Sunday, January 31, 2010
It's Fundraiser Time!!!
Those who have read my blog for a long time know that in February is the month that readers are asked to make a donation to the Dell Children's Medical Foundation of Central Texas.
If you have ever felt that you received any value from visiting this blog, this is a great way "pay it forward".
It is part of the way my family celebrates the birthday of our youngest kiddo, Kate. She was born with a serious medical condition and today she is just fine. We know we were fortunate and supporting research is a small way to help other children born with cranio-facial abnormalities.
There are a lot of great causes that you can contribute to in this world, but I hope you will consider making a small donation to the research efforts of doctors helping children with cranio-facial issues. We know first hand that it is very scary for parents to face something like this when they have a new baby. We felt very alone. This is our way of hoping we can help other families who have to go through something similar.
Any amount you donate ($5, $10, $25, $100, etc....) makes a difference in the long run!
Take a moment to view the video below.
CLICK HERE for more information or to make a donation now.
Have A Great Day.
Friday, January 29, 2010
Have A Great Day.
Thursday, January 28, 2010
Andrews Kurth, a leading law firm for entrepreneurs and emerging growth companies (and my former employer), announced today the launch of a new fixed-fee, start-up organization package. What makes this great is that it shows that lawyers are listening to what their clients are asking for in regards to partnering with a company and not making everything they do about the billable hour.
In an effort to create cost certainty and streamline the process associated with launching a new company, Andrews Kurth is offering clients a comprehensive start-up organization package for the formation of a new corporation. The package is provided for a fixed fee of $5,000 and details can be found at www.akstartup.com.
This start-up organization package consists of documents and services in the following areas:
- Incorporation, Organization and Qualification
- Employment and Consulting
- Intellectual Property
- Consultations on venture capital term sheets, employment matters, employee benefits and IP
The program was spearheaded by Austin partners Matt Lyons and Alan Bickerstaff, both of whom I have known for over a decade, and are seasoned professionals in working with start-up companies and the entrepreneurs who create new ventures.
Attorneys in the Technology and Emerging Companies Group of Andrews Kurth have advised hundreds of entrepreneurs on the formation of new companies, capital structures, financing transactions and intellectual property matters, and have provided counseling on day-to-day legal issues that arise in start-up companies.
About Andrews Kurth LLP
For more than a century, Andrews Kurth has built its practice on the belief that “straight talk is good business.” Real answers, clear vision and mutual respect define the firm’s relationships with clients, colleagues, communities and employees. With 400 lawyers and offices in Austin, Beijing, Dallas, Houston, London, New York, The Woodlands and Washington, DC, Andrews Kurth represents a wide array of clients in multiple industries. For more information about Andrews Kurth, please visit andrewskurth.com.
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
I wrote a fast blog post the other night between flights from Cleveland to Denver. I had been working on the post in my head for over two weeks as part of getting my thoughts together for a presentation to 150 CFO's and other financial executives.
As part of my prep work I asked folks on Twitter to share any thoughts on what CFO's need to know about Social Media. My goal here was to make sure that I had not missed anything that would be important to the audience.
I only got a few responses, and they were in line with the information that the company sponsoring the event had asked me to cover.... but when writing the blog post I did lean on some of the advice from the Twitterians and wrapped it all into one article.
Today I got an email from a woman named Cindy Kraft (@CFOCoach). She was not happy with me, and rightly so, as I had not mentioned the Twitter people who had responded to my query in my blog post.
Here is her note:
"Shocked, Thom, that you did not give any attribution to the folks who submitted ideas to you in your recent blog post, especially since they were almost verbatim. I would never had expected that from you"
I will go back and add a notation to the original post.
I punched out the post quickly, and most of the things were already stuff that was being covered in my presentation.... and thus it never dawned on me to mention Twitter's inspiration. I was wrong.
For what it is worth, I did share with the audience that that I had asked this question of my Twitter followers, and that several folks had chimed in with ideas. I used this as an example of how social media does have power in making us all better at our jobs. That there is a vast world of information, ideas, knowledge, inspiration, and people willing to help (once you get past all the B.S. and noise).
Alas, I have learned another lesson in how to respond when tapping into Social Media. I think many people forget that such back and forth human interactions are a source, just like a magazine article, interview or book.
I am usually pretty good at giving credit where credit is due..... but I am not perfect, and this was a new entry into remembering that a Tweet really is a resource.
