Karen Swim

Writer, Marketer, Woman of Purpose

Corner Office – Kasper Rorsted – E-Mail Can’t Replace Interaction

Q. Do you remember the first time you were somebody’s boss?

A. That was in 1989, right when I got promoted from being a sales rep in the Digital Equipment Corporation to being a sales manager at the age of 27. I had about 20 people at that point in time. All but two of them were older than I was.

Q. Was that a good experience?

A. When you’re 27, you’re inexperienced, so you don’t know what to fear. I didn’t know what I probably should have known. The first time I realized it was serious was when, after about six months, I had to lay somebody off. And then suddenly you move from the sunny side of the deal to the real deal. I remember I was sleeping very poorly for almost for a week. He had a family.

So one of the lessons I learned from that, which I’ve been very aware of since, is to be friendly, but not a friend. I had grown up in the company and I knew everybody, so I was more a friend. But then I had to start having honest conversations with people about how they performed, and that taught me a lesson. I’ve always been friendly but never been friends anymore. When we have parties, I’m the one who will leave early.

Q. What were some other lessons?

A. Later on in my career, I realized that there is nothing personal in business because most decisions are made for business reasons.

Q. How did you learn that?

A. In 2004, I was dismissed by Hewlett-Packard. My immediate reaction was to take it very personally and say, “What are they doing to me?” I was running a division with 40,000 people and $30 billion in revenue. I learned a lot from that.

Within a month, I had 11 job offers, all in high tech, and I had one that came from a completely different industry. It was from Henkel, a consumer goods and adhesives company. And I decided I would take the job offer from Henkel because there was a clear path I could see to get the C.E.O. job.

But I realized when I came in that I had no clue. I didn’t know the industry. I didn’t know the employees. I didn’t know the customers. I didn’t know the competitors. And when you grow up in an industry, you tend to know more and more, and a lot of people, me included, become a bit complacent or arrogant because you know it all. You’ve seen all the problems before.

Here, I had to start from scratch again. It was like going back to first grade in school and I had three years of questions. It was a reminder of just how important it is to ask questions and listen and listen and listen and just be humble again. It was a great lesson for me, and I think I’ve changed my leadership style, to be much more humble and listen much more and ask questions.

Q. It was your first C.E.O. job. Were you surprised by anything?

A. I was surprised about a couple of things. One was how much conflict actually ends up at the C.E.O.’s desk. All of the problems that nobody else wants or can’t sort out, they end up on your desk. And there’s the immense amount of time you deal with people, and how important it is for you to be there and be visible, not sitting in the office, so people can see you and feel you and ask you things instead of just sending an e-mail.

Q. How would you say your leadership style has evolved over time?

A. I do less e-mail and a lot more of being present. Last year, I just moved my office to the U.S. and traveled around for six weeks without going home. This year, I’ll go to Asia for six weeks and will visit as many sites, employees and customers as I can. So that’s one — just understanding how important it is to be where the business is and understand how it works. The second part is being very clear on what is urgent and what is important and being very selective about the battles I pick.

Q. You mentioned you’re doing less e-mail.

A. I think e-mail is very often disruptive in corporate cultures. You sit next to people and send e-mail to each other instead of walking over or making a call or just trying to look for the personal interaction. I use e-mail more and more as text messaging — just very, very short messages. It’s very efficient, but I am convinced that e-mail does not replace presence. Also, I never read cc e-mails.

Q. What do you mean by that?

A. When I see on an e-mail “cc Kasper,” I delete it. I don’t read it.

Q. Why?

A. Because it’s a waste of time. If they want to write to me, they can write to me. People often copy me to cover their back.

They need to deal with their business and I need to deal with my business. If it’s important, they need to write it to me, but I’m not going to read a cc e-mail. I’m not advocating against e-mail, but you can get into a great argument in e-mail because people can read whatever they want into the words. It takes two minutes to pick up the phone, so I try to encourage that as much as I can. It’s not either/or. I’m just saying you’ve got to get the balance right.

