Saturday, December 31, 2005

Weekend Blog 23 - Happy New Year

The Ten Best Things About 2005

1. My wife and kids. Simply everything about them.
2. Completion of writing and publishing of my first book.
3. The book is selling well.
4. Having a GREAT job come my way in December (which will make for a great 2006).
5. Meeting some very cool people and establishing new, mutually beneficial friendships (many of whom I met because of my book and my blog).
6. CRHP 25 at St. John Neumann.
7. The trip to Italy and France.
8. Annual Family Reunion with my dad and brothers (and their families).
9. Business trip to Chicago (I love Chicago)
10. Losing 30 pounds, and keeping it off (well, mostly).

I want to wish everyone a wonderful 2006.

Have A Great Day.

Thom Singer

Friday, December 30, 2005

Guest Blogger Of The Year

This is your last chance to vote for the best "Guest Blogger" of the year on the Some Assembly Required Blog.

Leave a comment or send me an email.

We need your vote today (Voting ends at midnight on December 31, 2005). The winner gets a $50 Gift Certificate to

Click on the names below to read their great posts.

Scott Ingram

Steve Harper

Bert Decker

Rich Ottum

Bruce Allen

Mark Merenda

Monica Bay

Liz Ryan

Bryan Menell

JD Moore

Cookie Wherry

Mike Sigers

Carlon Haas

Adam DuVander

Have A Great Day

Thom Singer

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Thank You Notes

Ahhhhh, the Holiday Season is drawing to a close.

OH SHOOT....It is time for Thank You Notes.

Your mother was right, you must properly thank people for the gifts you received during the holiday season (or anytime throughout the year).

Were you invited to a great corporate holiday party? Send a note thanking the person/people who invited you.

Got a great gift basket, popcorn tin, cookie bouquet or other present of good cheer (an ipod with a vendor's logo on it?)? Send a short note to acknowledge your appreciation.

Did someone give you a big piece of business or refer you for a new job in 2005? Send an expression of "Thanks".

A short investment of time to pen a handwritten thank you note is worth more than its weight in gold. So few people send thank you notes in our busy society that you will stand out from the crowd if you show others that they are worthy of this gesture of gratitude.

If you cannot immediately think of ten people who deserve your thanks, then you are not really networked in the first place (and therefore not reading this blog anyway).

Go on, just do it. Send your Thank You Notes today!!!

Have A Great Day.

Thom Singer

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Network Everywhere

The day after Christmas I decided to brave the local shopping mall. My wife and I had gone to lunch, and I mentioned that I needed some new clothes for work (I start my new job this week), and I thought that the Nordstrom's Men's Sale might have some good deals. She dropped me off at the mall, so that I would not have to hunt for parking, and launched me into "shopping hell", promising to return three hours later.

I had never been to the mall the day after Christmas, and had no idea what a nightmare this can become. I decided to grab a cup of coffee to perk me up before my sale rack adventure, but the line at the coffee bar was about twenty people deep. My patience was already short, and if I had a car, I would have left immediately (I suspect my wife knows me too well and this is why she abandoned me with no transportation).

Since I could not flee the place, I ventured into battle.

First of all, I immediately learned that if you are a somewhat average size, you cannot show up at a big sale at 2:00 PM. To find deals, you must be there when the doors open. If I was short and fat, there were lots of great pants to choose from, but the 34/34's were nowhere to be found. In addition, the great dress shirts that Nordstrom had on sale did not exist in my size. After about 45 minutes, I ended up with five new shirts, but only two were on sale. So much for my plan to take advantage of the sale.

However, during my shopping spree I did run into five people I knew from the local business community. I was able to have some quick conversations, catch up and alert these folks to my new job which I will start in the new year. I even set up lunch with one important person, whom I had lost touch with. You never know when you can do a little business networking.

I then decided to venture out into the open waters of the mall. Again I glanced at the coffee bar.....more in need of caffeine than I had been an hour earlier, and yes, the line was longer.

The mall was crazy. There were more people than at a rock concert, and it did not take a genius to realize that by December 26th people's Christmas Spirit was already running on empty. I was able to buy some pants and a nice blazer, but the next two hours were peppered with running into more friends and business contacts, who also had decided to brave the After-Christmas sale day. And everyone was glad to see a friendly face. Even some people I hardly knew were stopping me to chat. I think the chance to take a fast break from the madness of the shopping experience to talk with an acquaintance made their day, too.

Always remember, you can network anywhere and everywhere.

Have A Great Day.

Thom Singer

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Business Networking A Good Idea

While browsing through the blogs I read regularly, (BW Price's Marketing U Blog) I ran across a link to a great article about networking from Business Week OnLine. The article, "Networking for the Right Reasons", by Carmine Gallo, is a quick read and has some great pointers.

Click here to read the whole article.

I have never understood people who are critics of networking. (How can anyone criticize reaching out to clients and prospects and showing them you think highly of them?). While networking alone is not the answer to all of your business needs, to ignore the importance of building strong business relationships is a HUGE mistake.

People do business with people they know and like. Don't kid yourself into thinking that you can be a jerk and win in business. Sure, there are lots of examples of legendary tyrants who succeed, but do you really want to be that kind of person?

But sitting around (or claiming that you are "too busy") is not how to create a network. It takes a commitment of time and effort. You must reach out to other people, get to know them and assist them with what is important in their life. Building relationships means putting other people first.

If you agree that being "networked" would help your career, then get to it. Do something now to start the process.

If you disagree, please leave a comment on this post explaining why you are better off not having strong business relationships. I'd love to hear your side of the story.

Have A Great Day.

Thom Singer

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Weekend Blog 22 - A Christmas Memory

A Christmas Memory

I vividly remember Christmas Eve 1971. I was five years old.

After dinner my mom tucked me into bed. Getting to sleep early was very important, as Santa Claus, the big guy, would come that night. To not be asleep could risk his passing your house in his sleigh. That would mean no toys....and at five years old, it is all about the toys.

As she tucked me in I heard the bells outside in the distance. The jingling got louder, and through the drapes I could see the distinctive glow of Rudolph's red nose.

Swwwiiishhhhhhhhhhh, the red light passed at high speed right past my window while the jingle bells chimed.

"Hurry", my mother advised. "Santa is checking to see if the good boys and girls are asleep".

OH MY GOD!!! I pulled my head under the covers and tried to fall asleep as quickly as I could. I had seen the light from Rudolph's nose. HOW COOL IS THAT.

Years later I realized that my older brothers, all teenagers at this time, were working the bells and with a flashlight and some red plastic,.... running past my room.

Ahhhhhh, but the magic of Christmas was alive and well that night.

Have A Great Christmas.

Thom Singer

Merry Christmas / Happy Holidays

In this holiday season, people from all beliefs can come together in the spirit of brotherhood, goodwill, and renewal.

Regardless of your religious beliefs, I wish you much joy and success in 2006.

Thank you for being a reader of my blog!!!

From my famliy to yours:

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and Happy New Year.

Have A Great Day.

Thom Singer

Christmas tree image courtesy of Wendy Bumgardner, Walking Guide

Friday, December 23, 2005

Read My Book, Please !!!

Start the New Year off by reading
"Some Assembly Required:
How To Make, Grow and Keep
Your Business Relationships"
(New Year Publishing, 2005)

Buy the book now at:

Help your company jumpstart 2006:
Buy a whole box of 10 or 25
and give them to co-workers as
a "must read" for the new year.

