It’s great to be known for your shoes – even better to be known for your soul

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She can speak English, French, German and Farsi, became Okabashi’s CEO and she’s just 29. Say hello to @Sara Irvani. A millennial who passionately embraces hard work and positivity while taking over the manufacturing world. (P.S. she and her team were recently recognized by the White House for their desire to keep manufacturing jobs in the U.S. while running an environmentally friendly company.)

“I never really thought I’d take over the company,” she said. “Since I was little I was fascinated with how things were made. Everything comes from something.”

In a time where less than 1%  of shoes are made in America, Sara is walking in the footsteps of her grandfather and family. She is a third generation shoe maker located in Buford, GA. 

Her background includes a southern start and then a stint overseas. She studied philosophy and finance and says that language is important. She’s been a venture capitalist and consultant. All of this before some people have even determined what they want to do with their life. 

Leading a 200 person organization takes vision. Her vision isn’t just about creating a cute, comfortable, sustainable product that doesn’t end up in a landfill – it’s much more. 

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“I’ve had the opportunity to see how many companies operate and the cultures of those organizations,” she said. “ I learned what I didn’t want our company to be.”

So how did she go about creating a dream organization?  By focusing on the whole team. Sara’s company is made up of 70 percent women. 

“We built in flexibility,” she said. “Our folks might need to leave and pick up their kid from school. But you know what, even when they are doing that, they are still thinking about work. Work is a pervasive part of our lives. We also learned that you can’t just create one off policies. Manufacturing positions are different from strategic one. You have to really look into each position and see how they impact the organization and make a plan that works. This flexibility really empowers people and leads to an extremely loyal management team and workforce.”

Her strength has been in working with her leadership team and developing a vision together.

“ We have a spirit of teamwork,” Sara said. “It’s a change for whole company. We came up with or 20 top initiatives. Had I come in and said ‘it’s my idea let’s do it’ I don’t think everyone would have gotten behind it. We’ve developed a spirit of transparency. Everyone chips in.”

Sara is passionate about women in leadership. 

“I’ve been in and seen environments where I was only woman in the room,” she said. “I’ve been asked why I was there or if I was new assistant to Mr. XYZ. You’ve got to keep your cool. Now I just ask why they are there. Exploding in that moment isn’t the way to go. It’s very powerful to see it more balanced. Having women on the  leadership team brings different thoughts to the table. Women think that nothing can get in our way. It’s different from a macho leader who thinks he can run through wall and knock his way through something. It’s much more like parkour where you jump over the wall and obstacles to reach the solution in a faster and less destructive way.”

Not only is she a champion of developing women as leaders, she’s also a champion for the millennial generation. 

“I think we are definitely curiousity about what the future holds,” Sara said. “Our generation is hungry to make a change. Our language is very different that what the seasoned CFO uses. That creates challenges. I’ve learned the energy you bring has to be met with results. If you get results people are more likely to tolerate your new ideas.”

From the outside, Sara may appear a force to reckon with, yet when you look closer, you see she deals with many of the same concerns or fears as the rest of us.

“What are my greatest insecurities? It’s tough. I have an ongoing conversation with my husband about how much is ability and and how much is aspiration. Am I reaching high enough or challenging myself and my team? I commute from NY to Atlanta and I’m away from husband five days a week. I worry ‘am I good wife’. We all struggle with self perception.”

While Sara and her team at Oka-B are already looking forward to next year’s biggest colors for spring (hint: she said a lighter shade of blue will be the standout color), she’s also looking for an even brighter future for women and her company. 

‘“The movement we see now with more women coming to the trough,  it’s going to be questioned less,” she said. “Everyone has their way of living their values and making their place. Just give them their fair voice. It’s about keeping your heads in the cloud while keeping your feet on the ground. It’s about community. It’s about collaboration. You know what they say, ‘give it to a busy person if you want it done’.”

 

Creating shareable content

create shareable content

Before you can start creating shareable content, you need to understand what it is and the psychology behind it. Shared content can be many things –  useful and helpful information, entertainment and inspirational material.

