Day 20: Go Against the Norm!

Go Against the Norm! What does that actually mean? Well, when I was a little boy, my parents gave me a little stain glass window that I still have that says:

If A Man Does Not Keep Pace With His Companions. Perhaps It Is Because He Hears A Different Drummer. Let Him Step To The Music He Hears However Measured Or Faraway.  - Thoreau

This sits in my office and is one of my prize possessions. It even has tape on it,  because I apparently dropped it over the years, and had to put it back together. If you can relate to that then you know that if you Go Against the Norm, you also, at times, have to put your life, your career, and your relationships, sometimes back together because you most always go against the norm and this can cause things to not go exactly smoothly. We always hear about the successes, but very few times do we hear about those individuals still trying to succeed. Which one are you?

Recently Steve Jobs passed away and if anyone could be the poster child for this motto it is him. If you read the poster to the left you will understand that he, above all, understood what “Go Against the Norm” meant.

Yes there have been others: Michael Dell; Dell Computers,  The Google Guys; Larry Page and Sergey Brin, Bill Gates; Microsoft, let’s not forget Ted Waitt, Gateway Computers, Richard Branson; Virgin and the list could go on.

Those names are the current ones but remember the Wright Brothers; first to fly, Columbus; credited for discovering the earth is round, Albert Einstein; theory of relativity,  Thomas Edison, inventor of the light bulb and holder of 1093 patens,  Alexander Graham Bell, phone and many, many more.

Like I said in the beginning, history remembers the successful ones or those that got credit for giving the world something they needed or wanted.  But if you read their histories they were thought of as individuals that “Go Against the Norm”. Life was probably not easy for them before their fame and in some cases even after.

I love this picture of the original Microsoft Team:

Anyway as you go through your 30 day journey just remember if you have your own business, are an entrepreneur or are passionate about a cause or anything you may be labeled one of the crazy people. You might hear things like why can’t you just fit in? Well stay strong and remember the names above.

Here’s t o you the crazy ones. Those who live outside the Comfort Zone!

Les Adkins is the CEO of  Orange SMS Consulting and an International Social Media Strategist, speaker, consultant and author. Bringing strategy and whole brain thinking to creative campaigns and social media through his work. Please follow @mysylbert and connect on LinkedIn 


Join us on FB as well

Sorry this was late. I was watching the World Series. BTW great game! Rangers gave it up by not closing on two opportunities!


Day 19: Productive Meetings

The other day I had 3 very productive meetings. Why were they so productive you ask? Well let me tell you.

First I had an objective for each meeting. In other words I had a specific outcome that I wanted to have for each meeting.

Second I had a Plan A and a Plan B. Meaning that if I did not achieve my main objective I had a back up objective. So an example would be if I wanted a meeting to have the outcome of becoming my client and if that didn’t happen my Plan B would be to schedule another meeting within the next two weeks. See how that works.

Having a productive meetings is not that difficult but you do have to plan for them. Here is a great diagram to show you how a productive meeting should be run.

A couple of other things to remember before we leave about productive meetings.

  • Make sure you spend some time building a relationship or rapport with the people you are meeting with.
  1. I had a relationship with one of the people who I met with that ended up exceeding my objectives.
  2. Get a referral or introduction from a person you both hold in high regard. This gives you an automatic relationship.
  3. Find common ground. Something you are both interested in like a hobby or an activity or a trend in the business that you are discussing.
  • Use a Whole Brain Approach. 

I have talked about this quite often but the easiest way to explain the Whole Brain Approach, by Herrmann International, is to show you this diagram that describes thinking preferences. Please contact me if you are interested in determining what your thinking preference is.

This logo is trademark protected under Herrmann International

  • Be Present

Have you ever been with a friend or spouse and you know they are looking at you and pretending to be there but they are not? This is what I mean. Be present, be in the moment of the meeting. Don’t let your mind wander.

  • Actively Listen

Active (Empathetic) Listening is where an individual confirms they have heard and understood by summarizing and paraphrasing the information back to the speaker.

I think “actively listening” is the most important part of having a productive meeting! Here are 7 ways to become a better listener.

