Friday, June 30, 2006

A Different World - Four Eyed Monsters

This month's FastCompany Magazine has an interesting story, "Revenge of the Nerds", that highlights the budding film careers of two young twentysomethings. Arin Crumley and Susan Buice met on-line in New York City and early in their dating relationship they decided to make an independent movie.

With over $54,000 in credit card debt they are now trying to promote their film to the world.

I live in a different world. My wife and I met in a bar: We dated, married, bought a house, had kids, pay a mortgage, plan trips to Disneyland, etc.... On most levels I could not relate to this artistic and fascinating young couple who have charged their way into the outskirts of Hollywood. Yet with their faces placed against the glass looking into the film industry, I could not help but find myself pulling for these kids to achieve unimaginable levels of success.

They are an example to anyone in business when it comes to creativity, tenacity, unique business development/marketing and enthusiasm. They are cutting edge entrepreneurs in the genre of the young Bill Gates and young Michael Dell of twenty years ago.

Their website has some interesting stuff, including video podcasts that tell the story of the making of the film and the making of their relationship. I am still not sure what the film, Four Eyed Monsters, is about. However, if they bring it back to Austin, Texas....I will be the first to buy a ticket. I imagine I would be the oldest person in the audience, but damn it.... I will be there.

The film, music and publishing industries are all changing. Who is to say that with today's new technologies that anyone can't make a film, burn a CD or write a book and take it to international fame and fortune!! The internet and word-of-mouth advertising changes everything.

Personally, I am pulling for Arin and Susan. Red carpets? Paparazzi? Tonight Show banter with Jay Leno? Little gold statues named Oscar? Hey, why not?

Have A Great Day.

Thom Singer

**Photo from

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

More About Cold-Calling

Last week I wrote a post called "Networking vs. Cold-Calling" in which I recommended that business professionals use all the tools available to them to make connections with prospects that will lead to increased sales. Too often people discredit the use of networking or cold-calling (or sometimes both), yet most of the most successful people I know do both (and more).

I recieved the following email from a reader of this blog who disagreed with my opinions about the importance of cold-calling as one of many important business skills:

Dear Thom-

Are you kidding me???? Cold call to be successful??? Anyone who recommends cold calling in this day and age has absolutely no credibility. Time to wake up and do away with the old lines from decades ago - it's a new world Thom!

You need to become much more creative and discontinue this kind of empty rhetoric.

Cold calling does a number of things:

- annoys potential customers

- frustrates sales people

- creates sales force turnover

- establishes the salesperson as a "peddler" in the mind of the customer

- establishes the salesperson as just that - a SALESPERSON dialing for dollars. Their presentation will not be viewed as consultative or expert in any will be viewed as what it is, a SALES PITCH

- wastes valuable time much better spent on just about any other activity. In fact, I would recommend a "nap" instead of cold-calling, at least that's a positive and refreshing experience!

You just have to be kidding, does anyone take this kind of "advice" seriously anymore?

First of all, I love it when people disagree with me. I am a big fan of civilized debate. Too often in today's society people are too afraid to publically voice a contrary opinion...OR when they do disagree they go NUTSO CRAZY on the other person and violently attack them personally and their point of view. I thank my reader for this letter. We exchanged emails, and he or she proved to be articulate and civil (although very very much against any form of cold-calling for any reason for any person on this planet or in any other galixy). Below I will respectfully debate his or her anti-cold-calling beliefs.

1. Cold-Calling annoys potential customers.

Yes, recieving a cold-call can be annoying. But most professionals expect some level of solicitation in the business world (unless they are one of those folks with an inflated sense of self-importance, in which case they are annoyed by everything).

2. Cold-Calling frustrates sales people.

Nobody likes rejection. Sales people who are easily frustrated by cold-calling will most likely never be successful in sales. Life is full of frustrations. Just because something is not easy does not mean it is horrible.

