Karin’s Leadership Articles

At the beginning of each year, I travel the country giving inspirational kickoff speeches in call centers. This year, the theme of my speech is creating “connections” with our customers and our teams. What better way to reinforce connections, than to include everyone in the speech writing?

Word Cloud Crowd Sourcing

While preparing the speech, I sent a note to over 100 leaders on site in the centers asking them to answer 2 quick questions.

  1. The best way for reps to connect with customers is ______________.
  2. The best way for leaders to connect with their teams is ______________.

I built the speech around their responses. Now as I travel to each event, we give every rep, leader and support staff a paper heart, and ask them to write down their secret to making connections. I incorporate some of their thinking into the speech real-time. We then collect all the hearts. We create a customized word cloud for that center which we will turn into a framed poster as a reminder of the message and their commitment.

Word Cloud Resume Review

At one of these events, one of my leaders and I were neck-deep in hearts, when he had an idea. What would it look like if we cloud-sourced a resume? Would the right words pop? Brilliant. I flew home and tried it that evening. Try it on your resume. Here’s how.

I used Tagul (it’s free). Copy the text from the resume and put it in the text box. Filter out common words (just pick your language and it will sort out all the words like “and” and “the.” I also took out the name of my employer so I could share it here. If you like, pick a shape and color, and voila…. it took 2 minutes.

Word Cloud Message Check

Word clouds are an easy way to check the content of a message. Anything’s fair game to run through the tool.

You could check the last 5 emails to your boss (or your spouse). Your college-bound kids could use it to check their college essay (in fact, how cool would it be to include the visual). The possibilities are endless.

A Cloudy Afterword

Just loving all the word clouds shared in the comments. Thank you! Ali Anani played with the last 6 comments and my responses to the LGL community. See below…

Karin Hurt

Karin Hurt helps human-centered leaders resolve workplace ambiguity and chaos, so that they can drive innovation, productivity and revenue without burning out employees. She’s the founder and CEO of Let’s Grow Leaders, an international leadership development and training firm known for practical tools and leadership development programs that stick. She’s the award-winning author of four books including Courageous Cultures: How to Build Teams of Micro-Innovators, Problem Solvers, and Customer Advocates and Winning Well: A Manager’s Guide to Getting Results-Without Losing Your Soul and a hosts the popular Asking For a Friend Vlog on LinkedIn. A former Verizon Wireless executive, Karin was named to Inc. Magazine’s list of great leadership speakers. Karin and her husband and business partner, David Dye, are committed to their philanthropic initiative, Winning Wells – building clean water wells for the people of Cambodia.


  1. Jon Mertz

    Great ideas, Karin. During any given day, it would be interesting to record our conversations and then at the end of the day we would see our word cloud. We would learn a lot about what we say and what we say most often. Now this would be an app to make leaders more aware! Jon

  2. letsgrowleaders

    Jon, What an amazing idea. Hmmmm.. I know at least one member of our community who could probably build that app. Bill?

    • Bill Benoist

      I love this idea and I bet what is needed is already out there. Just a matter of connecting the dots 🙂

  3. Eric

    I run coaching and development plans through word clouds- it makes it easy to see where the focus is.

    • letsgrowleaders

      Eric, That’s a fantastic idea! I’m going to try that too.

  4. Danielle Elizabeth Aaronson

    LOVE this! And really love Jon’s idea in the comments as well. As someone who is working on minimizing my directness and amping up my questions to build relationships and clarity, I think taking a look at the word clouds of past emails will be really interseting and give me some insights into how I am communicating.

    Thanks Karin!

  5. Danielle Elizabeth Aaronson

    LOVE this! And really love Jon’s idea in the comments as well. As someone who is working on minimizing my directness and amping up my questions to build relationships and clarity, I think taking a look at the word clouds of past emails will be really interseting and give me some insights into how I am communicating.

    Thanks Karin!

    • letsgrowleaders

      Danielle, Excellent. Good luck. I’d be curious to hear about your insights. Feel free to drop me a line.

  6. Ali Anani (@alianani15)

    Karin- Slideshare has the words cloud for all authors. I take a screenshot at various times to detect my trends of old and new interests. For important customers this exercise shall reveal newly-born interests and this shall help in focusing offers to them. A leader can do that to legally and at certain time intervals “peer into” the interests of his individual team members and adapt his leadership style accordingly.

    • letsgrowleaders

      Ali, Oh, I didn’t know that about slide share. Too cool.

  7. Jennifer V. Miller


    What a clever way to engage your call center team members. Given that audience members have 20% better recall when they are involved in the presentation, you are doing a great service to both your audience members and your organization. Nicely done!

    • letsgrowleaders

      Thanks so much, Jen. Great to see you hear. I always try to make my kickoff talks interactive. The last 2 years, I ran around the audience with a microphone… that’s high-energy and fun… but does come with some risks…. 😉

  8. Dallas Tye

    That’s a cool tool Karin. Thanks for sharing and describing how you used it.

    I’ve been using http://www.copernic.com/en/products/summarizer/ for many years to check my more complex messages and presentations, and to decifer what other’s are trying to say, but yours is so much fun!

    Did a quick check of my LinkedIn summary and was happy (that I wasn’t shocked), but spotted a couple of opportunities too. https://www.dropbox.com/s/ubc2or9vejbr339/Cloud%201.png

    I think my kids are going to be able to use this as well.

    Thank you again.

