Big Kids, Big Problems

Several years ago when we were contemplating child number six, my mother-in-law made the comment, “Little kids, little problems…big kids, big problems.”  I brushed the comment aside and said, “Not our kids.” Well, here I am now with five teenagers and while they’re really good kids in general, I am exhausted. It’s Monday, and I should feel recharged, but I’m dragging.

Let’s start with my 19-year-old son who decided to live at home while going to college after living on campus for only one semester. We encouraged him to stay and give it more time, but he was adamant. So I took a deep breath and said, “Ok.”  My first complaint is how little time he actually spends at school or studying. When I was at college I was always at class. Half of the time he says his class has been cancelled or there is some online thing he has to watch or do. I guess with the technology of today, teaching is different. So with all the extra time on his hands we suggested he get a job.

Honestly, he needs to get a job for spending money. His idea of applying for a job is sending in a few online applications and waiting. Probably forever. We keep suggesting places to go, connections we have, etc., but he keeps dragging his feet and saying, “I don’t want to work THERE!” or “They don’t pay enough!” He seems to forget that he’s 19 and has no job skills other than serving pizza at the local water park for the last three summers. All he wants to do is have fun with his friends. It’s maddening!!!!

Then there is my first experience with a teenage daughter. Let me tell you, when it comes to the drama department, boys are sooooo much easier. There is no drama!  She is in eighth grade and the paradise of sixth and seventh grade is gone. While I would say she doesn’t really cause the drama, it constantly circles around her. One girl is being mean to another girl, which means certain people can no longer “hang” together.  Often times, insensitive comments are made that really hurt. I just don’t know how to help her get through it all. And she still has high school to go through!

My eighth grade daughter has a twin brother. Both of them like to spend money on clothes, movies and drinks at the local hang out. I decided it was time for them to earn some of their own money so I signed them up to take a course to become a certified soccer referee. The complaining was unbelievable. Why did they have to give up their Friday night and all day Saturday to sit in such a boring class?

Now that they’re certified, they’re actually refereeing games. Usually one or two games on an occasional Sunday. The moaning and complaining that started Friday for the upcoming games on Sunday were miserable. I kept pointing out that it was a beautiful day and they were earning money. And besides, what else did they have to do?

I could continue with more stories but I’ve run out of space. I think as parents we love our children so much and we want to make sure they’re always happy and successful in whatever they do. I really internalize their unhappiness. I’m working on trying to let it go. I’m a mom that likes to be in control, but I also need to have less stress in my life for my own happiness. Letting them figure things out for themselves is not such a bad thing. I will keep repeating that to myself.

Increasing Productivity through Internal Branding

Start with your internal brand.

First comes the messaging. This is an integral part of building a strong internal brand. You need to clearly define your company values and solidify what key messages you want to promote. This will help your company establish common goals, brand ambassadors and training programs.

You must establish a strong internal voice. Once you have a clear definition of your values that your employees can embody and embrace, you then need to establish what your employees are to do with it. That’s the meat and potatoes of internal branding, and it’s the solid foundation upon which all employee engagement programs should rest. But that’s just the psychological side of it.

Next comes the unification of the brand – visually. Developing the look and feel of your brand is just as integral to a company’s success as its core values. If you want to increase productivity, you need to create the visuals to support it. You’ve unified your minds, now it’s essential to unify how your brand will look.

Step One: Define your brand through messaging and values.

Step Two: Create a visual identity.

Step Three: Make a library of elements available company wide.

Step Four: Put them on your intranet or website.

Step Five: Sit back and watch the creativity unleash itself.

Creating items like logo libraries, font libraries, image libraries, color palettes, and document templates, and then making them readily available to all, will streamline employee productivity by providing easy access to the tools employees need to successfully communicate within the parameters of your internal brand standards.

Productivity increases when employees have a clear vision and understanding of the company they work for. It helps them build a level of confidence within their role and makes them more efficient as members of your organization.

Hiring the Right Fit

Talent isn’t the only thing. When it comes to hiring, you’re obviously going to look for the candidate that constitutes the best fit. While skill set and aptitude are important, it’s equally as crucial to find someone that would fit within the culture of your organization.

You may have a candidate that looks to be the ideal person for the job on paper. But as we all know, how someone or something appears on paper is not necessarily an indicator of how they’d do when they got hired. It doesn’t take long to see that the culture and the employee are not a good match and in many instances, the overall work is going to be negatively impacted.

So how do you determine if someone will be a good fit based off of just the interview process?