Have A Great Day.
When we do business we are interacting with human beings. People come with all sorts of background, baggage, opinions, emotions and feelings. Not a good combination for someone who wants everything to be corner stapled and signed on the dotted line.
The cliche "under promise and over-deliver" comes to mind. I work with too many people who deliver exactly what they promised and then want a trophy. Well woopty-do, you delivered what you promised. Shocking, yes, but doing your "job" is just the starting point. The thought of giving a little more does not always have to come with a new contract and a bill for additional services. Humans are impressed when you give them a little more than was expected. To make customers say "wow" you have to bend your own rules and find a way to make people feel they are special.
The most successful people I know (those who are successful financially, emotionally and spiritually) do not nickle and dime those around them. At a restaurant they split the tab down the middle, even when the other person had an extra glass of wine. In business they host their best clients for special events without tagging on additional money to their invoice (aka, provide extra value). With friends they celebrate victories no matter how small (what is important to the other person is important to them).
People who spending their time picking up pennies while stepping over $100 bills never even know they are doing it. They view every interaction as a potential for a win/lose... and they want to ensure they win. But win/win is not just a catchy theory that motivational speakers sing from the stage. It is real. Just because you give a little more to a customer without charging them, you do not lose.... you actually win -- as that person will invest more money with you over the long run and recommend your products and services to others.
If your customers feel they only exist in your world only to pay invoices, then they will eventually move on to your competition. You may have thought you won, because you got the money up front, you missed a whole pile of cash that could have been delivered to your doorstep in the future.
Look around at your business policies. Is everything you do directly tied to billing the client? Do you even know what you clients value from you company? (Those pesky humans again, each client will hold different things that will impress them).
How about you... what have you done lately for a client that gave them value and did not require them to pay for it (I do not mean emailing your newsletter!).
Have A Great Day.
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
It is neither.
These online social networking and social media tools are still new, so they look around and do not see their all of their peers actively participating in these communities, so they rationalize that these are things that matter to the sales and marketing people, but that have no place in the finance department.
There are two reasons why CFO's and other financial executives need to care about social media:
1. Their company needs them to care. Today's CFO has a many business functions reporting directly and indirectly to them. Ignoring the social media can leave the company vulnerable in a variety of areas.
Does someone monitor Twitter and the blogosphere to see what is being said about the company and it's brand? Knowledge of blogging and microblogging is important if you wish to review the "buzz" about your company. (One CFO conducts Twitter searches to see when competitors are treading on trademarks).
Are you monitoring employees to see what they are saying online about the company? Are they working when they say they are working (one CFO told me he caught employees via Twitter misrepresenting their whereabouts when they were supposed to be working).
Social Media used correctly can help the company build its brand in a more cost effective manner than some other traditional channels. I am not saying CFO's are cheap, but getting more value for less money sure can help the company in any economy.
Does your company monitor industry groups on LinkedIn and other sites to keep track of trends? Not paying attention could give your competition and advantage.
2. Long-term career success requires a strong network. Social media does not replace traditional networking, but it makes it more effective. The average tenure of a CFO is between three and five years, which means a financial executive must always be working on keeping themselves visible to their business community.
Not having a presence on LinkedIn can make you look like a dinosaur. It is very common for people to search for you on LinkedIn before a meeting. They do this to learn more about you and look for ways to jump-start a connection which can help build a relationship. If you do not have a profile they do not think you have made some rationally smart decision not to be involved in social media, they think you are out of touch.
Would you hire an employee who told you that he would not use a cell phone, voicemail, and email? Highly unlikely. Therefore financial professionals need to be cautious about vocalizing their disdain for social media. To those who use these tools, they are a necessary part of doing business, and those who do not utilize them are seen as behind the times. This might not matter to you if your current CEO avoids social media like the plague, but if you could be looking for a job in the next three to five years, you might want to get your foot in the door now.
Adopting social media as a part of your business life is a choice. All the excuses are fine, but you either want to do this and you will make it a priority, or you will not. Getting involved in online communities only brings value if the user is engaged in the process. There has to be a human face on your social media activities, as you cannot delegate them to your assistant.
Generation Y has moved into the workforce with gusto, and in the next year it is projected that they will outnumber BabyBoomers. 96% of Generation Y utilize social media in their personal and professional lives. Look in the rear view mirror, they are coming up fast from behind. You don't want to be 55 and out of work with no knowledge of the tools that are pervasive to the people who will be hiring you!