  1. Be Legitimately Interested- Put yourself in the speaker’s place and make his or her problems your own. The speaker will consciously or subconsciously pick up on this and you will learn more from the conversation.
  2. Accept the Speaker’s Point-Of-View – Some of us have the desire to get our point across and want to add a word in for every sentence spoken. Even if you disagree with the speaker’s stance on a subject, allow him or her to finish their thought before voicing your disagreement, and then only if necessary. Remember, you are trying to be a listener, not partake in the discussion.
  3. Use Body Language, Eye Contact and Repetition – Using body language and eye contact the right way can really have an impact on the speaker. To show you are listening and interested, lean slightly forward in your chair. Make consistent eye contact, but do not stare. Make noises like “mm-hmm” or say “I see,” and frequently paraphrase what was just said.
  4. Go Beyond the Words – Good listeners are actively thinking not just about what was said but also why and how it was said. Why did this person come to you to talk {or be heard}? Is there excitement in their voice? Resentment? Jealousy? Once you determine the motive of the speaker, can you react more smoothly to their words.
  5. Avoid Planning Counter-arguments – It is a natural response to automatically start planning a counter-argument as soon as something is mentioned. As hard as it may seem, don’t. Mentally record your disagreement and formulate a response later after the whole message has been received.
  6. Be Aware of Your History with the Speaker – Think about how your history with the speaker may affect what is being said. Is there potential for flared feelings? Sympathy? Fear? Figuring this out will help you better understand the speaker’s motives and, thus, respond accordingly.
  7. Ask Questions – If there is something said that is not clear to you, ask for clarification. Be careful not to use questions to rebut or represent your point-of-view. Only ask questions that’ll help your understanding of what the speaker is saying.                                 – Extract from “Active Listening, Tim Bridge of PersonaDev”
Les Adkins is the CEO of  Orange SMS Consulting and an International Social Media Strategist, speaker, consultant and author. Bringing strategy and whole brain thinking to creative campaigns and social media through his work. Please follow @mysylbert and connect on LinkedIn  

Join us on FB as well

Day 18: Branding Yourself and Your Business

So the American Marketing Association defines a brand as a “Name, term, design, symbol, or any other feature that identifies one seller’s good or service as distinct from those of other sellers. A brand may identify one item, a family of items, or all items of that seller.


Livestock branding is a technique for marking livestock so as to identify the owner.

So what is Branding when it comes to yourself or business? There has been lot’s written about this. If you Google “Personal Branding” you will see over 2 million results. If you Google “Brand Your Business” you will receive over 620 million results.  There have been books written on it and entire careers built around helping others “build their brand”.

So Branding Yourself and Your Business is vital with today’s online influence. So the question becomes how? Well the good news is that it is a  lot easier to brand yourself in today’s digital environment than it was 10 to 15 years ago.  Here are some great ideas that I found from a blog titled :

Brand yourself: whether you work for a corporation, run your own business, or freelance, use your name to gain significant power and influence – Career Management by Ann Brown

Step 1: Find your niche.

“Do this by ‘looking at the patterns of your life’, Norma Thompson Hollis” There are certain themes that keep popping up in your life. This might be your brand.  In the last several years I have begun the process of branding my name and business as a leader in Social Strategy, Entrepreneur, Author, Trainer and Speaker. My favorite line that I say when people asked me how I go here is “I survived corporate America”.

Step 2: Is your Brand marketable?

Max D. Ellzey, Ed.D., owner of Culver City, California-based The Ellzey Group and president of the Los Angeles chapter of Professional Coaches and Mentors asks his clients “What need can you satisfy better than anyone else, and how much are they willing to pay you for satisfying that need”. I keep asking myself that question and it is a question that you need to keep asking yourself continuously as you define your identity.

Step 3: Seek professional help.

There are many sources to help you in your search for the right professional help. You can find a coach through ( fee based , your local chamber of commerce or SCORE ( free resources and tools.

Step 4: Promotion, Promotion, Promotion.

Speak or hold a seminar for free. “Test your skills and get feedback. It’s also an opportunity to sell your product or services.” Ellzey suggests. Brendon Burchard has a great series on how to become an Expert in Expert’s Academy, author “The Millionaire Messenger”. After you speak for free paid offers of speaking may follow. Also start posting online in groups that are where your audience is or where others are sharing information regarding your particular field of expertise. Join in on the conversation and discussions. Be active, be aware and be persistent.

