Thursday, January 31, 2008
Reconnect With Old Friends and Business Associates
Our transient busy society makes it easy to lose touch with people. Former co-workers, college pals, old friends and others can come and go in and out of your life. While this is normal, it is not always necessary. People are the most important asset to discovering your potential, and therefore a person lost is opportunity lost. A mutually respectful friendship can bring both parties more success.
The good news is that it is easier than ever to reconnect with people who have passed through your life. The pervasiveness of the internet over the last decade has put most people within reach within just a few key strokes. While not everyone can be found through a simple search, many others can be located with ease. (If a person has no online precence on sites like LinkedIn or Facebook it can make it more difficult. Also, a friend named John Smith might be hard to find locate because of the sheer number of people with the same name).
I recently made contact with a friend from childhood. We only exchanged a few emails and are not now best-friends again, but I really enjoyed finding this guy and learning about his life twenty five years later. He is happily married with four kids and is the founder of a successful business (and the winner of the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Award in his area). As a kid I remember him as being interested in technology and was very smart, so I am thrilled to see his success.
As little kids we were buddies. Many of my fondest memories were running around on our street with him and other kids that populated the block. We were both strong willed and had some fights...in fact I remember our parents not letting us play together for a few days. A good strategy, as when the ban was lifted we were fast friends again.
Over time we drifted apart. We went to different elementary schools and I moved to a different house. I am not sure what happened, but as kids do, we went different directions. I have always regretted that because he really was an important friend. I think it was my fault on some level, as I was not always good at letting my friends know how I felt, and in some cases let childhood ego mess things up.
So I searched for him on Facebook. Bang, there he was. I sent him a connection request and then we traded some emails. I hope that his business travels will bring him to Austin (not uncommon for technology executives) and that he will look me up. Additionally, the next time I am speaking in the Silicon Valley I will reach out to see if he is free for coffee. I was happy to have talked with him (via email) and hope he was equally as touched.
Making such a connection with an old friend or business associate is no guarantee that you will re-establish a friendship, but if you do not try, I can promise no such relationship will appear. In most cases your old friends are glad to hear from you and happy to have you back in their life. While you will not always develop a mutually beneficial connection, why not try?
Think of three people whom you have lost touch with and go right now and search for them on the internet. Send them a note just to say "hello". If you find them, come back here and leave a comment about how it made you feel.
Have A Great Day.
Wednesday, January 30, 2008
The dinner ceremony will take place on Friday, March 7. 2008.
More information is available at http://www.austinunder40.org/.
I personally know many of this year's finalists (including Corey Blahuta, Managing Director for vcfo...the company where I work!), and can attest that these folks are amazing business professionals and all around good people. There is no doubt that the future of Austin, Texas is in good hands.
Congratulations to all the finalists.
50 finalists are listed by category in alphabetical order:
Arts / Entertainment
1. Justin L. Corsbie, Synthetic Pictures
2. Rodney Gibbs, Amaze Entertainment
3. Matthew Hinsley, Austin Classical Guitar Society
4. Huston Lowell Street, Oakland Athletics
5. Roxanne Wilson, RXW, Inc.
Legal Finalists, presented by Frost
1. Stephanie E. Dreyer, Hunton & Williams, LLP
2. Luke Ellis, Jackson Walker LLP
3. Kimberly Ann Frost, Jack Martin & Associates
4. Michael J. Nasi, Jackson Walker LLP
5. Michael Simons, Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP
Business / Entrepreneurship, presented by ACTON MBA
1. Rick Engel, Engel Management Services, Inc.
2. Karen Frost, Frost Media Relations
3. Natalie Kennedy, Kennedy Creative
4. Kendra Lee Scott, Kendra Scott Design, Inc.
5. Jeff Turk, Formaspace
Medical / Health Care, presented by St.David’s Community Health Foundation
1. Rodney Ahart, American Cancer Society
2. Chad Paul Dieterichs, MD, Capitol Anesthesiology
3. Dori Flores, The Seton Fund
4. Kenneth Lambrecht, Planned Parenthood, Texas Capitol Region
5. Steven E. Rasmussen, MD, Austin Regional Clinic
Community Service, presented by Capital One Bank
1. Chase Bearden, The Coalition of Texans with Disabilities
2. Caroline Boudreaux, The Miracle Foundation
3. Jim Higgins Walker, Central Texas Sustainability Indicators Project
4. David Pena, National Hispanic Business Association
5. Armando Rayo, Hands on Central Texas, United Way Capitol Area
Real Estate, presented by Brown McCarroll, LLP
1. Taylor Andrews, Andrews Urban, LLC
2. Scott Flack, Live Oak Gottesman
3. Chad Goldwasser, Goldwasser Real Estate
4. Michael A. Luigs, land/water/sky
5. Cord Shiflet, Moreland Properties
Financial Services, presented by Guaranty Bank
1. Corey Blahuta, vcfo
2. Trey Halbert, McQueary Henry Bowles Troy
3. W. Eric Hehman, Austin Asset Management Company
4. Alex Ladage, Merrill Lynch
5. Kevin M. Lalande, Sante Ventures
Technology / Sciences, presented by Grande Communications
1. David James Anderson, URS Corp.
2. Brett Hurt, Bazaarvoice, Inc.
3. Lloyd Jeff McAdams, HigherOut
4. Alisha L. Ring, Austin Technology Council
5. Joe Ross, CSIdentity
Government / Public Affairs, presented by Padgett Stratemann & Co, LLP
1. Perla Cavazos, Texas State Senator Eddie Lucio
2. Gerardo Antonio Interiano, Congressman Lamar Smith
3. Rob Johnson, Office of the Lieutenant Governor
4. Patrick Rose, Texas House of Representatives
5. Kenny Thompson, Obama for America Campaign
Youth / Education, presented by Plains Capital Bank
1. Amy Averett, Austin Voices for Education and Youth
2. Julia Cuba, GENaustin
3. Eric Cunningham, Austin Independent School District
4. Eva Maria Garza, Austin Independent School District
5. Linda Medina, Greater Austin Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
Tuesday, January 29, 2008
Keep Your On-line Profiles Up To Date
Many people who support the whole concept of networking are still slow to embrace the social on-line networking tools that have become so popular. One would have to be living under a rock to not have heard about LinkedIn, MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, etc.... However, while those who are active users of these tools may not realize this (and be shocked to hear it), most people are not actively on board with using these popular sites.
