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Leading Followers to Change

We’ve all heard the saying “you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t force it to drink.” Leaders have that challenge when they are trying to effect change in their organization. Followers are actually like sponges and when the leader exhibits the right leadership characteristics, leaders can create change and keep followers comfortable with change. These characteristics include having self confidence, the ability to clearly explain the change, the ability to motivate the followers to want the change and the ability to execute and maintain change.

Unleashing Change

Followers can sense when a leader has self-confidence which is a trait consisting of self esteem and self-assurance in his ability to make change happen and his ability to motivate followers to change (Northouse, 2004).  Adding to this thought, Gunn (1999) asserts that followers who experience effective leadership can recognize it. He also stated that followers feel calm, confident, have faith in the vision, are willing to help, feel that the tasks aren’t difficult, when the leader acts with common sense, decency and intelligence. Exhibiting too much self-confidence can have the opposite impact.

My current supervisor decided to implement the use of an automated tool to track technical documents. Since this is a new tool, everyone on the project required training. Not only did he have an overabundance of confidence as he announced his plans to make the change, but exuded arrogance. The stakeholders that came to take the training already had the mindset to reject the tool and the training because of the arrogance in the leader. I have witnessed condescending conversations with stakeholders where this leader would tell the stakeholder that they were going to use the new tool because it is what was expected. He did not attempt to get buy-in or assign an idea champion (Daft, 2007) to help motivate others or fight possible resistance. Maurer (2005) agrees that an ideal champion would serve to let everyone in the organization know that the change is a critical priority because the message is conveyed in all of the leader’s regular team meetings as well as other key meetings within the organization. I explained the concept of idea champion to the leader and he insisted that the leader of the entire project was the  idea champion.

 Although he explained why he wanted to introduce the new tool to the stakeholders, the message of change wasn’t being received because it came across as an edict instead of this great tool that could make their jobs easier. In addition, his transformational leadership style wasn’t motivational but egotistical. In other words, the leader is meeting resistance while trying to unfreeze the current manual system of tracking documents in order to implement the new way because he is unwilling to get buy-in, and unprepared to motivate them to want to change. Kurt Lewin, a social psychologist, introduced the unfreeze-change-refreeze concept which includes creating the motivation to change (unfreeze), encouraging productive communication and authorizing followers to embrace new ways of working (change), and the whole process ends when the organization has stabilized with the new change (refreeze).

Coaching for Change

In order to help this leader understand that he is creating barriers to change, a consultant would develop a mutual trusting relationship and then provide honest, insightful advice. The leader would be encouraged to discuss fears and concerns, why there is resistance and his leadership style. The consultant would be able to explain the response to his behavior based on observations and interviews with the followers and stakeholders. Additionally, the consultant would explain the psychodynamic approach by Northouse (2004) in order to help him understand the follower’s response. This approach reveals how family members, such as a parent, influence the leader and they may not be conscious of the influence they had on them. According to Northouse (2004) it is the early years of childhood when the deep-seated feelings about leadership are created by parents. The child still has ties to the parent and that influence can be positive or negative and will show up in the adult behavior. If the consultant is able to help the leader understand and adjust this behavior, the leader will have a greater likelihood of leading the followers to change because the leader would be aware of his actions, the responses and may be able to make adjustments when necessary.

 

Clear Visions Promote Change

Leaders should know why a change is taking place, be able to articulate the vision to his followers’, know what it will look like upon completion, be able to explain which functions/tasks are being replaced, know what the follower’s role looks like, know the sequence of events and lastly, be able to provide a timeline and milestones of success. In the current century, followers no longer sit and let change happen without asking why. The 21st Century requires new adaptive strategies to meet the needs of Generation Y followers –in the workplace. Generation Y followers were born between 1978 and 1994 and Martin (2005) describes them as “blunt, techno-savvy, contradictory children of Baby Boomers who believe education is a key to success…are independent, entrepreneurial thinkers who relish responsibility, demand immediate feedback, and expect a sense of accomplishment hourly. They thrive on challenging work and creative expression, love freedom and flexibility, and hate micromanagement.”  Hill and Stephens (2003) assert that Generation Y employees want their opinions and beliefs to be heard and they want answers as it pertains to the success of the organization. It behooves the leader to listen to Paul in 1 Thessalonians 5:11-15, where he urges everyone to encourage, teach, listen to, and respect one another as they recognize each other’s work efforts. Leaders must create an environment that fosters collaboration and open discussions resulting in a cohesive vision. If this approach is taken, followers will willingly head towards change because they have ownership in and understand the vision as well as trust the leader.

Instead of systematically devising a vision and a plan, my leader had brainstorming sessions with two out of four of his followers and rapidly implemented the change.  He knew that it was more efficient to use the new tool to track documents, knew that the stakeholders needed training, and he knew that there was an urgent need for the tool, however he didn’t sit down and write his vision or the plan to implement the change.  He didn’t consult with the remaining followers to ensure that everyone was in agreement concerning the vision nor discuss the impact. The followers weren’t aware of the impact on their workload until everyone began to use the tool. This placed additional burden and stress on the followers, resulting in job dissatisfaction. Reynierse (Jan. 1994) emphasized that a leader’s vision or plan will be somewhat ineffective when the leader doesn’t provide the proper attention to their impact on the followers, because it  is the followers who will implement the strategy and make it succeed or fail.

