Why I Joined the American Business Women’s Association by Ka’Ryn Holder-Jackson, Ph.D.

Why I Joined the American Business Women’s Association by Ka’Ryn Holder-Jackson, Ph.D.

To view the complete video, “WHY I JOINED ABWA” – Click the link and/or copy and paste the link into the internet search field:  https://youtu.be/iqHYOG_rmcg

About ABWA Member, Dr. Ka’Ryn Holder-Jackson

Dr. Ka’Ryn Holder-Jackson is a dynamic innovative business executive; her expertise is leadership training and development, strategic planning, and organizational development. An articulate, diplomatic, interpersonal communicator with an uncommon ability to influence, motivate, inspire, and communicate with diverse constituents,

A native of San Francisco, she is a graduate of San Francisco State University, where she earned a Bachelor of Science in Psychology, the University of Phoenix, where she earned a Master’s of Business Administration and Capella University where she earned a Doctorate in Human Services.

Ka’Ryn presently serves as the Executive Director of ACCEL San Mateo County Adult Education Consortium where she leads a Ka’Ryn leads a coalition of regional education, training, business and industry partners bridging the gap between employer demand for an educated and skilled workforce and the supply of workers with the necessary skills for a 21st century labor market.

As a former Associate Director for the American Diabetes Association, San Francisco Bay Area, Ka’Ryn received honors as the recipient of a Certificate of Special Congressional Recognition in 2015 from the Honorable Barbara Lee 13th Congressional District of California, In Recognition of Dedication to Educating the Community About Diabetes & the Importance of Health Care.

Ka’Ryn has over 20 years’ experience serving in Executive Management in corporate, for profit, not-for-profit, non-profit, and education Sectors.  She is the CEO of A’Ryze Consulting; a Certified Executive Coach, Speaker, Trainer, Corporate Facilitator, and has over 20 years’ experience in the financial services industry and is a licensed financial services representative.

Awards & Recognition:

  • 2023 Top Ten Business Woman, American Business Women’s Association
  • 2019 Woman of Distinction, American Business Women’s Association
  • 2018 Commendation Board of Supervisors of San Mateo County, California
    for Leadership in our Communities
  • 2015 Certificate of Special Congressional Recognition from the Honorable Barbara Lee 13th Congressional District of California, In Recognition of Dedication to Educating the Community About Diabetes & the Importance of Health Care.

 

 

The Secrets of Visionary Thinkers:   2 Simple Steps to Crushing Subconscious Assumptions by Susan Robertson

The Secrets of Visionary Thinkers: 2 Simple Steps to Crushing Subconscious Assumptions by Susan Robertson

When we think about famous visionary thinkers, we subconsciously assume that they have some magic characteristic that the rest of don’t have or can’t achieve.  But in reality, the only magic they have is an intuitive understanding of how to avoid some very common creative thinking blocks.  One of those blocks is the Curse of Knowledge, a cognitive bias, or mental shortcut, that all humans share.

Stuck Inside the Box:  The Curse of Knowledge

You’ve probably heard the term “Thinking outside the box.”  And you’ve probably, at some point in your career, been asked the think outside the box.  But without any understanding of why the box is there or how it was created, it’s hard to know how to break out of it.  The reality is that we each create our own “box”, through this Curse of Knowledge.

To understand this concept, imagine for a moment that your task is to think of new ideas for salad dressing. Try to come up with a few in your mind right now – don’t skip ahead!

Chances are, the ideas that came to your mind were incremental variations of existing flavors or ingredients.  You may have thought of fruit-flavored dressing.  Or spicy, chipotle dressing.  Or perhaps dressing that’s flavored like your favorite cocktail.  Or your favorite dessert.

All really interesting ideas, IF you are only looking for ideas that don’t change the current nature of salad dressing, nor the way it’s currently manufactured, packaged, sold, or used. The task was to find NEW ideas for salad dressing.  That challenge was not limited to simply new flavors, but your brain likely limited your thinking to mostly just new flavors.

