April 25, 2014

Do You Want to Be a “Thought Leader?”

Inc. Magazine’s Marla Tabaka asks a provocative question: Is it in the best interests of your business to become a “thought leader” through social media? Does your collected knowledge and perspective add value to your company, and should you share it? Brand exposure matters in every industry, and the social media revolution has provided all businesses with a free set of tools.

A thought leader “drives conversation and peppers the Internet and other outlets with his insights, ideas, and expertise. She inspires others to follow their dreams and teaches them to think big, solve problems, and face their fears.” Leaders like Seth Godin and Mari Smith have taken this model and run with it.

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Are You Ready for the Virtual Office? An Interview with Mike Natalizio, Part 3

Mike NYou’ve already read a bit about HNI Risk CEO Mike Natalizio’s unconventional vision for the “office-less” business of the future (Check out parts 1 and 2 if you haven’t). In the final installment of our interview, Mike talks about making the most of your resources and ironing out the details of your new social media plan.

RSP: Do the social media tools you’ve embraced sometimes create confusion when you have too many voices involved in the conversation?

M: That’s one of our biggest fears: we don’t want to work with a string of bad ideas, so we have to reject them. The reality is that there’s not going to be a big influx of great ideas or opinions at first. People listen more than they talk, but those with great ideas will almost always put them out there eventually.  But that doesn’t necessarily mean that we put everything to a vote. The leader of a project will ask for ideas, and team members will often counter bad ideas instead of waiting for the manager to say “we’re not going to do that.” It’s more a case of “I like this but…” so we don’t single anybody out as the bad guy. The unpopular ideas usually take care of themselves because of the shared filtering system. Again, it’s not a popular vote, but you still have to approach managers to make decisions, and the managers have to respond.

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Are You Ready for the Virtual Office? An Interview with Mike Natalizio, Part 2

Mike Natalizio…and we’re back with part two of our interview between your trusty editor and HNI Risk CEO Mike Natalizio (check out Part 1 if you missed it).

Here’s the thing: Change is hard. Even if you’ve decided to move toward a new tech-heavy business model, you’re still going to face significant challenges in achieving employee buy-in and turning your big plans into reality on the ground. And yes, there will be risks. Companies that stray too far from their comfort zones might even face some backlash from customers (hello, Netflix). But in Mike’s view, you might just have to hold your nose and take the plunge once you’ve done your relevant research. Chances are you’ll thank yourself later.

RSP: We’ve discussed your “office-less” model and your use of social media tools to encourage internal dialogue at HNI. How have your employees responded to this project?

Mike: Well, we’re relatively new to this. We first started using an internal Twitter-style tool called Yammer to share what was going on with the team. It wasn’t really collaboration, but it was a step into the social business space. We weren’t just writing “its my bday I have cookies,” we were updating each other on business stuff with lines like “just met w/association leader, he said our company is great,” etc. It was meaningful to our business as a soft way to stick our big toe into the water and to start talking about the business more openly. Now that our internal culture is more social, we’re more comfortable participating in social media interactions with our clients, prospects, and business partners.

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Are You Ready for the Virtual Office? An Interview with Mike Natalizio, Part 1

Mike of HNIWe all know that the insurance industry is changing, but can you imagine a day when your company won’t need a file cabinet, a desktop computer system, or even an office building? Believe it or not, that day is fast approaching, and a few trailblazers are now pioneering the models that will shape the industry of the future.

HNI risk services CEO and longtime ReSource Pro partner Mike Natalazio is one of those forward-thinking executives. He works from a single laptop, he has no office, and he’s managed to free himself from many of the roadblocks and productivity killers (redundant emails, planning meetings, endless stacks of paper) that take up so much time in the traditional business world. He regularly travels with James Carlson, CEO of the business advisory group Bucket Brigade, to spread the message on leaner, more efficient business models driven by the power of social media and new technologies.

Mike spoke at the most recent meeting of ReSource Pro’s Innovation Advisory Council, where he presented his “office-less” model to a group of the company’s most trusted partners. After the event, your editor interviewed Mike to gain further insights on putting the newest tech tools into action and dragging the insurance business into the new digital century.

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Sales and Marketing Should Pay Attention to Google+

Plus what?Tired of hearing about the ongoing struggle to knock Facebook off the top of the social media pile? Get used to it. This hot topic isn’t going away anytime soon.

So what’s the word on Google, a company that can seemingly do no wrong? Social media spin-off Google Buzz may have been their first true failure, but we think they’ve made a better go at it the second time around with Google+. The invite-only beta version already has millions of members, and unlike Buzz, it also has at least one ingenious twist that will help it stand out from the crowd.
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