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  • Sandra Bravo Ivorra 9:00 am on December 27, 2013 Permalink | Reply
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    Are Companies Afraid of Discovering Their Internal Talent? 

    Estimated Reading Time: 4 minutes

    2013 is coming to a close. Christmas lights are here, garlands, catalogs of toys overflowing mailboxes, the drive to consume compulsively…and, New Year resolutions! This is the best part. When something ends, something new begins, and beginnings always build up hope and facilitate changes.

    New year, new life! January is the month where everyone intends to sign up for the gym to eliminate all the Christmas excess and lead a more healthy life; it is when smokers think about quitting; when we stop to think perhaps we should take better care of our partner or remember to tell our mother how much we lover her… But ideally it is not necessary during this time to ask these things.

    The same thing happens in the work environment. I have heard a few times the argument that all innovation implies a great economic cost and in an environment of a crisis, like the current economic crisis in Spain, no company wants to risk more than what is necessary.

    But propeling new projects does not necessarily mean investing an enormous amount of money in it, rather it may consist of slight changes in entrepreneurial attitudes, in implementing new easy application ideas, in betting on a personal link between our workers, in adequately awarding and valuing the most creative and efficient employees.

    How many companies encourage idea contests? Good ideas are the genuine raw material of the most successful businesses. But it is still surprising how many ideas we throw away everyday and label them useless after the first consideration. Have you ever experimented changing the role of your workers for a short period of time? We were amazed to see what happens when we offer our employees new challenges and responsibilities. Which companies have the courage to frankly and openly show their employees and communicate the good and the bad? Thus, the achievements are shared and failures can be overcome more quickly with support from everyone.

    (More …)

     
  • Sandra Bravo Ivorra 9:00 am on October 31, 2013 Permalink | Reply
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    The Value of a Company is not Measured by Money 

    Estimated Reading Time: 5 minutes

    We can have talent in front of our noses and sometimes do not realize it. We all have capabilities to exploit, a series of characteristics that makes us unique and special. However, many people never get to develop them. Why? Because fear blocks them. It costs us to try new things, to investigate, be creative, or take risks. We are afraid of losing it all, even though in reality we don’t have anything to lose.

    This does not happen only between individuals, rather in companies that tend to see changes more reluctantly.  In most cases, decisions are made solely on the basis of “the numbers”, that are important, but they are not everything and, moreover, often do not improve just because of not innovating nor thinking strategically.

    At the end of each year, companies often present their accounts: their fiscal balance, sales levels, national and international expansion…But, do they perhaps speak of the level of achievement of workers, the degree of fellowship, or their training needs? How much time does a company dedicate to consider whether their workers feel proud and happy to be part of the project?  Is a good working environment promoted with leisure times to strengthen personal ties?  Many people may think that’s not the job of a company, and they have the right to think so, but I think that has a high impact on the results and the survival of a business, whatever it is. (More …)

     
  • Sandra Bravo Ivorra 9:00 am on August 27, 2013 Permalink | Reply
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    Bad times, good resume 

    Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

    In times where many people are looking for word, having a good resume is essential as it continues to be both annoying and necessary.

    When you prepare your resume, the goal is to get them to call you to a face-to-face interview in which you can demonstrate your worth. But what errors are commited in a resume and how do we solve them?

    1. Resumes are always written in the past, when they should be a projection of the future and contain at least one sentence that describes the reason for which you want the job. Experience is all well and good, but it doesn’t mean a thing if it doesn’t set you apart as a person or show your special interest in the job, they can find twenty others like you who say exactly the same.

    2. Resume templates have done a lot of damage. Unless they ask you for a specific format, be a little original and personalize the document. The typical Word with Times New Roman and a passport photo is dreary. Be surprising!

    3. Forget so many facts and degreeitis and tell a life story. In a resume, it’s not about telling everything, rather highlighting what makes you different. What better way that through a tale? Investigate the company’s history and try to adapt it so you capture their attention. There are as many options as ideas in your head!