You have to take action, as your profiles, friend lists and status updates will never happen without your efforts.
Have A Great Day.
Addendum -- In working on the above post I asked folks who follow me on Twitter to share ideas what was important to CFOs in regards to Social Media. Thanks to Dave Donell (who emailed me detailed stories - far beyond 140 characters! - and some great stories), @CFOCoach, @ryanschooler, @FarWestCap, @MikeCampbellCFO, @TheMarketingGuy, @success2you, @kim_hollenshead, @conniereece, @fgsquared, and @sbrownehr.
Monday, January 25, 2010
The interview is long (10 minutes), but I hope you will watch it and share it with your friends.
Also, I will give a free copy of "Batteries Not Included: 66 Tips to Energize Your Career" to the first person who leaves a comment on this blog who can identify which Television Reality Show that Michael Cardamone was the star of several years ago. Googling or searching for his bio is cheating... but I will never know if you cheated or not... nor are you disqualified for using all methods available to get the right answer! I will not moderate the comments on this blog for 24 hours so you will not know if anyone else guessed correctly until I hit post. Only one winner for this little contest. Winner must leave some way for me to find them or email me after they are named in victory.
Have A Great Day.
ALL FIVE PEOPLE WHO RESPONDED WITH A COMMENT WIN A FREE BOOK (as of this point there are five, anyone later... sorry, no go).... they need to contact me at thom (at) thomsinger (dot) com with their address so I can mail the book.
Sunday, January 24, 2010
My wife and I moved from California to Austin, Texas over 18 years ago. At first we did not plan to stay for the long-haul, but we have been blessed to have grown up with the city over the past two decades, and have established strong friendships and community ties that make Central Texas our home. We established friendships with several people who are now part of our extended family.
Since we moved here over 600,000 people have come to Austin. That large growth in population has made it easy to make friends, as nearly half of the people in the area transplants in the last twenty years. But even in cities where people are established for generations, you can still make new friends that will help your new area become your home.
I meet people all the time who have moved to a city and struggle to make new friends, so here are six tips for those who are starting fresh in a new place:
1. Join an organization. All cities have civic, cultural, charitable, and business groups that have regular meetings. If you want to make new friends and set up connections in a new place, you need to put yourself where the people are mingling. If you do nothing but go from home to work and hang out alone, you will never create a sense of "home" in your new location. The only people I have ever known who did not like Austin, Texas are the ones who never made any new friends.
2. Find "friends of friends". In our highly mobile society it is inevitable that someone in your network will know someone in your new town (if you are relocating to a major city). Contact all of your contacts and let them know about your move and ask them for introductions to cool people in the area. Once you have been put in touch with locals, make it a priority to meet them for lunch or happy hour in a timely manner. People are usually happy to meet and share their ideas about the city, but if you wait too long you many lose the momentum.
3. Discover your college alumni association. Depending on where you went to school there may be a chapter of your alumni club. Seek out the information and try to attend several of their events. You cannot judge from one event if your alumni group (or any organization) is a good fit for you, so participate regularly and look for people with whom you might have strong connections.
4. Get a hobby. When you move to a new town is a great time to take up a new sport. Many cities have rowing clubs, running clubs, biking clubs, ski clubs, etc.... Your participation in a sport will put you in direct contact with others who share your interests.
5. Learn to cook. Inviting people to your home for dinner is a great way to bond with them. If you take up cooking as an activity you can easily host dinner parties for groups of people whom you are meeting around town. Be a catalyst that takes charge of your weekends by planning gatherings. Make you apartment or home the "place to be" at your regular parties by creating delicious meals and you will find that the people you invite over will often return the favor and invite you to their home for similar parties.
6. Be more outgoing than usual. Even those who are more introverted can push themselves to be more social, especially early on in the new city. If you find yourself turning down invitations from people you meet to get together because you are shy, tired, or otherwise looking to be alone... you will discover that people will stop asking you to participate. To ensure you will be invited in the future, you must say "yes".
7. Have a good attitude about your new town. It is natural to be home-sick for your old location, friends, and family.... but keep it mostly to yourself. Your new friends do not want to hear why you liked your old city better. Sure, the weather might have been more to your liking or a million other things, but people usually have a kinship to their towns, so do not knock the things they love. Find the things you like about your new city and talk about those things!
