Principle-Centered Careers: Is it Still Possible?

By Philip J. Matisak, ABC, Past President, IABC Nashville

IMG_0054-001During a recent visit to Western Kentucky University, several members of the IABC Nashville Board of Directors visited with students to talk about what they could do with their degrees.  Many of the questions were about what a typical day is like in a variety of different jobs or professions—how can you find a job that is satisfying and offers growth, both personally and for careers? What would we do differently? Great questions.

There seemed to be a theme that surfaced regarding the advice that these seasoned professionals were giving. Whether it was from some of us who had been in several jobs over the years, or someone like me, who had been at one company for a career, we all seemed to agree—find a company or field of work that is in sync with your values and principles.

It’s no secret that not everyone can fit comfortably into any given company’s culture. Hiring and recruiting would be snap if that were the case. The challenge is finding your “right fit.” How do you do that? Sometimes it’s trial and error. But that can waste value career time at the wrong company or the wrong job. You could even be in the right company but the wrong job.

A starting place is understanding or discovering exactly what are your primary values. That might take some soul searching, some honesty and some work to really analyze what’s important in your life. And perhaps, as important is what makes those things important?

*Stan Slap, business management guru, would ask, “What was the Moment of Truth” when you knew this was an important value? A life-changing incident? Some call it an “ah-ha” moment. Does that mean some tragedy or near-death experience? Not necessarily. It’s simply an experience, observation or event when it struck you—Wow, this is real important to me!

You may not realize what that moment is at the time, but on reflection—when trying to figure out what drives your decision-making—you can see why a certain value or principle seems to impact your decisions. You realize, “ah-ha, yes!” this observation or experience is important—when I saw my new born baby or grandbaby, I knew family would be first in my life. Or, when I saw a lack of integrity which some people displayed, and how hurtful or counter-productive that could be to people and business— integrity would direct my life and decisions.

So, you’ve figured out what’s important. Now, in this world of “evil corporations,” is it possible to work for a company or clients that accepts and supports people who don’t leave their values at the front door and who speak up for what is right—and more importantly perhaps, one who listens, beyond rank and regardless of level of responsibility?

You may be surprised at the number of companies who do. In fact, most successful companies understand that principled employee engagement is critical to the success of the hundreds or thousands of people who come together for a common cause—a corporation—for the “good” of employees, communities, and environment.

David Koch, founder of Koch Industries, calls it “Good Profit,” the title of his recent book. It outlines how their company’s success is driven by a governing principle that not only rewards principled-centered people within their company, “people who help themselves by helping others improve their lives,” but actively recruits people based on values and principles first, skills second. He says people create “good profit” by “…creating superior value to customers while consuming fewer resources and always acting lawfully and with integrity…Good profit comes from making a contribution in society.” I was privileged to work at a company with similar values.

Is it possible to find a principle-centered career? Yes. How can you find these companies and careers? Talk to people work at potential employers and in those potential jobs – aka, network. A few weeks ago, I reviewed a resume for someone I met at an IABC luncheon. She recently introduced me to another person recently moved to Nashville, with whom I met, and we talked about many other people she should meet as she explores job and career opportunities in the area.

You never know which person will connect you to just the right person that will connect you to your dream job and career. They say we all know each other within six degrees. I’ve found that to be true at many times throughout the years. But you’ll never know that unless you really talk to people – and work your network.

We say, IABC is the only place to connect with communcators globally. We believe IABC Nashville is your passport! IABC is one great way to work your network. Over the nearly 35 years I’ve been a member, I’ve received a hundredfold return on my investment. I hope you have the opportunity to do the same. I’d be glad to help.

*Stan Slap is founder of SLAP.  I participated in a workshop facilitated by Stan called: I Left My Heart in Conference Room B. It was life-changing for me and how I lived and managed henceforth. I highly recommend his book by the same name. The fact that the workshop was provided by my company as management development spoke volumes to me about the company’s values and principles, and solidified in mind that they were in sync with mine.

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How-to Workshop Jan.11

Go for the Gold!MC-Gold-Pens

IABC Nashville’s Music City Gold Pen Awards had a great first year back in 2016. Aligned with the International IABC Gold Quill awards, the awards recognize exceptional efforts of middle Tennessee communicators by highlighting best practices in business communications, management skills, thought leadership, and creativity.

Again this year, McNeely Pigott & Fox Vice President Javier Solano is offering to help area communicators navigate the changes and prepare their best entry in a special workshop on Jan. 11, from 4-6 p.m., at Rogers Group Inc. 421 Great Circle Road Nashville, TN 37228

He will be sharing his strategies and secrets to turn your 2016 projects into award winners to build your portfolio, resume and career. Javier brings a judge’s mindset to the workshop, offering tips and tricks to help you put forth the strongest presentation of your outstanding work and anticipate the critical review to come.

Take part to earn awards for your best business communications programs, impress your CEO/clients with third-party validation of your efforts, improve your B to B outreach and personal resume, and get feedback on your work from your peers. Join IABC Nashville for this special networking event. FREE TO MEMBERS!

