The Power Of Awesome

Post Author: Mic Johnson

I wrote a blog post in January 2014 called “The #1 Secret To Get Real ROI From Blogging.” In that article I talk about all of the ROI that came from meeting my friend Carol Bush, who I’d never met or even heard of until May 2013, when she sent me an email with the subject line “We Need Help.”

This is a story about the power of quality relationships…which is how smart business is done, friendships are made, and AWESOME happens. Carol had been reading the Blue Gurus blog for over a year before she ever reached out to ask for help. Since then our relationship has blossomed and the “ROI” for both of us has been more than we ever could have imagined. Carol has become a brand advocate for Blue Gurus…and vice versa.

Recently Jason emailed Carol thanking her for a referral. Shortly after Carol responded back to both of us with the email below. It’s an amazing feeling when someone pours their heart and enthusiasm out in a way that is so genuine and enthusiastic that you just can’t help but smile.

I wanted to share Carol’s email with our readers. I’m hopeful that it will inspire you…to reach out to someone…to try something new…to get outside of your comfort zone…to be someone who enthusiastically helps others. If you do, and you do it consistently, you too will feel….

The Power of Awesome.
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To Do List

To Do ListPost author: Mic Johnson

1. Be thankful for waking up.

2. Help someone who isn’t expecting it.

3. Laugh.

4. Hug at least 5 people.

5. Reach out to someone you haven’t seen or talked to in awhile.

6. Smile at every person you make eye contact with.

7. Finish one thing you’ve been putting off for awhile.

8. Spend 5 minutes alone in silence taking deep breaths.

9. See how you feel at the end of the day.

10. Get a good night’s rest. You earned it.

#micnuggets

Defining “Old School”

Post author: Mic Johnson

In my November 2014 blog post 3 Business Trends (I’m Thrilled About) That Are Coming Soon, one of the trends I talked about was “The Death of Old School Cultures.”

Not long after the post was published and shared with our social networks, I received an email from our friend and client Mike Chamberlain.

Mike told me he shared my blog post with a LinkedIn Group he’s in and someone in the group responded to the post saying:

“I’d love to know what the author was referring to as ‘old school’…”

R.I.P. Old School

R.I.P. Old School

I thought about it for a bit and realized that it was a great point. I routinely use the term “old school” when talking to people about many of the corporate cultures I’ve seen, been a part of, and heard about from others.

And when I use the phrase, most people nod their head in a “Yep, I know exactly what you’re talking about” kind of way.

It honestly never occurred to me that it needed defining. Now I’m sure that some people think that when they hear the term “old school”, that it references a person’s age.

And there’s no denying that, at least in my experience, many people that currently fall into this category are in the generations ahead of me and many of them are in positions of leadership.

But this isn’t about calling out a generation. The reality is many of us have a blend of generational characteristics. In fact, I often call myself a “Gen X’er with Y Tendencies” because many of the things that Millennials want in business (a voice, flexibility, technology, wanting to be a part of something bigger than themselves, etc.) are all things I wanted when I worked in corporate years ago.

But I never found it. And Generation X wasn’t a big enough group to make widespread, fundamental and seismic shifts in how organizations were run and how business was done. So many Gen X’ers just adapted, traded in their voice for “security” and benefits, and did pretty much what the Boomers before them did.

That won’t be, and isn’t, the case with Gen Y. By their sheer size, they will (and already are) change the way business is done…and will start forcing old school cultures to fundamentally change…or die.

Let me be clear: When I talk about “old school”, I’m not talking about age. I’m talking about outdated corporate cultures, mindsets, and yes, people, that have gone unchallenged for far too long. They are champions of the status quo. And they need to go.

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Mic Celebrates 5 Years and We Adopted El Centro!

Hi guys!  It’s Jason with our first blog post in 2015.  Happy New Year!

Mic Celebrates 5 Years With Blue Gurus!

I thought it would be appropriate to let you know that Mic is celebrating his 5th year as a Blue Guru this month.  Wow, it’s weird even writing that.  It doesn’t feel like it’s been almost 6 years since I started the company.  Crazy.

