Listen up to be a great leader.

Want to become a better leader? Stop talking and start listening.

I’ll be honest from the get-go. Listening is not my preferred option, I prefer talking. I am a person who likes to speak up, have my say, come up with solutions. Those who know me know I am a strong personality who is confident to weigh in on an idea and that I am not shy in being vocal about what I believe in.

And that’s not a bad thing.

But as I’ve got older and more senior I have learned that talking isn’t always the right thing to do. Sometimes it is best to sit back and listen.

And this is particularly true for leaders. With status, you often have the power and authority to speak first. People want to know what you think. But have you ever stopped to think if talking is going to get you the best result?

When people of various levels in an organization come together in a meeting, and the most senior person in the room offers a solution first, how ready are the others in the room to contradict them, or question their idea, or even just offer one of their own? Someone more junior may have had an excellent insight or solution but they may not have the confidence to speak up, or may not have the window of opportunity if everyone else is speaking.

The leader would have been better served to listen first and speak last. That way, everyone would have been heard and they would’ve had the chance to fully assess the situation. Being a leader should not be viewed as a license to increase your own volume.

Astute leaders know there is far more to be gained by surrendering the floor than by dominating it.

You become better informed and produce better work. And you are more popular with those whom you interact with because they feel valued and heard. You also learn a lot yourself!

At its essence, leadership may be about action, but leaders who act before they understand tend not to achieve the outcomes they desire. And to fully understand you have to listen.

Here are my top three tips for becoming a better listener:

1. The world doesn’t revolve around you: Stop worrying about what you’re going to say and stay focused on what’s being said. That way your thinking and responses will be more well-rounded and you will get to a better result faster. You will also bring people with you when you make the final decision.

2. A picture speaks a thousand words: People say as much (if not more) with their body language and facial expressions, as they do when they are talking. People will often describe me as an open book, as my face can give away my feelings – so I have to manage that carefully! But I also have to look for clues from others when they aren’t talking.

3. Ask questions and say thank you: One of the most often overlooked aspects of listening is thanking people for sharing their thoughts, ideas and opinions. If you acknowledge and thank someone for taking the time to share their point of view with you, they are more likely to do it again and you will build up good will and followership.

At the start of the year I hosted an all-office session called “Resolutions with Robertson.” It was a fun and informal session where I and other members of the Ketchum London team shared both professional and personal commitments for 2018. My top commitment was to talk less and listen more. At the end of March I’m going to check in with the team on my progress, but writing this blog has served as a very timely reminder.

Nintendo LABO: Is 2018 the year of…cardboard?

It may seem absurd – especially more than 100 years after its first use (and in a world of sleek metal designs and Gorilla Glass), but this year might just be the year of cardboard. Here’s three reasons why.

 

  1. Tech companies make things cool

 

Tech is cool. Take a look at the top 20 list of coolbrands, and you’ll find tech companies taking up more than half of those slots. And by association, whatever tech’s ‘hot new thing’ is, becomes the ‘hot new thing’ of the world.

 

And believe us, cardboard is the ‘hot new thing’.

 

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The most obvious example is Google Cardboard (the clue’s in the name), the search giant’s entry-level virtual reality headset. Rather than the hundreds of pounds required to shell out for the latest PlayStation VR or Oculus Rift, Google have used cardboard to open up VR to the masses. And consumers love it. Through March 2017, over 10 million Cardboard viewers were sold and over 160 million Cardboard app downloads had been made.

 

The latest innovator in this space, announced just last month, is the Nintendo LABO (client bias disclaimer alert!). Using existing tech already built into the Nintendo Switch console, you can now create amazing new toys out of cardboard cut-outs that interact with the console – such as a piano, a fishing rod…or a robot suit.

 

Since announcement – Nintendo added more than $1 billion to its value overnight, a sign that the financial world is seeing this as a potential winner too.

 

  1. It’s a viable alternative to plastic…evil, evil plastic

 

Following the eye-opening scenes in last year’s Blue Planet 2, our plastic waste crisis has reached the mainstream.

 

The targets are currently FMCG companies (or supermarkets such as M&S wrapping up a ‘cauliflower steak’) but may soon turn to other companies, not just around packaging but towards the products themselves.

 

Toys break, kids get bored of them, or they are easily lost.

 

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Does it not make more sense for these toys to be easily recyclable once finished with?

 

Or better yet, turned into completely new toys?

 

Moreover, it’s cheap. The cost of cardboard is not likely to rise in the same way that plastic may do in the near future (with green-thinking governments looking at plastic taxes). Investing early in this trend could pay off big time for many different companies in many different sectors.

 

 

  1. Kids Love It

 

Have you ever bought your child a new toy…only for them to be far more fascinated in the packaging that it came in?

 

 

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Exactly.

 

You know what…ignore the environment or cool tech, it’s actually very simple.

 

Kids love cardboard.

 

They like using their imagination to create their own fun, their own toys, their own little worlds. It breaks, you stick it back together, it rips, just get some more. Plastic, for all its durable properties, is inflexible and limiting to imaginations.

 

You can draw on cardboard; paint it, cut it, stick it, glue it, stack it, you name it.