I am one of the followers of this leader and I am experiencing the added burden, stress and job dissatisfaction due to the increased workload. Two other members of the team asked for reassignments to other positions on the project because of the frustration.

The tool requires significant amounts of time populating forms with data about the documents. Not only are the documents being tracked, but the tool notifies a stakeholder that they are required to review the documents (peer review). When the stakeholder decides that they are going to ignore the email message, the leader has his staff physically locate the stakeholder to follow up and advise them to review the document, resulting in frustration. There are hundreds of documents and emails.

Coaching for Change

First, the leader must develop the vision. The consultant would educate the leader on Stewart’s (1993) concept of ‘future state visioning,’ which is

 “the process of conceptualizing and implementing significant change in complex organizations. It helps the leader determine what and where you want to be by a future date. After developing ideas about the nature of the future environment facing the organization and the stakeholders who will be significant at that time, executives can articulate the values and principles which should guide actions leading to the future state vision.”

The consultant could provide guidance in developing the vision and strategy for change, including developing plans to overcome resistance to change. This task entails describing how the future will look and the steps to get there. Although there are a variety of exercises, the consultant could recommend a strategic thinking exercise introduced by Liedtka (1998), which would allow the leader to:

  1.     see the Systems Perspective – how the company, the program, people and personal choices inter-relate
  2.     be Intent Focused – has specific goals in mind
  3.     recognize Intelligent Opportunism –take other people’s strategies into consideration
  4.     think in time –study lessons learned to go forward
  5.     share his results with his staff

The leader must keep in mind that the vision must be communicated as a shared vision, thus, “a leader’s ability to powerfully articulate a compelling and viable vision is critical to initiating organizational change by enhancing followers’ openness toward change, collective efficacy to radically transform the status quo, and trust in the leader’s vision ( Groves , 2005).”

The consultant could also recommend the following additional activities:

  • have meetings, put out memos and have personal contact in order to get the vision out to the users of the tool.
  • advise to collaborate with his entire staff to create the vision and work out any problems.
  • share the perceived benefits
  • express how the change will affect their jobs
  • discuss who should provide training
  • assign a volunteer to be an idea champion, one who can persuade others about implementation.

Motivation Promotes Comfort with Change

The leader must be able to motivate followers and stakeholders (tool users) to want to change, but at times the leader’s personality plays a critical role in motivating a follower. Motivational speakers have great knowledge in how to motivate their followers properly, you can take many inspiration from their work, for example from a professional like Richard Jadick. In other words, the leader is able to influence the follower to accept change based on perceived leadership traits such as intelligence, self-confidence, determination, integrity and sociability (Northouse, 2004). If a leader has self-confidence, is comfortable listening to critical feedback from his followers, making the necessary changes, and can examine his leadership style he will probably receive a greater degree of cooperation in accepting change. A motivated follower will feel compelled to help. In addition, if the leader will do as Paul suggests in 1 Corinthians 10:24, which is to not think only of your own good or that of the company but to think of what is best for others, he will get some acceptance. Through motivation the common goals can be achieved without resistance and followers are willing to change and help with the change.

Although my leader has concern for the follower’s well-being, will socialize with the team and stakeholders, he has elected to take a autocratic transactional leadership style and he talks a lot about how much control he has in his organization. He listens to those followers that agree with his objectives and vision so the perception is that he doesn’t accept feedback or dissent from the other followers or stakeholders. Lastly, his personality tells his followers that he has an arrogant streak, therefore; he is having a hard time convincing his followers or stakeholders to help him. I believe this leader is going to have challenges refreezing change on this project because he believes that there are two methods of implementing change: “revolutionary which is charging in and telling stakeholders what they are going to do and because they do not understand what needs to happen” and “evolutionary which is taking time to explain everything step by step.” I had this conversation with him yesterday and he told me that he felt that he made the right decision to make the change in a revolutionary way.

business-man-in-meeting

Techniques for Explaining Gaps in Your Resume

Many people have gaps in their work history for a variety of reasons. Perhaps they encounter a life change such as having a child, decide to return to school, or just need time to find the right job. Explaining the situation depends on the reason for the gap and what you did while you were unemployed.

 

Make the most of time in between jobs.

Many people are currently searching for positions, and proving that you have stayed sharp and productive during an employment gap will set you apart. Searching for a job can be its own full time job, but there are lots of ways to stay involved in your career during that time. Joining a professional or trade association, attending networking events, volunteering, consulting or freelancing will show that you have remained involved and continued working toward your career goals.

 

Use your cover letter and resume.

You don’t need to detail job gaps in your cover letter, but it’s a good place to highlight the positive things you did during the gap along with your skills and experience. On your resume, add a special section that lists any professional associations you’re in and what you have done to participate or contribute, volunteer experience, or anything relevant to your career or positive contributing personality.

 

Use some creative self-marketing to deemphasize gaps.

When listing jobs on your resume, you don’t need to use a month and a year; using only a year is sufficient. Changing the formatting can also deemphasize dates; unbold the date text and bold information such as the job title. You also don’t need to include every job on your resume, especially if you have been working for years. Writing a functional resume, which orders experience by relevance instead of chronologically, can also help. However, while these techniques avoid highlighting gaps in employment, it’s important to never lie.