For starters, first impressions can go a long ways. Both personally and professionally you should never underestimate the importance of a gut feeling. Within the first few moments of meeting someone you can typically get a good read on their personality type and demeanor. If you are getting a good vibe right off the bat, keep the conversation going so that the candidate feels comfortable to show more personality the rest of the way.

Try to eliminate surprises. Be as upfront with the candidate as possible about not just what the job entails but also the office environment. If it’s important to you that employees get along and enjoy spending time together, don’t be afraid to say this. If they’re more of the clock-in, knock out my work and avoid distractions type of employee it’s better that they know these expectations beforehand.

Introduce, introduce, introduce. While your opinion may be the deciding factor, it’s important for others to weigh in as well. Introduce the candidate to as many people that they’d be working with as possible. Remember that they will end up spending a lot of time together if they’re hired so allow for both sides to have a glimpse of what work life together might be like. This can also be an opportunity for the rest of your team to separate two seemingly equal candidates and make the final decision a little easier.

Now let’s hear from you. What type of unique interview tactics have you used in the past to get to know a candidate a little bit better?

Elizabeth Cogswell Baskin

How to Find Time for Your Most Important Work

True or false: You can relate to the following statements:

• “I feel like I’m not giving the right amount of attention to what’s most important.”

• “I have too many meetings to attend, and I can’t get any ‘real’ work done.”

• “I have new responsibilities that demand creative and strategic thought, but I’m not getting to them.”

If you answered true to any of them, you’re not alone. According to David Allen, author of  Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity, these are statements he hears all the time in his work as a consultant with top executives at some of the country’s leading companies.

David Allen has a solution. In his recent article in the New York Times, “When Office Technology Overwhelms, Get Organized,” Allen outlines a plan to alleviate those uncomfortable feelings. He recommends spending two  hours each week developing and fine tuning this plan, and reports overwhelming relief for those who use his system diligently.

But it might take more than a plan for organizing your priorities. It’s possible this widespread angst goes deeper than that for many working in American corporations today.

Some of us wear being busy as a badge of honor. I know I’ve done it. After all, if you’re busy, that must mean you’re important, right? And if you complain about being busy, then people realize how hard you’re working and thus how valuable you are.

Being busy is not what makes us valuable as human beings. But I won’t even go into that. Let’s focus on whether being busy makes us valuable in the workplace.

It’s what we accomplish that makes us valuable at work. If you come up with an innovative plan that reduces costs, streamlines production, or cures cancer, that’s important. If you develop a new product or create a beautiful solution to a sticky design problem, that’s a big deal. How hard you had to work, or how busy you were while you were working on it, is irrelevant.

I’m not saying you choose to be too busy. Sometimes there’s just no way to avoid getting too many emails and spending too much of the day in meetings. But some people manage to get the important stuff done anyway. How?

They make the important stuff important. I mean no disrespect to David Allen, who is clearly a much-needed thought leader in the business world, but what about this plan?

Use those two hours to work on something that matters. Instead of spending Allen’s recommended two hours a week on your plan to organize your priorities, why not just grab your laptop or a pencil and paper and hunker down for two hours of intense work on a project that’s important to your success.

Better yet, spend the first two hours of every workday on what’s important. If you wait until you clear out your inbox and find yourself with unscheduled time at your desk, it will never happen. And yes, in that case you’ll never have time for your most important work.


I Hate Snakes!

“Snakes, I hate snakes.” –Indiana Jones

The warm weather in Georgia has come early this year, and that brings with it my fear of snakes. I love running the trails in the woods, except when I see snakes. In the three years since I’ve been running by the river, I’ve seen four. Which you might say is not too bad, however, I really feel faint at the sight of them and scream. Loudly.

Part of my paranoia comes from being from Michigan and not knowing which of these Georgia snakes will kill me and which will just bite me. Elizabeth, Tribe’s CEO, has tried to teach me that poisonous cottonmouths mate in May and become extremely aggressive. There is more to the lesson I’m sure, but my mind stayed stuck on the “extremely aggressive poisonous” part.

For all my fellow trail runners, and those who like to hike, here is a guide to the six snakes in Georgia that are venomous and some tips on how to stay safe out there in the woods.

The six snakes are:

Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake

Timber Rattlesnake

Pigmy Rattlesnake

Eastern Coral Snake

Cottonmouth (also known as the Water Moccasin)

Southern Copperhead

All poisonous snakes have angular heads with angular eyes. However, all snakes can flatten their heads when they feel threatened, which can make them appear more angular and lead to confusion.

