Tuesday, December 29, 2009

NYP Speakers - The Right Professional Speaker For Your Business Event


As New Year Publishing continues to grow we are discovering more authors who are also engaging professional speakers.

In 2010 we are launching NYP Speakers. This speaker placement service is designed to link New Year Publishing authors (and other professional speakers) with companies, organizations and conferences who are looking for high quality professional presentations.

We are currently seeking a select group of speakers and authors with an entrepreneurial drive for success and a desire to be part of our community. NYP Speakers is more than a "speakers bureau", but a fraternity of speakers who share best practices and respect with each other while assisting clients in finding the right presentations that will captivate and inspire their audiences.

If your company or professional organization is seeking an exceptional keynote speaker, break-out session presentation, sales / motivational inspiration, etc... take a look at our growing list of NYP Speakers and contact us for a free consultation on how to identify the right speaker for your event.

Have A Great Day.

thom

Monday, December 28, 2009

Powerful Connections Are All Around You - Are You Listening?

The world is smaller than you think. No matter where you are, people could open doors and make introductions that might have an impact on your life.

I was attending a holiday party this weekend at the home of a friend and I had an unique encounter. I met a very interesting CEO of a local company over a glass of wine. We had an interesting and engaging conversation that covered business, family, life, etc... At one point we were talking about my new book on public speaking skills (The ABC's of Speaking, January 2010) when our talk found it's power.

He mentioned that he learned about the importance of speaking skills thirty years ago while working in Los Angeles. He shared a story about being 19-years-old and running the video camera while his boss worked with a presentation skills coach. As he explained the details, he casually mentioned the name of the guy who was instructing his boss.

When he said the name I almost fell out of my chair. The person he was talking about had the same name as my childhood next door neighbor. While this neighbor was 20 years my senior (and had moved away by the time I was born), his parents were my honorary grandparents when I was a kid. I had stayed close with his folks throughout my life, until their passing (just a few years ago).... but had not seen their son in 30 years.

It turns out the CEO at the party was still friends with the person we were discussing. They had remained close for three decades.

A few emails bounced around the next morning as the CEO reached out to his friend with an introduction and the "small world" tale. Later in the day I had an hour long phone call with my old neighbor (who still lives in California) where we discussed family, friends, careers and the old neighborhood. He is a great guy with a 40 year career in media, events, and presentation skills training. I could not believe how delightful it was to talk with him about both our parents (my parents were very close friends with his for decades) and about business.

I will be meeting him for lunch the next time I am in California. I even think we can benefit each other in business.... but certainly it was a wonderful personal connection. I hope we can stay in touch and develop a friendship.... as he is an amazing person. I feel that everything happens for a reason, and this contact has purpose.

The interesting part is that the CEO who told me the story could have shared the same message without mentioning the name of my old neighbor. I would have never known the link to this key person was sitting across from me at a party in Austin.

How often do we encounter people who are connected to us in other powerful ways and never know it? I wonder if it is common that we talk with people at parties, networking events, and other gatherings who could link us to amazing people (some who we already know, but had lost touch with)... but we never uncover the connection. Impressive people who will touch your soul are out there waiting to know you, but you have to hear what people say... then make the connection.

This would have been a cute story if I had not asked the CEO to put me in touch with his friend. But I did ask. The next morning he took action (NOTE.... successful folks, like this CEO, always take action... but that is a whole other blog post!!! He did not have to immediate reach out, but he did!). The result was a powerful conversation that connected two people who are both better for the connection.

Have A Great Day.

thom

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Collaboration Is The "New New Thing"

2010 is being predicted to be "The Year of Collaboration". The social media exerts are ringing the praises of this emerging area of sharing and creating as a new dawning of the ages.

The buzz around Google Wave and other tools that promote the ability for folks to openly share their projects and get useful input and feed back into their work is exciting.... but is it really a sociological sea change?

Some things lend themselves to an open source model, other things do not. Some people are open to sharing, others are not. Without the right connections and reputation, none of the tools will matter to the random user wanting input. The power here goes back to your network, brand, reputation and ability to create community. We will see the "Collaboration Elite" emerge much like we have seen the celebrities on Twitter and other social media platforms.

I believe the attention on the collaboration movement is more about the cool tools and the super-users than it is about the projects that will come from the collaborations. The process will work well for those who live and breath social media (but it already does work for those people) .... but will not flow quickly beyond those who are early adopters. Many in the greater business community are still avoiding the social media tools (the 2009 buzzy flavor of the month) and making excuses as to why they they will not use LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter... they are hardly ready to join a mass collaboration movement (thus it will be fun and useful for those who are the social media gurus and mass users...and it will give them new things to talk about... but this not an change in society).

The best of the best have always collaborated with others (regardless of industry). The tools were not the sexy part, instead the creating of something bigger than the individuals could have ever done alone was the "wow" part. This is hardly new.

Also, open collaboration is a great concept when all the players are share the same morals when it comes to the "rising tide raises all boats" concepts... but there is still the need to monetize projects,.... and greed (and selfish people) will not disappear in the new year.

Part of this becoming the "hot topic" is that there is always a need for a "hot topic". Bloggers cannot keep writing about Twitter and Facebook in the new year .... as these have been done to death.

"Collaboration" is the new new thing. But is it?