3. Cold-Calling creates sales force turnover.

The top people in my position at the company where I work are the most avid cold callers. They also make the most money. Oh, and they have worked there the longest.

4. Cold-Calling establishes the salesperson as a "peddler" in the mind of the customer.

If you are in sales you should never be ashamed to sell. All businesses have to sell their services to stay in business. Most professionals I know respect good sales people.

5. Cold-Calling establishes the salesperson as just that - a salesperson dialing for dollars. Their presentation will not be viewed as consultative or expert in any will be viewed as what it is, a SALES PITCH.

I am not suggesting that you call, pitch, and close on the same call. A cold-call is simply a tool to get a meeting. You have many steps to get through before you get to the "trusted advisor" stage...but if you never meet them, then you will never be viewed as anything.

6. Cold-Calling wastes valuable time that could be better spent taking a nap.

I love to nap. But napping has never led to me making a sale. Cold-calling has.

7. Anyone who recommends cold-calling in this day and age has absolutely no credibility.

Ok, this was the part where my reader was not being civil, as he or she is automatically saying that I have no credibility since I did recommend that cold-calling could be a skill that sales people use. I say that if something works for it. If it does not work, don't do it. To say that any business practice that is legal and ethical is always bad is just silly.

It is sort of funny that I have to defend cold-calling on a networking blog....but I do not believe ANYONE has the right to rip on people who cold-call. It is just silly as hell. This is just a fun little blog where some guy rants and raves about his views.

Have A Great Day.

Thom Singer

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

O'Keefe Knows Blogging

Kevin O'Keefe knows about blogging for lawyers and other professionals.

Do you know Kevin O'Keefe?

O'Keefe, CEO of LexBlog, was the speaker today at the Austin Legal Marketing Association, and he had the twenty legal marketing professionals in the room taking notes so fast that their pencils almost caught fire.

His talk was captivating. He spelled out the tips and tricks that lawyers need to know if they truly want to promote their practices and position themselves as thought-leaders in their practice areas.

"A blog is NOT your website", proclaimed O'Keefe. "Your website is promotional information. It is an electronic brochure. A blog is an educational magazine - your opportunity to be part of the discussion on an important topic" (They are your chance to be seen as the expert).

Kevin has built a successful business by training lawyers about how to blog. Many of his clients are surprised by their own success (which means the speed at which some get real results). He has promoted his business the same way he teaches his blogging!

"Any idiot can write a blog, but if it does not add value then you will get no links or traffic....nobody will read it, much less comment on your thoughts. You must be adding to the discussion".

O'Keefe says to follow the FLEE principle:

F - Find your audience
L - Listen to the discussion
E - Engage your readers
E - Enhance the discussion

(*note, I might have that last "E" wrong....but you get the idea).

I also had the opportunity to buy Kevin a latte at Starbucks following his presentation. In addition to being one of the smartest guys I have ever talked to about "blogging"...he is also a really nice guy.

If your firm has thought about starting a not do it without obtaining the guidance that Kevin O'Keefe can provide. He is affordable, knowledgeable and can keep you from making some horrible mistakes.

Have A Great Day.

Thom Singer

Monday, June 26, 2006

His "Super-Power" Is Focus

I recently had a conversation with one of the most successful real estate agents in Austin, Texas. Chad Goldwasser has built and amazing business, The Goldwasser Team, and has been recognized locally and nationally for his results. Additionally he is an accomplished speaker and trainer whose seminars inspire and motivate others to excel.

To become a top tier realtor, Chad has immersed himself in reading (and listening to CD's) the best motivational and sales information on the planet. He has an amazing belief in himself and those with whom he works. If he had a middlename it would be "Mr Goals". In less than seven years he has gone from tending bar in a local Mexican restaurant to providing high-quality customer service to those looking to buy or sell their house. He makes dreams come true.

Chad says; "My Super-Power is Focus!".