Step 5: Branching your brand.

To take your brand in other areas partner with other organizations and companies. This is a great way to branch out your brand. But be very specific and picky when creating strategic alliances.  Make sure the alliance can help move your brand forward.

Step 6:  Going beyond the brand.

“Once your brand has become popular, look for ways for it to sell itself”, says Ann Brown. The “4 hour work week” by Timothy Ferriss discusses ways of “Outsourcing Life” and creating Automation. “Be careful, however, not to spread your brand too thin” says Dr. Barbara Walton of KTD Coaching Services, (, “especially if it isn’t in alignment with your vision”.

So go forth and brand yourself cowboy or cowgirl! Set yourself a part from the crowd.

Les Adkins is the CEO of  Orange SMS Consulting and an International Social Media Strategist, speaker, consultant and author. Bringing strategy and whole brain thinking to creative campaigns and social media through his work. Please follow @mysylbert and connect on LinkedIn


Join us on FB as well



Day 16:Rest

So today is Friday but I am blogging about Day 16 which was on October 16.

If you are new or just discovered this blog,  I embarked on a 30 day  journey to continue living life outside the comfort zone. And to take myself and business to the next level.

October 1st, 2011 I began by Getting Organized. You can follow this journey by checking out Social Media  Solutions on Facebook. I am logging every day’s activity, or revelation in real-time on this page.

I am only blogging Monday thru Friday and resting on the weekends. If you know me you know that sometimes I rest and sometimes I work. It all depends on my mood but I do carve out time on the weekend to; Rest, Have Quiet Time, Contemplate and Worship.

No matter what you believe, you need to believe in something bigger than yourself. Remember the words of Steve Jobs:

Live each day like it was your last….Stay Hungry and be Foolish!      - Steve Jobs

And remember to take one day and rest, I pick weekends and most of the time, Sunday!

Have a great weekend!

Les Adkins is the CEO of  Orange SMS Consulting and an International Social Media Strategist, speaker, consultant and author. Bringing strategy and whole brain thinking to creative campaigns and social media through his work. Please follow @mysylbert and connect on LinkedIn


Join us on FB as well


Day 14: Blog, Blog, Blog

So if you are not blogging; why not?

If you have a business you should be blogging about the industry you are in and giving helpful information, that adds value.

What am I talking about? I hear you out there saying, shouldn’t I be selling my company on my blog? Well have you read a blog lately? Most of the good one’s give valuable information without asking for anything, and that is the way it is supposed to be. Yes you can mention your company but only in your bio at the end. Here’s why:

Home Depot was starting to lose sales to Lowe’s. They came up with a great idea. They decided to offer free workshops to the communities where they were and provided these workshops usually on the weekends. Amazingly enough most of the materials that they used in these workshops were also sold by them, but at the end of the workshop there wasn’t a “sales pitch”. They really didn’t care if you went somewhere else to purchase the materials needed. So what do you think happened? Well there sales went up because they became a trusted partner in the community.

That’s the reason. Here’s the how.

You can use a number of different free blogging tools here’s a couple.



Now there are a number of different free tools out there that tell you how to blog. Click on blog for a great site on “How Blogs Work”.

Your blog should be concise, short (as possible), and informative. But why should you blog and also why should you comment on other blogs.

Influence! When i write this blog it is networked and goes on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. I then post it on Google + and a few LinkedIn groups that I participate in.

If you only blog and post but don’t interact then your missing the point. There have been many ‘Blogs’ written about blogging, but you need to understand that as an individual or business you need to engage with your audience and others and a ‘Blog’ is an easy way to do this.

Social media is about interacting. In order for you to grow your online influence you need to make sure you are initiating dialogue with others. Not just for the sake of selling, but to truly provide helpful, insightful, and inspirational information to others.

Happy Blogging!

Les Adkins is the CEO of  Orange SMS Consulting and an International Social Media Strategist, speaker, consultant and author. Bringing strategy and whole brain thinking to creative campaigns and social media through his work. Please follow @mysylbert and connect on LinkedIn


Join us on FB as well







Day 13: “Get Out There”

So in today’s world we wake up, go to our computer, put out fires, answer emails, engage with our social networks, play “Farmville” (or the game of your choice), write blogs, write content, make a few calls and then it’s time to go to bed and start all over again tomorrow.