    • letsgrowleaders

      Dallas, Love that you did this on your LinkedIn Summary. Awesome. Yeah, I think it’s great for leaders of all agens. I tried to download a trial version of the other tool, but it doesn’t seem to work with my mac? It looks awesome. P.S. my ebook we discussed is in the formatting stage 😉

      • Dallas Tye

        Checked on Copernic and its says Windows only. Looks like it hasn’t had updates for a while. Pity. I did find this online tool if helpful to anyone http://www.tools4noobs.com/summarize/ which gives results in a similar format, eg sentances.

        Karin that’s excellent progress on your e-book. Warm congratulations 🙂

  9. Steve Borek

    I used a similar tool a year ago.

    I will give Tagul a spin.

    • letsgrowleaders

      Steve, I’m curious what tool you like the best. Tagul seems to be the easiest for me so far. But I’m always open to new tools.

  10. Bill Benoist

    What impresses me most is the use of hearts instead of something else like Stars or Boats or Rocket Ships. A heart demonstrates compassion and I do believe employees knowing that their leaders care about them will always go the extra mile.

    I simply love this idea!

    • letsgrowleaders

      Bill, We debated about whether or not the hearts were too corny… but they seem to be going over well. It’s been awesome to see what people write.

  11. Matt McWilliams

    I freaking love that idea. Consider it stolen.

    Never done it so I have nothing to add other than I am stealing it 🙂

    • Polly~

      It isn’t stealing if you tell her, Matt…lol!

    • letsgrowleaders

      Matt, What’s mine is yours. Namaste.

  12. Polly~

    I just ran one on my own résumé with very interesting results! Using the common word filter, I was able to tailor it for a more suitable representation.

    Next time we publish an expose here at work, I will use it to ensure clear communication. Thanks for the tip, Karin!

    • letsgrowleaders

      Polly, Awesome. Great idea to run an expose through it.

  13. LaRae Quy

    First of all, I can see where you’d be an amazing inspirational speaker!

    Second, what a creative way of bringing focus on the message.

    Third, love that you used hearts 😉

    • Ali Anani (@alianani15)

      LaRae- your comment brought an idea to me. I present here to Karin and all of you.

      Karin- you have comments from so many of us. Humans develop patterns of behavior. Do our comments reveal patterns? If so, how do they change over time? Can we group commenter in certain profiles? What are the common emotional profiles of commenter?

      But the same applies to you, Karin. Do you respond to a commenter using the same style? If not, how did that style change? And with whom?

      Do leaders have fixed or variable styles?

      May be we come with a novel idea or conclusion, which is

      The Fingerprints of commenter (leaders)- a novel approach to define.

      • letsgrowleaders

        Ali, I do think I should take a look at the words I use to respond to comments… that would be very intriguing. If I had to guess, “Thank you” would be in large type. I always feel such gratitude for the converation of this community.

    • letsgrowleaders

      LaRae, Thanks so much for all of your kind words.

    • letsgrowleaders

      Bill, Excellent. Boy, this is so much fun!

  14. Alma Escamilla

    Karin, I “heart” this idea and look forward to one of these inspiring events next week! Thank you for the idea, we have established that it’s not stealing if I tell you!! The potential is endless, candidate profiles, survey results, suggestion box comments, commendations. Although I feel it would be helpful, I’m not ready to create my daily food intake menu cloud, but soon and very soon (singing, clapping)!

    • letsgrowleaders

      Alma, Thanks! I’m having a blast with the kickoffs. I’m definitely not doing my daily food intake cloud during this season of heavy travel. It would be way to embarassing if french frys trumped spinach. I too see endless possibility.

  15. cindy Navarino

    Karin – as you know I work in a call center .. consider this one officially stolen and being implemented in Columbia S.C. The information shared here is mind blowing and I plan to work on this over the weekend . My plan is to have our employees write out why we must save every customer along with the tools they currently use to make it happen — I love your blog but this by far is now my overall favorite one !! Awesome way to go into a “Super” weekend – 🙂

    • letsgrowleaders

      Cindy, I’m so glad! Please do stop back and let me know how it goes. If you need any help, also feel free to reach out.

  16. Terri Klass

    I think by including people’s ideas in your speech is such an engaging way to empower others to be part of your vision. Way to go Karin!

    I love the idea of using word clouds and will try it myself. Thanks you so much for sharing a great tool for all of us to try out.

  17. letsgrowleaders

    Awesome Terri. Please let me know how it goes. Would love to compare notes with anyone who tries it… I’m sure there are lots of ways to upgrade the idea. I’ve only just begun my tour, so I’ll keep you all posted as I learn along the way.

  18. Ali Anani (@alianani15)

    The cloudy for Karin reflects her responses to her readers over the last six posts. We can easily tell from her world cloud her tendency to say thanks, thank you, fantastic, great and other appreciation words. From this we may start drawing the profile of Karin. She shows her feelings explicitly and that she is extremely passionate. She communicates her ideas clearly and without hesitation. She credits others because Karin tends to say you and yours much more than I.

    Future comments shall reveal more.

  19. Dallas Tye

    Ali, I think that’s fantastic. Well done.

  20. letsgrowleaders

    Ali and all, thanks so much for the amazing interaction on this discussion. I’m so excited for all the creativity and sharing!

    • Ali Anani (@alianani15)

      And you are, Karin, the initiator and booster of these interactions

    • letsgrowleaders

      Mohamed. Thanks so much. It looks like you do really interesting work.

  21. Mick Court

    Thanks Karen, I have rarely responded however I have really valued your reflections. This one is so practical and I had never thought of using ‘word clouds’ as you have described but think it is creative, engaging and revealing!!! Thanks for your generous sharings.

    • letsgrowleaders

      Mick, So great to have you join the conversation! Please let us know if you have a chance to play with the word clouds in your leadership. We would appreciate your insights and application.

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