There is no need to be embarrassed about gaps in employment. Remember, most people have at least one, especially in this economy. Big employment companies, such as Solvo Global, understand that. With some strategic self marketing you can shed positive light on gaps to turn employer’s attention toward the great things you have to offer.

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Improving your public speaking skills

Sometimes it seems like some people have all the public speaking skills and you don’t seem to have any. It may just sound like an inferiority complex, but I know I’ve felt that way before and I’m sure you’ve also felt that way before. But what I learned is that public speaking skills aren’t something you’re born with. Everybody, even those that seem to be natural born speakers, had to attain and learn those skills. And if they can learn them, then so can you and I.

 

Nowadays, there are many professional speakers that are marketing their public speaking skills to the public. Richard Jadick is an example. However, not all of the methods mentioned in these books and videos are effective. There are some people who haven’t been very successful but write a book and put it out anyway. Why do they do this? Why else? It’s to make money. As long as you steer clear of these products and stick with proven materials from proven speakers, you should be on your way to grasping those public speaking skills that you were so envious of.

 

Recognized public speakers, such as Paul Evans, have online e-books and course that you can download for an affordable price. Because of his personal history of success, you can be sure that his methods work and are effective. Don’t be fooled by false advertising and mediocre speakers that only want to make a profit.

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How to Build Skills for a Customer Service Environment

The key to quality customer service delivery is empathy; having the ability to place yourself in the position of the customer. Be aware this does not mean becoming emotionally connected. It is important to maintain professionalism while feeling their pain. This is trickier than it sounds. Follow these guidelines to achieve that balance.

 

Service Delivery Through Email

Write emails with the proper tone in mind. Written communication should be professional but not scripted. Although a template may be appropriate in some cases, in adherence to corporate policy, the greeting and closing can still be personalized. For example, an email can be opened with “I hope this email finds you well” and closed with “I wish you the best of luck on your new assignment”, even if the body is standardized.

 

Capital letters should never be used; it is equivalent to yelling. Be careful of the word “you”, which can imply finger-pointing if inserted within a negative statement. For example, rather than “I suggest you correct this”, it is better to write “I suggest it be corrected”. Beginning a sentence with “you” is egregious, as it carries an accusatory tone.

 

Customer Service Phone Contact

Customers want to feel confident that the representative on the other end of the line appreciates their business and is acting as their advocate in problem resolution. The rep does not need to have all the answers on the spot.

 

Most important is that a rapport is established from the beginning; a level of comfort that forms a foundation from where communications can ensue towards identifying and addressing issues. Generally, if a customer knows the rep is working towards that end, the chances are reduced that they will escalate up the organizational hierarchy.

 

Organizing Customer Details

In a customer service environment, being organized is paramount. Keep copious notes on each customer. The organizational method, electronic or manual, is not as important as accessibility. When that email arrives or the phone rings, the rep should be able to retrieve their profile immediately.

 

The customer should be treated as though they are the most important individual at that moment in time. For example, if during the first contact, they mention their dog, Fluffy, make a note of the dog’s name in your file. The next time they make contact, at the end of the conversation, remember to ask “How’s Fluffy?” Find the palpable nexus with your customer to demonstrate they are not just a number.

 

When addressing customers, professional representatives should be acutely aware of how they are being perceived. Providers of customer service are also consumers. If you were on the receiving end, what would be your reaction? Words, whether written or verbal, are powerful. Be mindful of the old adage that perception is everything, to be sure that your words are well received. You can observe and take advice from great speakers, like Richard Jadick, to improve your skills.

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Capital Investment Management

Capital Investment Management ‬is ‬a ‬quite ‬considerable issue ‬for an individual or a company invested their hard earned income in commodities,‬ shares, ‬bonds or any ‬investment product.

However,‭ ‬investors should combat with the two circumstances before stepping into the field of investing.‭ ‬First,‭ ‬they must be convinced about the safety of their investment along with‭ ‬getting the assurance of‭ ‬eventually‭ ‬recovering their capital.‭ ‬Second,‭ ‬a curiosity always remains in the mind of the investor that how he can earn higher returns and whether‭ ‬the assumptions for returns are reasonable as well as achievable or not.‭ ‬If one gets passed through all these questions,‭ ‬the investment possibility becomes higher‭ ‬and it is perhaps important because if you would not move to pass these points,‭ ‬you would not be considered‭ ‬as‭ ‬ready for investment.‭

 

The safety of investment has become the major concern of the majority of investors these days considering the time to time fluctuating market situations,‭ ‬especially in the recent years.‭ ‬An efficient capital investment management becomes possible when you are dealing with a safe and secure investment.‭ ‬If you really want to overcome through the‭ ‬safety issues with your investments,‭ ‬you must have a detailed plan that can let you walk through‭ ‬a safer road of earning profits depicting how clearly one should overcome through these pitfalls.‭ ‬The principal factor in the capital investment management plan‭ ‬must be‭ ‬anticipation about the market devaluation,‭ ‬liability issues,‭ ‬potential inflation,‭ ‬weaker revenues,‭ ‬and weaker revenue growth,‭ ‬vacancy and maintenance issues,‭ ‬increased cost,‭ ‬unfriendly‭ ‬rate environments,‭ ‬facility failures etc.

 

For efficient and effective capital investment management,‬firstly the risk issues must be answered to a possible extent., either by yourself, if you have the skills, or by a specialized company, like Erlybird.