We NEED Your Vote !!!!

The "Best Guest Blogger of 2005 Contest" is nearing the end. With just one more week to of voting, it is a close race.

Please review the "Guest Blogger Friday" posts and vote (by leaving a comment or sending me an email) for your favorite article.

Those who have taken the time to read all the guest blogger posts have commented on what a fountain of useful information and tips our wonderful guest bloggers have provided.

Come know you want to re-read these posts and help propel your favorite victory and the $50 Gift Certificate from

Click on each name below to read their post.

Scott Ingram

Steve Harper

Bert Decker

Rich Ottum

Bruce Allen

Mark Merenda

Monica Bay

Liz Ryan

Bryan Menell

JD Moore

Cookie Wherry

Mike Sigers

Carlon Haas

Adam DuVander

Thank you for voting.

Have A Great Day.

Thom Singer

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Lessons From Rudolph

Rudolph was just an average raindeer. Sure, he had that red nose, which was very shiny. If you had seen it, yes.... you would have said it glowed, but it was really just annoying and caused him all kinds of problems.

All of the other reindeer simply did not appreciate Ruldolph. They even went so far as to constantly make fun of him and excluded him from reindeer networking events. Even his own father, Donner, was not fully supportive of him and privately confided to his best friend, Blitzen, that he was unsure if Rudolph would amount to anything in the reindeer business.

However, Rudolph hung in there. He believed in himself and his unique abilities, even when others did not. He continued to do his job and fine tuned his flying skills.

Then one rather foggy Christmas Eve there was a problem. The fog was so thick that the boss, Santa Claus, was not sure how they were going to honor their delivery guarantees to their clients around the world.

That was when they discovered that Rudolph was not so average after all. His red nose had the technology to shine through fog and light the way. His flying skills were superb, and he got a field promotion to lead reindeer, which included a raise of more straw and hay.

Because of his tenacious attitude and the gracious manner in which he treated his fellow co-workers (he never rubbed it in that he got the top job), they were not jealous of his assent into management, but rather, very supportive of Rudolph. One might even say that they loved him and shouted out with glee, as his contributions to the company made everyone more successful in their jobs.

The whole reindeer opperation flourished thanks to Rudolph's not quitting when faced with adversity. In the long run, he prevailed because of his "stick-to-it"philosophy.

Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer, He'll Go Down In History!!!

Have A Great Day.

Thom Singer

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Making A List, Checking It Twice

Lists are not just for Santa.

As you plan you business development for 2006, you should make a list and identify your top prospects. If you do not know who you want to do business with, you may not recognize them. Nothing is worse than letting an opportunity slide past because you were not prepared.

I suggest that you first identify your fifty top current clients. Make note of their industry, how you originally landed the account, and reasons why they stay with you (rather than switching to the competition).

Now look for trends. Once you understand who your clients are and why they do business with you, it is easier to start looking at who should be your prospects.

If you identify your prospects in advance, it will make your cold-calling, networking and business development/sales activities much more easy to prioritize.

Only Six More Networking Days in 2005. Don't Waste Them!!!

Have A Great Day.

Thom Singer

Have You Purchased
Your Copy of
Available for $19.95 at
Don't start the New Year without
thinking about your network,
your brand and your goals.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Focus On Your Network

I have heard from many people who want to do more in the new year to grow their business network and build their "brand" and reputation. This is a great goal. Since everyone agrees that "people do business with those they know, like and trust", making sure that people know about you and your company is the first step to more business.

I recently heard from a man who is very interested in networking. He began his comments to me that he really understands the importance of a network, and he knows that he has to do for others before they will do for him (many people miss this point). However, he added that he hates networking events, and sees most of the people he meets as "professional time-wasters". He wants to find a way to dive right in, make deep connections and still get home every night to his wife and kids.

While we would all prefer that we only interact with others who are "ideal" people to add to our network and that we quickly build that rapport and trust, it just does not work that way. To make real connections in the business community you need to invest a lot of time, and this will involve some events that do happen during the dinner hour. Sorry, it is just the way it works.

Additionally, you will have to meet a lot of people who you may be able to establish a relationship. Not everyone is "ideal" for your business, but you should not write those people off because you never know who they might know. While their business might not be a match for what you do, they just might be friends with someone else who would be a perfect connection.

To properly build and cultivate relationships in the business community you must focus on networking and make it a priority. Look around, those who are "Well Networked" did not luck into those friendships. They worked over time to create them.

I recently was offered a new job with a fantastic company. I am very excited about the opportunity and look forward to starting in January. A local business person told me yesterday "wow, you are so 'lucky' that they called you". Fortunate, YES. Lucky....NO. I was fortunate that my networking in the local business community over the past few years had allowed me to meet my new co-workers and develop a relationship. I was fortunate that they thought of me when the "Business Development" position opened up. It was NOT luck.

Best of luck to you in growing your business network in 2006. I hope you will consider reading my new book, "Some Assembly Required: How to Make, Grow and Keep Your Business Relationships" (New Year Publishing, 2005). It was a lot of fun to create this book, and it is filled with many useful tips and thought provoking ideas on how to build your own brand through your networking activities. More information is available at

Have A Great Day.

Thom Singer

Monday, December 19, 2005

Holiday Slacker

During these last two weeks of the year, do not allow yourself to fall into the "Holiday apathy" trap. It is easy to just coast at work for the last part of the year, as there are many distractions, and your boss and co-workers might be away visiting family.

Many people justify a "slacker" attitude during December and make excuses like:

"All of my clients are on vacation" (I doubt everyone is gone)

"I will get refocused in January" (Maybe, but why waste December?)

"My boss is gone, so who cares" (You should care)

"People do not like to be called by salespeople in December" (Really, do they LIKE it in January?)

"I am busy with 'year-end' activities" (That busy?)

"It has been a tough year" (So what? Finish it strong!!)

"Nobody else around here is working hard" (Then you will stand out from the crowd)

Instead of making excuses, look at the next two weeks as a time to double you efforts and set the momentum for 2006. Even if people are on vacation, leave a voicemail wishing them a "Merry Christmas"(no, it is not THAT politically incorrect to say that....or say "Happy Holidays") and letting them know you will call them in January.

If you have not yet sent your Christmas Cards (yes, there are a lot of people who still have not done that), then scrap that idea and make plans to send "New Year" cards. If you have not mailed your cards, the odds are slim they will arrive on time, and at this point the underlying message is "I could not get my act together so I am just rushing and sending these late". Use that time for more productive activities. (yes, this could mean throwing away or saving for next year the cards you already paid for...but that is better than broadcasting to your clients, prospects and friends that you are just not organized).

Come on, get excited for the last two weeks of the year and don't be a Holiday Slacker.

Have A Great Day.

Thom Singer

Friday, December 16, 2005

Rock The Vote

Guest Blogger Friday Contest - PLEASE VOTE!!!

In August this year I began "Guest Blogger Friday". This has been a great addition to the "Some Assembly Required Blog", and we have all been treated to some fantastic posts on topics relating to business development, networking, sales, public relations, marketing and other business themes.

In an effort to say "Thank You" to all the guest bloggers, and to re-introduce new readers to their great posts, I am going to hold a contest.

