WHAT SUCCESSFUL LEADERS DO IN CHALLENGING TIMES by Kevin Daum / Inc.

Posted in General Management with tags , , , , , , , , , , on August 23, 2014 by Robert Finkelstein

Along with hundreds of inspirational quotes, beautiful images, recommending reading, and my own personal and business blogs, at “Behind the Scenes / Virtual COO” you will find the writings and videos of those whose intention is to inspire, motivate, educate and push us to think outside the box.

WHAT SUCCESSFUL LEADERS DO IN CHALLENGING TIMES by Kevin Daum / Inc.

birds-flying-leadership-1940x900_34932Given the same set of circumstances, some people create team success and others fail. Great leaders know how to turn tough times into big wins. Here’s how they do it.

If there is one thing consistent about business it’s the inconsistent dynamics of business. Great leaders can navigate turbulent business climates just as well as they can sail a calm sea of activity. Often they use those frenetic circumstances to capitalize and strip away competition. Sure, some of the successes that come from chaos are pure luck, but once you dig in to the stories you find out there were intentional key decisions that launched the team to exponential success.

Success or failure during times of peril depends on your ability to get your team moving with strength and confidence. Following are 8 examples where strength, focus and resolve will help you avoid the temptations that lead to failure in difficult times.

1. Temptation: To spread your sense of urgency and panic.

When a state of panic sets in, reactive leaders will ramp up the energy and stress. Some problems do need to be solved IMMEDIATELY. But if the boss is frantic and emotional, everyone else will be too, and efficiency will diminish.

What great leaders do instead: Learn to break the news calmly, while making the seriousness of the situation clear. Take a breath and carefully assess the situation so you can work with the team to clearly set the appropriate priorities. Then you can be effective and efficient internally as you deal with the outer chaos.

2. Temptation: To lay blame.

When something goes awry, people naturally start to ask, “Who did this? Whose fault is it?” It is good to know the root of the problem, but this often descends into counterproductive finger pointing. While everyone is focused on avoiding the burden of guilt, the situation may be going from bad to worse. A leader who allows or participates in the blame game ends up with a diminished team full of distrust.

What great leaders do instead: Help the team focus on moving forward. Ask “What do we need to do to recover quickly?” and then get the team working together to make those things happen. A team will be more successful by creating heroes who inspire others to step up.

3. Temptation: To let your emotions drive your response.

It may feel better to yell or bawl someone out when you’re angry or tense…at least it provides a momentary sense of release. But it does more harm than good in the long run. Your people become resentful or fearful and less likely to give you their best efforts, or bring you news that might trigger a tantrum.

What great leaders do instead: When your emotions flare, give yourself a moment to let your rational brain step in. Excuse yourself for a moment if you have to, or just take a few deep breaths. Find productive ways to channel the negative energy into positive results.

4. Temptation: To make assumptions.

In moments of small vexation or serious crisis, people often scramble to identify a cause, sometimes allowing existing assumptions to drive conclusions rather than facts. Do you actually know the reason the reports are not in the box? Are you sure the marketing people missed the deadline? Is IT really being lazy? If you have existing concerns or criticisms, it is especially easy to jump to conclusions that may or may not be accurate.

What great leaders do instead: Ask more questions that frame the big picture. Calm, value neutral questions allow you and others to diagnose what’s truly going on. Sometimes they know what caused a breakdown, sometimes they don’t, especially when there are a lot of moving parts in a lot of departments.Often a small issue that seems to be a choke point is only symptomatic of systemic issues that are largely hidden. Careful analysis with the team may surface core issues that can lead to exponential efficiencies.

5. Temptation: To publicly speak critically of an imperfect employee.

Sometimes we all need to let of steam or grumble a bit when someone frustrates or lets us down. Doing that in front of the rest of the team spreads dissatisfaction and mistrust.

What great leaders do instead: If you really need to kvetch, do so privately, in a journal or with someone unrelated to the office. When you’re feeling calmer, approach the employee directly and politely but firmly share the truth about how they have fallen short.

6. Temptation: To withhold information.

If the truth is scary, it can be hard to share it with everyone for fear that panic will ensue and everyone will desert the ship. But if you leave them in the dark, your people are likely to fill in the blanks with even scarier conjecture. Most people will paint a more desperate picture when uncertain about their own future.