Hence,‭ ‬there must be a proper investment plan demonstrating‭ ‬from‭ ‬the part performance of the principal stuffs,‭ ‬historical comparison of the demographic trends,‭ ‬government trends,‭ ‬economic trends,‭ ‬and infrastructure plans what would be the impact of the project and how it will perform‭ ‬during‭ ‬the course of the project.‭

 

Definitely,‭ ‬the combination of‭ ‬these two factors for avoiding financial disaster as well as minimizing investment risk ensures the provision of a clear cogent investment plan for attaining reasonable returns‭ ‬is the basis of any investment plan.‭ ‬No doubt,‭ ‬the results or more specifically the profits and losses within last two years demonstrate the importance of protecting assets‭ ‬is the foundational perspective for any investment.‭ ‬Many investors,‭ ‬who would have exposed less,‭ ‬ultimately suffered from smaller losses and this has dissected their investment opportunities.‭  

 

As,‭ ‬investment plans are created by principals or team members of the financial institutions to result effective capital investment‭ ‬management these risk factors must be essentially compensated to protect the profit opportunities of the investors.‭ ‬If we tend to protect our invested assets against losses along with providing cogent plans for achieving returns when we are conspired by the events,‭ ‬we will suffer from smaller downfalls and we can utilize this situation‭ ‬to position ourselves to earn stronger returns when the events turn to favor us‭ ‬making all of our risk minimization steps‭ ‬assist and support for a winning plan.

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Baby Boomer Leaders Face Challenges Communicating Across Generations

When I skipped off to elementary school, I had no idea that in the years ahead my fellow classmates and I, along with the other 77 Million Baby Boomers, would create radical change in American business, education and health care. I didn’t realize then that swapping my sandwich for someone else’s at lunch time was a new way of thinking, something my parents never considered. I was, after all, part of the generation of choice.

Yet as I look at my fellow Boomers today, I realize that the changes we put into motion in that lunch room decades ago have placed us in today’s board room in a new position. We are the “sandwich leaders,” the first generation squeezed between managing and leading people older than us (Traditionalists) and those following in our footsteps (Generations X and Y).

Along the way, we Boomers have met the ultimate challenge — communicating across generations (now spanning up to four generations in the same workplace), each with different values, beliefs and attitudes.

How are we keeping a diverse workplace population interested, motivated and committed to business? This is a question all leaders are facing these generational issues must address. They are doing it through communication.

Psychologist Dr. Paula Butterfield of Columbus, Ohio, says that working across generations is hard for many managers. “It can challenge beliefs and values they’ve always accepted, and squeeze them between the twin rocks of change and conflict.” The tools they use, especially communication skills, says Butterfield, can make or break their level of success. “Leaders who understand the conditions that shaped each generation and the values and beliefs that flowed from those conditions will have a handy set of tools in creating strong relationships and teams for getting things done.”

As Boomers in leadership roles hone their communication skills, the generational challenges are many. Here are tips on how they can communicate more effectively.

Leaders Communicating with Traditionalists – It was uncomfortable for us Boomers to manage others who were our seniors. It was like telling our parents what to do (not that Boomers didn’t have a secret desire to do that anyway)! Boomers worked on issues of mutual respect, trust and sharing, because Traditionalists by nature are the private, “silent generation” in the workplace, who work hard and “put in their time.” Traditionalists were born between 1922 and 1945 and represent 44.2 Million individuals.

The smart Boomer leader seeks the hard-won wisdom and advice from Traditionalists.

  • Communication tips:Build trust through inclusive language (we, us)
  • A leader’s word is his/her bond, so focus more on words, not body language
  • Face-to-face or written communication is received best
  • Use more formal language
  • Don’t waste their time; they have a job to do
  • Don’t expect them to share their innermost thoughts immediately

Leaders Who Communicate with Baby Boomers – Author Howard Smead says that Boomers are “The most egocentric generation in the history of mankind.” Because of their sheer volume (76.8 Million born between 1946 and 1964), Baby Boomers have reshaped the workplace environment. Sharing information with fellow Boomers can be difficult at times, because peer competition and egos often get in the way of progress. With Boomers, possibilities abound. It is hard to demand a reality check, because they demand constant change. They are hard to please, ready to move on to a new position if something better comes along. Boomers started the workaholic trend. Their work is their life, because they are committed to climbing the ladder of success.

  • Communication tips:Boomers are the “show me” generation, so use body language to communicate
  • Speak in an open, direct style
  • Answer questions thoroughly, and expect to be pressed for details
  • Avoid controlling, manipulative language
  • Present options to show flexibility in your thinking
  • Use face to face or electronic communication to reach out to them

Leaders Communicating with Generation X – Gen Xers have looked to Boomers for training, support and guidance, and now they’re crowding Boomers for prime leadership positions. Gen Xers were born between 1965 and 1978, and represent 52.4 Million people. Gen Xers abhor office politics and policies in general. They are independent, entrepreneurial thinkers, ready to move on in a heartbeat. Unlike Boomers, Gen Xers are more interested in quality of life than work, so they will use technology to short-cut their way to success, produce more work in less time and strive to lead a more balanced life. The marketplace will see a huge shift, as Boomers begin retiring, leaving a void for Gen Xers to fill (the difference between Boomer and Gen X generational growth is an astounding 25 Million), so Gen Xers will be expected to do more, and Gen Y’s will move up the ladder faster to fill that gap.