Have A Great Day

thom

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Last Week Of The Year --- Five Tips for Goal Setting for 2010 Success

The last week of the year can be pivotal in setting the stage for your new year success.

I have long been a goal setter. I have never understood the people who openly brag about NOT having goals. I talked with a woman the other day who said she never sets goals, and when I asked why she shrugged and curled her mouth in a manner that showed her annoyance with the question. Another gentleman told me that "setting goals is just for dreamers". He was a "realist" who believed in hard work, but did not want to set himself up for failure.

I see it differently. Successful businesses have business plans and sales goals. Investors would never put money behind a venture where the entrepreneur said he was just going to work hard and figure out the rest as went along. I could not imagine a bank giving a line of credit to a company who was annoyed by questions about their future projections. Why are people different than a business? If you want to achieve success, you must have thought through the path that will lead you there.

If you do not know what success looks like, how will you know if you get there? Additionally, I have found that by having very clear goals, it makes it MUCH easier to make the hard choices along the way.

I think about my goals all year round. That does not mean that I always reach them, or that I always do the right things. But if I did not have them, I would be adrift.

If you have not set goals before, my five tips for making creating your goals are:

1. Set aside ample time to contemplate what you want to achieve in the new year. When setting your goals for 2010 you must think about the realities of your personal situation. Where are you today, and what is it that you desire in the new year. Too often people just make a fast list without giving real thought to what it is they want. Set aside an hour a day the week between Christmas and New Years to create your list. Make notes, and tweak your goals every day until you are happy with the list and believe you can make them a reality.

2. Be realistic. Goals are not "wishes". Do not list things that are equal to winning a lottery, but instead make you list things that you can achieve if you do the right things. I like to use "writing a book" as an example of a realistic goal. Anyone can write a book, but to do this you must dedicate time and do the work. A book cannot write itself, and if you continuously put off doing the writing, there will not be a book. But if you write for an hour every day, you can (and will) have a draft in about 40 days. All goals should be able to be broken down into steps.

3. Don't have too many goals, (or too few). I like to have a three categories of goals, with two, three or four goals in each section. I like to have business goals, personal goals, and "soul" goals. For me, having nine or ten goals each year gives me the inspiration to work toward my success. I do not always achieve all of them (I still have 9 lbs to lose from last year, and weigh the same as I did on 1/1/09).... but I do achieve more in my life than I ever could have without the focus of having written goals. You can have more things that you are working towards than the goals on your list, but having a realistic number of goals will help keep you moving the right direction.

4. Create a goal page and review it often. After you have identified the goal targets that will excite you to achieve in 2010, you must write them down in a way that you can review them regularly. I have a friend who uses 8.5" x 11" and laminates three copies. One for his office, one in his car, and the other in his SHOWER! Another friend has her goals as the wall paper on her computer. I shrink the list down to fit in my wallet so that I see my goals each time I reach for money. No matter what works for you, find a way to make your goals.

5. Tell others about your goals. If you have big goals that you are trying to achieve, you will have more success if you share your targets with other people. The important people in your life want to support and help you reach your goals, and they can only do this if they know what you want to achieve. I will go as far as to publish mine on this blog on December 31st so that you who are reading this can be part of my support team.

If you have never set goals before, try it this year. Be dedicated to your efforts and review your goals constantly. You have nothing to lose, and a lot to gain from working on a goal list.

Share with me your thoughts on goal setting. What did I leave out from this list that works for you?

Have A Great Day.

thom

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Eve Memories


I remember Christmas as a kid. Sure, I liked the food and the gifts (who doesn't), but it is the memories of my family that stick in my head, not any toy I ever received.

My mom and dad made sure Christmas was magical for me, even though I was the only little kid in a house filled with teenagers. My brothers are all a decade older than I am, but it just added to the team of people who helped make it special.

Two memories sing the loudest in my head:

The first happened when I was three-years-old. Around midnight my mother woke me up and quietly brought me down the hall. She told me to be very quiet, but to peak around from the hallway to the living room.

There He was. SANTA. He had a big bag and was placing toys all around the Christmas tree, and I was watching him live and in person. Mom quickly brought me back to bed and sat with me as I fell back to sleep with a big smile on my face.

Can you say WOWWY!?!

It was years later that I learned it was my oldest brother in a Santa suit. He was 17, but padded up very well and hidden under the big white beard.

The second memory was an annual tradition. I was told to be sure to go to sleep quickly, as Santa would pass by making sure all the kids in the world were in bed. Moments after getting into bed, a loud noise of sleigh bells would pass by my window (we lived in the Los Angeles area... not many sleighs, thus it could only be one thing. SANTA). Along with the bells was a bright red light that I could see streak past... even through the closed curtains.

Oh yes, you guessed it.... the light was Rudolph's nose! Can you say WOWWY!?!

I eventually learned it was my three older brothers crossing the lawn with the bells and a flash light covered in red plastic.

My wish for everyone who reads this blog is that you have a wonderful and magical memories in your life all year long. Regardless of your religious beliefs, take advantage of the spirit of Christmas and find joy in your world. I believe that religion goes beyond any particular faith practice, but instead is about the power of faith, love and community. I hope everyone has all those things in abundance.

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Joy, Peace, and Love to all.

