Communication: Let's Talk About It.

bossfight-free-high-stock-photos-telephone-red-wire.jpg

By Katie Torres

Have you ever played the telephone game?

It never ceases to amaze me how the message can start so clearly with the first person, and end up so completely misinterpreted by the last.

I loved this game as a kid. But as an adult, in real life, it would be pretty frustrating if this is how we communicated with one another.

And yet, we sometimes do.

Has your company ever made a decision and passed down the information through managers, rather than taking the time to meet together or even pass out the same memo to everyone?

Hopefully not, but it has happened. This creates all kinds of confusion and misunderstanding when the messenger doesn't get the message exactly right.

Great communication is key to ensuring the message stays in tact, and is understood by everyone.

But a mixed-up-message is not the only thing we need to be concerned about when it comes to communicating properly.

So, here are a few ways in which we can make sure our communication stays strong within our companies.

1. Make sure the message is complete in all details to avoid misunderstanding.

The message you communicate must be complete. Leaving out important details means more follow up questions have to be asked, and there is more room for error if the message is communicating a task that needs to be completed.

If the message is a written one, read what you have written before sending. Make sure all details are included. If it is a verbal message, think about what you need to communicate before speaking.

2. Communicating well means crafting your message with care.

If you are writing a message to someone but use terrible grammar, the message can be easily misunderstood, and the sender could even be viewed as careless.

The person on the receiving end of your message should be able to clearly understand what you are saying. Remember: "Let's eat, Grandpa!" is not the same as, "let's eat Grandpa!"

3. Be considerate of your audience.

The way you speak to a coworker is different than the way you speak to a customer.

For instance, a mechanic might go into greater detail when communicating with another mechanic, but when speaking to a customer, the message would be simplified to make it understandable. 

In this case, lesser detail may be better. A customer coming in with a broken spark plug does not need to know how the spark plug works - they just need it fixed.

If you speak to all audiences the same way, you can't expect everyone to understand exactly what you're saying.

Taking the time to communicate well will save you from misunderstandings and mistakes.

It is the backbone of a business that runs smoothly, so it truly pays to do it well.

Fun Friday

Happy Friday!

This week at Envoy, we played a game where we all shared our favorite concert experiences. There is a blank copy at the bottom in case you want to copy and paste to share your answers, too.

But first, a video of some kids who really know how to enjoy music.

boss-fight-free-high-quality-stock-images-photos-photography-crowd-music-concert.jpg

PRESTON
Best “ROCK” concert you’ve been to: Foo Fighters (face was melted for 3 hours, Laney had to lay down on gross Gwinnett Arena floor due to exhaustion, I stayed standing and rockin #badhusband ) 

Best “POP” concert you’ve ever been to: Coldplay - Viva La Vida tour (wish I had gone to the Mylo Xyloto one)

Best “OTHER” you’ve ever been to: tough…..Outkast at Music Midtown before some of y’all were born or Zac Brown Band

Your favorite concert of all time: Needtobreathe - The Tabernacle

Coolest concert/concerts/music midtown event you have ever been to: U2, Southern Ground Festival (Zac Brown/country/rock/food festival in Charleston) Music Midtowns - assorted and yes, 21 bracelets @heather ….still remember hearing some guy yell “My name is Kiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiid “ at one of his first concerts to go big while holding a Lite Tall Boy

boss-fight-free-high-quality-stock-images-photos-photography-smoke-mist-musician-music.jpg

JOSH
Best “Other” concert you’ve been to: Jimmy Buffet
Best “Rap” concert you’ve ever been to: Ludacris - Music Midtown
Best “OTHER” you’ve ever been to: Luke Brian
Your favorite concert of all time (that you attended, and would go again like tonight if you could) Band AND Venue: U2 bartended in the Dome for a private party in a super suite
Coolest concert/concerts/music midtown event you have ever been to: Dome was my favorite. 

boss-fight-free-high-quality-stock-images-photos-photography-shoe-music-equipment.jpg

SCOTT
Rock: Vampire Weekend at the Tabernacle
Pop: Imogene Heap at the Tabernacle
Other: Charles Bradley at the Tabernacle (was an opener)
Best Ever: Band of Horses at the Tabernacle in New Years Eve 2008/2009

boss-fight-free-high-quality-stock-images-photos-photography-guitar-song.jpg

KATIE

Best “OTHER” you’ve ever been to:  The three I've seen have all fallen under the "other" category; Paramore (genre neutral), twenty one pilots (alternative, rap), and We The Kings (what we scene kids used to listen to in high school). And We The Kings was cool because I got to sing with the lead singer after the concert.