Please review the below "Guest Blogs" and vote for your favorite post. You can vote in the comment area of this post, or send me an email at To vote you must fill in your name (no anonymous comments), and you can only vote once (honor system!!!).

Voting will take place from now until January 1, 2006, and I will link to this post every Friday remaining in December (reminding everyone to vote) rather than having a guest blogger. The winner will be announced the first Friday of the new year.

"Guest Blogger Friday" will resume the second Friday in January 2006. I will need lots on new "Guest Bloggers" from the readers of this blog, so start thinking about what you will contribute in 2006!!!

The winning "Guest Blogger" will receive a $50 gift card from Quick Gifts (, where they can select a top retailer to redeem their prize. This is a non-scientific poll, and I reserve the right not count any suspicious votes, all rights reserved, final decision is mine to make, blah, blah blah.

Voting began last week. Please tell all your friends to vote. The Quick Gifts $50 prize is at stake (and all the guest bloggers are counting on you to take them to victory!!!!)

Click on each name below to read their post.

Scott Ingram

Steve Harper

Bert Decker

Rich Ottum

Bruce Allen

Mark Merenda

Monica Bay

Liz Ryan

Bryan Menell

JD Moore

Cookie Wherry

Mike Sigers

Carlon Haas

Adam DuVander

Thank you for voting.

Have A Great Day.

Thom Singer

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Goal Setting -- Day Four (Audio Blog)

Audio Blog

Just setting goals is part of the equation, you need to take action to make them reality.

Click on the arrow or double click the "MP3 File" link to listen.

1 minute, 31 seconds in length

MP3 File

Have A Great Day.

Thom Singer

Last Minute Gift Idea

Need a quick gift for a business associate, employee, boss or anyone else on your Christmas List?

Give them a copy of "Some Assembly Required: How to Make, Grow and Keep Your Business Relationships".

This book is a great gift for anyone who could benefit from better business networking skills.

Have A Great Day

Thom Singer

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Goal Setting -- Day Three

This week we have talked about the importance of clarifying your goals and writing them down. Today I would like to focus on the three types of goals.

Business Goals: Since most of us spend over half of our days at work, achieving success in our careers is very important. Everyone has different ways of judging what success at work looks like, so their is no right or wrong answers to what types of business goals you should create. Maybe you want to find a new job, get a promotion, make more money, attain more responsibility, etc... The important thing is that you know what you want. By having goals in the workplace it will help you to be more productive and waste less time, as you will be focused on why you are there in the first place.

Personal Goals: All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. No matter how important your job is, everyone has a personal life. Do not fall into the trap where you only look at goals as something you have for work. These goals may be some thing you create alone or with your spouse, kids, friends, etc.... Paying off credit cards, taking that trip to Europe, buying a new home, losing weight, attending all of your daughter's soccer games, etc... are all personal goals. Anything that you know you want to accomplish (or should accomplish) during the year, but that you know from experience get forgotten when all the other pressures of life pile up.

Soul Goals: These can often be the most important goals, as if you pay attention to your soul, it makes the rest of the things seem less daunting. I am not just talking about religion, but if you are a person of faith, that is part of it. Additionally I am talking about finding those activities that help you recourse your batteries. Golf, reading, running, meditation, talking a walk in the mountains, prayer, etc... are all examples of things that people do to get away from their daily routines. Find one or more activities that you enjoy that allow you to take some personal time and energize your soul. Even when you are busy with your business and personal life, take some time for yourself.

As I mentioned yesterday, you should have three to five goals in each category. Having just one goal would be too narrow of a focus, and having more than fifteen in one year would be too many.

Since all of your goals will be attainable, but not easy, you may or may not achieve them all during the year. That is okay. If you are trying to lose thirty pounds and you only use twenty-five, just because you did not meet the final goal, you are still better off because of the progress you made along the way. Do not obsess about checking the goal off the list, thrive in the process.

Have A Great Day

Thom Singer

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Goal Setting -- Day Two

Yesterday we talked about the importance of knowing what you want to accomplish and writing your goals down on paper. Like a flight plan, your written goals are like a map that you should refer to regularly to keep yourself focused on where you are going.

But what should you write down? What does a goal look like? And how many goals should I chase at one time?

I suggest that you select five professional goals, five personal goals and five "Soul Goals" (we will discuss these three types of goals tomorrow). These goals should be things that will require your focus and effort to achieve, and something that you really desire.

Do not write down things that are too easy to accomplish or things that are impossible to achieve. A real goal needs to make you stretch yourself, but at the same time you should not be chasing windmills.

Be specific in what the goal is and WHAT SUCCESS LOOKS LIKE. Many people set random goals that have no end. ("Make more money in 2006" is not specific nor does it allow you to know when you have had success) .

Think about the "Who, What, When, Where, Why and How Rule" and apply them in creating your goals.

Who will be involved in helping me achieve this goal?

What will I need to do to reach this goal?

When will I start doing the thing necessary to accomplish this goal? (and how often will I need to focus on it?)

Where will the success be?

Why am I doing this?

How will achieving this goal effect my life?

Having this clarity on your goals will make them more than just something you wish or hope for, but instead you will feel the desire in your heart.

Have A Great Day.

Thom Singer

Monday, December 12, 2005

Goal Setting -- Day One

This week's posts are dedicated to the importance of setting goals and working toward achieving them in the new year.

"A Goal Not Written Down Is A Wish" - Anonymous

I am not sure who said it (A goal not written down is a wish), but is sums up the whole argument about setting goals. Most people want to achieve more in their personal and professional lives, and spend a lot of time day-dreaming, but few people take the time to actually set realistic and achievable goals. Fewer still write them down and refer to them regularly.

Basically they just "wish" things would get better.

There are many studies and statistics that show that those who set goals achieve more. The most famous is survey of the 1953 graduating class from Yale University (although I have read that some have argued these statistics are not accurate, it is still a compelling story):

In 1953, researchers surveyed Yale's graduating seniors to determine how many of them had specific, written goals for their future. The answer: 3%. Twenty years later, researchers polled the surviving members of the Class of 1953 and found that the 3% with goals had accumulated more personal financial wealth than the other 97% of the class combined!

No matter how you slice it, setting goals is a powerful tool. Imagine you were boarding a 747 for a flight from Los Angeles to Honolulu. Your pilot should have a fight plan that shows him how where he will be going. If the strong winds blow the plane of course, the pilot can make minor corrections along the way and guide you to a safe landing at your destination.

If the pilot decides to take off and fly west hoping to find Honolulu you are in big trouble. There is an awful lot of blue on the map west of California. Finding the right place to land would be difficult without a plan.

Just like a flight plan, your goals help you set the course for where you are going in your life. When you get off course or encounter unexpected obstacles, knowing where you are going makes it easier for you to make decisions.

With the new year approaching, many people take advantage of this time to create "Resolutions". While I believe you should be creating, reviewing and revamping your goals all year long, this part of the year is an ideal time to begin.Take stock of where you are right now in your life (both personally and professionally). Review 2005's (both the successes and the failures). And finally, think about what you would like to accomplish over the next 12 months.

Have A Great Day.

Thom Singer

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Weekend Blog #21 - Book-O- Rama

My wife, Sara (co-author of the "Mad At Martha Cookbook"), and I participated in a "Husband and Wife Book Signing" yesterday at one of Austin's top retail stores. The holiday shopping crowds were out in force at Breed & Company in Westlake. We sold a lot of books and had great conversations with dozens of people.

