The Cost of Clutter

The Cost of Clutter

What is the cost of clutter in your life?

Dallas social media speaker J.R. Atkins suggest a less cluttered workspaceI have become aware that clutter exists in several areas of my life and by clearing the clutter away I can have a more productive and peaceful life. Here are a few clutter areas worth considering.

Awards – Awards are a good reminder of our past achievements but they can also hold us back from your future accomplishment.

Balance this with a dream board and some white space, or why not place an empty shelf with a sign, future awards? (Resource: How to Create a Dream Board) 

Walls – Wall clutter such as pictures, awards, books shelves, even art, can contribute to making a space feel small. Lack of “white space” also detracts from the perspective of art.

Why not rotate the wall ornaments like some people do with seasonal decorations? Art galleries do this all the time to show different works of art. You too can do this with your home or office space. (Resource: Random Interior Ideas)

Kitchen – Some people love gadgets like food processors, food steamers, bread makers and other kitchen appliances that can add to kitchen counter clutter.

Why not approach your kitchen appliances another way: What one or two items will do multiple tasks? Now if you are a specialty cook or maybe an avid cook or baker this may not work. But for the average American, we can usually do with a few less items on our kitchen counters. (Resource: Real Simple)

Closet – Almost everyone in America has too much clutter in their closets. There are people who earn a living just from helping you with your closet: organize it, build a bigger one, select what not to wear and select cloths to get rid of.

Why not take it all out and only re-hang what you really wear or really like. Then give the rest to Goodwill, sell to a ‘gently worn’ store, or on eBay. It might be easier to do it one section at a time to keep from getting overwhelmed. (Resource: My Home Ideas)

Dallas social media speaker J.R. Atkins points out that a cluttered garage is an unwelcomed distractionGarage – Can you park your car in your garage? I am surprised to see how many Americans park their $30,000+ automobiles in the driveway or in the street. For some of us, it is due to an abundance of “stuff” that just won’t fit in our house.

Why not get rid of the items you really don’t need or use and organize the garage like a professional. It’s nice to pull into the garage on a rainy day, especially with an automatic garage door opener versus parking outside in the rain. (Resource: The Family Handyman)

Work – Is your desk or cubicle a tool for efficient work or a place where things stack up and get in the way? There are many books and blogs on the subject of organizing your work space with principles like “only touch a piece of paper once.” In our digital age it can be written as “only open an email or document once.”

Why not block out time for specific task, especially the high pay-off ones like strategy or creativity? Also, try to remove all distractions from your view. I use head phones to block out distractions and close my email, Skype and Social Media sites. (Resource: 10 Ways to Remove Clutter from Your Life )

Life – Do you lead a busy life? Most of us do. We find ourselves “running” from event to event in work, social and family life. We even fill our vacations with tasks like Chevy Chase in the movie “Vacation.”

What would it mean to you and your family to have “down time” or “quiet time”? How might life be richer? So many of us are running to or from something that if we slow down we have to face the reality of life. But the reality of life will eventually catch us. Why not address the issues of life in a “head on fashion” so we can enjoy quiet time? (Resource: Simple Living Manifesto)

Dallas social media speaker J.R. Atkins recommends NAPO of organizational helpIn closing, I suggest you give yourself some time to remove the clutter of life. It did not build up overnight, so it might take longer than one weekend to de-clutter your life. My goal is be in a place of less clutter by this time next year. When I move, I want to have less to move. I’ll let you know how it turns out.

P.S. A great Dallas based resource for help de-clutter your life is Misty Keown

Future Events of Worth

April 20          DFW AMA: GameStop – Designing a Loyalty Program for Today’s Consumer

April 20          World Affairs Council: Ending Iran’s Quest for Nuclear Weapons – Barry Blechman, Ph.D.

April 21          Untyed Arlington: What the Heck is Sales 2.0?