Your favorite concert of all time (that you attended, and would go again like tonight if you could) Band AND Venue: Paramore @ the Fox Theatre in Detroit, only this time I'd do it front row. 

boss-fight-stock-images-photos-free-people-rock-concert.jpeg

JUSTIN
First Concert I went to was Eminem!

(Justin didn't exactly play the game right, but at least he's reppin' for Eminem.)

Your turn! Post your answers in the comment section of our status. Here's your copy to play:

Best “ROCK” concert you’ve been to:

Best “POP” concert you’ve ever been to:

Best “OTHER” you’ve ever been to:

Your favorite concert of all time (that you attended, and would go again like tonight if you could) Band AND Venue:

Coolest concert/concerts/music midtown event you have ever been to:

How Your Perspective Changes Your Learning Experience

boss-fight-free-high-quality-stock-images-photos-photography-satelite-earth.jpg

By Katie Torres

I vividly remember the day I learned that Abraham Lincoln was the 16th president of the United States.

The excitement I felt to tell my mom that little fact was overwhelming. I literally could not wait to tell her what I learned.

And then, some years later, there was a shift in my attitude toward learning.

Learning became a burden.

It became six hours a day in a hard desk chair, my only "escape" being recess in elementary, and eventually just lunch in high school.

It became hours of forced homework and the punishment of a bad grade if I didn't do it.

It became failed tests because I felt too overwhelmed to even try to study.

Learning no longer excited me. If I'm being real honest, it just made me angry.

The curious mind that once longed for exploration was gone. 

Somewhere along the lines, it just changed. And learning was no longer something I desired; it was something I resented.

I wish I had the wisdom back then that I have now.

I wish I had realized that learning is not a burden, or a task to check off the list.

Learning is the way we live life. 

My attitude may have changed along the way, but the truth about learning had not. I just had a flawed perspective.

Learning opens doors. It shows us what we need to know to be successful, and it fills us with experiences.

There is no way you can book a ticket overseas if you don't ever learn how to manage finances.

You can't write a novel if you never learn how to write.

You can never even hold conversation if you don't learn how to speak as a toddler. 

Learning is so vital. Don't ever be deceived into thinking it's a burden.

Whether you have another training this week for work, or you have hours of homework piled up for that college course, remember that every bit of it will help you.

And if you have the proper perspective, it can even be exciting.

What have you learned that has made your life richer? Share it with us in the comments, and hold onto the excitement of learning.

Stop Playing the Comparison Game

boss-fight-free-high-quality-stock-images-photos-photography-iphone-instragram.jpg

By Katie Torres

Our CEO loves to share blog posts written by Seth Godin. 

He shared one a few weeks back that particularly struck me as inspiring (here's the link if you want to read it for yourself).

His post was about our tendency to compare ourselves to the lives of others, particularly when it comes to how we view them on social media.

His point was that holding ourselves to a standard that isn't even necessarily based in reality is not the best way to determine our own success.

I finished reading his post, and just as I have after reading all of his blog posts, I felt extremely inspired...and also a little discouraged.

You see, Seth Godin writes exquisitely. He says all that he needs to say, usually in a very small amount of space. He writes so well that he doesn't even need to take up 500 words to be inspiring.

So I often compare my own writing style to his, and it's no wonder I feel like I'm missing the mark somewhere.

And then I realized...I was doing exactly what he said we shouldn't do.

I was comparing my own success to the success of someone I've never even met, based on a beautiful, polished post that he published on the internet.

