Thursday, August 31, 2006

Austin Business Awards

I had the honor of being the Master of Ceremonies last night for the 6th Annual Austin Business Awards, hosted by the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce.

The Chamber of Commerce in Austin is a great organization with a long history of success. The mission of the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce is to provide leadership that will help create regional economic prosperity and success for its members in Central Texas. The proof that it achieves this goal is evident everyday to those who live, work and visit the city.

Fourteen years ago I worked at the Chamber selling advertising in their membership directory. Over the years I have volunteered to help with a variety of causes and committees, but when they asked me to be the MC for this major event, I hardly felt worthy. Yet, I still said "yes". Granted, I was a bit nervous to take on this role, but one thing I preach about to others is that when an opportunity arrives, you have to take it....even if it is a little scary!!!

I think the event went very well (The real job of the Master of Ceremonies is really just to make sure the event ends on time....... we ended ten minutes ahead of schedule!!!). The evening was a tribute the to companies that made up the list finalists and winners in the categories of Innovation, Customer Service, Community Relations, Education and Protecting the Environment. Winners were honored for small, medium, large and not-for-profit businesses in each category. To see a list of all the companies who were nominated, click here.

The winners were:

Customer Service Category:

Personal Wine by Pervino
Truluck's Seafood, Steak and Crab House
Hoover's Inc.
Capital Metro

Education Category:

Sprysoft Corporation
Washington Mutual Bank
Bracewell & Giuliani
The Housing Authority of the City of Austin

Environment Category:

Habitat Suites Hotel
Texas Disposal Systems

Community Relations Category:

Austin Woman Magazine
Applied Materials
Assistance League of Austin

Innovation Category:

Biophysical Corporation
NetSpend Corporation
Time Warner Cable - Austin Division
City of Austin Solid Waste Services

Freescale Not-For-Profit Award Winner:

Meals on Wheels and More

Austin, Texas is fortunate to have wonderful companies that give so much to the community. All those who were nominated, finalists and the winners make this the greatest city in the United States. I am proud to call Austin my home. Congratulations to all.

Have A Great Day.

Thom Singer

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Surfing Lessons

There is something amazing about watching your nine-year-old daughter learn to surf. Although I was raised in Southern California, surfing was not something I ever attempted. I was just not that cool.

This weekend while my family was vacationing along the Texas coast, my friend Ed taught Jackie to surf. She is now officially much cooler than I was at nine-years-old. Maybe than I am at forty.

The surfing lessons were spread out over two days, but by the second day she was riding the waves. She started by laying on the board and cruising to shore. Next on her knees. Before long she was standing. Sure she fell a few times, but she kept going back out and trying again. She kept trying.

At day's end everyone could tell that Jackie had a true sense of accomplishment. She had been scared at first, but tried surfing anyway. She met those waves head on and had triumphed.

Kids are much better than grown-ups when it comes to tackling new things. We could all learn a little about overcoming our limitations from the newest surfer in Port Aransas, Texas. Good job, Jax. (yes, that is really Jackie in the photo above!!!)

Have A Great Day.

Thom Singer

Monday, August 28, 2006

8 Things To Do Today

Know what you want.

Think about what it will take to get what you want.

Know up front what you are NOT willing to do to get what you want.

Figure out who can help you get what you want.

Study those who have succeed in getting what you want.

Visualize your life once you have achieved your goal.

Tell others what you are trying to accomplish.


Have A Great Day

Thom Singer

The Some Assembly Required Blog: More blog readers today than yeseterday. Tell a friend!

Friday, August 25, 2006

Clouds In The Sky

Ideas are like clouds in the sky.

Somedays there are so many ideas blowing past at high speed that they are gone before I can notice them.

Other times the sky is a blank slate of blue. No ideas at all.

And then there are the times when it rains. It just pours. I am flooded with thoughts, dreams, hopes, ambitions, visions, anticipations, fears, and philosophies.