Batman has the gadgets. Wonder Woman has the magic lasso. Aquaman can live under the sea. Superman can fly, stop bullets and is more powerful than locomotive (and I like that X-ray vision thing!)...... but Chad has FOCUS.

Hmmmm. For those who have been reading my blog lately, you know focus is my missing link. It is like I am at the base of a large staircase waiting to climb to the top. Focus is what I have identified as the most important skill for advancing a career to the next level. Chad has found it. I am still looking for it.

Have A Great Day.

Thom Singer

Friday, June 23, 2006

The Four Things That Matter

In my quest for more focus it was recommended to me that I identify the four things in my life that really matter the most to me. Beyond those four, it was said, the rest "is just filler".

Once I have identified what matters, my next task is to clearly look for the actions needed over six months to achieve greatness in each area. Then daily I should look at what small thing I can do toward accomplishing my goals.

How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.

Here is my list:

1. Serving my wife and kids as the best husband and father I can be.

What is the next step to be done today to lead me to that goal?

2. Doing the best job I can for my employer.

What is the next step to be done today to lead me to that goal?

3. Promoting my book to national recognition.

What is the next step to be done today to lead me to that goal?

4. Staying fit and being healthy.

What is the next step to be done today to lead me to that goal?

What four things matter to you? Remember, the rest is just filler.

Have A Great Day.

Thom Singer

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Planned Conflict With The Status Quo

I have been actively searching for a coach or a mentor who can help me take my career to the next level.

This is difficult because coaches want a substantial sum of money (which I think the good ones deserve, but I am not yet ready to pay). I have several people who have been wonderful mentors, but I at this stage of my career I need more personal attention than most people would be willing to give (unless I am paying a substantial sum of money.....hmmmm, Catch 22).

Anyway, while talking with a woman on the phone the other day she said that I had to be willing to break out of my current comfort zone to achieve greater successes. This, she said, will get uncomfortable. I must be willing to "plan conflict with my status quo".


That got me thinking. What is it about my current situation that I will need to knock from the secure little box that I live within? Scary stuff to ponder!!!

But I like it.

I am ready to do something, I am just not sure yet what that is. I have not yet found the right answer to who can help guide me to the next level, but I am committed to start moving in that direction.

How about you. Are you ready to plan conflict with your status quo? What do you have to change in your life to grow your network? Raise your company's visibility? Create more buzz? Increase Sales? What do you need to do to shine?

I think there are a lot of people who feel the same way (ready to move ahead, but not sure where to go). They know that they are capable of more success, but are just not sure of the next move. I talk a lot about the importance of taking action, and I do personally take action. But random actions produce random results. And while this does help move me forward, I think that I need to have a more clearly defined plan.

Are you with me? Good. But I am not sure where we are going.

I think that instead of hiring an expensive coach, or waiting for the right mentor to show up, I will create a virtual mastermind group. I am looking for three other people who are looking to achieve more in their career. Three like minded business professionals who want to make a difference in the next six months.

If you are interested, email me at (subject line "MasterMind"). I have no idea who I will select to be part of this experiment, but we will chart our progress and use this blog on the first Friday of the month to report our results over the last half of 2006.

Any takers?

Have A Great Day.

Thom Singer

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Blog Awards Finalist

It has come to my attention that "The Some Assembly Required Blog" is a finalist for a MarketingSherpa Reader’s Choice Blog Award in the B2B Category.

If you are interested in voting, there is more information at:

Thank you for your continued support of this blog.


Seize The Power

"The beauty of being an adult is that you have permission to turn an idea into reality. Children have the courage to turn ideas into reality, but not the power. Adults have the power, but not always the courage" - From the book: 365 Marketing Meditations by Richard S. Levick and Larry Smith.

Most people have ideas, more ideas than they could count. However, sadly, they rarely act upon those ideas and spend much of their life looking back and wondering what could have been different.

