South Florida Biz Journal Q&A: Jodi Cross on the best trip she’s ever taken

This week’s executive profile. 10.20.17

Jodi Cross

BirtBIZIMAGEhplace: Rochester, New York

Residence: Jupiter

Current position: Regional director, Palm Beach County, Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association

Previous positions: Founder, Cross Network Marketing Inc.; corporate director of marketing, Sonesta Hotels, Resorts & Cruises; executive director, The Commonwealth Institute South Florida; director of marketing, Trump International Sonesta Beach Resort; director of marketing, Doral Golf Resort and Spa; VP, The Neighborhood Marketing Institute; director of marketing, PGA National Resort & Spa

Education: M.B.A, Nova Southeastern University; B.A. in hotel hospitality management, St. Thomas University

 The travel bug bit Jodi Cross at 10 years old. 

That’s when a family trip to Hawaii “turned her life upside down,” said Cross, regional director for the Palm Beach County chapter of the Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association. At that young age, she realized there was a whole world out there to discover and many more places she wanted to see.

Today, Cross is an avid traveler, equestrian, golfer and hospitality marketing professional with over 20 years in the business working with brands whose properties span the globe. But the place she likes to work more than anywhere in the world is at home.

Cross talked to the Business Journal about her first job, a recent trip that stood out and technology she can’t live without.

Can you talk about one of the best trips you’ve ever taken? Two years ago, my husband and I went to Paris, where his father was shot down in World War II. While we were there, we found the person who headed up the historical registry of pilots shot down during the war. He happened to know the owners of the farm where he crashed. When we got there, we met this old woman who remembered the day it happened. Then her son comes out with this crate and asks us, “Would you like to take a piece of your father’s plane with you?” It was just amazing. Here is a piece WPBF ran about our trip when we returned. https://youtu.be/IIVGq9ZlQHo 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IIVGq9ZlQHo&t=32s

How did you get into horseback riding? When I grew up in Rochester, I started riding horses and it became a passion of mine. I’ve been riding ever since. We make it part of our trips, like when last year I went to North Carolina, I rode three or four times. We went down to Puerto Rico recently and had a riding experience there. I used to ride often at Wandering Trails in Palm Beach Gardens.

Where will your next trip be? I just booked a cruise and we’re going to Quebec, Montreal and Halifax in Canada.

What was your first job in hospitality? I started out as a sales manager with Interstate Hotels at the former Sheraton Brickell Point. My boss was an ex-nun and she used to work all night long. Meeting her probably would have sent someone running out of that career immediately, but she really taught me a lot about my craft and the relentless pursuit of excellence.

What’s the best piece of advice you received? When I was the executive director at The Commonwealth Institute of South Florida, the founder, Lois Silverman, had some interesting advice. She told me: Think about the answer you want before you ask the question. I took that to heart.

What makes a good leader? A lot of times, as a leader, you have to step back from working on your business. You have to go from working in your business, to working on your business. A lot of people are putting out fires every day and don’t take the time to think about strategy. I take some quiet time in the morning and think, “What are the two things that we’re going to accomplish today that move revenue forward?” You get into your busy day and lose sight of that strategy sometimes. My to-do list never ends.

If you could work anywhere in the world, where would it be? I really like to work from home. With today’s portable office situation, you can pretty much work anywhere. I love having that flexible work environment, where you can be anywhere and still be productive.

What are the positives of doing business in South Florida? The negatives? The diversity is a plus. It’s a real melting pot down here. You have so many people who have relocated down here from around the world, and they have a ton of talents. As for the negatives, I find that some people don’t have the same work ethic and values down here as they do in the Northeast and Midwest.

What’s an app you can’t live without? I just love Uber. I use it all the time.

Emon Reiser

Digital Producer

South Florida Business Journal

https://www.bizjournals.com/southflorida/news/2017/10/17/executive-profile-jodi-cross.html


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Mar 1 2017
Goal Keeper Tim Howard was featured on the CBS Series Note to Self where he wrote about his personal journey and the things he learned along the way.  Tim mentioned the different roles self-belief and self-confidence played in his life. Many people use self-esteem and self-confidence interchangeably but they are quite different. Self-confidence can depend […]

What Matters Most is How you See Yourself

Goal Keeper Tim Howard was featured on the CBS Series Note to Self where he wrote about his personal journey and the things he learned along the way.  Tim mentioned the different roles self-belief and self-confidence played in his life. Many people use self-esteem and self-confidence interchangeably but they are quite different. Self-confidence can depend on performance, whereas self-belief comes from a nurturing place inside you which encourages and keeps you striving for greatness.

