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Fire Inc. Atlanta Supports an Operation Smile Medical Mission in Guatemala

Fire Inc. Atlanta Supports an Operation Smile Medical Mission in Guatemala

Fire Inc. Atlanta believes in the importance of giving back and making a difference in the community. This year, Fire Inc. Atlanta held various charity events and helped raise funds to support an Operation Smile medical mission. Operation Smile is a not-for-profit medical service organization that provides cleft lip and palate repair surgeries to children worldwide. To date, Operation Smile has provided reconstructive surgery to more than 150,000 children and young adults in more than 50 countries.

Multiple business joined the effort to fund a medical mission in Guatemala. However, Fire Inc. Atlanta’s determination and constant support granted them the recognition of being one of the top fundraisers! The president of Fire Inc. Atlanta, Malcolm Elavia, had the privilege to go on this medical mission trip on behalf of his company. During the week-long mission, Malcolm helped coordinate screenings, interacted with the families, and assisted in the recovery process.

Malcolm Elavia shared his experience:

“Having the opportunity to go to Guatemala and see these life-changing surgeries take place was amazing. I loved getting to see first-hand the impact that our donations made on each of these patients and I am proud to be able to support such a great cause. Being able to presence these surgeries was sad but heartwarming at the same time. I really got attached to some of the kids and their families that I spent time with. The most impactful experience by far was the relationship I built with an 8 year old girl named Palisha and her family. Palisha was unfortunately not selected as a candidate for the surgery for this year, but still showed such a positive, thankful spirit to all of us who came down to help out with the mission trip. Before I left, she even gave me a framed picture of us as a gift. I’ll always remember her optimism and plan to stay in touch with her and her family in the future.”

Overall, 104 patients had the opportunity to receive the surgery. Now that Malcolm is back from the trip, he is more motivated than ever to be able to support this great cause. Over the next year, Malcolm plans to support Operation Smile by raising twice the amount his company donated in 2014.

To find out how you can join Fire Inc. Atlanta’s effort, visit our Miles of Smiles page by clicking here! 

Let’s help Operation Smile change lives one smile at a time!

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For People to Trust You, Reveal Your Intentions (from HBR)

by Linda Hill & Kent Lineback

Think of the most chilling villain you’ve seen in the movies, the one who shows up in your nightmares, the one you would avoid at all cost if he really existed, the one, in short, you absolutely cannot trust. We don’t know what villain comes to mind for you, but one of our most memorable isHannibal Lecter in The Silence of the Lambs, played by Anthony Hopkins. Lecter is a genius, especially at reading people’s minds; in other words, he’s super competent. Whatever he sets out to accomplish, we’re confident he knows or will figure out what to do and how to do it. Think about that. An idiot villain would be a joke. That’s why serious villains are virtually always highly capable: Darth Vader (Star Wars), Dr. Moriarty (Sherlock Holmes’ archenemy), and one of our favorites, Magua (the embittered Huron warrior played by Wes Studi in Last of the Mohicans).

But what makes these characters so frightening isn’t just competence. That forces us to take them seriously; it makes them compelling. But, for the most part, competence is neutral. What truly chills us, what virtually defines villains, are their evil intentions. Their purpose is to do harm. What they seek to do with their competence is what terrifies us. Intentions are the heart of what we call character — the values, norms, goals, and priorities that drive someone’s actions and choices.

Our visceral reactions to villains illustrate an important point — that our feelings about someone, whether we fear or trust them, are largely determined by their intentions. By divining what they want, we answer the question we all instinctively ask about someone new: ally or enemy? Intentions are how we distinguish a villain from someone whose influence we accept, whom we move toward. Competence may be appealing, but intentions are what attract or repel us and foster trust or mistrust.

Thus, if you want to lead and influence others, you must reveal your intentions. People won’t believe you will do the right thing unless they’re convinced you genuinely want to do it.

That requires more conscious effort than most bosses understand. We all more or less assume that others will see our positive motives or at least give us the benefit of the doubt. But it often doesn’t work that way. As a leader and manager, you must often make tradeoffs among the competing interests of your own group, other groups, the organization as a whole, important outsiders, and the individuals who work for you. That obviously creates many opportunities for people to misinterpret your intentions.

That’s why it’s often critical to take conscious and purposeful steps to reveal your motives and values and to open yourself so others can see inside you. Here are three important ways to reveal your intentions and convince others of their sincerity.