What great leaders do instead: Give your people as much good information as the situation allows. Promise to keep them updated, and keep them focused on the work they CAN do, rather than worrying about what they CAN’T. That way you can lead them to success instead of managing their fears.

7. Temptation: To softball criticism.

Employees are people with thoughts and feelings, and it can be painful to watch them wilt under criticism. So rather than address their failings directly, it sometimes seems easier to drop oblique hints or bury suggestions under insincere praise.

What great leaders do instead: Tackle the hard stuff first, directly and without hesitation. If they don’t know they are creating a problem, they won’t know they have to fix it. You can follow up with encouragement and praise to soften the blow without muddling the message.

8. Temptation: To draw comparisons between employees.

“Try to be more like Tim.” “Adriana never leaves a customer on hold for more than five minutes.” We love our star players, and we want others to emulate them. Your employees probably know exactly what makes their co-workers shine. That does not mean everyone wants to be continually compared to the office favorites.

What great leaders do instead: Evaluate each employee on their own strengths and weaknesses, using a clear rubric that is fair and equal for all. Base your comparisons on an ideal, not any one person, as your standard. Then take the time to work with each team member to perform at their personal best. Sure you are busy, but showing the person they are a priority will motivate them beyond their fears and concerns.

by Kevin Daum / Inc.

If you’re interested in a complimentary 30-minute business strategy session with Chief Operating Officer, Robert Finkelstein, or for more information, please refer to Behind the Scenes Consulting. If you have questions, please email Robert at Consulting@RobertFinkelstein.com. Your comments are welcomed below. Thank you.

“KILLING TIME: How to DESTROY Your Productivity”

Posted in "KILLING TIME: How to DESTROY Your Productivity" with tags , , , , , , , , , on May 2, 2013 by Robert Finkelstein

Along with hundreds of inspirational quotes, beautiful images, recommending reading, and my own personal and business blogs, at “Behind the Scenes / Virtual COO” you will find the writings and videos of those whose intention is to inspire, motivate and push us to think outside the box.

“KILLING TIME: How to DESTROY Your Productivity”

story-your-productivity

If you’re interested in a complimentary 30-minute business strategy session with Chief Operating Officer, Robert Finkelstein, or for more information, please refer to Behind the Scenes Consulting. If you have questions, please email Robert at Consulting@RobertFinkelstein.com. Your comments are welcomed below. Thank you.

The Road to New Beginnings (Completion) from DailyOM / Madisyn Taylor

Posted in "The Road to New Beginnings (Completion)" from DailyOM with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 27, 2013 by Robert Finkelstein

Along with hundreds of inspirational quotes, beautiful images, recommending reading, and my own personal and business blogs, at “Behind the Scenes / Virtual COO” you will find the writings and videos of those whose intention is to inspire, motivate and push us to think outside the box.

The Road to New Beginnings (Completion) from DailyOM / Madisyn Taylor

Just as new beginnings are important, so is honoring the experience of closure.

Life is a collage of beginnings and endings that run together like still-wet paint. Yet before we can begin any new phase in life, we must sometimes first achieve closure to the current stage we are in. That’s because many of life’s experiences call for closure. Often, we cannot see the significance of an event or importance of a lesson until we have reached closure. Or, we may have completed a certain phase in life or path of learning and want to honor that ending. It is this sense of completion that frees us to open the door to new beginnings. Closure serves to tie up or sever loose ends, quiets the mind even when questions have been left unanswered, signifies the end of an experience, and acknowledges that a change has taken place.

The period of completion, rather than being just an act of finality, is also one of transition. When we seek closure, what we really want is an understanding of what has happened and an opportunity to derive what lessons we can from an experience. Without closure, there is no resolution and we are left to grieve, relive old memories to the point of frustration, or remain forever connected to people from our past. A sense of completion regarding a situation may also result when we accept that we have done our best. If you can’t officially achieve closure with someone, you can create completion by participating in a closure ritual. Write a farewell letter to that person and then burn your note during a ceremony. This ritual allows you to consciously honor and appreciate what has taken place between you and release the experience so you can move forward.