I had lunch yesterday with business friend that I have known for many years. Steve has been a successful entrepreneur, venture capitalist, real estate investor and all around achiever. He has the courage to take action and change the world. What I admire most about him is that he not only goes out into the world and creates positive change,....he looks for ways to help others. Three times during lunch he asked me "how can I help you?". And he meant it. I doubt that Steve spends much time looking backwards.

I sometimes feel that I am at a cross-roads, looking for courage. I have an ideal new job (which I enjoy and is very challenging), my book continues to sell (it is now available at, my family is happy, and I have amazing friends.....yet I have a burning desire for more. I don't want to turn fifty and look back at this decade (I just turned 40) and wish I had left opportunities behind.

When I look at successful people (like my friend, Steve) it is focus and the courage to take action that are common traits. I try daily to have more courage and focus, but often fall short of my own expectations. It is usually my network of contacts that helps me fill that gap. It is the people who say "how can I help you succeed" that take us past the areas where we fall short. I am still amazed at how those who are the most accomplished (and the busiest) are the most willing to help others reach their goals.

Be Brave. Have Courage. Achieve. And Help Others Do The Same!!!

Have A Great Day.

Thom Singer

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Networking vs. Cold Calling

Some people think that there is a diabolical contest between the importance of networking and cold calling in the pursuit of higher sales numbers and advancing marketshare.


To be successful in your business it is not choosing between "networking" or "cold calling" is a combination of cultivating both skills....and actively using both to increase your level of success.

If you only cold-call you are placing your future success in the hands of strangers, and by only networking you are relying 100% on those you already know. To own your future yourself you must do both (plus other stuff too!).

Neither of these business disciplines is difficult, but professionals often shriek in fear at the thought of both of these very importance business practices. There are countless examples of professionals who have been wildly successful using just one of these skills, but most who reach the top are experts at both. (*I do not know of any who have increased their sales by avoiding both skills). Ask any sales person and she will tell you that she uses a variety of techniques to achieve her goals.

I believe that the networking and cold-calling should work together. If you develop a good network of contacts and have a reputation of high integrity, then you will get more referrals. While you will still need cold-call on potential customers, if you and your company are well known in your business community, then your calls wont be "chilly". Quickly establishing that you have mutual contacts in business will lead to a better chance the other person will take an interest in your product or service.

Remember, your networking and cold calling efforts are both tools that can lead to more sales. You need to appreciate both and learn to improve your skills. Do not make up excuses about why networking or cold-calling do not work. They do work for millions of other business professionals. If they are not working for you, then figure out why and adjust how your approach. There are countless books, tapes, websites, blogs and seminars that can help you improve your business skills.

Have A Great Day.

Thom Singer

Monday, June 19, 2006

Listen Up

You can now listen to a sample of the audio version of my book,

Go to and click on the audio logo on the lower right side of the homepage.

Enjoy!! And Thank You for reading my blog!!

Have A Great Day.

Thom Singer

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Happy Father's Day

In the United States today is Father's Day. This holiday was officially established by Congress in 1953. It is a special day when children of all ages can stop and honor their fathers.

I am lucky, my father has been an amazing influence on my life. He was older to be having another child (I was born just before he turned 52-years-old), but his advanced age never stopped him from being an involved parent. He retired when I was in the eighth grade and had the time to be involved in my activities (I think at the time I did not like that fact that he was always around, but looking back... it was a blessing). He taught me more things than I can express here. I love him for showing me by his example how to be a good father to my own children.

This year he will turn 92 years old. He is still going strong, as he does not let his age slow him down.

Happy Father's Day, Dad. And to all fathers.

Thom Singer

Friday, June 16, 2006

Optimists Are The Future

I saw this quote today and just thought I would share it.

“No pessimist ever discovered the secret of the stars or sailed an uncharted land or opened a new doorway for the human spirit.”
-Helen Keller (1990-1968)

Have A Great Day.

