Top 10 ways to go BIG with Yammer


Yammer users are often looking for ways to find the specific information they are looking for amidst a sea of resources and posts. They are looking for ways to make Yammer feel small…except when they’re not. Sometimes, people look to Yammer to expand beyond their team and what they already know and who they are connected with. Sometimes, Yammer users want to go BIG.

Here are 1o ways to go BIG with Yammer.

home1. Click on the Home icon: Whether it is the first thing you do when you arrive in your Yammer network, or when you get lost in groups and file libraries and need to return somewhere familiar, you can always go home. Click on the home shaped icon in the upper left hand corner of the screen and you will see posts made to all public groups (even groups you don’t belong to), and posts made to all private groups you belong to.
2. Select your newsfeed: Cast a wide net. After you have clicked on the home icon, you can determine the exact newsfeed you will see. There are three options. “Discover” will suggest content you are probably interested in. “All” shows all posts in all groups you have a right to see. “Following” will show you only posts from groups you belong to, and people and resources you follow.


3. Turn off email notifications: There is no better way to restrict the information that you see in your Yammer network than only reviewing your email notifications. Turn notifications off in your user profile settings, and develop the habit of regularly checking your Yammer newsfeed. Connect with all the great information being shared in your network.
4. Set an example of transparency: Yammer works best when it enables us to connect with the work of other departments and teams throughout our organizations. When you create a group in Yammer, unless confidentiality issues demand privacy, set your group to be public. Enable others to go BIG with Yammer by being having access to your work through transparency as you share conversations and resources with your colleagues.
5. Review group directory: Even when your newsfeed settings are properly set, even when you are not using email notifications, it is easy to forget the wide variety of groups that may exist in your network. Check you group directory from time to time. See what groups are being suggested to you, see what are the largest groups and the smallest groups, remind yourself of what is happening in your network.
6. Follow the leader: Visit other public groups in your networks, and follow colleagues who regularly post in those groups so you can better stay connected to their work. These are the people who understand how to work in a collaborative platform. These are people who want to share, and who want to be transparent. You will learn a lot from them.
7. Be vulnerable: Don’t just use Yammer to report and push information out. Bring your questions and curiosity to Yammer. Have you gotten stuck on a problem? Want to learn more about a project being done in another department? Make those posts. Open yourself on Yammer. Doing so will result in a more robust network with more conversation and activity. Set the example.
capture8. Use a photo in your Yammer profile: This may sound like a strange way to make Yammer a bigger place, but it’s true. Adding a photo to your user profile is a wonderful and easy way to make it easier for people to connect with you. If it is easier to connect with you, more people will connect with you. When more people connect with you, there will be more activity in your network. Go BIG with a profile photo.
9. Use email: Though email does take us out of the network space where we want our communications activities to be happening, email can do a lot of good in actually getting your colleagues to the Yammer network in the first place. Send an email that says “We could really use your input on this conversation happening in our Yammer network. Click on this link to respond.” “Thank you for requesting the form. Click here to find it in our Yammer network.” Yammer networks don’t go BIG on their own, sometimes we have to be strategic get people there in the first place.
10. Think BIG: Your Yammer network can be the place where your organization works. Yammer can be the place where transparency is achieved, greater collaboration is had, and an ongoing legacy of information is created. The more an organization uses its Yammer network, the more money is saved, the more confusion and frustration is avoided and ideas, creativity and enthusiasm can go BIG throughout every team and every department.

All of this is not to say that Yammer, and Yammer alone can save the day. But, if we are open to change, transparency and collaboration, your Yammer network can be a very effective place for these behaviors to take hold and flourish. So, give it a try. Don’t be afraid. Go BIG!

One Perfect Song: No Surrender


“No Surrender”
Written by Bruce Springsteen
Performed by Bruce Springsteen
Released June 4, 1984

There is something special about your teenage summer nights. Tapping on your buddy’s window late on a Saturday night long after everyone in the house is asleep, because you absolutely have to talk. Driving around your hometown, looking in vain for something to do before giving up and going to the McDonald’s drive-thru. Cruising with the radio blaring, windows down and singing along to songs of hope and desperation.  “….1, 2, 3, 4, the highway’s jammed with broken heroes on a last chance power drive…”

It was during this time of my life that the album Born in the U.S.A. by Bruce Springsteen was released. I had listened to Bruce Springsteen before. Seemed like everyone had a copy of Born to Run. I had not yet had the opportunity to explore The River or Darkness on the Edge of Town, and I was just getting into the loose and jangly Greetings from Asbury Park, NJ.