Closure can help you let go of feelings of anger or uncertainty regarding your past even as you honor your experience – whether good or bad – as a necessary step on your life’s path. Closure allows you to emotionally lay to rest issues and feelings that may be weighing down your spirit. When you create closure, you affirm that you have done what was needed, are wiser because of your experience, and are ready for whatever life wants to bring you next.

- DailyOM

http://www.DailyOM.com/

If you’re interested in a complimentary 30-minute business strategy session with Chief Operating Officer, Robert Finkelstein, or for more information, please refer to Behind the Scenes Consulting. If you have questions, please email Robert at Consulting@RobertFinkelstein.com. Your comments are welcomed below. Thank you.

10 LEADERSHIP PRACTICES TO STOP TODAY by Paul Spiegelman

Posted in "10 Leadership Practices to Stop Today" by Paul Spiegelman with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 15, 2012 by Robert Finkelstein

Along with hundreds of inspirational quotes, beautiful images, recommending reading, and my own personal and business blogs, at “Behind the Scenes / Virtual COO” you will find the writings and videos of those whose intention is to inspire, motivate and push us to think outside the box.

10 LEADERSHIP PRACTICES TO STOP TODAY by Paul Spiegelman

If you want to be the best in your industry, you have to get rid of your outdated management style.

You might not feel it day-to-day, but business management is in a major transition. The old days of command-and-control leadership are fading in favor of what might be better termed a trust-and-track method, in which people are not just told what to do, but why they are doing it. More formally, we’re moving from what was called “transactional” leadership to “transformative” leadership. And there’s no turning back.

Business owners certainly have a long way to go, especially in more established companies where old practices die hard. But you can see increasing evidence that by creating a company with a clear purpose and values, you’ll find your employees connect themselves to something bigger, and that increases productivity. In other words, a culture of engagement leads to greater customer loyalty, and better financial success.

Here’s my list of “old school” practices you ought to chuck, and “new school” practices to champion instead:

1. Out: Micro-management, or the need to control every aspect of your company. In: Empowerment, the ability to give your people some rope–even rope to make mistakes without blame.

2. Out: Management by walking around the office; it is no longer enough to be visible. In: Leadership by watching and listening, engaging in conversation, implementing the ideas presented to you, and distributing the results.

3. Out: Pretending you know everything. You don’t have all the answers, so why try to make people think you do? In: Knowing your leadership team members and trusting them. Choose great people who have the right skills and fit the culture. And get out of the way.

4. Out: No mistakes, or a “no tolerance policy” some still think works. In: Learning from mistakes, or being the first to admit an error.

5. Out: The balance sheet drives the business, and informs all other decisions. In: People drive the business, boosting customer loyalty, and profit.

6. Out: Job competency is sufficient. Do the job asked, and you’ll survive. In: Recruit “A” players who will go the extra mile. They’re out there.

7. Out: Invest in technology to increase productivity. In: Invest in people.

8. Out: Demand change; be very specific about what you want and when. In: Nurture change; your people can come up with the best ideas and you can give them credit for it.

9. Out: Fried food in the cafeteria. In: Wellness in the workplace.

10. Out: Incentives; pay employees more money and they’ll do more. In: Rewards; being valued matters more than money.

So ask yourself which of these out-of-date practices you’re still using. There’s no time like now to try something new.

- Paul Spiegelman is founder and CEO of BerylHealth, which manages patient interactions for hospitals, and co-founded the Small Giants Community with Inc. editor-at-large Bo Burlingham. Read more at PaulSpiegelman.com. @paulspiegelman

If you’re interested in a complimentary 30-minute business strategy session with Chief Operating Officer, Robert Finkelstein, or for more information, please refer to Behind the Scenes Consulting. If you have questions, please email Robert at Consulting@RobertFinkelstein.com. Your comments are welcomed below. Thank you.

HOW TO DEVISE PASSWORDS THAT DRIVE HACKERS AWAY by Nicole Perlroth / The New York Times

Posted in "How to Devise Passwords That Drive Hackers Away" by Nicole Perlroth with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 13, 2012 by Robert Finkelstein

Along with hundreds of inspirational quotes, beautiful images, recommending reading, and my own personal and business blogs, at “Behind the Scenes / Virtual COO” you will find the writings and videos of those whose intention is to inspire, motivate and push us to think outside the box.