It truly is a reality that his writing is great. But, what about the parts of his blog that I don't see?

I don't see how much time it takes for him to come up with great ideas.

I don't see the work he puts into editing his words before perfecting them.

I don't see the years he's spent working at what he does, to get to where he is now.

Does my writing need work? Sure. It always will, no matter how great it gets.

Do you need to practice and keep working to get better at what you do? Absolutely. We all do.

But playing this comparison game does not benefit us.

Let's appreciate what others bring to the world, without sinking into discouragement if we don't think we're as talented (or as beautiful, or as smart...etc.)

We can appreciate others and improve ourselves at the same time.

In fact, maybe the beginning of self-improvement starts only when we choose to end the comparison game.

4 Practices to Build Good Reputation in Your Business

bossfight-free-high-stock-photos-man-woman-working-computer-apple-brand-logo.jpg

By Katie Torres

Your reputation in business is what makes you or breaks you.

One bad word about your company can have a devastating effect on sales, and on the trust you have with customers - especially if you are a new company who is not yet well known.

Most people already know that being a business of integrity is important. But how does a business accomplish that? How can you make it known to others that you are what you say you are?

Even the most reputable of companies can run into problems if a few key areas are not being payed attention to, so it pays to work on these areas before issues arise.

Let's talk about these key areas:

1. Strong communication is a must. 

It is extremely important that everyone involved is aware of what is going on. When a message gets sent to one person, but another is not up-to-date on the plan, it sets everyone up for misunderstanding.

When misunderstandings happen, it paints a negative picture about the company. It is so easy for someone to look at what they thought the plan was supposed to be, and wonder why the other person didn't follow through.

Communication fixes this. So invest time into how you communicate.

2. Documentation will save you in a pinch.

Document everything. 

When changes are made in plans, or when issues come up, someone needs to make note of this. You need a detailed record of what has happened so that if a problem does arise, you can backtrack to the source of the issue and find a solution.

When information is not properly documented, a business loses credibility in situations where something has gone wrong and they have no way to explain it. 

Documentation protects you from misunderstandings, and also from false claims made against you. Don't skip out on it.

3. Do your best, but don't make promises you can't keep.

You should always be doing everything you can to serve your customers. If they have a need, offer them the best solution you have to meet that need. But do not make promises that are so beyond reach that you cannot keep them. 

And if for some reason you can't accomplish what you've promised, you need to be honest with the customer and explain to them what has happened. Keeping it in the dark does not work. It comes out eventually, and becomes a much larger issue if you have tried to hide it.

Being open and honest with your customer is the best way to keep trust, and smooth things over when they have gone wrong. 

4. Understand that when mistakes are made, it is possible to resolve them.

It may take some time and some extra effort on your part. But do not give up the first time a customer is not happy with your service.

Rather than trying to cover up the mistake or talk your way out of it, just keep doing everything you can to keep open communication and to serve your customer.

Going above and beyond in every situation is how good reputation is built. 

You don't need to fear the opinions of others if you are doing everything you can to serve them. 

What will you do this week to build a good reputation?

How to Manage Time When You Don't Have Enough of It

bossfight-free-stock-photos-ipad-calendar-apple-brand-logo-keyboard.jpg

By Katie Torres

Finally settling down to rest after a long week of work is what most of us look forward to from the time Monday hits.

But it also brings a lot of stress if we get to Friday and realize we haven't gotten everything done that needed to be done.

How does this happen? Where does our time go?

We spend our entire week busy. No slacking off - it's all work. But somehow, we just still don't make our goals.

This is where it pays to prioritize.

The message is nothing new. We hear often that we're suppose to prioritize our time, make schedules, stick to the plan, etc.

But how many of us practice it regularly?

The truth is, life just happens sometimes. So we need to talk about how to get around that.

Of course, making a schedule is a valuable part of the planning process. Let's talk about how to do this effectively to get the most out of it.

1. Prioritize your tasks.

Write down all the things you need to do in a week, and list them from the most important to the least. 