On October 13th I received an email from Don Crowther which stated that he “…realized I originally met virtually EVERY person who has had a major impact on my business at a live event of some kind!”

My friend Cathy Cunningham Hankinson and I decided to meet at a Networking Event called LIQUID here in Atlanta. She made the statement “People would get a lot more business if they just got out there”

So “Get Out There” and meet people. Now granted since I help others with social media I believe you can connect through social media, but you also need to “Get Out There” and rub elbows.

Last year I probably attended over 30 networking and live events. This year it has been closer to 6 or 7. I have noticed a sharp decline in my business opportunities as opposed to last year.

I made a conscious decision to be more focused and strategic with the events I attended this year (and I still believe in this strategic focus concerning the events you attend) but there has to be a happy medium between 7 and 30!

If you look at the platforms like Google+ and LinkedIn they are discussing and promoting live events all around the world that have specific goals of people in  technology or photography or other like interests meeting face to face.

With everything new we learn and adapt to make it the most productive it can be. Social Media is learning that it needs both the online community interaction and the face to face interaction to truly bring people together and create great ideas. Just look at TED.

So be strategic, be focused, and GET OFF THE CHAIR AND GET OUT THERE! It will make you feel more positive and help your business grow!

Les Adkins is the CEO of  Orange SMS Consulting and an International Social Media Strategist, speaker, consultant and author. Bringing strategy and whole brain thinking to creative campaigns and social media through his work. Please follow @mysylbert and connect on LinkedIn

Join us on FB as well

Day 10: Develop 30 second Commercial

So on day 10, I am re-developing my 30 second commercial.

So what makes you unique? Who are you? What company are you with? And how do you creatively explain what you do?

Being a business development consultant that specializes in Social Media Strategy and Whole Brain Approach has been difficult this past year. (No, I’m not complaining just stating facts.) Every time I say what I do, someone inevitably states, “We do the same thing”.

When I first started working with “Social Media”, around seven years ago, there were very few people who knew what “Social Media” was. Let alone its value to business and how it would change the way companies do business. Or they only knew a few of the players and had no idea about Second Life or Kaneva. Virtual worlds that have become more conducive to business interaction in the last few years.

Anyway my point is that when I started the words “Social Media” were unique enough to draw interest. Now I’m just another fish in the sea and everyone has jumped on the social media bandwagon, from PR companies to Advertising and Marketing agencies.

So how do I set myself and business apart? I go back to the basics. Here is the exercise.

Adapted from Jeffrey Gitomer, “Sales Bible”

Instructions:  Fill out this exercise below. Read it from top to bottom. Add a few personal pronouns. Time it. Practice it. Study it. And voila!

My Name:

My Company Name:

These first two are pretty self-explanatory.

What I do:

Now don’t make the mistake of saying you print materials or you provide business development consulting. I love what Timothy Ferris from “the 4-Hour Work Week” says when asked this question, “I’m a drug dealer”. This is usually a conversation ender but I thought I would share it anyway because I love the answer. Go read the book and find out why he answers that way.

OK, so what should you say? You should say something that involves action items and makes the person look at what you do differently. I’m still working on mine but it goes something like this:

We help companies draw new talent and new customers by creating a Whole Brain Approach to their business development strategy.

Notice I am getting away from the words Social Media. Although what we do in the message above is help them with their Social Media Strategy as part of the business development strategy.

My Power Questions:

“When formulating your power questions for your commercial, ask yourself these…questions.”

  1. What information do I want to get as a result of asking these questions?
  2. Can I qualify my prospect as a result of the question
  3. Does it take more than one question to find out the information I need?
  4. Do my questions make the prospect think?
  5. Can I ask a question that separates me from my competitor?

You need to ask questions to be able to close your 30 – second commercial with a call to action. Make sure there is a closing statement or question that ensures another contact.

I personally am not a big fan of lists of questions, I prefer a guide to be able to respond to the person’s answer from my previous question.  So here is a quick guide:

Situation - What is the current situation (of their business related to what you do)?

Objective – What are their objectives? (Usually to better the situation, this can be more sales, more talented employees, larger sales, better communication, and so on.

Challenge – What challenges are they having in reaching these objectives?