HOW TO DEVISE PASSWORD THAT DRIVE HACKERS AWAY by Nicole Perlroth / The New York Times

Not long after I began writing about cybersecurity, I became a paranoid caricature of my former self. It’s hard to maintain peace of mind when hackers remind me every day, all day, just how easy it is to steal my personal data.

Within weeks, I set up unique, complex passwords for every Web site, enabled two-step authentication for my e-mail accounts, and even covered up my computer’s Web camera with a piece of masking tape — a precaution that invited ridicule from friends and co-workers who suggested it was time to get my head checked.

But recent episodes offered vindication. I removed the webcam tape — after a friend convinced me that it was a little much — only to see its light turn green a few days later, suggesting someone was in my computer and watching. More recently, I received a text message from Google with the two-step verification code for my Gmail account. That’s the string of numbers Google sends after you correctly enter the password to your Gmail account, and it serves as a second password. (Do sign up for it.) The only problem was that I was not trying to get into my Gmail account. I was nowhere near a computer. Apparently, somebody else was.

It is absurdly easy to get hacked. All it takes is clicking on one malicious link or attachment. Companies’ computer systems are attacked every day by hackers looking for passwords to sell on auctionlike black market sites where a single password can fetch $20. Hackers regularly exploit tools like John the Ripper, a free password-cracking program that use lists of commonly used passwords from breached sites and can test millions of passwords per second.

Chances are, most people will get hacked at some point in their lifetime. The best they can do is delay the inevitable by avoiding suspicious links, even from friends, and manage their passwords. Unfortunately, good password hygiene is like flossing — you know it’s important, but it takes effort. How do you possibly come up with different, hard-to-crack passwords for every single news, social network, e-commerce, banking, corporate and e-mail account and still remember them all?

To answer that question, I called two of the most (justifiably) paranoid people I know, Jeremiah Grossman and Paul Kocher, to find out how they keep their information safe. Mr. Grossman was the first hacker to demonstrate how easily somebody can break into a computer’s webcam and microphone through a Web browser. He is now chief technology officer at WhiteHat Security, an Internet and network security firm, where he is frequently targeted by cybercriminals. Mr. Kocher, a well-known cryptographer, gained notice for clever hacks on security systems. He now runs Cryptography Research, a security firm that specializes in keeping systems hacker-resistant. Here were their tips:

FORGET THE DICTIONARY If your password can be found in a dictionary, you might as well not have one. “The worst passwords are dictionary words or a small number of insertions or changes to words that are in the dictionary,” said Mr. Kocher. Hackers will often test passwords from a dictionary or aggregated from breaches. If your password is not in that set, hackers will typically move on.

NEVER USE THE SAME PASSWORD TWICE
People tend to use the same password across multiple sites, a fact hackers regularly exploit. While cracking into someone’s professional profile on LinkedIn might not have dire consequences, hackers will use that password to crack into, say, someone’s e-mail, bank, or brokerage account where more valuable financial and personal data is stored.

COME UP WITH A PASSPHRASE The longer your password, the longer it will take to crack. A password should ideally be 14 characters or more in length if you want to make it uncrackable by an attacker in less than 24 hours. Because longer passwords tend to be harder to remember, consider a passphrase, such as a favorite movie quote, song lyric, or poem, and string together only the first one or two letters of each word in the sentence.

OR JUST JAM ON YOUR KEYBOARD For sensitive accounts, Mr. Grossman says that instead of a passphrase, he will randomly jam on his keyboard, intermittently hitting the Shift and Alt keys, and copy the result into a text file which he stores on an encrypted, password-protected USB drive. “That way, if someone puts a gun to my head and demands to know my password, I can honestly say I don’t know it.”

STORE YOUR PASSWORDS SECURELY Do not store your passwords in your in-box or on your desktop. If malware infects your computer, you’re toast. Mr. Grossman stores his password file on an encrypted USB drive for which he has a long, complex password that he has memorized. He copies and pastes those passwords into accounts so that, in the event an attacker installs keystroke logging software on his computer, they cannot record the keystrokes to his password. Mr. Kocher takes a more old-fashioned approach: He keeps password hints, not the actual passwords, on a scrap of paper in his wallet. “I try to keep my most sensitive information off the Internet completely,” Mr. Kocher said.

