Zer0 to 5ive’s Veteran CEO Helps Young Entrepreneur Change the Lives of Veterans

Zer0 to 5ive’s Veteran CEO Helps Young Entrepreneur Change the Lives of Veterans

As a veteran of the U.S. Army, Zer0 to 5ive’s founder and co-CEO, Michelle Pujadas, is a big veteran supporter. Over the course of 15+ years, she served on active duty, in the Army Reserve and in the Individual Ready Reserve, achieving the rank of Captain and commanding a unit during the first Gulf War.

When Michelle heard the story of Amira Idris, a social entrepreneur who is developing a wearable to address the ‘phantom limb pain’ that many amputees face, including military veterans, she knew she wanted to get involved.

Idris’ startup, TheraV, has developed the ELIX, a wearable that stimulates periphery sensory nerves with vibrations, which in turn activate large sensory nerve fibers. Activation of these large sensory nerve fibers closes the pain gate, thus inhibiting pain signals from reaching the brain.

After meeting in Washington, DC, Michelle, the Zer0 to 5ive team, and Amira created a plan to launch an integrated Veterans Day campaign that combines public relations, social media and crowdfunding in order to raise money to help Amira get 100 ELIX wearables to veterans in need.

On a personal level, Michelle is donating to the campaign, as well as leveraging her personal and professional network to help Amira meet her goal.

The TheraV campaign for Veterans Day will begin November 6. To learn more about the campaign or to make a donation, please visit: https://www.gofundme.com/therav-for-veterans

Solving One of the Most Painful Problems in Business: Death by Meeting
Death by Meeting by Patrick Lencioni

I recently read the national best-selling book “Death by Meeting” by Patrick Lencioni. The book is a “leadership fable” about how a man named Casey, the CEO of a company called Yip, helped revamp and refocus the structure of the executive meetings in his company to help move his business forward.

The book opened my eyes to the many pitfalls of bad meetings. There are very simple, basic ways to make sure you are using your team’s time productively and accomplish what is in front of you.

Meetings can be painful, long, and sometimes, even pointless. Technical solutions like Skype, Google Hangouts and myriad screen sharing applications are keeping us from meeting face to face, which can be detrimental to a meeting dynamic. Even the traditional conference call is not as effective as sitting down and meeting face to face because people often try and multitask instead of focusing on the meeting. Bad meetings at an executive level can indicate a huge gap between performance and potential.
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Winter Retreat 2013

Winter Retreat 2013

The ground was covered in snow, but our Zer0 to 5ive winter retreat warmed up our Philadelphia offices for a few days in December (quite literally in the conference room!)

Bringing the team together in this way was great — building and reinforcing the culture of Zer0 to 5ive, from the principals to the interns. Activities such as fun, educational presentations from team members or the 2013 review/2014 preview may be the official parts of the agenda, but the simple act of noshing on bagels and donuts with lots of coffee in the morning with different coworkers was just as valuable.

We’ll be posting some of our great presentations on this blog in the months ahead, including:

  • Crossing the Chasm (a perennial favorite) and its vital approach to marketing technology companies
  • Social media tactics to help companies connect with their customers and create conversions
  • Google Hummingbird’s impact on SEO techniques
  • Optimizing meetings for greater productivity and less boredom
  • Web development techniques that boost the quality of your website

These sessions drove great dialogue with our interdisciplinary team of PR pros, designers, developers and project managers. Every retreat generates new ideas that we carry forward into our day-to-day activities and add to our toolbox.

All in all, the retreat was a great capper for 2013 and a great preview of 2014 for the entire Zer0 to 5ive organization!

Happy Holidays to All!

Zer0 to 5ive’s Campaign with OraSure and “Magic” Johnson Recognized in PRWeek

OraQuick Magic Johnson Conan O'Brian

Meghan Sinclair/CONAN

The last few months have been a busy time at Zer0 to 5ive as the team prepared for the launch of the “Make Knowing Your Thing Today” campaign on March 25th. The campaign was an integrated marketing program for the OraQuick® in-home HIV test and included Earvin “Magic” Johnson as the spokesman for the campaign.

From a TV and radio tour to a multi-channel advertising effort, the Zer0 to 5ive, OraSure and Ferrara & Co. teams worked together to drive awareness of the OraQuick test and of the need for people to know their HIV status.

Going forward, the “Make Knowing Your Thing Today” campaign will feature nationwide activation events and a contest at www.oraquick.com/knowing where participants can upload a photo or video about why they got tested for HIV. The winner will be part of a future OraQuick promotion.

See the full story from PRWeek and check out some of the coverage from the Make Knowing Your Thing Today campaign with Magic Johnson:

Conan on TBS

NOW with Alex Wagner on MSNBC

Post by Bob Minkus
Zer0 to 5ive Sr. Strategist
@askminkus

The Importance of a Company Culture
Company Culture Teamwork Puzzle

How important is the culture of a company? Well, according to one of the most successful CEOs today, it’s exceedingly important. Warren Buffett, business magnate, investor, and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, wrote in an annual letter to company shareholders, “culture, more than rule books, determines how an organization behaves.”

Company culture is defined as the personality of a company. It outlines the mission, values, ethics, expectations, goals, and work environment. From top executives to newly hired employees, a company should be connected by a common culture. For Google, fueling employees with complimentary breakfast, lunch, and dinner is an important element in their culture. The organization has about 25 themed cafes at its Mountain View, California location, offering employees free food at a cost to Google of around $7,500 per person, per year, as estimated by Business Insider.

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Redefining the Project Manager

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When we hear the title “Project Manager,” many of us think of a specific type of person. The stereotype is a serious, detail-oriented person huddled over budgets, Gantt charts and spreadsheets, typically in very large organization. While in some cases that may be true, as with all stereotypes, that description is very limiting.