If you do relocate to a new region, I hope that you are fortunate enough to develop the long-term success that we found when we moved to Austin.
Have A Great Day.
Friday, January 22, 2010
I had not seen Mike Yeh in over 25 years. He had gone to college at Yale, and his interesting and impressive academic and business career has lead he and his family to living in Massachusetts. Our paths crossed thanks to Facebook (we were connected, and when I mentioned I was in Boston, he reached out and we set up lunch). It was a lot of fun to talk with him and discover the stories of his life. The people whom we grew up with, and those we share experiences with along the way, are part of the core of who we are as human beings.
During our conversation it dawned on me that my friend Bill Leake, CEO of Austin internet search company Apogee Search, had also gone to Yale. I know that Bill and I are the same age, which would have put him and Mike in the same class at the Ivy League school. But Yale is a big campus, so I was not sure they would know each other... or even remember each other decades later.
I am never one to shy away from "the name game" when I see a possible connection. You never know who knows who... so I asked. Turns out they did know each other in college. Small World.
It is interesting to ponder who in your life might be connected to others without your knowledge. It is one thing when it happens in your hometown.... but the world is a big place. Big, yet very small. One can be pleasantly surprised sometimes to discover the links we share in common.
I like the Facebook feature that shows you "Mutual Friends". While in most cases you know the "why" of how others are connected, if you look at this often you will sometimes find people from entirely different areas of your life who are linked.
Most of the time the "Mutual Friends" counter shows that I have a few to a few dozen shared contacts with folks in my "Friends List". However one person, Austin entrepreneur Bryan Menell, and I have over 160 shared contacts (that is a lot!). We run in the same circles in Austin, but we also went to junior high and high school together in California. Thus two big parts our lives (the Austin business community and Arcadia High School Class of 1984) are doubly intertwined. He also knows both Mike Yeh and Bill Leake!
The lesson is to pay attention to the stories of people's lives and you will find we are all deeply connected. The "Six Degrees of Separation" theory rings true, but social media might be moving it down to just three or four degrees!
Since all opportunities in life come from people, connecting the dots can mean greater chances for success. Does it matter that my two friends knew each other twenty five years ago? Who knows, but it might! If nothing else it made for a fun blog post today.
Have A Great Day.
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
His words began with a complement on the video, but he closed his remarks with:
"Why though do you end all your posts with "Have a Great Day" - possibly a cultural thing but it feels contrived to me (sorry)."
He was not being malicious, just asking a question..... So here is the answer.....
When I was a senior in high school I was one of the anchors on the closed circuit television newscast, The Apache News (oh yes, we were the Fighting Apaches!). The broadcast aired every Tuesday and Thursday during 2nd period, and we ended the show with those words, "Have A Great Day".
I always liked that. We had nearly 3000 kids in the school and I did hope folks had a great day. Granted, we were in high school, so few of the student body probably did have great days on a regular basis, but I did sincerely make that wish for them.
I have closed my blog posts on "The Some Assembly Required Blog" with that ending almost since the beginning (now counting down on five years). I started blogging in March 2005 and the first post that used "Have A Great Day" was on May 13, 2005. It has been on most posts ever since.
I have had lots of positive comments on the "HAGD" thing, but this was the first to say it was cultural or contrived.
It is neither cultural or contrived, it is just me. I honestly hope people can find ways to improve their world. Having a "great day" is often a choice in the attitude we take toward the twists and turns that come along the path. While there is a lot of crap that happens that is out of our control, often it is just the small things that piss people off. Being grumpy all the time is no way to go through life, and I want to be a small piece of positivity that helps folks smile when they can.
Have A Great Day.
Monday, January 18, 2010
Have A Great Day.
Friday, January 15, 2010
Most of the tips were useful. Having a digital link to someone or "joining" an online community means nothing if you are not actively engaged and participate (just like meeting someone once at a networking event means little if you do not cultivate an ongoing relationship).
The part of the message that I call into question was tip #5"
5. If you'd like to increase your personal network be sure to link to [name withheld] directly,I have more than 12 million connections, and will gladly share them with you.
This is ridiculous. 12 million connections???? I am sure he is close with each and every one of them. His Christmas card postage bill must be enormous!
