Lead Yourself


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Where did the summer slowdown go? You know, that little ebb in the tide of work demands? It used to happen every July and August. Yeah, that one.

I just did my July metrics report and our business requests and output increased in July, and it started me thinking. Is my team getting the rest and recharge time that they need? They take their vacation time (when I give them the stink eye), but are they really doing anything else to manage the stress that comes with additional demands?

CMMA has a great conference coming up in Albuquerque, NM in October, and one of the many things we’re going to learn about and experience is how mindfulness and managing stress can boost morale, productivity and engagement in your team. Stay with me, I’m not going all “woo-woo” on you, I promise. If Ariana Huffington can take a nap every day in her office, surely you can take a few minutes in your office to close your eyes and let some things go.

At Wells Fargo, leaders are expected to “Lead Yourself, Lead the Team, Lead the Business”. Notice that “Lead Yourself” is first. That’s because leadership begins with you, whether you manage people or not. Part of that is managing your own thoughts, emotions and actions. Managing stress and your personal response to it in a mindful and deliberate way helps you build better relationships and strengthens your ability to influence outcomes and manage change in a positive manner. Ahhh yes; some real tools to help you manage the challenges of leadership. That’s what CMMA is all about.

For Communication Media Managers, we have an added budget stress reliever: if you attend the CMMA Fall Conference and love the experience, you get 50% off your membership fee if you join within 30 days of the conference.

Take a moment and just breathe…

This article is contributed by Patty Perkins, CMMA Board Member

Hanging with “My People”


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I just got back to the office after attending CMMA’s Spring Development Conference at Marriott’s World Headquarters outside of Washington D.C. It was my last conference as CMMA President, and in the couple days since then, I have been in a reflective mood about my tenure in that role – and about CMMA in general.

Bottom line, it’s been a great ride as President and with CMMA. But why exactly?

I’ve been an active member for over 9 years. For me, to put it simply, the essence of CMMA is to learn and share. Looking at the conferences we put on the last couple years, the themes were respectively, “The Innovation Conference,” “Communicating in a Digital World,” “From Hollywood to Topeka: Differentiating our Value through Story and Craft” and “Become a Center of Excellence.” My hope is that the events not only gave us an opportunity to stretch our thinking (maybe even disrupt our thinking) and deepen our knowledge, but also to share and learn from each other’s experiences so that we would be that much more savvy going back to the office.

At its heart, peer to peer learning is arguably the most compelling benefit of CMMA membership. In all the busyness of the D.C. event there were a couple of moments where I took a step back and thought about who I was in the room with, thinking to myself, “These are my people! I’m in a room hanging with my counterparts from Bank of America! Mayo Clinic! Kate Spade! Sandia National Laboratories!” Those guys handle nuclear weapons! What an eclectic bunch!” (Feel free to name any other combination of companies or organizations that attend our meetings).

It’s awesome knowing these folks, all of their experiences and know-how are accessible: across the table from me at breakfast, in the bus on the way to the President’s Dinner, just an email or phone call away. In D.C. I certainly took advantage and engaged with them on a number of topics.

What’s also awesome is that these relationships turn into lasting friendships and can blossom in a myriad of ways as we journey through our careers together. The challenges, the opportunities, the highs and lows. And the same dynamic happens with our Partners too.

I can’t think of any other organization that is so elegant in its simplicity. Professionals getting together, learning, sharing. That’s CMMA.

This article was contributed by Chris Barry, CMMA Board of Directors

The Most Important Person in the Room


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Peter F. Drucker once said that “The most important thing in communication is to hear what is not being said.” We have a similar paradox when we’re developing a project or a presentation: the most important person – the audience member, is typically not in the room.

When starting a project it’s easy to not consider the audience. To start, we’re likely in a hurry and are already behind schedule. Then, we’re probably smart enough, have plenty of experience and have done many projects like this before. It’s easy to believe that we know just what to do. Sometimes that may be enough to communicate successfully. But, considering the barriers an audience might have to receiving our message can challenge exactly those preconceived ideas we’re banking on to get the message right.

It’s Communications 101 to remember that communication is a two-way process between sender and receiver. Communication doesn’t happen until the message is received. Understanding the audience perspective can make all the difference in crafting an effective message. Knowing what the audience is willing to receive should shape what message you send and how you send it.

Consider a presentation you’ve made in the past that didn’t go as planned or a project that wasn’t very successful; chances are you learned something during the process that, had you known or considered it earlier, would have changed your approach. That’s a hard way to learn and I know that I’ve had more than one lesson. At the same time I can think of many other successes and I can recount clearly one project where considering the audience was not only effective, it was essential in even continuing the work.