Please join me in congratulating Mic on sticking around this long and putting up with me these past 5 years.  :)

I really like Top Ten lists, so here’s my Top Ten list of why I love working with Mic Johnson:

  1. Mic Johnson 2014 He’s really, really funny.  He’s got a quick wit and he just makes me laugh.  Often.
  2. He’s helped me to see the value of balance and not scheduling myself with too much work in a given week.  That’s had a big positive impact on my personal life.
  3. He has no problem challenging me.  We actually enjoy the back and forth and the end result is always better.
  4. He’s been married a lot longer than me and offers good advice when I’m fighting battles with Trista that I shouldn’t.  It’s helped me to be a better husband.
  5. He’s helped me to better appreciate the value of what we do for companies.  And to price our services appropriately.
  6. He’s humble.  Even though he usually says that after talking about how awesome he is.
  7. He’s patient.  He handles adversity so well and keeps things from escalating.
  8. He’s organized.  Less clutter = less stress and Mic is a master at that.
  9. He’s got a big heart.  He cares deeply about friends, family and clients.  If anyone cares TOO much, it’s Mic Johnson.
  10. He’s willing to listen, learn and adjust.  And you can’t buy that.  It’s so rare.

Mic means a lot to me, and I really appreciate that we get to work together helping people!

Blue Gurus Adopts El Centro

We adopt a not for profit every month or so.  We spend a couple of hours giving our best to help organizations use web and social more effectively.

ElCentroLogoThis week, we adopted El Centro.  El Centro’s mission is “To strengthen communities and improve lives of Latinos and others through educational, social, and economic opportunities.”  We learned a lot about their organization and really enjoyed working with Clayton and Irene.  By the end of our time together, I felt like they had a good game plan for moving forward with their blogging and LinkedIn strategy to help their organization grow in 2015.  And it felt great.  They really appreciated our time and our advice and were excited to get going!

As always, thanks so much for reading.  Let us know if you have a LinkedIn, Blogging or WordPress question that we can cover in a future blog post.

Lessons From Loss…And One Of The Greatest Honors Of My Life

Post author: Mic Johnson

Missy WhalenIn July of this year I got word that my longtime friend Missy Whalen had been diagnosed with inoperable cancer. I’ve known Missy since grade school and she has always been like a sister to me. Her laugh was as infectious as anyone I’ve ever known…and I absolutely loved making her laugh.

Missy died on November 26th, the day before Thanksgiving. She was 43 years old.

I was asked on behalf of the family to write and read the eulogy. It was one of the most humbling and difficult things I’ve ever done….and one of the greatest honors of my life.

I’ve included a link to the eulogy below along with several thoughts from my experience over the last couple of weeks.

I’ll be honest. I don’t exactly know what you’ll take away from my experience, but I promise you this: If you take some time out of your busy day today…or save this post to read later…you will walk away with some perspective you didn’t have before.

Mic

‘Tis The Season For Updating Your LinkedIn Profile Picture!

Post Author: Jason Terry

Hello friends!  Today is December 3rd.  It’s the week after Thanksgiving and the day before my birthday.  It’s cold outside.  Most of the houses in my neighborhood have lights up and I’m starting to wrap presents.  It’s definitely time for the holidays!

On the business side, I think it’s a great tradition to create holiday cards for your clients and we make sure to do that every year. As part of the creation process, we take new headshot photos to use in our card.

Recently, we were at Helpers, Inc. with our friends Stacy Jones and Anne Cousin working on their new website together. (It’s live now, you can see the Helpers, Inc. website here.)  Their office is a beautifully renovated farmhouse and we thought it was a great location for us to take some updated photos.

Jason Terry 2014 Mic Johnson 2014 Read more

Are You Worried People Will Steal Your Clients or Employees Through LinkedIn?

Written by Jason Terry

Hello friends!  It’s time for another blog post from Blue Gurus about LinkedIn.  For those of you that don’t know, we do LinkedIn training for sales teams all over Kansas City.  And because of that, we get all kinds of questions.  Some of those questions we hear more often than others, and one of them is, “should I connect to my clients or employees on LinkedIn?  I am worried that our competitors might steal them if they knew we were connected.”  We get this question more often than you might think, especially from business owners.

Will They Steal My Clients or Employees?

My answer to this question is that as long as you are taking care of your clients and your employees you have nothing to worry about.  If they do leave, it’s probably something that’s outside of your control anyway.  Let me explain my perspective a bit. Read more

3 Business Trends (I’m Thrilled About) That Are Coming Soon

Post author: Mic Johnson

There are a few things I’ve been thinking about for quite some time that need to (and I believe will) happen in the business world. I’m not exactly sure when the transition will reach “there’s no turning back now” status, but I’m confident that it’s going to. If I had to guess, I would say (optimistically) we’ll start seeing the pendulum swing further in the direction of the items mentioned below in the next 3-5 years.

(Small caveat: When I’m talking about generations below, I’m generalizing. Many of us have a blend of generational characteristics. In fact, I’ve long referred to myself as a GenX’er With Y Tendencies. Ask me why the next time you see me and I’ll explain.)ComingSoon

1. More women (finally) in leadership positions.

Women are moving toward the glass ceiling and have hammers in BOTH hands (and maybe a spare or two in their purses). Just a few recent examples include:

There are 100 women in Congress for the first time ever.

The American Legion has appointed it’s first-ever female Executive Director.

Women are now 33% more likely than men to earn college degrees.

This TED Talk by Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg on “Why we have too few women leaders” has nearly 5 million views.

Elise Stefanik became the youngest woman ever elected to Congress.

And one of my favorites….There’s a Girl Scout troop teaching girls to be CEOs.

I’ve talked with my wife Missy and several other women about some of the things they’ve had to put up with in their careers and it blows my mind. Even worse, there was an unspoken, reluctant acceptance that it’s just something that women have had to deal with if they wanted to advance in their careers.

I have a strong sense that more and more women aren’t going to put up with this much longer. And when they get to those positions of leadership after playing the game for so long, they’re going to change the rules of the game…and, in many instances, they’ll be even more effective than the men they’re replacing.

2. The Death of Old School Cultures

Old school cultures, led by old school (predominately white) men, being forced to (finally) change because Millennials (and increasingly more Gen X’ers) won’t work for them or buy from them.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had conversations with people about this topic. Everyone rolls their eyes and shakes their head knowingly. We’ve all been around cultures and people like this.

So why do we stand for it?

If we’re honest with each other, people have put up with this BS for decades because they’re afraid of losing their jobs and are afraid to speak truth to power. And to make matters worse, many in power surround themselves with people who won’t question them and carelessly build cultures where people don’t have a voice.

So one bad decision leads to another, and another, and another. Eventually, the culture begins to implode on itself. We’re going to see a lot more of this in years to come in businesses that have gotten away with old school, ineffective cultures for far too long.

3. Increased Entrepreneurship

It’s already happening, but we’ll see increased entrepreneurship among GenX’ers and Millennials if/when old school cultures don’t change. I have many friends who have been at companies for several years now (or hopped from bad culture to bad culture), putting up with way more than any employee should ever have to, and who are disillusioned or on the path to disillusionment.

Something seems to happen when you hit 40 (or even earlier for some of the lucky ones). You start to question…

“Is this it?”

“Is this why I’ve worked so hard?”

“So that I can do the same stupid/boring job working for the same people who don’t listen and who don’t ask for or value my input?”

Millennials won’t make the same mistake as many of the GenX’ers before them, even it means they have to live at home a little while longer instead of working for a company culture and leadership that suck.

Bottom Line

The rarely mentioned GenX’ers (yes I’m one of them and yes I’m tired of our generation being ignored) weren’t a big enough group with a big enough voice to force this much needed and long overdue collective evolution.

That’s not the case with Millennials. As soon as they hit their stride as a generation (and it will happen), big changes will soon follow. We’re already starting to see ripples in the water. Eventually, they will become waves. For businesses, governments, and for Boomers and Gen X’ers, the choice is clear:

Get on board and ride the waves…or grab a life preserver and hope for the best.

3 Ways That Blogging Will Help You Grow Your Business and Increase Your Reputation

Hi friends!  It’s Jason this week talking about how important blogging is for your business and reputation.

I use the word “blogging” a lot in this post.  It’s a common term to describe the process of telling stories.  I know we’d agree that growing your business and reputation is driven by relationships and keeping those relationships engaged.  Creating relationships and maintaining relationships happens all day long.  Coffees, lunches, chamber events, social outings, sales calls, and interviews are just a few of the ways that we connect with people as we do business.