Being part of LinkedIn brings with it the unprecedented ability to research people and discover paths toward making connections, but being more than one person removed limits the power of the network. Anyone who looks at their inflated LinkedIn Network Number and thinks it has real value is either misguided or trying to inflate their own "coolness factor".
This would be similar to living in the Los Angeles area and saying you have direct contact with millions of people in your network because you have a copy of the phone book. Come on people, contacting those people via random meaningless links in a social media environment is akin to a cold call!
LinkedIn tells me that I have nearly 7 million people in my network, but you will NEVER hear me tell anyone that equals my network. That would be a misrepresentation of the power of social networking.
I do not link to people in LinkedIn with whom I have not had a meaningful interaction. Most often this means a personal conversation that goes beyond meeting at a networking event and trading business card. I prefer to sit down and have a cup of coffee, lunch, or a beer (or the "digital equivalent") with someone before I link to them on LinkedIn (or Facebook). I verify we like each other and have a legitimate relationship rather than just having a bunch of links.
We are still in the early stages of how we can use these online tools to help advance our careers and assist other people (never forget that the universe of people online are not there to serve your personal needs... it is a two way street!).
I am sure I will get the usual "hate mail" from people with a different view on the subject who have 10,000+ contacts on LinkedIn and have made a million dollars a year while working from home. Ok, whatever. But I believe that online networking is no different from face-to-face networking. It is about establishing and cultivating meaningful relationships over the long run. This is about more than being "linked".
Have A Great Day.
Wednesday, January 13, 2010
Have A Great Day.
Tuesday, January 12, 2010
I recently spent the day with Frank Lloyd Wright.
Okay, not the man... as he has been dead since 1959. But while in Phoenix, Arizona for a business trip and some television appearances I had some time to kill on Sunday and decided to visit Taliesin West. This was Wright's winter camp, studio and is the main campus of the Frank Lloyd Wright School or Architecture.
The outpost was built in the 1930's as a place that Wright, his family, and his apprentices could go to escape the Wisconsin winters, while continuing to create the amazing building designs that made him famous. They would pack up the studio (the whole company) and drive across country to take up residence in the Arizona dessert for half the year.
The property is still a working school and the home of the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation. The guided tour was very informative, but the amazing thing was to see the buildings that were constructed by hand by Wright and his team. They seem to naturally spring from the hillside. Experiencing way they lived, worked and entertained was inspiring.
Guests who were invited to visit Taliesin West in the 1940s and 1950s were told to bring a sleeping bag, a tuxedo (or formal dress), and a musical instrument. They would spend the evenings in the various living areas mingling with those who worked there and international celebrities who were drawn to be part of Wright's inner-circle. One could feel the power and energy that flowed through these buildings in the day! You cannot be at Taliesin West and not feel an strong attachment to the environment.
The part of Wright's work that is so amazing is that he died fifty years ago, but his designs still hold their timeless ability to amaze those who see them. Many people claim genius, but few people can really be seen as "Real Genius".
I think we should all study masters, like Frank Lloyd Wright (regardless of industry). To be able to achieve our own levels of unique accomplishment in our own lives we must understand what greatness looks like. I saw greatness in my day with FLW.
Have A Great Day.
Monday, January 11, 2010
(the video link has disappeared from the KTVK Channel 3 Website. Too bad, cuz it was a good interview and Carey Pena is a great host).
Have A Great Day
Sunday, January 10, 2010
The last 18 months there has been a lot of attention focused on the loss of jobs in the United States and around the world. I understand. I feel it. I was laid off in April 2009.
It was not the first time I was laid off. Sadly, I have seen four other companies close their local offices or go out of business entirely over the last 20 years. Bummer? Sure! But that is just part of the game when you work in for entrepreneurial ventures (although some of those jobs were with Fortune 100 / established companies, so you are never safe!).
Although I now work for myself (and enjoy it), I have been in situations where I have needed to find work. It is not fun. It is stressful. It can be lonely.
For me, my safety net has always been other people. I discovered early that having a network of personal and professional contacts is the fastest path from unemployment to a new job.
The best way to build a network is start long before you need it. You must invest time and effort to establish meaningful relationships with other people. You cannot just show up with your hand out when you are in need and expect people to jump into action to help you. People are busy, and they are often not willing to use their connections and vouch for strangers.