Have A Great Day.

thom

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Does Everything You Blog About Need To Be An Original Idea?

There is a comment on yesterday's blog post that is worthy of its own discussion.

A reader named Ari Herzog, whom I do not personally know, but have corresponded via social media for over a year (I like him, and respect his efforts in life. He is a media strategist, consultant and an elected official on the city council of Newburyport, Massachusetts - pretty impressive guy), left a comment on my post titled "Strike While The Iron Is Hot", which was inspired by Chris Brogan's blog post the same day titled "While The Iron Is Hot".

Ari says:
"...but by different irons, Thom, never the same. It's great you credit someone for an idea, but the credit only works if it's your idea, not his idea that you're trying to use for yourself.

Ideas come and go but they only become successful if they are unique."

This begs the question of Does Everything You Blog About Need To Be A Unique Idea?

First, I have always believed that what makes blogs successful is not solely the brilliance of the blogger to have totally original and unique ideas in each post.... but instead their ability to take nuggets of information, concepts and theories to extend the discussion. Adding perspective, spin or highlighting minor points that might have otherwise been over looked in the piece that was the inspiration. They key here is to give credit to who or what was the catalyst for the writer.

Too often people take concepts and run with them, disguising them as original thought. This is bad. I see lots of bloggers who work hard to make themselves look really smart.... all the while they are ripping off others. But is being inspired by someone and adding your two cents a bad thing?

Second, if you look at my post, I mention (with links) that I had written about this same topic on my blog (twice) and on Twitter in recent weeks. It was already a topic that I found important to discuss, and thus I was NOT ripping off Chris Brogan's idea, but instead extending the discussion by crediting his post and writing more. I agree that Chris Brogan is a much bigger deal in the blogging / social media world than am I, but that does not diminish my ability to write about similar subjects .... or to be inspired to write because of him.

I am not picking on Ari.... as he is a smart guy with his own track record of successes. But his comment did get me thinking about how quick people are to jump to conclusions about the motivations of others. Heck, I did when I read his comment (as I felt he was calling me a fraud). Can one only be authentic if they were the first one to have an original thought? If another blogger (especially someone famous) writes about a topic, is that topic off limits to the rest of us (or we look like a copycat?)

And is it true that, as Ari said, that "Ideas come and go but they only become successful if they are unique". Hmmmmm... I see lots of ideas (and people) that are wickedly successful which are not necessarily unique.... but instead made successful through hard work and tenacity.

What do others think?

Have A Great Day.

thom

Monday, December 21, 2009

Strike While The Iron Is Hot

Chris Brogan has a blog post today on his blog that hit home -- as I have been talking about this same issue (here and here and on Twitter). His post "While The Iron Is Hot" talks about how too many people are slowing down in the holiday season and making lots of excuses as to why they are coasting to the finish line.

I am in full agreement with Chris. If you want to win you cannot shut down. While I am in favor of taking time to "recharge" your batteries (my family takes two week vacations each summer and I come home with more ambition and focus), there is a difference between people who save their vacation time for the end of the year, and those who take time during the year AND then coast through the holidays (while pretending to work) by making all kinds of excuses about why they don't put in much effort at this time of year.

The key point Chris Brogan makes is in the last paragraph:

"We choose our success in life. We choose every step. My family and I have chosen the course I’m on, and I’m pretty happy with it. How about you? What have you chosen?"

He and his wife (and kids) have created a partnership that revolves around how Chris earns his living. This means sacrifice on both sides, but they reach their family goals as Chris grows his business. My family is doing the same thing. I gave 53 professional speeches last year for companies and organizations.... many of those being out of town. This meant sacrifice for everyone.... but we grew our business. It was a choice, but without doing the work, we could not have had the achievement.

I consult with professionals who want more success... and they know that networking and cultivating a personal & professional brand would lead them toward more business. However, they want the prize without putting in the time. There are lots of excuses given, some even sound convincing. But in the end, you must work hard to reach your goals.

I have never known a single person who I considered a big success who credited their victories to coasting along and waiting for another time focus. Those who succeed all strike while the iron is hot!

Have A Great Day.

thom

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Adventure Kids Give To Charity


My youngest daughter and I belong to an informal group called "Adventure Kids and Dads". There are about thirty dads from our neighborhood who take their young sons and daughters camping one weekend each month. It is always a lot of fun, and a wonderful way to teach the kids that life is not only about TV and playing on the Wii. (Although I will admit when my older kid goes she and some of the other older kids do play games on their dad's iPhones while eating smore's around the campfire). We really like this group, and since I am not the most "out-doorsy" kinda guy.... it makes us go set up a tent and live off the land (ok, we live off gourmet food cooked on state-of-the-art camping utensils, but you get the idea)

December and January are a bit cold in Texas (it could be below 50 degrees!), so we do not camp in these months. In December the kids collect can goods (and go to the store to buy food) to donate to the Capital Area Food Bank... and in January we gather to pick up trash in our neighborhood park and soccer fields. Both activities allow the kids to get together, while our hope is that they will grow up always used to finding ways to give back to their community.

This year we donated 959 lbs of food which translates to about 767 meals to help those who are hungry. Each of the four tribes compete to see who brings the most food. I suspect the competitive level of the dads will fire up next year and we will see higher numbers!