The project was to introduce to a sales force a new line of copiers. Interviews with the sales reps revealed that they were still fuming about the current line which had suffered from a lack of features, a non-competitive price and repair problems. The sales reps were working extraordinarily hard to move these machines. While they were eager for the new equipment, what they also wanted was an apology from Management. This was not on Management’s radar as we started the project. Our interviews with sales reps revealed the true “temperature” of the audience and enabled us to shape the new message in an acceptable way. While Management never apologized, they did acknowledge the problems with the current line and thanked sales reps for their hard work. That was good enough for the audience and they were able to rapidly begin moving the new products.

Having a full understanding of your audience makes a world of difference in your work. This holds true whether you’re creating a presentation to thousands or for a one-on-one budget meeting with your boss.

When you sit around the table to start creating, be sure to leave a seat for someone from your audience.

Article contributed by Jeff Boarini, CMMA Board of Directors

Standards of Quality


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Is your team operating under a well-articulated vision, with an expectation that the quality of work will always be at a certain level – or are they simply responding to customer requests and doing what they think makes sense? A simple but succinct vision for the standard of quality is at the forefront of every project my team produces. This started years ago shortly after my introduction to the business.

My first job as a media manager was at a large pharma company.  After getting my new assignment I decided that in order for my team to support our customers I needed to know everything there was to know about big pharma. It didn’t take long to realize that the pharmaceutical industry was extremely complex and not something this director of Creative Services was going to have to learn in short order. As I looked at our various buckets of work – Training and Development, Marketing, Executive Communications, Public Relations, Research – I saw a consistency in the stakeholders in each of those areas. That thread was a highly educated, highly experienced, passionate workforce. And that’s where I found my answer. I realized, or rationalized perhaps, that I didn’t need to know their business at all. Rather, my team and I would commit to them that we would be as good at what we did as they were at what they did. After all, they own the content; we simply help them communicate it. This thought process has served me and my teams well over the years and through various assignments.

In my current role at Mayo Clinic, this philosophy means that my team doesn’t need to know how to perform open heart surgery in order to support a cardiac surgeon – thankfully. Rather, our commitment to each physician, administrator and public relations professional we support is that we will be as good at our jobs as they are at theirs. It’s really that simple.

Mayo Clinic was recently named the Best Hospital in the Nation for 2014-2015 by US News and World Report. If our hospital is the best, then it follows that our Media Support Services department has to be the best as well. Luckily, one of our guiding principles in Media Support Services in Florida is continuous improvement. Yes, our standards are very high at Mayo Clinic as I’m sure yours are where you work.

Bottom line, it’s critical to have a commitment to quality, regardless of your role or your clientele. If you don’t have an articulated standard of quality, I recommend you establish one, shout it at the top of your lungs and review your teams’ work on a regular basis to make sure it meets the high standards of your customers, the company you support and your personal brand as a leader.

Article contributed by Clifton D. Brewer, CMMA Board Member

When Videoconferencing Gets Personal


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It’s been a sheer pleasure to watch videoconferencing grow up and get personal all at the same time. In just a handful of years we’ve gone from fuzzy analog images over phone lines to razor-sharp content flying over the Internet. We’ve gone from viewing on dull oversized tube TV’s, to thin bright HD monitors in a conference room…and in my hand.

It’s a dream come true to be able to join a video-based conference using many different tools; a codec in a dedicated meeting room, my PC in the office, or my tablet or phone from anywhere. It allows me to tell my story with passion or collaborate with others valuable to my cause. That’s where it gets personal. It’s become a tool that allows individuals to reach into an organization or for the organization to reach out to the individual.

There are a number of excellent tools currently available. I love watching the healthy and burgeoning competition amongst providers. I eagerly await the creation of new providers and innovative software. I can’t imagine corporate life without a personal conferencing tool. But what will it take for companies to fully embrace this burgeoning technology?

Bandwidth: We must have multiple megabytes, both up and down, wired and wireless. It has to be available everywhere whether it’s work, home and between the two. Think ubiquity.

Security: We must have confidence-inspiring security solutions for IT departments. Executives have to know that their conversations are secure. No one wants to be responsible for the leak of key information.

IT Integration: We must have apps and software that will be accepted by IT and the many requirements they have. The tools must play well with various operating systems, hardware, and software that already exist inside the enterprise.