If you are one of those folks who have made up every excuse in the book to not network, it is not too late. However, to succeed you have to stop rationalizing the reasons why you do not work to connect with people: "I'm too busy", "I'm an introvert", "I don't know what to say to people when I meet them", "I don't have the right education", "I think people who network are pushy", "I have to get home early", "I am not a morning person", etc.... (I have heard dozens of excuses... all of them are lame).
If you are looking for a job (or even if you are working and want to make a move), here are three things can do to find a job fast:
1. Treat looking for a job as a full time job. Turn off the TV and don't go to the gym. If you were working you would be at work from 8 AM to 6 PM (most people work more than 9 - 5), so while you are unemployed, you must be working on your job search ten hours a day. Do not do your grocery shopping during the day or any other activities that you would not do if you were working somewhere.
I am amazed when I read articles about people who have been out of work in the recession who say they have given up, or spend their days writing a novel. No wonder they do not have a job. While not everyone will find a job quickly, 100% of those who do not seek employment will remain unemployed. Jobs do not fall from trees.
Create a "To Do" list and an agenda for your daily routine. Only put things on your calendar that will directly or indirectly lead you toward a job. Manicure? NOPE.
2. Network like your life depends on it. All opportunities come from people, therefore you need to put yourself around those in your industry. If nobody knows you exist, they cannot tell you about jobs and other interesting information that could benefit you in your job search. While a focus on those you already know is the most productive (have you had coffee or lunch with every former boss, co-worker, client, vendor and friend you have ever known in your professional career? If not, why not?), meeting new people is also key.
Attend industry groups, Chamber of Commerce meetings and any other gathering you can find where the right types of people will be present. While these can be expensive (so you will have to choose wisely which events you attend), many organizations seek volunteers to help with the set up, check in, etc... Find out if they need help, and they might waive the registration fee. Either way, get out and network.
3. Do talk too much about yourself and your job search. Nobody wants to hear how rough it is out there. If all you do is lament about being unemployed, you will develop a reputation as "that sad unemployed person". You will have more success if you ask the other person questions and get them talking about their life: "How long have you lived in town?", "Why do you attend this networking group?", "What's new and exciting in your career", etc....
People care more about themselves than they do about you (especially when they first meet you), so get them talking about THEM. Eventually most people will realize they have dominated the conversation and ask you questions.
When it is your turn to speak, present a positive spin on your situation. Nobody wants to recommend "Debbie Downer" for a job. Tell them about your "full time job of looking for a job", and how it is teaching you the REAL meaning of hard work! That is more impressive than telling them about how you have caught every episode of "Days of Our Lives" or that you never miss "OPRAH!".
I know it can be difficult (I have been there), but don't give up. Realize that if you create a plan and work hard at your job search you will feel better about yourself than if you give up. Your attitude will be an important factor in getting the next job.
Have A Great Day.
Extra Tip ... READ BOOKS. If you are not reading non-fiction daily, you should start. Carve out 30 minutes every day before you start your "job search activities" to read something that will educate and motivate you. If you are not a regular reader, start with small books. There are thousands of business and motivation books that are under 200 pages. All of my books are designed as "quick reads". I hate books that are like reading a "text book", so I wont write books that are stale and hard to get through.
CLICK HERE for a full list of my books available on Amazon.com
Friday, January 08, 2010
When: Wednesday, January 13th
Where: Shoreline Grill
Time: 11:30 AM - 1:00 PM
Cost: $30 for members, $50 for non-members
My presentation will be:
"Extending Your Corporate Brand: Getting Your Employees and Co-Workers Engaged in the Business Community"Middle-market and growth oriented company C-Level executives often feel overwhelmed with the amount of things they must do to promote their company brand. In addition to their job responsibilities (aka- running and growing the business), they are also the "face of the firm", needing to be present in their business communities online and face-to-face gatherings.
Many wish that they could motivate the whole company to become an active part of the business development efforts. The presentation will discuss how to create a culture in your company that recognizes the importance of everyone working to help promote the image of the firm.
If you live in the Austin area, you can sign up to attend at the ACG Central Texas website.
Also --- If you ever know of a company or organization that is in need of a last minute motivational speaker for a convention, conference or luncheon.... give me a call. Things happen and scheduled presenters have to cancel. While I am not always available (my calendar can be nutty), if I am open I do my best make the event a success!
Have A Great Day.
Thursday, January 07, 2010
The "Austin Speakers Network" was organized to assess the need to have regular meetings to network, share best practices and get to know each other. Many of us are members of the National Speakers Association, but there has not been an active NSA Chapter in Austin for several years (which is a huge bummer, and this group wants to change that!).