Have A Great Day.

thom

Saturday, December 19, 2009

End Of Year Blues

There seems to be a lot of business people who are checked out emotionally for the rest of the year.

Two weeks left before we hit 2010... and I keep hearing from people who say thing about "winding down" or "needing a break". It seems that with the rough economy over the last year that some are feeling the pressure. One woman told me that it is best to just take a break and start new in January.

Seems some folks have the "End Of Year Blues".

Others are claiming that "nobody else is around", thus they are not working either. They are assuming that everyone is home sipping egg nog.

I wonder that if they knew their competition was looking for ways to get ahead of them if they would be so ready to snooze for two weeks.

This is the best time to jump on the phone and set appointments. Many people have lighter than normal calendars, but are working.... thus now is the time to get in to see them. Also, if it takes a few weeks from making the call to getting the meeting, if you rest now it is late January before you are back in the swing of things. So really, it is not two weeks, but a month you might be wasting.

Would you hand your competitors 1/12th of your income?

Think about that one. Is that what you are doing?

I am not saying that there is not real benefit from vacation. There are those who save their vacation all year to spend this time with family. That is different that the people who are officially "working" who are making excuses to coast at this point.

Have A Great Day.

thom

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Don't Hide Behind The Fear Of "Brand Fatigue"

Michelle Greer had a post on her blog recently titled "Are People Just Fatigued By Your Brand?" where she discussed the problem many face if they are working too hard to be "everywhere". She argues that people would be better off to say no to networking events, speaking gigs, conference attendance, etc... while getting lots of sleep and hang out with friends.

Her point is that if you are over exposed people could become fatigued with your omnipresence. She warns against getting the world as sick of you "as they are as they are of the five pound box of Honey Bunches of Oats that they bought from Costco four months ago." (I am imagining her pantry full of bulk purchases).

Michelle is right, you have to find a balance. Not going to every event will not make you invisible. However, there is a fine line between doing too much, and not doing enough. It is really about the results you desire to achieve.

I recently had a conversation with an aspiring professional speaker who was curious how I had been asked to speak 47 times in 2008 and 53 times in 2009. I talked about my networking activities and social media participation as a key to the growth of my business. She argued that she did not have the time nor the interest in that much networking (in person or online) and then listed all the things about social media that she views as a waste of time. This person questioned if my activities might not lead to my becoming over-exposed, and justified her lack of participation as a way of protecting her brand (Huh?).

My worry about Michelle's post is that it gives permission to those who are more introverted to avoid putting themselves out there to establish their brand. If they hide for too long they run the risk of not becoming known at all in their business community, and thus missing opportunities. (Michelle and a reader do address this in the comments section of her post).

True that once you are established in your industry you can be more selective about your attentiveness to creating visibility, but you cannot avoid it on the way up. While someone should not go crazy with networking and brand building (to the detriment of the rest of your life), you must invest the time and efforts up front if you want the rewards that come on the other side.

Have A Great Day.

thom

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Finding The Right Fit For An Accountant, Bookkeeper, CFO, Controller or Other Financial Professional For Your Company


Today's Guest Blogger is Shelia Thompson. Shelia is the Director of Recruiting Services with vrecruiting (a vcfo company), which is a full service search firm offering strategic solutions including Professional / Executive Search and Contract Staffing Services in Austin, Dallas, Houston, Denver and Seattle (www.vcfo.com). She has over 15 years experience in executive search, professional placement and providing effective client focused recruiting solutions. She can be reached at sthompson [at] vcfo.com , 512.450.6578.


You need to hire an Accountant…you think?

Accounting and Finance can be an uncertain territory for many start ups. Do you need a Bookkeeper, Staff Accountant, Controller, VP of Finance? What about a CFO? Full time? What level? An accountant is an accountant right? If these are questions that have running through your head – you probably are on the right path to considering how to most effectively leverage the right talent for your stage company.

As an Executive Recruiter who has placed several hundred accounting and finance professionals with all size companies over the years, I can tell you – one size does not fit all. All accountants are not created equal. There are some that have unique industry specific skills that can add immediate value. Do you need someone SOP 97-2, Cap Table Management, Cost Accounting, Intercompany Consolidations, Foreign Currency Conversion…? What about fund raising experience, banking relationships? Are there M&A projects in your future? Accounting software –what is best choice? Policy and Procedure development—anybody can do that right? Well, you get the point. As with any specialized field, hiring the right type and level of accounting and finance professional is key to getting the most bang for your buck. Yes- even for the ones who record and project the “bucks”.

Chances are Accounting classes may have been your least favorite class in college and now you see it as a necessary evil for business. Stop thinking that way and begin thinking strategy and efficiency. There are many options depending on the stage of your company’s development and the growth strategy. While this is not a black and white answer you might consider the following guidelines to manage your green:

  • Prefunding Stage – Getting your ducks in a row from a strategic finance perspective is key. Consider a fractional professional services firm that can give you high level CFO experience for a few hours a week or month seeking the advise of someone who has done this a few times will go along way. Depending on your structure you might also need a fractional bookkeeper-again only a few hours of time will go help when your hire someone who has worked in start up environments before. A bookkeeper from Mom and Pop’s Donut Shop will not have the same skills as someone that has seen a few start ups in their time.

