life experiences. I mean everyone brings something else to the table to sell your idea and this in sales and marketing, or internal office politics. You have to put thing in terms that many people understand and many times we view this as dumbing it down or compromising our own voice, and at the very worst part of it, selling out. And this is why there are great artists in the world, and then there are great commercial illustrators. If the difference is one follows his own voice while the other speaks in a voice that pays. Now, before I go any further, I know a lot of you guys are kind of thinking, wait a second, why are we telling people to speak up when we're also telling people the only way to get what you want is to essentially tell people what they want to hear, right? Well, there my friends lies the crux of this issue, and that is a little something that I like to call on the 20-Something Marketing Forum the what the hell is it and the why the hell do we care? And if you're a regular listener, you know that those are the two things we start out the show with. So we're going to go quickly to a segue and we're going to go ahead and get to the meat and potatoes of this issue.
You're listening to the 20-Something Marketing Forum.
Ok. I know I'm going through this really quickly folks. But it's late at night. I just came back from a flight, so I'm going to try to keep this as succinct as humanly possible. So just to recap, individuality and your own personal voice is good. Your personal voice contributing to people not liking you, well, that's just bad. So here's the jist of the situation. You need your voice to help differentiate you and your work, but how do you not let it get in the way of accomplishing the things that you need to get done? So, let me tell you. It's really a complex issue and there are thousands of courses out there that are taught on the shear basis of interpersonal communications and the pitfalls of speaking your mind. Now, to that, and to keep in tone of our discussion, I just want to focus in on when to speak up, and not necessarily how to speak up. Your voice is a very powerful thing. Your perceptions, your unique mix of experiences, the things that you've experienced in your lifetime, you are equipped with an enormous toolbox to get things done and to differentiate yourself in your marketing tactics and in your life. The problem is this. Too many people want to get, they want to reign in their voices because of the shear fact that they just don't want to rock the boat. And I mean, nothing is more hilarious than explaining the example of you and your friends going out to eat. One friend says to another, says, oh where do you want to go out to dinner? The other friend says, oh, I don't know, where do you want to go? And then the other one says, well, I'll go wherever you want to go. Well, I don't care. What kind of food do you want? Eh, I don't have a preference. You see what I'm getting at folks? Instead of someone speaking up, things are just going to go nowhere. When we fail to use our voice we basically forfeit our right to contribute our two cents, and that's just not right. Granted, this is one of those things where you don't want to be controlling everything, or domineering. But for gosh sakes, folks. Think about all the times that there were things you wanted to say, but you didn't speak up because you felt like you didn't want to rock the boat, and that's not in line with traditional thought. And this to me is the reason why people are not contributing. Remember the whole rock the boat thing? Decisions are made by people who show up? Well, it's not just a team rallying cry here folks, it's a fact. Now, let's kind of transfer this over to a real life situation. Say you're in a meeting. You're listening to a discussion and you have an idea, or something to contribute. Now many 20-somethings are basically told to sit down shut up and your initial reaction is just to do that. Now, however, you also know that what you have to say meets what I think of as the three criteria for relevant conversation topics? Number one, you feel it's on topic, two, you feel it's going to positively contribute to the discussion, and three, it's something you feel needs to be said. And it's times like that when I just say, go with your gut folks. I'm not saying to just blurt it out. Just be cognizant that if you want to speak up, you should speak up and there's more than one way of doing it. And the way that I like to kind of explain this is the same thing that I discussed with my boss about kind of trying to upstage him at one of my meeting, which I really didn't do, so I mean he can argue with me on this. But that's not the point. The first is just to take a cue from your boss. Make eye contact. Give them a little gesture toward yourself, the basically try to get them to call on you or refer to you in the conversation. Now if you're still not comfortable speaking up, then you need to re-examine the situation. My advice is just to take one mental step backwards here. If it's an open discussion and you're not going to be upstaging your boss, as I mentioned if you're a regular listener you know exactly why I say that, but if it's an opportunity, just raise your hand. I mean if you feel more comfortable, I know this is really grade schoolish, but the worst that can happen is that you have to wait until the meeting's over with. Now, lastly, if you really don't feel like expressing yourself but you still want to have your point made, never underestimate the power of trying to get someone else to make the point for you. And the way that you do this is through a verbal prompt, known more commonly as a question. You want to figure out how to ask a leading question so instead of pointing out that a particular strategy, for instance would benefit the bottom line more than another, you basically ask someone what the price difference is between the strategy being discussed and the one that you want. Have them make your point. No one ever got shot for asking a question, or at least no one outside the Cold War or the Bush administration for that matter. But the point is that once you understand where the barriers are to speaking up, you can navigate by reading our situation and determine when the best time to express yourself is. You should never, ever, ever, not speak up in a situation in which you think so. I mean, speaking up can gain you so much attention. Speaking up can provide ideas, provide fresh perspective. Fortune favors the bold, folks. Don't let the opportunities pass you buy to put your own personality or resources into a situation. You always runt the risk of being told to shut up. But then again, keep in mind, like I said, fortune favors the bold folks. And I want to give you an example. I mean think of everyone who you've ever admired, a sports star, a business tycoon, a greatest radio star for that matter, these are the people who express themselves. These are the guys who put themselves out there every day and are willing to take that risk that they're going to get shot down. So, folks, all I can say is, speak up, damn it!
All righty folks. It's time to rustle some holiday cheer and make the tinsel in the tree with this week's game plan. That's right, it's the actionable tactics that you can take with you sort of moral of the story, if you will. Now for all the poems, songs, and rallying cries to be yourself, sometimes it's just not that easy. The point of today's show was to show you that though it's tough, it's imperative to create and to force your own personal voice at work. If not, there's no way you're going to move the needle on your professional agenda. Business itself, keep in mind, is a series of risks and payoffs, so is your voice. Think of your voice as a personal investment in your own radical career. Choose to invest it rather than let your voice go unused. Invest it in your voice, invest it in your coworkers. Solicit their voices so they can invest it in you as well. Now, communication is gold, folks. To let it stop flowing is a sure sign of impending trouble. Now at the game plan for today, I want you to take five minutes to express your voice, in written format, to one of your coworkers about a situation or an idea you had, or just something you'd like to see happen, and this is a great exercise for any point in time. Now, instead of sending it immediately though, if you can wait 24 hours, do it. Then take a new look at it, edit it, and make sure it still makes sense compared to the person you want to influence, and how you think your voice is going to be received. If necessary, even use your own voice to express what you feel is going to be the most valuable for them. Now this gives you a bit of clarity and purpose while allowing you to separate what you want to express in your own voice, and how you want it to affect, all the while making the points and not having you edit your voice. And I hope this makes sense, because it really is a good point that you should never like have to compromise who you are to make a point. But there's definitely a when to illustrate your point.
Well folks, this has been your short but fun edition of the 20-Something Marketing Forum. I want to wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving, safe travels, and of course a happy, happy holiday season. Now as a reminder, you can submit your best boss story contest entries to firstname.lastname@example.org. That's jared at two zero something marketing dot com. And of course all other comments, questions, rants, send them there as well. Now next week be sure to catch the show because I've got an awesome interview with Justin, who's the founder of the web's most effective gay Jewish dating site. QJew.com. So folks, thank you so much for tuning in. I want you guys to have a great, great holiday. Until next time, as always, I will catch you on the flip side.