Sara's homemade fudge (which I claim to be the best fudge in the world, and yes, the recipe is in her book) was a big hit.

Sara's cookbook out-sold my business networking book, but that was because of the fudge samples and the store's focus on kitchen gadgets and other home related items. But no complaints from me.... as it was a great time.

We would like to say "THANK YOU" to Darla and the whole staff at Breed & Company, as they were simply delightful to work with.

More info on our books at by clicking on the title below. Both books make a great holiday gift for anyone on your shopping list.

Mad At Martha (Whisk Publishing 2002)

Some Assembly Required: How to Make, Grow and Keep Your Business Relationships (New Year Publishing 2005)

Have a great day.

Thom Singer

Friday, December 09, 2005

Guest Blogger Friday Contest

In August this year I began "Guest Blogger Friday". This has been a great addition to the "Some Assembly Required Blog", and we have all been treated to some fantastic posts on topics relating to business development, networking, sales, public relations, marketing and other business themes.

In an effort to say "Thank You" to all the guest bloggers, and to re-introduce new readers to their great posts, I am going to hold a contest.

Please review the below "Guest Blogs" and vote for your favorite post. You can vote in the comment area of this post, or send me an email at To vote you must fill in your name (no anonymous comments), and you can only vote once (honor system!!!).

Voting will take place from now until January 1, 2006, and I will link to this post every Friday remaining in December (reminding everyone to vote) rather than having a guest blogger. The winner will be announced the first Friday of the new year.

"Guest Blogger Friday" will resume the second Friday in January 2006. I will need lots on new "Guest Bloggers" from the readers of this blog, so start thinking about what you will contribute in 2006!!!

The winning "Guest Blogger" will receive a $50 gift card from Quick Gifts (, where they can select a top retailer to redeem their prize. This is a non-scientific poll, and I reserve the right not count any suspicious votes, all rights reserved, final decision is mine to make, blah, blah blah.

Click on each name below to read their post.

Scott Ingram

Steve Harper

Bert Decker

Rich Ottum

Bruce Allen

Mark Merenda

Monica Bay

Liz Ryan

Bryan Menell

JD Moore

Cookie Wherry

Mike Sigers

Carlon Haas

Adam DuVander

Thank you for voting.

Have A Great Day.

Thom Singer

Thursday, December 08, 2005

5 Books Everyone Should Read

This week's posts are dedicated to the importance of reading.

5 Must Read Books

This week I have focused my posts on the importance of reading and learning. I have received so much positive feedback in comments and emails, as well as some great book recommendations. Thank you to everyone for the wonderful response to this topic.

But I realize that not everyone will read twenty-five books next year, or even ten (although you should). However I am going to list the five most influential business books I have ever read on today's post. If you have not read these books, I suggest that you add them to your Christmas gift list and make them priority reading in the new year. You wont be sorry.

  1. The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. By Stephen Covey
  2. Peak Performers. By Charles A. Garfield
  3. The Tipping Point. By Malcolm Gladwell
  4. Becoming a Category of One. By Joe Calloway
  5. Swim with the Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive. By Harvey Mackay

And I would not be a good salesman if I did not add a sixth "BONUS" suggestion. I hope you will consider reading my book, "Some Assembly Required: How to Make, Grow and Keep Your Business Relationships" (New Year Publishing, 2005), which is available at for $19.95. Writing this book was a great experience, but having people read (and enjoy) it is the best part.

Happy Reading!!!

Have A Great Day.

Thom Singer

Saturday Book Signing - Austin, Texas

This Saturday (December 10th) my wife, Sara, and I will be having a "Husband and Wife Book Signing" from 1:30 to 3:30 PM at Breed & Company in Westlake (3662 Bee Cave Road).

I will be signing copies of "Some Assembly Required: How to Make, Grow and Keep Your Business Relationships" (New Year Publishing, 2005) and Sara will be signing her successful cookbook "Mad At Martha" (Whisk Publishing, 2002).

If you live in Austin, stop by Breed & Company and say hello.

Thom Singer

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Beyond Books

This weeks posts are dedicated to the importance of reading and learning to help advance your career.

Beyond Books

I have spent a lot of time singing the praises of reading books. Heck, I even wrote a book (Thank you to all the blog readers who have read my book, by the way). But reading goes far beyond just leafing through the latest best seller from Barnes and Noble. You must read all kinds of materials if you want to stay informed on current affairs, business, history, trends, etc...

Magazines: There are countless magazines that you can read regularly. Most are monthly (some, like Time, are weekly) and cover a specific topic. I suggest you select a business magazine, a trade journal, a news-weekly and an entertainment/pop culture magazine to subscribe to and read regularly. I read Business 2.o, Professional Selling, Time and Esquire on a regular basis. In addition I also read Fast Company, Professional Speaker and The Beta Theta Pi Magazine (my college fraternity's quarterly publication) on occasion. This is a lot of periodicals to cover, and if you do not read regularly, it is easy to acquire a big stack of un-read magazines. My wife helps out by tagging articles in these publications that she knows would be of the most interest to me.

Newspapers: You must read your local daily paper everyday, even if you think it stinks!! Many people boycott their local paper because of the editorial political slant (some think their local paper is either too liberal or too conservative). But if you do not read your local paper, you are not able to keep up with the events that are happening in your own back yard. Read every section. If you are not a sports fan, you at least need to have enough knowledge to know what teams will be playing in the Rose Bowl on January 4th (did you even know that the Rose Bowl will not be on New Years Day this year???). Yes, the USC Trojans had better watch out because the Texas Longhorns want that National Championship!!! In addition to your local paper, The Wall Street Journal and your local Business Journal are important papers for business people to read every day.

Websites and Blogs: There is so much information on the internet that it can be overwhelming. You could never be able to read everything. However, you should regularly check a couple of sources. Find a news-sight (Fox, CNN, MSNBC, etc...) that posts updated headlines throughout the day. This will help keep you be aware of what is happening in the world. In addition, I recommend you find three or four blogs on topics that interest you and read them regularly (This blog is a great choice!!!). If marketing topics interest you, take a look at the blogroll list on the left of this page and you will discover some great blogs.

Newsletters: You probably subscribe to one or more email newsletters . Often times people just delete these without reading them, but I find that reviewing them often reveals some great information. Do not subscribe to too many newsletters, as they seem to come too often (like magazines) and you will always feel behind on your reading.

I know this sounds like a lot, and it is. But information is a powerful tool. To not read is to fall behind. Just remember that your competition is always looking for ways to out-shine you. You must stay ahead of the pack.

Have A Great Day.

Thom Singer

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

What I Am Reading Today

This week's posts are dedicated to the importance of reading. Continuously learning new information is a great way to advance your business career.

What I Am Reading Today

I thought I would take a moment and let you know what book I am reading this week. It is my 23rd book this year, and although I am only on page 47, I am quite enthralled with this one.

Freakonomics, by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner is at twist on how to look at all things in the world. Levitt is a rogue economist who explores the hidden sides of everything. Topics from crime, public schools, sumo wrestling, abortion, real estate agents and bagel sales have all been covered so far, and I have not yet reached page 50.

I can already tell that this book will challenge me to think. That is what I enjoy about reading books, it forces me to look at the world through a different window. For this I am grateful to my friend, Dave Horn. Dave gave me the gift of books. He was always reading something, and we would discuss the books for hours over strong coffee or cheap beer. While his passion was fiction, his encouragement to read novels lead me to a thirst for knowledge that I did not have while I was younger. I owe much of who I am now to my love of reading.

