Teamwork takes trust


What can you do if your co-workers aren’t working together as a team? You don’t have to throw in the towel.

According to Patrick Lencioni, author of “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team,” the absence of trust is the root of a lack of teamwork. You know you have trust when people engage in unfiltered conflict when discussing ideas. They admit weaknesses and ask for help. Dysfunctional team members conceal their weaknesses from one another and hesitate to ask for help.

It’s not a weakness to admit you don’t know everything and to ask for help. It takes courage to do so, and you display strength by admitting this. Any competent supervisor will appreciate your honesty and dedication to getting the job done correctly. If your supervisor isn’t competent, he or she may be afraid to show weakness. Showing your strength in this instance could be your chance to shine.

One of my former business professors, Dr. Jeff Myers, says that thought precedes communication. Try to think of one area you can improve upon and find a non-threatening way to mention this to a co-worker you think you can work well with. Use this as an opportunity to build a good working relationship with this person. If he or she shares a weakness with you, great. You’ve made a start at building a cohesive team that can communicate effectively. If this co-worker doesn’t reciprocate by opening up to you, then he or she isn’t going to be a reliable teammate anytime soon.

Beer battle at World Cup raises ethical questions


Last week’s World Cup event made the news for more than mere soccer. Dutch brewing company Bavaria received a great deal of press for pulling off a technique called ambush marketing.

Thirty-six young women wearing orange mini dresses associated with Bavaria were arrested by police during a World Cup game. Another beer company had the exclusive sponsorship rights. (Read about the incident here).

Ambush marketing is a marketing campaign that is staged during an event, such as a sports game, but does not involve the payment of a sponsorship or licensing fee.

The incident raises a number of questions. There are two basic considerations – the ethical and the legal.

The legal argument would amount to the fact the “ambushing” company didn’t pay a sponsorship or other fee to associate its brand with the event. Any association with the ambusher’s logo or name with the event’s name or logo could be grounds for a lawsuit.

Ethically, it would be wrong for the “ambusher” to use the event’s name or logo. But is it wrong for the “ambusher” to take this action?

Law and ethics do not always match up. Not everything that’s legal is moral. And vice versa.

The ambusher is doing an end-run around a legal agreement between the event’s sponsors and another company. But is it right for the company with the biggest checking account to be the only company in an industry to be associated with a particular event? Is that company’s director serving the shareholders faithfully? Or is ego a driver behind buying the exclusive sponsorship rights to an event? An argument in favor of exclusive sponsorships is that South Africa is a democracy and two legal entities have the right to enter into contractual agreements.

The South African police arrested the women who wore Bavaria’s colors. Here’s a great question: Does the police have a right to arrest people involved in a business contract dispute? These women should have been escorted out of the game, but arresting them went too far. Can you imagine the can of worms that would be opened as a result from police getting involved in every business dispute? Civil courts are much better designed to iron out the legalities of business contracts and freedom of speech.

Even if Bavaria had the right to conduct its unorthodox marketing campaign, the company may feel the legal repercussions long after the World Cup has ended. Undoubtedly we’ll see more such tactics at large sporting events because of the money involved and the desire of companies to find new ways to reach consumers.

Newspapers do not need the government’s ‘help’


The newspaper industry is facing perhaps its greatest threat in my lifetime. The Federal Trade Commission has drafted a document, “Potential Policy Recommendations to Support the Reinvention of Journalism,” which discusses the possibility of government involvement in newspapers. This document states ideas that have been proposed for government action that could “save” newspapers.

The document can be found here: http://www.ftc.gov/opp/workshops/news/jun15/docs/new-staff-discussion.pdf.

What are my initial reactions to this document?

First, it’s none of the government’s business how newspapers make (or don’t make) money. Do you enjoy it when your local paper reports politicians’ shenanigans such as wasting money, raising taxes, getting off on power trips or simply acting stupid? You can forget that happening if government money gets involved. Newspapers – especially in small towns — already fight a battle against giving in to advertisers’ pressure, whether it’s for photographing a silly ribbon-cutting or not running a story that might make an industry look bad. Can you imagine bureaucrats and image-crazed elected officials standing still for a newspaper shining the light of truth on their doings? I have witnessed a number of things at government meetings that officials would love to cover up, and government having fiduciary power over a newspaper will ensure that information never sees the light of day.

This document says to not worry about government funding for newspapers, drawing a comparison to public television funding. Well, I have news for them – public TV’s content is a controversial topic, and efforts have been made to censor it. Now imagine efforts being made to censor newspapers.

Nor are taxes an answer. Do you really want to pay taxes to support a private enterprise?

I trust the cleverness and experience of my colleagues to start making money once again from print advertising. People have been calling for the death of newspapers via the Internet for years now, as they once did with the advent of television news and before that, the advent of radio news.

Newspapers continue to make money, just not the glut of money they made in years past. Newspapers will change, but they will never die.

The government has absolutely no business being in the newspaper business, whether it’s in a form similar to public television or AmeriCorps. The Founding Fathers would spin in their graves if they knew about this government attempt to destroy the First Amendment.

The public can make comments here: http://public.commentworks.com/ftc/newsmediaworkshop/.

Holy cow – marketing can be fun, especially when bovines are involved


ATHENS, Tenn. – Marketing can be fun – especially when cows are involved.

The Athens area is well-known for its ties to the dairy industry. Lots of families have made a living from bovines. The Mayfield Dairies Farms Inc. empire is based here, after all, producing Brown Cow ice cream treats, milk and other delicious items.

The area’s dairy heritage will be celebrated this weekend during the National MooFest, a young yet growing festival dedicated to all things dairy. The Newman family got the idea for the event from the National Cornbread Festival in South Pittsburg, an event that draws thousands of visitors per year to that small town to celebrate cornbread (South Pittsburg’s tie-in is that Lodge cast iron cookware is located there). So, the Newmans launched MooFest several years ago.

This is the first year that MooFest will run for two days. Events will include music, a homemade ice cream contest, a contest for other dairy recipes, the “Moo-Pie Auction” for charity, lots of food to taste, and a carnival.

The MooFest will draw people to this area from throughout the region and showcase all this small community has to offer, from the nearby mountains to historical attractions like an old train depot in the city of Etowah. The hope is to make MooFest just as big an event as the Cornbread Festival in South Pittsburg. Marketing can be fun, and it can benefit an entire community.

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