Self-esteem refers to how you feel about yourself overall and how much positive self-love you have. Your esteem develops from experiences and situations which have shaped how you view yourself in the world. Self-confidence is how you feel about your abilities and can vary from situation to situation. I may have healthy self-esteem, but low confidence about situations involving my math skills (this is true).

When you hold yourself in high regard, your belief in yourself improves, which makes you more confident. When you are confident in areas of your life, you begin to increase your overall sense of worth. There were many lessons I learned in my twenties which have shaped me today and strengthened my self-belief. These lessons, although painful at times, proved critical for developing coping skills later in life.

Your self-esteem can wane when you start to compare yourself with others. You feel great until you sit next to a super model then a critical spirit takes hold and you spiral into self-doubt. Embracing your authentic self means you trust yourself. The difference between our belief and confidence hinges on how much faith we have in ourselves and our abilities.

It makes sense that if we have a realistic internal rating of ourselves and see ourselves as equally competent, intelligent and attractive as others, we will feel confident in what we can do as well. However, there are times when we lack confidence and our ego takes hold to cover up a short coming. We have all heard the saying, “Fake it until you make it”. I have had to deploy this tactic before.  In my experience, you should always circle back and shore up the short coming so it doesn’t come back to bite you later on.

Inside each one of us resides a little voice, a spark of belief, who knows what we are capable of and has faith in our abilities. We just need to ignite the spark and let it shine! I like what Tim said, “Never lose the underlying belief in yourself”. Anything is possible if we have faith and believe in ourselves!

Jodi Cross is a marketing consultant, speaker and freelance writer and may be reached at jcross@crossnm.com or www.crossnm.com .

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What Are You Setting Your Sights On This Year

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“My philosophy of life is that if we make up our mind what we are going to make of our lives, then work hard toward that goal, we never lose – somehow we always win out.” ~ Ronald Reagan

Happy New Year! We are all wondering what 2017 will bring. There has been a lot of talk about winning of late. As I reflect on 2016, I feel the need for a reboot. Generally each year I set goals for myself and check in around the mid-year mark to see if I have made any progress. Somewhere during the past year I lost my way.

Recently, I came across a new technique to establish some benchmarks. The format allows for reflection, action, accountability and my favorite part, celebration. I invite you to join me in this simple eight step process of setting your sights higher and vigorously taking action to accomplish your professional best in 2017.

Step 1-Reflect back on 2016 and ask yourself four questions.

  1. What have you enjoyed most?
  2. What have you been able to make a difference in? (This is a tough one as it relates to how you address your purpose in life)
  3. What were you most surprised by?
  4. What did you not feel prepared for?

Step 2-Determine what goals you accomplished in the past year and jot down how you celebrated the accomplishment. The celebration part is noteworthy, many times we work hard only to move on to the next thing without stopping to take an account of what we accomplished. Life is about savoring the sweetness of those special moments with friends and family.

Now you are ready to move on to 2017.

Step 3-What is important to you at the present moment? Think about 2017 priorities as everything is constantly shifting and changing in life.

Step 4-Detail out the things you want to: preserve, change or strive for in the coming year.

Step 5-Outline specific goals in the following areas. (These areas are subject to your interpretation and can be substituted for other priorities if you feel there is something more pressing on your agenda)

  1. Process Improvements
  2. Technology
  3. Growth or new business development
  4. Organizational aptitude or improvements
  5. Personal Development

Step 6-Once you determined your key areas of focus. Narrow down the list to the top three goals for 2017. 

Step 7-Determine how will you measure success and celebrate your accomplishments?

Step 8-How will you hold yourself accountable to do what you say you will do? What will the consequences be if you don’t take action?

Let’s see what we can all accomplish in the coming year. Wishing you much success.  

Jodi Cross is a marketing consultant, speaker and freelance writer and may be reached at jcross@crossnm.com or www.crossnm.com .

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Being Human in an Information Age

I woke at 7 AM with a text from Delta saying my flight had been changed. Before I could even focus my eyes on the message I marveled at how efficient the airlines had become, or had they? After my sleepiness ebbed thanks to a cup of steaming coffee, I realized my now four hour flight had turned into a fourteen hour ordeal. Between outsourcing and robotic algorithms I started to wonder if humans were even necessary anymore.

We all enjoy the benefits of having Siri as our personal assistant or Pandora picking our favorite songs. We have self-checkout kiosks and the next great wave of technology will include self-driving cars and advances in artificial intelligence. So where is the human element to this information age? Machines outperforming humans is a tale as old as the industrial revolution. However, the one thing computers don’t have is a brain or common sense.