Here’s why incremental ideas tend to be the first, and sometimes the only, kind of ideas to emerge. All humans rely on past knowledge to subconsciously try to shortcut problem-solving. We instantly – and subconsciously – call on everything we know from the past to come up with solutions for the new problem. While this ability to call on past learning is an incredibly useful trait in many situations (it’s one of the reasons we’re at the top of the food chain), when you’re looking for new ideas and solutions, it actually becomes a significant barrier. It limits your thinking to nothing but slight variations of what already exists.

The minute you saw the words “salad dressing”, your brain made a bunch of instantaneous assumptions that you’re likely not aware of.  Those assumptions were probably things like:

  • Salad dressing comes in a bottle.
  • It’s liquid.
  • It’s stored in the refrigerator.
  • It’s used on lettuce.
  • Salad is eaten from a bowl or plate.
  • Salad is eaten with a fork.

Using the salad dressing challenge again, now assume one of the above “facts” does NOT have to be true. What ideas could you come up with then?   You might think of ideas like:

  • Salad dressing that you heat in the microwave (not cold).
  • Dressing for fruit, or for meat (not used on lettuce).
  • A powder whose full flavor is activated when it contacts the moisture of the lettuce (not liquid).
  • Salad dressing in the form of a wrap, so you can eat the salad on the go (salad isn’t served on a plate).
  • Salad dressing in the form of an edible skewer (salad isn’t eaten with a fork).

As you can see, the nature of the ideas that arise after crushing the imbedded assumptions is dramatically different from the ideas that came before.  That’s because your brain is no longer limiting your creativity with artificial guardrails that may not actually exist and that you weren’t even consciously aware of.

Interestingly, the more expertise you have in an area, the more of these limiting assumptions you have subconsciously imbedded in your thinking.  So, as an expert in your field, you likely have MANY imbedded assumptions that you’re not aware of, but that are likely impeding your creative thinking in a significant way.

The Cure: Assumption Crushing™ Process:

Fortunately, there is an antidote to the curse of knowledge.  Assumption Crushing™ is a technique that involves consciously surfacing and challenging our hidden assumptions.

Assumption Crushing™ Step 1:   Surface your subconscious assumptions by generating a long list of statements that start with things like:

  • Well, in our business everyone knows…
  • We have to…
  • Our product is/does/has…
  • Well, of course …
  • We could never…

Be sure to list some really obvious, superficial, or seemingly trivial “facts,” observations, processes, etc.  Sometimes breaking the obvious ones can lead to the most innovative ideas.  For example, the fact that salad dressing is liquid seems fairly trivial.  But breaking that assumption led to some truly breakthrough ideas.

Assumption Crushing™ Step 2:   Once you’ve come up with a long list, pick one that may not have to be true, and start to think of new ideas based on breaking that one. Then pick another and do it again.  And again.  You’ll amaze yourself with the innovative ideas you come up with.

Remember that the Curse of Knowledge is based on experience and expertise.  Many people often assume that the best way to get new thinking, new ideas, and new solutions is to bring together a bunch of experts on the topic.  But the reality is that all those experts will have a very similar set of subconscious mental frameworks.  (They’ll all have essentially the same Curse of Knowledge.). A better way to generate new ideas is to invite a few experts, and then several other people with different experiences, knowledge, and perspectives.  Those non-experts will help force the experts to confront and overcome their curse of knowledge.

The Curse of Knowledge is a formidable adversary that exists in our brains all the time and hinders our visionary potential. By embracing Assumption Crushing™, we can shatter the chains that confine our thinking and unlock the path to visionary breakthroughs.

About the Author:

Susan Robertson empowers individuals, teams, and organizations to more nimbly adapt to change, by transforming thinking from “why we can’t” to “how might we?”  She is a creative thinking expert with over 20 years of experience speaking and coaching in Fortune 500 companies.  As an instructor on applied creativity at Harvard, Susan brings a scientific foundation to enhancing human creativity.  To learn more, please go to: SusanRobertsonSpeaker.com.