It's okay if it looks like there's too much to accomplish in one week - this is why we're making a schedule. Don't get overwhelmed. Just write them down, and label what priority they are.

2. Block out your time in a schedule.

I like to do this by giving myself a page for each day. It helps me to clearly see what I've written out. And when each day comes, I can just flip to that page and only focus on what's there. I don't get distracted by the rest of my calendar.

When you block out your time, you might run into a problem where there is a task you can't complete within the week by only giving it an hour or two per day. Do what you can to prioritize your other tasks, so you can allot more time for that particular goal.

3. Put your schedule into practice.

It sounds so simple, and it really is. Just one piece of advice when it comes to doing what's on your list: 

As mentioned before, life happens. Unexpected events will inevitably come up. Give yourself some grace for that. 

If you cannot stick to the hours you've laid out 100%, it is okay. The point of blocking out time is not so that you have to be completely spot on in everything you do. It is so you can make your goals a priority with your time.

As long as you are prioritizing well and following through as closely as possible, you will begin to see more success in achieving your goals.

Try it out this week. And if you have any planning strategies you use that work for you, share them with us! We'd love to hear them.

Millennials, Gen X, and Baby Boomers: What's a Business to Do?

boss-fight-stock-images-photos-free-photography-girl-working-couch.jpg

By Katie Torres

Type the word "Millennials" into the Google search engine, and you will find so many opinions that it is impossible to run out of content to read.

And when you look at all the various opinions, it becomes overwhelming and painfully obvious that there is a problem.

And there IS a problem.

Most might say that the problem is with a specific generation. 

But I think this misses the point.

Sure, generations have their own problems. But many of these problems don't just change over night. Many of them cannot be changed at all.

So where do we fix our attention to try and make things better?

Let's instead look at the fact that there is a disconnect between generations - one that causes rifts in personal relationships and in the workplace - and try to address that disconnect.

There are many trends that are happening within the Millennial generation, which are directly affecting businesses.

Millennials are, for the most part, people who pursue experience rather than possessions. This can mean a loss in business for a company who has spent its entire existence selling a material product.

Millennials strive to make a difference in the world; a regular 9-5 job at an office desk does not mean much to them if they are not growing or helping make the world a better place.

Millennials want freedom and flexibility in their work days. They are looking for a change in pace and environment. It is another way they pursue experience.

Now, whether we agree with these desires or not, they are there. This is real. And if businesses do not alter their current practices to serve a generation with these desires, businesses will suffer.

Employers must be willing to fill the disconnect.

Great employers get this right.

They create a working environment where experience is rich and their values are deeply infused in their culture.

Employees are not just employees in these companies. They are people. And they are people who interact with each other every day, working together toward common goals. 

Great employers provide opportunities to grow.

They give out responsibilities, they hold employees accountable, and they provide them with ample opportunities to learn.

This means investing in the education of their employees. These employers will invest in training, in books, in research...in whatever it is that helps their employees keep growing. They do not sit stagnant, watching their employees carry on in business-as-usual, day after day.

Leaders make it a point to include service in their core values.

This not only provides an environment where employees can make a difference in the world; it is also the right thing to do.

It is the right thing to keep growing, keep changing, and do what you can to bridge the gaps between generations.

This can be done without sacrificing the core values of previous generations, but it can be uncomfortable when companies are not accustomed to change.

Embrace the discomfort, recognizing that it is a growing pain. 

Understand that, when done right, this benefits everyone involved, regardless of what generation the individual comes from.

The employer is rewarded with employees who love their jobs, and want to stay around to do their best.

The employee is rewarded with a job they love, and a place where they continue to grow and make an impact. 

This can be a win-win situation.

How will you work to bridge the gap in your own business?

Reaching Your Goals: To the End Zone and Beyond

boss-fight-stock-images-photos-free-football-stadium.jpg

By Katie Torres

Have you ever seen the movie, Facing the Giants?

There is a scene in that movie where they practice what is called "the death crawl".

The death crawl sounds like a pretty dramatic name for an exercise, but even just watching the scene is enough to make your arms feel wobbly. 