The most common questions I get from people when I speak about networking are questions about how to use on-line social networking as part of a business strategy. Often these questions come from very seasoned networkers who have spent years creating and cultivating strong relationships with others. However, they have not yet adopted an internet strategy.
While I am not suggesting that everyone should or would become active users of these online tools, I do believe everyone should have an up to date on-line presence. It is free and takes very little time to create accounts on one or more of the social networking sights.
(Note, people often ask why it is called "social networking" when I am telling them that these are business tools. The term was adopted years ago to distinguish the difference between computer networking, ie: what you IT Manager does with your computers at work, and networking between humans where you build a mutually beneficial relationship that can lead to opportunities).
The reason to have a profile on LinkedIn, MySpace, Facebook, etc... is not only so you can utilize these sites for your networking, but also so that you can be found by others. At the bare minimum you should have an account on LinkedIn. This sight is focused on business professionals and is heavily used by recruiters and others who might seek you out to provide you with opportunities. If you do not have a profile, you will be passed over.
Some will say "but I am not looking for a job, so why do I care if a recruiter can find me?" Gosh, do you mean you would never want to hear about a job in your town or industry that you would be qualified that might pay you 25% more than you earn now? Good for you! But most people would want to hear about exciting opportunities, even if they have no plans of moving. That makes the decision YOUR CHOICE! Additionally, many other business professionals use LinkedIn to research vendors and others with whom they do business. No profile and your prospect might feel they know more about your competitor. Alas, people do business with people they know and like.....you have to give them the chance to get to know you using the tools of their choice. I recently had a person tell me he always researches the history of people on LinkedIn before doing business with them. When folks do not have a profile it does not disqualify them, but he looks at them as out of touch.
Once you have created a profile, go back from time to time and make sure it is up to date. If you have changed jobs, be sure to have your contact information current.
Another good idea is to search for your co-workers, friends and competitors and see how they describe themselves on their profiles. This will give you ideas about what to say and how to position yourself via this on-line venue.
You will also need to establish a linking strategy. Some folks go hog-wild and try to collect digital links to everyone they can. Others only accept links to people they actually know in person. It is your choice, but I suggest that you only link to those whom you know. Too many links to strangers can weaken the credibility of your network on the site.
Whatever you do, do not fall into the camp that is unaware of the on-line social networking communities and who actively avoid being involved. The future is here, and believe it or not, the internet is not a fad. You need to be present.
Have A Great Day.
Monday, January 28, 2008
We talked after the presentation and he was interested in introducing me to his supervisor, as he felt that my message of the power of business relationships and networking would inspire others in his organization. I gave him the information about how to hire me as a speaker and looked forward to hearing back from him.
Here is part of the email I received, which did not disappoint me (hey, not everyone is going to hire me to speak at their company)...but it did get me to thinking about how quickly people jump to conclusions and lump others into preconceived categories.
"I spoke with one of the decision makers [in my company]. He said that no matter how good your book is, it is only a one-time presentation that does not have any kind of mentorship.
He said that while someone would be enthusiastic about applying these techniques right after seeing a presentation or reading a book, in a few weeks, if there were few short -term results, most people would quit trying to apply the techniques."
So is he saying that his people should never read business books or listen to motivational presentations? YIKES!!! While I am a huge fan of mentoring and coaching, the most successful business people I know are avid learners who gather information from a variety of resources. Additionally, I do customize follow up and mentoring aspects of my presentation with many of the companies when appropriate (but this guy did not ask that question).
I look at my books and speaking engagements as a collaborative experience with those whom I share information. This manager is very quick to judge and lump all books and live presentations into one bucket. This is the antithesis of the type of win / win networking and long term relationship building that I teach. One has to give, give, give, give before they expect to receive. If we expect everything we do to have an immediate pay off, we will be waiting forever for the results from networking.
Many managers are focused on the transactional side of their business and only want the quick hits of sales. They do not see any value from building long term relationships that do not have guaranteed results (meaning that everyone you network with had better be able to send business or they are a waste of time....YIKES, that is false!). Creating a true referral network takes a long time, and when executives are only rewarded on the short-term hits, networking becomes irrelevant. These are the folks that discredit books and training, as they simply want their people focused on short term sales. Churn and burn, baby!!! It is a numbers game, and nothing else will ever matter.
Of course no one book or presentation will change the world or motivate a sales team to all take lock step action. Yet if individuals don't expose themselves to books, CD's and motivational speakers then they will just be stagnant. I read a ton of books, and while few have changed my life by themselves, the combination of the nearly 400 business books I have read in my life do make me better at every situation I encounter.
True change inside an individual comes from reading, learning, listening, thinking, and growing a little bit at a time. There is no magic pill, it is a lifestyle. It only comes to those who are "Big Tent Thinkers".
A "Big Tent Thinker" is someone who trys to keep an open mind that is always expanding to accept new thoughts and ideas. They do not pre-judge and work hard to avoid putting everyone into a bucket without exploring all the options. The manager I addressed above could have just as easily decided NOT to hire me after learning more about what I bring to the table. Okay, that is fine, not everyone will hire me. But his knee-jerk email shooting down the idea of his subordinate is most likely an indicator that this guy would not know a big tent if it fell on him. He is a small tent thinker, where there is no room inside his tent except for his own ideas. Bummer for him.
As a "Big Tent Thinker" you will not agree or embrace every idea, concept, theory that you run across, but you will always look for ways to find a nugget of knowledge or inspiration from everyone and everything. While this takes effort, it also creates opportunity. I have known many successful business people who seek to find way be inclusive before being exclusive. This leads to greatness.
Have A Great Day.
Friday, January 25, 2008
Today the book hit number one on the Wall Street Journal Book Index....and the rest of those lists that authors and publishers dream about cannot be far behind (You heard it on my blog first, the New York Times Best-Seller List will be dominated by Keith McFarland and The Breakthrough Company very soon. My guess is it will rule over all business books published in 2008).
