Friday, October 30, 2009

As Seen on TV - (Austin CBS Channel 42)

Quick video link from my interview with Jason Wheeler on the Austin CBS Affiliate Station, KEYE, on the "We Are Austin Live" show.

How to Relaunch Your Career

Have A Great Day.


Thursday, October 29, 2009

Your Company Sucks At Marketing

"Because we have always done it that way".

If those in your organization say the above sentence regularly, then your company probably sucks when it comes to marketing, business development, PR, social media, and sales.

The past 18 months have been a rough time in the business community. Most companies have felt some pain from the trickle down (or lack there of) effect, as spending has been frozen in many arenas. Many business owners have had to make hard decisions which have impacted their business image directly and indirectly.

There are signs of recovery in the economy, and that means opportunity. The time is now to invest in marketing programs that can help lead your company to new sales. While the recent spending cuts in such things have saved money in the short run, you cannot save your way to prosperity. Out of sight is out of mind, and many businesses have been invisible for too long.

When it comes to gaining new attention to drive business, there are no guarantees. Sometimes when you are promoting your cause you must throw some spaghetti against the wall and see what sticks. Too many people are scared to take these risks, so they do nothing new. They look to what they, or their competitors, have done in the past and simply put their marketing efforts on "repeat".

Looking for new ways to connect with customers, prospects, referral sources and others in your business community means being creative. Real creativity by its nature involves risk. Nothing great was ever created by hugging the status quo.

Social media, networking, advertising, PR, etc.... all take time, money, effort and a degree of risk. Too many people shy away from doing the things necessary to help build their corporate (and personal) brands, while making all type of excuses. They rationalize why they fail in these areas, often claiming they are "too busy" doing work for existing customers. Everyone is busy... that is just an excuse. If you are doing this you might be handing future revenues to your competitors.

It is time to double down on your business efforts. Step outside of your normal activities. Ask questions of others. Listen to what they say. Observe how the most successful operate, and look for ways you can emulate (without copying). Do not be frightened to try something new.

Marketing success means you get attention, and then you convert that attention into business. Step one is to take action.

Have A Great Day.


Monday, October 26, 2009

vcfo / vrecruiting Expand Recruiting Services In Colorado

vcfo (my former employer) is expanding their business services in Colorado to include vrecruiting-recruiting solutions from vcfo --- providing full service and customizable recruiting and staffing services including Professional Search, Contract Recruiting /Sourcing, and Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPO) services.

Heading up the new practice as Practice Manager is Jennifer Kendall. Kendall brings over a decade of experience in recruitment strategy and development, executive search and placement, and candidate sourcing. "We are excited to have Jennifer leading up our vrecruiting practice," says Dan Hudspeth, vcfo's regional managing director in Colorado and Washington. "Her breadth of experience and knowledge makes her an ideal match for our expanding practice."

In her new role, Kendall is responsible for the growth and development of Denver search practices.

"I am pleased to be joining vcfo," says Kendall, "because of its nationally recognized reputation and a strong market presence in Colorado. Our recruiting services will utilize a professional services approach to delivering high quality talent to our clients in a very efficient manner."

About vrecruiting - Recruiting Solutions from vcfo
vrecruiting is part of a full suite of financial and accounting solutions from vcfo, a professional services firm, that offers a customized team model to assist companies with finance, accounting, recruiting and human resources needs. vcfo uses a custom approach with each solution to create an optimal, flexible team of highly trained vcfo employees to address our clients particular requirements..

As trusted advisors to the CEO and management team, vcfo team members across the country use our original platform, industry best practices and proven methodologies to help solve the most complex operational business issues. vcfo is based in Austin, Texas with regional offices in Dallas, Denver, Houston and Seattle. For more information, please visit

Twitter's Power is Local

There is a lot of buzz about Twitter, but many people still shy away from the popular social networking site, pretending like it is just a "fad" or something useless. Some people naturally avoid anything new or different.... and they might come along later and check out the micro-blogging platform. Most people I talk with who avoid Twitter are simply overwhelmed by the scope of the whole thing. They cannot understand how it relates to their career, especially if they focus their work on a geographic area.

The point that is missed by most people who talk / write about Twitter is that it is not some "global networking" thing... but instead Twitter is a local tool that can help you grow your personal and professional brand in your own backyard.

I have been on Twitter for two years and have found the real power that the service provides is the ability to help me make real connections with people who live in a twenty mile radius of my house. Sure, I follow people from all over the world, but I never will meet or bond with most of them. However, those Twitter users who live nearby cross my path on a daily basis.