Perception: Key stakeholders in an organization need to acknowledge that personal conferencing is a serious tool for business. It isn’t simply a novelty used to allow geographically distant grandparents to see their grandkids.

Corporate Climate: People at all levels of the organization must WANT to be available. They need to actively promote their ability to connect with video, audio, and data sharing. They need to set boundaries and timeframes of availability. This could be a big shift of reality for some people and their businesses.

Evolution: Continued change and improvement in this communication segment for business is inevitable. Companies continue to tighten travel budgets. Reporting structures span continents. People need to be “present” more than ever. Personal conferencing will become a strategic advantage to those who chose to embrace it.

I think that CMMA members are uniquely positioned in their respective organizations to be leaders in this area. Who is going to investigate the options and facilitate the demos? Someone has to organize the effort and champion the cause. I suggest that you pick up the banner or throw down the gauntlet….sooner than later.

Article Contributed by Roger Hansen, CMMA Board of Directors

The 8 Essential Leadership Skills for Today’s Communications Manager


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What does it take to be an effective leader of a corporate communications team? At a time when market forces, globalization, and a new generation of employees are changing the workplace, the old command-and-control approach to management no longer works. Corporate communications managers must engage with employees in a way that leads to their success, the success of the department and the corporation.

Here are eight behaviors central to your success as a corporate communications manager.

  1. Vision/Purpose: As the leader of an organization you need set a clear, compelling vision for your team and the work they deliver. A well-reasoned vision for the work of your team is critical in uniting your people behind a purpose they can feel confident in supporting.
  1. Character: People follow those they can believe in – leaders who demonstrate integrity, honesty, determination, and respect for others. There are times you should take the project lead. Not to show you are “part of the team,” but to stay grounded in the understanding of their needs and to earn their trust and loyalty.
  1. Listen Courageously: It’s important to be a good listener, remain open to input from all stakeholders and respectful of their ideas. A successful leader must develop the ability to listen carefully and act courageously when called upon to do so.
  1. Communicate Clearly: Interpersonal skills and the ability to motivate people has become a core competency of leadership. Be transparent – those around you will respond positively if your decision-making process is viewed as open, fair, and consistent.
  1. Demonstrate Flexibility: The speed of business requires constant monitoring of business trends, directions, and opportunities. However, being flexible does not mean constantly changing direction. Your credibility as a leader requires focus and directing the effort of your team on the most promising opportunities.
  1. Embrace Risk: Guardians of the status quo can never be leaders. It takes courage to seek new and better ways your team can contribute value back to the corporation. Be prepared for change and when the opportunity is right, pursue it.
  1. Technical Competence: As a member of the management team you’re accountable to the organization for delivering business results, not demonstrating technical prowess. You do not need to be a technical expert in all aspects of communication, but you must stay informed about the forces shaping our industry.
  1. Build Your Team: A leader is only as effective as the team they build. Be passionate. Inspire others to dream and provide them the opportunity to achieve. Recognize and reward their efforts and that of others to reinforce those actions. As a leader your success will be measured by the success of others.

Leadership Journey
If you truly aspire to a leadership position, or want to make the most of your opportunity, work hard at these eight skills. It promises to be a rewarding journey.

Article Contributed by Tom Morse, Principal Multimedia Project Manager, SAS

Advice for College Graduates


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LeAndra Martinez is an aspiring producer living in Los Angeles. She graduated from college in 2011 with a degree in film production and has since shuttled through low-paying jobs, burdened by massive student debt. She told The Huffington Post that she does not want to accept government assistance even if she qualifies.

As we look this month to bridge the chasm between LA and Topeka, we need also to consider how we raise awareness in the viability of the latter as a possible future, for many talented graduates entering the job market. Ask yourself, where does your succession and sustainability plan fit into your corporate culture and its future? What happens after you leave? As an association, are we here solely to acknowledge and celebrate our presence in the current circumstance, or, are we here to plant the seeds, and nourish the future of Enterprise Media Communications for generations to come?

The above article highlights the predicament with colleges and universities in which, they tend to hype the “Go to Hollywood, NYC, Vancouver or Toronto and make movies and television productions” ideal as the only alternative for people pursuing a career in media. We know this is a very hard world to break into and maintain. Your success relying as much on luck and the whims of those established, as it does on your ability and expertise in any given position. It sometimes takes years to generate a consistent living. None of these institutes, it seems advises, “Go, and fulfill your dreams in Topeka!”