Anyway, the company I work for will be co-hosting a VIP luncheon featuring Keith McFarland, who is an accomplished professional speaker, in the spring. I had the honor of talking with him by phone today to discuss the details of his presentation. It was great chatting with him and hearing about the early success of his book, and am now even more impressed. What a nice guy!
I am going to mail him a copy of both my books, which I hope he will read on one of his many flights across the country (and beyond) for his active book tour.
Some of the most stellar advice he spells out in his book is in chapter seven, Erecting Scaffolding. This chapter focuses on why executives need to make, grow and keep their business relationships. Nobody succeeds in a vacuum, and McFarland's extensive study of exceptional companies uncovered the commonality of enlisting the support, advice and experience of others. Having a network does matter. This chapter was music to my ears!!!
If you were to visit Amazon.com to purchase his book, you will see that I wrote the first reader review. Keith had already seen my remarks and knew who I was from my review and my blog comments about his writing. I wont share with you the details of what he said, but it made my day, and I look forward to getting to know him when he visits Austin in April.
If you are a reader of business books, do not wait to go get "The Breakthrough Company". Take my advice and read it now (come on, you know you want to read a good book, and you know that when a friend refers a book it is always better than some random thing you pick up). You will thank me for the recommendation, and be inspired by the examples he has of nine amazing companies who went from good to great! If you own a company or work for a company, you owe it to your future to read this one.
Oh, you can read my books too...they are also available on Amazon.com! :)
Have A Great Day.
And it is not just getting business leads, sales and money. Those who have heard me speak or read my book, Some Assembly Required, know that we located the pediatric neurosurgeon who saved my daughter through our network. There are many less dramatic situations in life where a network will come through with amazing results.
Earlier this week, it happened again. My kids, like all other pre-teen girls in America, wanted to go to see the Hanna Montana concert. However, it was impossible to get tickets. You would need to be living under a rock to have not heard about the hysteria that this Disney created fictional pop-star and the 15-year-old actress, Miley Cyrus, who portrays the TV sitcom singer/regular teen have created with this sold-out concert tour
(Yes, Miley Cyrus is the daughter of one-hit-wonder country music star Billy Ray Cyrus of Achey Breaky Heart fame. He also stars in the Disney network show portraying the father of "Miley Stewart and her alter ego, "Hanna Montana". Those of you who do not live with kids in the 5 - 15 age range have fortunately missed out on this cultural phenomenon and Billy Ray's big time come-back ).
On the morning the tickets had gone on sale my wife spent an hour on the phone and on-line trying to buy tickets, which sold out in 45 minutes. While there were tickets available on ebay, I was not interested in spending $300 per ticket to attend this show (The Police, Rolling Stones or other equally big sold out show maybe, but not for a Disney show! Even the Beach Boys...but not Hanna Montana).
In comes the power of networking. For six weeks I let people know that I was looking for tickets, and that I my family had saved the date in the calendar. I figured that someone might come across tickets. At 4 PM the day of the show I got an email from a friend, with the right connections, informing me where I could buy four tickets (face value). Five minutes later the month long dilemma was solved and we were on our way to see Hanna.
Were the kids thrilled? Ummmmmm...you bet. My ten year old told me "Wow, those books you write about networking....it's all true!"
The show was well done, but from a grown up point of view it was hardly worth all the hype. That being said, the pre-teen girls who made up the audience were delighted by the performance which included singing, dancing and fireworks. I was one of about a dozen dads in the arena, as mostly mom's and daughters were there. They even changed the Men's Rest Rooms to Women's Rest Rooms, since all those in attendance were 99% female, leaving the men to hunt the halls for the one remaining place to pee.
Miley Cyrus performed the first half of the show in the blond wig that makes her secret identity of Hanna Montana, and the second half of the show as herself. The premise of her television show is that she leads a double life as a normal teenage girl, while secretly also being America's top pop star. The theme song of the show (and the name of the concert tour) is titled "The Best of Both Worlds" since she can have the life of a star, and still live a normal life.
One day Miley will stop being "Hanna Montana" (which is a Disney created character), but needs to build her own brand as Miley Cyrus, so this duel show is really a brilliant marketing plan for the young teen and her future career.
She closed the show by saying she would be performing a song that means a lot to her family. For a split second I was afraid she would be singing a cover of "Achey Breaky Heart", but instead played a song in memory of her grandfather. Very talented for fifteen years old, we have not seen the last of Ms. Cyrus. Hopefully as she grows up she will have a better track record that other former Disney kids like Britney Spears and Lindsay Lohan.
Have A Great Day
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
1. Do not prejudge people
It is easy to prejudge and discredit other people. It is harder to discover greatness in each individual. Based on a person's employer, job title, area of study, college attended, skin color, religion, zip code or countless other traits, we often lump them into buckets and stereotype them.
Look at everyone you meet as a valuable part of your network. Do not limit your opinion of the capabilities of anyone. You never know who can have a large impact on your future. Others will follow your lead when you are welcoming and inclusive.
2. Know your core values
When you get stressed, busy and downright overwhelmed you need to know yourself. When you know your core values it make it choices easy when you are faced with the tough questions of life. Be true to those personal standards and you will have fewer regrets in life.
We all make mistakes, but you will make fewer of them when you are clear on this point. And when you do stumble, you will have a clear path to making things right.
3. Care about other people and their ideas
If you want other people to care about your success, you must care about their success. Do not be jealous or judgmental of the people in your life, but instead try to find ways to uplift their spirit. Everyone wants to be noticed, admired and respected. If you let others know you care, they will return the favor.
4. Say "thank you"
In our busy world, we often take the actions of other people for granted. When someone does something to assist you in your journey through life, say "thank you". This simple gesture will stand out, since few people acknowledge generosity.
5. Discover what motivates others and help them reach their goals
Ask the people in your life about their goals and dreams. Everyone has something they hope to experience in their life, and often it is different than what they do on a daily basis. Discover these secret internal sparks of inspiration and find a ways to be the catalyst that creates the reality. It often takes very little time or effort on your part to assist people in a way that can be life changing. Even something as small as moral support can make the difference in their life.