In the past we might have never met, now we seek each other out at networking events, or can schedule coffee meetings at any time.

What? Twitter's real value is as a local tool?

The "Guru's" will tell you it is all about how many followers you have. I cry B.S. It makes no difference how many follow if nobody is listening. The pet shop owners in Topeka, Kansas who follow me are most likely wonderful people, but I have not seen anything that I have in common with them, and will not likely meet them anytime soon. No offense to these animal lovers in Dorothy's home state... but I don't care about the Saturday Sale they have on GloFish. I am not sure why they followed me in the first place, but I did not follow them back.

Yet I will return the follow to any grown up who lives in Central Texas. Why? Because the odds of us meeting in person and forging a real connection are high.

This does not mean that millions of people around the world have not found value in the global reach of Twitter. I too have found value and made contact with people elsewhere. I have gotten to understand and "know" many interesting people around the world, but it is harder to develop relationships with those you will never see in person.

But the local experience of Twitter has had a direct material impact on my career.

Austin is a town that has embraced Twitter and there are often "Tweet-ups" (happy hour get-togethers of Twitter users in a local venue) and other gatherings that are promoted on Twitter. I met one guy at a conference who came up and said "Hi, I follow you on Twitter". We are now friends, and working on several business projects together. I see him, and others who I met this way, as people... not just random "followers".

The world is a big place, and when we can make it smaller - we stop being overwhelmed.

There are people who have created "real" friendship with online contacts whom they have never met in person (I have done this, too), but there is something different about relationships that involve being able to meet for coffee, meals or beers.... and proximity of geography makes this much easier.

Embrace the local power of Twitter. Seek out people in your own area whom have similar interests and follow their Tweets. Engage them in conversation. Re-Tweet their profound statements. Support their causes. Focus local and you will find a whole new set of friends whom can help you discover the power of Twitter.

Have A Great Day.


This Week's Speaking Events

If you live in Austin, come see me at:


Austin Young Chamber of Commerce. 6PM. Location: Austin Community College - Eastview Campus


I will be appearing on television on KEYE-TV on the "We Are Austin - Live" program at 4 PM. Channel 42 (Cable 5) in Austin.


12 Annual IT Executives of the Year Awards (Innotech)
, 4:30 PM. I am the Master of Ceremonies for this annual event. Location: Austin Convention Center.


Launch Pad Job Club. 10 AM. Location: Monarch Event Center

Also... Save the Date for December 8, 2009. I will be presenting a new seminar on "Year End / New Year - How It Impacts Your Networking Efforts" breakfast seminar at the Norris Conference Center. This event is hosted by the Austin Business Journal. More details to follow.

Have A Great Day.


Saturday, October 24, 2009

"Ticket to the Limit" by Randy Cohen

Years ago I started a personal policy that if I meet someone who has written a book, I read their book. I put this into practice over 20 years ago when I first met H.R. Haldeman (yes, the White House Chief of Staff to President Nixon).

This policy served me well, as I read a lot, and I did not meet that many people who wrote books... thus fitting the occasional book of someone I encountered was easy. Authors enjoy it when people read their books, and I found it was a great way to help build relationships with people who write, by actually reading their stuff.

But now that I am an author and professional speaker I meet too many people who have written books. I still try to honor my personal policy, but it is not as easy. However, when someone I know well writes a book, I do buy it, read it, and review it.

Thus the purpose of this blog post.

My friend, Randy Cohen, recently released his first book, "Ticket to the Limit: How Passion and Performance Can Transform Your Life and Your Business Into An Amazing Adventure".

Randy has done a wonderful job of sharing his life's journey and laying out a road map for others who want to find success.

He is a high energy entrepreneur who believes in living life to the fullest. He encourages the readers to live by his "Randy's Rules of Reason"which include following your passion, living by values, cherishing family, helping others, laughing often, giving back, continuing to learn, taking risks, working hard (and playing hard), and following through.

Congratulations to Randy on a successful book. It is a good read and full of inspiration on each page.

Have A Great Day


Thursday, October 22, 2009

How To Cash In On Chris Brogan's Fame For Your Own Gain

Chris Brogan had a link on his Twitter stream to the blog of a guy named Adam Kmiec. I have never heard of Adam before, and the title of the blog post Chris was pointing to was titled "Why I Hate Chris Brogan", which struck me from the start as a gimmick for Mr. Kmiec to cash in on the fame of Mr. Brogan.