1. First, talk explicitly about your intentions — what’s important to you, the goals you seek, the values and motives that guide your actions and decisions. Talk as well about the sources of your intentions — the experiences that forged them. When you do something or make a choice, explain both the business and personal reasons. Don’t assume people will see them. Say them outright. Invite a discussion of them.

This sounds easy, but many managers resist the idea that the boss must stoop to explain himself. Being the boss, they think, means not having to do that. But if they want to generate the kind of trust that gives them real influence and elicits the best from their people, they will talk about their intentions. This is important because intentions often aren’t obvious, and they’re always open to interpretation — especially, as we said, in a complex setting like work. So relying on others to guess what’s in your head and heart is, at best, a problematic way to produce the outcome — trust — that you want.

2. The second way to reveal your intentions is through integrity. Walk the talk. Keep your word. Be sure that what you say is consistent with what you do. This will prove your authenticity. If you tell people to be open to new ideas, but you’re not, they will doubt what you say. If they don’t understand or believe your intentions, how can they trust you to do the right thing?

3. The third way you reveal your intentions is through consistency. The intentions you speak about and practice should be the same from day to day, from person to person, from situation to situation. If they’re not, and there’s no reason for the difference, your lack of consistency will lead people to doubt you as well. If there are differences, be sure to explain them. Be sensitive to how others see and interpret your reasons for what you do.

So far we’ve argued that intentions — character — are the foundation of trust, that they must be supported by competence, and that you must take pains to reveal them. But we haven’t addressed the question of your intentions themselves. Does it matter what your intentions are?

Yes, of course it does. We don’t trust anyone simply because they have clear intentions. Otherwise, we’d trust Hannibal Lecter and other villains. People trust us because we have the right intentions, which are those intentions people accept and agree with.

What are “the right” intentions? That’s not an easy question to answer, especially for a boss, and it’s the subject of our next blog.

Linda Hill & Kent Lineback


Linda A. Hill is the Wallace Brett Donham Professor Business Administration at Harvard Business School. Kent Lineback spent many years as a manager and an executive in business and government. They are the coauthors of Being the Boss: The 3 Imperatives for Becoming a Great Leader (HBR Press, 2011).

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Posted by on June 13, 2012 in Uncategorized


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To Be a Successful Leader, Find and Develop the Strength Zones of Your People

excerpt from “Self-Improvement 101” by John C. Maxwell

Whenever you see people who are successful in their work, you can rest assured that they are working in their strength zone.  But that’s not enough if you want to be successful as a leader.  Good leaders help others find their strength zones and empower them to work in them.  In fact, the best leaders are characterized by the ability to recognize the special abilities and limitations of others, and the capacity to fit their people into the jobs where they will do best.

Sadly, most people are not working in their areas of strength and therefore are not reaching their potential.  The Gallup organization conducted research on 1.7 million people in the workplace.  According to their findings, only 20 percent of employees feel that their strengths are in play every day in the work setting.  In my opinion, that is largely the fault of their leaders.  They have failed to help their people find their strengths and place them in the organization where their strengths can be an asset to the company.

In her book, Hesselbein on Leadership, Frances Hesselbein, the chairman of the board of governors of the Leader to Leader Institute founded by Peter F. Drucker, wrote, “Peter Drucker reminds us that organizations exist to make people’s strengths effective and their weaknesses irrelevant.  And this is the work of effective leaders.  Drucker also tells us that there may be born leaders but there are far too few to depend on them.”

If you desire to be an effective leader, you must develop the ability to develop people in their areas of strength.  How do you do that?

1) Study and know the people on your team.

2) Communicate to individuals how they fit on the team.

3) Communicate to all team members how each player fits on the team.

4) Emphasize completing one another above competing with one another.

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Posted by on May 23, 2012 in Uncategorized


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Change is good – you go first!

A few years ago, British Rail had a real fall-off in business. Looking for marketing answers, they went searching for a new ad agency – one that could deliver an ad campaign that would bring their customers back.Image

When the British Rail executives went to the offices of a prominentLondonad agency to discuss their needs, they were met by a very rude receptionist, who insisted that they wait.