  • Product Development/Pre Revenue Stage – You may need to increase Bookkeeper time or consider Staff Accountant level (to track expenses and manage cost, manage vendor and set up accounting system). A part-time strategic and tactical CFO that will be able to continue financial planning and ideally be the type to roll up their sleeves and be hands on in setting up the correct accounting and finance policies and procedures relevant to your business model to prepare you for the next level.
  • Growth Stage - Now is when you need to hire your full time person, usually a Controller that is more technically savvy that your Bookkeeper or Staff Accountant and potentially has some of the specialized experience relevant to your industry. Software company’s will want to look for hands on SOP -2 experience. If you have multiple locations consolidations experience will be important. Manufacturing environments will need some cost accounting exposure, etc. An ideal Controller will be willing to be hands on, have ability to manage staff that will continue to grow (much of the staff may be at the clerical level first-AP/AR) and have strong business acumen to provide sound financial advice through financial analysis, budgeting and forecasting etc. Companies often will look to a Controller that will grow to VP of Finance that continues to provide internal strategy and offer guidance. Depending on your funding needs and growth plans the right level CFO will come into play here at some point full time. Using a solid part –time CFO can be cost effect for many early stage companies but when you are ready to go get that next round, consider an IPO, acquire competitors you will need to look for an experienced CFO that is savvy in the financial strategies you intend to deploy and add them to your team.

In addition, don’t let titles fool you. The only way to really understand a person’s skill set and where they fit in is by looking at their job duties and accomplishments. Seek that advice of someone who has hired at the level you are seeking in Accounting and Finance before. If you have a great internal IT recruiter that knows Developers like the back of their hand – that is great, but that may not be the best person to tap and understand the financial accounting network. A good finance recruiter can help you narrow down the candidate pool to the top candidates in the market the fit the needs of your organization. I would advise you find a recruiter that not only understands accounting and finance but also the importance of hiring for the future without over-hiring. Screening for soft skills as much as technical accounting skills is imperative. There are some very sharp accounting professionals that thrive on being apart of a team that is targeting growth, do well in non-structured environments and have the communications skills that will allow them to work well with all departments. Then there are those folks that prefer to sit in the corner and crunch numbers all day and don’t like change.

Which do you want on your team?

Have A Great Day.

thom

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Don't Wait To Take Action On New Year Resolutions

The new year is coming. You can tell because of all the predictions and resolution oriented posts that are popping up on blogs, in the media, etc....

People get excited about the changing of the calendar to a new year. It marks a fresh start. Folks set goals and make resolutions to achieve more in the future 12 months than they did in the past. It is human nature to want a clean slate and to begin again.

Why wait?

We still have two weeks in 2009. Start now. Make something happen before the ball drops in Time Square and ride the momentum of your triumph into launching a kick ass 2010. Set a goal and work hard for the last two weeks of the year. While your competitors are slacking, you can get in gear.

Go.... now.... do something. Those who sit on their butt the last two weeks of the year will not find the bump in the new year. Wishing is not nearly as powerful as doing.

Have A Great Day.

thom

Some Assembly Required: A Networking Guide for Real Estate

Coming in 2010 --- The third book in the Some Assembly Required book series:

"Some Assembly Required: A Networking Guide for Real Estate"

Co-authored with one of the country's top real estate brokers, Chad Goldwasser, this book will help those in the real estate profession jump start their business relationship efforts.



Have A Great Day.

thom

Monday, December 14, 2009

Industry Leadership Does Not Mean You Have Good Customer Service

When you are having an issue with a vendor, and they keep reminding you that they are "the industry leader" in response to problems you are having in disagreement over their policies -- this might be a sign that they will not be "the industry leader" for much longer!

Industry Leadership does not mean anything if you are making a client feel like he is the bad guy over a minor problem that could easily be remedied.

Have A Great Day.

thom

What's Next?

What's next?

This decade is coming to an end.

It came in with all the attention on Y2K and is going out with our world forever changed. Many things, big and small, have morphed our society: The terrorist attacks on 9-11, the mass adoption of cell phones, and the changes in communication due to social media are just a few things that have impacted the ways we live.

Trends come and go. Products and services rise and fall in their impact. Everything has been changing since the beginning of time.

New York Magazine has a current list of the things that have gone obsolete from our lives in the last ten years. This includes:

The Rolodex - We all have databases and cell phones where we keep our contact information.

The Answering Machine - Voicemail in our phones has replaced the need for a separate machine.

The Lickable Stamp - Self adhesive rules the day.

Foldable Paper Road Maps - Three letter: G-P-S.

Cathode Ray Tube Television - Flatscreen TV's outsell the old style now.

Incandescent Light Bulb - Already banned in Europe for environmental reasons, will soon be phased out in US.

Paid Pornography - They claim everyone gets their porn for free.

Smoking in Bars - Hmmm, I guess that depends on where you live.

Fax Machine - It was just a fad. A 25 year fad, but gone none the less (we all use email and PDF).

Hydrox Cookie - What? I didn't even notice, but it is true.... one can only find Oreo Cookies now. I loved the Hydrox. RIP.

Cassette Tape - Now with it's distant cousin the 8-Track.

French Franc - Euro.

Floppy Disc - I remember when thumb drives appeared, now they are king.

Phone Book - One just arrived on my porch last week. They had merged the white and yellow pages into one, as there is no advertising in it any more. Hello Google.