Thom Singer

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Celebrate Others

I was reading the blog of a friend this week and I was reminded how important it is to "celebrate" the people in our lives. Chris Hyde is a pastor at a church near Portland, Oregon. Last week he turned forty years old (seems like an I did turned forty five days after he did) and he felt extremely blessed.....he felt "celebrated" by those around him.

Growing up Chris had good parents, but he states in his post that they never made him feel special for who he was as a person. On this birthday his family and friends honored him in countless ways (including another friend, Anne, who wrote a blog post titled "Crazy Pastor Chris" on her blog). You should read his blog post about the importance of making others feel appreciated, as it it thought provoking.

His words got me thinking, in our business networking efforts do we honor others enough? Do we "celebrate" them? I do not just mean saying "thank you" to those who give us referrals or invite us to an event. I am talking about reaching out to our friends and letting them know that we are deeply grateful to have them as part of our lives.

I challenge all the readers of this blog (that means YOU!) to think of three people in your network of professional contacts and reach out to them. Celebrate them for making your career...your life...better. Make sure that you do this with no expectations of them recipricating with praise toward you (although if they do, accept it)... make your celebration all about the other person.

Imagine if everyone did this regularly....the world would be a much better place!!!

Have A Great Day.

Thom Singer

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Association for Corporate Growth Awards - Austin Chapter

The Austin Chapter of the Association for Corporate Growth held its annual awards luncheon today. The sold out crowd at the Shoreline Grill was treated to a phenomenal program.

Texas Secretary of State, Roger Williams, was the keynote speaker. This former professional baseball player-- turned successful businessman -- turned politician delivered on of the most enjoyable talks I have ever seen at a business event (lets face it, most business awards lunches are a bit boring!). Mr. Williams has the gift of gab and the true Texas talent to weave a story.

The winners were:

Outstanding Austin Large Company - Whole Foods
Outstanding Austin Emerging Company - Motion Computing

Outstanding San Antonio Large Company - Valero
Outstanding San Antonio Emerging Company - RackSpace

The winning companies will have a chance at ACG International Awards later this year.

The best line of the day came from the Secretary of State who said:

"Texans know what the word 'impossible' means - They also know that it does not apply to them!!!"
Congratulations to all the winners. And "Thank You" to the event chairman, Chris Kaine of Willis, who put on a great event.

Have A Great Day.

Thom Singer

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Zero to Sixty

At the National Speakers Association meeting in Austin, Texas I heard a wonderful analogy between how we view the cars we drive and how we judge people (and ourselves!).

Professional Speaker and local NSA president Catherine Jewell (a delightfully talented woman who is internationally applauded for her transformational sales training presentations and entertaining keynote talks) told the crowd about the love she had for her 1991 Acura Vigor. The car was a beautiful amethyst color (the men in the audience later discovered that amethyst is actually purple). It was stylish, powerful and reliable.

She always felt safe and comfortable while driving this car. In comparison to all the cars she has owned, the Vigor stood out from the pack. It could go from zero to sixty in 7.2 seconds and once took the car up to 140 miles per hour on an open country road (which was okay because her passenger was her brother, who is a Catholic priest!). While driving fast was not uncommon (she mentioned that highway patrol men "often" wrote the car was brown..."often"???), 140 mph was a memorable experience she will always recall fondly while thinking of this particular automobile.

Catherine got much joy from this Acura Vigor and only had to do the schedule maintenance. It never needed any major overhauls, and it did not add stress to her life. It was clear that this car had been a trusted friend.

How about you? How do the people you meet in the business community judge you? Are you stylish, powerful and reliable? Do you accomplish tasks with speed and never require maintenance? Lets explore:

Stylish. Other people do judge us by our appearance. We need to stay fit, dress appropriately and articulate when speaking. While some might think it is unfair that how we look and talk is important, your personal style is all part of your image...your brand. You cannot ignore look.