The trick is to find a way to capture those ideas and put them to work. To find ways to make them more than abstract conceptual thoughts, and make them something tangible. An idea needs life or it is as useless as a fluffy white cloud blowing across the horizon. Yes, nice to look at, but not much more.

I think this is longing harness our thoughts and achieve more is common for many people. We know in our hearts that we have the power inside us to reshape our lives, but we cannot capture the rainwater that fills our hearts and minds. We cannot transform our thoughts into action. Thus we stay in the status quo.

I enjoy stories of the great entrepreneurs throughout history. They instinctively knew how to take an idea and transform it into a business. They inventend, created, marketed and grew their thoughts into amazing enterprises. I believe that everyone is capable of doing this, but it is breaking out of the comfort zone that surrounds us that makes the difference.

I want more. I desire to rise higher than I ever have before. Don't you????

I don't have an answer for you to this quandary. Not today. Today I am just drowning in my thoughts. How to make my dreams real? How to achieve more than I ever have before? How to break out of the here and now? How?

Have A Great Day.

Thom Singer

The Some Assembly Required Blog: Increasing the number of readers of this blog everyday while helping others learn more about networking, sales, marketing, PR and business development. Please come back and read more....and tell your friends!!!

Thursday, August 24, 2006

What Others Think About You...

The following comes from BW Price's Marketing U Blog. It made me laugh, and it is soooo true:

Great advice from Dr. Daniel Amen:

When you're 18, you worry about what everybody is thinking of you

When you're 40, you don't give a darn what anybody thinks of you

When you're 60, you realize nobody's been thinking about you at all.

Bottom line: people think about themselves, not you. So, don't worry about what others may think of you as you pursue your goals.

Have A Great Day.

Thom Singer

The Some Assembly Required Blog: Continuing to grow blog readership and repeat visitors everyday. Please come back again!!!

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Venture Capitalist Invest In Blogoshere

Earlier this week The Deal had a story about VC's investing in blogs (nope, sorry....not this one!). I find it interesting. While there are millions of blogs, there are a few giants who are now going to monitize their blogging to new levels:

"Venture investors normally cite the strength of a company's management team as a key reason for investing in new technologies and ideas. But two new venture investments in widely read Web logs, or blogs, have taken this concept to a new level: investing directly in people for the content they produce". To read the whole story (click here).

Left wing pundant Arianna Huffington has one of the most widely read blogs on the internet, The Huffington Post. This is becoming more than the ranting of the one time right-wing, now leftist celebrity's is being viewed as a full fledged media company. With so many readers, Huffington has the legitimacy to become the Martha Stewart of liberal politics. Ahhhh, the world is changing and it is changing fast!

Blogs continue to grow and take on more significance. I can only dream of having the mass readership of the true titans of blogging. With venture capital rolling in to the blogosphere, you can bet that blogs will continue to dominate, and those lucky one's like Ms. Huffington will cash into to public markets in no time.

So please, dear reader, tell 45 million of you closest friends to read my blog today. Thanks.

Have A Great Day (although it probably wont be as great of a day as Arianna Huffington is having!)

Thom Singer

Purchase my book at!!!!

Some Assembly Required Blog, building more blog traffic everyday!!!

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Brand New Day

You never know when you will have a great day. Just when you feel like you are in a rut, WAMMO...something great happens and everything just goes right. That is why you have to just get out of bed everyday and keep trying.

Never give up on your even when things seem to be slipping out of sight, if you have to have faith in yourself, you can climb to the top.

My four-year-old daughter, Kate, is a major fan of Cinderella. Because of this, we watch the DVD regularly. More often, in fact, than any forty-year-old man would care to admit (but if Cinderella is important to Kate, Cindy is important to me!!!). Our heroine wants to go the party at the prince's palace, but the pesky step mother and sisters keep foiling her dreams. Even after she makes her own gown, they tear it to shred's and laugh at her as they head to the ball.