Many people feel that if they spend time helping others they will derail their own goals. It is just the opposite, as when you help others, someone will appear to help you. It may or may not be the same person, but you will be surprised how your efforts will result in your own personal opportunities.
6. Not everybody will like you. That's okay
When you go out into the business community and begin to make connections with others, you will not have a "love connection" with everyone you meet. Sometimes you will encounter people who simply do not like you. They may have a reason, or it might be their own petty jealousy and personal issues. Don't worry about it. Just go on about your life and always be polite when you encounter them.
7. Short term focus, long term vision
While it is important to win in the short term, creating a long term reputation can take years. Many people will appear in your business community and be a "one hit wonder". They either bask too long in the glory of their early success or they get tired of the effort to maintain a personal brand. Work hard to have early victories in your career, but do not let these successes cloud your long term vision of who you want to become.
8. Take action and stay in motion
If you want to attain success you must do more than engineer plans and spreadsheets. Instead you must take action. Not all actions will lead you to success, but a body in motion stays in motion. If you are stalled it will be much harder for you to engage in the necessary activities to reach your goals.
Other people are inspired by those who "do", not those who "plan". While I am not suggesting you take any action just for the sake of taking action, you need to be trying things. Be tenacious, and this will become part of your brand. A few failures will not be then end of the road, so do not fear making mistakes.
9. Avoid the naysayers
When you are chasing a dream some people will think you the fool. They will go out of their way to tell you why you are not experienced enough, smart enough, good-looking enough, talented enough, etc.... I am not sure why, but some people in your life (even those who love you) will find it necessary to rain on your parade. You need to avoid these people and / or avoid having conversations with them about your aspirations. You can never change a naysayer, so just steer clear.
10. Have a positive attitude
Life can get difficult. So what? If you want to achieve high levels of success you must have a positive attitude and share it with the world. People are drawn to optimists. We all want our leaders and others around us to have a strong and visible belief that better days are ahead. Always look for the silver lining in every situation and continue to work toward victory for yourself and others.
11. Deliver a little more than you promised
Find a way to provide others with something extra. Doing what is expected is the minimum requirement, but to be noticed you need to go the extra mile. Find that "something special" that makes you stand out from your competition and you will forever be remembered for it. Nobody will recall your standard promised work (even if you do a great job), but they will never forget the bonus you presented to them.
Have A Great Day
Tuesday, January 22, 2008
About six months ago Jake and his friend, Joel Ganucheau, and started a weekend art gallery to expose local emerging artists and offer affordable original art work to the Austin community.
During this process they discovered how much Austinites love affordable original art from local artists. Consequently, what had started out as a fun weekend project has now evolved into a thriving business.
If you’re interested in their project, or finding affordable original art by Austin's hottest artists, please check out their 200+ art inventory (with full descriptions and pricing) at www.austinartgarage.com or stop by the Art Garage at 2200 S. Lamar Blvd (map & hours).
If you will be visiting Austin for sxsw....you should plan to visit the gallery.
Congratulations to Jake. We should all find ways to turn our dreams into reality.
Have A Great Day.
Monday, January 21, 2008
I want to go beyond what he says and look deeper into what causes the debate between the different types of networking. Are there different types of networking at all?
The number one question I get from audiences when I teach my networking seminars is about social on-line networking. While the number of people who have accounts with LinkedIn, MySpace, Facebook, Twitter and other social networking / media communities are large, few who have these accounts are actually heavy users. That combined with the fact that the "large" numbers of those who sign up for such services are still "small" numbers compared to the general population leaves a wide chasm of curiosity.
Some people mistakenly think (or hope) that these popular social on-line networking tools replace "networking" in the conventional sense of the word. The truth is there is no competition of online networking and face-to-face networking. They are one in the same in purpose and outcome. The problem lies in the definition of the word networking. Too many people have a preconceived notion that "networking" is in of itself attending a business oriented social event and trading business cards (that is just a part of it). Thus people who are more introverted hate the process, and allow their dislike of this one activity to discolor the whole concept of networking.
There are bloggers, business professionals, authors and professional speakers who regularly state "I Hate Networking", and go condemn the whole process. They rally those who are not comfortable in social situations, or those who do not participate in on-line internet based communities to join them in their anti-networking debates. Yet they miss the mark and create a false sense of different types of networking.
The real definition of networking (according to Dictionary.com) is:
"a supportive system of sharing information and services among individuals and groups having a common interest"
That says NOTHING about drinking free beer, wearing a nametag, and making small talk with copier salesmen. It speaks nothing of devoting time to create an on-line presence that allows others to identify with you via the digital world. Thus, the whole debate is twisted by a mis-understanding of what is the meaning of "networking".
Who could hate having a supportive system of sharing information and services among those with whom you have a common interest? Does the group need to be in the same room eating from a cheese tray and crudités? Nope. Must someone share a connection on LinkedIn or even know how to Twitter to be part of a network? Nada.
Networking is not something you go "do" when you have free time or the speaker at an event sounds interesting. Instead it is part of a lifestyle that allows you to discover the best in other people and create mutually beneficial friendships that lead to more success for everyone. This can be obtained through any variety of activities, and should not be limited to any one type of social undertaking.
A mixed approach to making real connections with other people is your bullet train to success:
Attend events. Create an on-line presence. Send notes and emails to people. Write industry specific articles. Introduce people to each other. Do amazing work and provide exemplary customer service. Host your own gatherings. Forward useful articles and information. Live your life with consistent character. Read books, blogs, magazines on a wide array of topics. Celebrate diversity. Join organizations. Lead organizations. Become informed about social on-line networking tools. Find a mentor. Be a mentor. Have a positive attitude. Help others discover and reach their goals. Share information.
Have A Great Day.
Sunday, January 20, 2008
Get People Talking About You
How would you feel if you heard that another person in your business community was praising you and your product / service? My guess is that you would be thrilled. The proof is in that Word-Of-Mouth is the very effective.