Powerful. Power means different things to different people. To me it is that you have the ability to get things done in the business world. This power can be displayed in many different ways. It is not always because someone has a particular business"title", as there are many executives in companies that have no respect, and thus no power. I once heard it said that "you do not command respect (from a job title), you earn respect (from your actions). How you behave will come back to roost.

Reliable. Can others count on you to follow through and complete your assigned tasks. Do you have a reputation of helping others, or are you known for only looking out for yourself. Do you remember others whom you have met before and treat them with respect? (I ran into a woman the other day who I have met no less than 10 times....she had no idea who I was, and when I noted that we had met, she acted as if our past encounters were not important enough for her to remember....this leaves me with a low impression of her abilities).

Low Maintenance. We all know people who drain the energy from a room when they arrive. Everyone has those "high maintenance" friends, who while entertaining, are not the ones that you would recommend to others. Don't be one of these people. You should not require others to spend a lot of time taking care of your issues. Instead you should find ways to make their lives better....not more complicated.

On the topic of maintenance, you also need to take the time to take care of yourself. Just like Catherine changed the oil and kept the tire pressure correct in the Acura, you should keep yourself physically and mentally fit. If you become run down you will be of no use to anyone. Schedule enough time to catch up on sleep, read a book, go for a run (or walk, swim, ride, etc....) or just relax.

Like a good car you need to maintain your style, power and reliability or your network of professional contacts will be trade you in for a newer model.

Have A Great Day.

Thom Singer

Monday, June 12, 2006


I recently had a lawyer tell me that he did not believe law firms should have marketing and business development professionals on staff because: "they make lawyers lazy". His argument was that if a firm did not have such people to oversee marketing and help get the firm recognition, that the lawyers themselves would embrace these tasks and be much more successful in growing their practices.
Oh PLEASE!!! I just might have now heard it all.

Additionally this attorney stated that firms that host client events (educational and social) and run advertisements in their local business journals are just being too "showy". In this case his belief is that lawyers only need to do good work and have "lots of lunches" to build their practices. Having marketing programs and planning is just a waste of time.

Maybe he is on to something. He should tell all of his clients that he has come up with the greatest business advice of the century: Companies should fire all their sales and marketing staff (after all, sales and marketing professionals make a lot of money and do not usually have "JDs"! how good can they be?). In their place the companies should have their senior executives assume all those responsibilities and do the sales and marketing when they have free time....regardless of if they are good at it or have any experience!!!

What? That is not a good business plan? But it is exactly how this lawyer plans to run his own firm!!!

Successful businesses plan everything and have dedicated professionals to move those plans forward. Leaving business development and marketing to chance is rediculous in any industry. This attorney should take his 401K to Las Vegas and bet the whole thing on Germany winning the World Cup Soccer tournement (or is it World Cup Football tournement???).

I predict a lot of mediocrity in this attorney's business development future. Then he will blame something else (cuz his lack of success could never be his fault!!).

Have A Great Day.

Thom Singer

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

41 Things I've Learned By 40

June 8th marks my 40th Birthday. Here are 41 pieces of advice that I have learned along the way:

41. Don't worry too much about what others think about you.

40. Everyone has an ego. Tread lightly as to not bruise them.

39. Nothing produces results as much as taking action.

38. Don't gossip. What you say will always find its way back to the person.

37. People do business with people they know and like.

36. Jealous and petty people are just part of life.

35. Say "please" and "thank you". It will make you stand out from the crowd.

34. When you need help, ask someone.

33. Having written goals is an important step you achieving your dreams.

32. Over using credit cards will stall your financial future.

31. A supportive spouse is worth her weight in gold, and then some.

30. A true friend is excited for you about any event that makes you happy.

29. True friends are rare and should be cherished.

28. No job is secure. Have a "plan B"

27. Always find the best in other people. Do not focus on their flaws.

26. You are not what you drive or what you wear. Do not judge others by their cars, clothes or zip code.

25. You are a "brand". No matter what you do it impacts your reputation.

24. Luck does not happen by accident.

23. Start saving money when you are young. 10% of your income should always go to your 401K.

22. Dedicate time to think about your future. Know what success looks like.

21. You cannot love your kids too much!

20. Treat everyone with respect. You never know when they might circle back into your life.

19. If you are not knowledgeable about wine...Don't fake it.

18. Be-friend your competitors.

17. Regardless of your political beliefs - attend a presidential inauguration once in your lifetime. The whole thing is very cool.