You’ll learn…

  • Why you should take part in Gold Pen
  • How to put together a winning entry, step by step
  • What resources are available
  • Common problems
  • What’s the judges are thinking

For more information and all the details about the Award Program, see IABC Nashville Music City Gold Pen Awards.

Register Now

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Membership Spotlight – Nicole Miller

On a continuous basis, IABC Nashville spotlights its diverse members through a Q&A feature. We are pleased to showcase Nicole Miller, senior manager of Public Relations at Asurion.

Nicole Headshot - smIABC: What is your background?

Miller: I’ve had a passion for news since I was young, serving as an editor of my high school newspaper and editor-in-chief of the year book. I received my Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison (go Badgers!), where I majored in Journalism with an emphasis in news writing and public relations. My first job after college was working as a general assignment reporter for a community newspaper in Wisconsin. While there, I learned a lot about what makes a compelling news story and delivering the news under tight deadlines.

IABC: How did you get started in this business?

Miller: I started my PR career at a firm in Milwaukee that specializes in B2B marketing communications. When my main client merged with a national retailer, I was totally bit by the consumer bug and moved to Chicago, where I worked in the consumer PR for a variety of major agencies. I’m a rare PR egg in that I have gained strong experience and expertise in both consumer and B2B PR.

IABC: What is your current position and business affiliation? How long have your been in this role?

Miller: I currently serve as Senior Manager of Public Relations at Asurion, a global leader in technology protection and support, based in Nashville. My role has been evolving since I joined the company a little over a year ago, but ultimately I’ll be focusing on external corporate PR to help elevate awareness of Asurion’s leadership position within the industry and with national business media.

IABC: What makes your business/organization stand out?

Miller: Asurion is the global leader in helping customers enhance their life through their technology through ongoing support and protection. Among our continuous innovation is that we’re hyper focused on disrupting the tech support category with world-class customer experience by providing instant access to tech experts to help solve any tech issue with an Asurion covered device. There’s no waiting on hold, no transfers and a near 100 percent resolution rate in one call or chat.

IABC: If you could describe yourself in three (3) words, what would it be?

Miller: Strategic. Curious. Collaborative.

IABC: Tell something about yourself people would be surprised to learn.

Miller: My husband and I moved to Nashville from Chicago to be closer to our hobby of caving. Tennessee has more than 10,000 caves, and the tri-state region of Tennessee, Alabama and Georgia is a mecca for caving within the United States.

Caving offers a little bit of everything – the beauty and wonder of nature; great physical challenges and an intense teamwork structure. It’s quite common to put your life in your team members’ hands when caving, so trust and team dynamic are vital to the experience.

IABC: What lesson(s) have you learned along the way that you believe has made you a better communications professional?

Miller:

  • The Communications function is most effective when it closely supports the organization’s key objectives.
  • Make your communications goals actionable and measurable.
  • Don’t drink the Kool-Aid. The usual marketing messages rarely resonate with earned media or within social media.
  • Become an expert in your organization’s (or clients’) industry.
  • Stay current on new communication channels and tactics

IABC: What makes an effective communications leader?

Miller:

  • Mastery of communications channels and tactics.
  • Being up-to-date on the issues, challenges and opportunities within your organization and greater industry.
  • Serving as a trusted advisor to your leadership and team.
  • Curiosity and openness to trying new things as the communications landscape continuous to evolve.

IABC: What do you feel is the greatest benefit of IABC?

Miller: I know it’s been said before, but networking and professional development are some of the greatest benefits for me personally.

IABC: What prompted you to join IABC?

Miller: Being new to Nashville, I joined IABC to network and get immersed within the communications community locally. I heard that the Nashville IABC chapter was the most active group for local communications professionals.

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Member Spotlight – Lysa Rigo

On a continuous basis, IABC Nashville spotlights its diverse members through a Q&A feature. We are pleased to showcase Lysa Rigo, Director, HR & Creative Services at Ingram Barge Company. Lysa and her team recently won their first Music City Gold Pen Award of Excellence for Internal Communications.

Lysa RigoIABC: What is your background? How did you get started in this business?

Rigo: After earning a master’s degree in English at Northern Illinois University, I taught Composition and Business Writing (that’s where I found my passion) for five years. Following that, I gained experience as a technical writer for a mathematical and engineering software firm, and used some of those years to start a small business writing for other businesses who couldn’t afford a writer on staff.

In the mid-1990s, my family moved to Brazil, so I used the opportunity to teach English as a foreign language. When we returned to the States in 2000, I found a job teaching English to students who came to the US solely to improve their English. That enriching experience gained me friends from all over the world, and that’s where I was on 9/11, helping a large group of frightened foreigners try to make sense of something none of us could wrap our minds around.

In the mid-2000s, we moved to Tennessee for my husband’s job. A series of situations led me into a career in human resources where I had to quickly learn how to hire, fire, do payroll and worker’s comp in a plant that was scheduled to shut its doors in nine months. On the last day, I stood alone with the plant manager in an empty building and was faced with the decision of accepting the HR job I was offered or the Communications Specialist role? Communications tugged at my heart, and here I am today.