But the future princess has a turn of fate, and the rest is history. Her dreams come true and those nay-sayers are left behind while she dances with young Mr. Charming.

Your own career has more fairy godmothers and glass slippers than you can imagine. You just have to know where to look for them and never give up. I do believe that all your dreams can come true. It is the Cinderella Theory of the world: Be good to those around you, keep smiling when others treat you poorly, and know that the future holds great possibilities.

***Authors Note: Last week my family visited Disneyland, and Kate got to meet the real Cinderella. This was proof positive that all ones dreams can come true. At four years old she has now met her idol.

Have A Great Day.

Thom Singer

Monday, August 21, 2006

Waiting For Your Cat To Bark?

At the TEXCHANGE dinner in Austin, Texas we were treated to a panel discussion on "Persuading Customers When They Ignore Your Marketing". The expert panelists, Sam Decker (VP of Marketing at BaazarVoice) and Bryan Eisenberg (Author of the best selling book, "Waiting For Your Cat To Bark?"), shared many insights into the current state of marketing in the world today. These guys know their stuff!!!

It used to be that customers responded to ads. Now most traditional marketing has become background noise. When asked how many in the audience used TiVo or another digital video recording device, over half the hands went up. The follow up question of how many viewers skipped the commercials produced the same number of hands. Consumers today actively and intentionally skip past the ads.

The discussion moved to the topic of "word of mouth marketing", which is how many products today have achieved their great success. Sam is one of the country's thought leaders in the "Word of Mouth" industry. His insights into getting your clients to talk (and rave) about your company had the audience lined up for an hour after the meeting to learn more.

Mr. Eisenberg's book, "Waiting For Your Cat To Bark?" is based on the premise that customers used to behave like Pavlov's dog. Wave some advertising at them and they would purchase product. And like dogs, they were loyal and excited to see what you had next. Today's consumer is more like a cat. They are fickle. They do what they want to do. They do not bark. A company today must be looking for a "meow". There will be no barking from a cat no matter how many ads you run in the New York Times.

I have read his book, and it is great. You can get it at or your local bookstore.

Have A Great Day, and celebrate the "Meow".

Thom Singer

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Advice for 7th Graders

Parents are always telling their children to be careful who they associate with, because who you are is influenced by the friends you keep. When I began junior high in 1978 I had no idea how true that was....but fortunately I hung out with some very cool kids.

Last Thursday I had the opportunity to have dinner with a group of friends from my high school days (Arcadia High, Class of 1984). We had all known each other since junior high, and while many of us had drifted apart after school, we re-connected at our twenty year reunion two years ago.

Some of us are married with children, some are not. Many of them still live in Southern California, others have moved away (I live now live in Texas). Some are conservatives, others are liberal. We work in a variety of jobs (banker, minister, salesperson, retail manager, entertainment industry executive, author, full-time mom, etc...) but what we all have in common is memories of growing up together and touching each other's lives in countless positive ways.

We drank wine, told stories and laughed for five hours while our children played together. We laughed about old friends, classmates and teachers (many of whom were 40 years old while we were in school...and we thought them to be "very old") and shared our lives.

I have always known I was lucky to have had these people in my life. We were not the "popular" kids in school, but we were never stuck-up. We were just who we were.....and everyone is still the same today. I am proud to have known these people for nearly thirty years. I am proud to call each of them my friend.

My advice to a 7th grader is to look around at your friends. In the year 2032 would you want to be at a BBQ with these folks? Would you want your spouse and children to meet them? If not, find new friends! I know I could not have seen the importance of these cool kids in my future at the time, but I am glad that they are in my life today.

Have A Great Day.

Thom Singer

Friday, August 11, 2006

The Best Advice On Writing A Book

Seth Godin has yet another great post on his blog. (I think all bloggers want to be Seth when they grow up! He gets quoted by everyone.)