Why Innovations Should Be More Like Easter Eggs by Susan Robertson

Why Innovations Should Be More Like Easter Eggs by Susan Robertson

Every year in the spring, Amy B., a buyer for a large retail chain store, hosts an Easter egg decorating teambuilding party, where she and a bunch of her suppliers spend an entire afternoon coloring and bedazzling hard-boiled eggs. None of them bring their kids—they do this for the sheer pleasure of out-of-the office bonding, creating interesting and attractive objects. The group is always amazed at the creativity of the resulting eggs. (And in case you’re wondering, no, none of them are artists.)

So why, as adults, don’t people exercise their inner child-like creativity more often? And what is it about the Easter egg party that allows them to so freely generate and express such range and diversity of ideas? There are several factors—all of which also apply to innovation.

Each egg represents a very low commitment.

It is cheap in both time and materials to try any idea they think of, so they try lots of ideas. If one doesn’t work, it doesn’t matter—it’s just one egg. Similarly, in your innovation work, you need to consider and try out many ideas, to ensure that only the best ones move forward. As innovation projects proceed through a company, they get more expensive—in money, time, and labor—at each successive phase. Developing Fail Fast, Fail Cheap methodologies allows you to try out lots of ideas early on, while it’s still cheap.

They leverage not only individual creativity, but also use the power of the group.

Someone will think of an idea to try, and then toss it out to the group. Then everyone contributes ideas for how best to accomplish it. No one ever says, “Yes, but that won’t work.” Everyone just thinks of ways to help make it better. The resulting final solutions are nearly always significantly better than what the person would have tried originally.

In many companies, the “Yes, But” phenomenon is all too common, and can be very damaging to creativity and innovation. Most ideas aren’t perfect when they’re first conceived, but teams act like they should be. They point out all the problems in an emerging idea before they ever attempt to find out if there’s anything good about it. For innovation and creative problem solving to thrive, it’s critical to create an environment that nurtures ideas rather than stifles them, so you get the benefit of the best thinking of the entire team.

They are willing to start over when something clearly isn’t working.

One woman brought eggs that were not naturally white; instead, they were brown. It wasn’t clear that dyeing them would work very well, if at all. And, in fact, the first few attempts didn’t work. So, she scraped off all the color on her unsuccessful eggs several times. But when she chose red, yellow, and orange colors and left them in the dye bath long enough, she got some of the most uniquely rich and vividly colored eggs anyone had ever seen.

Unfortunately, in large organizations, too many innovation projects that aren’t quite hitting the mark proceed too far. It’s important to recognize when an idea isn’t working, and then be willing to start again when you need to.

Reframing the goal results in more divergent ideas.

The woman with the brown eggs also tried other methods of decorating the eggs, not just coloring them with dye. Once she reframed the problem from coloring eggs to decorating eggs, everyone else also began creating the most innovative and unusual eggs of all. This reframing of the problem is a critical step in effective problem-solving and innovation. This is because the way a problem is stated affects the potential solutions you will think of. So when addressing any obstacle, it’s a good idea to question the way the challenge or problem is worded, to see if you can reframe it to get to different and better solutions.

So the next time you find yourself with eggs to decorate—or a challenge to meet—keep these tips in mind to help you think more creatively and come up with more innovative solutions.

  • Fail fast, fail cheap. Test many possible ideas.
  • Leverage individual and group creativity; “Yes, and” instead of “Yes, but”.
  • Be willing to start over when the idea isn’t working.
  • Reframe the opportunity to expand your thinking.

About the Author:

Susan Robertson empowers individuals, teams, and organizations to more nimbly adapt to change, by transforming thinking from “why we can’t” to “how might we?” She is a creative thinking expert with over 20 years of experience speaking and coaching in Fortune 500 companies. As an instructor on applied creativity at Harvard, Susan brings a scientific foundation to enhancing human creativity. To learn more, please go to: SusanRobertsonSpeaker.com.