That’s where Linda comes in. When I realized I would be sitting in New York for seven hours on a layover and getting into Rochester at midnight instead of 4:30 PM, I picked up the phone and called the airlines. Hoping to get a human, I was grateful to hear “Thanks for calling Delta, this is Linda, how may I assist you today Ms. Cross.”  I had already done some research and found three other options for flights getting in within 15-30 minutes of my original time. I offered up the information and flight numbers and within a few minutes I was rebooked and all set to go with little to no inconvenience. I asked Linda why they re-routed me with a seven hour layover and she told me that algorithms pick the options and their automated system rebooks customers and notify them. What the computer didn’t know is that my elderly parents would be unable to drive to the airport at midnight to pick me up, nor was I willing to sit around all day.

This is where humans are essential, algorithms use statistical patterns in data while computers learn to improve the efficiency of many different work processes such as customer care, flight rebooking’s or toll collection on the highways for example. But do we want them babysitting our kids, making life decisions or assessing our medical condition? As this type of machine learning and technology continues to advance many employees will struggle to keep their jobs. While I understand efficiencies and bringing more dollars to the bottom line we should all be cautious that we don’t let technology remove our humanity all together.

Jodi Cross is a marketing strategist, speaker and writer and can be reached at jcross@crossnm.com.

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Hashtag Roundup

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Hashtag Roundup

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Hashtags have become a common practice these days; people use them for all sorts of purposes. You find them in text messages, chats, songs and advertisements. But where did it all begin? Turns out a former Google developer and California techie named Chris Messina posted a message in 2007 to solicit advise on using the hashtag symbol, then known as the pound sign, as an idea for groups on social media. He was met with mixed reviews at the time but the trend took off. So much so that in June of 2014, the Oxford English Dictionary added the hashtag to their definitions.


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What are hashtags used for?

Hashtags are the card catalogue of social media. The metadata tag system connects your content with other people talking about the same things or looking for information about something. So, if you write an article about using Twitter for Business and use the #TwitterTips hashtag, more people will find your content.


Hashtag Tracking

When you’re thinking of hashtags, it’s beneficial to look at your audience and your competitors. Find the keywords and hashtags that are already associated with your brand and boost them. There are many tools to help you find keywords. A simple trick I have learned is to use the search feature in both Twitter and Instagram. Instagram actually provides a number count for how many people are looking for the specific keywords when you plug them in.

Hashtag usage and effectiveness varies by platform. They will enhance your engagement if used properly. Engagement includes clicks, retweets, favorites, and replies.

Let’s take a quick look at each platform and the use of hashtags.


Facebook

On Facebook hashtags are not as well received as on other platforms. Research has shown they actually lower engagement. So a good rule of thumb is less is more. 1-2 hashtags are best for Facebook. You don’t want to be perceived as a hashtag spammer. You can use the search tool on Facebook in the graph section to see what is trending.

Twitter & Instagram

On these platforms hashtags are readily received and can increase your reach significantly. Tweets with hashtags get two times more engagement than tweets without. Some brands have seen a 50 percent increase with the use of hashtags according to HubSpot, a leading digital trend agency.

Instagram is ground zero for hashtag use. The platform has noted up to 30 hashtags used but 10 or 11 seem to get the highest interaction.


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Google+

This platform has gone the way of the less used social media portals but is still worth mentioning. Google+ is Google’s social network; hashtags were built right into Google searches. If you type in a hashtag search, you’ll get the normal search results plus a sidebar of relevant Google+ posts.

Pinterest

Brands use Pinterest to showcase products in a visual sense. For tagging you can only place tags in the description section. The tag use helps searcher to find categories of interest.


Rule of thumb: 1 – 3 tags are best over all platforms.

  • Twitter: to categorize
  • Pinterest: to brand, build like communities and be specific (tags are only clickable in pin descriptions)
  • Instagram: to build community, and be unique/detailed. Up to 30 hashtags can be used. For best results stick with 10+
  • Google+: to categorize; auto generates tags based on what it thinks your post is most relevant to
  • Facebook: sort of a hashtag free zone – if your audience is very business-minded, follow Twitter rules; if it is community-oriented, follow Pinterest/Instagram rules

Check out these resources

  1. Hashtagify.me

Hashtagify.me provides a cross referencing tool for data you can use to analyze hashtags. When you type in a hashtag, you see other hashtags and a display of how popular each hashtag. This also provides a glimpse into what key influencers are using.