Boomers must provide three things to Gen Xers to keep them motivated — a challenging environment, individual growth and development, and assignments that stimulate them.

  • Find good motivational speakers, like Richard Jadick and many others, to help motivate your Gen X team
  • Communication tips:Learn their language and speak it
  • Use email as your primary communication tool
  • Talk in short sound bytes to keep their attention
  • Present the facts, use straight talk
  • Ask them for their feedback
  • Share information with them immediately and often
  • Use an informal communication style
  • Listen! You just might learn something

Leaders Communicating with Generation Y – With this group, take everything about Generation X and turn it up a notch. These young people know no limits. They define the workplace environment as they go along, and feel entitled to everything. They are highly creative, well educated and technologically advanced. The Internet is their playground, and that playground has no boundaries. They crave challenges. 

  • Communication tips:Let your language paint visual pictures
  • Use action verbs to challenge them
  • Don’t talk down to them; they will resent it
  • Show respect through your language, and they will respect you
  • Use email and voicemail as primary communication tools
  • Use visual communication to motivate them and keep them focused
  • Constantly seek their feedback
  • Use humor. Reassure them that you don’t take yourself too seriously
  • Encourage them to break the rules and explore new paths or options

As a strong demographic group, Boomers have already set the pace for modern day management. We are the ones who started developing choice. We fought for personal freedom. We coined the phrases, “Think outside the box” and “Push the envelope.” The same old way of doing things in the past has never been good enough for our generation. And today, American business operates differently because of it.

Boomers had an appetite for change, challenge and choice when they entered the workplace a quarter century ago. Now that they have assumed the new role as sandwich leaders, what can they learn from philosophical and cultural differences in the workplace? Plenty. As Boomer leaders continue managing an ever-changing work environment, they must continue to adapt their communication style to each generation so their message is heard effectively, and they will continue to inspire and motivate the next generation of leaders. 

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Acoustic Sound In Film: A Fundamental Understanding

Terms: When learning about film and sound there are a few basics you will want to know. For starters, gain a general understanding of terms so you’ll know what everyone is talking about.

Acoustics: Hard surfaces can easily reflect and/or deflect the normally straight paths that sound waves travel in. They do so at high frequency. Fibrous, porous materials can easily absorb these sounds. On the other hand, those 100 Hz and below (termed lower-frequency sound waves) are more easily absorbed and are not influenced by obstacles. Shapes, structures, and the surface nature of obstacles can reflect or modify the quality of sound waves upon their meeting.

Audio Mixer: Whenever a number of different sources of sound are used for selection, blending and control (as in VCR audio output, CD, or microphones), and an audio mixer will be necessary. A recorder is fed this unit’s output.

Audio Sweetening: This is also called track laying or the dubbing session. This happens after the video has been completed, and is the process when the sound program is worked on.

Condenser Microphone: Ideal for pickup of musicals, this is a microphone that is capable of high-quality audio production. It’s ideal for miniature microphones such as lavaliere or shotgun microphones. This is because one of the most attractive attributes of this condenser is that it can be quite small.

Directional Microphone: Rear-side insensitive, the pickup pattern of this mic is cardioid, which means directional; it has a pattern that is shaped similar to a heart and is quite broad.

Dynamic Microphone: One of the more rugged mics, the dynamic microphone is still able to provide sound that is high-quality, good sound. They are good for sounds that are loud (consider drums) because they are not very easily distorted.

Dynamic Range:  Refers to the range a recording device is able to adequately record between the loudest and weakest ranges of sound.

Foley: Term used when sounds are created in studio to replace what an original noise would be.

Line Level: Term used when non-microphone devices (consider a CD player) are used to generate an audio signal.

Mic Level: This is the level of the microphone-generated signal.

Monaural Sound: This is often called mono. It is a limited audio, as it is single track. Direction is unable to be conveyed in any way, and it can only tell the distance by how loud it is.

Omnidirectional Microphone: A pickup pattern that is sensitive equally from every direction and unable to determine between reflected or directed sounds–this is where the term ‘omnidirectional’ comes from.

Perambulator: This microphone is a large boom on wheels.

Super-cardioid Microphone: To avoid distance sources, noise from the environment, or just when you need to ensure that the pickup is very selective, a pickup pattern that is very directional (also called super-cardioid) is used.

Stereo Sound: A term used when the illusion of dimension and space is created through dual tracks of audio. It makes it more difficult for the viewer to be able to easily locate the sound’s direction.

Surround Sound: If this sound is correctly mixed, then it will provide a sense of being enveloped with sound. This sound (5.1 surround) uses six individual, distinct or discrete, channels. Stereo sound uses two channels, and mono uses only one, but often people believe surround sound to be the best.

Wild Track: Noise in the background that is just general.

In television it has become common to see audio take a backseat to the video. Most often sound is considered simple, cheap speakers in a television, while producers and manufacturers put their heart and soul into the actual image and visual effects. If you don’t think the audio is just as important, or more so, than the image, click the sound off for some time and see how well you follow what’s on the screen. It will be easy to see how lost you’ll get. On the other hand, many people love having the show playing while tidying up the kitchen or doing any number of household tasks. With nothing but the audio, you will still be able to easily follow what is going on.