Adam clearly has a chip on his shoulder that Chris, and many others, have achieved the top of the food chain in the social media world (He called Chris the Barak Obama of the social media world.... to which I have to disagree. You see, Chris is a nice guy... but he has not ever been elected by to the highest office in the land).

I have met Chris twice, once at SXSW and once at a marketing conference. He is a cool. He is fun. He is genuine. He is working hard to help others. He is not fake. We went and had drinks (with a group of people) on both occasions. I have seen how he engages people and cares deeply about them. His position as an "expert" in the eyes of many has nothing to do with the "number of followers" or any hocus-pocus.... it is because he is real. He does not pepper people with questions about what makes them a success.... he lifts them up and encourages them to be all that they can be.

Adam is unhappy that there are several people who have achieved "fame" and "expert status", and has invited Chris to defend his elevated position in life on the stage at an industry conference in Las Vegas.

Chris has declined that invitation. By not accepting the battle royal or giving into meeting him for a beer, Adam is attacking the authenticity of Chris's status. I do not understand how someone as busy as Chris Brogan can be expected to answer every invitation for beers. The logic of the argument makes no sense to me. By refusing to talk to Adam, apparently you are phony. Adam keeps claiming his ability to ask questions as his key to his own authenticity... but it perplexes me who said he is the inquisition master of the social media world. I missed that memo. Of course I am just jealous because Adam is not questioning me about my existence.

I think Adam's whole issue is fake and designed to get eyeballs on his blog. It worked, as most of his posts have zero or one comment... but the "I Hate Chris Brogan" post has 39 comments so far (including Chris Brogan's and my own). He has proven that if you challenge a celebrity and get them to Twitter about you, then your own 15 minutes of fame will follow.

But it is not real. So what if he has 39 comments if everyone thinks he is a "tool" (which is what one comment says"). He thinks he has legitimacy... but it is the market place that determines legitimacy and authenticity. Currently the marketplace has named Chris Brogan the king.

I have no idea how someone achieves long lasting fame and expert status other than by being consistently true to yourself.... In my opinion Chris has it... Adam does not. Time will tell. Two years from now we could be lining up to listen to Adam at every conference on the planet.... today that is happening with Brogan.

I have a great idea. The new way to prove if a person is really authentic, legitimate and a true "thought leader" should be based on if Chris Brogan has ever invited you to join him at Happy Hour after a conference. If it has happened twice to the same person, they are clearly a rock star!!!

Have A Great Day.


InnoTech Austin - Next Week!!!

InnoTech Austin & Beta Summit -- Thursday, October 29, 2009 at the Austin Convention Center

Next Thursday is InnoTech. If you live in Austin you should check out this event.

Registration and information available at

Below are discount codes for readers of this blog to utilize.

InnoTech ($28 price) DOOR64G
eMarketing ($71 price) DOOR64E
CIO ($52 price) DOOR64C
Monospace ($199 price) DOOR64M

This year includes an impressive line-up of national and local speakers and exhibitors (all posted on the website...check it out!)

Don’t miss this presentation at InnoTech:

Beta Summit - Demo's of Austin's Hottest Technologies
11:00 AM – 11:50 AM
Austin Convention Center, Room 12B, 4th Floor
Hosted by Bryan Menell, Editor, AustinStartup

Also, the 12th Annual IT Executive of the Awards (Additional Fee Required) follow InnoTech at 4:30 PM. I am the MC of this event!!! Should be fun.

Here are a few of the InnoTech conference tracks & special events (ALL great reasons to take part in InnoTech):

- Google Wave, iPhone Development, Code in the Cloud
- Social Computing Topics including Facebook, Twitter & more- Cloud computing and Cloud Security Alliance
- Windows 7 Launch with Microsoft Partner Pavilion and Demos
- Virtualization, Desktop Virtualization, VoIP, Mobility Solutions and much more- InnoTech Happy 45-Minutes (complimentary beverages and exhibits)
- And more!

Have A Great Day.


Monday, October 19, 2009

As Seen On TV

While in Charlotte, North Carolina last week I was a guest on the Fox News Rising morning television show.

I was in the Queen City to speak at two seminars, one of which was hosted by the Charlotte Business Journal.

Charlotte is a great town!!!

Here is the clip from the interview.

Have A Great Day.


Sunday, October 18, 2009

Don't Miss This Breakfast Seminar!!!

For those who live in Austin, Texas --- This event is on Tuesday morning at 7 AM.

Still time to register!!! Sign up before 2 PM on Monday!!!

Marny Lifshen, co-author of "Some Assembly Required: A Networking Guide for Women", and I will be speaking at a breakfast seminar in Austin on Tuesday, October 21, 2009.

