Don Schindler

Social Media Trainer for Industries

Are There Only Two Steps To Being A Great Leader?

Two Steps To Being The Leader You Want To Be

If I asked you to picture a good leader, who would you think of? An old boss, a church pastor, a captain of one of your teams.

Or maybe you think of a celebrity leader. Like Patton or maybe a President.

To tell you the truth, I don’t think of much when someone tells me a person is a great leader. Why? Because I’ve never had direct experience with the leader they are pointing out.

I always think “that’s nice” and then I watch them to see if they prove it.

Prove to me you are a great leader. That you have what it takes to lead me.

I was thinking about this the other day while I was contemplating on my own ability to be a better leader.

The more I thought about it, the more I realized it’s just two steps. Two steps are all you need to be a great leader.

Step 1 – Define what leadership means to you.

Now you may have all sorts of different characteristics that define leadership.

You have your list, I have mine. When you Google leadership qualities, there are going to be lots of articles and books on the subject. Here is the top ten traits – here are the top 25 qualities. Everyone’s got an opinion.

And so do you. So why not define leadership your way. I’m sure the leadership qualities you believe in aren’t far from mine.

So write them down. This is what I put down and in the order I liked.

Inspiration with Confidence – How hard is it to inspire? Damn hard. So when someone inspires me, I go all out for them. Tie that with confidence (true confidence in that they know what they are doing) and you’ve got a leader to be reckoned with.

Decisive while Accountable – To me, a good leader knows he or she is there to make the tough decisions. Committee meeting after collaboration meeting after email thread with a wish-washy decision drives me crazy.

Make the decision and let’s run. But once the decision has been made, leadership is held accountable.

Why is it so unforgivable for leaders to make mistakes? Because they rarely take the hit.

If they take the hit, then I have more respect for them. Blame others and I’ll shake my head and walk away vowing never to follow you again.

Creative with Focus – Leadership sees stuff others don’t and then focuses on it. With this focus, they can then break it down into the simpliest components so others can see their creative plan. C

reativity without focus is chaos – which leads to changes in plans, careers, and organizations. Not for me.

Optimism in the face of Commitment – A good leader doesn’t have to be an eternal optimist spewing rainbows and unicorns when actually the sh!t’s hitting the fan.

Leadership means you can rally people and get them to dig in and fight through it which leads straight to commitment. If the leader is in the trenches with me and still has his or her head up – I’m right by their side.

Honesty with a Sense of Humor – Leaders are honest about everything. They might not be able to tell you everything but they aren’t going to lie about it to cover it up.

Combine that with a good sense of humor (and humor is sometimes the easiest way to get the truth across) and you got somebody I will listen to. Not just take orders from.

Awareness that leads to Intuition – This is a tough one for leaders because sometimes they are far removed from the day to day. But that’s their fault and they need to be more aware of what’s going on with the company, the people and the situation.

This awareness will help so much when it comes to intuition – when you are hyper aware, your gut will let you know whether or not you are making a good decision. Without the awareness, you might as well flip a coin.

You probably have more or maybe you’ll cut some of these out and that’s fine. I’m not here to say you have to have these qualities to be a good leader. I just want them if you are going to be my leader.

Step 2 – Own Your Leadership Qualities

Pretty simple, huh? You listed out what you wanted and now you can become a great leader – just follow what you want others to see in you.

How do you know if you have these qualities?

You can always ask someone you trust but I would bet hands down you are smart enough to know if you’ve got these characteristics.

That internal voice that judges your current leaders about their skill set – just turn it on yourself and see what it says. If it says you need to work on something, then listen.

You can only get better and be the leader you’ve always wanted to follow.

What are your favorite leadership qualities?

Seven Steps On How To Build A Farm Website Yourself

death star website

Your website is the only thing you truly own.

Recently I’ve been asked a lot of questions about building your own website. Farmers have been asking me if they can do it.

The answer is, of course, you can.

Is it hard? Nope, not compared to back in the day (mid 90’s) when you had to handcode everything. Websites are much easier to build and there’s several companies that would love to do it for you like Wix or Square Space.

But if you want to DIY it. Here’s how I would go about it.