What are you currently reading and why is it something you would (or would not) recommend? Please post a comment with your opinions of the most influential books.

Have A Great Day.

Thom Singer

Monday, December 05, 2005

Books, The Breakfast of Champions

This week's posts will be dedicated to the importance of making a habit of reading and learning.

I once worked with a man in his early fifties who was SHOCKED when he found out that I have read 20 - 25 books a year since I was twenty-five years old (I will turn forty in 2006). I told him that although I had not been a particularly attentive student in high school or college, I later discovered the importance of learning.

He claimed that it would be impossible for me to read that much, since I had a successful career and was obviously very active with my family. I told him that I wake up early every morning to fit in 30 minutes of reading, and on the weekends I find a hour where I can curl up and get lost in a book. I read mostly business, marketing and sales books, but about one in four books is a novel, biography or spiritual topic.

His response: "I have not read 20 - 25 books in my lifetime". I was not surprised. While he was very good at his job, he did not usually express that he had a well rounded view of the business world.

So why do I recommend everyone devote daily time to reading books? The more you read, the wider the variety of ideas encounter. Nobody is smart enough to know how to react in every situation we encounter in our business and personal lives. Since people tend to learn from experiences, it makes it much easier to learn from others.

I also find that if you read the "best-sellers" that it gives you a lot to talk about in your networking situations. People often discuss the themes from books they read. If you have not read the book, you have nothing to add to the conversation. Additionally, if you know what topics others are interested in, referring a book (or buying them a copy) is a great gift to give another person.

Never claim you do not have the time to read. If you travel for business, airplane trips are an ideal time to read a book. Wake up early. Lunch hour. And lets not forget your commute (those who take the train, don't just sit there, read), book on tape are a good substitute for reading. (I know, the morning drive DJ's on the radio are funny....but make the time productive!!!).

Set a goal for 2006 on the number of books you will read. Start small. Ten is a good target (my book could be one, it is only 100 pages!!!). If you were to read ten books a year that would be fifty books in five years. If you have read fifty books, and the competition has read zero, who do you think will be the most competitive in business? Or, you can be the guy who does not read and learn. Your choice.

Have A Great Day.

Thom Singer

Friday, December 02, 2005

Guest Blogger Friday - Adam DuVander

It is another "Guest Blogger Friday" and today we have a great post contributed by Adam DuVander. Adam is a programmer for various Web sites, but he tells his family that he does "web stuff." He writes how-to technology articles from the front lines Webmonkey and pontificates about doing things the easy way at Simplicity Rules. He lives in Portland, Oregon with his girlfriend of four years and several dying plants. When it's not raining, he likes to play wiffle ball.

Embrace Your Smallness
by Adam DuVander

The biggest mistakes of my young career have come from pretending to be something I'm not. Individuals and small teams often try to appear big. A consultant might use the Royal We. A salesman might say "I'll run that by programming team" when he is the programming team.I have pretended to be big. You have probably pretended to be big, too. It's really easy to fall into the trap, because huge corporations are our most available role models.Here are two reasons for us to stop pretending to be something we aren't:

1. We'll get caught eventually.

2. It doesn't really work.

Even in these days of virtual offices and affordable phone menuing systems, we can't look like anonymous big corporations forever. At some point, customers will realize that no matter whether they dial 1, 2, or 3 at the prompt, they're going to talk to the same person. So, why pretend otherwise in first place?

Sometimes it's even unintentional. One of my projects is a site that lists free Portland WiFi. Part of any list upkeep is to make sure it is up to date. In my contact with coffee shops, I sometimes found them a little cold when I approached them as a company. It wasn't a lie--I do run a multi-talented Web development company. But almost all of my company's talents come from me and that's the full truth. When I say, "I'm just a guy who created a web site," I actually come across better to these folks who just happen to be a guy or gal that started a coffee shop.It boils down to people working with other people. Do you know why fish swim in schools? It's to look mean, right? When you or I pretend to be bigger, like the fish we end up looking scary. That's not what we want! We want customers to feel happy feelings. Big companies have no choice about whether to look big. Let them scare away customers.There's a lot of talk about small teams being better these days. Marketing guru Seth Godin has declared small is the new big.

Embrace your smallness. Turn your team's product into Brand Us or your consultancy into Brand Me. Doing otherwise is futile. You can't get away with it and you might be covering up your team's greatest asset--being real people.


Thanks Adam for this weeks great "Guest Blogger Friday" contribution.

We are still looking for guest bloggers!!!! Email me at

Have A Great Day.

Thom Singer

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

How The Heck Did It Get To Be December?

Don't look now, but tomorrow is December 1st. Yes, 2005 is almost over. Did you accomplish all those business goals that you set in January? Have you even looked at them since February???

Most of us begin January by proclaiming we will do more in the new year than we have in the past. But alas, we get busy and our old routines take control. By June realize the year is half over, and we try to re-commit, but often fail to reach our goals.

For some reason professional services firms look at December as a wasted month. They wrongly assume that it is too late to chase new business and that there are too many distractions to get the attention of clients and prospects. They just write off December and start thinking about those goals for the new year.

I suggest that you look at December as a GREAT time to build, cultivate and strengthen your network (and thus grow your business). Scott Ingram at the "Network in Austin Blog" agrees. He has a post this week reminding his readers to use December as a month to reconnect.

This month you have an excuse to send a greeting card just to say "Hello" (although you shouldn't need an reason to reach out to your clients and prospects). There are lots of parties in the corporate world to allow you to go out and network (not to mention all the private parties hosted by business professionals who are your friends). People are generally in a good mood, and you if you never know how to start a networking conversation you can always lead with: "Are you doing anything special for the holidays?" or "What are your business goals for the new year?"

Once you have recovered from the shock that it is NOT waste any more time. Only 31 days left to make a mark in 2005.

Have A Great Day.

Thom Singer

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Speaking Event/Book Signing

This Wednesday (November 30th) I will be the speaker at the Austin Technology Council's "Tech Grapevine" event. I will be speaking about "Some Assembly Required: How to Make, Grow and Keep Your Business Relationships" and selling/signing copies of my new book of the same title.

If you live in Austin, I hope you can stop by the Iron Cactus at 6th Street and Trinity between 5:30 - 8:00 PM. The cost of attending is $20 for ATC members and $35 for non-members.

For more information on the event CLICK HERE.

Have A Great Day.

Thom Singer

Monday, November 28, 2005

Motivate Your Team

When is the last time you looked for creative ways to motivate your team? Often I think that companies, especially professional services firms, feel that the high salaries they pay their people should be enough to keep their people enthused. If that is the case, why are their so many employees in these organizations who are underperforming and bored with their jobs?

I know that many highly paid attorneys who are not excited by their annual bonuses. At their income level an extra ten or twenty thousand dollars is nice...but hardly enough to change their lives. Meanwhile the partners in these firms think that more money is a huge motivational tool.

The truth is that at a certain level money stops being a major source of motivation. Don't get me wrong, people like to get the financial bonuses, but they become expected (the word "bonus" suggests "extra"....but how many professionals count on them as a guaranteed part of their compensation?). I have seen people who are paid over $400,000 have a fit because someone else got an extra $10,000 in compensation. These people view money as a scorecard....NOT a motivator (there is a big difference!!!)