This time he gives 19 tips to wanna-be authors. While Mr. Godin has sold millions of copies of his books to my thousands....I can still tell you that his advice is right on the money.

If you have a desire to write a book, and it is said that 82% of Americans do, then click over to Seth's post and read carefully.

My own two cents on the subject (adding to Seth Godin's list of 19 tips)

20. If you want to write a book, just do it. Do not let your self doubt or others around you talk you out of it.

21. Realize that it takes a lot of time after a book is released for it to get traction. Do not get discouraged if sales start slow. Be tenacious and keep promoting. I have a three year marketing plan for my first book....and while sales are good, we are still in the early stages.

22. Some of your friends will let you down. Most people I have talked to are surprised by how few of their friends read their books. I have a personal policy that if I meet someone who has written a book, I buy it and read it (that is getting a bit more difficult now that I meet a lot more authors...but I still try).

22A. You will also find that some of your friends will dismiss your fulfillment of a lifetime achievement as "no big deal".

22B. You will be surprised how many of your friends will expect a free copy. I was in my doctors office and he asked for a free copy. I did not ask for a free co-pay.

22C. Forgive those around you for not being as excited as you wish them to be. It is your book, not theirs.... and it is not their responsibility to get enthused about everything you do (AKA: "It is not all about you!").

23. Always carry copies of your book with you (keep a box in the trunk of your car). You never know who you will meet who might want to purchase a copy or copies!

24. If you write a blog on a related topic to your book, your loyal blog readers will buy your book. Make it easy for them to purchase.

25. Opportunities you have never imagined will come your way once people know about our book. Do not get cocky, but enjoy the ride.

Have A Great Day.

Thom Singer

You can purchase a copy of Some Assembly Required: How to Make Grow and Keep Your Business Relationships at

Monday, August 07, 2006


"Failure means nothing at all if success comes eventually" -- Frank Bettger

To get what you want means you have to try. To try means you risk failing. But if you keep trying and do not become discouraged, you have a much better chance of achieving great success than if you sit on your butt and wait for success to ring the doorbell.

To win the game you have to play.

Many "over-night" success stories are backed up by years and years of attempts. Stephen King's first best-selling novel, Carrie, was rejected by most of the top publishing houses. Thomas Edison tried over 10,000 ways to invent the lightbulb. The best hitters in baseball strike out more often than they hit homeruns.

But for all those who succeed there are countless more who give up before they reach their goals.

A friend of mine recently discontinued his blogging efforts after a year. He wrote some good things, but decided that after all the effort he had not achieved the level of notoriety that he desired. What he failed to realize is that by stopping his blog, he is not moving closer to his goal, he is abandoning the goal on the side of the road.

Because something takes time, does not mean that it is not achievable. He only had about 100 regular readers of his blog. He wanted thousands. He wants to be Seth Godin or Guy Kawasaki. But Seth and Guy did not just "appear" on the scene. They have years of building the foundations of their international reputations through a variety of venues (these are not just guys who blogged their way to the top). They win because they did not quit.

You have to have big goals, but you also have to be realistic in how you plan execute on those goals. Additionally, if one path does not get you there, do not necessarily abolish the goal, look for a new route.

The message I am trying to get across in this post is DO NOT GIVE UP. Keep looking for ways to win. Fight. Try. Try again. Once you succeed nobody will remember the struggles you had along the way. They will only see your victory.

Have A Great Day.

Thom Singer

PS -- My goal is for more people to read this blog. Tell a friend!!!

Thursday, August 03, 2006

The Human Element

The Dow Chemical Company is currently running a national television ad campaign that talks about the missing link in the Periodic Table of Elements: Hu. The Human Element.

The commercial honors nature for all its wonder, but also points out that when you ad the creativity of people, even more amazing results are possible.