April 25          iPhone Dev MeetUp: A Tour of the AT&T Foundry, Plano

April 26          Dallas Business Club: Bell Helicopter President & CEO John Garrison Jr.

April 26          Dallas Harvard Club: From Social Media to Mobile Apps: The Next Big Wave

April 27          DFW AMA: Google 2011: Impacts on Local Internet Marketing

April 27          Digital Dallas: “Moroch: Be Curious”

April 28          AAF Dallas: Happy Hour at Blue Mesa Addison

May 3             Aggie Business Luncheon: Rachel Hayden, P.E. President of Hayden Consulting Inc.

May 5             World Affairs Council: Richard North Patterson, Author of “The Devil’s Light”

Perspective on Travel & Business

I enjoy doing business as I travel. The idea of rising above the stress of business to see the sights of a foreign land, to enjoy a good meal and relax by the pool are attractive. So I offer you the following thoughts on travel and business.

Dallas social media speaker J.R. Atkins taveled to Jerusalem

1.       Perspective

I like the perspective of getting away from home, office and town. Sometimes a trip of only 100 miles away can make a difference in how you see your current situation. Any time I travel I come home appreciating what I have. This is especially true when I travel abroad. When my wife and I went to Israel in January, my comment upon arriving in Dallas was “We are affluent, on our way to wealthy, according to global standards.” I take for granted our infrastructure, the rule of law, individual rights and all the wealth America has at hand. 

2.       Meet others who are doing things

It’s fun to meet people from other places both in the U.S. and abroad. Have you ever been someplace and met someone from your home town? I get excited to meet them since we are away from home. I’m sure if I met them in line at the store at home it would not carry the same level of excitement.

Dallas social media speaker J.R. Atkins recomends the book: What they dont teach at the Harvard Business SchoolI remember Mark McCormack’s book, “What They Don’t Teach You at the Harvard Business School” where he suggested that you fly in First Class because of the people you meet. There is still some truth in this today, that the people who fly are doing something bigger than themselves, something important or something new. I like to meet these people and keep in touch via Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter. With Social Media, it is so much easier to have a global perspective.

3.       Time away from business productivity

As much as I like the perspective I gain through traveling, on a recent trip to Atlanta it dawned on me that I need to earn a premium on my time when I travel.

Let’s say you place a value of $100 per hour on your time. That would mean in a typical day of work from 8:00-12:00 and 1:00-5:00 you would create $800 of value. This is assuming that you are in one place creating value, like your office, and take just 1 hour for lunch. If your commute is 1 hour each way, you spent 11 total hours creating $800 of value or about $73 per hour.

Now let’s look at a day of business travel where you leave for the airport at 5:30 for a 7:30 flight and land at 9:30, drive to the business location arriving at 11:00, and work for 1 hour, take a 1 hour lunch, then work again from 1:00-5:00, hop on a plane home at 6:30 arrive in your home town at 8:30 and get home at 10:30. In this day you have created 6 hours of value in an office and let’s say another 2 hours of value working on the plane for a total of 8 hours. This would mean that you spent 17 hours creating $800 of value for or about $47 per hour.

This is how I got the idea that I need to earn a premium on my time when I travel. I also need to stay longer in one place while I am there, to spread the travel time and cost over more billable days.

The other solution is to travel less and do more through video conferencing. There are many tools in a wide array of price ranges, from free services, like Skype, to premium services like Cisco Unified Communications platform.

 4.       Time away from family and friends

A little travel might cause you to appreciate your friends and family a little more, but I submit that the more you are away, the more your relationships suffer. Telephone, email, social media and video can make a positive impact on being away from loved ones but nothing takes the place of being there. So before we hop in a plane, train or automobile, we need to make sure it is a worthy trip. (Work Travel & Family Research Project at Texas Tech University)

 What have you learned through Travel? I look forward to hearing your thoughts and comments.