All Video is Video Content Marketing: Five Rules For Greater Reach by Patrick McGowan

All Video is Video Content Marketing: Five Rules For Greater Reach by Patrick McGowan

Being on video and watching videos is today’s business norm. A recent survey showed 76% of consumers watched a video before purchasing a product. Social media influencers promote products through video-based storytelling. You login to video meetings daily with prospects and customers.

Since 2005, the year YouTube launched, video has increasingly grown in prevalence, production value, and consumption. Then in 2020 video marketing took a massive leap forward with the pandemic-induced use of video conferencing, podcasts (with video), and livestreams.

Today, YouTube is the most used social platform for research purposes among business-to-business decisions makers with 50.9% of users. And every day more than 300 million people participate in a Zoom meeting.

The reluctant say about video meetings, “It’s not going away.” Strategic leaders, though, say, “Video is how we do business now.”

In today’s business world all video is video content marketing. Zoom is not a phone call with video. Whether it’s a livestream or a self-produced YouTube short, your videos still need to follow a handful of rules.

Positioning

Some marketers consider the word brand to be a four-letter word. The job of marketers and business leaders, they say, is to position a company or product in the market.

The brand becomes how customers define it, and, hopefully, they define it based on your considerable efforts.

The best marketers see this work of positioning to be the first and most important activity. They have learned to be comfortable with discomfort, because good positioning feels limiting. Good positioning is uncomfortably narrow.

It’s a single, narrowly defined target buyer. Your videos—live and recorded—will improve once you know who you are producing them for and what their motivations are.

Differentiation

What makes you different is what gets people’s attention. Not different for different sake, but a viable, propositional difference which appeals to your ideal buyer.

It’s a noisy, messy, and chaotic market. You want to be a brand which means you can charge a premium. If there is nothing to distinguish yourself from the competition, then you’re a commodity and you can only compete on price.

Your differentiation needs to be relevant and clearly expressed on all your video channels, especially video meetings. The first step is to shift responsibility for video meetings from operations to marketing. The next step, especially with a hybrid workforce, is to make sure that everyone who shows up on video is well trained and that their presence represents the value of the brand.

Distribution

Where to post your videos is determined by positioning and differentiation, not trend or fashion. A fishing guide once said, “You’re not fishing unless you have fish under your boat.” Or as Maverick said to Goose in the first Top Gun, “Target rich environment.”

Distribution can include everything from the social media platform (LinkedIn, TikTok) to the video distributor (YouTube, Vimeo) to the livestream platform. It answers what and how of your video content strategy.

Regardless of platform, you want all your videos to do one thing: direct interested parties to your website. There they learn more about you and begin to fall in love with you.

Distribution isn’t a benign decision. It says a lot about who you are and the people you’re trying to reach.

Story

Stories draw prospects in and customers closer. A well-told story engages the right people into a deeper, more meaningful conversation.

The right story you want to tell elevates the customer as hero. It captures your positioning and differentiation. How you will tell your story—written, audible, or visual—will be determined by the platform you choose and the audience you want to reach.

Tiktok is both a genre of video and a distribution platform. The audience consumes video through a spontaneous scroll. How you tell your story on TikTok may not work on LinkedIn.

Additionally, your video meetings, podcasts, and livestream productions express the story of your brand. The way you show up on video tells a story. But is it the right story? Your video meetings and podcast presence need to set the tone and timbre of future engagements.

Surprise

Better video is an act of kindness. Do everything you can to be more present across the lens.

We all spend enough time in front of a camera. When you show up on camera with a better-than-expected presence, you surprise people. Surprise is one ingredient in being unforgettable.

When you are not present, people check out. When you are present, people respond. Presence is what you say before you say a word.

Your presence should communicate confidence, power, and credibility. This will surprise some people. When combined with confidence, you’ll be more persuasive.

Conclusion

Video content is a critical component to your digital content marketing strategy. All video—whether meetings, podcasts, e-learning, or social media—deserve careful review and attention.