A PASSWORD MANAGER? MAYBE Password-protection software lets you store all your usernames and passwords in one place. Some programs will even create strong passwords for you and automatically log you in to sites as long as you provide one master password. LastPass, SplashData and AgileBits offer password management software for Windows, Macs and mobile devices. But consider yourself warned: Mr. Kocher said he did not use the software because even with encryption, it still lived on the computer itself. “If someone steals my computer, I’ve lost my passwords.” Mr. Grossman said he did not trust the software because he didn’t write it. Indeed, at a security conference in Amsterdam earlier this year, hackers demonstrated how easily the cryptography used by many popular mobile password managers could be cracked.

IGNORE SECURITY QUESTIONS There is a limited set of answers to questions like “What is your favorite color?” and most answers to questions like “What middle school did you attend?” can be found on the Internet. Hackers use that information to reset your password and take control of your account. Earlier this year, a hacker claimed he was able to crack into Mitt Romney’s Hotmail and Dropbox accounts using the name of his favorite pet. A better approach would be to enter a password hint that has nothing to do with the question itself. For example, if the security question asks for the name of the hospital in which you were born, your answer might be: “Your favorite song lyric.”

USE DIFFERENT BROWSERS Mr. Grossman makes a point of using different Web browsers for different activities. “Pick one browser for ‘promiscuous’ browsing: online forums, news sites, blogs — anything you don’t consider important,” he said. “When you’re online banking or checking e-mail, fire up a secondary Web browser, then shut it down.” That way, if your browser catches an infection when you accidentally stumble on an X-rated site, your bank account is not necessarily compromised. As for which browser to use for which activities, a study last year by Accuvant Labs of Web browsers — including Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome and Microsoft Internet Explorer — found that Chrome was the least susceptible to attacks.

SHARE CAUTIOUSLY “You are your e-mail address and your password,” Mr. Kocher emphasized. Whenever possible, he will not register for online accounts using his real e-mail address. Instead he will use “throwaway” e-mail addresses, like those offered by 10minutemail.com. Users register and confirm an online account, which self-destructs 10 minutes later. Mr. Grossman said he often warned people to treat anything they typed or shared online as public record.

“At some point, you will get hacked — it’s only a matter of time,” warned Mr. Grossman. “If that’s unacceptable to you, don’t put it online.”

- Nicole Perlroth – A version of this article appeared in print on November 8, 2012, on page B8 of the New York edition with the headline: How to Devise Passwords That Drive Hackers Away.

If you’re interested in a complimentary 30-minute business strategy session with Chief Operating Officer, Robert Finkelstein, or for more information, please refer to Behind the Scenes Consulting. If you have questions, please email Robert at Consulting@RobertFinkelstein.com. Your comments are welcomed below. Thank you.

“THE SIX-SECOND EXERCISE THAT SHORT-CIRCUITS EMOTIONAL EXPLOSIONS” by Marsha Lucas, PhD for Bottom Line

Posted in PhD for Bottom Line with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 28, 2012 by Robert Finkelstein

Along with hundreds of inspirational quotes, beautiful images, recommending reading, and my own personal and business blogs, at “Behind the Scenes / Virtual COO” you will find the writings and videos of those whose intention is to inspire, motivate and push us to think outside the box.

“The Six-Second Exercise that Short-Circuits Emotional Explosions” by Marsha Lucas, PhD for Bottom Line

What gets you spitting mad? A housemate leaving the sink full of dishes…a catty coworker’s snide remarks…a fellow driver who cuts you off and then flips you the bird? It’s understandable if such aggravations spark automatic angry outbursts—but blowing up may only make you feel worse.

That’s why I want to share the news about a lightning-fast technique that helps calm emotional firestorms—a technique that takes a mere six seconds. I heard about it from neuropsychologist Marsha Lucas, PhD, author of the new book Rewire Your Brain for Love: Creating Vibrant Relationships Using the Science of Mindfulness. Dr. Lucas told me that this six-second method shares many similarities with mindfulness meditation, a practice where you simply notice your mind’s busyness without getting carried away by it.