 Dallas sociala media speaker J.R. Atkins attends the Social Media Club of DallasFebruary Events

 2/16 – DFW American Marketing Association Luncheon

2/17 – Social Location Marketing with Simon Salt

2/19 – Saturday at the Warwick Melrose with Ambassador Akbar Ahmed

2/28 – Dallas iPhone Developers & Entrepreneurs MeetUp

Is Facebook Main Stream yet?

Dallas Social Media Speaker J.R. Atkins sees Facebook as mainstreamWhen I am asked to speak on Social Media, such as my talk “The Big 5 of Social Media” and talk about how main stream Facebook has become. I tell business leaders that if they do not have a Fan Page on Facebook, it’s like not having a free one page add in the Yellow Pages of the past.

Now, the Cameron County District Attorney in Brownsville, Texas is using Facebook to help pick jury members. This is confirmation of how Facebook has become a common communication tool. So, if your not on Facebook, you are missing out on a current and effective communication method.

Please see the following article for the rest of the story on the Cameron County District Attorney use of Facebook and let me know what you think.

Texas County to Use Facebook to Help Pick Jurors

Published : Monday, 17 Jan 2011, 5:54 PM CST


HOUSTON – Most people use social media for just that — the social part. But websites like Facebook gather personal information that is very attractive to many. Now, the Cameron County District Attorney in the Brownsville area will use Facebook to help pick a jury.

Because attorneys for sides in a trial can strike jurors, every bit of data helps the decision making process. So when you think of Facebook as a massive source of personal information… you start to get an idea of its value.

Defense attorney and FOX 26 legal analyst Chris Tritico has been using social media for years, “Facebook and MySpace… any of these pages, we’ll look at it as an investigative tool to get background on witnesses and other people.”

We had Tritico look at the pages of random people on Facebook. Many had their pages open for everyone to see. It didn’t take Tritico long to start forming an opinion, “The most important thing to me on this page is religious views… outgrew fairy tales decades ago.” I asked him, “What does that tell you though?” Tritico replied “That tells me a whole lot about this individual in his views and it says he’s a party member of the Socialist party that tells me that he’s really if you’re looking from just a conservative liberal point, I’m going to put this guy more… in a criminal defense case… on the defensive side of issues.”

Tritico will also browse photos that can indicate if the person has a family, travels a lot or attends a lot of parties. Even favorite music and movies can help fill in the blanks, “I’d want to know what caused him to list these on his page. That just tells you something about his insight. Once you get him talking about how he feels about things you move that into the legal field.”

I asked the veteran attorney if he could seat a jury just by using Facebook and he did not hesitate, “Absolutely. I can get enough information off Facebook pages to ask the questions I need to ask of each individual juror… to find the information I need. I’ve already gotten in my head what I want to ask. Facebook just gives me some background questions that allows me to open them up and talk to me some more to find out more about them.”

With over 500 million users worldwide, Facebook has a lot of information on hand. As an added bonus, for those who want that information — it’s free.

Original Story:

Is your App idea a large or small Swiss Army Knife?

Dallas Social Media Speaker J.R. Atkins likes Swiss Army KnivesIs your App idea a large or small Swiss Army Knife? I have used the analogy of a Swiss Army Knife to explain that it is better to offer an App with a few high value features rather an App with so many features that the value get’s lost in the clutter.

Once an App is launched and begins to take off then you can offer a 2nd version with additional features. But don’t take my word for this idea, take a look at an article in “Gigaom” titled: “Feature Creep Emerges as Next Challenge for Mobile Devs” by Ryan Kim. He points out the risk of scope creek and more in this insightful article.

Feature Creep Emerges as Next Challenge for Mobile Devs

Dallas Social Media Speaker J.R. Atkins writes on Mobile AppsThe mobile app ecosystem has been an amazing story over the last couple years, as millions of users have latched on to smartphone applications. The fast growth and the rising competition in apps has me wondering how soon before we may see feature creep overtake mobile apps, undercutting their usefulness.