Video is a powerful and compelling medium. These five rules provide the framework you need to begin to evaluate what you’ve already produced and what you plan to produce.

Say to yourself, “Video is how we do business now.” Go and do it!

About the Author

Patrick McGowan, MBA, consults, trains, and coaches business executives and teams to have more power, presence, and credibility on-camera in a video-first market. He pulls together three-decades in marketing, innovation, and leadership. McGowan started Punchn to address the challenges and insecurities we all face when on camera. He is the author of “Across the Lens: How Your Zoom Presence Will Make or Break Your Success.”

Optimizing Cloud Costs By Susanne Tedrick

Optimizing Cloud Costs By Susanne Tedrick

Optimizing Cloud Costs:  4 Keys to Ensuring the Most Value For Your Budget

Perhaps you are one of the business leaders considering moving your servers to “the cloud.” After doing due diligence, you choose a provider and consider the work complete. Right? Not quite. It’s not enough to handpick a provider. Whether it’s called cloud cost management, cloud optimization, or a different term, it’s crucial to optimize costs by selecting the right products at the lowest possible price. The following are key practices for doing just that.

Use A Cross Department Approach.

It’s tempting to just put several trusted IT engineers and developers in charge of technology decision-making, but it will likely mean a product(s) that won’t work well across company departments. For instance, a cloud product that IT likes because it works well for them, may be a poor fit for accounting.

Instead, maximize business value by getting engineering, finance, technology, and business teams to collaborate on data-driven spending decisions. Forming a “best practices” or a “center of excellence” group ensures that everyone at the company, not just a select few, takes ownership of cloud usage.

Utilizing a cross-department approach is the idea behind the evolving cloud financial management discipline known as FinOps, so named as it combines Finance and DevOps to stress the importance of communication and collaboration between business and engineering teams.

Understand Current Utilization

Overprovisioning, the act of deploying, and paying for, resources that a firm does not need, represents a technical challenge at any organization. Understanding current utilization can help avert this problem. Purchasing a top-of-the-line cloud server might sound tempting, but is it really what your company needs? Does your firm’s workload require a heavy-duty-server, or would it be a nice-to-have that wil

l cost more than is necessary? On the flip side, if corporate workload is progressing faster than the current server can handle, an upgrade to a top-of-the-line product might be a wise purchase. Understanding current utilization brings a level of accountability to cloud expenditures.

Leverage Automation 

This practice takes utilization a step further. Does automation need to be ongoing, 24/7? Or can automation be “leveraged” more efficiently, and thus save money? If the automation is not needed, operations aren’t as efficient as they could be.

Rather than running all day, every day, automation might be better utilized during a specific high-traffic time of the day – for instance, when many credit card transactions come in early each morning for processing. If automation is only needed during early morning hours, it does not make sense to have this feature operating 24/7. In a case like this, it makes sense to “leverage” automation with the provider.

Utilize The Payment Model That’s Right For Your Company

The options usually involve purchasing in advance versus paying as you go. If your company has a steady workload that does not change much over time, a fixed price paid in advance to a cloud provider makes a lot of sense.

On the other hand, perhaps your firm is a recent start-up with very uneven workflow, maybe depending on the time of year or current economic climate. In such cases, paying as you go would be a better choice.

Summary

Utilizing a FinOps approach and forming a central best-practices group – thus creating a cloud center of excellence – will result in greater team collaboration; “ownership” of cloud usage; decisions driven by the business value of cloud; take better advantage of variable cloud costs, and maybe even increase revenue.

About the Author, Susanne Tedrick

Susanne Tedrick is a certified Microsoft Technical Trainer. In her work, Susanne delivers skills-based, outcome-driven training on the Azure platform for some of Microsoft’s leading enterprise clients Susanne is the author of the critically acclaimed “Women of Color in Tech” and the upcoming “Innovating For Diversity”. For more information, please visit:  www.SusanneTedrick.com.  A portion of this feature was excerpted from the FinOps Foundation