What is leadership?

By Debby Winters

If you follow me on Twitter (@dwinters711), you may have noticed a weekly conversation that I tweet about called #bowtieconvo. @BowtieTodd has a deep interest in starting conversations to get people to think and engage. These conversations are centered on #leadership. This got me thinking about the question: What is leadership? And What do other people think about leadership?

Of course we all have our own spin on the concept, as well as our own definition. What I think is universally true however,  is that leadership one of those things, like pornography, that we know when we see.  In my participation in the #bowtieconvo, I’ve realized that as well as “knowing it when we see it” there are some keys to what everyone “sees” as leadership.
Here are the keys to leadership, as I have gleaned them from these #bowtieconvo chats.

  1. Have a vision:To establish that vision one must know one’s own talents.
  2. Cherish people:Find their talents and keep the passion for their work alive.
  3. Communicate:Foster listening as well as talking.
  4. Make decisions:To be consistent well over time, you’ve got to have a system.
  5. Nurture a healthy culture: Leaders create cultures. Cultures multiply results.

As well as knowing leadership when we see it, I’ve gleaned that most people think that leaders ask the right questions of the right people.

Here are the questions leaders ask.

  1. What is your dream?Ignite your passion and align your efforts.
  2. Do you deeply care for your people?Deeply and genuinely care for others.
  3. Are you connected with your people?Lead with your heart.
  4. Are you empowering your team? Provide clear goals, needed resources, and back-up.
  5. Are you proud, engaged, and happy?Most important of all because a team is a state of mind.

Do you want to become a leader? These lists didn’t come from research, but from listening to others, from listening to #leaders.

Join the #bowtieconvo every Tuesday at 7 pm CT on Twitter and tell us what you think of #leadership.

Need Help Boosting Your Social Media Posts? Check Out Datarank

If you are posting to social media to boost your business, it is important to know what days of the week get the most views and attention to your posts. This is dependent on the social media platform that you use. Datarank is a company that can help you decide what day to post and what platform to choose. In their recent blog post, Discover the Best Times to Post on Social Media, by using its analytic tools the folks at Datarank have found that posting to Facebook on Thursday and Friday get the most attention, while posting to LinkedIn in the middle of the week, Tuesday/Wednesday/Thursday will get that attention you are looking for. Twitter gets most views Monday – Thursday. But the research goes beyond just the day of the week and the platform, it also shows that the kind of post you make, and the demographics of your audience can be important factors. For a more in-depth look at what Datarank can help you learn about your social media postings, check them out!

Datarank can turn social insight into decisions that grow sales!

By Debby Winters

Start-Ups ‘Shame’ Bigger Companies as a New Tool in Trademark Fights

by Debby Winters-

As the economy recovers and competition heats up, trademark disputes are on the rise. According to U.S. district court records, trademark lawsuits rose 5% in 2011 to an all time high of to 3,692. These costly scuffles can be difficult for start-ups with limited resources. But a growing number of small business owners have begun fighting back using a tactic lawyers describe as “shaming,” or exposing what they view as baseless trademark infringement threats on the Web or through social-networking websites such as Facebook and Twitter.

The strategy has been useful in providing entrepreneurs with negotiating leverage. Wendy Seltzer, a Yale Law School Fellow founded the website Chillingeffects.org for just such a purpose.  The site will collect cease-and-desist letters in trademark disputes so the notices are posted online. But not everyone is convinced that social media can really help to deter big corporations from coming after the smaller entrepreneurs. Some feel that it won’t really deter the big corporations because after all,  intellectual property laws require them to be aggressive—even against minor infractions—or risk weakening the scope of their protections. Trademark law, as well as patent law requires the holder of the trademark or patent to go after others who are using it illegally.

Also, many trademark infringement claims raise legitimate concerns and shaming tactics can backfire by highlighting infringing conduct. However, social media gives defendants a new way to try to embarrass trademark owners who may be overreaching.

