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Book Review by Linda Dulye, Speaking Volumes: Talk is one thing, but measurement and data tell the story.

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About the book: Talk, Inc.: How Trusted Leaders Use Conversation to Power Their Organizations by Boris Groysberg and Michael Slind Harvard Business Review Press, 2012 256 pages

Take Your Employees to a Trade Show Without Having Them Leave Their Desks

Now that summer is over – the conference season is back in full swing. I should know—my inbox is bombarded with emails on a daily basis promoting trade shows, expos and conventions taking place during the next few months.

And personally, I am speaking at a major employee communication conference in Pittsburgh in October.

Conferences are big business. Take Las Vegas for example. It’s the No. 1 trade show destination in the country. Last year, more than 19,000 meetings and conventions were held there.

In fact, a client of my firm is sending a management team to Vegas next week for one of their biggest trade shows. I am sure it will be a great learning and networking experience for those attending – but what about employees back at headquarters? Or field offices? How can they benefit from this show?

You can bring your employees to a show or conference without having them leave their desks.

Greeting Tips from the Main Gate

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It’s been a busy summer!

I’ve made connections with hundreds of thousands of people. And not by the internet. Face-to-face.

I’m not on the campaign trail. I’m a greeter—a volunteer greeter at the majestic music venue in the Berkshires of Massachusetts, known as Tanglewood—summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra.

This weekend, Tanglewood concludes its 75th season. And I wrap up my third year as a volunteer.

The experience has allowed me to meet hundreds of thousands of people from all over the world, and at the same time, it has provided valuable lessons about communication.

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It’s Coming! Maybe. Six Steps to Prepare Your Workforce for the Fiscal Cliff

It’s like Y2K all over again. Only, this time, it’s your tax dollars…at work?

The mystery, alarm and unpredictability swirling around the approaching “fiscal cliff” brings back memories of the public chatter and media banter that advanced the new millennium’s arrival.
 
Threats of a fiscal cliff are magnified daily in blogs, commentaries, news reports and business conversations. The phrase, fiscal cliff, refers to the possible collision of new and significant U.S. federal budget cuts with some dicey changes in tax laws. It’s up to Congress to make the call (or not) to reverse automatic or “sequestered” spending cuts of $1.2 trillion before they kick in on Jan. 2, 2013. That decision would simultaneously occur with some noteworthy tax changes, including increases in federal income rates and the elimination of the 2% payroll tax reduction. 

London Calling: Lessons From the Triumphs and Defeats at the Olympics

Even though its first week is just wrapping up, these London Olympic Games have been full of truly memorable triumphs and defeats. Watching Michael Phelps take his place as the greatest Olympian ever was just one soaring milestone. On the flip side was the abyss created by world champion Jordyn Wieber’s failure to qualify for the individual all-around final in gymnastics.

For Team USA’s Wieber, it was likely her greatest personal defeat — ever. But it wasn’t the most consuming one, because in less than 48 hours, the resilient 17-year-old dynamo won gold, along with her fellow Fab 5 teammates, in the women’s gymnastics team finals. How did she do it?

Communication Lessons Learned from the Penn State Scandal

Penn State football received a monumental NCAA ruling Monday, hitting the university with $60 million in fines, taking it out of the postseason for four years and will cap scholarships at 20 for the next four years as well, below the normal limit. Once-revered coach Joe Paterno’s 14 years of winnings were also stripped away.

Despite its venerated athletic prowess, Penn State lacked a game plan for workplace communication.

Missing was a formal system for:

Direct, open, 2-way communication, where everyone feels safe to speak up and provides an opportunity for individuals to be heard
Personal accountability, where everyone feels responsible and takes responsibility for sharing timely information
Regular assessmentwhere everyone is honestly evaluated for his or her behavior to clear, consistent performance criteria.

The result is horrific.

How to Keep Learning as a Leader... on a Budget

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In business, success hinges on staying current or risk falling behind.

That’s especially true for your learning process. Self-education becomes a personal requirement, as does taking on the role of a lifetime learner.

Time pressures make that a tall order – and few have the budget to partake in the executive education program at Wharton or Stanford. 

But learning can happen – and will happen – when you see everything around you as a classroom. We come in contact with situations every day that offer rich opportunities to learn and grow—without a high price tag. All you have to do is take a look around and observe.

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Restoring Your Reputation in the Court of Public Opinion

There's been a lot of reputation management lately of high-profile figures in the world of business, sports and politics. This week, Roger Clemens, one of the most decorated pitchers in MLB history, was acquitted on all charges that he lied to Congress when he denied using steroids to extend his career.

No doubt a huge legal victory for Clemens, but the court of public opinion is an entirely different beast.

Cyclist Lance Armstrong finds himself in a similar situation. The seven-time Tour de France winner is facing charges so serious that the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency is considering banning him from the sport.

For Clemens and Armstrong, there’s still an immense amount of damage control that needs to be done to restore the reputations they once had. Ditto for former Senator John Edwards, who last month was acquitted of one charge of campaign-finance fraud. Mistrial hasn’t cleared Edwards’ tarnished reputation.

Companies are also working overtime as well to restore their reputation luster. JPMorgan Chase is among the latest corporate casualties, thanks to a $2 billion-plus trading loss.

A withered reputation—whether personal or business—doesn’t have to be permanent. Turnaround takes time, relentless focus and rock-solid sincerity. These five steps can help get your rep back on track: 

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The Responsibility of Leaders to Tell the Truth

No one likes being lied to. It’s deceitful and disrespectful, especially when it happens on the job. But, the truth is…lying in the workplace happens.

 
I’ve seen it over and over again with big and small companies—and, increasingly, during challenging times. In the face of bad news, there is a tendency for leaders to soften the blow by not fully disclosing how tough business really is, how sales have dropped or how customer complaints have climbed.

Are You a Part of Your Workplace—or Apart From It?

These days it’s pretty easy to zone out at work with all the technology right at our fingertips. Earbuds have become mainstay office wear—transporting workers to their own world without leaving their cubicles.

A frustrated colleague of mine said her co-workers not only wear headphones all day, but also use instant messaging for information exchanges with co-workers sitting just a few feet away.
  

Cones of silence have stunted real conversations.
 

Commenting about this phenomenon in a recent Harvard Business Review article, "Workers, Take Off Your Headphones," author Anne Kreamer noted, “If an employee is glued to her desk with headphones on, immersed in music and G-chatting with her best buddy, she is missing the opportunity to create relationships with people on the job.”

Don’t get me wrong. I believe in the power of technology. But I believe even more in the power of direct conversations to fuel relationships and results in the workplace.
 

Last week in a commencement address at Boston University, Google CEO Eric Schmidt advised graduates to unplug for one hour a day. “Engage with the world around you… feel… and taste… and smell… and hug what’s there, right in front of you – not what’s a click away,” he said.
 

If you know more about the playlist on your favorite Pandora station than the to-do-list for your work team’s latest project, then you’ve got a problem and need to recalculate. Here are some tips to help you unplug from technology and tune in to your team:"
 

Assess yourself. How cemented are your earbuds to your ears or your keyboard to your fingertips? Always? Most of the time? Some of the time?  Rarely? What’s your plugged-in rating? Assess your work practices and calculate the time you really spend “plugged-in” to you own private island. If you’re treading in the high-use zone, breaking free will be a tougher task than if you are an occasional user. Get started on your assessment with this quick poll.