    4. Another very obvious –but often ignored – point is to adapt the resume to the job you’re going for and the company, as well as the email that accompanies it, if you aren’t handing it over personally. If necessary, call beforehand by phone to find out who you should address and avoid that horrible Dear Sir/Madam …

    The biggest error lies in trying to impress with quantity (degrees, years’ experience…), when in reality, what you should do is seduce with quality (human and professional). A surprising, sincere and personal story gives you the chance to go for many face-to-face interviews and position your profile as one that is worth it.

    Sandra Bravo (@Sandra_BI) is founding partner of BraveSpinDoctors, a strategic communication and political marketing consultancy.

     

     
  • Sandra Bravo Ivorra 9:00 am on June 5, 2013 Permalink | Reply
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    Active listening as a tool for continuous learning 

    Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

    The art of conversation is being replaced by personal broadcasting. I first heard that expression in a TED Talk by Julian Treasure on the importance of active listening, and I couldn’t agree more.

    We communicate constantly but we rarely listen. Listening goes beyond just lending an ear. Listening is investing time in others, changing the focus of attention to those that surround us.

    They are both the messages and interferences that we receive that are difficult to distinguish. It is demonstrated that we filter contents according to our culture and all this marks a difference between what we hear and what we pay attention to.

    Attitude and beliefs are key factors in communication. Our predisposition towards our interlocutors is an essential condition. Flexibility too, the ability to leave aside our ‘repertoire’ of beliefs to give way to new hypotheses.

    Active listening is the best tool for constant learning. If we don’t train that skill, we will end up shut away in our limiting tenets.

    Four basic aspects of active listening:

    1. Receiving, taking in what they tell us, paying attention
    2. Valuation, appreciating the words of our interloctors as something with an intrinsic value
    3. Recapitulating, we will only be capable of synthetizing something that we are willing to ‘receive’
    4. Asking, after assimilating information, this will generate doubts that will enable us to continue enrich ourselves

    Listening facilitates our daily lives. It’s economical, it saves us having to listen twice to the same message that we didn’t pay attention to in the first place. It’s practical, it will help us to discern what is really important. And it’s efficient, listening not only will be learn, but we will make others want to listen to us and learn about our points of view.

    Sandra Bravo (@Sandra_BI) is founding partner of BraveSpinDoctors, a strategic communication and political marketing consultancy.

    At Zyncro, we believe listening is fundamental for companies. We explain it in this whitepaper about the value of employees’ contributions for the company. In your organization, how do you listen to employees? At Zyncro we help you do it with an Enterprise Social Network. Try it.

     

     
  • Sandra Bravo Ivorra 9:00 am on February 8, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: enterpreneur,   

    An essential requirement for entrepreneurship? Losing the fear of dreaming! 

    Estimated reading time + video: 6 minutes

    These days a video has been going around that is narrated by Alan Watts. In it, Watts plays down the importance of money and highlights the stupidity of devoting our life to doing things we don’t like doing in order to go on doing things we don’t like and teacher our children to follow the same track… The concept is nothing new, but I’m glad to see that once in a while a message like this one goes viral. The good things in life are easily forgotten and at the slightest thing we feel sorry for ourselves and become apathetic, so it’s a good thing that it’s repeated every now and then. That’s what I’ll do now, but before that, let me show you a video:

    I’m aware that there are people who are really struggling these days and obviously they have every right to complain, but this short post goes to all those who automatically resign themselves to accepting “how life is”, to giving in, to giving up their dreams or not even daring to dream in the first place… How can we be happy if we don’t even let ourselves live first?

    In business schools and universities, there are hundreds of courses on entrepreneurship in which they try to teach us how to perform magnificent DAFO analyses and business plans and tell us how to set up a business in simple steps… There are also loads of news pieces on the high number of projects that don’t even last through the first year. Maybe perhaps because we are instilled business aptitudes without having first focused on other fundamental aspects, and that apparently have nothing to do with the economy. Where is the class at school that teaches us to be happy, to manage our emotions, to feel excited about new challenges, to value the small things in life? How many teachers spend their time in teaching us to dream, to think about freedom, to be creative without prejudice to following the line already set out? How many parents show their children to learn from their errors, to get back up when they stumble and to see the positive light of their fall, to say I love you and thanks?