Speaking can be a lonely occupation since one can be on the road a lot. Having a local group of colleagues whom can grow to know each other, meet (formally and informally) and help educate each other is vital. I am, obviously, a big believer in the power of relationships and find value in participation in industry groups.
When I first started speaking several years ago there were regular meetings of the NSA's "Heart of Texas" Chapter, which covered Austin, San Antonio and Corpus Christi, but the geography of Texas is so large that it was never easy to attend any meetings that were beyond Austin. Also, as a new comer to the industry and not yet an NSA member, it was not a welcoming atmosphere.
Not so last night. The enthusiasm level of these Austinites was over the top. The experience level ranged from 30-year veterans to those just starting their speaking careers... but all were welcome.
I think the group will continue to meet and grow the local web of friendships.
If you are a professional speaker and live in Texas, join us at our next Austin meeting! (dates TBD... the group decided monthly weekday lunches would be the best, maybe some dinners, too).
A BIG "Thank You" and kudos go to local speaker Sara Canaday for organizing the meeting and facilitating the open discussion. Rock and Roll, Sara!
Have A Great Day.
Tuesday, January 05, 2010
Even yesterday I heard a woman say she could not make any business calls because she was sure that all of her clients and prospects were busy playing catch up on emails and such things on the first day back after the new year (okay, that was one last excuse).
But the time for excuses is past (and gone until next fall!). The time has come to pick up the pace and create momentum for 2010.
Businesses (large and small) have realized that they cannot wait on the sidelines if they want success. They need to get in the game. After 18 months of not spending money on things like sales meetings and customer / industry conferences, I am hearing from companies that the time has come to invest in education and motivation for everyone.
The same thing is true for individuals. The only way to make things happen is to make things happen. Take action. Do something. Be a self-imposed catalyst and stop looking for excuses.
Have A Great Day.
Over the last year I have written on this blog (here and here) and on Twitter about my friend, Jack McDonald, who was running for the United States House of Representatives. I was even on the “host committee” of a fundraiser. I was excited to see an experienced CEO, decision maker, entrepreneur and self-made success story making a bid to represent the people in Washington DC. Although I am not a Democrat (I am not a Republican any more either), I was thrilled to support Jack McDonald for Congress.
Shortly before the holidays Jack announced that he would not be filing the paperwork to make the run for public office at this time. Bummer.
This is a bummer not just for those who live in the district he would have represented, but also for all Americans. We need to do something different in Washington DC, as the same-old-same-old career politicians are not delivering the goods.
Texas’ Congressional District 10 is a ridiculously gerrymandered squiggle on the map that stretches from Austin to Houston. It is a Republican leaning district with (I have heard) an electorate of 55% R and 45% D voters. For Jack to have won this race would have meant that the moderates from both sides of the aisle would have needed to overwhelmingly voted for his democratic candidacy.
The race would have cost millions of dollars (of both fund-raised and personal money), and he would have most likely lost the race regardless of the cash he spent. A smart business man does not waste millions of dollars. The incumbent congressman, Mike McCaul, has a well funded campaign, good name recognition, and is a Republican (in a “red” district). With the current tide across the country being one of dis-enchantment with the far-left agenda of the White House and Congress, even a moderate democrat could never have seen the love from the moderates.
Jack’s press release announcing his decision to not make the run stated:
“This was a difficult decision for me and one I did not make lightly. I approached the decision in the same way I have approached my business decisions over the years-in an informed, realistic and fiscally-responsible way.”
I think it is a shame that both political parties have allowed the fringes to take control of their agendas. It seems that neither the Republicans nor the Democrats have a home for those of us who are firmly planted in the middle of the hard issues that face our country. The really bad news is that MOST people I talk to are in the middle (to varying degrees). They are Americans first, Republicans and Democrats second. It is NOT this way it is in the seat of our government. Partisan and divisive stances rule the roost. Last year Americans went to the polls to vote for change, but we only got a change in which party is running the show... otherwise it is “business as usual” in Washington DC.
Candidates like Jack McDonald who have led their lives and built successful careers in the private sector are whom we need to be electing to national level offices. Experience outside of public service is a good thing, in my opinion! But the system is set up, and the districts are designed, to favor more of the same. Jack is a guy who has made a difference in the real world and was trying to bring that experience to government. He made the smart decision to keep his powder dry and live to fight another day.
Have A Great Day.
Monday, January 04, 2010
On January 13th we will find out at "Ignite Austin", a program where 16 technologists, thinkers and personalities will take the stage to answer this question (well, 15 such personalities...AND ME!). There are a variety of eclectic topics which will combine to become a delicious salad of informative verve.
I am honored to have been selected as one of the speakers at the first Ignite Austin event. (A complete list of presentations is on the event website). Preparation for this five minute talk will be epic. I am used to speaking on stage for 90 minutes, and the build up to a good signature story can easily last five minutes. At Ignite I have that limited time to educate, entertain and inspire the audience on the sexy topic of "How to Write a Book". Fortunately I have written several, but this is not an event where the speakers can just get up and "wing it".
The goal of the program is to spark new conversations and collaborations across cultures and disciplines throughout the city of Austin with fast-paced, bite-sized presentations. It’s a great opportunity to meet smart, interesting people and maybe even learn something.
Ignite was started in Seattle in 2006 by Brady Forrest and Bre Pettis. Since then 1000s of 5 minute talks have been given across the world. There are thriving Ignite communities in Seattle, Portland, Paris, and NYC...(and soon to be Austin!).
The event will be held at The Phoenix (409 Colorado Street - downtown Austin) from 6:30 PM - 10:00 PM. Buy your tickets now! Cost is $5 and $10 as supplies last. This event will sell out.
Have A Great Day.
Saturday, January 02, 2010
1. Do something BIGGER than you have done it before. Go big and whatever you do in a spectacular fashion. Make a mark on the world. Do not be timid.
2. Break ties with people who are holding you back or not supportive of your goals. You are influenced by those around you and your success is linked to the character of the people with whom you associate.
3. My brother Bob says his motto for 2010 is "Have Fun!"--- wow, simple but powerful. Embrace the idea of "have fun" everyday and allow it to guide your decisions!
4. Read more books. Read something educational daily (even just 20-30 minutes a day will get you through over 12 books) and you will expand your view of the world.
5. Bring the joy of the holiday season with you all year round. We spend so much time smiling and wishing others well during December.... do that all year long.
6. Remember we are all "works in progress". Take a second look at some people you discredited in the past and give them a second chance. Too often we judge the people in our life based on observations that are no longer relevant.
7. Monitor if you are a person who supports others ideas, goals, hopes and dreams... or if you are the type of person who is quick to criticize. Don't fool yourself about the answer. Many critical people lie to themselves while knocking others off their path. Be one who encourages others and you will see people do the same for you.
8. Reach out to a long lost friend and say Hello. You will touch their heart to know that you really care about them.
9. Let your friends know that you're always available if they need a shoulder to cry on or a friend to lean on. Then the hard part.... NO MATTER HOW BUSY YOU ARE... actually be there for them when they need you.
10. Embrace a new technology. Don't hide from the new new things.
11. Take more naps.
12. Eat at restaurants you have never been to before... And try new a variety of ethnic foods!
13. Know in advance who are the ten people you would most like to meet and spend time with in your extended community. Also know know what you would ask of them when given the chance to have a conversation.
14. Make people feel smart, they will remember you for it. Too often people try to make themselves look smart, and thus they bore the people around them. Take an interest in others unique knowledge of the world and you will find them liking you more.
15. Send a minimum of two hand written notes a week to honor others or to say "thank you" to those who impact your world. The small investment of time to write these notes equals 104 positive touches you will make on people. Who is to say one of them will not be so impressed by your gesture that they will send you an opportunity?
16. Do not step over $100 bills as you pick up pennies! Too many people nit pick the small stuff that they miss the real opportunities.
17. Find a way to help another person achieve their life's goal or dream (just because you can). It will make you feel amazing inside just knowing you have the power to impact someone in that way.
19. Forgive others who have annoyed you and look for fresh ways to create work on a project with them. Accept the the faults of others.... as we all have faults and our success depends on other people forgiving us for ours.
20. Praise others more often and openly for their successes. Look around and say "wow" to the people you see doing really great things in this world.
21. Entertain more often. Inviting people into your home creates a stronger bond. You need not be the worlds greatest cook to have a wonderful gathering of enlightened souls in your home.
22. Drink better wine.
Have A Great Day.