16. Find a mentor.

15. Be a mentor.

14. Staying physically fit gets harder as you get older. But do it anyway.

13. You do not have to be smart to be successful. Tenacity trumps intelligence.

12. Having a strong network of professional contacts is the best career safety net.

11. Read a lot of books, magazines, websites, blogs and newspapers. Knowledge is power.

10. Writing a book is hard work. Promoting a book is harder work.

9. Develop your public speaking skills. Join a Toastmasters group and participate actively for two years.

8. There is no substitute for integrity.

7. Have friends who challenge you to be a better person.

6. If you know someone who wrote a book, read it. The biggest compliment you can give an author is to read what they wrote.

5. Helping others always comes back to benefit you.

4. Find a good lawyer, accountant and banker before you need them.

3. Learn to cook.

2. Opportunities exist. You just have to look for them.


#1 - Those who have achieved REAL success in life (financially, emotionally and spiritually) will never criticize your dreams and aspirations. Instead they will look for ways to share their own experiences to help lift you up to higher levels. Successful people are rarely jealous and welcome the achievements of others.

As with all free advice....remember, you get what you pay for.

Have A Great Day.

Thom Singer

Monday, June 05, 2006

Customer Experience

Advertising as we know it is dying a slow death. The country's biggest ad agencies are perplexed as TiVo and other technologies are allowing viewers to skip traditional mass media messages. TV ad spots are being overlooked while magazines are so full of dribble that they all blur into the pea soup of nothingness.

Then along came "product placement", but within as very short amount of time the viewing public has become wise to the fact that the American Idol judges all drink from Coca-Cola tumblers because large sums were paid by the beverage maker. For all we know Paula Abdul is sipping Pepsi Light from that cup.

Consumers are more savvy to the ways of Madison Avenue than they were thirty years ago, however the manner in which corporations market to customers has not changed in a generation.

Welcome Experiential Marketing. We all know that Starbucks, Southwest Airlines, Harley Davidson and many other maverick companies are dominating today's brand awareness.....and what these modern success stories have in common is how the customer comes to feel about the company through the interaction with those companies.

I admit that I love Starbucks. I know it is heavily over-priced and that the coffee is not that great. I even had to give up the flavored expresso drinks and frappachinos because of their high calorie content (yes, the Cafe Mocha has 400 calories) and now just drink regular coffee. However, it is the experience and the familiarity one gets in a Starbucks that brings me back day after day. They do more than sell coffee, the sell the whole experience. Anywhere in the world you get the same experience.

Regardless of what product or service your company provides, your future success is entirely riding on how your customers feel about you everytime they encounter your company.

I once worked for a company where the sales people were obsessively concerned that the marketing budget did not allocate enough money for print advertising. They tried to hide their low sales numbers behind the limited ads. In reality a full-page ad will not engage the prospect. That is why dynamic and exciting companies look for new ways to stand out from the crowd. People are moved to purchase by their experiences, not stale advertising. Thus, you cannot rely on image, reputation and advertising. It is your one-on-one connections with your customers that make all the difference.

A company or an individual needs to be bold to get noticed. One of my favorite stories is what GamePlan Marketing (of Austin, Texas) did for one client who wanted to be noticed at the 2004 International Consumer Electronics Show. How does an organization tell its story, make its pitch, and deliver its message at a trade show when it has no booth? Click here to read more. ( on the is an amazingly entertaining story...I promise!!!)