    An essential point for overcoming this crisis that darkens our day is to overcome the crisis of happiness, hopes and dreams of a better future. It is something we need to incorporate in our educational system, in our work philosophy in our companies, in our personal relationships… We can learn to be optimistic, to be happy, to know what we want. Only then will we be able to carry it out and, as Alan Watts says in the video, it doesn’t matter what this is. Do it! Because if you truly want to, you can become a master on the material and find a way to make a living from it. Now let’s start again from the beginning… What would you do to be happy?

    Sandra Bravo is founding partner of BraveSpinDoctors, a strategic communication and political marketing consultancy.

     

     
  • Sandra Bravo Ivorra 9:00 am on December 18, 2012 Permalink | Reply
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    Oh, white, (and eternal?) Christmas! 

    Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

    Christmas is around the corner, that period of the year when the “Christmas spirit” is all around us, days when the streets are lit up with hundreds of lights, there’s a Santa Claus at the supermarket giving out candy and we all get together with our families to eat all the food typical of the season, as if there were no tomorrow. It’s also a time of year when we feel obliged to be better people and to automatically give gifts to everyone and anyone, so overcome are we by this tradition of Jewish-Christian origin mixed together with the ads of all the big chain stores and a certain tendency to compulsive consumerism.

    My favorite part of the whole season is this forced kindness and benevolent feeling that overcomes all of us. It’s not a bad thing, but I just wish it could last all year and that it happened more spontaneously. Why on earth do we find it so difficult to be grateful and appreciate what surrounds us? Has no one ever stopped to think of the potential of the words, “thank you”, or the expression “I love you”?

    I don’t mean to go all sentimental, but extrapolated to our day to day and in a working environment, it could give huge results and generally be more effective than sowing doubts about permanency in a job or playing at tug-of-war with economic or emotional blackmail.

    I know I go on about this, but I don’t think the business world has actually realised that, essentially, we are all human and we like to be treated as such. There are still “great” business people who continue to believe that selling the image of a serious and exclusive company with employees who are practically slaves, is the key to success.

    This could be the case until these employees realize that there is a life outside work or find a place where they are valued and told that they are appreciated, not only in the form of a salary, but in words and actions.

    Promoting activities that favor personal relations between employees and your company, encouraging their creativity, valuing their effort, offering them a smile and asking them how they are… are small tricks which, although some believe to only be a time-wasting exercise, in fact increase your team’s performance.

    How many hours do we spend each day in the office? Of this time, how much do we spend working comfortably and how much counting the moments until we can run out the door? If the balance leans blatantly towards the latter option, clearly something is wrong and sometimes this something is as easy to solve as being treated kindly.

    Shall we make Christmas last all year?

    Sandra Bravo is founding partner of BraveSpinDoctors, a strategic communication and political marketing consultancy.

     

     
  • Sandra Bravo Ivorra 9:00 am on October 10, 2012 Permalink | Reply
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    With (con)tact or without? 

    Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

    A while ago I received one of many invitations to connect on LinkedIn from a person whose face seemed familiar, so I decided to check out their profile and found that it was an acquaintance that a friend had presented me to some time ago. When I discovered the link, I wrote to him to say hi and ask him how were things. As a reply, he sent me a short, brief message in which he said my profile had appeared among the possible known contacts and he had added me because he “was extending his network of contacts.”
    Beyond any emotional reaction that I could have to such a cold response, I was surprised at his idea of “extending a network of contacts”, as if he acted the same way in each link, he would end up with a great many number of connections, but what use would they be? What do many people understand by “contact?”

    Internet and the social networks have brought a revolution in the way we communicate, extending exponentially the number and type of people we associate with on a daily basis. It’s amazing! Exchanging information quickly and constantly increases our ability to act, enriches our social life and encourages collective creativity. However, we can’t forget that this is only possible when real social links are built.

    Size matters? Having a large number of contacts within a click doesn’t provide any benefits if we don’t make the effort to get to know them even slightly and know who we are addressing. An amorphous audience with whom we have nothing in common is like talking to a wall without expecting it to respond.

    We need to remember that new communication 2.0 tools (or whatever they are called) are just that: instruments for improving and promoting personal communication, something that we need to work constantly by actively listening, treating others on a one-to-one basis, watching our verbal and non-verbal language, our attitude to life… Otherwise, it’s like putting the best scalpel on the market in the hands of a person who hasn’t the remotest idea about medicine. So let’s take advantage that that Latinate word contact (con with + tangere touch) constantly reminds us of that need and take care of our relationships with a smile, a please, a thank you, or a cheers, as mastering the essence of communication not only requires knowing its function, but knowing how to use it wisely.

    Sandra Bravo is founding partner of BraveSpinDoctors, a strategic communication and political marketing consultancy.


     
  • Sandra Bravo Ivorra 9:00 am on September 4, 2012 Permalink | Reply
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    The order to the factors alters the quality of the product 

    Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

    Mother Nature gave us with two eyes, two ears but just one mouth. She did it for a reason, so that we could watch and listen twice what we speak. However, at some time during evolution, our wires must have got crossed and we started to believe that our extra ear and eye were to accompany the others, so they wouldn’t be lonely… So we started to talk and talk without stopping and without paying attention to the other senses, so that now we have to invest double the time in our relationships (personal, work, and any other type): first we talk, then we talk again, we listen a little and then we have to rectify what we said before as we put our foot in it up to our elbow…

    Why are we so prone to signing our own death sentence with a few words without having stopped to observe our environment even slightly?

    If we were more patient, if we listened carefully to others, if we analyzed their non-verbal communication, their mood, and then only then gave our view of things, everything would be much easier. We would save time, effort and probably face on more than one occasion. Knowing the behavior of social relationships and behaving intelligently is easier than it seems, but it requires listening actively, observation, silence, comprehension, in short, empathy, or the ability to sense the emotions of others. If we do that (or at least try), we will be much closer to a high degree of consensus or personal affinity.

    For that reason, it surprises me every time I enter a store and the sales associate receives me with a bored face, without even bothering to answer my greeting. For that reason, I refuse to listen to telemarketers who ring my house at ungodly hours without even presenting themselves, and who start to belt out at the speed of light the marvelous offer that they have for me. For that same reason, I tune out when someone talks and talks without stopping, without having the mere intention to listen to others in a meeting… If the sales associate smiled at me when I walked in, tried to help me, they would win me over as a loyal customer; if the telemarketer presented themselves nicely, without hurry, and asked me if I was willing to listen, I would do so; if someone listened carefully at a meeting and only spoke as necessary at the right time, I would give them my attention, and they would win my willingness to listen to their proposals.

    I’ve given this post the title “The order to the factors alters the quality of the product” and when I say that I mean that our heads, our eyes, our ears and even our nose are above our mouth. I don’t think that is by chance. So if we let our tongues loose without having let our other senses had a chance to react, the quality of our communication will be much less than that desired. Let’s learn to relate socially by using our senses properly! The more we do it, the easier it will become and the more advantages we will see in our professional and personal lives!

    Sandra Bravo is founding partner of BraveSpinDoctors, a strategic communication and political marketing consultancy.

     

     
  • Sandra Bravo Ivorra 9:00 am on August 1, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , flexibility   

    How to make a company go under in five easy steps 

    Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

    The word “entrepreneur” is so “in” now that it’s rather commonplace. Any new company, especially if a young person heads it up, is an entrepreneurial project, and we can find tips and recommendations for the entrepreneur who embarks on new projects everywhere. But on this occasion, I’ve opted for the opposite stance, offering you five simple and practical tips for collapsing your company quickly and efficiently.

    You don’t need to be young or an entrepreneur, although your company is firmly consolidated, if you add that extra effort, you can manage to make it go under before the cock crows.

    Here you are:

    1. Underestimate the value of communication. Neglect the transmission of your messages, be incapable of communicating your values, your goals, your hopes; practise informative secretiveness or a false transparency; talk only to those outside your walls, don’t bother listening to the opinions of those on the inside or go out of your way to make them feel valued and proud of the work they perform… These are only some of the circumstances experienced on a daily basis in organizations that believe that communication is a secondary aspect and independent of their main activity, in which they should only invest when there is an information crisis or when they want to launch an advertising campaign.
    2. Be rigid. Many companies believe that being faithful to their principles is synonym of rigidity, but in fact, it is quite the opposite. If we are not capable of being sufficiently flexible to adapt to the changes, we run the risk of falling in the first fight. Rigidity (or in other words, inflexibility) means neglecting the training of each worker, keeping structures excessively hierarchical and dysfunctional, wasting constructive criticism or adversities to strengthen our weak points, and believing that our sole purpose is to sell and obtain an economic profit, ignoring the fact that it should be the consequence of proper management and not the objective of our actions.
    3. Do not become involved emotionally. What would the world be without emotion, hopes or dreams? We all have some, but to make them come true, we need to know how to communicate them! This means sharing our concerns, making them understandable to our audience and, beyond that, becoming involved emotionally. Dreams tend to be difficult goals to achieve and on occasions, Utopian, but if we make our employees, our customers, our partners share them and feel part of them, there will be more people who can, on many occasions unconsciously, add their grain of sand to achieve those goals.
    4. Scorn the competition. If we look after the first three points, we will be an organization with a high level of knowledge about our essence—although it seems an exaggeration, many companies don’t even know their raison d’être— and it will contribute to making our collective self-esteem higher and make us feel proud of what we are. It is something essential and healthy, provided it is used with humility. We should never scorn the competition, no matter how inadequate we think their strategy to be, that their managers are incompetent, that their business vision is absurd…. Instead of wasting time mocking their defects, we should study the differences and try to learn from them in order to boost other aspects, which result from a completely different vision, that we hadn’t even considered.
    5. Lack a sense of humor. My last tip for making a company go under quickly and effectively is having a complete and absolute lack of sense of humor. A person can enjoy themselves more or less in their job, but it shouldn’t be a daily torment. Organizations that know how to laugh at themselves and accept that humor improves performance and the feeling of belonging have greater chances of consolidating the company and generating strong relationships between employees, which will translate into better results at the end of the month. But if your goal is to have a company with a strained atmosphere, where tempers fly at the slightest degree, and people feel out of place, impose severity and intransigence and you’ll soon see sparks flying.

    Sandra Bravo is founding partner of BraveSpinDoctors, a strategic communication and political marketing consultancy.

     

     
  • Sandra Bravo Ivorra 9:00 am on June 28, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: attitude, ,   

    Talent is an attitude 

    Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

    Let me set you a very simple exercise: go to any store or customer service and see how they attend you, the employees’ willingness to address your needs, the attitude with which they receive you… Do they smile and greet you pleasantly? Are they proactive and do they offer you alternatives if they don’t have exactly what you are looking for? Are they patient and polite? With respectable—and blessed—exceptions, it is quite usual to find apathetic people, who answer you “by obligation”, without any empathy and ooze the message “don’t bother me too much and go away as soon as possible. It’s a vicious circle in which the company doesn’t look after its employees nor set clear guidelines regarding how customers should be received and dealt with. At the same time, employees, who are not recognized for their efforts, lack the slightest feeling of belonging and the only thing they are interested in is getting paid at the end of the month: looking after the client is not their obligation, as they are mere workers and they care little about whether their company’s image is affected by it.

    Talent is not something that is inherited, nor does it depend on one’s resume. Talent is an attitude, both for individuals and companies.

    Those who know how to cultivate and encourage it will make an effort to satisfy the needs of those around them — in-house employees or customers. They will do it with a smile and a pleasant attitude; they will concentrate their energy on everything they do and they will do it as best possible, for their own and other’s satisfaction. We’ve become used to marking—or wanting to mark—the difference using objects, for example, the latest innovation on the market, but we’ve forgotten that what will really make the difference over the long term and in a continuous way, if we look after it, are the issues: personal service, the sensations we transmit from the moment of the purchase or on the day-to-day in work.

    To set you a very simple but illustrative example, if there are ten coffeehouses in my neighborhood and all have a similiar price and quality, which one will I choose? The one that knows what my name is, that knows how I like my coffee, where they greet me when I walk in and look after me with a smile, where they are sincere about the quality of product they offer me… There not only will I buy my latte on my way to work, but go there for breakfast on Sundays, and to pick up some coffee cake when my in-laws decide to drop in unannounced, because they go beyond the mere sale of products; they offer me a pleasant experience and cultivate loyalty. In short, cultivating talent maintains a brand and a business over time, even in adverse situations.

    Sandra Bravo is founding partner of BraveSpinDoctors, a strategic communication and political marketing consultancy.

     

     
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