Feature creep, as a reminder, is that piling on of features for products, often software, making the overly complex for users. It’s an issue that will — if it hasn’t already — increasingly face mobile developers, who have less margin of error to work with. Mobile apps are already slimmed-down pieces of software that promise to do simple tasks. One of the reasons why they’ve taken off in popularity is because they often serve as short cuts for actions that might have taken longer through a mobile web application. Adding features that may not be useful to the core functions of an app could detract from its value proposition.

recent Harris Poll commissioned by EffectiveUI, a user interface consulting firm, lays out the issue.

  • 73 percent of mobile app users agree that they expect a company’s mobile app to be easier to use than its website
  • A full three-quarters think mobile apps should do exactly what they want or need them to do

Most mobile devices are small and don’t offer the same real estate as a website or computer application, forcing mobile developers to be really savvy about how they incorporate new features and improvements. I talked with a few UI experts about the issue, who agree that this is going to be an increasingly important challenge for mobile developers.

Anthony Franco, president of EffectiveUI, said developers are expected by mobile users to push out updates faster than desktop software or online sites. But he said it’s important for developers and designers to increasingly scrutinize their apps to ensure the apps don’t evolve into something too complex, as complexity is one of the two main reasons why users delete an app (the other is when they no longer find it useful).

Elizabeth Churchill, principal research scientist at Yahoo Research, said she’s started to hear more grumbles about increasingly complex apps. She said it’s a natural part of software development, but the winning apps in the future — the ones that sustain and grow a user base — will be the ones that learn how to mature gracefully and thoughtfully. “It’s so easy to delete an app and look around and find another one that’s not as annoying,” she said.

Here are some things to consider for app developers:

  • Consider how critical the updates are to users and what the point of the app is. If an improvement fits into the spirit of the app, go for it, but don’t just add features to keep up with the competition.
  • Regularly look at user feedback. Developers need to stay in touch with users to ensure that they’re adding features that add real value.
  • Stay focused on keeping an app useful for mainstream users. There is a temptation to play to more advanced users, but Franco said designers should look at targeting 80 percent of the market.
  • Rethink the dependence on icons. Anthony Andre, founding principal of Interface Analysis Associates, said apps rely a lot on icons but as they proliferate, they can overwhelm. He said inserting more text and making sure people understand their options can help users remain engaged with an app.
  • Consider separating an app by its functions or by its users to maintain its simplicity. As some apps take on more complexity, app makers should consider breaking out features into their own app to ensure that one app isn’t too cluttered. Or as Churchill suggests, look for ways for users to customize their experience so the app better fits their needs.
  • Features by themselves are not the problem. Franco said apps like Facebook show that one app can host a number of features when done well. But they have to be complementary. The problem isn’t the number of features, it’s making sure that they’re all useful to users and work well together.
  • As developers add more functions, look to maintain balance so users who want differing things out of one app can all get to it easily.

This is just the start, but these are some basic tips for developers. This may not be an issue for many developers who keep their apps streamlined, but feature creep is a natural temptation over time. The worst thing is for users to lose the joy and the feeling of efficiency they have in using mobile apps.

Work Space

What is a work space? I take it to mean a place, where work gets done. But what does it take to get work done? Consider the environment, from lighting, to decorations, to sound, to light, to co-workers and fellow tenants. Almost anything that can and does contribute to you producing your best. Yet, as I visit with clients, I see a wide variety of work conditions.

My favorite work space exists at one of my clients locations, [x]cube LABS, where I am performing work “on-site”. I am filling an employee-type role, working “full time” to generate the deliverables for the project.

 Dallas Social Media Speaker helps the xcube LABS team

The company occupies space in an Art Gallery/Studio environment. At the front of the building, there is a successful art gallery, Marty Walker Gallery, with artist studios occupying the rest of the building. As my client is in the design business, they chose to rent space with other artists. This is very different for me. I’m used to the glass and steel structure of “Class A” office space and I found this new environment both refreshing and productive.