But Born in the U.S.A. was different. It was big and loud. Bombastic. A protest party album like I had never heard before. I pumped my fist to “Born in the U.S.A.” I sang along to the sha-la-la chants in “Darlington County” and I stood in front of my mirror, pretending I was on stage with “Dancing in The Dark.”

But, for some reason, the song “No Surrender” was different from all other songs on this album. From the very first time I heard “No Surrender,” it sounded familiar, almost timeless. I could have sworn I had heard this song before. Was it the tune? The lyrics? The sentiment? Even more so than any track on Born to Run (one of the finest albums of all time), I felt that “No Surrender” captured the spirit, the longing, the happiness, desperation and dreams of my teenage years.

“Tonight I hear the neighborhood drummer sound
I can feel my heart begin to pound
You say you’re tired and you just want to close your eyes
And follow your dreams down”

A visceral connection to his community is created through music. There is a breathtaking excitement as his heart begins to pound. He realizes his dreams are within reach. The summer night is filled with magic and promise.

“Now young faces grow sad and old and hearts of fire grow cold
We swore blood brothers against the wind
I’m ready to grow young again.
And hear your sister’s voice calling us home across the open yards
Well maybe we could cut someplace of our own
With these drums and these guitars.”

We are older now, but that time of dreams and hopes was just yesterday. Through this music we play and listen to, we can get back to that time. This is not about nostalgia. This is not about sentiment. These “drums and these guitars” connect us to something larger than ourselves. This music reminds us that we are here today because of who were were yesterday. We can still connect to that passion. We can still do great things.

From time to time, Bruce Springsteen takes requests during his concerts. These requests may be a rarely played song from his catalog, or it could be a song that he loves made famous by another artist. On September 9th, 2016, a sign was held high during a Springsteen concert in Philadelphia. “Skipped school today. Our parents thought we could learn more than a 3 minute record.” The sign was made by a college student who asked to play “No Surrender” along side Bruce and the E Street Band. Bruce obliged.

A clean cut kid jumped up on stage and was provided a guitar. He stood next to Bruce and took a wide stance. He looked out at the audience, and a wry, knowing smile appeared on his face. The band began the song, and in front of an audience of 30,000, the kid became a rock and roll star. With the confidence of a veteran and the swagger of a preacher sharing a truth his congregation must know, he played and sang along side Bruce like he had been in the E Street Band since 1972. This moment, this un-scripted completely spontaneous event, became the perfect embodiment of “No Surrender.”

“Now on the street tonight the lights grow dim
The walls of my room are closing in
There’s a war outside still raging
You say it ain’t ours anymore to win
I want to sleep beneath
Peaceful skies in my lover’s bed
With a wide open country in my eyes
And these romantic dreams in my head.”


The American dream, and the dream of every kid trying to do more, trying to make sense of the world, trying to do something great has perhaps never been better expressed in song than “with a wide open country in my eyes, and these romantic dreams in my head.”

No retreat. No surrender.

Working Out Loud, Week 6


Working Out Loud is about the work we do, except when it’s not. Working Out Loud focuses on professional goals we set for ourselves and professional networks we create, except when it doesn’t.

As my first Working Out Loud group enters it’s 7th week, our group is beginning to see the amazing benefits of pursuing a variety of different types of goals. Some goals are purely professional in nature. My goal, for instance, is to connect with other professionals who manage Yammer networks for non-profit organizations. Other goals in our group, when not professional, focus on habits that prepare us for success.

And what about those non-professional goals? In a very real way, it is those goals that are more personal in nature that have really brought our group into sharp focus, and made us something much more than work colleagues.

During our first meeting, one by one, we each shared our goals. One person announced “I want to develop a skill which will enable me to…”, the next person said “I want to become better at…”, and then someone else said “I want to learn more about…”

Then the last person shared their goal, and said “I want to lose 12 pounds in 12 weeks.”

A moment of silence. We all processed what we just heard.

We were all, frankly, a little surprised that someone would choose to be so open and vulnerable in our group, especially during our very first meeting! We talked about how a network could be created in pursuit of this goal. We talked about websites, resources and contacts that could help.

This disparate of group colleagues and contacts, people with only the most tenuous of connections to each other, became “we.” Through the bravery of our friend, we all became more invested in each others goals, and we realized together that our work related goals were very personal in nature, and that any personal goals we pursue will greatly improve our work lives as well.