A recent example of this use of social media brings us to the story of a T-shirt maker in Vermont who received a cease-and-desist letter from Chick-fil-A Inc. when he began to use the slogan “Eat More Kale.” Of course we all know that the famous trademark slogan “Eat Mor Chikin” belongs to Chick-fil-A. When The T-shirt owner received the letter, he not only created a Facebook page and an online petition, which has several thousand supporters—including the governor of Vermont, but by adding a “donate” link, he has already raised more than $10,000 in his defense against giant Chick-fil-A. https://www.facebook.com/pages/Support-Eat-More-Kale/140912602685987

Sometimes customers use social media to shame bigger companies on behalf of a local business they patronize. In 2010, General Mills, Inc., holder of the Pillsbury Dough Boy trademark, sent a cease-and-desist letter to a Salt Lake City, Utah, baker then using the name My Dough Girl. One of her customers was so upset; he created a protest page on Facebook that attracted more than 2,000 fans in eight weeks. https://www.facebook.com/my.dough.girl.vs.pillsburycorporation

If these events had happened 10 years ago these stories would have been very different.  And many of the folks who turn to social media in cases like this say that they rarely used Facebook or Twitter before the dispute arose.

And while some small companies use this approach of using social media to shame these large companies into backing off, not all do. Recently in my hometown of Fayetteville, Arkansas, several businesses received letters from big companies. A woman who prepares organic, vegan food for customers who pick it up once a week and calls her business Lean Green Cuisine, received a letter from Nestle, the company that owns Lean Cuisine frozen foods, asking if she would be willing to change the name of her business. At first she was not willing to do so but eventually she gave in because she did not want to expense of fighting a big company like Nestle. Dairy Queen recently filed suit in federal court against the Northwest Arkansas business J.J.’s Grill over the use of the term “grill-N-chill.” Dairy Queen holds the trademark for the term “grill and chill.” Neither of these companies set up Facebook pages or posted on Chillingeffects.org. This must happen every day, but what doesn’t happen every day is the use of social media to fight back. But maybe it should.

I don’t know whether there is any trademark infringement in any of these stories. The crux of any actual claim is whether the use of the name or slogan creates customer confusion and whether there is a loss of profit from this confusion. Other factors are how long the two brands have existed and if the second brand would dilute the value of the existing brand. As in all areas of law the facts speak for themselves. But maybe in these cases, social media is doing a little of the talking for them.

Should 4,000+ Twitter Users Be Sued?

Remember when the giant music companies were suing people, even 12 year olds, for sharing music on popular websites like Kazaa and Limewire? That was almost a decade ago and now we may be faced again with hundreds, even thousands of lawsuits based on copyright infringement that will be once again be initiated by giant music companies. And yes, they could once again sue 12 year olds. What is it this time?

This time it will be people posting on YouTube or Twitter. Over 4,000-odd users have landed themselves on the radar of folks like Universal Music Group, Magnolia Pictures, and Paramount, as well as individual recording artists and other creative types simply by linking to a site where copyrighted material is available. And that was only the count for the year 2011. Sound familiar? These innocent users don’t think they are doing anything illegal, just like the users downloading music from Kazaa and Limewire did not understand why they were being sued in the early 2000s.

If SOPA had not been derailed, these 4,000-odd users would have just broken the law and may have been sued in federal court, just like 12 year olds were in the previous example.  That seems a bit ridiculous, doesn’t it?

If this happens, would Twitter be responsible? Twitter is really just a vehicle for its users to send information, so is it detrimental to free speech to claim Twitter is responsible for the content of this very information? Those that own the copyright or a license to this creative material sure think Twitter is responsible and may be sending cease and desist letters to Twitter and its users in droves. The size of the number of users that would have violated the law is indicative of the initial direct effects SOPA will have on social media censorship if passed.

If Twitter is named as such a rampant violator of copyright law, what will stop the Department of Justice from raiding the homes of these violators, in the same manner they took down Megupload and its founder?  SOPA must be stopped or the internet as we know it will no longer exist. This is censorship at its worst!

Debby Winters