By Laura Davis on December 17th, 2014 | Comment on this post

The numbers are in, and it’s official: 2014 is the year of Instagram. The four-year-old social media outlet built upon sharing photos and videos has surpassed the chatting, or tweeting, of its senior social competitor, eight-year-old Twitter. As reported in this article by SKIFT, Instagram has 300 million active users (MAUs), compared to Twitter’s 284 MAUs. Among the top heavy hitters in the social media world — including Facebook and YouTube — Instagram, the baby of the family, has achieved the highest growth rate, as well as acquired the most engaged community of users. For a youngling, that’s no small feat.

Appeal to the marketer

Considering the visual appeal and capabilities of Instagram to not only the casual user but also the marketing world, it’s feat comes as no surprise. Instagram offers marketers a space to promote through authentic, raw photos — not stock shots — that help to bring a brand to life and strike viewers as a tangible company with real people behind it through genuine communication that isn’t overly promotional.…

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By on December 17th, 2014 | Comment on this post

For restaurants looking to implement a sustainability plan, one of the best places to start is by reducing food waste. As much as 40% percent of the food that is grown, processed and transported in the U.S. will never be consumed, according to estimates from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. There are a number of ways restaurants can cut their food waste, from donation programs to composting.

SmartBrief interviewed Laura Abshire, the director of sustainability policy and government affairs at the National Restaurant Association in Washington, D.C., about different methods of reducing food waste and how restaurants can benefit from food waste reduction. Abshire leads the Association’s work on energy and environmental policy and related advocacy efforts, works extensively with its Conserve initiative and also is the NRA’s liaison for the Food Waste Reduction Alliance, a joint effort with the Grocery Manufacturers Association and Food Marketing Institute, to help reduce, reuse and recycle food waste in the retail and foodservice industries.…

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By on December 16th, 2014 | Comment on this post

Readers of this blog and of our SmartBrief on Leadership newsletter in 2013 were overwhelmingly interested in being better communicators, and it showed in the results of the most-read posts of that year.

The difficulty of communicating well and consistently, even for high-ranking and talented leaders, spurred us to add a section in the daily newsletter this year specifically for smarter communication, as well as a blog series on communication with Switch & Shift. And this focus makes sense — leaders need to communicate with each other, with their reports, with clients and customers, the public and, sometimes, government. They must communicate feedback, bad news, motivation, strategy and shape culture. And we’ll continue to emphasize the human part of work.

What was this year’s focus?

That said, in 2014, the focus of our most popular blog posts shifted a bit. Readers still wanted to become better at communication skills, but they also wanted to know how to deploy those skills and read them in others.…

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By Bill Rosenthal on December 16th, 2014 | Comment on this post

What you teach employees during mentoring, coaching or skills training will be out of mind as soon as you’re out of sight unless you reinforce the learning. For that you can thank the “forgetting curve.” This psychological principle, first identified in the 19th century, posits that much of what we learn is quickly forgotten, most of it within hours.

Here are five tactics you can use to help employees remember. You’ll get the best results if you begin the reinforcement right away, before the forgetting curve begins its swift effect.

Create memory aids

Remember the names of the Great Lakes? Some of us do because we were taught a mnemonic for their initials: HOMES. What are the colors of the spectrum? ROY G. BIV will help you recall them. Create your own acronyms for processes you want employees to remember. Think also of creating rhymes like the old standby “30 days have September, April, June, and November.”

Less memorable but also useful are checklists.…

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By on December 16th, 2014 | Comment on this post

SmartPulse — our weekly nonscientific reader poll in SmartBrief on Leadership — tracks feedback from more than 190,000 business leaders. We run the poll question each week in our e-newsletter.

Last week, we asked: What was your biggest leadership challenge this past year?

  • The business climate was tough and competitive: 26.72%
  • We had internal turmoil in the organization: 44.9%
  • I had big personal leadership challenges: 11.57%
  • My team members had challenges: 7.99%
  • Nothing — it was an amazing year: 8.82%

We have met the enemy and he is us. It seems like the biggest challenges we faced were from within. The good news is, we have more control over those types of challenges than we do external ones. The bad news is we’re causing ourselves more problems than we’re solving. If you’re in this large group facing internal challenges, identify them quickly and resolve to fix them or prevent them in the coming year.…

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