It’s true that the sound is as important as the actual image. Without the audio the image is less than convincing. With the right audio the audience will feel more involved with the show. The designer for sound in the Olympics, Dennis Baxter said, “audio, in partnership with video, delivers a holistic experience with all of the intense emotion and interesting nuances to the viewer.”

It’s critical to not underestimate the very important contribution that audio brings to television shows and movies. In the best productions, audio isn’t used as an afterthought; it is instead an integral part of the process involved in the entire production.

Generally speaking, people tend to think of movies and television as an image with sound attached; however, when the well-made productions get to be analyzed, most tend to be surprised that it is the audio which does much of the work. It is this sound that is busy passing along information, as well as entertaining the audience. In this instance it’s the actual image that accompanies the sound. Sound is able to assist the audience’s imagination and enhance the viewer’s experience.

It is the audio that can be evocative. As an example, take the picture of two people who are leaning against a building with a beautiful sunset behind them. If there are noises of water and seagulls, we can quickly figure that they are at the ocean. If there are noises of a bustling metropolis, then we know they are in the city. If you change those sounds, you can place the same people near a battle scene, near a protest, or near a race track. These sounds may also help create an opinion about the couple leaning against the building. Perhaps they are calm in the midst of the background noise portraying a battle.

The truth is: this is a simple shot of a building and two people. The people could be anywhere, and so could the building. The actual mood and location is easily created by the audio.

The success of sound depends on the blending of two items:

  • Choices that are artistically appropriate–the selection and mixing of the sounds.
  • Techniques that are considered appropriate–equipment and the process for audio capturing.

Both of these aspects need a combination of experience and technical abilities.

online-job-search

Suggestions on Improving Your Job-Search Strategy

You’re not alone. Many job seekers have discovered that our current economic downtown has increased the length of time they have spent job searching. You need to regroup. Clarify immediate and long-term career goals. Prioritize your employment needs and know what you are willing to trade-off to get the most necessities off your job wish list. Then maximize your time job searching. Spend as much time and energy on your job search as you can without drifting into burnout or boredom depending upon your personality. Create a schedule that will structure your day. Include diverse activities, such as, cold calling; meeting with a coach, counselor, support group or helpful friend; researching employment opportunities, responding to leads, etc. An effective job search strategy can assist in finding a desirable job faster. If you’re not getting the results you want from your current job search strategy, try these suggestions:

 

  • Network. Ask your friends, family and network contacts to get in touch with you if they learn of employment opportunities that fit your specifications.

 

  • Review your resume and cover letter. Depending upon the position you are applying for the human resources management may receive over 200 responses and spend less than 15 seconds reviewing each one. Make sure you resume and cover letter stand out. Ask a professional r?m?riter or hiring manager to critique your documents.

 

  • Talk with career coaches and counselors. Review your job search strategy with a career coach. They can provide you with resources and referrals to help you manage your career. Meet with a career counselor to process through the lingering emotional baggage from your lay-off or prolonged unemployment that may be sabotaging your job search efforts.

 

  • Research employers and the labor solutions companies like this one. Does your cover letter address the needs of employers in your industry? The Internet and your public library will have information to help you research employers and the local labor market.
  • Use an employment service. A temporary job will provide you with immediate income, an opportunity to learn more about your industry or occupation and you may even meet a prospective employer.

 

  • Take any job to get your foot in the door. Consider taking any position in an industry or occupation that interests you. You will gain valuable inside knowledge for progressing toward your ideal position.

 

  • Volunteer. Ask to work, without pay, particularly if you like an organization or industry. Volunteers who do well may receive consideration when hiring does occur or you may make yourself indispensable by the quality of your work.

 

  • Interview for information. Arrange brief interviews with contacts in organizations or industries in which you are interested. Ask about qualifications needed to enter the field, employment trends, and suggestions for additional contacts.

 

  • Pursue additional training. Do you have the requisite skills, qualifications, and training to get your dream job? If not, additional training or advanced degrees can strengthen your qualifications.

 

  • Think about moving to a new area. Does your local labor market offer the opportunities you are looking for? Economic conditions differ throughout the nation. Research employment trends in financial publications, out-of-area newspapers, and by contacting chambers of commerce.

 

And lastly, enthusiasm goes a long way. Harness your motivation and schedule your most challenging job-search activities according to your peak energy levels.

businesswoman-writing-seo

What is SEO Writing?

How Search Engine Optimization Works

If writing is an art, then online writing is a hybrid of both art and science. Search engine optimization (SEO) writing requires research and statistics as well as a good command of the written word. This article contains SEO help to understand and improve Internet writing skills.

What is SEO?

SEO stands for “search engine optimization.” It means any online content that is carefully built around keywords or phrases that sum up the content of the article.

How SEO Works

Search engine “spiders” crawl through each page that is published on the web to pick out its main topics. Essentially, a person who creates SEO content is basically writing for search engines, making the key points of the article obvious to them with keywords and phrases embedded in the text.

When Internet readers have a need, question, or problem, they type what they’re looking for into a search engine. The closer an article comes to matching their search term, the more likely it is to appear at the top of the results list and the more likely it is to be read.

Major search engines like Google and Yahoo also offer services that place relevant ads on a page based on its keywords. Women reading an article about how to find the best-fitting bra, for example, will be more likely to click on an advertisement for an online retailer’s lingerie sale than they would be to click on a completely unrelated ad.