I believe that people get excited about other types of perks. I have written before about public recognition, trips, gift cards, lunches, etc... And while expensive perks are nice, it is often small things that will get people in gear to produce results (and to have fun along the way).

A regional sales manager for a Fortune 500 company set some very high stretch goals for his team. There was one particular product offering that he wanted sell record amounts in the fourth quarter. He set two levels of achievement for that product. Any salesperson who reached the first goal, the company would pay to have their car detailed. If they reached the second level, the boss would fly to their city (his team is across nine states) and wash and detail their car himself.

WOW. How much extra effort would you put in to have your boss wash your car? The team is on track for a huge quarter in all products, and he is planning to have to wash four or five cars in January (*even better, the boss washes their car in the cold weather!).

I shared this story with an attorney who said that, "this would NEVER work in a law firm, as the associates would not respect the partners if they washed their cars". (a big pet peeve of mine is sentences that begin "that would never work here....").

The funny thing is this highly paid sales manager has respect from his team by doing exactly this type of thing on a regular basis. He knows that you EARN respect, not COMMAND respect. His people love to excel in their jobs because, in addition to the money (and they earn a lot of that), it is a fun environment where everyone works hard. Will they laugh and take pictures of him washing their cars (which will probably have been off-roading the day before he comes to wash)?? Yep. But will it all be in a spirit of fun with enthusiasm and respect? Without a doubt.

As you plan for 2006 why not set some huge goals with the payoff being something a little quirky. If the team can achieve the goal, everyone wins. So what if you have to wash a car or two? It is about the success.

Have A Great Day.

Thom Singer

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Weekend Blog #19 - Going Places

The "Weekend Blog" is off the topics of Marketing, Business Development, PR, Networking, Sales and all that other business stuff. It is my chance to pontificate about any topic.

"Going Places"

Today I was in Borders Books and happened upon a book signing and talk by Fox News personality E.D. Hill. She has just released a new book called "Going Places" in which she interviews dozens of politicians, actors, sports figures, journalists, business tycoons and other famous folk. She grew up in the Austin area, so I assume her family (many of whom were with her at the book store) were in Texas for the Thanksgiving Holiday and she decided to get a little work in to promote the book.

I thought that her short address to this eclectic audience in a suburban bookstore would be light and fluffy, but it turned out to be a very thought provoking and inspiring. Ms. Hill covered a plethora of topics including: her Texas upbringing, career, family, politics, the Iraq war, Fox News, raising children, religion and even Bill O'Reilly. I was impressed with her presentation skills, her commitment to her husband and children (they have EIGHT between them), the success she has achieved and how cool she is in her own skin.

My eight-year-old daughter (Jackie) was with me and sat through the whole talk enthralled with what this former Austinite and TV personality. Jackie did get a bit embarrassed when I asked a question (dad's can be so embarrassing when you are eight), and did not like the fact that Ms. Hill shared that she does not allow her own children to watch television during the school week.... (I think this is something Jackie already fears I might institute at our home someday). But beyond that she, too, thought the talk was great.

I would have liked to purchase a copy of the book, but the one hundred plus crowd (many of whom arrived four hours early to ensure premium seating) had already coveted all the copies in stock. Fortunately, my kids are looking for a gift for me this I will direct them to her website at or where they can purchase it for me in time for it to be under the tree.

I look forward to reading "Going Places". If it is half as good as today's presentation, it will certainly be fabulous.

***On a side note, E.D. Hill is donating all the proceeds from her book to charity, which is very cool!!!

Have A Great Weekend.

Thom Singer

Friday, November 25, 2005

Guest Bloggers Wanted

Since this was a short work week, we decided to take a break from "Guest Blogger Friday"....but we will return next week with a great post from Adam DuVander (

You do not need to be a blogger, just someone who has an interesting point of view to share 0n the topics of sales, marketing, networking, public relations, business development or any related theme.

500 - 1000 words of amazing writing is all we ask!!!

Have A Great Day.

Thom Singer

5 Mile Run and I Did Not Die

A year ago today I set a goal of losing 30 pounds and running the "Turkey Trot" on Thanksgiving Day 2005.

I lost the weight by April, and have found that keeping the pounds off is just as much work as losing the weight in the first place. Maintaining the success is no easy task.

I have never been one to run (except to the refrigerator to get another beer and/or some ice cream). I did work out on a treadmill for the past year, but running a 5 K was another event altogether. You can imagine my surprise when I discovered on Tuesday that the "Turkey Trot" was NOT a 5K, but rather a 5 mile run.

Well I am happy to report that I did it. I almost ran the whole way (I did walk on some big hills). I am a big believer in setting a goal and working hard to achieve the results. While for many readers of this blog running five miles is not a big deal, for me it is HUGE.

And the weird part is that I enjoyed the whole thing. I even plan to run this race again next year and maybe a 5K in the spring. One friend told me that if you can run five miles you could train to run 26, so a marathon is not out of the picture. I doubt that, but I am happy that I completed a race before I turned forty.

So what is your goal???

Have A Great Day.

Thom Singer

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Happy Thanksgiving

In the United States we celebrate "Thanksgiving Day" on the last Thursday of November. This tradition goes back over 300 years to when the pilgrims gave thanks for their lives in the new world.

Regardless of your religious belief or nationality, I think Thanksgiving is one of the greatest concepts for a holiday. We are all fortunate for something. Even when we face trials and tribulations, there is good somewhere in our world.

For those who read these word on the internet, near or far..... take a moment today and think about what there is in your life for which you are thankful. I know we get busy and it is easy to take everything for granted......

Today I give thanks for:

  • My wife and daughters. They are spectacular and I love them
  • My dad and mom who taught me so much. I was fortunate to always feel unconditional love.
  • My three older brothers and their families. I get so much joy from being part of their lives.
  • My friends (who are like family) both here in Austin, and around the country.
  • My church. Never before have I experienced such a feeling of community from a congregation as I do at St. John Neumann.
  • My career. It has been bumpy, but always an adventure.
  • The completion of my first book. I had wanted to write this for so long. Thanks to Dave and Leslie for being my partners and helping make it such a success. And thank you to the hundreds of people who have read it !!
  • Freedom.

Have A Great Thanksgiving Day.

Thom Singer

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Never, Never Knock The Competition

I am still shocked when I see professional companies go negative on their competition. Sometimes this is just a rogue sales rep talking trash, but other times it is the marketing department actually doing things to draw attention to flaws in those with whom they compete.

This morning I saw a deck of playing cards from Juniper (with their logo proudly displayed). Every card in the deck has a cartoon that made fun of their largest competitor, Cisco Systems. This well known high tech company actually has created a trade show give-a-way that mocks another company by name.

What were they thinking????

If you cannot sell to your strengths, stay home. If you believe your competition is superior, apply for a job with them. But don't, even if you think it is cute or funny, knock your competition.

Have A Great Day

Thom Singer

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Book Review

This is cool. I got my first book review of "Some Assembly Required: How to Make, Grow and Keep Your Business Relationships".

The book was reviewed for the Legal Marketing Portal by Mark Merenda, a legal marketing consultant and veteran blogger.

The review is mostly positive, and I am thrilled to share it with all of you who read this blog.

CLICK HERE to read the review.

Have A Great Day.