According to the Bazaarvoice website, consumers trust friends above experts when making buying decisions (65% trust friends, 27% trust experts, 8% trust celebrities) and that 86.9% of respondents said they trust a friend's recommendation over that of a critic,.... while 83.8% said they would trust users of a product over a critic.
Thus, the praise of others is extremely valuable to your future success.
But how can you get others singing your praises from the highest mountain tops? You cannot just call them and ask them to do this, even if you know they feel warm and fuzzy about you and your company. While most sales training teaches you to ask your clients for referrals, not everyone is comfortable receiving such a request out of the blue. Additionally, some people are just not cut out to be evangelists. They like you and want to see you succeed, but they are not the type of person who can tell their friends about you. That is okay, they can still be good friends, just don't expect too much from them.
What you need to do is to identify the individuals in your network who can and will talk positively about you and your product / service and then do two things:
1. Educate them about your business and the value you bring to others. Make sure that they understand the benefit that you get from their endorsement, and help them know what to say. More importantly, lead by example and be an evangelist for them. If you want them to talk about you, you had better be waving their flag too.
2. You have to give them something new and spectacular to talk about. If they have known about you for years, and even been active in supporting you with referrals, you still need to give them fresh things to talk about. It is easy for a company to become yesterday's news or even a commodity.
Getting others to talk about you and promote your efforts is never easy. Business professionals are very busy trying to meet their own projections and quotas. They have bosses who are myopic about their own bottom line, and no matter how much they like you, you are not their priority. However, if they are impressed with your cutting edge and ever changing offerings, and they know you are helping them succeed, you will see them looking for ways to help you.
Have A Great Day.
My wife told them "No" the other day. Then they called back and asked for me. I told them "No" three hours after her denial. Today they called back looking for my wife, but she was out. They called again an hour later and identified themselves. I told the "NO", but the guy kept talking....and talking...and talking. I had to tell him that because of his call I will now avoid all Wyndham properties for the rest of my life. I was clearly perturbed. He hung up on me. Yes, he hung up on me when I told him to stop calling, he had nothing left to say since it was clear that I was upset and he would not get a "live one" on this call.
Companies who cold call (oh, may I add, I am supposed to be on the "No Call List" at home) and do not properly respond when someone does not want to talk to them miss the mark. I know first hand that cold calling does produce results, but hiring unskilled telemarketers can backfire on your corporate brand. Cold calling only works when you find someone who has an interest to learn more about your product or service.
When I have cold called in my sales career I usually have to leave voicemail messages. I leave polite messages, and continue to call from time to time until I reach a human. If they say "not interested" I do not call them back a week later. That just makes people angry.
Cold calling can be a great way to start building relationships with people, as it is simply a first contact. But you have to be respectful of how the other person reacts. I was very clear that I did not want to be called. My guess is they either did not check their records very well, or they ignored my earlier comments of "no interest".
I doubt I will hear from the president of Wyndham Hotels and Resorts as a result of this blog post. They most likely have success with this calling program, so a few upset people is just par for the course. But dang, I am steamed right now. It has made me realize that you have to be very careful when you reach out to potential customers. Having just anyone make calls can backfire if they do not have the ability to relate to those whom they call.
Sorry Wyndham, you blew it on this one.
Have A Great Day.
Thursday, January 17, 2008
I can talk about his until I am blue in the face, but lets allow success to speak for itself.
My friend Scott is a very successful sales professional who also is one of the leading networkers on the planet. He is also a fan of the written note, and will always send one after a new prospect meeting. Here is the email he got from someone he called on for the first time last week:
"Not to start an endless circle of “thank-you,” “No, thank YOU,” I must say that your note was the first hand-written thank-you note I have received in a business context in years. It is rare to see a hand-written note in this age of emails! You are to be commended for that gesture. We look forward to receiving your proposal."
First hand-written note in a busines context in years? Hmmmmm, and this from the CEO of a mid-sized company. This tells me that vendors selling all kinds of other products are missing the boat. Did Scott stand out above his competition? Yep.
Now, what if you are calling on a company and the competition sends a nice note and you send an email or ignore the gratitude gesture altogether? Imagine having to tell your boss, "We lost the bid cuz I was too much of a lazy ass to spend three minutes to handwrite a note to the prospect after the meeting".
I am sure your employer would agree with all the excuses not to write a note:
I don't have time
My handwriting sucks
It is old school
That stuff doesn't really matter
All customers care about is price
Postage is expensive
We don't have the right stationary
It will look like I am kissing up
I don't know what to write
Handwritten notes are for women (yes, I had someone tell me this at a seminar I was teaching)
Email is faster and therefore more effective
Email leaves a digital trail for the file
My clients work in high tech, so they prefer emailed communications
Nobody opens snail mail these days
Only the customers assistant will see it if I mail it
You can make excuses all day long, but the CEO who thinks you are to be commended for your gesture of the note will also be more likely to buy your product!
Have A Great Day.
Twenty years ago I heard a friend of mine defend another with the above comment. It has never left my head. I don't know that I ever told Terry how profound a statement he made at 19-years-old, but there you have it. Earned respect takes time to acquire and is paid for by consistent actions.
Wednesday, January 16, 2008
The program included:
Kevin Fahey - President and CEO, Metrosol
David Hood - CEO, Troux Technologies
Bill Wood - Silverton Partners
Jeff Browning - Partner, Austin Ventures
Together they imparted first hand knowledge of what entrepreneurs need to consider before stepping into this demanding role, and some tips on what venture capitalist look for when identifying a first time CEO. Below is some of the wisdom they shared.
Your experience and personal style will shine through and lead you into the C-suite. While you will need a good education and an impressive resume, you also have to be able to manage people, as the CEO becomes responsible for the lively hood of all who work for the organization. The buck stops at the CEO's door.
For a technology start-up, VC's like to back those who began their career with a first class company like Cisco or Microsoft, as classic management training is always useful. However, also having a significant role in a smaller company and experience working inside a start-up will give the CEO useful prospective on what he will encounter on a day to day basis.