 

Whatever us boring adults think about cardboard, in a child’s eyes it’s so much more than just a box. And as more companies look to become greener and more accessible with their tech, it’s set to delight kids for many more years to come.

 

How to Create a Nonprofit Media Kit to Land Corporate Sponsorships

Make a Bigger Impact with Corporate Sponsorships

IEG, a company who tracks corporate sponsorship data, projected at the start of 2017 that total sponsorship spending by businesses in North America would likely reach $23.2 billion by the end of the year. Nine percent of that number was estimated to go towards causes, roughly $2 billion.

Big or small, corporate sponsorships can effectively transform a nonprofit’s impact and potential to make a real difference. The first step in landing these sponsorships is educating businesses to what your nonprofit does and how their donation can help and, in most cases, a media kit can help you do just that. Here’s what you need to know about creating marketing materials with corporate sponsorships in mind.

Researching and Positioning Your Nonprofit

To connect with potential sponsors, you have to get into the mindset of a business-to-business deal—you want to position your nonprofit to sell sponsorships. But first, you’ll need to answer two questions about your cause:

1.     What’s your USP (unique selling proposition)? Why would a business want to choose you over other nonprofits?

2.     Do any of your values match with values in the potential sponsor’s business?

Once you have these two questions answered, you can take the information and weave it into your sponsorship marketing materials.

Selecting Your Materials

The next step is to plan what to include in your press or media kit. Remember, one size does not fit all, and you should tailor your content for each sponsorship and business you pursue.

Although certain content can be evergreen, like information about your nonprofit, stats for what you’ve accomplished and maybe testimonials from past corporate sponsors, the more personalized you can make your materials, the more effective.

Consider drafting personalized items to include in your media kit, such as a letter explaining why your nonprofit and the business would make a successful partnership, a list of your aligned values and information about the event or campaign they would be sponsoring.

Creating Your Nonprofit Media Kit

Think about what creative piece will catch the attention of your potential sponsorship. It could be in the form of a direct mail piece, an email or maybe even a video. When our agency partnered with the National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association to solicit corporate sponsorships for the organization’s National Mobility Awareness Month promotion, we combined traditional and nontraditional marketing elements with a custom video card.

If you’re stuck in a creative rut or you don’t have an in-house marketing team, consider hiring an advertising or marketing agency to help research, plan and create the powerful marketing materials you need to land great corporate sponsorships.

How To Roll Your Own Net Neutrality

While the feds and the states punt or fumble on keeping the internet free, you can take some steps to prevent ISPs from messing with your access.

The political fight for net neutrality should have been a model of how democracy works. Tireless advocates spent years transforming a wonky academic concept into to a pop culture phenomenon, building majorities in both political parties to embrace the idea of protecting unfettered internet access. But majorities aren’t always enough. Internet service providers persuaded elected and appointed officials to abolish regulations that prevented blocking, throttling, and selling fast lanes, as well as those rules that prohibited collecting and selling an ISP customers’ data.

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Cash Is Queen: As Tweens Flock To “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” Retailers Follow

The VH1 reality show is giving kids and families a vocabulary for discussing sexuality and gender identity. Now businesses want to get in on the conversation.

When I meet him at DragCon’s New York City debut last September, Edward Wang and his stock of plush toys, backpacks, and home decor were nestled in among tables hawking leather corsets and roped-off booths with paddles and poppers. “I didn’t think it would be the right crowd,” he acknowledges.

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Cash Is Queen: As Tweens Flock To “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” Retailers Follow

The VH1 reality show is giving kids and families a vocabulary for discussing sexuality and gender identity. Now businesses want to get in on the conversation.

When I meet him at DragCon’s New York City debut last May, Edward Wang and his stock of plush toys, backpacks, and home decor were nestled in among tables hawking leather corsets and roped-off booths with paddles and poppers. “I didn’t think it would be the right crowd,” he acknowledges.

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Austin is the first city in Texas to make paid sick leave mandatory

If you’ve ever been a waitress or worked in a video store or made lattes at a coffeeshop, you know that sick days–at least paid ones–are a luxury. The city of Austin has just made a bold move to change that. On Friday, the Austin City Council voted 9-2 to make paid sick leave a …

If you’ve ever been a waitress or worked in a video store or made lattes at a coffeeshop, you know that sick days–at least paid ones–are a luxury. The city of Austin has just made a bold move to change that. On Friday, the Austin City Council voted 9-2 to make paid sick leave a mandatory requirement for all non-government employers. Austin is now the first city in Texas to regulate sick leave.

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On Broadway, gender inequality touches every stage of the industry

Anyone who watches the Tony Awards every year will notice the dearth of women nominees in nonperformer categories, especially writing and directing. Last year, Rebecca Taichman became only the sixth woman to win a Tony for best direction of a play. It’s a dismal track record, even if it’s slightly better than what we see …

Anyone who watches the Tony Awards every year will notice the dearth of women nominees in nonperformer categories, especially writing and directing. Last year, Rebecca Taichman became only the sixth woman to win a Tony for best direction of a play. It’s a dismal track record, even if it’s slightly better than what we see at the Oscars, where Kathryn Bigelow remains the only woman named best director in a nine-decade history of doling out statuettes.

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