Thom Singer

Monday, November 21, 2005

A Quick Gift Goes A Long Way


If you have not noticed....before the Halloween Candy was off the shelves, the Christmas Decorations were up all over the United States.

(I kind of feel sorry for one of my favorite holidays, Thanksgiving, as it just gets overlooked in America. It used to get attention, but since we only "give thanks" that day, and not purchase tons of candy, costumes, greeting cards or gifts, the retailers have pushed it out of the way. I think "giving thanks" for all we have is a big deal...but I digress)

In business, many companies struggle with what to do about holiday cards and gifts for clients and employees (yes, do not forget your employees). I have read hundreds of articles this year in magazines, newsletters and business blogs about how to stand out from your competition in the card-sending / gift-giving game. Obviously companies struggle with this issue, or not much would be said about it.

I think a gift that they will enjoy (not a calendar or pen with your logo on it...unless it is of exceptionally good quality) is the best. Something that brings value to the person who receives the gift, not just something that markets your company. (How would you feel if all your relatives gave you framed photographs of themselves as your gift this year? You would feel cheated. Your gifts would not be about you, they would be about them. That is what companies do every year when they give gifts). Think of the person who will get the gift, not just your logo placement.

My suggestions:

1. Books. Everyone can benefit from a good book (my I suggest "Some Assembly Required: How to Make, Grow and Keep Your Business Relationships" - New Year Publishing 2005 - and yes, I did write this particular book!!!!) . Find a book that is not controversial and easy to read, and you will be remembered for it.

2. Good (I mean really good) candy or other gourmet food. And lots of it, because if it is really delicious, everyone in the office will want to eat it. Mediocre snacks will sit and go stale....just like your relationships with some clients.

3. Gift Certificates. These are especially good gifts for employees. It allows them to select something they would enjoy having. These days you can get gift certificates for any type of product or service. I suggest that you check out a service called Quick Gifts at They will allow your gift recipients to select the retailer where they want to spend the money.

You do not have to spend a lot of money on corporate holiday gifts, but you cannot make a lasting impression if you are too cheap. It is better just to send a card that a crummy gift. And hand sign the card...If I get one more card with a printed signature and a computer generated address I will scream out loud. The idea is a personal holiday greeting...NOT A DIRECT MAIL ADVERTISEMENT!!!!

Have A Great Day.

Thom Singer

Friday, November 18, 2005

Guest Blogger Friday - Carlon Haas

Yep, you guessed it....It is "Guest Blogger Friday". Today's post comes from Carlon Haas. Carlon is a direct-response copywriter and marketing consultant, amature violinist and student of life. He spends most of his off time as the father of a “spirited” 2 year-old which is much more exciting than all the other stuff!!! (Kids Rule).

He also lived in South Korea for 6 years (which sounds cool) and has written over 50+ books and info-products while working at one of the top publishing companies in South Korea. On very short notice he joins us as this week's guest blogger (I only met him on Wednesday night).

Religion, Values, And Other Non-Controversial Marketing Topics
by Carlon Haas

“You can write anything about sales or marketing. Just make sure it’s around 500 words and that it doesn’t offend anybody.”

Those were Thom’s (paraphrased) instructions to me for my guest blog entry.

So, to honor Thom’s request, I thought I’d tackle a non-controversial marketing topic…


Here’s the deal: as IBM founder Tom Watson once said, every business needs a religion. Now, I’m not talking about forming some new business cult.

No, I’m talking about something different. I’m talking about a religion as in knowing what you stand for. Knowing your core values and beliefs. And then taking those values and beliefs and crafting it into a powerful marketing message.

I’ll teach you a powerful technique to start your own “religion” in a bit.

But first, I want to show you why it’s important.

Successful marketing has three components:


Boiled down, it’s sending the right message to the right market in the right media.

The clients I deal with usually know what media they want to use (website, direct mail, brochure, etc.). About 50% have an idea of their target customer.

But where I see a lot of businesses get stumped is in the message. Many have a hard time figuring out what they want to say to their prospects.

And in their desire not to offend, many businesses end up with bland ads that get…

…NO results.

So, rather than trying to be all things to all people, if you market your values you will get the right kind of customer.

You might offend people.

But think about this…

Judge Judy offends a lot of people, but no court show has been able to knock her out of the #1 slot for 10 years.

If you’re marketing right, you will most likely offend someone. But you won’t offend your customers.

Now. I promised to show you how to find your values?

I use a technique I learned from the legendary copywriter Gary Bencivenga. He calls it the Credo technique. Credo is Latin for “I believe.”

The Credo technique involves spelling out what you believe. You’ll be amazed at the power of this technique. Actually spelling out your beliefs and implementing them in your marketing will show your prospects where you stand. And when you stand for something, you’ll be amazed at how many like-minded people will line up to stand with you.

As an example, I thought I’d share with you my core beliefs about marketing and advertising. It guides the way I do business and how I deal with my clients.

I believe that the purpose of advertising is to sell.

I have not won a single advertising award, and I probably never will. My goal is to create ads that are neither clever nor funny, but effective.

I believe that advertising should get results that can be measured.

Unless you’re a major corporation, you don’t have an unlimited ad budget. You need to be able to measure the results of your advertising, which is why I use direct response advertising because this type of advertising has been scientifically-proven to get results for half a century.

I believe that all advertising must be done with honesty and integrity.

Advertising should be honest, and you should stand by your word. When you are honest, your prospect rewards you with their business.

I believe that giving of yourself gives you more than just clients.

I always give as much as I can to my clients. Everything I create is with their success in mind. It is an awesome responsibility, but the rewards are immeasurable. Many of my clients are my friends. And that is more important than any one-off business transaction.

Those are my beliefs about what I do. Now, what do you believe? What are your values? Find them, and you’re well on your way to creating a compelling marketing message.

Go forth and multiply thine fortune,

Carlon Haas
Thanks Carlon for a great post.

Have A Great Day.

Thom Singer

Thursday, November 17, 2005

You Never Know

You never know what will happen when you go to a business networking event. What will you learn? Who will you meet? Or how might the stars will line up to solve a problem? If you are open to meeting people and sharing with them...... the answers to your needs will just appear in your life (this is also true in personal I met my wife nearly 15 years ago at Gordon Biersch Brewery in San Jose, California and my life has forever been better).

Last night I had the honor to be the speaker at the Austin Business Group. This is a great and eclectic group of entrepreneurs that was founded in 2005 by Matt Pardo and Janice Daquila-Pardo. The goal of the group is to provide a useful resource for businesses of all sizes and types and encourages sharing of information, creation of connections and a win-win philosophy.

I spoke to the crowd about the importance of building a strong network of business contacts that can (and will) refer you business. While "networking" is not a new topic.... it is always a great reminder for business executives at all levels of experience.

I had fun, sold a few copies of my book and solved a minor problem that had been bugging me all day. You see.... tomorrow is "Guest Blogger Friday" and I had not found anyone to write for me. This weekly feature has been one of the best read and most talked about things I do on this blog (with the exception of yesterday's memorial to my mom, where I received over two dozen emails from people about the small post). I was bummed out that for the first Friday in months there would be no "Guest Blogger".

I mentioned this to my friend Steve Harper, who has been a guest blogger and has started his own guest blogging program at The Ripple Effect Blog. He immediately introduced me to a Carlon Haas. Carlon is a successful marketing consultant and copywriter, and has agreed to write an article for tomorrow's blog. I know it will be a fantastic be sure to come back tomorrow and read what wisdom Carlon has to share.