Here are topics I consider to contribute to being your best and producing your best.

1. Creating & Thinking: This is what many of us get paid for. Anyone can just do a job but to progress in your role, it’s your thoughts and creative contributions that count.  So, create a space that is conducive to creative work and thinking. Is your desk cluttered or clean, do the items on your desk contribute to or detract from your thoughts? What about the walls, lighting, plants, music, a candle burning, your chair… If your work space is not conducive to your creating, then change it. If you cannot change it enough, find a place at a park, a library, a book store, a zoo, or an art gallery that is conducive to your creative process.

2. Resources & Tools: Whether it is a computer, books, a white board, a tablet, colored markers, or a musical instrument, find the tools and resources you need to be productive and make sure you have them at your finger tips. We get distracted and off task when we have to hunt down our tools.

3. Others: Sometimes we need to collaborate with others to produce results. Other times, someone can block us from producing results. Don’t let anything stand in your way of being the best you can be. Go the extra distance to seek those you need to collaborate with. I will schedule lunch with certain people and take notes while we are together. Later, these notes form ideas for projects, blog posts and speaking points.

4. Measurement: How do you measure your results? Of course we can use money, as it is the measure of the market place. Our annual income is in direct proportion to how the market is valuing our contribution. Another big measurement for me is satisfaction. Am I satisfied with my life, my growth, the work I am producing and the people in my life?

5. Mobile Work, on the go, hot cubing: Many of us are working mobile. This can mean working from home, on-site for clients, in the office some, traveling or hanging out at Starbucks. “Hot Cubing” is like Hot Bunking in the Navy. Your work space is being used by a co-worker when you’re not in the office.

All of the above mentioned forms of working can create stress, (and detract from your productivity), or you can turn this variety of locations into a strength. By being able to work away from an office you can seek out those creative spaces mentioned above. Do you take any pictures with you for your traveling work space? My desk top on my laptop is a slide show from my last trip to the BVI. This gives my space a home like feeling where ever I work.

6. Fragmentation: One of the biggest killers of productivity is interruptions. They can take the form of email, social media, Skype, cell phone, office phone, people walking into your office, outside noise, smells …almost anything that keeps you from being your best. Sometimes I turn off my devices and set aside a specific amount of time to contribute focused time to a task. I also have to write myself a note to turn the devices back on when I am done.

What Really Matters is that you are happy, challenged, growing and have a sense that you matter, that people value you as a person and your contributions. When you can pull this off and make a good income, then you have “arrived”.

Upcoming Events

01/04/11                     Aggie Business Luncheon, Dealing with Change

01/06/11                     DFW AMA Meet-N-Greet

01/08/11                     Art Show: Lee Mascarenhas at Craighead Green Gallery

01/10/11                     Social Media & Your Career, Ft Worth Career Network (J.R. Atkins presenting)

01/11/11                     Social Media for your Business, Summit Networking Group (J.R. Atkins presenting)

01/14/11                     Israel iPhone MeetUp

01/24/11                     Dallas iPhone MeetUp

01/25/11                     The Last Tuesday Happy at the Ritz-Carlton Dallas

01/27/11                     AAF Dallas Happy Hour

01/28/11                     World Affairs Council: Ambassador Marcc Grossman

How much to include in version 1.0?

Dallas social Media speaker J.R. Atkins comments on App developmentHave you seen the new photo sharing  app called Path? It was developed by former Facebook employee Dave Morin and Shaw Fanning of Facebook and Napster fame. Most of the Blogs, forums and reviews are hammering the new app for its lack of functionality and limitations–like being able to only connect with 50 friends.  I contend they are on the right path by offering an app with limited functionality.

Take a look at TechCrunch blogger Eric Schonfeld comment; “Path is designed to share photos with only your closest 50 friends, primarily through the app itself. You can’t Tweet out links to your photos or share them on Facebook”. But remember this is version 1.0. I’m sure as Path increases in usage V1.1 or V2.0 will offer more features.