The seminar, "Recharge Your Reputation: Getting Attention for You and Your Company" will be hosted by the Austin Business Journal.

Register NOW
to reserve your seat. This event will sell out.

Have A Great Day.


Looking Back

I dove tailed a business trip to California last week with a couple of great experiences.

I got to spend the afternoon with my 95-year-0ld dad who lives in Northern California. Two of my three brothers live near dad, so we took him to dinner to celebrate his birthday (which is later this week). I always have a great time with my family and sometimes regret living 2000 miles away. But since I am not in California often, it is always a special gathering, even if it just means playing cards with the old man and going out to dinner.

The next day I flew to San Diego to attend the 25-year reunion of my college fraternity. I joined the SDSU chapter of Beta Theta Pi just a year after the national organization had granted a charter to the small colony at San Diego State. Thus I was still an early member. My role number in the chapter is #66.

During my five years at SDSU I was very fortunate to be active with the fraternity and watched it grow from a house with about 35 current members, to becoming one of the largest houses on campus during the late 1980s.

It was very much like being part of a "start up" in the beginning. We had limited resources compared to the fraternities who had been at the university for decades. We had no alumni over the age of 25, which mean our funding opportunities were also scarce. But we had heart, soul, dedication, and a keg in the back yard. I have spent much of my career working in or around "start up" companies, and I have always drawn on my experiences from helping grow the Beta House.... as we worked hard, had goals, made mistakes, corrected on the fly, reached success, and had fun along the way.

The reunion was a great experience. I had not seen some of these guys for nearly 20 years, yet it was amazing to understand the different paths people had chosen. There were lawyers, civil servants, law enforcement officers, mortgage brokers, real estate agents, financial investors, entrepreneurs, etc... But nobody cared about career success... the three big questions were "where do you live?", "are you married?", and "do you have kids?". (What we all cared about was the kids!) Everyone looked great, and the common bonds of the times we shared seemed to matter to everyone in attendance.

There was a golf tournament, a banquet, and then a large tailgate party before the SDSU Homecoming Game (we lost to BYU... but it was a good game). Several of those who still live in Southern California contributed to planning the event (BIG THANK YOU to Fred, Barry, and Dave D) and people flew in from different parts of the country. Not everyone was there, and that made me sad, as I would have enjoyed having reconnected with more people.

Some people don't like reunions. They hesitate, for many reasons, on "looking backwards", but I always find power in attending this sort of event (high school reunions, family reunions, etc...). By looking back, at the good and the bad that has gone past, we discover pieces of our own puzzle. Every piece matters. This time in my life - and the people I shared it with - certainly matter to me.

I am the person I am today because of all those who impacted my life up to this point. Those who were part of my college years continue to shape me as I strive for the future. While we were young, carefree, sometimes dumb or silly..... we were friends..,, we are friends...we are brothers.

Have A Great Day.


Wednesday, October 14, 2009

How Big Is Your Tent?

I have written before about "Big Tent Thinkers" (I think I got that phrase from Tim Sanders). These are people who view the world as full of opportunities for everyone, and never believe the success of another person is taking away from their victories in life. They want everyone to find a place under the Big Top, and take pride in helping others achieve their goals and dreams.

In the past year of turbulent economic conditions we have seen many people face tough times. It is in these rough situations that people show if they are "Big Tent Thinkers" or "small tent thinkers". When confronting difficulties is when the deep seeded character traits rise to the surface. When things are going great it is easy for people to wear a mask that smiles all the time.

I admire "Big Tent Thinkers". I love how they look for ways to serve others and create win / win situations. When dining with a group in a restaurant, they never worry when the check comes about who had more wine with dinner, or who ordered dessert.... they just agree to split the bill evenly. They are happy to let others take the spotlight. They do not need to win every game they play.

I am fortunate, as I am surrounded by "Big Tent Thinkers". I have learned great lessons from their actions, not just their words. The people whom are part of your life have a direct impact on the tent you live under.

Best-selling author, Jack Canfield, says that "you are the sum of the five people you spend the most time with". Hmmm, think about that for a minute. If you are hanging around with "small tent thinkers",... then you cannot be one.

What do you think about this? Are you a "Big Tent Thinker"? Do you even think it is possible to be one in this economy? How can you establish relationships with "Big Tent Thinkers"? What should you do if you realize your friends live in small tents?

Have A Great Day.