Polaroid Photo - Don't count Polaroid out just yet, they are looking at releasing some new products.

Bank Deposit Slips - Ummmm I still use these.

Subway Token - I live in Austin, this city has avoided any real mass transit for decades, so I have no idea.

Interesting list of things that have gone away (or almost) in the last decade, but it makes me wonder what we will be talking about having had its time gone by in 2019.

Think about it. The phone book? Who would have guessed that this staple would now be a joke thanks to the internet and Google. Could Google be yesterday's news tomorrow?

The hot social media properties of Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and others could vanish as fast as they arrived when something new comes along.

Maybe the internal combustion engine could be gone in a decade as new ways to power transportation are discovered and fine tuned.

If the recession does not end, maybe jobs could become obsolete (okay, that was a joke)

I believe that the speed at which products and services appear and get wide spread adoption is increasing. The "new new" thing is coming... but what it it?

What is next?

Have A Great Day.

thom

Saturday, December 12, 2009

The Definition of "Know"

Over a decade ago Bill Clinton questioned what the "definition of 'IS' is"?

In today's social media world the definition of the word "know" is just as hard to grasp.

Everyone seems to think they "know" everyone else. I was recommending a professional speaker for a conference and the meeting planner said; "Oh, I know her... she is not the right fit for our needs". I was surprised, as I thought it was a great match, so I inquired deeper about how they knew each other. Turns out, they had never met. The meeting planner had never seen this woman speak. She had never read her book or blog posts. She had only "heard her name around town".

Hearing someones name does not mean you "know" them.

According to Dictionary.com, the definitions of know are:

–verb (used with object)

1. to perceive or understand as fact or truth; to apprehend clearly and with certainty: I know the situation fully.

2. to have established or fixed in the mind or memory: to know a poem by heart; Do you know the way to the park from here?

3. to be cognizant or aware of: I know it.

4. be acquainted with (a thing, place, person, etc.), as by sight, experience, or report: to know the mayor.
5. to understand from experience or attainment (usually fol. by how before an infinitive): to know how to make gingerbread.
6. to be able to distinguish, as one from another: to know right from wrong.
7. Archaic. to have sexual intercourse with.
(Bill Clinton almost knows Monica Lewinsky)

–verb (used without object)


8. to have knowledge or clear and certain perception, as of fact or truth.

9. to be cognizant or aware, as of some fact, circumstance, or occurrence; have information, as about something.

–noun


10. the fact or state of knowing; knowledge.

—Idioms

11.
in the know, possessing inside, secret, or special information.

12.
know the ropes, Informal. to understand or be familiar with the particulars of a subject or business: He knew the ropes better than anyone else in politics.
All of these definitions lead one to expect to more knowledge than a casual observation from afar.

However, with the overload of information available to everyone in this digital media age, people tend to take leaps from the casual to the intimate without cause or a second thought.

I get Facebook and LinkedIn requests all the time from people whom I have never had any contact. I have personal policy to not accept such link requests, as to have a huge list of strangers is no different than holding up the printed White Pages and claiming it is your network. You would have names, addresses and phone numbers of thousands of people allowing you to contact anyone in the phone book.

(Added: I do have people in my contacts with whom I have never actually met in person, but have had the "digital equivalent" because we have traded messages, email, read each others blogs, etc....)

But a real network is not a "Cold Call List". Knowing someone means you both share a mutual understanding of each other.

Here is a key example: I don't know Barak Obama. I know about Barak Obama. We have never met, we have not shared a beer together. I would never claim I "know" him, and if I did, people would know I was a fraud.

Are you a fraud in claiming associations and the definition of who is in your network?

Do you prejudge others based on no real information? Jumping to conclusions without actual knowledge does not make you look smart.... but we human beings do this all the time.

Next time you say "I know them"....ask yourself if you actually "know them". Often times you will discover you have heard some stuff, but probably don't "know".

Have A Great Day.

thom

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Personal Rules for Social Media

Social Media can be overwhelming. From the outside it can seem like it is big time suck and waste of your attention.

However if you manage social media you can effectively creating real connections and cultivate mutually beneficial relationships that can (and will) help lead you toward greater success.

Rather than ignoring social media, one should embrace the power of the tools while setting personal rules by which they swim in the social media pool.

Below is a short video clip from a recent presentation:



Have A Great Day.

thom

Monday, December 07, 2009

Risk Has Rewards

Are you proud of never taking risks? Some people are pleased that they never try unproven methods for doing business.

If nobody ever took risks where would our society be today?

Risk has rewards.

Sure you could fall down, the best always do. But they get up and try again.

Duh.




Seven Steps To Setting Goals for 2010

Some people set goals. Others do not.

I have never met a person who is dedicated to the goal setting process, and reviews their goals regularly throughout the year, who does not believe that having clear, written and attainable goals is key to their success.

That being said, I have met many people who do not set goals who declare that goal setting is not beneficial. (But how do they know if they do not try it?). They just leave their success to chance. They have dreams and wishes, but no "North Star" by which to navigate their life. They drift. They see others victories as "lucky".

I believe that if you want to accomplish more in your career in 2010 (and beyond) you must take time in December to review 2009. Identify your success and areas where you came up short. Be honest. Clarify what you had hoped to achieve, and understand why you met or missed those desires.

