Day 9: History, content and wisdom

My day ended today with a walk down Harley-Davidson’s memory lane – a slow walk through the Harley-Davidson Museum and a chance to see how it all began to where it is today, sample a few bikes (not in motion though!) and gain a much stronger perspective on the rich historical impact the organization has on America. Through each exhibit you learn about Harley-Davidson’s early years of engineering and development, the role they played in the war effort and the affect they have had on generations of men and women who customize, ride, live and bread all things Harley-Davidson.

I got to spend some quality time today with Wende – the guru of all things content, architectural design and the taxonomy of systems. She serves on the integrated communications team and gave me a great overview of the work she leads in publishing, audits, employee recognition and sustainability programs. She takes a wholistic view of content for all channels – working diligently to ensure connections, consistency and access.

I also had the pleasure of chatting with Jenn at Harley-Davidson Financial Services – a seasoned communication professional who loves to “do it all” in the realm of communication and truly exercise her project management skills with every engagement, tactic and initiative. HDFS is an FDIC-insured charter with an emphasis in loan origination (underwriting and funding), customer service, collections, insurance programs, dealer floor plans and inventory and community relations. Jenn’s main focus is on moving away from the tactical and becoming more of a coach and facilitator (something I could practice more as well). Her main focus is helping leaders understand the value of face to face communication and embracing their role as influencers. She plays an instrumental role in the active Harley Davidson customer experience initiative, as well as providing her input and voice to the project retooling the intranet and integrated systems. One of her ongoing efforts centers around getting HDFS to the table – helping them to build stronger relationships and bridge communication in corporate initiatives.

One interesting tidbit I wanted to share as part of my blog post was side conversations I ended up in with two of the senior communication pro’s regarding “attributes” they look for when hiring new members of their team. As these were separate conversations – I was struck by the fact that neither placed as much emphasis on experience and specific skills as they did other work-ready qualities. Here is a helpful list for my new graduates and students who are prepping to enter the workforce. Please note there is no particular order of importance.

  1. Behavioral attributes:
    • intelligence
    • critical thinking
    • independent
    • problem-solver
    • resourceful
    • collaborative
    • emotionally intelligent (in tune with the response of others, compassion, empathy)
    • confidence
    • ability to form and sustain relationships at all levels
    • adaptability; openness to change
    • walk the talk — be highly accountable
    • integrity and trust – provide insight and guidance (do not create or add)
    • recognize your own strengths and weaknesses so you can recognize the strength in others and tap them as a resource
    • own your role within the organization and capitalize on that
  2. Technical skills:
    • strong writer and editor
    • master the art of story telling
    • aptitude for learning
    • be a visual thinker
    • be tech-savvy – know the latest in social media engagement, internet communications and integrated systems
    • know how to measure success
  3. Process-oriented qualities:
    • being a leader
    • building and motivating teams
    • understand the product life cycle (knowledge, design, retirement)
    • understand how success can be measured (quality, cost, weight)
    • understand metrics and value of measurement
    • know how to parcel information, think quickly, get the work done
    • learn how to manage > up (keep executive assistants happy, understand your leaders’ style)

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