The world is changing.....stand out, be bold and make every interaction with you and your company an experience. Average never wins.

Have A Great Day.

Thom Singer

Friday, June 02, 2006

Entrepreneurial Spirit Saluted

Last night was the 20th Annual Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Awards in Austin, Texas. These local awards are part of the firm's two-decade spectacular international program which salutes the spirit of entrepreneurship. The gala event did not disappoint.

Four outstanding local business professionals were honored for their excellence, and joined the ranks of the over ninety Austinites who have made their mark on the exciting Central Texas business community. In the previous twenty years two local legends have gone on to claim the E&Y National Entrepreneur of the Year prize (Michael Dell of Dell, Inc and John Mackay of Whole Foods Markets).

This years business winners are:

Clayton Christopher - Sweet Leaf Tea, Inc.

Brett Hatton - Four Hands Furniture

Joel Trammell - NetQOS

And the social entrepreneur of the year is:

Susan McDowell - LifeWorks

Ernst & Young also gave the special "Supporter of Entrepreneurship" award to local venture capitalist, Eric Jones of CenterPoint Ventures. Jones has been directly involved with many of Austin's most successful companies and has helped to foster the growth of the local technology industry.

Austin, Texas is a town that prides itself in having a special entrepreneurial spirit. E&Y's annual event is the crowning accomplishment to those who live to take risks, create companies (and jobs!), and reach change the face of the world.

The evening was followed the 12th Annual "After Party" hosted by the local office of Andrews Kurth LLP. There are really no ways to describe this party, which has taken on a life of its own over the past 12 years. It is like getting an invitation to "Spago" following the Academy Awards. Over 400 people crossed the street to PF Chang's Bistro following the conclusion of the E&Y award ceremony. When I left at 1:00 AM there were still 100 people dancing, drinking and power networking. It is not often you get the Austin business community (who mostly all believe that everyday is "Casual Friday") into tuxedos and formal gowns....and then that many continue the party into the wee hours of the morning!! It was an amazing evening.

Congratulations to all the finalists and award recipients.

Have A Great Day.

Thom Singer

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Which Firm Do You Work For?

Which company would you like to work for?

Company A

Our mission is to allow each of our senior partners to treat the rest of the staff like crap. If someone complains we will give lip-service toward creating a better work environment, but the reality is we will never really take any action, especially if the partner in question has a large book of business.

Additionally we will encourage competition amongst those who work for our firm. We will champion anyone who can succeed within the culture of the firm and ridicule or push out those who have unique, creative and visionary ideas. Our motto is "we do not do it that way at this firm".

We will hold seminars and create brochures touting diversity, while in reality it will be the good old boys who will prevail. We will break no laws in this area, but everyone in the firm will know how the system really works. If they choose to raise concerns we will label them as difficult and hope to God they move on to another firm.

Seniority and past performance for the firm will be allowed to cover current mediocre performance. Younger and harder working employees will know that to gain seniority means you no longer have to work as hard, but you can still pull down a huge salary. Nobody in the firm would dare to rock the boat and hold dead-weight partners accountable.

Company B

Our mission is to create a dynamic team atmosphere where our partners, associates and staff members look forward to coming to work. It is the goal of the firm to provide above average financial compensation to everyone who works here.

Team members will treat each other with professional respect an courtesy. Those who are do not behave in a professional manner will be asked to leave the firm, regardless of their financial contribution. Jerks are not tolerated in this environment.

Fresh ideas are always welcomed by senior management, regardless of who originates the ideas. Anyone who can provide new ways for the firm to achieve its financial goals will be rewarded both with cash and publicly praised. Hard work and results are what is expected from everyone on the team. All staff members are judged by their actions, not their words. Less than a full commitment to success for everyone will not be tolerated.

Which one do you work for in real life?

Have A Great Day.

Thom Singer