The same is true with our marketing, business development, sales, public relations and networking efforts. Having a high quality product or service is important. Your firm's good reputation will spur some success to happen. But when you add the Human Element to the equation, the sky is the limit. It is your interactions with others that will make the difference between mediocrity and excellence.

You cannot build your company in a vacuum. You must have a strong network of co-workers, clients, prospects, vendors, friends and others who will talk about you. You need to create buzz. If you are "the best kept secret" in you industry, then your competition is making all the money.

Yes, buzz cannot just happen without other people.

1. You need a plan on how to approach key people in your network.

2. You must to take action to reach out to these individuals.

3. Your tenacity will make the difference. You will not unseat your competition's relationships overnight (if ever). Be patient.

Too many professional think that attending a few networking events or having lunch with a few key players will cause the business community to notice them. These actions are just the entry have to have a long term view and plan that is coupled with action.

Remember the cliche: "Winners never quit....Quitters never win".

Have A Great Day.

Thom Singer

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Building Momentum and Velocity

Some days finding motivation to get moving is difficult. Regardless of if your career, there comes the day when you wake and have no desire to do your job.

This becomes very clear when you write a blog. The pressure of having to post regularly can produce times when you are just blank inside. There are days when you just do not have any motivation or desire to write. However, if you let your blog go stale, readers vanish. So you have to post. You have to get your horse out on the track.

Today I had no clue on what to write. My horse was in the stable.

I found myself staring at the computer screen for over an hour. I was searching for a topic that would inspire me to write a post that would be useful for the readers. I must have read two dozen blogs looking for a muse.

Nothing. Nada. Zippo.

In order to move forward you must have momentum and velocity. If you are just sitting still you can not accomplish anything. So I began to write. I abandoned the first two topics as they were flat. I erased all the paragraphs and began fresh. Finding the momentum and velocity happened when I had I began to write something....anything. I was reminded that taking action is important in the world of sales, marketing, business development, PR and networking.

Many professionals spend a lot of valuable time talking about what they want to do to build their careers. They are convinced that they "know" all the answers, and they have meeting after meeting with their co-workers talking about the detail plans of how to grow their business. They justify their lack of motivation. They second guess everyone around them. The finger of blame if pointed outward.

Meanwhile they are glued to their chairs. They do not take action on all of the pontifications that they "know" are the answer.

While I am a big believer in planning, I also know that there comes a time when you must put one foot in front of the other and start moving. Once you are in motion, it is easier to build up speed and begin to excel. Once you have movement in the direction of your desired target (yes, you have to be pointed in the right direction!!!), it is very hard to stop victory.

It is okay to start small and start slow...but you have to start.

Have A Great Day.

Thom Singer

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

The Ambassador Effect

Business guru Tom Peters had a post on his blog last week about the effect of acting as an ambassador in all you do. He tells the story of his helping some local tourists in his hometown (Manchester Center, VT) who were baffled while searching a map of the city. The couple were looking for the family farm from the 1800s, and were not sure if it was even around anymore.

Mr. Peters took the time to introduce them to his friend, a local historian, who took the couple to the local library to further their research. He did not have to take the time to assist these people. But he did. His small investment of time helped these travelers in their quest.

He was a goodwill ambassador for the town of Manchester Center. He selflessly reached out to his fellow man and offered assistance. If everyone habitually did these types of small random acts of kindness as part of their day, the world would be a better place.

Mr. Peters asks, "What if we used the word "Ambassador" in lieu of "receptionist," "customer service rep," or even "salesperson"? ...... if we thought of ourselves as "ambassadors" when in contact with customers in particular, maybe it would make us think much harder about what we were doing and how we were doing it. While we would still be in the "sales mode" ......we would also be thinking more about our demeanor. "

He is right. "Ambassador" is a term that naturally would make one act with better manners and protocol. If everyone in your firm viewed their job as being an ambassador of the company, then your business reputation and your sales would soar.

Have A Great Day, Mr/Ms Ambassador!

Thom Singer