Being a CEO is about being a good leader of your team. You will be responsible for creating and driving the culture in the company. There are few good examples in corporate America of big company CEO's who do this successfully. In a large company there are always other people and rationale that can spread around the responsibilities. Not so in a start-up. Making everyone work together seamlessly while sharing company values and passion is job one. Also being able to work well with the board of directors and tap the wealth of experience from the board will be a conduit to success.
Before undertaking the job, a wanna-be CEO needs to know why he wants the job. Ego is the wrong reason and will lead to frustration, as this is long-hours and hard work (and not a lot of time for ego). You also need to realistically understand your experience and see the big picture of your strengths and weaknesses. Having a strong network and advisers who will be honest with you about your skills will help you with your assessment.
The discussion was then passed to the table discussion leaders, who lead intimate round-table discussions. Each table had different perspectives and levels of experience, which lead spirited opinions on what it takes to become a successful CEO.
TEXCHANGE continues to be a premier organization for the Austin, Dallas and Houston technology communities. The monthly dinners are always informative and full of passion. Tonight's presentation was another example of why TEXCHANGE is so successful.
Have A Great Day.
Tuesday, January 15, 2008
My older brother lives in New Jersey. He and his wife have two kids and a nice suburban life just outside of New York City. Recently friends of theirs announced they were moving to Texas. Now, remember - Texas is a BIG place, so they did not make the connection that their friends would ever cross paths with my family.
Coincidentally these folks moved in three blocks away from where I live. My brother could not believe it when he learned that his close friend was in my zip code. Emails were exchanged and this weekend we met them for lunch. Our kids are the same ages and became fast friends. The kids had a great time together making new friends, as did the grown-ups.
It makes me laugh that on this crazy planet with billions of people sometimes things can be so simple. What are the odds that my brother's neighbor would end up right down the street.
Have A Great Day.
Monday, January 14, 2008
Marky came off looking like a quirky kid who is quite smart but has no clue of what he or his company are doing now or in the future. Dressed in a Gap-looking hooded sweatshirt he did little to make Facebook appear to be anything more than a college kid's side gig that accidentally became HUGE. This was an example of a PR opportunity lost. When 60 Minutes comes calling you should at least try to look like a grown up when your company has an estimated value of $15 billion.
Personally I think Facebook is a fine tool, as are MySpace, LinkedIn, Plaxo Pulse and any number of other social networking sites. I am confident that Zuckerberg and his team are brilliant and working hard to create something amazing in the online world. But do they have legs to take this thing all the way into the future?
The problem is that having a high number of members/users does not necessarily translate into long-term sustainability for a business. Sitting down with the 60 Minutes icon to discuss the possibility of an IPO might be a bit premature. The thing nobody seems to talk about is that Facebook is currently the flavor of the month with those who live online, but this crowd is fickle and often on the look out for the next next thing. The four year old Facebook could become yesterday's news or a historic memory of an over-hyped company ahead of its time (think Living.com or WebVan...both now gone, but great ideas during the tech boom of a nearly a decade ago).
The $15 billion dollar valuation and the passed up sale for one billion dollars could make the future 40-year-old Zuckerberg look back wishing he had cashed out early. Only time will tell if he is smart as a fox or a young gun with no clue of the real world.
I am actually pulling for him, as I love to see the likes of the Michael Dell's of Dell Inc., Microsoft's Bill Gates, or the guys from Google. These are the Cinderella stories of our time, and I hope Facebook and Zuckerberg can pull it off. However, the interview with 60 Minutes left me wondering. Zuckerberg and Facebook had the chance to "wow" America. Instead, they just passed gas.
Have A Great Day.
Sunday, January 13, 2008
Keith McFarland's The Breakthrough Company (which will hit the book shelves this week)is a better read than Jim Collin's Good to Great. What makes it better is that it deals with middle market companies that have broken through, instead of the giants. Like Collins, he compares these superstars to competitors who at one time were their equal, but were left in the dust by superior management.
I will write more about this book once I finish reading it, but at the half-way point I wanted to go on the record and tell everyone this is a "MUST READ" if you care about real business strategy. The practical and proven stories that lead his nine select example corporations are what everyone needs to know if they want to take their business to the next level.
Have A Great Day.
Saturday, January 12, 2008
Not as odd as it sounds when you hear it is for my ten-year-old's 5th grade science project. She needed ten pieces of steel that could be part of an experiment on rust. The problem is that all nails, bolts, washers and other metal products that Home Depot sells are all non-rusting treated metals. Sure, that is what you want when you are building actual things...but when you want to experience rust and decay you can quickly become frustrated by all our modern advances.
Robert in the Tool Rental department was there to help me. I am not sure that every Home Depot employee would have gone to the lengths to help me with my minor problem . His own kid had done a similar science fair project, so he fully knew that I need to get a steel rod and cut it into two inch pieces. Robert quickly assessed my lack of skills in the world of do-it-yourself projects, and asked if I had the proper tools to cut the raw steel pipe that he had located.
Ummmmm, yeah, .... I don't do much work around the house, much less projects that involve needing a vice and a hack saw.
Rather than causing me the pain of trying to do this myself, Robert volunteered to take the metal pipe into the back and cut it himself. In a matter of five minutes he returned with the matching pieces of steel. This is customer service at its finest, and solidified my allegiance to Home Depot over Lowes (which is located a block away).
I am going to visit homedepot.com and send a message to the powers that be in his company making sure they know that they have a great employee. My guess is they already know, as this type of "customer first" actions are not a one time thing. Too often these days in Big Box retailers you find a crew of clock punchers. Not Robert.
When you see good service you need to go out of your way to praise. Our world seems all too eager to let people skate past with accomplishing only the minimum. If we collectively scream out with delight when we encounter an example of "WOW", maybe more people will be motivated to go the extra mile.
Have A Great Day.
Friday, January 11, 2008
Be A Catalyst For Good
What qualities do you admire in people whom you meet? What is it about a person that causes you to want to add them to your network of professional contacts? Do you even know? Some folks seem to want to add anyone and everyone to their network, but that is not the best use of the precious resource of time. You cannot be friends with everyone.