  1. RiteTag

This site provides a visual organization of hashtags into colored bars showing quick analysis at-a-glance. This allows you to see what is overused or saturated and what words would be good to boost your posts.

  1. Tagboard

The results pages on Tagboard show hash tagged posts from Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Google+, and Pinterest.

  1. Twitalyzer

Twitalyzer helps you audit competitors and can tell you what hashtags they use most frequently. This can be really helpful in finding out how your niche’s influencers tweet.

  1. Tweepi.com

If you are looking for more twitter followers try this tool. Plug in your interests and industry key words and Tweepi can help identify followers and groups to grow your lists.


Summary Tips

  1. Plug in relevant keywords to your business and the audience you are trying to target. (If you are a local business, use the name of your Geo Address too).
  2. Keep it simple on most platforms, less is more when it comes to hashtags.
  3. Put your #hashtag in the end of the #sentence. That makes #reading the sentence #lessannoying.
  4. If your brand piggybacks on popular hashtags, you could increase your visibility and reach. They are great for tracking events and see what others are posting.
  5. Try some of the tools noted and see which the best is for you. Some offer free services and others provide price based packages.

Jodi Cross is a marketing strategist, writer, blogger and brand builder. For more information visit www.crossnm.com or jcross@crossm.com .

Source Information on trends referenced from Hubspot.

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Avoid Confrontation by Diffusing Arguments Before They Begin

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Want to avoid confrontation and create better customer feedback and work relations? Here is some good advice, don’t engage in an argument in the first place. Instead, diffuse the situation before it escalates by agreeing with your adversary’s point of view.


Recently, while dining at a local seafood restaurant a customer came up to the owner to complain about an employee. We happened to be sitting at the bar when the argument ensued. The owner got defensive after a women told him there had been a credit card mix up and suggested he needed to fire his employee and waived her angry finger toward a clerk at the cash register. The owners took the position that his employee had been with him a long time and was probably just having a bad night. This of course could be construed as a logical response, however, to the customer it appeared as if the owner didn’t care. This resulted in a series of threats including posting disparaging comments on Yelp and so forth. After the women left I couldn’t help but comment to the owner.


Clearly she was upset and nothing was going to change her position. What could he have done differently? Change his response to something like, “I understand, thank you for letting me know. I appreciate your comments and I will speak with John. We take this matter very seriously.” Why this approach would work better: You diffused the situation by validating the other person’s concerns. At that point, the customer would have felt heard and had a positive experience instead of remembering both the employee credit card mix up and the owners’ perceived lack of concern.


Another thing you can do is offer a resolution that satisfies everyone’s needs. Example: “We both have had a busy night, may we offer you a free dessert on the house? If you can’t wait, I understand, catch me next time and we will make sure you are taken care of properly.” Most likely, he would have gained a customer for life by turning the situation around using this small recovery strategy. At the worst, he would have opened up a dialogue resulting in a compromise and possibly avoided a negative review on social media.


Diffusing an argument before it starts is a powerful recovery tool that can be used in a multitude of situations in your personal and professional life. Remember to diffuse an argument you must listen, agree, sympathize, offer a resolution and nine times out of ten everyone will walk away satisfied.


Jodi Cross is a marketing strategist, speaker and writer and can be reached at jcross@crossnm.com.

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Does Your Business Practice Smarketing?

 

Smarketing is the process of integrating the sales and marketing processes of a business. The objective is for the sales and marketing functions to have a common integrated approach.

 

In many organizations, Marketing and Sales have historically had a somewhat contentious relationship. But there is a new trend showing behaviors have changed. The need for increased alignment and closed-loop communication between marketing and sales teams is absolutely critical. I remember approaching the Director of Sales on my first day of a new job as Director of Marketing and asking if she would like to go to lunch. She curtly replied, “I don’t eat lunch”. So began my relationship with sales for the next three year. Statistics have shown organizations with tightly aligned marketing and sales teams achieve higher revenue growth up to 20% and faster profit growth when tracked over a three-year period.


Many companies use marketing automation platforms to align, strengthen and create transparency as well as better working relationships between teams. For me, I actually worked well with Sales after our initial meeting. Some of the best practices I deployed were centered on old-fashioned team work.


Here are some easy steps to build better Smarketing teams;

 Sales + Marketing =Alignment


I started my career in sales which helped me to understand the sales language and the pressures to produce. In order to get on the same page with your sales counterparts learn about their quotas, what’s expected and the lead cycle involved to convert business. Your job as a marketing person is to build the funnel.