It will always answer one of the following needs though.

  1. Provide social validation. People have a strong desire for approval. We all like to be liked. And we like to pass along information that others have liked to prove we are just like them.
  2. Entertainment.  People like content that creates emotions such as  happiness, surprise, excitement, disbelief, anger and more. We don’t tend to pass on information that causes sadness.
  3. Value. If the post is informative, it stands to reason people will share it. “How-to” content particularly meets this need.
  4. Causes. People share to show who they are and what they care about. They share to show support to causes and issues they care about.
  5. Incentives. People will share rewards, discounts, chances to win and contests to enter.

Shareable content isn’t the same as viral content.  Viral content doesn’t create long term relationships with you and your readers. Shareable content creates a long term relationship.Ready to fire up those social channels and create some content your followers?

Keep these topics in mind when you are planning your content and you’ll be on your way:

  • Take it informative and about what they care about.
  • Make it easy to understand and present in a way that is digestible.
  • Give them incentives for sharing (but check contest rules because they have changed a lot).
  • Capitalize on trending topics. You can research trending topics and piggy back stories or content that ties your business with them. Focus on utility and value.
  • Don’t be afraid to have fun and be conversational.
  • Trigger emotion if you can.Use info graphics , quizzes (there is free software to create these), lists, Q&A, FAQs, answer what it means to me, show behind the scenes, pros and cons, glossaries, takeaways (quick bullet point analysis), and surveys.

Most importantly, when you post, be prepared to respond. That connection is a two-way communication.

Shareable Content

Civility – Is it lost?

Civility - is it lost
It’s politeness and courtesy in speech and behavior.
It’s reasonable and respectful behavior.
It is dialogue without heated debate.

Looking around our communities and spending any time on social media, it’s becoming harder and harder to find. Nasty comments left anonymously have become the norm on social posts. That feeling of not having to take ownership of statements emboldens people to say things in a much sharper manner than they might if they were having the conversation face to face with someone.

But even more alarming to me is what I see in day to day life. People seem to have no regard for the feelings of others.  Just listen to the daily exchanges in line at any fast food restaurant or while you are grocery shopping and you’re more than likely to witness an exchange that should make you a little uncomfortable.

It seems we allow emotions to take over much more quickly now. Comments are taken as a personal attack. We no longer allow comments to roll off our backs, shake our head and think “bless their little heart – their ignorance is showing.”

People don’t fear any consequence for sharing their comments; despite the fact people have lost their jobs after some of these encounters have been videoed and circulated around the internet.

It seems the worse the behavior is, the more people are fascinated by it. It should cause you to recoil, but instead people share it and give it more traction.

This is spreading into all areas and it’s becoming harder and harder for people to have conversations concerning politics, religion, community needs and more. There seems to be less and less listening or discussion and just more reaction.

Civility is working at staying present even when the people around you are passionate about and have deep seated beliefs which fall out on the other side of the fence from you.

We’ve got to find places and ways to disagree without being disagreeable. We can’t just ignore what we don’t agree with. It doesn’t just go away.

We must get back to a place where we can have real discussions without fear. Just because opinions and ideas are different, doesn’t mean they are threatening. Without a real exchange of ideas there is no real chance to grow or share opposing viewpoints. You can’t learn if you only listen to one point of view.

We all grow stronger, not weaker, when we engage with others and ideas we disagree with. It’s important to talk to find common ground. That common ground allows us to build and to really begin to have the chance to make real change in communities, the workplace and even in our own homes.

Check out this great TED Talk and see what you think.

“How our friendship survives our opposing politics”
Can you still be friends with someone who doesn’t vote the same way as you? For Caitlin Quattromani and Lauran Arledge, two best friends who think very differently about politics, the outcome of the 2016 US presidential election could have resulted in hostility and disrespect. Hear about how they chose to engage in dialogue instead — and learn some simple tactics they’re using to maintain their bipartisan friendship.