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

December Is A Great Time For Corporate Training

Many companies, law firms, and other organizations look at the week between Christmas and New Years as a "dead week" (actually, many view the entire month of December as "dead"). They assume that their employees, customers, referral sources, vendors and others are all taking vacation.

Many employees are cast with "holding down the fort" at the office. This often means having little to do while hanging around with everyone else talking about their holiday egg nog and stories about their in-laws.

The reality is that while many people are taking days off in December, a lot of people are out of vacation days by the end of the year.... or banking the days off for use in the new calendar.

A great idea for employers is to schedule optional training days for the employees who are present in the office during December. Instead of being worried about those who are gone on vacation, and wasting the days for those who are in the office, a smart boss will reward those who are at work with a motivational, inspirational and educational workshop. Make the most out of slow times, rather than having people sit around.

I shared this idea with a friend who shouted "That's NOT FAIR" for those who have out of town family obligations. Huh, is he six-years-old? Who said the world was fair? Is it fair to the employee who has to come into work and has little or nothing to do because society has made this mistake of thinking everyone is gone during this time of the year.

Get your people fired up for the new year and you will jump start your company to take action before your competition has even gotten over the January 1st hangovers.

While the training is not mandatory (those who are traveling can go off and have a great time), those who are in town will benefit from a sense of purpose during this usually period of time.

Most employees are hungry for motivation. The economic conditions of the last year have lead many companies to cancel all training classes. This might be just the thing to create a fresh start in 2010. Do not let the dull-drums of the past 18 months become the norm in your business. Look to do things in a new and different manner. December is a great time for corporate training... you never know until you try!

Have A Great Day.


Is your company interested working closer with referral sources and other partners in the new year? Do you fear that your competitors have stronger network of professional contacts in your business community? Hire Thom Singer to speak at your next staff training session. For over five years his highly energetic presentation, "Some Assembly Required: How to Make, Grow and Keep Your Business Relationships", has been encouraging people to harness the power of their business relationships. More information at

Breakfast Seminar - October 20th (Austin, TX)

Marny Lifshen, co-author of "Some Assembly Required: A Networking Guide for Women", and I will be speaking at a breakfast seminar in Austin on Tuesday, October 21, 2009.

The seminar, "Recharge Your Reputation: Getting Attention for You and Your Company" will be hosted by the Austin Business Journal.

Register NOW
to reserve your seat. This event will sell out.

Have A Great Day.


Monday, October 12, 2009

Networking - What NOT To Do!

I am going to start a new series on my blog called "Networking: What NOT To Do". This will consist of the stories I hear from other people (or witness myself) about networking faux pas.

People are often sharing with me the horrible actions they witness in the business world, and many of these stories are worth sharing... as a reminder and a warning to all of us on what not to do!

Email me with your stories!!

This week's letter talks about a wanna-be politician who does not understand how to network or fund raise. My guess is the woman in question will lose her race.

Dear Thom,

While in a local bakery yesterday, I ran into the mother of a child my daughter had gone to preschool with and whom I had not seen since preschool, three years ago. We were friendly at that time but not especially close and we never got together socially.

She ran up to me, gave me a big hug and said, "I'm running for District Attorney!" I replied, "That's wonderful. You have my vote!" Without missing a beat she said, "I had no idea it took so much money to run a campaign! You're good at networking. Will you give me some contacts?"

Fortunately my daughter tugged at my sleeve and pulled me away so we could get to her sewing class on time. I waved at her and said, "It was nice to see you!"


Having not seen Leslie in years, it was fine that the woman in question shared her news with her about her run for District Attorney. However, since they did not have close relationship, asking her for contacts (of whom she could hit up for money) upon a chance meeting in a bakery was a mistake. If she really viewed Leslie as a respected person who could help with her campaign, she should have handled it differently.

My advice: A chance meeting with a near stranger while buying baked goods is not the time or the place to ask for a favor. If she really remembered Leslie as someone she admired, investing some time to reach out to her in a more professional manner, maybe going through a mutual friend, and exploring the mutually beneficial reasons that they could work together for the common good might have produced better results. Instead she pounced on Leslie (like a hungry wolf would pounce on a pork chop) with inquiries of one way help that only would benefit her campaign efforts.

Networking is not just about you and your needs. It is not about expecting people you barely know to help you with all of your needs. It IS about establishing mutually beneficial ongoing relationships. It IS also about knowing the difference between those you have met, and those who are part of your network.

Have A Great Day.


Sunday, October 11, 2009

Lots of Business Travel Recently

I had a great trip to Charlotte, North Carolina this week. I appeared on the Fox Rising morning show on WCCB-TV (I will post a link to the video as soon as I have access to it) and spoke at a seminar on "Smart Visibility" for the Charlotte Business Journal on Friday.