Q. And when you became C.E.O., did you already know who you were going to keep on the executive team because you’d been working with them?

This interview with Kasper Rorsted offers some interesting insight from a seasoned leader. You can read the entire article here: http://nyti.ms/9Umuj4
I believe that new leaders can benefit from the advice but I was most interested in his views on communication, since I am exploring these very issues in a series of posts this week. I share his views on email and have seen gross misuses that lead to complete breakdowns in communication. Conversations, especially the ones we often wish to avoid are best handled by real human interaction.

What are your thoughts?

August 31, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Dappled Leaves of Joy

Chlorophyll gives leaves their green color and...
Image via Wikipedia
“You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.”–Psalm 16:11

This morning I woke up to sunlight streaming through the windows. I had slept with the windows open and there was a gentle breeze that set the tone for a peaceful day. I laid for a moment enjoying the sound of the fountain outside and the pattern the sunlight made on the vibrant green leaves of the tree as the branches gently swayed in the morning breeze. I arose from the bed giving thanks and spent some time just looking through the window enjoying the serenity. It was not the first sunny morning I had seen , it was not even the first this week but  today I did not want to take for granted the beauty that had been served up to mankind. I was so thankful for peace – inside and outside. I recognized the incredible gift of being able to fully enjoy the small moment of a morning filled with sunshine. How many others had awakened this day to challenge or grief? How many were fighting to grasp peace in the midst of chaos thrust upon them by life. Having just come through a long season where my life resembled the valley of dry bones (Ezekiel 37:1-2), I understood that not all days are this easy. So it is with a grateful heart that I truly give thanks for the respite from the storms of life, for relaxing by the still waters, for the sunlight that streams through my window and for the ability to say it is well with my soul, it is well.

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August 28, 2010 Posted by | Personal Essay | , , | 2 Comments

Beauty for Ashes

ash pile from other wood what was burned
Image by bradleygee via Flickr

Beauty for Ashes has long been one of my favorite Crystal Lewis songs, the words haunting and speaking of a celebratory redemption following  a struggle. I adored Crystal who was 5 ft of boundless energy who seemed to reflect a never ending joy for Jesus.When the song first came out  I was in my 20s believing that I was adult and wise. I closed my eyes and sang the song but it would be two decades before I fully understood what it meant to have my Lord give beauty for ashes.

Kneeling in a pile of my own ashes feeling that life itself had burned down around me leaving me weak and battered the words came flooding back with a force that overwhelmed me. I raised my head to the sky and allowed the tears to come in gulping waves of hope. I read the words of Job aloud, sobbing with understanding and filling my heart with fragile hope that my part two was nigh. I would not be left alone to scratch the boils of my soul with shards of pottery. Though I wanted to simply lie down in my misery He said “live.”

“So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord and afflicted Job with painful sores from the soles of his feet to the top of his head. Then Job took a piece of broken pottery and scraped himself with it as he sat among the ashes.”–Job 2:7-8 (NIV)

Beauty for ashes, strength for fear. No one but Christ could take that which had been burned to nothing but ash and resurrect it into even a semblance of beauty. The smoke of my disaster clouded my vision stinging my eyes and mouth but He gently picked up the ash in His hands and brought beauty from the ruins.

I had lost so much but standing there fear was replaced by strength. Not strength to fight but strength to simply stand and allow His hand to guide me away from the rubbish to the beauty that was just ahead.

I had to be torn down, broken and standing in the pile but now I know His power in ways I could not have imagined at age 20. I now know what I did not know in the ignorance of youth -He is capable of creating beauty from the ugliness we create but this beauty is for ashes. While He does not orchestrate or take joy in my suffering, when I hand Him my brokenness, my ashes, He trades it for beauty – a beauty that is unique because it requires me to give willingly the pile to Him. Just as He traded His blood for me, all He asks is that I surrender my ash to Him. And so at 46 I now finally understand words that now bring tears to my eyes for I have lived it:

He gives beauty for ashes

Strength for fear

Gladness for mourning

Peace for despair

Today will you hold on to your ashes or trade for His beauty?