“I find it refreshing to see a project launch with such a tight focus and function.  Clearly the aim of Path is to be the very best at one thing vs. pretty good at a lot of things” says Jason Franzen of [x]Cube LABS in Dallas. “This is an approach to admire in a sea of “Swiss Army Knife” apps that tend to equate Quantity with Value.”

What Jason is referring to is the attempt of developers or clients to add too many features to an initial application. This complicates the development process and often creates confusion for the end user. Think back to when Facebook first started, (or remember the movie) it offered a picture and status update “what are you doing now”. Over time features and functions have been added to become a robust social media network.

Dallas Social Media speaker J.R. Atkins reads TechCrunch dailyIf you are considering an app for the iPhone, iPad, Android, BlackBerry or Microsoft platforms, keep it simple! Start with a set of high value features that will attract new users. If the applications is interesting, solves a problem, or is entertaining then people will use it and tell others. Once usage is high enough, then release version 2.0 with added functionality. If you are smart, provide a means for users to suggest new features and help you prioritize updates.

As Franzen says “The smart phone is already the ‘Swiss Army Knife’, all we really need are new blades to help us cut to the chase.”

When to turn back and when to push on?

“Learn something everyday”

Dallas Social Media speaker J.R. Atkins sails the BVIAs I started out on my trip to go sailing in the British Virgin Islands, I had no idea the amount of adversity I would be facing. I spent two days and traveled on 8 different transportation services before I finally arrived at my hotel. At one point I thought about turning back and starting over another day, but I didnt. Take a look at the list of trials I faced and then see what I learned.


On Thursday morning my alarm did not go off at 2:00am but thankfully I work up at 2:20 on my own.

As I stepped outside to walk the dog I locked myself out of the house. I walked to the back to get in through the garage only to find that the battery in the keypad was out. I found a window unlocked and climbed in.

I was about to leave and I remembered I did not have my passport. The supper shuttle arrived and I was off to DFW Airport.

Arriving at check in I noticed that someone had left their boarding pass at the auto check in kiosk. I gave it to the desk attendant to throw away and instead they checked my bag to that person destination, Jacksonville Florida.

I could not check in at the kiosk so I walked over to the ticket agent for help. She noticed the mixup on the bag check and was able to catch it before my bag was loaded on the wrong plane.

The reason I could not check in at the Kiosk is I had yet to pay the annual fee to fly stand by. I called my wife at home to wake up, log on and pay the annual fee. Once done, with my bag in hand I started the check in process again.

I get on the plan and realized I had left my boat shoes at home. Oh well, there is nothing I need in the BVI that I cant buy when I get there. The flight to Atlanta was uneventful.

From Atlanta I flew to beautiful San Juan Porto Rico. We landed, I retrieved my bag and walk out of the airport to realize I am in the wrong place, San Juan Porto Rico instead of St Thomas USVI. Its my fault for burring the candle at both ends before I left. I scheduled my flight to the wrong place by accident.

So I take a cab to the local, regional air port and catch a puddle jumper to St Croix then to St Thomas. I was in the St Croix air port no longer then 15 minutes, but log enough to pull out my Ray-ban sunglass and watch the right lens to fall out and break. I hope that is covered under the warranty.

On I fly to St Thomas, get my bags, walk out to the Taxi line and ask for a ride to the Ferry Terminal. Its to late, the last ferry to Tortola has left already. So instead I go to a hotel across the street from the ferry terminal and spend the night.


Dallas Social Media Speaker J.R. Atkins visits with the famous FoxyFriday at 12:00 noon, I arrive at the Ferry Terminal for the 12:45 Fast Ferry to Road Town. Just before we depart they tell me they can not take me to Roan Town, only as far as the west end where I can take a cab the rest of the way, at my own expense. Welcome to the Islands where the people are nice but you pay for it.

I share a ride into Road Town and we are taken to the wrong place. After renegotiating the rate, we finally arrive at the Hotel.

The Lesson

At what point do we consider our circumstances and choose to retreat? The thought crossed my mind. Should I take all this into consideration and go home, get some much needed rest and try again tomorrow?

Dallas Social Media Speaker J.R. Atkins sails the islands of the BVII chose to press on, not because Im a tough minded, hard charging kind of guy, but because of an idea, a vision, a picture in my mind.

That picture was of me setting on a beach on a Caribbean Island with a beverage in my hand watching the sun set.

This process of pursuing a vision in the face of adversity is not unique to travel. Every day we make choices based on a picture in our mind. The more vivid the details, the stronger the pull.

But the ability to move ahead in the face of adversity is also like a well trained athlete with muscle memory. As we deal with adversity and push through, we build our muscle memory that says yes I can. Over time it gets easier to push through difficult situations.

Each choice we make in life build on the others. We either build positive muscle memory or negative muscle memory.

Have you ever listen to someone describe tragedy in their life and then say these kind of things always happen to me? They have built their own reality based on the negative muscle memory. Or as Dr. Phil is found of saying How is that working for you. Im not saying we invite adversity to ourselves, but I am saying we have 100% control in how we respond.

Dallas Social Media Speaker J.R. Atkins enjoys sailing the BVIThe only reason I was able to smile and be in good spirits throughout the two days of travel was I made a conscious choice to have a good time, trust it would all work out and enjoy the moment.

I look forward to reading your stories and comments.

What events will lead you to more business?

What events will lead you to more business?

Events are a great way to meet prospective clients, vendors and partners, but how do you identify the right events to grow your business? Here are few thoughts to consider and I welcome your feedback:

  1. If the group meets weekly with little change in attendance, skip it!
  2. Look for groups with some kind of educational component like speakers and workshops that will help you think outside your own beliefs and grow.
  3. If group has requirements like 7 visits, 7 guest, and 7 one-on-one meetings just to join, skip it. They are more interested in meeting then getting results.
  4. Look for groups that gather around new trends and ideas. These usually collect people that are on the go and �on the grow.
  5. If the group is “just for networking”, skip it. It is short sighted and non-sustainable in the long run.
  6. Look for the value exchange: what value do you bring and what value is given to you. As long as there is a good value exchange, it makes since to attend. When the value declines, find another event to attend.
  7. My favorite events are: at unique locations, with new people, with smart people, people on the go, well educated people, good communicators and those who are creating new business. Oh yea, they usually have money or about to have money. The Ritz Carlton is one of my favorite places.

Each month, I list events that I am attending on my Website, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and MeetUp. Here are a few monthly events I attend:

Dallas Social Media Speaker J.R. AtkinsSMB Social Media Happy Hour – Monthly event, changing locations, small intimate conversation about social media for business growth  Sponsor: JR. Atkins & Something Different Companies. Last Tuesday at the Ritz  Monthly event, on the Patio at the Ritz, M&A oriented, finance, law, start up’s and more  Sponsor: John Willding, Corporate and Securities Partner at Strasburger & Price, LLP

Dallas Social Media Speaker J.R. Atkins likes the Social Media Club of DallasSocial Media Club of Dallas – Monthly event, location varies, covers anything and everything social media and related.  Sponsor, Social Media Club of Dallas

Tower Club – Anytime I can attend an event at the Tower Club, I know it will be a quality function. I’m not a member, (yet) but I keep my eye open for events that welcome guest. The Tower Club

Chambers � I scan the local chamber websites for unique, high quality events with good speakers. Watch out for the early morning groups as they can be small and limit your exposure. The Dallas Regional Chamber

Dallas Social Media Speaker J.R. Atkins likes the Dallas Regional Chamber$100 Events – If it cost close to $100 for a full day event, you are usually going to meet people committed to their craft and on the go. If you only attend $25 events, you may be limiting yourself.