Saturday I gave a presentation and lead a workshop for the eastern regional conference for a network of law firms. I was very impressed with all the attorneys at this event, as they all had that "marketing gene" that is rare in lawyers. But of course that is why they were present at the event. I enjoyed meeting these entrepreneurial lawyers, and hope that I can keep in touch with many of them going forward.

During the workshop, one lawyer (her name was Melissa Jones) had a great observation for law firm business development practices. We were talking about how lawyers succeed when they see themselves as "entrepreneurial" and not just a "lawyers". She said (paraphrased), "Any time lawyers can show clients that we are the same as them (entrepreneurs who face similar business issues and challenges in growing our own businesses), the more we can bond with them as equals. Attorneys need to talk to business professionals using language that proves we are also business professionals". Wow, that was a GREAT point!!! A point that is not just for attorneys... but for anyone who works directly with clients.

I love traveling for speaking events and I am doing a lot more of it, but getting through the airports and other travel related issues is always difficult. I am underwhelmed with the airlines who charge for bags, as I often have an extra suitcase with me to haul copies of my books to the event. I try to fly Southwest Airlines whenever I can (they do not service Charlotte), as they have a great overall attitude, good fares, and two bags checked does not cost more money.

I often wonder if the other airlines are finding the extra money they are making to have a benefit that out-paces how much their customers HATE the additional fees. I spoke with passengers and ticket agents who all agree that it is harming customer satisfaction in a major way. Shocking that Southwest is the most profitable and the other airlines do not copy them. It is like someone in the big chairs at executive offices are saying "WE NEED TO BE DIFFERENT THAN SOUTHWEST....I KNOW, LETS GET PASSENGERS TO HATE US!"

I have several other conferences and meetings where I am speaking coming up in the next six weeks. My goal of 52 presentations in 2009 should work out about right, as I have completed 42 speeches so far this year.

Have A Great Day.


Thursday, October 08, 2009

Do Not Kill The Golden Goose

A small percentage of people have the "givers gene" - that little something in their soul where they always take the necessary action to help other people whenever they can... even when there is no direct pay off for them (maybe especially when they have nothing to gain!).

I think only about 5% of the people you meet will move mountains to help others achieve (not scientific... just an estimation).

This is not saying that the other 95% at "takers". In fact, real selfish SOB's are rare. I am hoping less than 5% of people we will encounter are really so self-focused that they despise seeing others discover their dreams. These people think that someone else winning is somehow a loss in their world.

The majority, the 90%, are all good people who want to see others do well. They are inspired by those who accomplish great things. They admire them. Inside their hearts they are happy when they know of another person having a victory. But they do not go out of their way to contribute.

This silent majority have good intentions, they just never take action.

Most of these people desire to be "givers". Often they think they regularly are givers, but only follow through on occasion. Some even talk about it a lot, but just get too busy with their own stuff. With their jobs, their family obligations, the economy, and other pressures, they just cannot find the time to make other people a priority.

But there rare souls who pick up the phone and make introductions, referrals, give useful advice, and are the catalyst for others success.

We all long to be one of those people who impact other people. It can be done in large or small ways, but it feels good to know that you contributed to a victory, even when you are behind the scenes. (This is not to say that you will be able to help everyone, as no single person has the power to be the central contact for good to every person they encounter!).

It is important that you identify the people in your circle of influence who are always taking action to facilitate success for others (especially, but not only if, they help you directly) and then treat them well. Recognize that they are unique, and try to find ways to help them in return.

Do not kill the golden goose. Too often I find people who do not properly appreciate the people who impact their life, and they allow those relationships to drift away. Even those with the "givers gene" need people to give to them. While you may not have the ability to impact their career or deliver them a business connection that will change their world, a simple "thank you" goes a long way.

The mistake that people make is thinking that "networking" and serving others has to be an equal give and take. There is no way that we can always be equal in the world of human interaction. If you try to keep score of who gave what to whom, somebody will always come up short. Instead you need to acknowledge those who help you (the gratitude is in itself a form of payment!!) and then "Pay It Forward" (when one person helps you through their ability, you go on to help someone else in a way that you can, and so on, and so on, etc...).

What do you think? Is my 5% assumption too high? Too low? Who have you witnessed giving to others (not just to you)? Do you cherish the relationship with givers? Have you ever "killed the golden goose" by accident?

Have A Great Day


Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Meet Jack McDonald - Candiate for Congress

The Austin High Tech Community is hosting a happy hour "Meet and Greet" for entrepreneur turned political candidate, Jack McDonald, on Thursday, October 15th at Molotov.

Jack McDonald is former CEO and current the Chairman of the Board of Perficient (PRFT). He has spent more than a decade as a leader in the Austin Business Community, and is now going forward with a run for the US House of Representatives.

I have known Jack for several years, and he is the "real deal". A good man who cares deeply about his family, his community and his country. Jack is exactly the type of person we all long to have represent us in Congress.

I am proud to support my friend in his bid for Congress. I don't see his candidacy as about politics (he is a Democrat), but about sending an experienced business leader (who understands first-hand what it takes to grow a company, employ hundreds of people, and make the tough decisions) to Washington DC to tackle the tough issues.

I encourage those of you who read this blog and live in Austin to stop by the happy hour on October 15, 2009. Meet Jack, learn about his candidacy, and mingle with many of Austin's technology professionals.

Click here to RSVP. Cost is $10.

Have A Great Day.


Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Leadership Austin Kicks of 2009 / 2010 Emerge Breakfast Series

Leadership Austin kicked off the new season for the monthly "Emerge Breakfast Series" with a standing room only crowd at Chez Zee Restaurant this morning.

The topic of Infrastructure: Decoding The Various Community Plans, featured Stevie Greathouse (principal planner for Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization - CAMPO) and Garner Stoll (assistant director, City of Austin Planning & Development Review Department).

Transportation planning is has a long term focus. The city is currently operating under a plan that was adopted in 1979, so as new plans are being considered, their impact will be felt for decades.

Both CAMPO and the City of Austin are currently seeking public input as they will developing new plans over then next 18 months. The values of the plans will come from the public interests more than they will from a "task force", and their decisions are important to all citizens of the Central Texas region.

If you are not familiar with the Leadership Austin Emerge Breakfast Series, you need to check them out. They bring important discussion topics to the floor, and allow for audience participation in the debate. For more information visit

Have A Great Day.


Bryan Menell Joins Dachis Group as the Collaboratory's Director

Dachis Group this week announced the launch of the Collaboratory. Austin technology services veteran Bryan Menell has joined Dachis Group as the Collaboratory's Director.

What is the Collaboratory? An online Dachis Group presence that is part collaboration space and part laboratory on Social Business Design. This web presence is where Dachis Group invites its constituent ecosystem to engage as a starting point to capture value through Social Business Design.

Dachis Group believes that the future of business lies in the intentional creation of dynamic and socially calibrated business systems, process, and culture that empower all constituents to exchange value. Initiatives like the Collaboratory illustrate how the company operates by the same principles on which it advises clients.

Through Dachis Group's Collaboratory the company is exploring thought leadership, tools and technology, best practices, and case studies to create an ongoing, living dialog repository for Social Business Design. These assets are applied through Dachis Group's practice areas: customer participation, workforce collaboration, and business partner optimization.

"We have designed the Collaboratory to demonstrate the principles of Social Business Design. It's important for us to share our thinking not only by talking, but by showing, doing, and being a dynamic socially calibrated organization," said Jeffrey Dachis, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Dachis Group. "We are giving the world a window into our work, via the live work stream on the Collaboratory's home page. While a humble beginning, we will be rolling out additional new features and functionality over time to further demonstrate Social Business Design and enable us all to engage, participate, define, and create."

"The Collaboratory is one part of our efforts as a social business. The direction it takes from here will surely be a journey, controlled in part by the people that choose to participate," said Bryan Menell, Collaboratory Director.

"Bryan Menell will be responsible for the Collaboratory's content curation as well as its technology roadmap and development," said Jeffrey Dachis. "His intellect, entrepreneurial startup mindset, technical capabilities, relationships and experience across a variety of disciplines will give the Collaboratory the focus and direction needed to create a living resource for Social Business Design," added Dachis.

The Collaboratory is located at

About Dachis Group

Founded in 2008, by Jeffrey Dachis, with offices in the North American, European and Asia/Pacific regions, Dachis Group (Dachis Corporation, Inc.) was created to unlock the value of social technologies for large corporate enterprises through its Social Business Design global advisory practice and technology implementation program.

The company's strategy is backed by a commitment from Austin Ventures to build and grow organically and through acquisitions.

Among the global enterprise client verticals Dachis Group serves are: software, semiconductors, information services, global restaurant services, consumer products, media and publishing, health care, and financial services with global companies including: AXA, BBC, BP, Philips Healthcare, Coca-Cola, Intuit, and Yum! Brands.