Busy schedules force us all to keep people out of our lives. Sad but true. Time restraints limit the amount of attention we can give to those around us, and many feel there is simply no room for anyone else. I sometimes counsel people who want to be more proactive with building a network but do not feel they can handle more friends. They are full up already and know that to cultivate a real relationships takes commitment, both in time and emotion. These folks are scared that they do not have the bandwidth to admit anyone else into their world.
Imagine for a moment that you could only add one more person into your network. Think about what qualities that person would need to possess to earn that sole spot. My guess is they would need to be spectacular....captivating....generous....unique....self-less....and well connected. This would need to be a human being that made you feel good when you were near them. Your one person would have to have the ability to fill many holes in your life all at once.
Now look at yourself. What if others could only add one person? Are you the type who helps others to achieve their goals? Are you a catalyst for good in their world? Do you possess the qualities that you long for in other people? Are you the light that shines on them?
If you want to attract amazing people into your universe you need to be the person whom can be beneficial to them. You must be amazing. Networking is about establishing mutually beneficial relationships. Too many people look to meet people who can help them without really looking for ways to be of assistance to those around them. That is the flaw in the system of networking.
A friend recently told me that networking is "give and take". I think it is more like give, give, give and take. If you accept that giving more is part of the deal, then you will find success with your networking efforts.
Go out today and do something good to benefit one person in your network. Be the catalyst that improves their world without any thought of what you will get in return.
Have A Great Day.
Thursday, January 10, 2008
They are portrayed by some as having an evolved level of social consciousness (apparently much better than the baby boomers and generation X if you listen to their ranks), and vilified by others for the fact that more than half live with mom and dad after college, allowing them to avoid taking on all the hard knock responsibilities of being a grown up. Most of the attention goes to how they will not "pay their dues" in the workforce, favoring instead their friends and family - only wanting jobs on their terms. Some accuse them of being pampered and lazy while others grant the whole generation sainthood.
I say phooey. YES, PHOOEY. Not a word that bloggers use in that many posts...but I'll say it again...PHOOEY! There are more important similarities between people of all generations than differences, but those similarities do not keep demographers in business!
Look back at the baby boomers when they entered the work force and what was said about them in the press and all over the internet (okay, there was no internet in the 1960s and 1970s...I wanted to see if you were paying attention). The age of Aquarius was not build around a bunch of starched shirts. Yet there came a time when that generation had to step up and take over the economy, and everything changed. This anti-establishment, free-love, don't trust anyone over thirty generation became the establishment.
Guess what, the Millennials are smart, educated, and ambitious people....just like every other generation. Sure, they grew up playing soccer games where nobody kept score so that no kid would need to lose....But guess what...they all kept score! Even when the adults said winning didn't matter, these kids knew damn well who won the game. Sure, everyone got a trophy, but not one of them was so dumb as to think they all won.
These folks entered the work force and have a lot of options, but that will not always be the case, and if jobs are harder to find you will see them doing what it takes to "pay their dues" and staying put longer in jobs. I argue that living with mom and dad or jumping to better opportunities is less a slap on the Millennial's character as it is a sign of the times. Additionally, when they get married and have kids their priorities will change just like their baby boomer parents. Sure it is cool to live with mom and dad rent free while driving a cool BMW after college...but when you have a spouse and three kids, your own home and a minivan become more appealing.
I think it is time that the Millennials stand up for themselves and tell the world that they are motivated hard workers who are qualified and interested in climbing the economic ladder. While being born after the US Bicentennial and the release of the original Star Wars does make for some different life experiences than those who came before, that is true of every generation.
I predict that this group will do just fine in life (as have their ancestors) and that the kids of the 2040s and 2050s will see them as stodgy!
Have A Great Day.
Wednesday, January 09, 2008
I have been active with this group for many years, and regularly attend their monthly lunch meetings. The quality of the speakers and the attendees continues to reach new levels. Their speakers are usually executives from successful local middle-market companies who do not just tell the audience about their company, but also impart useful information can be put into action.
I was impressed by today's presentation by Rob Solomon. Rob is the CEO of Bulldog Solutions, a company that empowers growing companies to leverage every ounce of lead generation initiative and effort with strategic planning, management and reporting. I am still brimming with ideas of how to implement some of his message about lead generation into my own work.
As a sales AND marketing guy, I love it when both disciplines work together (they often do not). I have always found that success comes to companies that find ways to make differing functions accept and support each other.
Check out the ACG chapter in your city. You will find it to be a superb organization. Founded in 1954, the Association for Corporate Growth is the premier global association for professionals involved in corporate growth, corporate development, and mergers and acquisitions. ACG has 53 chapters in North America and Europe with member from corporations, private equity, finance, and professional service firms focused on building value in their organizations. These professionals recognize the multiple benefits of networking within an influential community of executives growing public and private companies worldwide.
Have A Great Day.
Today's Guest Blogger is Aruni Gunasegaram. She is a seasoned entrepreneur (Founder and CEO of BabbleSoft), blogger, and a friend. She is another example of Austin, Texas having the coolest people on earth! If you have never been by her blog, entrepreMusings, I suggest you check it out. She always has something interesting to say about business, babies and parenthood.
Building Your e-Network
by Aruni Gunasegaram
Thom asked me to write a guest post back in December on passion and I was one of those ‘lame’ folks who he mentioned were too busy. Instead of getting too upset with me, he wrote a great post where he referenced me and mentioned some of my email comments about passion. When I said “No, I can’t do it right now, I’m too busy” I offered to write something for him in January if he didn’t mind, and he graciously accepted!
Since Thom writes about networking on his blog and in his books, I thought it might be a good thing to share my thoughts on networking for Thom’s fabulous readers. I believe networking is just a fancy word for making friends and helping each other out.
The definition of friends has changed drastically since most of us were born. In addition to the friends that we’ve grown to know over the years through work, play, kids, school, we now also have what I call i-friends or e-friends. E-friends are the people we meet and build a rapport with over the big puffy cloud known as the Internet. We may have met them, we may have spoken to them, or we may have only emailed them. Yet we often feel comfortable referring to some of them as friends…I mean just look at facebook! I’ve been making e-friends on Twitter (@aruni) left and right and having fun doing it.