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July 7, 2010 Posted by | Personal Essay | 4 Comments

ARMANDO ROBBERY! « Detroit Sports Nation – Blog

As a sports fan and Michigan resident I am no stranger to bad calls. Every team in every sport has had them and when they happen in games that really matter – final seconds of a playoff, last play in OT or in this case in a game that would have been perfect – well, it is heart wrenching.

Poor Jim Joyce. Here is a man who had quietly built a solid career for years. There were no scandals, no protests calling for his firing. He made a mistake, a big one and now his career is being measured by one fault. How many have had years of hard work erased by a single error, a bad call? How many have quietly built a career of proven successes only to receive the spotlight when they blow it?

And how many can relate to Armando a player who worked hard, stepped to the plate and pitched a perfect game only to lose his rightful recognition because of the call of someone in authority?

We all have the potential to be the umpire or the player. We can allow one call to change our destiny or we can like Jim, admit our mistake and get back in the game, and like Armando dust it off and step up to the plate persevering to repeat our success.

Posted via web from Marketing, Musings and More from Karen Swim

June 4, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Will Your Story Be Written?

“No one is ever defeated until defeat has been accepted as a reality.” — Napoleon Hill

I was so inspired by this story that I shared it on Facebook and wrote about it in my newsletter today. This young woman is nothing short of remarkable in my book. Yet, as I read her story I pondered all the wonderful stories I’ve heard of those who overcame adversity, obstacles and impossibilities to reach their dreams. Thomas Edison, Helen Keller, Wilma Rudolph, Larry Page and Sergey Brin and so many others.

We can all list long names of those who inspire us not to give up. But what about the stories that never get written, the ones we will never read? There are many more people who fall prey to “three fee from gold syndrome” whose tales will never be known. The “would have been’s” who gave up after one or several attempts.

How will you know what you can accomplish if you give up when the results are not immediate? We all have a choice to fight for what we really want or walk away when we fail or it gets too hard. We can be among the millions with unwritten story or we can be courageous enough to be remarkable in whatever way we choose.

Posted via web from Marketing, Musings and More from Karen Swim

May 24, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Linkedin for Sales: Resume or Sales Letter? | Better Closer

Excellent tips for sales professionals and others on maximizing your LinkedIn profile. Bill Rice’s advice is spot on. LinkedIn is an excellent tool that is vastly underutilized. These tips can help you make the most of your LinkedIn presence.

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May 21, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

B.L. Ochman’s blog: Some Social Media Search Tools I Like: I’ll show you mine if you show me yours.

By B.L. Ochman
Trying not to drown in the fire hose of information, research is king, content is queen and context is key in my life. I start every project, every post, and all my shopping with search of one type or another. Trust me when I tell you that I totally lack the technical gene, so you know that none of these are complicated to use.

media_firehose.pngHere are some of the tools and apps I like for social media search. Got others?

  • Twitseek: enter a URL, hashtag or keyword and it finds Tweets related to them

Hashtags.org tracks #hastags and also trends each one and shows you most popular ones

  • Poll Everywhere lets you poll by SMS, Twitter or the Web in real-time. It replaces clunky audience response hardware at events and lets people use their phones to respond.
  • Kikin kills me! It augments Google searches with relevant information from my social media contacts. So, if I’m shopping, I can get opinions, prices, see reviews and more, without ever leaving the product page. There’s a good review on Techcrunch.
  • Tweetscan Twitter search tool that updates every second and will send you emails when your keywords are mentioned, or let you back up your Twitter stream, which Twitter purges regularly
  • Twitscoop searches and tracks search terms, can create a graph of results if there’s enough data. It’ll show the trend for your keyword activity/popularity
  • Tweepsearch twitter profile and bio search by keywords
  • Twitstat searches and also shows search trends
  • Twitter Search (formerly Summize) isTwitter’s own search engine, and the advanced version is very robust
  • Backtweets : enter a URL and it finds Tweets that linked to it.
  • Mr. Tweet recommends people to follow, communities to join, communities your friends and followers are in, and hot topics in communities.
  • Tweetmi displays the most active Twitterers and top stories from the people you follow. So it’s a personalized aggregation of your feed, displaying the the real-time conversation.
  • One Riot is a real-time search engine that crawls the links people share on Twitter, Digg and other social sharing services, matches them to trending topics on Twitter or ones you search.
  • Collecta does a real-time meta search on topics you choose, and, unlike most other search tools, saves your searches for future use.
  • The future of search is the semantic web, and Facebook and Google are in a race to create the best search vehicle to enable engines to understand and relate the words and pictures and objects on a page rather than just build an index of words. “AND,” says Stephan Weiss of Facebook, “it will enable us to better understand the questions you’re asking.” While Google Buzz‘ complex interface has made it largely a failure, Facebook’s controversial new Social Graph is thought by many observers to be a successful enactment of the semantic web.