Finally, an unkempt person led them to a conference room – a dirty, scruffy room cluttered with plates of stale food. The executives were again, left to wait. A few agency people drifted in and out of the room, basically ignoring the executives who grew impatient by the minute. When the execs tried to ask what was going on, the agency people brushed them off and went about their work.

Eventually, the execs had enough. As they angrily started to get up, completely disgusted with the way they’d been treated, one of the agency people finally showed up.

“Gentlemen,” he said, “your treatment here at our Agency is not typical of how we treat our clients – in fact, we’ve gone out of our way to stage this meeting for you. We’ve behaved this way to point out to you what it’s like to be a customer of British Rail. Your real problem at British Rail isn’t your advertising, it’s your people. We suggest you let us address your employee attitude problem before we attempt to change your advertising.”

The British Rail executives were shocked – but the agency got the account! The agency had the remarkable conviction to point out the problem because it knew exactly what needed to change.

As Yogi Berra once said…

“Before we build a better mousetrap,
we need to find out if there are any mice out there.”

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Posted by on May 8, 2012 in Uncategorized


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5 Reasons You Need to Meet in Person

ImageMy clients are just like yours: They want to Skype, email and text. But here’s why you still need face time.

When the daily avalanche of emails and voice messages gets overwhelming, it’s so tempting to retreat to my office and start typing replies and returning phone calls. That’s one of the biggest mistakes I can make.

No matter what industry we’re in, we’re all in the people business. We’ll only be successful if we really get to know our customers and colleagues. Many of my tech marketing clients are so busy that they now prefer texting to even emails or calls. Skype, WebEx and audio calls are convenient and create the illusion we’re actually having a meeting — but nothing beats the power of a truly personal, face-to-face connection.

What can you learn from an in-person meeting that you can’t from a virtual one?

1. You’re off the record.  In Silicon Valley and many other places, there are few private offices. Many of my clients work in cubes and can’t have private telephone conversations with me or anyone else. This means that when I talk to them on the phone, I might not get to hear the most important information they can share: the unique team dynamics or executive’s personality quirks that would make or break our ability to match an expert consultant. Over sushi or a latte or a walk around the block, my clients can let me know more — with more color — than they can over the telephone or in an email.

2. Make use of not-so-small talk.  Most business conversations are focused on solving a problem quickly and efficiently, while business relationships are built when people take the time to share and learn more about each other. That happens more naturally in person than over the phone or in an email. What cements a bond between people? Small talk about a favorite team, passion for pecan pie, parenting challenges, and the other bits and pieces that make us unique and interesting.

3. Make an impression. I bought a new handbag. It’s faux ostrich and it’s pink. Really pink. I’ve received compliments on it from every woman (and one man) I’ve met with in the past two weeks. I had worried it was perhaps not professional enough for business. But the style and color were bold, “spring-y” and made me smile. Who knew my $60 knock-off handbag would be such a great conversation starter and deliver such a strong personal statement? How do you do that over Skype?

4. Read the body language. Facial expressions often communicate so much more than words. We host consultant coffees and invite a handful of independent consultants to our office in order to better understand the nuances of each professional in a relaxed setting. We need to know what isn’t on the resume that makes each person unique. In their eyes and in their body language, we can see confidence, empathy, fear, friendliness or sincerity. That ability to “read” a candidate beyond their keywords is a huge competitive advantage for us.

5. Learn where the action is. I find out so much when I visit one of my clients in their office. Is the lobby bright and inviting with recent accolades proudly displayed? Do employees seem happy? Is there free juice and healthy snacks in the cafeteria? Brand new Herman Miller chairs in the conference room? Is everyone moving in slow motion or is there a palpable buzz? The environment speaks volumes and may factor into your business proposal or plan. By understanding company dynamics, we can communicate more effectively to meet their needs.

I love new technologies that allow me communicate with others more freely and quickly. But as a business owner, I try to remember customers want to work with someone they can relate to, not just buy from.

Read more:

by René Shimada Siegel is Founder and President of High Tech Connect, a specialized consultant placement firm for marketing and communications experts. You can follow her on twitter at @renesiegel.

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Posted by on April 6, 2012 in Uncategorized


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Forget good to great. Here’s what makes a great employee remarkable.

ImageGreat employees are reliable, dependable, proactive, diligent, great leaders and great followers… they possess a wide range of easily-defined—but hard to find—qualities.

A few hit the next level. Some employees are remarkable, possessing qualities that may not appear on performance appraisals but nonetheless make a major impact on performance.

Here are eight qualities of remarkable employees:

1. They ignore job descriptions. The smaller the company, the more important it is that employees can think on their feet, adapt quickly to shifting priorities, and do whatever it takes, regardless of role or position, to get things done.

When a key customer’s project is in jeopardy, remarkable employees know without being told there’s a problem and jump in without being asked—even if it’s not their job.

2. They’re eccentric… The best employees are often a little different: quirky, sometimes irreverent, even delighted to be unusual. They seem slightly odd, but in a really good way. Unusual personalities shake things up, make work more fun, and transform a plain-vanilla group into a team with flair and flavor.

People who aren’t afraid to be different naturally stretch boundaries and challenge the status quo, and they often come up with the best ideas.

3. But they know when to dial it back. An unusual personality is a lot of fun… until it isn’t. When a major challenge pops up or a situation gets stressful, the best employees stop expressing their individuality and fit seamlessly into the team.

Remarkable employees know when to play and when to be serious; when to be irreverent and when to conform; and when to challenge and when to back off. It’s a tough balance to strike, but a rare few can walk that fine line with ease.

4. They publicly praise… Praise from a boss feels good. Praise from a peer feels awesome, especially when you look up to that person.

Remarkable employees recognize the contributions of others, especially in group settings where the impact of their words is even greater.

5. And they privately complain. We all want employees to bring issues forward, but some problems are better handled in private. Great employees often get more latitude to bring up controversial subjects in a group setting because their performance allows greater freedom.

Remarkable employees come to you before or after a meeting to discuss a sensitive issue, knowing that bringing it up in a group setting could set off a firestorm.

6. They speak when others won’t. Some employees are hesitant to speak up in meetings. Some are even hesitant to speak up privately.

An employee once asked me a question about potential layoffs. After the meeting I said to him, “Why did you ask about that? You already know what’s going on.” He said, “I do, but a lot of other people don’t, and they’re afraid to ask. I thought it would help if they heard the answer from you.”

Remarkable employees have an innate feel for the issues and concerns of those around them, and step up to ask questions or raise important issues when others hesitate.

7. They like to prove others wrong. Self-motivation often springs from a desire to show that doubters are wrong. The kid without a college degree or the woman who was told she didn’t have leadership potential often possess a burning desire to prove other people wrong.

Education, intelligence, talent, and skill are important, but drive is critical. Remarkable employees are driven by something deeper and more personal than just the desire to do a good job.

8. They’re always fiddling. Some people are rarely satisfied (I mean that in a good way) and are constantly tinkering with something: Reworking a timeline, adjusting a process, tweaking a workflow.

Great employees follow processes. Remarkable employees find ways to make those processes even better, not only because they are expected to… but because they just can’t help it.

Jeff Haden learned much of what he knows about business and technology as he worked his way up in the manufacturing industry. Everything else he picks up fromghostwriting books for some of the smartest leaders he knows in business. @jeff_haden

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Posted by on March 28, 2012 in Uncategorized


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What Is Marketing??

Internet marketing, promotional marketing, public relations, etc. What does it all mean?

Marketing can be defined as ‘the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large,’ according to the AMA (American Marketing Association).

So you still may wonder what exactly marketing is.Unfortunately, that’s like asking what exactly the atmosphere is. It’s usually a combination of a lot of things, and can change depending on the circumstances. Generally, marketing refers to putting a service or product in front of a potential buyer, at the highest ROI (return on investment), customer acquisitions, and customer retention. In layman’s terms, marketing identifies customers, gains customers, and helps to keep customers.

So, what’s the difference between marketing and sales? A sale cannot take place without marketing efforts. But…selling, in and of itself, is simply pushing the sale of one particular product, not taking the consumers desires, needs, or wants into the equation.

Wait…isn’t that just promotion? Well, not really. Promotion may or may not involve the actual selling of a product. It just puts it in front of people as much as possible, and from a lot of different channels.

To wrap it all up: Marketing is determining your target market, finding the potential customers, qualifying them, acquiring them, and keeping them.

The sales process is simply a small part of marketing.

Customer service is a small part of marketing.

Lead generation is a small part of marketing.

Marketing usually refers to the overall process.

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Posted by on March 8, 2012 in Uncategorized


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