1. Get your content together first!

  • Get photos
  • Write the text
  • Make some videos

Honestly you would not believe how many people want to jump right into the website build without any content prepared. How do you know what you want to say?

When it comes to a print brochure, you never start the design without having the content. The content is crucial to the design. Websites are no different. Start with the content first!

What content is normal? I would see these as navigational items on a dairy farm website followed by what question it answers for the customer.

  • Milk Production – How is milk made?
  • Animal Care – How do cows live?
  • Our Community – What is it like where you live?
  • About Our Farm – What else is on your farm? How does it run?
  • Contact Us – How do I ask another question?
  • Journal/blog – How can I see what it is really like to live on a farm 24/7?

 

fair-oaks-website

Fair Oaks Call To Action – VISIT THE FARM

2. Think about what you want people to do or know about your farm.

This is your CALL TO ACTION. Make this the most important call out on the website. Think about these questions when you are putting it together.

  • Do you want people to reach out to you if they have questions?
  • Do you want people to visit the farm? Maybe take a tour?
  • Do you want people to sign up for an email list – you can give them updates on the farm, share recipes, tell them when BLANK is going on…
wordpress-logo

WordPress.com or WordPress.org are both good choices for small sites

3. Should you setup with wordpress.com vs. wordpress.org? Well, that depends.

First you need to ask yourself “why” you want to self host. Here’s a general list of pros and cons.

Pros
– you have almost full control
– you can add content pretty easily
– lots of people use wordpress so there’s a ton of help online
– lots of design templates to choose from

Cons
– can be complicated to set up
– there are monthly costs (domain and hosting)
– can be limiting down the road if you need more features
– there are always updates that you need to be installing

Why I initially went with wordpress.com?

  1. No cost
  2. No worries on set up
  3. Search engines love WP.com

Why I switched:

  1. I wanted more control over the plugins I could use.
  2. The costs are very small.
  3. I wanted to capture email addresses and have more control over the design.

Personally, if you are new to blogging or websites, I recommend wordpress.com. It’s a lot easier to set up and get going.

If you are looking for something even easier than wordpress – I recommend blogger or tumblr.

But if you really want to use wordpress.org and control your own website then I recommend using WP Beginner or WP Learner. Read through the beginning steps before starting.

If you select, wordpress.org you can buy your domain through them or buy it through another company like 1and1.com. These are not affiliate links – I just happen to use them.

You’ll also need hosting. You can buy that through several companies. The guides will explain all of this. There are many companies out there and I’ve used GoDaddy, Hostgator and Rackspace to name a few.

4. Selecting a good design template
Both wordpress.com and .org have great templates. There are several things that I’m looking for in a template.

  1. Mobile friendly/optimized. More people are reading with their portable devices and you don’t want to be a pain for them.
  2. Clean design focused on large photos/graphics. Don’t get something to clutter – the user’s eye won’t focus on the content you want them to.
  3. The ability to add right or left side widgets but not both. I like sharing widgets how to connect with me and capture email as well as show them what posts are popular.

5. Make time to write once a month or more.
Putting time on the calendar is the most important thing. Block the time it takes and spend the time it takes. Don’t underestimate the time because then you’ll blow it off. You are going to need a few hours for your first posts. After that it gets easier.

What topics should you write about? Well, that depends.
Everyone is going to tell you to write about your passion which I assume is your farm. I write about marketing and how to do it better. That keeps me going.

But if you want to attract an audience, which I’m pretty sure you want to do then you should be writing about what your customers want to know about farming.

Most farmers I know are awesome storytellers and you should incorporate that into your writing. If the topic is animal care, then don’t just bullet point the checklist you follow for cow health.

Write a story about how you accomplished the checklist or what went wrong and how you fixed it. Nobody wants talking points – they want to laugh, cry or think about what happened on the farm. And some days a picture can be all that is necessary to convey this.

What topics would I focus on?
Animal Care, dairy farming activities, struggles and successes, how the community plays a role in the farm, how you play a role in the community, what you feed your family, what you do for fun with the family, how you are improving your farm, your opinion on just about anything, what hobbies you have…remember most people are pretty far removed from the farm and they are intrigued with the lifestyle.

6. Set up Google Analytics and Google Webmaster Tools.
After you get the website up and running, it’s time to add some tools that will make your life easier.