Rarely do any of these centers of higher learning acknowledge the existence of the Enterprise Media Communications world, which thrives in places like Topeka and Jacksonville, Seattle, Boston, Philadelphia and Dallas. They don’t recognize these opportunities, which pay for the cars, the kids, and the house; and offer the 401k, the vacations, and other ‘perks’ from which, a financial or technical degree would result. Media is a business, and so many outside this community, do not appreciate the amount of business acumen involved in media production. Average people don’t realize a producer’s degree emphasizes the business of media, rather than the actual creation of films and videos.

We know that, many Fortune 500 companies, government agencies, and non-profit organizations, have some form of Enterprise Media Department; and many companies across the country engage with their employees, clients and customers via video. The Board of CMMA has often talked of how to reach out to this talent pool and begin to nurture among them, the prospect of a vocation in Enterprise Media Communications. It’s unfortunate that so many grads in this field are not made aware of the opportunities it offers.

Is it the choice of educational degree, or lack of known opportunities, which hinders the successful transition to the working world for graduates possessing a media degree? I assert it is part of our legacy as members of CMMA, to develop a form of outreach to educational institutions across America, raising awareness among those who endeavor to create great stories, to this profession we hold so dear. I realize in the face of corporate layoffs and fewer resources, it is difficult to look beyond our own set of circumstances to what the future brings. However, we need to be the standard bearers for the future, along the road to Topeka and the opportunities available there in which, a new generation of enterprise communicators could put their skills to good use; or, we are not great communicators at all.

Article contributed by Gerry Harris, CMMA Eastern Regional Director

Inherent Traits/Skills of a Good Production Person


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Whether a staff person or a freelancer, what skills, competencies and personality traits do you consider being most important? When it’s performance review time, how do you assess performance? What factors determine which freelancer or supplier you hire? Whether it’s a Producer, P.A., P.C., or A.P., what competencies are most essential – leadership, creativity, technical skills? Certainly, there’s a lot at stake if it’s a staff person , but even making a decision about a freelancer/supplier who can become the face (and voice) of your department, can be mission critical. Under the heading of “you’re only as good as your last project,” I’m reminded it’s my department’s reputation that is on the line during every interaction with a client, whether face-to-face, on the phone, via e-mail or text. I’m guessing that like me, one of your responsibilities is to make sure the assigned staff person or freelance producer working on a project is the “right one” to put in front the client.

Related to performance assessment, I’m sure every company has a process. In order to clarify performance expectations my company has defined several “Leadership Competencies that represent the key skills and behaviors needed to drive business success.” Along with the “results achieved” in your specific job, these competencies are used to assess performance and identify development opportunities. The competencies range from “Communicates Effectively and Candidly” to “Leads Change and Innovation” and “Plans and Acts strategically.” Others touch on talent development, teamwork, and the ability to influence others. In addition, my officer has shared the following competencies she feels are important to be a leader in the areas of Communications and Corporate Relations. They include:

  • Intellectual horsepower and curiosity – intelligent and agile, deals with concepts and complexity comfortably, able to make sound, reasoned judgments
  • Ability to deal with paradox – can manage through seemingly irreconcilable differences
  • Composure – is calm and calming under pressure
  • Understands others – can see and relate to different perspectives, sensitive to differing feelings, emotions and cultures
  • Relationship management – understands the importance of building and nurturing both internal and external relationships
  • Creativity – develops new and unique ideas, is original and innovative, adds value
  • Courage – able to take and express a contrarian view in a constructive way
  • Influence – gains trust of others and builds relationships in order to influence effectively

Clearly, these are all good qualities/traits and they play an important role when I’m assessing performance or deciding who I want on my team. Having said that, my experience has led me to put more emphasis on what might be considered the “softer” skills. I look for excellent personality traits and interpersonal behaviors, rather than actual production expertise, technical skills or years of experience. Certainly, experience is very valuable and I usually assume that anyone who’s survived in this business for more than five or ten years, most likely has perfected the majority of the competencies and traits listed above.  So, as I’ve alluded to, I lean towards initially assessing a person’s heart rather than their head. Quite simply, first and foremost, I want to work with a nice person. Someone who;
…has a positive attitude.
…has a genuine passion for the crazy business we’re in.
…can look me in the eye and carry on a conversation.
…can tell a joke, and laugh at one.
…I wouldn’t mind spending a tough day/night in the trenches with.
…I can rely on.
…I can trust.
…is not afraid of hard work, but also knows that hard work needs to produce results.
…understands that actions most often speak louder than words, but also knows when and how to “speak up.”
…understands that you’re not entitled to anything – you need to “earn it” – especially respect.

