Connecting the dots between customers, colleagues and community

Invite Communication
  Spring 2012
Dear Clients, Colleagues and Community,

In NY Mets pitcher, R. A. Dickey's new autobiography "Wherever I Wind Up:  My quest for truth, authenticity and the perfect knuckleball", he shares, "I love spring training, I love it because it comes bundled with hope. Indeed, its all about hope.  Optimism abounds when your record is 0-0 and you are starting anew.  You see only the upside, not the downside. You see possibilities, not impossibilities."

In the spirit of a fresh start this Spring, my newsletter focuses on the value of inviting communication.  Sometimes we expect or hope that effective communication simply happens and we are surprised when it doesn't.  What can we do to create the right environment, tone, opportunity, vehicle or venue to ensure that our efforts toward great communication count? 

As Spring unfolds and invites us all to enjoy the fresh air and warm breezes that accompany the season, I invite you to explore some communication ideas, approaches and possibilities with me.

With enthusiasm,

Mari Pat Varga


Communities of Participation
What we can learn from videos that go viral.

How do you make sure that what you say has staying power and cascades thoughout your circle or organization?

I recently watched Kevin Allocca's TED talk. Kevin is YouTube's trends watch manager and his talk was an interesting look at what makes a video go viral.  He shared that the three key elements that influence whether or not a video goes viral are:

  • Tastemakers
  • Communities of Participation
  • Unexpectedness

In essence "tastemakers" are well known individuals (celebrities, politicians, authors, etc.) who draw attention to a particular video - by tweeting about it, featuring it on their television show or through other vehicles that have a broad reach.  So, it helps if Jimmy Kimmel, for instance, brings it to our attention.


Who are the tastemakers in your circle who could help you get your message out? 


Communities of participation involve individuals who then take the video and share it with their communities or re-interpret the video in a playful or meaningful way.  It then becomes an inside joke or water-cooler conversation.


Who are your socializing your message with to help you raise awareness?


Finally, "unexpectedness" is just what you'd think - the video contains content that is unexpectedly thought-provoking, funny, strange or poignant in some way.


How are you making your communication unique, surprising or different?


While Kevin's talk focused on how videos go viral, I think he has some important things to say about communication in general.  He stated that in today's world, "we don't just enjoy, we participate."  We need to communicate in ways that invites conversation and participation.


If you've got an important message or idea to communicate, consider using Kevin's viral video principles to your advantage.



Treat your personal brand iike a start-up

In his book "the start-up of YOU" Reid Hoffman - cofounder and chairman of  

Linkedin describes how to invest in yourself by updating your summary statement in a way that articulates your competitive advantages. He suggests that you should be able to complete the following sentence: "Because of my (skill/expertise/strength), I can do (type of professional work) better than (specific types of other professionals in my industry). He asks us to ponder: "how would other professional you work with fill in that same sentence on you? How would they describe your competitive advantage? If there is a gap, you either have a self-judgment problem, or a marketing problem. 


The Boss keeps track of the conversation
Get your audience to care about your obsessions


In an interview in the March issue of Rolling Stone magazine, Bruce Springsteen was asked how he addresses the tastes of his many constituencies when he is putting an album together.  He shared, "I generally do what I like at any given moment and let the people figure out where they fit it.  The only thing I do keep in mind is that I 'm in the midst of a lifetime conversation with my audience, and I'm trying to keep track of the conversation.  Martin Scorsese once said that 'your job is to make your audience care about your obsessions.'  So if the artist loses track of the conversation he's having with his audience, he may lose us forever."

I believe this sentiment holds true for all of us who are committed to a cause, a goal or a leadership message.  To keep your audience engaged and interested, make sure that the themes and threads of your core message run throughout your communications.



Complaint to Cause

Invite Communication: Visit to see how this website allows anyone to turn a complaint into a cause - and win.



Are you listening?
Great listening skills invite communication

The best way to invite communication is to hone your listening skills. People are drawn to others who they know care and listening demonstrates that better than anything else. Hearing is an innate ability but listening is a skill that needs to be developed and practiced.


Psychology Today has an online listening quiz that  asks thought-provoking questions. Here are 6 of the questions that get at the heart of many of the common areas of improvement for us all: 


  1. I multi-task while attempting to listen to someone?
  2. I daydream while listening to someone express their feelings?
  3. I make eye contact when listening to someone?
  4. If I am unsure I've heard a message correctly, I summarize and ask for confirmation?
  5. If a speaker doesn't engage my interest, my mind wanders?
  6. While the speaker is talking I am often formulating what I am going to say next?

On a scale of 1-5, how would you rank your own abilities?  Is there room of improvement? 



Q & A / Quick Tip:  To invite communication, be sure that when you ask for questions during your presentation, do so in a way that encourages your audience to ask.  Rather than the typical, "Any questions?" start by saying, "We've talk about a lot so far, let me pause here for a moment. I want you to think about what questions you have about anything we've discussed so far or questions about how you can apply this information to what you do?  And then really PAUSE, give people a chance to think and volunteer a question.
Effective communication is a two-way street and involves give and take.  Strengthening your awareness and committing to fine-tune your skills will help you invite communication and build relationships.

If your goals, business initiatives or leadership developmental opportunities could benefit from message development, speech coaching, communication training or strategic meeting facilitation let's have a conversation today!
All the best,
Mari Pat Varga
Varga & Associates, Inc.