Add Google Analytics – this will let you know what people are doing on the website. Where they are going, what they like, what they are sharing, where they are coming from.

Add Google Webmaster Tools – this will tell you how the website is performing in Google’s search engine eyes. Can they search it effectively? What keywords are people searching on and finding your website? What pages are broken? All sorts of great stuff and it’s free.

7. Getting exposure.
The final step is probably the toughest when it comes to having a website. How are people going to find it? While I have a few steps you can do, I’m definitely going to be writing a larger post about getting your website out there but in the meantime here’s a few tips.

  • Share your posts on social media as much as you can. I hate to bust your bubble but most people don’t see everything you post – in fact, it’s quite the opposite. So I would be oversharing as opposed to undersharing. And by social media, there is more than just Facebook out there. Use Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Pinterest, Instagram, Reddit, etc… If you are serious about blogging, then you need to be serious about using social media for the exposure and interaction.
  • Share with the search engines. You can use pingomatic.com to post and it will ping the search engines to come check out your content. BTW, Google normally visits a site once a month until you get popular then they could visit a few times a day.
  • Share via email. When you are first starting out, it’s ok to spam the family until they get tired. Make sure to ask them to share as well. You never know who they are all connected with.

OK, well that’s basically it for the beginner level. If you have questions along the way, feel free to hit me up and I’ll try and answer them. You can leave a comment below or just email me using the links on the right hand side.

Good luck. Can’t wait to see your site!

Six Tips On How To Talk To A Reporter About Your Farm

talking-to-reporters

Talking to reporters can be daunting – here are tips to help you handle it.

Guest Post from David Pelzer.*

To be successful in dairy farming today, you not only need to farm and manage your cows well, you also need to know how to tell your story to the public. That means talking to people through traditional media as well as social media.

When I was a journalist, I always appreciated those interview sources who answered my questions directly, and thoughtfully. I held them in higher esteem than those who gave me canned answers, or who didn’t really answer my questions.

You want to be the authentic one, the one who comes across as a real person, as well as the truth bearer.

Here are six things to keep in mind when you’re talking to the media:

1. Trust that the media is out to do the right thing – but needs help.
My oldest son Jeremy is currently a political reporter for one of the larger papers in the country. Neither Jeremy nor I can recall a reporter who didn’t try to report the truth.

That doesn’t mean they always get the story right. You have to help them get there.

This starts with helping the reporter know what the real story is, and helping him or her find their way toward it.
You can do this, not by trying to educate the reporter, but by sharing your story, and showing its connection to the larger story.

2. Talk about the why before the what.
Let’s say the story is about alleged cases of animal mistreatment, for example. You will not only want to talk about how animal care is one of the core values of dairy farms, but also about why good animal care makes both moral and economic sense for the vast majority of dairy farmers across the country. We shouldn’t be shy about sharing our values.

3. Engage the reporter in a conversation.
Don’t just state what you want to say. Ask them questions to gauge their comprehension of what you are saying, and to start a dialogue.

If your tone is right, this will show your inquisitiveness, not your desire to make the interview an inquisition. Ask your questions from a sincere desire to understand, and the reporter will see this as a sign of respect.

4. During the interview, stop and ask the reporter to summarize what they heard you say.
Often the reporter will give you the line they plan to quote you. If the quote is wrong, it’s your chance to catch the error and edit it on the spot. Simply apologize for not being clear, then give the quote you really want.

5. Get in the last word.
If you hear the reporter wrapping up, be sure to summarize the main point you wished to convey. You could “flag” this by saying, “The most important thing in our discussion has been …” This often will be the quote the reporter will be sure to insert into the story.

6. Don’t forget to close the loop.
Lastly, once the story is out, don’t miss the chance to congratulate the reporter on a good story. Most reporters receive precious little feedback on their work, and when you do this in a constructive way, you can make yourself an ally for life.

What are your experiences and tips in talking with the media?

 

*Written by David Pelzer, Senior Vice President of Strategic Communications at DMI.

David has been working for America’s Dairy Farmers for 20+ years and in his position oversees industry-wide crisis preparedness efforts and media relations. Before his time working with dairy farmers he was an editor of several national publications serving agriculture.