I had a problem and had no idea that after my speech I would solve that issue. You just never know.

Have A Great Day.

Thom Singer

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Inspirational Words From A Haircare Entrepreneur

"Success is not an entitlement. It has to be earned."
Howard Schultz (1954 - ). Chairman of Starbucks Coffee Company

Monday night I had the honor of hearing one of the best business speakers,...EVER!!! John Paul DeJoria gave a wonderful talk at the Bootstap Austin monthly meeting. He is the co-founder of John Paul Mitchell Systems, and is a true entrepreneur (see "bootstapper").

Having lived out of his car when he started his first company (what is now one of the largest hair care products company in the world), he is now invested in dozens of other businesses globally.

He told his story of growing his businesses, but more importantly he shared his heart. What makes him so impressive is his dedication to his family, employees, business partners and the people of the world. He is NOT one of the rich guys who has made it by entitlement.....he has earned it. With his millions (billions?) of dollars, he is still just a humble and nice guy.

He freely gave of his time to speak with the mostly twenty-something crowd of up and coming entrepreneurs and his message was well received.

His main points were:

1. Be frugal when you start your business, and pay yourself first (and save your money).

2. When selling your products or services, don't give up too easily.

3. If you treat people well, you have a better shot at achieving great things.

4. Never criticize employees in public. However, let the world hear you when you praise them!

5. Success unshared is failure. You must give back to society.

6. Never forget the order of things: Happiness, Health ...then Wealth.

I have heard many, many business speakers and John Paul was real, genuine and inspirational.

Have A Great Day.

Thom Singer

Remembering My Mom

I was a very fortunate kid. I had great parents that I always knew loved me unconditionally.

I was pretty much a "momma's boy" as a youth. I could write for hours about stories of cool things my mom did......I especially remember in junior high and high school she would call the school office and have me excused from class and together we would go eat Mexican food. It was our secret (my dad would not have been in favor of my missing school).

When I was fifteen years old she got sick. By the time I was eighteen she was very sick.

The week before she died I said "good-bye". She held my hand and asked me if I would trade her in for a mother who would have lived longer? Through my tears, I said "no". She told me she would not trade me or my three brothers for one more minute. She had lived the live she had wanted to live.

She said that when I was born (I was the youngest and she was older) she prayed that she would live long enough to see me through high school and off to college. Then with a big smile she added, "If I had known God was listening so closely, I would have asked for a heck of a lot more!!!".

Twenty-one years ago today she passed away. I wish that she were here today to see her ten grandchildren (my three brothers have eight sons between them and my two daughters!!!). I know she would love her four daughters-in-law, and she would be proud of the legacy she has left behind in our families.

21 years is a long time, more than half my life. Here's to you, Betty Singer!!! Thank you!!!


Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Quality Marketing Has A Price

JD Moore over at the "Marketing Comet Blog" (one of my favorite blogs, I might add), had a nice post last week called "When You Should Hire An Expert".

Too often people think that they save money by trying to tackle complex tasks themselves. This is often true in professional services firms when it comes to sales, marketing, business development and PR. The lawyers, accountants or consultants looks at these areas as "soft skills"....and thus they rationalize that they are not difficult. Instead of paying someone with experience to handle these jobs, they wrongly believe that they can and will do them themselves (or get some young college graduate who will work for a small salary).

The results are usually not great, so then they rationalize that sales, marketing, business development and PR do not really apply to their industry.

JD uses the below diagram to illustrate why you need to think ahead about the results you want from any project, and then choose if you want the task done fast, cheap or good. The triangle illustrates that you can have some degree of any you cannot be on track for all three at once.

Let's look at marketing for example. If the goal is for your firm to create marketing materials fast, you can have that...but the closer on the line you get to fast, the farther you get from good or cheap. If you want are moving away from fast and good. If your heart's desire is for good (effective) marketing....then fast and cheap will be in your rear-view mirror.

Yes, good is neither fast nor cheap.

However, most professional service firms long to have all three at once. I know a law firm who wants a "great" marketing person. Their favorite candidate is requesting a salary equal to that of the attorneys. The firm is appalled. They are focused on the fact that this person is expensive, yet they will openly admit he is the best candidate. They want him, but said "we cannot pay a marketing person a salary equal to what we pay a lawyer!!!"

One question: WHY NOT????

Here is what will happen to that firm. They will hire another candidate who will work for the salary they are willing to offer. In the end, the results will be mediocre. They will wish they had gone with the other candidate..... but slide along with the second choice. I have seen it happen many times in service firms.

Sales, marketing, business development, branding, public relations are all important business skills. Your firms should treat the professionals who do these jobs like....well professionals!!! And quality costs money.

Have A Great Day.

Thom Singer'

Monday, November 14, 2005

Professional Services Marketing Survey

If you are a Marketing Executive for a professional services firm, or know one, the following information is vitally important. Please read the below post and then participate in the survey. If you work for a professional services firm (and are not in the marketing department), forward this information to your Director of Marketing......NOW!!!

What are you waiting for????

LawMarketing Portal and Expertise Marketing Launch Ground-Breaking Survey: Increasing Marketing Effectiveness at Professional Firms

BOSTON & CHICAGO--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Nov. 9, 2005--Professional firm marketers are invited to participate in a ground-breaking new study, "Increasing Marketing Effectiveness at Professional Firms." The goal is to give firms practical, new information that can help them compete more effectively.

The survey can be found online at

"Very little useful information on this subject currently exists for professional services, including accounting, architecture, numerous consulting specialties, engineering, executive search, law, and many others," said Suzanne Lowe, President of Expertise Marketing. "This research will fill that gap."

The 15-20 minute confidential questionnaire is directed to senior marketers in a broad cross section of professional service firms worldwide, inquiring into:

-- What key marketing initiatives do professional service firms evaluate?
-- How effective are their measurement / evaluation tools?
-- How do professional marketers overcome the many obstacles to measuring and evaluating?

"The survey results will reveal brand-new information that marketers can use to implement high-impact programs, provide insight into what other professional firms are doing and offer nuts-and-bolts practical solutions to common obstacles," said Larry Bodine, Director of the LawMarketing Portal.

This study is co-sponsored by:

-- Expertise Marketing LLC,, a Boston a consulting firm that provides marketing and management analysis and guidance to the leaders of professional service firms.

-- The LawMarketing Portal,, the top online destination for law marketing information. It gets 60,000+ unique visitors per month.

-- The Professional Marketing e-newsletter, published free every two weeks to 4,200 subscribers. Anyone may subscribe at
The survey questionnaire was created with the guidance of 20 senior marketers from leading large and mid-sized professional services firms.

Other participating organizations also include the Association for Accounting Marketing (AAM), Management Consulting News, the Professional Services Marketing Association (PSMA) and The Society for Marketing Professional Services (SMPS).

This study will conclude in 30 days, so time is of the essence. Marketers are encouraged to click the link right now to complete the questionnaire. (If the link does not work, please copy and paste it into your browser.) Participants will get the first look at the full report in early January 2006.

Expertise Marketing LLC
Suzanne Lowe


Professional Marketing Newsletter and LawMarketing Portal
Larry Bodine
Have A Great Day.

Thom Singer