What have I over looked? Please share your thoughts so we can all get better.

How Do You Create a Culture of Innovation?

Dallas Socila Media Speaker J.R. Atkins comments on Gallup Management Joournal blog post.A recent post from the Gallup Management Journal, suggest 6 steps to creating an organization of innovation. How do you create innovation in your culture? Is failure tolerated, scorned or encouraged?

Too often, mistakes are treated with such negative energy that we squash innovations. Or, only the few that know the system are successful innovators while the rest of the ideas are never mentioned.

According to Jason Krieger, in the “new normal,” fostering innovation will be a driver of organic growth.

Since the Industrial Revolution, there have been three main business innovations. The first was neoclassical economics to drive a supply-and-demand economy. The second occurred in the 1980s and 1990s when companies like Toyota, GE, and others used process improvement (Six Sigma, lean manufacturing) to drive profitability and growth.

A new major business model will drive innovation: behavioral economics.

In today’s marketplace, these models no longer provide the competitive advantage they once did. So the third major business model will be the driver of innovation moving forward. This model is behavioral economics.

Whether these three models were product driven, knowledge driven, or innovation driven, one thing remains constant: They all need people and managers. To execute, you must choose to use people as allies rather than adversaries. Behavioral economics is the science that allows this to occur. There are three mechanisms or levers that an organization can pull to drive innovation using behavioral economic principles. They are culture measurements, capability assessments, and selection of the idea catalysts (the organization’s people).

To build a culture that fosters innovation, an organization must hire for innovation talent, build teams that are diverse in talent, and fit individuals to the right role to drive success. Once the people have been identified and placed, management must provide the right training and onboarding relative to innovation and should train managers for skills needed to drive innovative talent.

In addition, firms must have useful metrics, and these should be embedded in the culture of the organization. These metrics include benchmarking tools that allow companies to compare themselves to the best in industry and the best in class. There also must be robust customer input to allow for adequate feedback to the innovation process. Lastly, organizations must have an employee engagement program. Gallup’s research indicates that high levels of employee engagement correlate to more idea sharing, better idea generation, more creativity in role, and improved business outcomes (on key items, including customer metrics, productivity, and profitability).

In order to execute on this culture of innovation, firms must have six keys in place.

    1. Innovation assessment
    2. Onboarding and training
    3. Innovation index
    4. Customer metrics
    5. Employee metrics
    6. An innovation scorecard

Please follow the link to see the complete article, originally published in The HR Director. There is more details on each of the 6 keys. Yet, how do you see the 6 keys affecting innovation in your organization?

Changes with LinkedIn Premium accounts

Dallas Social Media Speaker J.R. Atkins address LinkedIn changesLinkedIn is shifting some functionality from their free accounts to paid accounts. Here is their announcement:

Message to LinkedIn Premium Members
Viewing full names for 3rd Degree & Group Connections

Dear Premium Member,

We wanted to let you know about a change that was recently made to the way names are displayed for certain profiles on LinkedIn. As an existing Premium member this change doesn’t affect you, however we wanted to provide you with some information just in case you have any questions.

What has changed?
3rd Degree & Group connections found from keyword search (e.g., ‘sales director’) are now only displayed with first name only. Previously, these profiles were displayed with full names for everyone to see.

How does this affect me?
It doesn’t. Because you joined LinkedIn Premium prior to this change, you’ll continue to see full names for these profiles with your current Premium Account.

How long will I continue to see full names for these profiles?
You’ll see full names for these profiles for as long as your current Premium Account is active. However, if you cancel your Premium Account this feature will no longer be available to you, as this is now only available with specific account types. To get this ability back you’ll need to purchase an Executive, Talent Finder, or Pro account – which start at $99.95 per month.

We hope this information helps. If you have any questions please let us know.

Thank you for subscribing to LinkedIn Premium.

The LinkedIn Team