So here’s what I have observed about building a network of e-friends:
Do what you say you will do when you say you will do it. Of course unexpected things sometimes come up that make it impossible to follow through but you should always let the person know. I, personally, am much more forgiving and have more respect for someone who tells me they can’t meet their commitment for whatever reason than for someone who I have to constantly follow up with. Even if someone else flakes out on you, don’t follow suit.
When someone reaches out to you for help, answer them. Even if the answer is “I can’t help you right now,” just say it. Don’t ignore a request for help because when you inevitably need help, guess what? Your request is bound to go ignored as well. What goes around comes around. Even if someone does not ask you specifically for help if you see someone on the Internet who could benefit from your sage advice or connections take a few minutes and send them an email or leave a comment on their blog.
Build and foster trust by being consistent. Trust, in my opinion, is earned and earned faster if you are consistent. If someone knows they can count on you, they are more likely to let you count on them.
Now I’m sure Thom has said this all before and much more eloquently than I have but since he’s coming out with a new book called Some Assembly Required for Women, and I happen to be a woman just consider this a feminine reminder. J
Aruni blogs at entrepreMusings. She has two kids, some plants, and a patient husband. She is President/Founder of Babble Soft and writes articles on the topic of Success. Previously, she taught Entrepreneurship at The
Tuesday, January 08, 2008
Recharge Your Batteries
Living in our rush - rush culture can be crazy. To succeed in our jobs we must put in long hours and then we come home to other important responsibilities. Everyone I know has more things scheduled into their calendars than our parents generation, and therefore we are constantly in a hurry to get from one place to another.
The list of things I try to accomplish on a daily basis is daunting. Juggling work and family could easily take up more than 24 hours. There always seems to be more things I could do in a day than there are hours. This constant buzzing about can be exciting, but it can also take its toll. Many folks I know do not get enough sleep, rarely eat the right foods and do not get exercise. They just go go go.
I know that when I get into the groove of this constant activity I love the high that comes from accomplishing. It can be a self-satisfying kick in the pants to notice your personal mastery of the calendar items. To achieve is a badge of honor. Then the perpetual motion of additional scheduling takes over and you get into the loop of crazy busy. There seems to be no end to this roller coaster. Like George Jetson you just want to scream, "Jane, STOP THIS CRAZY THING"
If you are like me, you can get cranky to those around y0u, and insensitive to their needs when you are over scheduled. When I can't find time to get to the gym, I feel below capacity. Lack of proper nutrition and not enough sleep coupled with a constant barrage of emails and other stimuli means that there is never any down time to recharge the mental batteries.
There used to be downtime built into people's schedules. Before cell phones, laptops and blackberries we were forced to rest our mind during parts of the day, now we can be plugged in to the collective world all the time.
I suggest that you regularly carve out a little time away all of your responsibilities. What you do will vary depending on what you enjoy doing, but you need to get away from it all. This means by yourself. No blackberry, no cell phone. Nothing. Just relax and allow your mind to think for 90 consecutive minutes. Not 60 minutes, 90 minutes!
Rent a kayak, go for a hike, get a massage, or go to a park and sit by a fountain. Whatever your choice, just do something without the input of media or other people. This is not a time to read a book or listen to your ipod.
This might seem impossible to someone who cannot find any time in their current schedule. A waste of precious time? I think more of an investment in your future. If you cannot get away from it all, then you cannot preform at your peak. You will eventually hit a mental wall and become less effective if all you do is pop from on activity to another. Why do you think the bible talks about the Sabbath? From the beginning of time having some down time was important. Those who lived 2000 years ago did not have the same type of hectic lives (they had their own levels of stress), but they were still encouraged to take a day off.
Relax. Enjoy. Think. Plan. Hope. Dream. Let your thoughts soar.
Have A Great Day.
Stacey was formerly with The Deal (and before that The Austin Business Journal). I admire this move away from the more traditional press to the highly popular tech blog, GigaOm, as it is a leap into the future of new media. As the industries we work in change with the times, the most cutting edge amongst us will be the ones to embrace the new.
Giga Omni Media’s network of sites provide one of the leading daily online news reads for the key influencers in the emerging technology market place. They deliver technology news, analysis and opinions on topics ranging from broadband and online games to Web 2.0. Founded in 2006, they now serve a monthly global audience of 1.5 million consumers and professionals interested in the latest news in the world of high-tech.
Have A Great Day.
Monday, January 07, 2008
I hope that you will visit www.thomsinger.com and take a look at the new graphics and information on my books, professional speaking, articles and other information.
This is a great step forward from the old website, and has the ability to grow and change along with me on this journey called life.
Thank you for your support.
Sunday, January 06, 2008
New Year Publishing (my publishing company) is excited to announce the release of Dale Pollak's new book, Velocity (New Year Publishing, 2008). Velocity shows how car dealers in today's pre-owned automotive marketplace can accelerate profits by running their dealerships using an investment-minded approach. This relatively new concept was pioneered by the book's author, Dale Pollak, who had to run his own Chicagoland Cadillac dealership this way out of sheer necessity – he's legally blind. It reads as Pollak speaks – quickly and with enthusiasm and the book is full of interesting anecdotes and simple exercises for applying Pollak's strategies.
Available at Amazon.com.
About the Author: Dale Pollak's career in the automotive industry has spanned more than two decades. As a dealer, consultant, entrepreneur, and speaker, Pollak has helped many successful automotive dealers in America make dramatic improvements in their pre-owned operations. Pollak's unique vision about how to improve used vehicle operations was shaped as much by his 13 years as a Chicagoland Cadillac dealer as it was by his visual impairment. Unaffected by the aesthetic qualities of his inventory, Pollak was able to analyze pre-owned vehicles solely from an investment-minded perspective. This viewpoint was the foundation for vAuto, Inc. the technology company he founded in 2005. vAuto provides dealerships with a better way to price, appraise and manage their pre-owned inventories. Prior to vAuto, Pollak helped build Digital Motorworks, Inc. from its inception to its successful acquisition in 2002. He holds a B.S. in Business Administration from Indiana University, a law degree from DePaul University's College of Law, and is a four-time winner of the American Jurisprudence Award.
Have A Great Day.