    Google Goggles, available (for now) only for Android phones, is major step in the right direction. It lets you search Google using pictures from your camera phone, returning relevant results from the photos.

    The semantic web was part of Sir Tim Berners-Lee’s original vision of the web when he invented it back in 1989. We’re not there yet, but we will be soon.

    Bonus Link: Drinking from the media firehose: news is right now, the rest is history

    Image:By the always-fabulous Drue Kataoka at ValleyZen

    Nice list of social media tools from B.L. Ochman, review the full post here.

    Posted via web from Marketing, Musings and More from Karen Swim

    April 26, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

    How to be Bold in Business

    1st Samuel 17:37
    Image by ramoo76 via Flickr

    I woke up this morning thinking of the often told story of David and Goliath. I felt energized and ready to slay the “giants” in my own life. Goliath was a giant. He towered over his enemies at nine feet tall and wore armor made of bronze. I can imagine that as he stood and challenged the Israelites that his voice boomed out across the land. By comparison the Israelites surely resembled a scrappy band of would be warriors.

    I have often read this story with thoughts of the personal challenges in my life but today I am struck by the business application. There are times that I feel like a scrappy little underdog who doesn’t stand a chance against those who tower above me in professional stature. Can you relate?

    David, was far from a giant, yet he never once questioned his place on the battlefield. He got excited about the rewards that would be given and confirmed three times what the victor would received. He volunteered to take down the giant because God had been faithful in the past, and David believed that God was with him. He said, “The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.” (I Samuel 17:37)

    He may have been a lowly shepherd boy but with God on his side he had past successes and he had not doubt that God did not care if it were a lion or a giant, it could be slain.

    I admit to having my moments of doubt. When faced with bigger opportunities, or new challenges I wonder if I’m up to the challenge. Today, I am reminded that I don’t need to fear the giants and their fancy armor, for God has already shown me that He is with me. While I may fear a new “challenger” God does not. Today, I stand like David knowing that He who delivered me in the past can surely deliver me today.

    So, I pick up my smooth stones and stand firmly knowing that I can boldly take my place and claim my reward!

    What about you?

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    April 19, 2010 Posted by | Personal Essay | , , , , | 3 Comments

    Rose Sky

    The sky blushed with soft shades of rose, clouds softly rolling in darkening the sun

    A heart that was heavy lifted as emotions floated on the wind, I exhaled and the sky blushed.

    Soft droplets of rain falling gently from the folds of lavender robes as a clap of thunder trumpeted the arrival of a majestic display of power and humility

    Branches bowed low in worship, leaves danced in delight

    Emotion seeped from hidden spaces, riding waves of tears pushing past floodgates of fear

    The sky blushed and I exhaled.

    Posted via web from Marketing, Musings and More from Karen Swim

    April 18, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | 2 Comments

    Brand Autopsy: GreenBox is Marketing Done Right

    Thanks to Brand Autopsy for this post on a clever, eco friendly twist on the pizza box. Changing the game is an excellent way to stand out in the market. Maybe you didn’t have the brilliant idea of remaking the pizza box but there are many small ways we can all change the game.

    Posted via web from Marketing, Musings and More from Karen Swim

    April 6, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment