Comfort Zones Don’t Fill My Heart

My heart is full.

It’s a good thing, since it’s February; the month that celebrates the heart.

I have a good friend and client who ponders the question of why we have all deemed the heart the center of our emotions. After all, he says, it’s simply a beating organ.

At some point in our history, right or wrong, the heart has taken on the burden of being home to our most personal emotions. A text message of “I love you” is often accompanied by a heart. The confession of “I don’t have hate in my heart” is followed by admiration. And uttering “My heart is yours” is about the sweetest thing we can ever say. Even a faster heartbeat is associated with falling in love.

So yes, my heart is full this February.

It’s full of gratitude for my health, my family, our DDCC clients and our team. It’s full, knowing that just because all of us at DDCC are prideful, we understand that we must always challenge ourselves to be better. We owe that challenge to ourselves and to our clients.

In our personal lives, being content and satisfied with our good intentions and family blessings is enough to hope for; in our business lives it has the opposite effect.

In our own business, and for our many clients large and small, we understand that stretching the limits with creativity and engineered approaches is a necessary commodity. It’s an absolute if we are in the business to help clients gain strength and grow. No one formula makes that happen; our clients deserve our “out of the box” approach for each scope every time.

That often means our team must step out of our comfort zones to climb to new heights. In fact, it’s inherent in DDCCs culture; good enough never is.

With thousands of projects under our belts, we know creating high-impact and emotional inspiration for customers and employees is a moving target. That’s why we have the confidence to encourage our clients to trust us and to challenge them to try new things that exactly match their needs.

Providing fresh design and web content to keep sites current, for example, is key to everything from SEO to establishing interest and credibility.

A well-thought-out social media plan capitalizes on projects where we are already involved.

Or adding peripheral lively content and current design to online and/or print newsletters builds relationships and cultures, plus increases readership.

There’s nothing emotional about it...great talent and ultimate effort—combined with extensive experience and the courage to innovate—net great results.

And that can make any client’s heart beat faster any time.

A Droopy Folder Doubles As a Time Machine;
and Spotlights the Power of the Written Word

My file cabinet at home was exploding.

I couldn’t remember the last time I had cleaned out my folders in that cabinet. The drawers were harder to close than my teenager’s sock drawer. It was time.

I decided to start with the folder that would take me the longest; figured it would be all down hill from there.

That folder was my journal; filled to the brim with scraps I had saved my entire life—poems, greeting cards, letters and notes that chronicled everything and everyone important to me at that particular time. It was, in fact, a lifetime of love and loss and celebration and thoughts all stuffed into a manila file folder that was slumped and worn. At the very least, I figured I would keep it all and replace the folder. That, in itself, would be progress.

I grabbed some coffee and my reading glasses (yup), plopped the folder on the kitchen table and began the lengthy process of reviewing every scrap inside. God forbid I would inadvertently throw away any small remembrance that I may not read again for 20-plus years.

I did not anticipate the result.

As I read every card, every note, every special article, letter or document, I was brought back to that moment in time. Events, moments and people I hadn’t thought about for so long—and some that I had—became instantaneously real. It was like they had happened just yesterday. Not only did I recount the times; I felt them too. The well-chosen words of battle and affection and significance were as real at that moment as they had been so many years before. It was like a time machine had been hidden in that droopy folder; one that gave special powers to all the words to deeply touch my heart and soul; brandish my smiles and elicit my tears.

The power of the written word, indeed, cannot be underestimated. The impact of writing meaningful words—and perhaps capturing them in a distinct handwriting or particular vernacular or sense of humor—truly transcends time. Clearly, those words were powerful enough for me to save for decades; the good, the bad and the ugly. It was all there to bring me back to important moments and twists and turns in the road. It made me feel whole and valued and blessed.

As our DDCC team continues to write stories, newsletters, advertisements, e-blasts, case studies, web content, social media posts and client company collateral for many of you, please trust that we are acutely aware of the impact it can bring. In fact, it’s that impact that gives our editorial department the pride and professionalism needed to reach your audiences and touch your customers. Thank you for the privilege of contributing a part to your company’s time machines. We can only hope our words will inspire you, your business, your employees and your customers to again feel the best of times; even after we have traveled many decades down the road together.

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Digital

A funny thing happened on the way to distributing one of DDCC's prized digital newsletters. The employees asked for it in print too.

DDCC’s original assignment was clear: Interview, write, design and produce a compelling and visual digital employee newsletter for 300 recipients inside this West Coast-based high-tech engineering firm. The company’s inside team had been putting together the newsletter themselves for the past two years using bits and pieces submitted from employees.

DDCC’s charge was to “kick it up a notch,” bring a journalistic, non-biased approach, add customer, department and employee profiles and brand and update the design. DDCC was asked to interact with the internal staff for their input, yet allow them to finally do their day jobs versus spending so much time on the newsletter—all requested within a strict corporate budget.

Somewhere in the process, executive management decided to try something a little different by printing every other issue and mailing it to employee homes. Keeping in mind the small added cost of less than $300 per issue for printing and mailing, these executives felt it would be a great way to include employees’ families and provide more reading opportunities at home. It would also allow a quality magazine approach to employee communications that couldn’t be achieved by simply clicking “print” on the PDF and stapling together random sheets of paper with grainy photos.

The internal newsletter team pushed back. “People will not want it printed,” they insisted. “Why go that route when things were working perfectly fine with only doing an interactive PDF?” After all, the piece had been elevated both visually and content-wise since DDCC had taken on the assignment.

The executives who believed in the print enhancement stuck to their guns: The first print issue was mailed with a splash; and employees came to the office for days speaking about the stories inside. The next newsletter was in digital format only with the same high-style design. Employees could click on cover-lines to read the stories. The next issue was print; the next digital, and so on.

After three months (two print issues and one interactive digital issue later), the Human Resources Vice President gave us a call. Could we convert the current digital-only issue into print and send a few his way? Some of the employees were asking.

The next request came after the next digital issue. “Please print some copies to send to us again,” asked the VP HR. “Featured employees are asking to bring home an issue to their families. And we are also using them as a recruiting tool.”

And so the decision was made to print every issue in addition to providing it as an interactive PDF on the company website. Employees were asking, families were interested and the print newsletter was just easier to enjoy for longer. Besides, the additional cost was minimal and employees who were printing it out from their computers made any paper savings a moot point. Even the internal newsletter team had to concede the point.

In this particular case, adding print was just the way to go. Employees felt special when they held a quality news piece from their company in their hands and in their homes; one they could share with their families. In the end everyone agreed that even in our digital world, solely using a click sometimes doesn't do the whole trick.

 

CAN HE CHANGE…PLEASE?

Every once in a while, I receive an assignment from a Fortune 500 company to provide Communications Coaching to an executive who’s gone rogue.

Here’s the usual profile:

“We have an officer who is extremely bright and is responsible for a very large P & L in our organization. This person is very good at what he does and his work is very good….but he gets lots of complaints from his team and from other departments in the company that he is brash and condescending. He can really come off as arrogant. Can you help?”