Impact – What impact is this having on them? (Make sure you ask about the impact to them. The answer they give will tell you a lot about the person you are speaking to.)

Trial – So in order to reach your objectives you need to (fill in the blank) Example: So in order to gain new talent you need to improve the current employee environment of communication to the Executives?

There is a lot more that goes into the above guide, but it is a good place to start.

My Power Statement:

How Can I Help?

Why Should The Prospect Act Now?

Have a call to action statement that gives the person a reason to act now.

Example: I specialize in reaching new talent and helping businesses communicate to their employees, vendors and customers in a way they want to be communicated with. I know you can’t afford to be sending out messages that don’t reach your Whole audience in these times. So let’s meet for breakfast and discuss your latest objectives and how you are communicating those objectives to your customers. If I think I can help you, I’ll tell you. If I don’t think I can help you, I’ll tell you that too. Fair enough?

I know this is getting too long-winded, but I want to end with How to Deliver the 30 – second commercial:

  1. Be brief
  2. Be to the point
  3. Be remembered
  4. Have power questions and power statements ready
  5. Get the information you need
  6. Show how you solve problems
  7. Pin the person down to the next action
  8. Have Fun!
  9. Time’s Up – (When you have delivered your message, made your contact, and secured the next meeting or action – move on.)

Lot’s of information to digest. Sorry for the lengthy Blog.

Les Adkins is the CEO of  Orange SMS Consulting and an International Social Media Strategist, speaker, consultant and author. Bringing strategy and whole brain thinking to creative campaigns and social media through his work. Please follow @mysylbert and connect on LinkedIn


Join us on FB as well





Last 5 Signs You Have Strong Social Media Consultant or Agency

 Social Media is a strange and bizarre world for some. When reaching out for help from a Consultant or Agency how do you determine who is good and yes who is bad and everything in between?

Hopefully this week we have given you some insight into determining a Strong Social Media Consultant or Agency and check out all 25 signs from the original blog, without my comments and some outdated examples. But a complete list.

Today we are going to give you the final 5 signs.

Here we go:

Are you ready?

“21. Understands the difference between social media tools and communications strategy (example: Rohit Bhargarva)

So Twitter, FB, LinkedIn, Tweet Deck, Hoot Suite, Vocus, Radian6 and other tools are just that tools. (some Great tools, though). A communications strategy relates to your audience and presents a cohesive message that causes action or discusses vital information open to dialogue among your employees, customers, prospects and vendors. So beware any organization coming in and saying you need to start posting on ….(name your tool) if they first don’t understand your company Objectives, who your Audience is and what you want that Audience to do.

“22. They won’t recommend blogging as a first step into social media (example: David Armano) and when you are ready to begin they consult you on how to be successful (example: Drew McLellan)

Blogging has had some bad press lately,  but it is not the first step in your social media strategy. Remember it is about your audience and your objectives and developing a strategy around those two factors. Your strategy is unique to you and your organization. Blogging should never be your only strategy for social media.

“23. Doesn’t allow clients to be affected by Shiny New Object syndrome (example Beth Kanter)

I once had a client who kept trying to get me to recommend the best monitoring tool out there for Social Media. I kept telling him that it is not about the tool but what you do with the information you get from the  monitoring tool/station/software.

Companies will always come out with a new shiny app, platform or other tool. Remember that whatever you use it needs to help you implement your strategy to your audience. Therefore your audience needs to be able to be reached by any new tool or shiny object you use.

“24. Understands that social media is more than just creating and delivering content or regurgitating existing promotional copy (example: Joseph Jaffe)

This is vital. If you are looking for someone to create content for you, you should go to an Ad Agency or marketing person that writes professionally (that is not social media). Remember it is about the conversation. Join the dialogue and join in your audiences dialogue. Even if they are discussing your competitor in a good way.

Remember social media is not about you, it is about your audience and their thoughts and opinions.

“25. Understands that social media isn’t the sole terrain of marketing or PR, and helps clients educate internally to other departments” (example Chris Brogan)

Social Media, beyond all the fun shiny new objects, is a way to build trust with your audience. This audience should include all employees, all customers, all prospects and all vendors- or at least be open to all. This goes well beyond PR and Marketing. SM consultants are currently facing a struggle in education and there are a lot of companies getting hosed by Marketing and PR firms claiming to do Social Media.