And if you're anything like me, you'll also be in tears by the end of it too. I watched the scene before linking it above and I'm a blubbering mess.

Spoiler alert: The player in this scene carries his teammate the whole length of the field, using his arms to carry the entire weight of both himself and the other player.

What is most amazing about this is the fact that he does so blindfolded, only intending to reach the 50 yard line.

The suspense is thick as you watch his coach yell the entire time, encouraging him to keep going through the sweat and pain.

And just when he thinks he has nothing left, he falls into the end zone. 

First of all, whoever creates these kinds of scenes deserve gold medals for their ability to make people feel such strong emotions.

But I bring this scene up because I love how relevant it is to our lives.

Whether we are facing deep struggles in our personal lives, or trying to grow in our professions, the temptation is heavy to quit when the going gets tough.

But the most progress and growth occurs when we push through and are intentional about improving.

In our own company, one way we do this by being intentional about self-education. 

We are challenged to keep learning. In fact, we are paid to keep learning.

We each have our responsibilities within our roles for our job. But our growth does not end there.

We learn skills that may be just beyond our current comfort zones of knowledge so that we can improve and grow, both individually and as a company.

You see, we can never stop learning, or learn enough.

There is always a greater distance for us to go, even when we feel that we have reached the end.

Self-education is not the only means by which we can push ourselves to do greater, but it is the starting block for every other skill we could acquire to help us achieve our goals.

How will you push yourself further today?

How to Reach Your Goals When You Don't Know Where to Start

boss-fight-free-high-quality-stock-images-photos-photography-notebook-pen-writing.jpg

By Katie Torres

My dad is a storyteller. 

He loves to entertain, to make people laugh, and to build connection and relationship through the means of a good story.

From a young age, I got earfuls of stories. I also learned who Mark Twain was, and have never forgotten the name since.

So when I was trying to think of someone who I could quote to write this post, I didn't have to look very far.

Mark Twain once said, "The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret of getting started is breaking your complex, overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks, then starting on the first one."

It is easy to look at the image you have in your mind of what you think the end product should be, and feel overwhelmed about how you will get there.

When I sit down to write a blog post every week, I often feel completely overwhelmed at the task ahead of me.

I always start with some pretty good ideas. But turning zero words into 500 or less with great detail and interest is really, really difficult sometimes.

So usually, I just start writing.

I write a few words or a sentence that I think sounds good, and I keep rambling from there. I'm doing it now, actually. 

On my good days, my rambling leads to really great posts. But most days, I have to go back through and edit to make everything flow well and make sense.

It is easy for me to ramble, so I start with that. 

Once I have a blurb of words, I break it down into smaller sections so I can edit and perfect.

But truly, the key here is just for me to start writing. Because if I never start, then I never reach my goal of writing a post.

Mark Twain was onto something.

So if you're feeling overwhelmed today with a task that you're not sure how to complete, just take his advice.

Begin with what you can do, and go from there. 

Living Out "Irrationally Helpful"

bossfight-free-high-stock-photos-man-woman-hand-sea-ocean-water-fire-sparkler.jpg

By Katie Torres

Our team at Envoy posted last night and this morning about an action we are taking as a company to be helpful to those who are currently faced with having to evacuate their homes in Florida.

This post is not intended to pat our company on the back. But I am writing it, because on a personal level, I am deeply moved by the fact that I get to work for a company who is so genuine in practicing what they preach.

Being irrationally helpful is not just a catchy slogan for our company.

It is not a sales pitch.

Being irrationally helpful, for the people on our team, is a way of life.

It is the day-to-day process of finding ways to be selfless, to serve the person with the need.

In our industry, this usually looks like helping people fix what's broken in their facilities so they can continue making a living. 

Today, it looked like helping people who had nothing to do with us personally, so they could find safety and security.

And every day, it all comes down to being helpful. 

The gratitude I have for this company is what fuels my passion to write blog posts like this one. 

Do something today to be selfless. Help someone. Even the smallest actions have a significant impact.