Why it works: Research shows that regularly practicing mindfulness meditation alters connections and pathways in the brain, actually changing the way the brain functions. For instance, meditation helps the prefrontal cortex (one of the main brain areas involved in thinking and impulse control) get better at detecting what’s going on in the amygdala—the panic center where fear, anger and aggression are registered—and bathing that hair-trigger amygdala in soothing neurochemicals. In other words, Dr. Lucas explained, meditation develops a better “anger pause button,” helping calm things down.

Similarly, with this six-second exercise, you consciously cultivate a habit of taking frequent mental pauses that allow your brain to “rest and restore.” By practicing this technique throughout your day (not just when you’re mad), you train your brain to pause automatically even in times of emotional upheaval. Thus, instead of getting hijacked by anger in the heat of the moment, you are able to make more mindful choices about how to react. As Dr. Lucas said, “You can put your foot on the brake—and not so hard that everyone with you gets whiplash.”

What to do: The six-second technique takes longer to describe than to do, but it’s very simple. The steps…

• First, choose an external cue, something that happens around 10 times a day—for example, turning on a faucet or checking your e-mail. Every time that cue occurs, use it as a reminder to do the exercise.

• Silently say to yourself, “My mind is alert, my body is calm,” and inhale through your nose for a slow, easy count of three. Imagine your breath coming up from the bottoms of your feet and traveling through your legs, abdomen, chest, arms and shoulders…and invite a pleasant feeling of warmth to flow through your body.

• Then exhale for a relaxed count of three (or even four), letting your face, jaw and neck go loose. Allow that warm feeling to flow downward…imagine it carrying away any tension from your head, trunk and limbs and sending it out the bottoms of your feet. When you’re done, gently resume your normal activity.

What to expect: With a regular practice of mindfulness, in a few weeks, you’re likely to notice a reduction in angry fireworks…and a growing sense of emotional resilience, balance and calm.

- Marsha Lucas, PhD for Bottom Line

If you’re interested in a complimentary 30-minute business strategy session with Chief Operating Officer, Robert Finkelstein, or for more information, please refer to Behind the Scenes Consulting. If you have questions, please email Robert at Consulting@RobertFinkelstein.com. Your comments are welcomed below. Thank you.

TAKE ACTION (The Laboratory of Life) from DailyOM / Madisyn Taylor

Posted in "TAKE ACTION (The Laboratory of Life)" from DailyOM / Madisyn Taylor with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on September 16, 2012 by Robert Finkelstein

Along with hundreds of inspirational quotes, beautiful images, recommending reading, and my own personal and business blogs, at “Behind the Scenes / Virtual COO” you will find the writings and videos of those whose intention is to inspire, motivate and push us to think outside the box.

TAKE ACTION (The Laboratory of Life )
from DailyOM / Madisyn Taylor

In order to make our dreams come true, we must take action rather than simply wishing for what we want.

There is a popular misconception that we might be able to just wish our dreams into being. Maybe on some other level of consciousness this is the case, but here on earth what we need to do is take action in our lives. Vision is an important companion to our efforts, but it can’t accomplish anything all by itself. When we focus on what we want and ask for what we want, we are initiating a conversation with the universe. Our desires, passionately defined and expressed, bring about valuable and relevant opportunities, which we then respond to by either taking or leaving them.

Many of us are afraid to step out into the world and make things happen, and so we hang back, dreaming and waiting and watching. There are times in life when this is the right thing to do, but this phase of inaction must eventually give way to its opposite if we are to build our dreams into a reality. This can be really scary, and we may fail and struggle, but that’s okay because that’s what we’re supposed to do. Waiting for everything to be perfect before we act, or waiting for what we want to be handed to us, leaves us waiting forever. No one expects us to be perfect, so the best thing we can do for ourselves is to get out there and take action on our dreams.

One of the hardest parts about having a vision is that when we test it in the laboratory of life, it often comes out looking completely different than what we had in mind or, worse, it doesn’t come out at all. If you read the life stories of people who have brought their dreams into reality, you will hear many stories about this experience. But you will also hear about hard work, taking action, perseverance, and, finally, the successful birthing of a dream.

- DailyOM

http://www.DailyOM.com/

If you’re interested in a complimentary 30-minute business strategy session with Chief Operating Officer, Robert Finkelstein, or for more information, please refer to Behind the Scenes Consulting. If you have questions, please email Robert at Consulting@RobertFinkelstein.com. Your comments are welcomed below. Thank you.

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