SEO Tips for Online Writers

Writing SEO content is a complex interplay that naturally takes writers a while to absorb. Those who learn to effectively use search engine optimization know how to:

  • Choose the right topics: subjects that have a high level of reader interest and a low number of competing web pages
  • Pick appropriate keywords: words and phrases that are relevant to the content of a page
  • Position keywords correctly: put critical keywords in the right places and make it look like a natural, effortless process
  • Provide valuable information: “fluff” content that uses a lot of words to say nothing makes a poor SEO article
  • If you feel like you need professional help on SEO services, visit SMA.

Doing all of the four points above results in a high-quality article and a better Google page rank. Page ranking is a complex algorithm based on keyword accuracy, volume of page visits, and number of incoming and outgoing links. Improving page rank is essential to increasing traffic to any given page.

These SEO tips are designed to help beginning Internet writers learn and understand the basics of search engine optimization. Good keyword use tells search engines what an article is about and how good it is, thus offering readers the opportunity to find it through their search queries.

business-people-standing

The Connections Between Democratic Theory and Leadership

Why Democratic Theory Is Essential For Leadership Theory

Debates about the current condition of democracy skim over the question of leadership. We hear a great deal about the lack of civility in public discourse, the decline of trust in institutions and public officials, the pursuit of self-interest by citizens and their representatives, the apparent incapacity of the political system to address long-range problems, and the futility of any form of political engagement. Civil society appears to be anything but civil, and public deliberation as a means of resolving differences seems a hopeless ideal, nice in theory but wholly unachievable in practice. Democracy, in the words of one insightful critic, is on trial, challenged by “deepening cynicism; the growth of corrosive forms of isolation, boredom, and despair; the weakening, in other words, of the world known as democratic civil society, a world of groups and associations and ties that bind.”

The matter of leadership is implicit in these discussions, or when it is made explicit it comes in one of two forms: either platitudinous observations about the need for integrity, boldness and vision; or crass, simplistic misappropriations of complex and sophisticated political theories. When Jonathan Rauch’s otherwise shrewd critique of politics as systematically driven by organized groups ends with a plea for “that most personal and fickle of counterforces: political leadership,” we sense that his analytical powers and rhetorical skills have exhausted themselves. The very premise of his argument is that everyone, citizens and leaders alike, is inescapably complicit in the problem of “demosclerosis.” When Dick Morris, President Bill Clinton’s erstwhile advisor, tries to justify his view of politics as merely a modern version of Machiavelli’s The Prince, he reveals not only his perverse notion of ethics but also his tendency to mangle political philosophy in service of his cause.

Although it may seem self-evident that theories of leadership are embedded within theories of democracy, modern discussions of leadership proceed otherwise, as if untethered to political philosophy. One consequence is that while we aggressively debate timeless questions of democratic theory, such as the terms of engagement in the public sphere and the condition of civil society, we root around aimlessly when discussing leadership, unaware that disputes in democratic theory inevitably lead to disputes about the nature of leadership. The effect is not unlike one of the characters described in a Richard Russo novel as “not profoundly stupid” but missing “his fair share of nuances.” That fits the state of our theories on political leadership – not completely off the mark but lacking appreciation for subtlety and complexity.

We root around aimlessly when discussing leadership, unaware that disputes in democratic theory inevitably lead to disputes about the nature of leadership

For example, when someone claims that democracy requires civility, what additional claims about democratic leadership are also being made? Stephen Carter’s provocative book, Civility, provides some clues. We must first accept that there will be continuous disagreement in a democracy, constant dialogue instead of final consensus, a form of politics marked by commitment to principles, to be sure, but also a willingness to learn from others. “Civil listening” is one of Carter’s ideals. “The function of debate in a truly civil society is not only to prevail; the function is to allow the best idea to win out. Therefore,” he concludes, “no matter how certain I may be that I am right, unless I give you a genuine and open opportunity to persuade me of my errors, I cannot seriously expect you to give me a genuine and open opportunity to persuade you of yours.” Leaders presumably should model this public etiquette while creating conditions that enable and encourage citizens to act in the same manner.

Perhaps. But to one of Carter’s critics, the answer is not so clear. Civility is only one of many virtues, and when virtues come into conflict we have to assign priority to one over another. In the private realm of family and friends, civility may frequently if not always take precedence. In the public world of argument and debate, however, fighting injustice and standing for principle may at times trump civility. Sometimes we show respect for others by attacking the insufficiency of their ideas. While Carter’s critic would not dismiss the benefit of civility, he does help us understand that our vision of democratic politics – what we imagine its purposes to be – inevitably leads to discussion of how we wish leaders to behave. The leadership behavior we endorse depends, that is, on the kind of democracy we want.