Find focus for what you want in the new year. Looking forward, give some thought to setting goals that will make you push yourself harder than you have in the past. A goal should not be easy, but it should also be something you can reach. If you want easy success... play the lottery (but you probably wont win). Real success comes through hard work.

I have had friends tell me they don't set goals because if they don't achieve them it makes them feel bad. Huh? Don't try because you might fail? Oh my gosh, with that attitude nothing exciting would ever happen in the world.

My own experience has shown that even when I come up short on a goal, I still make amazing progress and do more than my competition. People ask me how I have written six books, I tell them it was a my professional goal to do so. I knew I wanted to do it, I wrote it down, then I went and wrote. I didn't just imagine it, I made it real.

The old saying "Shoot for the moon, even if you miss you'll land among the stars" (quote from Brian Littrell) is the whole point. I have not reached all my goals, but I have moved farther down the path toward my wildest desires.... and will continue to strive year after year.

If you do not know what success looks like, how will you know when you get it?

Here are 5 tips for goal setting:

1. Set aside some time (1-2 hours) to contemplate you past and identify what you want in the future. Make it a priority to know where you want to go in life.

2. Set two or three attainable goals in three areas: professional, personal and spiritual. You do not want to just be focused on business, as you have more to your life than meeting a quota. Do not set too many or to few goals, as this should not be too easy, nor should it be a burden.

3. Write your goals on paper, using a pen. Later, transfer them to you computer. Print three copies. One copy for you home, one for your desk at work, and shrink a third down so it fits in your wallet or purse.

4. Review you goals often. Daily is best, but at least once a week. Keeping them in front of you and actively thinking about them will make it easier to make the tough choices as you go through life.

5. Take action. Goals are not magic. This is not "the law of attraction" or "The Secret". To be a winner in life takes effort and action. You have to make smart choices on how to focus your time and resources so that you are moving toward your goals and not away from them. Sitting still does not work either, as stagnant never wins.

6. Celebrate victories. Anything that moves you closer to achieving a goal is worthy of treating yourself to something. A round of golf, a massage, etc... are great choices (avoid ice cream or other sweets as treats, as I did this once and gained a lot of weight when I was wildly successful on meeting my goals. This created a new goal of needing to lose the pounds).

7. Share you goals with others. When you tell people you are working toward something, you are more likely to follow through on the efforts necessary to reach your goals. When I was writing my first book, I told as many people as I could. Thus it was not as easy to abandon the project.

If you don't create goals and work toward them you will never know if the process will help you be more successful. If you do it and it does not work out the way you want, it will not harm you. Thus, you have nothing to lose, and a lot to gain.

Are you going to make excuses, ignore this post, or the try something new to lead you to more success in 2010?

Have A Great Day.

thom

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Tuesday Breakfast Seminar - Register NOW.

If you live in Austin, Texas, it is not too late to sign up for the Tuesday breakfast seminar - "Smart Networking in the Holiday Season and the New Year".

The event is sponsored by the Austin Business Journal.

When: Tuesday, December 8, 2009
Time: 7:30 - 9:00 AM
Location: Norris Conference Center
Cost $35

CLICK HERE to register.

(If they close the online pre-registration, you can always show up and pay at the door).

Please help me spread the "last-minute" word about the event. Tell your friends and co-workers.

The discussion will cover how to get the most out of networking while attending holiday parties over the next several weeks, and also will focus on how to get the most from your referral network in 2010 that will lead to more business in the new year!

I hope to see you there.

Have A Great Day.

thom

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Up In The Air

While I have not seen the new George Clooney movie, Up In the Air, I must compliment the PR Firm who is handling the press coverage for this movie. Whomever is on this account should get a raise, as they have had the actors and director (and theme of the film) getting a lot of ink and air time from the media.

Friday alone week I ran across five articles about this film. Three separate mentions were in USA Today, and two others in the American Airlines magazine. Earlier in the week I saw TV interviews and other print coverage. I know this, because I travel a lot, and I enjoy reading... thus such publications and Cable TV were in my view over the last several days as I traveled to both Las Vegas and Detroit in three days.

I am often in airports, planes and hotels, so I look forward to seeing the movie. I am sure there are things I will relate to when I watch it....although, unlike Clooney's character... I am fortunate to have a family to rush home to after each trip!

Back to the PR person for the film.... I admire anyone who excels in their job. PR is a tough field, and even when your product is George Clooney it takes work to find the angle that gets anything that much press! Kudos!!

Have A Great Day.

thom

Friday, December 04, 2009

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Come See Me Speak Next Week


My goal when I started my own business and went full time as a professional speaker was to give 52 presentations in 2009.

I have been fortunate to travel all over the country and have exceeded my plan, met countless amazing people, and have had a lot of fun.

However, the year is not over......

If you live in the Austin area and have never seen me speak (and have any interest in seeing me speak....as not everyone probably cares what I do!), I have one more speech scheduled for next week -- And this is presentation number 53 of the year....which makes it a bonus.... and we all know the little extra things in life are always the sweetest!

The Austin Business Journal is hosting a breakfast seminar on Tuesday, December 8th from 7:30 AM - 9:00 AM (at the Norris Conference Center in Austin, Texas). The cost is $35.