As we gather week to week, we check in with each other on the progress of our goals. “How is your relationship list?” “Has your Twitter activity picked up?” “Has your network grown?” Never did we ask our friend how much weight was lost, we were only interested in how collaboration efforts, skills and habits were improving.

Imagine our delight when, during our Week 6 Working Out Loud meeting, our friend said “Proud to announce I’ve lost 10 pounds. Only two more to go!” So, it was not 12 pounds in 12 weeks. It was 10 pounds in only six weeks. “I have tried to lose this weight before, but it was only because of this group that I was finally able to succeed.”

Too often, we talk about achieving a balance between our work and personal lives, as if a balance could ever be found. Balance suggests a separation. Work stays at work, and personal life stays at home. But, as I have learned during our Working Out Loud circle, it is really a smooth blending of the two we are trying to achieve, and a recognition of the fact that a positive work life will always result in a better personal life, and a happier personal life will always make for a more successful work life.

My friend will lose two more pounds in six weeks, if not more. I have no doubt.

Top 10 ways to go Small with Yammer


With over 8,000 users, and average engagement rates of 33%, I am very happy with the way people are using our Yammer network. But to many, our network feels too big. They express concerns about the ability to find the information they need, to get to the place they want to be, and to be able to easily monitor the conversations they care about.

But, utilizing a few easy tricks that harness the power of the Yammer platform, we can make this big place feel manageable and small.

  1. imgresHarness the Power of Bookmarks: Rather than having to log in every time you visit a Yammer network, rather than having to search for your group, use your browser bookmarks. Bookmark the homepage newsfeed of your Yammer network, but also bookmark any groups that you want to revisit regularly. When you are at a location in Yammer you want to revisit, just set it as a bookmark.
  2. Search with Quotation Marks: Searching on a phrase, such as Yammer Help, will provide results that match both the word Yammer and Help. But if you add quotation marks to the search,  “Yammer Help” will provide results that only match the entire phrase. Much more specific, much more useful.
  3. Search Only Inside Your Group: Did you know there is an additional, group specific search box, on the right side of the page in every group? For some reason, this functionality seems to escape most peoples’ attention. Made a post in a group but can’t find it? Search in that the group search box and you will find it right away.
  4. Create a Group: People find information in Yammer that they want to save and share with their team. Click on the “Create a new group” in the lower left hand corner of the screen, and set it as a private group for your team. Under the posts and resources that you want to save, click the “SHARE” link, and share it to your private group. You will have a wonderful collection of useful information in no time!
  5. Use the Date and Time stamp: Next to every post in Yammer, you will see the date and time that post was made. That information is actually a link. If you click on that link, you will be brought to a page just for that post. Copy that URL, email that URL out as a link: “Did you see this great post?” Bring people to the specific comment you want them to
  6. Topics: A great way to focus resource collections is through the use of topics (or #hashtags). If you have a Yammer discussion group called Registration Info, and you have a long list of files in that group that provide different registration forms, registration instruction documents and receipt examples, you can attach #RegForms to the forms, #RegInstructions to the instruction documents, and #RegReceipts to the receipt examples. Just like with the date/time stamp, a topic is a link. Clicking on that link does a search for all information to which a particular hashtag is attached. So, if a user clicks on #RegForms, they will only see those documents. A great way to organize and share information collections.capture
  7. Group Info Box: I think this is one of the great underutilized features of Yammer. Use the info box to share information that you really need people to see. More and more, I use the Info Box for links to topic document pages. Again, bringing users directly to information collections (collections that grow as topics are added to more resources) that they need. In my imagined Registration group, the info box would contain direct links for #RegForms, #RegInstructions and #RegReceipts.
  8. Refine Email Notifications: Users often complain about the influx of email notifications the immediately get from Yammer upon activating their account. It doesn’t need to be this way! Edit your notification settings by clicking on the gear wheel in the lower left hand corner of the screen, and select “Edit Settings” from the pop-up menu. Get notifications only from the groups that are most important to you.
  9. Follow in Inbox: It can be difficult to find a conversation you were interested in again if you have left your network. Simply click on the three dots under the first post of the conversation you like, and select “Follow in Inbox” so you get  alerts when there is new conversation activity.capture
  10. Join Fewer Groups!: By clicking on the home icon in the upper left hand corner of the screen, you can see every post in every public group and every private group to which you belong in your network when you scroll through your newsfeed. So, only join those groups that are most important and central to your work. Going into one of those groups will strip everything else in your network away, and your network is now small, it is finite, showing you only the information most important to you.