Recently, I had the opportunity to attend the Project Management Institute’s 2012 Global Congress in Vancouver, BC. I attended with a client who was sponsoring and exhibiting at the event (I’m happy to report they had a great show). As I attended sessions about project risk management, managing complex government projects, ethical standards, leadership and innovation, I was pleasantly surprised by how much of the content spoke directly to me.

Unless you have worked for a marketing firm, the stereotypes about account leads are very different from a project manager. Thanks to shows like Mad Men, we often picture high-energy, fast-talking, creative types with big ideas and snappy copy. But for those of us who lead accounts on a day-to-day basis, creating and selling a great marketing plan is just one aspect of our job.

The core of our role is to coordinate two very different teams – our internal team and the client team. Just like a project manager, we scope out projects, negotiate budgets and coordinate with both teams to create realistic timelines. The best account leads draw on years of experience to identify project risks up front, plan for tight turnarounds and navigate challenging approval processes, the same way that the best IT project managers have contingency plans for network outages.

And unfortunately, the least effective account leads and the least effective project managers also have a lot in common. In the project management world, it is often said that there is nothing more important that being on-time, on-budget, and perfectly “to spec” (i.e. meeting all client specifications). Completing a project on-time, but with budget overruns and an ineffective final deliverable will never result in a happy client, regardless of your job title.

On this topic, there are two books that I’d highly recommend:
101 Project Management Problems and How to Solve Them by Tom Kendrick andThe Art of Client Service by Robert Solomon.

If you read them both, you’ll find some very interesting overlap, particularly around defining the end goal and working with teams. My favorites messages are about supporting your internal team throughout the project. Inevitability, there will be individuals on your team who have a very different skill set from you and who play a very specific role in the completion of the project. In marketing, he or she may be a developer or a graphic designer. In a complex construction project, he or she may be a specific type of engineer or tradesperson. Both authors stress the importance of supporting that person, even though you can’t directly help with their individual tasks. Whether that means improved communication at the beginning of the process or staying late to order Chinese food while everyone else works, supporting your team helps to ensure that the entire project will be successful.

What other project management tips are relevant in the marketing world? Leave your comments below or connect with us at @Zer0to5ive on Twitter.

Post by Rachel Colello
Zer0 to 5ive Senior Strategist
Twitter: @Rachel990306

Fall Retreat 2012: Going for the Touchdown

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For a couple of days in November, the entire Zer0 to 5ive team holed up in our Philadelphia offices for our Fall Retreat. The focus of this retreat was education and we were able to learn with some very hands-on activities that went beyond PowerPoint presentations and into the application of the principles.

There were some of the usual retreat activities, all with a football spin for fall: account reviews, a crash course from ouraward-winning creative group and way too much caffeine. However, the opportunity to brainstorm with local entrepreneurs on a variety of topics, including branding, website design and go-to-market plans, made it a touchdown for all of the team members.

The beauty of these interactive group sessions are undoubtedly the unique lessons that each individual departs with. Here are just a few key takeaways that struck me as often overlooked – but ultra-important – best practices, for those starting a new business or endeavor.

Get off the sidelines and into the game: If you have a business idea, do yourself a favor: get organized and get the ball rolling. Don’t lose out on a great opportunity because you hesitated for too long. Just like there are new players coming from college to the pros every year, someone will be always be rising up to steal your thunder.

Develop a good game plan: Start with a clear and concise business plan. Remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day and I’m pretty sure neither was any successful business! It’s the foundational elements like this that keep you on track and focused on the end goal, even when the unexpected happens.

Identify your fan base: Whether you’re offering a product or a service, know who you’re trying to appeal to. Some business models are best suited for the mass market while some appeal to highly targeted niches. Knowing who you’re targeting allows you to answer the key sales questions of how, when and where to target them. If you can’t answer those questions correctly, you might end up looking at a lot of empty seats.

What are your best practices for entrepreneurs? Leave them in the comments below!

Post by Kristen Everett
Zer0 to 5ive Senior Strategist
Twitter: @krissyeverett

The Talented Team Player: A Review of The Corner Office

In marketing and PR, attention is often focused on the ability to write the perfect press release or successfully pitch the media to secure a placement. Not often is attention paid to the art of working in teams – a fundamental skill all those in marketing and PR should possess in order to be effective.

Being a team player leads to added creative brainpower and more productive results. However, the ability to work with peers in a constructive way is often challenging, time consuming and requires a great deal of compromise.

Adam Bryant, author of the New York Times column Corner Office, interviewed dozens of CEOs to get their input on what qualities foster the ideal team player. Here are a few key takeaways:

Nothing is more important than the ability to deliver what is expected of you, when it is expected of you. No surprises, no excuses. Being reliable is the cornerstone of being a team player.

Just like in sports, it is imperative to cover your position consistently, but the best players are the ones who are able to spot the opportunities to score a goal or steal a base. Don’t be afraid to be a playmaker–– your team will appreciate your ideas and forward thinking.

While it may seem straightforward, team objectives should be established and discussed often to ensure everyone has a common goal. It’s easy to get lost in the shuffle of everyday business operations, but keeping objectives at the forefront of everyone’s thoughts, will keep team members focused and stimulated.

In many industries, including marketing and PR, teams are in constant rotation. The ability to work in ad hoc teams and adjust to different personalities, different managers and different work styles will make life a whole lot easier. How do you do this? A good start is by applying the three steps above with each new team!

I would recommend this book as a must-read for anyone in PR and marketing. Corner Office demonstrates the importance of being a team player, and offers valuable advice on how to be most effective while working as a team.

Are you ready to implement your team smarts? Set, GO!

Kristen Filippini
Zer0 to 5ive Strategist
Twitter: @krissyfilippini