Author Archives: Ramonna Robinson

Sometimes you have to slow down — and other lessons learned on sabbatical

Practicing yoga at Villa Gumonca on the island of Brac.

Practicing yoga at Villa Gumonca on the island of Brac.

I’ve just had the opportunity to take advantage of GFM’s generous sabbatical policy… After 10 years, employees are encouraged to take one month off to “undertake activities that promote individual rejuvenation and personal benefit.”

I did so by participating in a yoga retreat in Croatia with six Brits and a Norwegian I’d never met before, taking a two-week vacation in Croatia and Italy with my boyfriend, and then spending a week re-acclimating and getting organized at home in Denver. It was an absolutely wonderful experience and as I sat at lunch savoring my last few days off, I jotted down some of the lessons I learned that may prove helpful should you ever find yourself in the position of enjoying a month off.

1. Modifying isn’t cheating
As a former gymnast (AKA perfectionist) I feel the need to be able to bend forward and touch the ground with hands flat and legs straight when I’m practicing yoga. Thanks to a hamstring issue, I’m not currently able to, which has been driving me crazy. On this yoga retreat, our instructor encouraged me to bend my knees deeply in forward bend. Doing so not only enabled me to put my hands flat on the ground without pain, it also produced an amazing stretch that felt great. My preconceived notions of what “success” looked like in that pose and the expectations known only to me (no one else was watching to make sure I kept my legs straight) had been holding me back from true success.

Read more after the jump…

Getting Out of Your Comfort Zone. Really!

Leaders are often told that we need to operate “out of our comfort zone” in order to achieve continued success, and I recently had the opportunity to literally get way out of my comfort zone. I thought I’d share some thoughts from that experience in case you’re wondering if leaving your zone is really worth it.

Summiting La Plata Peak, CO

(L to R) Rachel Basye, Tracy Faigin Boyle, Meagan Buck (COBS instructor), Darcy Struckhoff and Ramonna Robinson (under six layers of clothing) on the summit of La Plata Peak.

To set the stage, I’m a “car camper” and a “crag climber” – according to one of my friends in the outdoor industry. I know this about myself, so I knew that a three-day excursion with the Colorado Outward Bound School would push me outside of my comfort zone. Camping without campfires, s’mores and boxed wine?? That’s really pushing it for me.

On this particular women’s invitational, we hiked in three miles to our self-proclaimed campsite at approximately 11,500 feet, carrying all of the food, shelter and supplies we’d need in our large backpacks. We slept on the ground under tarps – not tents. We (AKA our awesome instructors) cooked on liquid fuel stoves – not campfires. We got water from the stream – not from a two-gallon jug from the grocery store. And I’ll leave the “ladies room” scenario up to your imagination.

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Crushes on Brothers… And the importance of teamwork

Bert Jacobs

Life is Good co-founder Bert Jacobs with Ramonna and Laura

I was recently on a plane reading (even more) about Bert and Jon Jacobs while listening to Scott and Seth Avett, and it hit me that my brand crush (Life is Good) and my band crush (The Avett Brothers) both consist of brothers who work together and play together. From what I can tell, both embody the mantra I try to follow: Love what you do. Do what you love.

So why this fascination with brothers? As I thought about it more carefully, I think it’s really about teamwork. Whether it’s your brother, sister, co-worker or significant other, when a pair or a team clicks, the results are remarkable. Working in sync with another person or team of people allows you to thrive – to truly do what you’re great at and be supported in areas that aren’t your strongest assets.

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The Power of a Sincere Apology

David LuizWhile the World Cup has come to an end, at least one message will endure for some time. There aren’t enough words – or tears – to erase the pain of a nation as Brazil was defeated 7-1 by Germany in the World Cup semifinals. However, a heartfelt, sincere apology by team captain David Luiz had to have been appreciated by his compatriots.

Often in times of crisis or defeat, it’s easy to point fingers at others and shun the blame. However in business, as in life, a sincere apology goes a long way toward taking the edge off of the situation.