 

Why you should be using Google Webmaster Tools and how to set it up? – Simple SEO

The best things is that Google will email you when your site is having issues. This is huge.

Google Webmaster Tools emailing me

Google warned me that I was having issues back in January with my domain.

How do you know when your website is having issues with the search engine? You don’t. Google needs to tell you.

But there’s also a ton more it does. I’m just going to give you a few highlights.

 

Search Queries Reports

Since Google Analytics doesn’t give up keywords people are using to search with when they discover your  website (only if they are logged in), Google Webmaster tools will provide these search queries regardless if they are logged in or not.

The only issue is that it’s not tied specifically to their visit. :(

But you will find a ton of information on your keywords and landing pages like impressions, clicks, click-thru-rates and rankings.

Google Search Queries

Search Queries will tell you what keywords people used to find your website

There’s a ton of information to be found here and here’s a great article from LunaMetrics explaining a lot more of it.

You’ll also want to connect your Google Analytics and Google Webmaster Tools. It’s pretty easy to do. Just go to Acquisition -> Search Engine Optimization -> Landing Pages.

The only thing you need to worry about there is that only one account Google Webmaster Tools account can be connected to one Google Analytics account.

 

Links to your website

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What are page titles and meta descriptions? Simple SEO for posts and pages

Page Titles

Page Title

Page Titles are probably the most important piece of SEO you can do.

Page Titles are the titles that appear in the results of search engine query like “What is in milk?” If you have a page title that uses the keywords “what” and “milk” with a question mark, you have a good chance of popping up in the results. That’s one reason that I love writing my blog posts titles in question format.

When I was typing in “Kraft Mac & Cheese”, the Kraft website popped up first with “Kraft Macaroni & Cheese | You Know You Love It”.  The page title is highlighted in blue as you can see because it’s the link.

There are a few guidelines that the search engines would like you to use when putting in your page titles.

  1. Try to keep it between 50-60 characters – or it will be cut off and no one will see those words anyway.
  2. Always write for humans but know your important keywords – Be specific about the page they are going to. You don’t have to have “Home” or “Welcome” in the page title for the home page.
  3. Put your keywords near the front of the title – The closer your keywords are to the domain, the better.
  4. Should your website be in the title (maybe) – if you want to add some branding along with it. If you ever see my page titles, – Don Schindler is usually at the end for branding purposes.

 

Meta-Description

Meta-Description

Kraft is using their advertising copy to attract their policy.

Meta-description serves as your marketing copy when your page is pulled on the search engines. If you look at the image above you’ll see they are using the advertising copy (probably their standard fare) to drive you to the website.

Here’s what it looks like in the code.

meta-description-in-code

Here’s a few guidelines on how to write up the meta-description for your pages.

  1. Try to keep this between 150-160 characters – again it will get cut off if you go over.
  2. Write compelling but relevant information about the page that would draw them in for a visit. And definitely don’t lie about the page because the search engines can see the content and it will have a large “bounce rate”. You don’t want that.
  3. Avoid duplicating the meta description across multiple pages. – This is a classic mistake that most marketers made in the past. Using the same meta-description will cancel out all meta-descriptions on the pages.
  4. Never use quotes. – When a search engine sees a quote, they will cut the rest of the meta-description out.

 

Headers

Header on the page

As you can see, DMI and the Dairy Checkoff is the header of the page.

Headers should be used to pull in the visitor. In other words, you should be using the H1 tags to put emphasis on the headline you want the reader to read.

The search engines are looking to see if the reader stays on the page, reads the headline and looks to click on other parts of the website.

Here’s what it looks like in code.

H1 Code

You can see it is bracketed h1.

If the H1 tag fails and the reader leaves the page, then it will cause a “bounce” increasing your “bounce rate”, which makes the webpage less effective for the keyword in question.

The same could be said for “bolding” text on the page. It does give the search engine a bit more emphasis on the words in bold but if the reader leaves then the search engine will lessen the strength of the page even with the bold keywords.

Now I’m sure you’ve heard about “Meta-Keywords”. These are not really used anymore by the search engines because of all the SEO spamming so I would recommend that you not worry about putting your keywords on the page. You should know what your keywords are for the web page content – you just don’t have to put them on anymore.

What are some of your favorite search engine optimization tips for your pages?

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