“What I tell folks is that we have six species of venomous snakes in Georgia,” explained John Jensen, Wildlife Biologist. “Three of them have rattles at the tip of their tail. One of them, the Coral Snake, has bright colors. Learn how to identify Copperheads, Cottonmouths and Coral snakes by their color and pattern. If you know that, and you know what a rattle is, then you should be able to rule these snakes out.”

Here are a few other helpful tips:

A common phrase taught to children is: “Red on yellow, kill a fellow; red on black, friend of Jack.”

Try to avoid startling snakes. Most will try to stay away, as they supposedly view humans as predators.

When going over a log, step on the log, don’t leap over it.

Stay on the path, don’t walk through shrubbery and tall grass.

Don’t put hands or feet in places you can’t see. Especially important when climbing rocks, or sitting down.

If you see a snake back away, slowly.

It is illegal to kill nonvenomous snake in Georgia and has a fine attached to it that can go up to $1,000.

Stay alert and safe while enjoying this amazing weather we’re having. If you’re by the Chattahoochee and hear a girl screaming, “snake!” feel free to come save me.

Brands Within a Brand: Departmental Branding

Branding is not always what you think. 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.” Too often companies have the common misconception that they need one brand that speaks for the entire company. From a consumer standpoint, this makes sense because they’re able to recognize a familiar symbol that they’ve come to rely on but this perception can also lead to missed opportunities for internal groups.

Allow for multiple identities within your company. The success of your company is contingent upon groups of employees working as individual departments but joining together around one common goal – driving business. While it’s important to maintain a Team First approach to business, there’s nothing wrong with letting individual departments show a little personality. Each department has their own unique capabilities and skill set that serve as an integral piece to the overall company puzzle. Let this identity be shown through departmental branding reflective of what they bring to the company.

Provide rationale for departmental branding. An effective brand can yield multiple benefits, both internally and in the eyes of the customer. If you are a department head, take a look at the current state of your workforce and evaluate how they perceive what they do collectively for the company. If you work for a major corporation, the departments within your company are likely made up of a large number of employees. If this is the case, groups will be formed within the department based on individual roles and responsibilities. Joining up like this is only natural but it does create the tendency to work in silos and focus primarily on what pertains to you. You can help combat this problem through a unified front, a department-wide brand that encompasses all employees regardless of their position or responsibilities.

Know what you’re looking to get out of the brand. At the outset of your brand initiative, put together objectives that can show how the identity would help drive business. Instead of simply saying that you need a brand to bring together the department, emphasize the impact that you expect it to make. Ask yourself the following questions: how will employees both inside and outside the department view this and more importantly, how will customers perceive this? If you can show how branding can positively affect the perception of the service you provide, continue to emphasize this and ensure that senior management is able to make the connection.

What departments within your company have recently placed an emphasis on their individual brand and how did it help them in providing value to the company?

Evaluating Your Corporate Values

Developing your values is only the first step. An important job of any corporation is to define values that are reflective of your culture and what your company will not compromise to achieve your goals. Identifying values is only half the battle, as your organization grows and changes, your values should be continually assessed.

Size of the company does matter. The size of your company does impact how often you should evaluate your values.  For a smaller company that is experiencing a lot of growth and change, Tribe would recommend assessing your values every two to three years. For larger, more established companies, we recommend looking at the values every five years.

Assess your values if your company is experiencing a large change. Large changes such as a leadership shift, merger or acquisition are a good time to take a look at your values. A large swing in the economy is another opportunity. These large changes may alter your corporate objectives or how you work to achieve them, which could create a need for revised values.

Listen to customer and employee feedback. By reviewing employee surveys and customer reviews with your values in mind, you may realize that your values don’t match your customer’s and employee’s perceptions.  If what you say and what your employees believe isn’t aligning, you may need to take a closer look. Are your values a true reflection of who you are and who you want to be?

Does the idea of evaluating your values give you a headache?  Call Tribe, we would be happy to help.

Elizabeth Cogswell Baskin

To Be More Creative, You Might Need A Little Noise

Do you need quiet to think? On Exist.Co, contributor Ariel Schwartz cites a study in the Journal of Consumer Research that indicates we may be more creative in an environment with a moderate amount of noise.

The trick is finding just enough noise. Too much environmental noise proves overly distracting, but a mild hub bubb seems to be beneficial. In her article titled “Why Ditching The Office Could Help You Be More Creative,” Schwartz quotes the authors of the study explaining that “moderate distraction, which induces processing difficulty, enhances creativity by prompting abstract thinking.”

Maybe that’s why so many groundbreaking ideas happen outside the office.  I know of several startup companies that were born in bars. I tend to do some of my best work on long flights. And you can walk in any Starbucks and feel the brain power of all those caffeine-stoked writers and entrepreneurs hunched over their laptops.