Celebrate success and keep the lines of communication open. Once you establish goals, team work will follow as you support one another. Weekly meetings are crucial in understanding the process. After the sales team realized marketing was there to support their efforts they would come to my team with challenges and we would work together to solve them. 


Follow the data, there is nothing more rewarding for a marketing person than to see a campaign deliver results. Sales is typically about numbers whereas marketing is more creative. Try reversing the numbers in order to visualize the results. If a sales person needs to close $20,000 a quarter in sales, backtrack to how many customers they need, measured by the average revenue per deal. By working backwards you can use the data to create a manageable campaign that delivers results.


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Meeting Madness


Is corporate America obsessed with meetings? Rushing to meetings every day can make you cranky and can also become a real energy vampire for corporate profits.



In a 2012, the Wall Street Journal cited a survey of CEOs calculating they spend 18+ hours a week in meetings. Turns out the higher you climb the corporate ladder the more time you will be spending in meetings. Upper managers calculated attending over 50 meetings a month. That doesn’t even account for the amount of time prepping for meetings. On average prep time was about 4-6 hours. So when does anyone get their actual job duties done? Turns out just because you are at work, doesn’t mean you are actually getting work done.



Source: 2012 WSJ Article


Use this meeting efficiency check list as a tool to streamline and rate your meetings in the future. Start by paying attention to any common themes. Do they start on time? Are the same people dominating the conversation? Is there any consensus met? After using the check list, you may determine the meeting was a time waster.  The good news is you can improve meeting performance by examining your own performance and making some minor changes that could impact the whole team.


Here is to improving meeting productivity on all levels.


Jodi Cross is a marketing strategist and brand consultant and can be reached at jcross@crossnm.com.


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Turn your Management Talents into Leadership Abilities

“You Manage Things, You Lead People.” Grace Murray Hopper

Whether you are in business to make a difference, bring a product to market, service a community in need or inspire the world you still need managers and leaders to perform key roles in order to be successful. We all may start out as managers but when opportunity knocks, how do we step up our game and become innovative leaders? Are the two mutually exclusive? Are some people natural born leaders?


Turns out that people are split on the decision of if leaders are born or made. In a recent study of 350+ C Suite executives in 53 countries conducted by the Center for Creative Leadership, CLL, 52.4% indicated leaders were made while 19.1% indicated they believed leaders were born and 28.5% said leaders were equally born and made.  The survey also noted the top three qualifications for good leaders were traits, experience and training.


Source: Center for Creative Leadership, CLL


If you are transitioning into a new role in your career or are on a trajectory to become the next great leader here are some fundamental differences to keep in mind:


The Manager

The Leader

Is action oriented

Is mission oriented

Keeps control of the task

Empowers others to complete the task

Is oriented toward efficiency

Keys in to organizational effectiveness

Makes rules

Breaks rules

Avoids conflict

Uses conflict

Is a team player who picks up on vision

Has responsibility to focus vision

Enjoys the details of maximizing project success

Concentrates on “what” needs to be done not “how”

Uses influence to get the job done

Uses influence to gain acceptance of future potential

Concretes on output

Emphasizes input

Is control oriented and focuses on specifics

Inspires and motivates toward vision

Plans and organizes all aspects of job

Coaches, mentors and teaches others to nurture their skills

Provides direction to direct reports

Provides advice, support and inspires those outside their immediate reporting circle


You can be an effective manager and a leader, they are not mutually exclusive. As your roles change over the course of your career the best advice is to learn from your experiences and never stop learning and growing. Putting that knowledge into practice will strengthen your leadership abilities and inspire those around you.


Jodi Cross is a marketing consultant, speaker and writer and can be reached at jcross@crossnm.com

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An Easy Way to Start Strategic Planning

 

 Strategic Planning can be a difficult but necessary process for companies to complete.  Developing a strategy takes time and resources. So why do you need a strategic plan?

  • To set your company up for success by aligning priorities
  • To establish a direction
  • To sharpen your companies focus
  • To create a pathway toward breakthrough success

What is Strategic Planning?

Strategic planning is an organizational management activity that is used to set priorities, focus energy and resources, strengthen operations and ensure that employees and other stakeholders are working toward common goals in response to an ever changing environment. Strategic planning focuses on the future and helps to shape and guide what an organization is, who it serves, what it does and why it does it.   

What is a Strategic Plan?

A strategic plan is a document used to communicate the organizations goals, the actions needed to achieve those goals and all of the other critical elements developed during the planning process.

Perhaps one of the easiest ways to explain strategic planning is by using a simple analogy. The following table illustrates a comparison between strategic planning to planning a vacation to Paris. 


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