Posts by Caroline Gibson Harris

Blackberry Dos & Don'tsHaving just returned from 2.5 busy weeks in the UK, my blackberry is now firmly part of my anatomy. It can be found attached to my right arm and it is safe to say I am addicted to it.

In all seriousness though, when I left the UK five years ago, Blackberry’s were reserved for senior management. You rarely saw them come out during a meeting and NEVER saw anyone checking for messages over beers on a Friday night. Well the latter doesn’t seem to have changed that much (except senior management and the spattering of American expats), but it seems that the addiction has spread across the Atlantic with 38% of Americans and 31% of Brits now carrying a smart phone.

So, during a full day meeting, we began to question Blackberry etiquette. According to a Dealbreaker post in 2009, Wells Fargo fines people $100 for looking at their Blackberry in a meeting. However, in today’s ‘want it now’ culture, is it right to expect that all attendees will ignore the outside world for eight hours? Is the odd stealth trip to the ladies room the only ‘proper’ way to deal with your exploding inbox or is it perfectly acceptable to whip out your ‘Berry’ at the table and email away?

It’s hard to say what ‘proper’ Blackberry etiquette should be, but my thoughts can be found after the jump. Comments welcome!

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Written on September 7th, 2011 by
Categories: Miscellaneous Musings | No Comments »

Geek VacationSUMMER, SUN, VACATION, RELAXATION – all words that instantly bring a smile to your face!  So, why then do so few Americans take their vacation days? According to an ABC News report that I stumbled upon, only 57% of Americans use their full vacation allowance – a measly average of 13 days.  The U.S. has the lowest number of days vacation, and is the only country in which an employer doesn’t have to legally offer paid time off at all.

Consider the stats below:

Average paid time-off days for a variety of countries:

Italy: 42 days
France: 37 days
Germany: 35 days
Brazil: 34 days
United Kingdom: 28 days
Canada: 26 days
South Korea: 25 days
Japan: 25 days
United States: 13 days

Percentage of vacation actually used:

France: 89 percent
UK: 77 percent
Germany: 75 percent
Italy 66 percent
Brazil: 59 percent
Canada: 58 percent
United States: 57 percent
South Korea: 53 percent
Japan: 33 percent

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Written on May 4th, 2011 by
Categories: Business, From the News | No Comments »

No Asshole RuleAl Capone once said, “You get further with a kind word and a gun than you do with a kind word alone,” and as we come out of the recession, I often wonder whether the workplace will emerge with a more Capone-esqe, dog-eat-dog approach to doing business (although without the gun!) or whether it will be a more collaborative world where nice is necessary.

I’ve never been a great fan of business books but while browsing for vacation reading at JFK recently, I stumbled on “The No Asshole Rule.” The book, by Robert Sutton, discusses building a civilized workplace and surviving one that isn’t.

Luckily, I’ve had limited exposure to the type of people described by Sutton, but I know I am in the minority. Incivility in the workplace is rampant – a study referenced in the book said that 10% of people experience it on a daily basis and 20% were direct targets of incivility once a week.

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Written on March 21st, 2011 by
Categories: Leadership, Management | No Comments »

The recession taught us many things, but for me one of the most poignant lessons was that the world has shrunk, borders have opened (although my immigration lawyer would disagree), and the news is truly global.  No longer can a PR professional survive without at least a basic knowledge of how the media works in the key financial markets.

As an Englishwoman in New York, I know something about experiencing new cultures (I still refuse to call it a fanny pack), and thanks to the generous 6-week vacation I was granted in the UK, I managed to escape the rainy English shores on a frequent basis to visit Europe, Asia, Australia, Africa and North and South America. The differences are vast and my travels have taught me the importance of understanding local cultures when dealing with overseas clients and media.

After spending half my career in London, I’m often called upon to give guidance to our clients that are trying to break into that market and vice versa for British companies that are trying to build their profile in the US and I always stress the differences. For example, in the UK, there are over 15 national newspapers versus only 4 in the US – that’s an awful lot more column inches for a much smaller market! There are also a lot of cultural differences. Remember the British stiff upper lip? Ever tried taking a British spokesperson (myself included) and putting them on a US TV station? It takes a lot of training for us Brits to shake that reserved outer shell and take on a more American approach.

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Written on January 26th, 2011 by
Categories: Communication, Industry Tips, Public Relations | No Comments »