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Censorship and Transparency in the Internet Age

Screen Shot 2014-03-24 at 11.17.13 AMWe conduct a lot of crisis communication work for clients at GFM, and two of our top pieces of advice always involve “honesty” and “transparency.” I’m always amazed when organizations think that they can fool their audiences in a world that includes the Internet, word of mouth and social media. Therefore, two recent news stories took the term “crisis communication” to a whole new level for me…

1) An image and article about Pakistan’s ties to Osama Bin Laden were removed from the International New York Times in Pakistan on Sunday. Completely removed, only to leave blank space on the front page. Ironically, I can’t imagine anything that would get people talking more about something than to have so obviously attempted to censor it.

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People Matter; So Does Social Media


You’ve probably heard about the latest controversy at AOL, so I won’t take time here to recount it. Nor will I judge CEO Tim Armstrong because I know that no matter how well-planned one’s remarks are, they can come out wrong. I’m not saying he didn’t mean what he said; I have no way of knowing that. I’ve just learned over the years not to judge people unless you’ve walked in their shoes.

However, I will say that when it comes right down to it, people matter. When executives make decisions that limit or lower the benefits their employees have come to enjoy, it often backfires, and when you add the power of social media, the chance of that happening is greatly amplified. Be prepared to fully explain your decisions and why those decisions will make the company stronger. And be bold enough to apologize and make further changes if they are warranted.

Crisis Communication Strategy

When it’s not a matter of “if” but “when”…

GroundFloor Media (GFM) had the opportunity to partner with The Castle Group last week to conduct a social media crisis simulation for a private liberal arts college in the Northeast. We run several of these exercises for clients throughout the year, and I always end up being reminded of or learning a few things in the process. Following are a few crisis communication tips that are top of mind after the latest Online War Room® simulation. Hopefully, they will be helpful to you, too…

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Disaster Relief in the Age of Social Media

The instantaneous nature of social media and mobile communication has created immense opportunity for people to give – and receive – assistance following a natural disaster. As we are seeing with the flooding in Colorado, there are text-to-give campaigns, kick-starter-esque fundraising campaigns, tried and true disaster relief organizations, and countless other ways to donate to flood relief efforts.

Text-to-give campaigns are not new. In 2010, the Red Cross initiated a text-to-give program to provide a quick, easy way to donate to victims of the earthquake in Haiti, and they raised more than $6 million in 24 hours. As you can imagine, providing individuals a way to donate almost immediately greatly increased the success of this campaign. A study conducted by The Pew Internet and American Life project noted “these contributions were often spur-of-the-moment decisions that spread virally through friend networks.”

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Why Outside Magazine Thinks GFM is a Great Place to Work

A day at GroundFloor MediaI’m not off cloud nine yet, but I do want to take a minute to reflect on GroundFloor Media’s recent honor of being named the best place to work in the United States by Outside magazine while the joy and appreciation are fresh in my mind. Many friends and colleagues have asked how we achieved this, wanting to emulate “it” in their own work environments. I tried to break “it” down into three key things…

1. You have to apply to win. If your company or a team member is doing something worth recognizing, find a relevant award and apply for it. It may sound like I’m oversimplifying things, but – like most things in life – you can’t win if you don’t play!

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Taco Bell and the Need For a Social Media Policy

Taco Bell - Old logoFrom rats in a NYC restaurant to claims about not having actual meat in their beef and, now, employees licking taco shells, Taco Bell has weathered its share of social media storms. They are certainly not alone among high-profile targets that have to think about “when” rather than “if” social media will provide a vehicle for a large-scale public relations nightmare.

At GroundFloor Media, we often talk about how customers, employees and other key audiences are now not only content consumers, but how they are also content publishers. The latest incident at Taco Bell, in particular, highlights how employees – often a brand’s best ambassadors – can derail a company’s image in a matter of seconds.

How can brands protect themselves? While there is no fail-safe answer, putting simple, easy-to-understand social media policies in place and ensuring that employees understand them are two important (I’d argue imperative) steps for any company to take.

Read more after the jump…