You can teach someone what a good production schedule looks like or how to frame a good shot, direct an edit session or audition talent, but you probably can’t teach them the traits I mention above. They either have it (the heart, passion and personality for our business) or they don’t. In my opinion, if they have good interpersonal skills and make decisions based on ethics and integrity, they’re more than half way home to becoming a great Producer/Director.

Again, just my opinion – would appreciate yours.

Article contributed by Tom Bowman, CMMA Board of Directors

7 Things Seinfeld Taught Me About Business…

The 90’s were a great time for television. I particularly enjoyed watching the TV series Seinfeld, the show about nothing. IMDB describes it as “the continuing misadventures of neurotic New York stand-up comedian Jerry Seinfeld and his equally neurotic New York friends.” Many of the show’s timeless quotes and sayings are very memorable and quite relatable when it comes to business.

  1. “I know why we have reservations” “I don’t think you do!” – Car rental clerk and Jerry Seinfeld
    Delivering what you promise on time and in full are expectations that our customers demand. Generally, people do not act like Jerry in this clip but it doesn’t mean they aren’t thinking it. In the show, Jerry intends to “pay back” the rental car company’s poor service by damaging the rental car. “Pay back” comes in many forms including damaging your reputation in social media, initiating legal action or simply taking their business elsewhere to name a few. No one wants to be called “a very very bad man” for example.
  1. “Imagine, her taking credit for your big salad” – Jerry Seinfeld
    In this clip, Julie takes credit for buying the “big salad” when George actually paid for it. This didn’t sit right with the characters. This happens in real life all too often. Substitute the “big salad” and replace it with taking credit for the “idea,” “presentation,” “results,” etc. and it will not sit well with your team either. Giving credit where credit is due is far better than taking credit that is not yours.
  1. “Yada yada yada” – Elaine Benes
    Glossing over details leads your stakeholders to speculating on your true intention or drawing the wrong conclusions. If you are the Project Manager it’s ok not to know all the nitty gritty details, but make sure they are identified and acted upon by a team member(s). The importance of clear communication is one of the keys to successful interactions or projects.
  1. “Not that there’s anything wrong with that” – Jerry Seinfeld
    While the quote had a different meaning in the TV show; it can be applied in many different ways including brainstorming and the creative process. Being open to new ideas and others opinions are critical to keeping ideas fresh and engaging. Kramer’s Coffee Table Book About Coffee Tablesis a great example of out of the box thinking that could turn into a great success.
  2. “I’ll ask the questions” – Kramer
    Kramer provides a humorous take on meeting management in this clip. Sticking to your agenda and utilizing time management techniques help to control your meeting and reach your desired meeting goals. The Harvard Business Review recommends making sure that the meeting is necessary, being clear about the meetings objective and to focus keeping the discussion centered avoiding unnecessary side conversations. Perhaps Kramer attended Harvard?
  1. “You have to motivate yourself with challenges. That’s how you know you’re still alive.” – Jerry Seinfeld
    Being finished should seldom be accepted. Continuous product development and professional development are just two strategies to assist in staying relevant and keeping what you do or sell enticing. How can we do this better, more efficient, take out the choke points?
  1. “You’re an Anti-Dentite!” – Kramer
    Don’t generalize your audience, your customers, or your stakeholders. Knowing who your target audience is an essential part of communication. Speaking their language, using terms and acronyms commonly used in their environment, putting yourself in their shoes, answering their “how does this relate to me” question, and providing actionable information are examples that hopefully will not leave your audience laughing.

Here’s to all of you who, as Kramer says, are “TCB, taking care of business”!

Article contributed by James Fox with Merck & Co. and CMMA Board Member

The Case for the 20 Year Old Mentor

It’s funny how ideas that seem unrelated, have a way of connecting themselves and lead you to something new and different. This happened to me in 2011 when I heard a presentation by Don Tapscott (Author of Wikinomics: How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything, and Grown Up Digital: How the Net Generation is Changing Your World and others). Don pointed out how much he was learning about the digital landscape from what he referred to as his “young mentors”.

Coincidentally, I was involved in mentoring a young college student at the time. Of course, I viewed that mentoring relationship as one where I would share my sage wisdom and stunning insights based on my vast experience in business and the communications world with my mentee, Nick. But, Don’s presentation made me approach my own mentoring experience in a new way.

As members of CMMA, chances are you are leading a team of people much younger than you. And the communications you and your team are producing are likely being consumed by many people your children’s age or younger. Are you prepared to know what they’re thinking? Do you know the best ways to get them to pay attention? To motivate them? To inspire them? If not, you likely need a 20 year old mentor yourself.