I tried to update the examples where I could and also add some additional insight to the original “25 Signs..”. My strong hope is that this helps you the next time you are looking for a ‘Strong Social Media Consultant”

Have a Great Weekend!

Les Adkins is the CEO of  Orange SMS and a Social Media Strategist, speaker, consultant and author. Bringing strategy and whole brain thinking to creative campaigns and social media through his work. Please follow @mysylbert and connect on LinkedIn





Failure and why that isn’t so bad

So I’m taking a break from “25 signs you’ve got a strong SM Consultant or Agency” I promise that I will be back on track tomorrow.

But I came across a posting that made me stop and think. I know several of my friends and colleagues have given up on the dream of having their own business and gone back to the world of corporate America for less pay and longer hours. They’ve done it for security. So why do I keep on going with my business? There are some days I feel great and some days I feel like a failure. I discovered a blog today that brightened my spirit and my day.

Illustration: Oscar Ramos Orozco

Please check out the original posting “9 Reasons Why Failure is not Fatal” Several additional videos and Ted Talks.

Life happens and in my case it was the loss of my father-in-law and the blessing of my wife being able to spend time with him the last 5 months of his life.  But that did put us behind when it comes to finances. So all the growth my business accomplished in the last year, it now sometimes feels as if I’m starting over.

I came across this quote today and this video and it made me feel like sharing it with you.

Failure. Fear of it is universal, experiencing it is inevitable, and running from it is dependably routine. As a culture we can’t seem to shake the negativity of the term – even though most success stories have a shared foundation in some kind of accidental realization, wrong-footed first attempt, or outright error…that our only real failure is to live life without it.

J.K. Rowling: The Fringe Benefits of Failure

“What we achieve inwardly will change outer reality”

Some business people will say that I’m sharing too much but I believe that the new world of business requires more honesty and transparency and yes even just sharing your thoughts to those who read your blog. How can you trust someone if you never see that they are human.

Thank you for taking the time to read this. If you are feeling like a failure hopefully this added a little bit of hope to your day! I know it did to mine.

Les Adkins – Social Media Strategist, speaker, consultant, author. Bringing strategy and whole brain thinking to creative campaigns and social media through his work. Please follow @mysylbert

Social Media Can Be Effectively Outsourced to a PR firm.

So Happy Friday! We come to our last lie of the week regarding Social Media Marketing. “Social media can be effectively outsourced to a PR firm.” Now this one is a little tricky. I do believe that you can have the implementation outsourced but you need to keep the strategy and development internal. Here is what Mikal E. Belicove “The Daily Dose” has to say.

“Nobody knows your business like the people who work inside your building. You can certainly work with an agency to set up and implement your social media-related efforts or to propose ideas for contests and the like. But when it comes to communicating your messages on a daily basis, your people are in the best position to keep your community of customers and prospects up to date and informed about what really matters to them.” Belicove

At Orange SMS we work like this. We put a consultant in your organization and either work with your current team or build a social media team around that person. The goal is to keep the social media efforts internal. Meaning the posts and the information comes from within the organization. Our goal is to work ourselves out of a job, so to speak. To build a strong strategic oriented team within the organization so they don’t need the consultant any longer.

Now don’t get me wrong we are happy to stay as long as they want us to and to consult when needed but the goal is to have all social media come from within.

What we are finding is there are a lot of organizations doing social media but without any real strategy and that is where the help is needed. So whether you work with us or some other consultant just make sure that the messages, the definition of the audience, the objectives and the strategy are being worked on by a team from within the organization as well.

I tell clients to make sure that any post not written or created by the organization has a caveat of “on behalf of….” in order to keep the transparency rule alive.

So bottom line  I will once again quote Mikal Belicove “In my view there is no ‘one way’ to manage your online positioning using social media. Instead, each company’s marketing strategy should differ depending on specific goals and target audiences.” I agree 100%!

Review of the week (Boy this is too long!)

“Five Lies About Social Media Marketing”

1. Size Matters

2. The medium is the message.

3. Social media gurus really do exist.

4. Social media is ‘new’ media. (remember I had a problem with this one)

5. Social media can be effectively outsourced to a PR firm.

Have a great weekend!

CEO Orange SMS Consulting