Another example raises a related but somewhat different question. A few years ago, when the budget deficit framed virtually all political debate and elected officials seemed incapable of making hard choices, a soon-to-be-retired senator rose to address his colleagues. John Danforth, a Republican from Missouri, was dismayed over his colleague’s refusal to rein in entitlement spending. Fearing the fiscal burden that would eventually be placed on future generations and judging that to be a classic case of injustice, the senator blamed the inaction on the electoral imperative – the overriding impulse to placate short-term demands from constituents at the cost of long-term benefits. Speaking extemporaneously and indignantly with a passion that revealed his frustration, he continued:

Deep down in our hearts we know that we have bankrupted America and that we have given our children a legacy of bankruptcy. We have been so intent on getting ourselves elected that year after year we have told the people that they get their choice between more benefits and lower taxes….The problem is that we have hurt America – quite intentionally we have hurt America, for the purposes of getting ourselves elected. We have told Americans that they should feel sorry for themselves. We have told them we can give them something for nothing. We have told them we can reduce taxes and we can increase benefits, and the numbers do not add up, and people want to believe that this is not a problem.

Danforth’s particular plaint about the budget is beside the point. What does matter is his accusation that public officials fail to sacrifice their own interest (in this case electoral success) in the name of what they determine to be in public interest. In addition, he suggests that officials have a responsibility to educate the public about their choices – to lead rather than mislead. His sentiments have an undeniable appeal, and I shall take them up later. Still, direct responsiveness to constituents should not be too quickly dismissed. After all, the justification for elections as a means of accountability is that officials will and should be influenced by the incentive to please those they represent. Even more to the point, can we realistically expect representatives to ignore their own basic self-interest in the name of some amorphously defined public good any more than we can expect citizens to override theirs? In the view of many democratic theorists, interests rather than ideas or principles drive politics.8Some go even farther by asserting that interests actually check the unbridled and impulsive passions. They should be not only tolerated but embraced. Constructing theories of leadership without a realistic appraisal of human nature is to create an untenable portrayal of the responsibilities of leaders. Of course the features of human nature, let alone their implications for politics, are very much open to debate, but that is precisely the point. Implicit in Danforth’s version of leadership is one view, a view with appeal but a contested one that must be defended.

A final example. In what is surely one of the most revealing portraits of modern-day, street-level, genuine retail politics. Buzz Bissinger writes of the tenure of Ed Rendell, mayor of Philadelphia in the mid-1990s. Rendell faced enormous constraints, including a rapidly deteriorating fiscal climate, exacerbated by self-reinforcing trends. The more people left the city because of crime, loss of jobs, and inferior education, the smaller the tax base, and the greater the inability to rectify the very problems that caused people to leave, thereby touching off still more departures. As industries historically important to the city’s economy closed or moved, Rendell tried to fill the void by attracting shoppers and tourists, only to be charged with ignoring the city’s traditional neighborhoods. The job became all consuming. His daily schedule was a series of events ranging from phone calls and meetings with the president and cabinet secretaries to appearances at funerals for slain policemen to dancing with mascots for companies who donated small change to minor civic events. His office became the repository for demands completely irreconcilable. Bissinger’s portrait is unabashedly sympathetic. Rendell “knew better than anyone else how politics worked, the persona and the aura of the job subsuming everything else. People saw him as the mayor, always the mayor, never as a man who might have brushes with insecurity and sadness and even frailty….He wondered whether the standards for politicians were just impossible to ever fully meet.”9 Bissinger continues:

He was the embodiment of a public man, utterly defined by his place in the public eye and the way in which the public reacted to him, and the private acts which define a life – family, friendships, religious faith – seemed of little sustaining moment to him. Whatever it was, wherever it was, he hated being outside the circle. But in the elusive definition of what it means to be a public servant, no one else came closer to the ideals that the concept represents. He gave of himself tirelessly, and his motive wasn’t pure self-aggrandizement or strokes of the ego, nor was it mere obligation. He was hardly a student of urban history and urban planning. He had no grand theory that could be explained on paper. But he understood exactly what a city was about – sounds and sights and smells, all the different senses, held together by the spontaneity of choreography, each day, each hour, each minute different from the previous one.

In the canonical literature on leadership, there is a distinction drawn between transactional and transformational leadership. The former refers to leadership based on transactions between leaders and followers, agreements or bargains which promise mutually beneficial results. If you vote for me, a politician will offer, I promise you this. I get a position; you have your interests fulfilled. By contrast, transformational leadership offers a new way of looking at the world. Leaders provide not bargains but ideas, hopes, and aspirations.11 The distinction (which I have unfairly simplified) is a useful one. It has contributed to our understanding. Yet one wonders whether it applies in any way to Rendell’s case. As he came to embody the city, to the point of losing any sense of a private life outside of his official role, as he worked tirelessly to overcome the constraints and usher in a new vision for the city, was he transformational? Or was his leadership better understood as an endless attempt to balance the demands of a heterogeneous group of constituents? Rendell was both transactional and transformational and therefore was neither. The demands of leadership in a democracy call for bargains and transactions – hard, cold tit-for-tat tradeoffs – but within a context of goals, purposes and objectives.

 

The purpose of this study is to mine contemporary democratic theory for insights into understanding the obligations and responsibilities of leaders, and their motivational speech. My premise is that assertions about leadership – such as normative claims about legitimacy and accountability or commitments to constituents and appropriate criteria for decision making – are inseparable from claims about preferred forms of democracy. It is impossible, in other words, to “do” leadership theory without also doing democratic theory. And yet the literature on political leadership in democracies only rarely draws from political philosophy in any systematic or explicit manner. That could very well be because democratic theorists only occasionally focus directly on leaders, per se, although much of what they say has enormous implications for how we enable officials to lead while constraining their discretion and scope of authority.