When we connect, we end up telling each other stories.  We laugh.  We cry.  We joke.  We’re shocked.  We’re amazed.  These emotional responses to stories are what build relationships and keep those relationships alive.

If I had to choose the most important thing that has helped me succeed in business, it would be that I really care about my relationships with people.  About making a positive difference in their lives.  And staying engaged with them through storytelling.

Here are 3 ways that blogging will help your business grow and increase your reputation

1) Blogging Will Get You More Referrals

Blogging - ReferralsMake a list of all the new clients you’ve earned in 2014.  Next to each name write down how you got that client.  For many businesses, new business is found through a referral from a peer or existing client.  Someone told them they should talk to you.  And they did.  And you impressed them somehow.  They believed that you would do what you said you would do for the price that you quoted.

I hope you agree that a big part of that belief comes from the trust they have in their friend that referred them to you.  Their friend wouldn’t have referred you in the first place if they didn’t trust you or have personal experience with you successfully delivering for them previously.

If a major portion of your new business is from referrals, it makes complete sense that you should do all you can to stay top of mind with your referral partners.  Coffees, lunches, golf tournaments and networking events are great ways to stay top of mind, but they do take time.  And the focus in these types of situations is usually on one person or just a few people.

With blogging, social media and email newsletters, you can tell your story on your website and get that story in front of people throughout the week.  It super charges your efforts to stay top of mind with people that will refer you business.  There is no question that it works… we have been helping companies do this successfully for years.

2) Blogging Will Strengthen Relationships With Your Current Clients

How often do you talk to your current clients?  Monthly when invoices go out?  Coffee at policy renewal time?  Lunch during the holidays to say thank you?  Whether you are a small business with dozens of clients or a larger business with hundreds of clients, it is a challenge to stay in touch with them.  You still need to fit in the coffees and lunches, but you could dramatically increase the number of times you “touch” a client throughout the year by blogging.

By telling your stories every week, you will end up letting your customers know all about you and your company.  They get to virtually meet your new team members when you write a profile blog post about them.  They get to see that you completed a great project for someone that they know.  (They might even realize that there is a product or service you have that they want when you tell that story!)  They get to learn something new or relevant when you talk about a topic in your industry.

The result is that you can stay in touch with your clients by blogging and getting the word out through social media and email.  It will reinforce their relationship with you and remind them why they chose to do business with you in the first place.

3) Blogging Can Impress Potential Customers And Help Close The Deal

I’m not sure if you have competition for your products or services, but most companies do.  Let’s say you’re an insurance company, a bank or an IT support company.  You have competition.  And the real truth may be that you and your competition are all selling the same thing.  You broker the same insurance policies.  You have checking and savings accounts with competitive rates.  You provide great IT support and keep networks up and running.

When you are selling basically the same product or service, the buying decision is definitely influenced by relationship.  They want to work with someone they trust.  Someone that is going to be there for them.  Someone that they like.

Blogging - Close The DealIf they have three proposals in front of them offering basically the same services for the same price, who are they going to choose?  If they do their homework, they will check out your LinkedIn profiles.  One person has no picture and 40 connections.  The next person has a great picture but the summary sounds like a resume and doesn’t feel “human”.  Your profile has a great picture, you have a couple hundred connections, and your summary tells a personal story of your professional journey.  The natural reaction is that they will trust you more than the other people.  They will have started to lean towards you because you seem like you have it together, work with a bunch of people and took the time to show that off professionally.

Next, they will check out your website.  The first person’s website looks like it was created in 1997 and the copyright at the bottom of the site proves it.  The next person has a beautiful website, but it is basically their sales brochure on the web.  Your website is beautiful as well, but you have the most recent blog posts on your home page.  They tell real stories about your clients, your people and what you care about.  They get a feel for you and your company because of these stories.  This reinforces their feelings that you are a good company that can deliver, and that can definitely help close the deal.

Conclusion

There are so many other ways blogging can help your business grow.  It can improve internal communication and ultimately make your team even more proud to work at your company.  It can  help you hire better people that check out your website during the hiring process.  It can prove that you and your team are subject matter experts in your field.  It can show people that you are a company made up of good people that will be able to help them.