Another plus of leaving the office is physically removing yourself from the office. It allows you to break the cycle of back-to-back meetings and the endless distractions of coworkers.

There’s also an ironic privacy inherent in a public place. People who don’t know you are much less likely to interrupt you than colleagues from down the hall.

First World Problems: Lack of Patience in Today’s World

I sometimes try to stop myself when I’m having a “poor me” moment and look at my situation objectively through the lens of a bystander. I often suffer from what I most commonly refer to as, “first world problems”, scenarios I label as “problems” since I don’t have any real problems. Some examples of this are being in a bad mood because I just got a manicure and chipped it on my way out the door, screaming out loud because I’m sitting in traffic or my favorite and most common being the lack of patience I have for both slow service and “slow” internet.

I put slow in quotations because statistics show that one in four Americans will abandon a website if it doesn’t load within four seconds. Four seconds?! Talk about impatience. I am completely guilty of this too. We live in a society where there is a constant need for speed. Even though technology is consistently improving to be faster and user-friendly, apparently fast is still not fast enough.

According to the Fast Company article, “How One Second Could Cost Amazon $1.6 Billion in Sales”, fifty percent of Americans wouldn’t visit an establishment for a second time if they were kept waiting. This seems a little harsh considering quality service is usually worth waiting for. Even though everyone is in a rush and everyone’s time is equally valuable, common courtesy and patience should always remain in the forefront.

We live in a fast paced environment that demands instant gratification, but statistics like these make me realize how impatient I am. It’s important to remember to be considerate of those around us, take a deep breath and slow down every once in a while.

Patience is something I will be practicing my whole life, but I will start with giving a website more than four seconds to download!

Internal Branding: Best in Class

At Tribe, we define internal branding as what you SAY about your brand and what your employees DO. An internal brand binds the culture and organization together, so the company can make good on its external promise.

Everyone knows what a strong external brand can do for a company, but having a solid internal brand is equally as important for a successful business. A lot of times, the internal brand is treated as the forgotten step-child of a company, with most of the marketing budget being thrown at strengthening the external brand, since that is what customers see and recognize.

The benefits of having a strong internal brand are numerous. Perhaps most importantly, by delivering frequent and consistent messaging to employees, a company can achieve their corporate objectives and sales goals through a collectively functioning workforce. By building up the internal brand, you create a large number of brand ambassadors. In addition, a company with a strong internal brand could also see the following benefits:

  •  Provide a sustainable competitive advantage
  • Strategically align with company goals
  • Enhance customer experience and service
  • Raise employee engagement
  • Maximize productivity

Internal branding is a relatively new concept to the workplace, but Tribe has already identified several companies we deem “Best in Class” for their internal branding efforts.


  •  Early on, CEO Tony Hsiegh realized the effect of having employees as brand ambassadors.
  • The culture is the brand, and the brand is the culture.
  • All employees are empowered to speak on behalf of the brand.
  • As a result, there are approximately 1.8 million followers on Twitter and the brand exists on more than 9,000 Twitter lists.
  • Nearly 500 employees regularly tweet on behalf of Zappos – because they want to, not because they are being paid to do so.


  •  The beer manufacturer launched the Heineken Internal Table Football Competition (HitFC) after a survey revealed that employees didn’t have enough knowledge of the brand’s UEFA Champions League sponsorship.
  • The goal was to create enthusiasm for the brand and increase interaction between employees.
  • They created a communications tool kit (in the form of a USB stick disguised as a small football player) and provided each market with the HitFC logo, artwork and templates for posters containing key messaging as well as the rules of the game.
  • As a result, 4,000 teams (8,000 employees) took part in HitFC. Nearly 75% report that the HitFC program has increased the number of employee ambassadors for Heineken in their market.
  • 85% of employees think that HitFC is a strong reflection of Heineken’s core values.

SEB Merchant Bank:

  •  Utilized core values workshops to translate the bank’s newly declared core values into daily working life.
  • This was in response to management determining that implementation of core values often fail in large organizations because employees are not involved in the message orientation and are subsequently not given a means to develop any sense of message ownership.
  • Leadership incorporated fun elements into the workshops to help establish long term recall of the important messages and create a sense of personal ownership of the core values.
  • All content and material was written in the SEB corporate style with imagery to support and compliment the overall message.

By attending one of the 53 workshops available, the 3,000 SEB managers can now implement the core values into their own daily lives while creating individual experiences to make the core values a reality for everyone.