How It Works
Step one of course is to find a mentor. It could be someone on your staff, or another younger employee in your company. Or, take a look at all of those resumes of young people looking for jobs and internships you undoubtedly have sitting somewhere. There’s no shortage of young people today eager to tap into your knowledge and your network of connections.

Once you meet with your potential mentor, lay out the groundwork. The idea is a mutual mentoring experience where you’ll trade your knowledge for his or hers. But, the idea is you are mentoring each other.

The Benefits
What I have learned from Nick
– Nick provided me with a clearer understanding of the channels he and his peers rely on for information. It’s clear that he uses email to communicate with old people like me, but, communication with peers is always via digital domains (Text, Twitter, Facebook, Google Hangouts, etc.). Nick doesn’t have an iPhone – he’s all Google and Android. So are his peers. Nick does not have cable television – he and his peers only watch television online. Nick is hungry for learning the tools of the trade for producing video. But, his preference is to use them to produce video in a more youthful, free-form style. Nick’s work ethic is extremely strong. He is willing to put forth huge efforts and time commitments for a task, especially when he can see the value of the task. This runs contrary to the common myth that young people are unmotivated, lazy, disenfranchised and plugged into video games 24X7.

Most importantly, I learned that the youthful enthusiasm and excitement for what we do is essential to being successful. Meeting with Nick put me back in touch with what attracted me to video and communications to begin with. It reminded me how important it is to treat the technology we work with and the communications we deliver as evolutionary rather than a static art where we keep re-using the same channels, methods and processes that served us well in the past. Creating by definition is something that builds toward the future. When you only tap into what worked in the past – you are re-creating. Nick and his peers are all about creating new things and we should follow their example.

What Nick learned – By way of disclosure, Nick sent me his list of what he has gained from our mentoring collaboration. I’ll paraphrase it here.

Nick says he learned a few lessons about leadership and about trends in the industry. Working with our team, I think Nick saw firsthand, that leadership is an essential element since everything we do is collaborative and heavily reliant on teamwork. I think he realized that everyone on the team has leadership responsibility at some point during every project. So leadership is every bit as important as other skills: like writing, producing, editing, etc. In Nick’s words: “Having been an intern in the department, I’ve had the privilege to learn the importance of a forward-thinking leadership style.”

Nick says he also learned to adopt a forward-thinking mindset, to evaluate how a production style or technical element might be used in the future. He learned that it’s important to not only keep up-to-date on technology changes in the industry, but also to keep current on processes to make sure they have longevity. “In essence, I learned to put more work on the front-end to ensure higher-quality productions that meet timeline requirements.

I think Nick also picked up on my personal bias toward avoiding the temptation to adopt new technology too quickly. Again, in Nick’s words: “Through our discussions, I learned to think about the relationship of technology adaptation and client value – keeping away from being on the ‘bleeding edge’, and understanding what that element can realistically bring to a production.”

Nick also realized the important role he played in mentoring me. “Bill is always interested in television content and technology that I keep up with, and I let him know of any trends that I notice. These observations can be as simple as the move to ‘cleaner’ graphics in productions, or as complex as technology interests that may have video applications, but aren’t currently being used as such.”

Lastly, since Nick just recently started his first job at a Community College in the Washington DC area, I think he realized the benefit of having a solid reference that could enthusiastically endorse him when he applied for jobs. We all know what it’s like to be asked to provide a reference for someone we are only vaguely familiar with. But, as a result of the collaborative mentoring experience with Nick, I was chomping at the bit to recommend him when potential employers inquired. In fact, my only hesitancy was the feeling of wishing we could hire Nick to work here if we only had a position open. Again Nick: “I understand the intrinsic value of having a mentor for a career, and deeply appreciate the collaboration that brings it to a much higher level for me.”

So what are you waiting for? I hope this testimonial will motivate you to start working with a 20 year old mentor today. In spite of encouraging signs in the employment market today, there are still a lot of really talented and innovative young people out there looking for a path to the future. By offering a collaborative mentoring opportunity, you can not only help them, but, you just might wind up finding like it did, that you gain the ultimate benefits. You’ll gain new insights into the staff you manage and the people who consume the communications your team produces. You will also re-discover the zest of enthusiasm for what we all do. And you might just hear about the next “House of Cards” or Arcade Fire long before they become mainstream, household names.

Article contributed by Bill Marriott with SAS and CMMA Member