There is no question that blogging is here to stay.  If you aren’t doing it, I hope this gets you thinking about why you should be doing it.  If you need help, give us a call.  That’s what we do for companies all over Kansas City.

#BeRoyalKC: Oh Yes…It’s A Great Time To Be In Kansas City!

Post author: Mic Johnson

Can you feel it? Can you feel the energy and buzz throughout the entire city? Unless you don’t have a pulse, of course you can!

I’ve been in Kansas City since 1994 and have never seen, or felt, anything like it. Yes, it’s a great time to be in Kansas City. And all of the things we locals have known for years are now on display for the entire world to see.

With that in mind, I wanted to share some of my thoughts on just how PUMPED I am about all of the cool things going on throughout the city, starting with the…

Kansas City Royals

MicandMissyRoyalThere’s absolutely no debating this one. The Kansas City Royals, in the playoffs for the first time in 29 years, is the best story in town. Scratch that, it’s the best sports-related story in the COUNTRY right now!

Outside of the three other fan bases left in the Major League playoffs, everyone is loving on our Kansas City Royals. My wife Missy and I were fortunate enough to go to the Wild Card game and Game 3 of the ALDS.

Brandon Cale Royal FountainThose were two of the most amazing experiences of our lives. I can’t even describe the energy and pride that flowed throughout Kauffman Stadium. It was a magical experience.

Yes, buildings are going blue and the fountains are too (my friend Brandon Cale, owner of The Popperazzi, took this picture of the J.C. Nichols Memorial Fountain). And of course Royals merchandise is flying off the shelves.

There’s no doubt about it. The Royals have brought an energy and excitement to Kansas City that I’ve never seen before.

And it’s absolutely awesome.

Kansas City Chiefs

Chiefs Kansas City loves it’s football and there are few things more enjoyable than a Kansas City Chiefs game at Arrowhead Stadium. The tailgating, the smells, the sounds, the roar of the loudest fans in the NFL….you can’t beat it.

They got off to a rough start in their home opener, but then dominated the New England Patriots on Monday Night Football…just one night after the Royals beat the Oakland A’s in the Wild Card Game.

Make no mistake: Those were two of the best back-to-back nights in Kansas City sports history.

Sporting Kansas City

SportingKCKansas City’s other “futbol” team, Sporting Kansas City, coming off of an incredibly exciting MLS Championship last season, recently clinched a spot in the playoffs.

I openly admit to not being the biggest soccer fan in the world, but I’ve gone to a few SportingKC games and they’ve been a blast every single time. If you haven’t been to a game, head out to their incredible stadium during the playoffs. You won’t regret it.

Travel & Leisure Taps Kansas City As The #3 Favorite City For 2014

Travel & Leisure Travel & Leisure had their 8th annual survey this year and picked Kansas City as the #3 Favorite City for 2014.

They gave Kansas City props for our Christmas lights, art scene, free attractions, affordability, and more.

BBQ, BBQ, And More BBQ

Joe's Kansas City logoThere are so many great BBQ places in Kansas City and the list just keeps on growing. Here are just a few, but the reality is you can rarely go wrong if you go into any BBQ joint in the city.

Joe’s Kansas City (my personal favorite)
Jack Stack
Arthur Bryant’s
Q39

Best Of Kansas City 2014

The PitchThe PITCH recently came out with their “Best of Kansas City 2014” awards.

Looking for the best doughnuts in Kansas City? What about the best hidden gem? Best florist? Best restaurant? Best bar?

They’ve got it all covered.

Nice People

It seems like everytime I talk to someone who is visiting Kansas City for the first time, they always say “The people are so nice.” And my response is always “That’s the way it’s supposed to be!”

Don’t Forget…

Also, don’t forget about the National World War I Museum at Liberty Memorial, the Boulevard Brewing Company, the Historic City Market, the Power and Light District, and the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts.

Yes, it’s a great time to be in Kansas City. I’m so very proud to call this place home. #BeRoyalKC

What other great things are going on in Kansas City that you want people to know about? Leave a comment below to share with the rest of our readers!