Give these techniques a try. Control the chaos, reduce the noise, and find specificity and clarity in your Yammer network. Take control, and make your Yammer network work for you.

Straight from the Gutter


My friend Michael had just come home after spending a college semester abroad in London. We met for lunch to catch up after his return home, and he handed me a cassette tape. “I heard these guys performing on the street in London, and they were great. Listen to the tape…You’ll love it.” Michael told me that the lead singer’s name was Trashmouth, and he played the washboard. Another guy played the Tea Chest Bass, which had only one string. This was my kind of music. The album was called Isometric Boogie.

But I was skeptical. I had bought music from bands performing on the street only to get home to find hissy, low-fi recordings that I could not listen to all the way through, not even once. But, as soon as I popped this tape into the tape deck of my 1983 lime green Honda Accord, I knew this was different.

The recording was crisp and clean. The first song was “Everlasting, Shining Peace of Mind.” The one string bass thumped along, a syncopated guitar starts up, and the growly lead singer’s voice comes in. “All I ever wanted was a reason to by happy, happiness can be so hard to find.”

I came to learn that The Gutter Brothers began their career busking in the streets of New Orleans for loose change, and eventually made their way to London, filled out the band a bit with more personnel, recorded Isometric Boogie (their debut album), and once again found themselves busking on the street, where they were heard by my friend Michael.

Every song is beautifully written and performed. It has a contemporary sound while firmly steeped in a skiffle/rockabilly tradition. The guitar is clean and the songs are about cars, crime, girlfriends and the family homestead. This is American music at its finest, by way of New Orleans and London.

“Live and Learn” begins with a sweet flute alternating with a cow bell and high hat cymbal, eventually joined by a high, melodic electric guitar. The first thing we hear in “Hand Jive” is the familiar, wonderful Bo Diddley beat over which we hear the story of Way out Willie, and his girlfriend Talking Billie, a great re-interpretation (though not a cover) of the Eric Clapton classic. “The Frame” is told from the point of view of a man behind bars, pleading his case, swearing it wasn’t him! The remote family farm burns down as the singer helplessly wonders “Where do They Keep the Water?”

For as long as my car had a tape deck, I played The Gutter Brothers, and I was thrilled a couple of years ago to find the album on iTunes. Much to my delight, the music held up. Once again, I was able to enjoy this wonderful album, but now I could share it with my family.

One evening, I was playing the album during dinner, and the as the brilliant last song came on, I asked my eldest daughter if she could guess what the song is. She listened. The song sounded as if it was written for a lone horseback rider, slowly loping along at sunset. The bass thumped, the Jew’s Harp twanged and Trashmouth began to sing.

“You don’t have to be beautiful, to turn me on.”

My daughter’s eyebrow arched. She knew she knew the song, but she could not place it.

“I just need your body, baby, from dusk till dawn
You don’t need experience, To turn me out
You just leave it all up to me, I’ll show you what it’s all about.”

She smiled, it finally dawned on her. “Kiss” by Prince, as a Country and Western twangy hobo lullaby. Unbelievable and brilliant. How did it ever occur to this rockabilly band to cover this neo-Funk classic? We all enjoyed the song over the dinner table, and as the song came to an end, my daughter smiled. But, it was a false ending.

The song continued, and ended again. My daughter began to laugh as she realized it was yet another false ending. The song continued, and ended again and again. My daughter was laughing hysterically, unable to catch her breath. Finally, they song came to its real end and my family was given the wonderful gift of an indelible memory.

The Gutter Brothers never made it. Isometric Boogie did not become a hit, so they re-invented themselves as a harder rocking band. The band continued to tour. Some members left the band, some died, some new members joined. The Gutter Brothers have a website, and they continue to perform from time to time, but I have never met anyone else who knows their music.

We never know when or where the really important music in our lives will appear, or where it will come from. Coming from the streets of London, over lunch with a good friend, or playing at the family dinner table. That music might be from a million selling, Grammy award winning band, or it may be one of the millions of bands that never hit it big…one of the bands that played good music, music that mattered and had personality and style, and just never broke through.

Thank you Michael for bringing this music to me all those years ago. You were right. I love it.

Working Out Loud, Week 5


Generosity takes different forms.

This week in Working Out Loud (WOL), we were encouraged to share a list 50 things about ourself with the other people in our circle. We were advised that this would be a challenging, yet rewarding experience. I agree.

My list begins by stating that “I am Jewish.” This should come as no huge surprise to anyone who knows me. I also mention items such as “I am a runner”, “I play the guitar”, and that “I was a temple executive director for 10 years.”