REGISTER NOW at the ABJ Website


"Smart Networking in the Holidays Season and the New Year" will be a fun and interactive presentation.

We all have in-box overload with invitations to holiday parties for our clients, vendors, employers, professional organizations, neighbors, friends, family, etc.... Regardless of if you are an introvert or an extrovert, it can be overwhelming. But there are things you can do to make it more enjoyable and beneficial. Networking does not happen by accident, and anything you can do to help cultivate your relationships will bring more opportunities into your life.

Set the stage now to make 2010 more prosperous by establishing mutually beneficial referral oriented relationships with other professionals.

I hope you can attend. Please tell your friends and co-workers!!!

Have A Great Day.

thom

Be Open To The Universe

When you are open to good things happening in your life, you will be amazed with the interesting and unique opportunities that will flow into your world.

I am not being "touchy-feely" or "religious" or "new age" (this is no "secret").... but there is something about putting yourself out into the world, networking with good people, and keeping your eyes open of what is happening that will place you in unique and spectacular situations.

Take my post yesterday about being at the Grand Opening for the Vdara Hotel in Las Vegas. We did not go to Vegas to attend this event, but when we heard that the new hotel and the "City Center" would be open, my business partner took action and booked a room. That lead us to being included in the gala party and being part of this once time event. Right place, right time.

Several people have told me recently that I am "lucky" because of the positively interesting situations and experiences that I encounter. Lucky? Not sure. I think people create there own luck. I am fortunate that I have many friends in my network who have included me in their interesting lives, and that does lead to fun and memorable interactions, as well as business opportunities.

But is that an accident or luck? I think that it is more about living life, cultivating relationships, and then taking action when you see the chance for such activities that are forever part of your personal story.

What about you? How have you stumbled upon the most unique and exciting experiences in your life?

Have A Great Day.

thom

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Vdara Hotel - Las Vegas - Grand Opening


It is not every day that you get to stay in a great new hotel in Las Vegas on the night it opens.

My business partner for New Year Publishing and I had our quarterly business planning meeting in Las Vegas and were in town for the opening night of Vdara. We decided to take advantage of this unique chance to visit a top level property for the premier launch.

As a professional speaker I am fortunate to get to visit several wonderful, world-class hotels each year, and Vdara ranks up there in quality, design, customer service and pizazz.

Granted out cab driver did not know that the hotel or the new "City Center" area was open yet, so he argued that we could not get there by taxi (we were able to get there, but it was confusing for all). Also, the room was not ready when we arrived (huh? It is not like people were sleeping there last night!!!).... but the overall experience was great.

Vanity Fair
magazine hosted a VIP reception in the hotel to celebrate the Grand Opening, and we were invited to join the festivities,.... which made a great visit to be even better. The party showcased the hotel and many of the "Whose Who" of Las Vegas and beyond were present (photos below).

We had dinner with a great group of people at The Palm Restaurant, and then some time in the Bellagio Casino.

The trip was a success and we set some big goals for New Year Publishing in 2010.... stay tuned!!! If you want to write a book, or you are an aspiring professional speaker, we would enjoy talking with your about how our company could be a resource to help catapult your career!

Have A Great Day.

thom




Next Day PS- The mistaken wake up call at 4:15 AM was not my favorite part, but the hotel and the kick-off party were spectacular.


Tuesday, December 01, 2009

December Super Focus

DECEMBER?

WTF ????? -- How did it get to be December?


Well, it happens. In fact, every year people are surprised to find the year ending so quickly.

But the reality is that the calendar always moves at the same speed.

Many business professionals start to mentally check out in December, rationalizing that January is a whole new year. Why work hard, when you can pad you 2010 victories if you sandbag your efforts... right? Plus, the holidays season is too busy with parties, families events, shopping -- nobody else ever works in December... right?

Wrong and wrong. December is a great time to double your efforts and end the year with momentum that will catapult you into the new year.

If you want 2010 to be amazing do not coast through December. Instead, have a super focus on your business.

Everyday is a new day regardless of when it falls on the calendar. When you look at the people who really kick it with success they never rationalize failure or slack off because of some lame excuse. The holidays are not a real reason to waste time.

If you want to win you must work hard to crush failure.

Look around at those who are achieving higher levels of success. These could be co-workers, peers, competitors, etc... What are they doing different? What is it that makes them soar to the top? I don't know for sure (as that would vary with different people and industries), but commonly one can point to those on top and see people who are focused, consistent, and never jealous or envious. They are not lost on the map to detraction-land, as that is not their destination.

If you feel stuck it is most likely your own fault. People who makes tons of excuses or deflect blame at every negative situation will never see these traits in themselves (thus if you are reading this and thinking "that's not me"... it still might be you!). To get past this rut you are in you need to re-tool your focus make things happen. TODAY.

A month is a long time in business (and December is one of those long months with 31 days!). You can start today and have victories before the champagne pops on New Years Eve. If you cannot close a deal, you can certainly make progress in the right direction. (people often say "my sales cycle is longer than a month, so I'll wait until after Christmas" -- huh?, you still need the whole sales cycle... start now and make the close sooner rather than later. duh).

You just have to believe you can do it. Don't kid yourself, people do work in December... and they work hard. Be one of them.

Have A Great Day.

thom