IABC: What is your current position and business affiliation? How long have you been in this role?

Rigo: I came to Ingram Barge Company 10 years ago to build a Communications department. Today, I am Director, HR & Creative Services. My team does all Corporate Communications and all things creative: web, social, magazines, photos, videos, and many random projects.

IABC: What makes your business/organization stand out?

Rigo: Barging is a silent industry so it doesn’t necessarily stand out, but Ingram does all things with excellence so we’re looked to as the standard on the inland river system; we’re the ones to imitate, the company to work for.

IABC: If you could describe yourself in three (3) words, what would they be?

Rigo: Empathetic, resilient, and instinctive

IABC: Tell something about yourself people would be surprised to learn.

Rigo: Probably not surprising, but I became fluent in Portuguese while living in Brazil.

IABC: What lesson(s) have you learned along the way that you believe has made you a better communications professional? What makes an effective communications leader?

Rigo:

  • What I’ve been working on the past year is that it’s OK not to be perfect; none of us are. Details are critical in communications, but it’s so important to let go and let the message shine more loudly than the form.
  • When there are mistakes, don’t beat yourself up over them. Fix them, if needed, and walk proudly forward. So what if the whole organization sees your daily work? Most people will give you grace, so don’t listen to the few who find joy in the “got-yas.”
  • You need to learn from the younger professionals in the field. They may not know all there is in the politics, strategy or big picture, but they know what they want to hear so they will have good ideas for connecting with others like them.

IABC: What do you feel is the greatest benefit of IABC? What prompted you to join IABC?

Rigo: After developing our Creative Services department, I spent a seven-year hiatus with a focus more on HR than communications, A few years ago, I got a new boss and a reshuffling of duties, and Creative Services became my major focus again. I needed to connect with communications professionals, and Google led me to IABC. I walked into my first meeting and knew I was in the right place. These people get me, and I get them. Everything else is just icing on the cake.

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How to Maximize Your Top 5 Strengths

By Glenda Betts, IABC Nashville Secretary, TVA (Retired), Life Coach

Glenda-Betts-head-shot-240x300We often talk more about our weaknesses than our strengths. I discovered my top strengths years ago when the bestseller “Now Discover your Strengths” by Gallup researchers Buckingham and Clifton was first published.

They identified more than 30 different strength themes and included a code in their book where you could go online and identify your top five strengths. Then, Gallup’s Tom Rath validated this research and updated it in the book StrengthsFinders 2.0.

After learning my top five strengths, I kept these on a card in an acrylic frame at my desk—both to remind me and my boss/coworkers how to best utilize my skills on the team. I have faithfully tapped into my top strengths, which are as follows:

  • Analytical – People strong in the Analytical theme search for reasons and causes. They have the ability to think about all the factors that might affect a given situation.
  • Connectedness – People strong in the Connectedness theme have faith in the links between all things. They believe there are few coincidences and that almost every event has a reason.
  • Ideation – People strong in the Ideation theme are fascinated by ideas. They are able to find connections between seemingly disparate phenomena.
  • Maximizer – People strong in the Maximizer theme focus on strengths as a way to stimulate personal and group excellence. They seek to transform something strong into something superb.
  • Strategic – People strong in the Strategic theme create alternative ways to proceed. Faced with any given scenario, they can quickly spot the relevant patterns and issues.

strengthfindersWhen I recently started taking Life Coaching classes, I was again reminded by my Coach Mentor about how important it is to progressively build on your strengths. If you don’t build on top of your foundational strengths, you will end out on a ledge operating outside of your strength areas. This results in being overly stressed, dissatisfied with your career path, and possibly even losing your job.

When you are effectively operating in your strengths, you are more energized, happier and more successful. You are doing what you are best at doing.

Here’s how you can discover and capitalize on your own unique abilities:

  1.  If you don’t know your top five strengths, get to know them! You can find these in books or an online Clifton StrengthFinders Assessment for $15.00. This is well worth the investment.
  2. Ask yourself: Do these strengths from the assessment best describe who I am and how I best contribute?
  3. How are you currently utilizing these strengths in your personal life, your job, your volunteer work and your professional organizations?
  4. What are you doing to further develop your strengths?
  5. Do you frequently communicate your top strengths to others?

Here’s how involvement in IABC can help you develop your strengths:

  • Share your strengths with your IABC Nashville area chapter president and board members. Ask if there are IABC Chapter roles where you can volunteer to further develop your skills.
  • Take advantage of IABC educational resources. These include an online library of publications, webinars, and a worldwide network of IABC members. You also gain new knowledge from renowned speakers each time you attend the monthly Nashville area chapter meetings, leadership institutes or regional and international conferences.
  • At some point, consider becoming an IABC Chapter or regional officer.
  • Offer to lead a workshop or monthly chapter program of interest that best utilizes your talents.
  • Ask fellow IABC chapter members to review your resume, make LinkedIn® recommendations etc., to best highlight your strengths.

If you don’t know your top five strengths, make it a priority to take an assessment and start maximizing your unique strengths. It’s a smart professional move that will prove beneficial in your career and in all areas of your life.

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