Our Working Out Loud circle guide for Week 5 suggests that each item on our list can “form the basis of a shared experience with someone, especially if it’s framed as a contribution.” I confess, I was not so strategic in my list. I listed things that occurred to me, things that might be mildly interesting to the other people in my group.

Form of Generosity, #1:
But, the more I typed, the deeper I went, and I realized that every item I added was an exercise in generosity unto itself. It is as if I was saying to my WOL group “I would like to share an interesting aspect of my life with you. I want you to know this about me, because I think it will make us better friends and better colleagues. Please use this as another data point about me. Can this information help you? Does this information give you more insight into my professional and personal experience? It’s my pleasure to share this information with you.”

Form of Generosity, #2:
Conversation about our lists became questions, and we talked about questions. Questions, as it turns out, are also a form of generosity. Though certainly self-serving in nature, they do bring about unexpected “generosity benefits.”

  1. Questions will surface information for other people to learn from. You are asking for yourself, yes, but others will see the replies and those replies will most likely be helpful to you, and to them.
  2. Through your question, you are sharing openness and vulnerability. You are effectively saying Here is something I don’t know. Please help me.
  3. By asking your question, you are giving others license and freedom to ask their questions, and information and helpful replies will be shared with everyone.

Conversation about our lists continue in our private Yammer group. We are asking each other about our lists and the skills brought about by our experiences. We are all learning a lot, and our habits of curiosity and generosity are sure to continue.


A Broken Melon, and the Lessons of Good Networking

At first, I thought someone had dropped a melon, but then I heard the gasps. An older woman had fainted. She lay motionless, and blood began to drip from her head wound to the dull, gray concrete floor below.

melonShe was soon roused back to consciousness, and walked out to another room. The blood was quickly wiped from the floor and the speaker continued. I was happy that it seemed the woman was going to be OK, and I was happy that the speaker continued. I looked at the spot where the woman had fallen, and I realized that I really should act now. Who knows when it might be my melon?

It was late fall 2002 when the melon hit the floor. I had been out of work for about 10 months after having been laid off during the post 9/11 recession. I had experience in publishing, technology and Jewish communal work, and was doing concurrent job searches in all three areas.

For several years, I had been a part-time temple youth group advisor, and I was attending a regional event helping to provide programming and care for teenagers from throughout the area. The speaker was talking about important issues that affected our community. He was bright, enthusiastic, charismatic and based on the people he was talking about during his speech, very well connected. I realized that this is someone I should meet, and this is someone who may be able to help in my job search.

During my 10 months out of work, I had (much to my surprise) learned how to be an effective networker. I was pretty good at it! I learned that applying for a job where I had no personal contacts rarely produced any meaningful results. I learned that people like to talk about themselves and the work they do. I learned that “please meet with me because I am looking for a job” rarely, if ever, produced meaningful results.

But, I also learned that people like to share. They like to be asked about their work and their journey. They like to help, if they are given a good reason to do so. A couple of days after the event, I gave the speaker a call at his office and left him a voice mail. Much to my surprise, he called me back right away.

“We did not have a chance to meet personally” I told him, “but I really enjoyed your talk at the event the other day. If you have some time, I was hoping I could take you out for a cup of coffee. I am exploring career opportunities in the Jewish community. While I understand you probably don’t have any available positions at your organization, I would like to learn more about your work, share a little about what I have done in my career and see if any ideas come to mind for you about other people I might be able to contact.”

He, like many other  generous people I reached out to during my job search, was very happy to meet.We met as planned. He held an executive position for a major Chicago based Jewish non-profit organization, and as I guessed, he did not have anything that would be a match for my skills. But, the more we talked, the more he realized I might make a good temple executive director. He encouraged me to reach out to a friend of his. That friend was aware of an opening at a small congregation, and I was encouraged to reach out to the rabbi of that congregation to pursue the opportunity further.

Might the rabbi have returned my call if he did not know me at all? Perhaps, but the fact that a trusted friend and colleague of his recommended that I call, he talked to me right away, and I eventually got that job which began my professional Jewish community career.

Networking was an uncomfortable proposition for me, until I realized that networking, at its very core, is simply getting to know someone over a cup of coffee. We tell our stories and realize where our paths may have crossed over the years. We discover that we know the same people. We realize differences, commonalities, and the fact that there is always an opportunity to help. Even beyond getting a new job, or expanding your sales, this is about a better and more enriching life.

Don’t let a broken melon ruin your day. There is a lot of good work to be done, a lot of meaningful connections to be made.