Now founder and CEO of Dachis Group, Jeffrey Dachis' leadership and vision helped establish the digital services industry more than 15 years ago when he co-founded Razorfish. As the Razorfish CEO, President, and Chairman, he grew the company into one of the world's largest digital solutions providers and led the company to win numerous performance, design, and professional service awards. Razorfish was part of Microsoft's $6 billion purchase of aQuantive, and was most recently spun out from Microsoft and sold to Publicis for $530 million.

About Bryan Menell

Bryan Menell has 20 years of experience in technology services, having founded three companies including Perficient in 1997.

Bryan is active in Austin's technology scene, and is a co-founder and Managing Director of Capital Factory, a seed stage mentoring program for technology companies. Bryan is the publisher of AustinStartup, which highlights emerging technology companies in Austin, and he serves as an advisor to a select group of companies such as Socialware. He also serves on the board of the Austin chapter of Texchange.

Bryan earned his bachelor's degree in Management Information Systems.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Are You The "Unknown Person In The Red Shirt"? - Five Similarities Between Actors and Business Professionals

Everyone who is a fan of the original Star Trek series knows that time is limited for the unknown actor wearing a RED SHIRT. Any extra who went on an "away mission" to the surface of a planet (with Kirk, Spock, and the rest of the main characters) did not return.

It was always the unknown guy in the red shirt who was killed in every episode. On some planets there were hostile circumstances and someone was going to die. It was never the stars of the show.

What does this have to do with you?" The key for your career is not the red shirt, but being the unknown character. If you are not known in your business community you are vulnerable.

Your reputation, inside and outside your company matters. If you think it is silly when you hear people talk about the importance of establishing a personal and professional brand, you could be the person wearing the red shirt (and not even know it).

Lead characters are rarely killed off on television programs. When it does happen, those popular actors and actresses are quickly re-cast in other shows. Don't believe me? Look at the number of new shows that feature actors you have seen before. There are thousands of people in Hollywood who are seeking roles on television, with many of them waiting tables. Meanwhile, those who the audiences know, like and trust are always have new work.

Using Hollywood as the example... here are five similarities that you need to think about between your career and that of an actor:

1. You have to have talent. There is a lot of competition for roles in the movies and inside companies. Those who are casting the jobs only want to hire people who can prove they can deliver the goods. Make sure you do good work and that people are aware of this up front.

2. Go on auditions. Working actors are always talking to producers, directors and casing agents about other opportunities. They know that their jobs are limited in scope, as even ongoing television shows get canceled. They explore what types of roles are available for them, and they understand that even the stars have to audition. You should keep your eyes open for what else is out there that you would enjoy so that when the time comes to make a move, you are aware of your options.

3. Fame makes a difference. While those who are successful in their business community are not chased by the paparazzi, the people who become "a little bit famous" in their industry are always going to have opportunities. Take advantage of PR opportunities: write articles, speak on industry panels, become a source for reporters and you will find that you will become known as the "go to person". That will make you more valuable in your career.

4. A good agent is a must. Actors are sent to audition for roles because their agents are working for them to uncover opportunities. While a business professional will not have the same type of agent, a supportive network of professional contacts serves the same purpose. When you have other people who keep their eyes open for great opportunities, you will always find new roles.

5. Continue to learn. The best actors take acting classes, work with coaches, and accept roles that are out of their comfort zone to help stretch their skills. In business if you are not learning new things, you are yesterday's news. You cannot rely on your past experience to ensure your future. Too many things are changing. Have you attended a seminar or worked with a coach in the last year? The answer should be "yes".

If you do not regularly take action in these areas of similarity between Hollywood and your career, then you need to look at your shirt color... it is red.

Have A Great Day.


***NOVEMBER / DECEMBER SPECIAL on Business Development Planning. Thom Singer is available to advise individuals and small groups on the power of a personal and professional reputation and brand. If you are interested in expanding your visibility and strengthening your network in 2010 --- it will not happen by accident. Create a plan and a list of actions that can help you harness the power of business relationships in the new year. Contact Thom Singer at thom (at) thomsinger (dot) com or (512)970-0398.

Friday, October 02, 2009

Austin City Limits

Today is an unofficial holiday in Austin, Texas. People are taking the day off, and hundreds of companies are closing down or letting their people go after lunch.

What is happening?

They do not call Austin "The Live Music Capital of the World" by accident. Today kicks off one of the year's two largest music events in the country (the other one is South by Southwest (SXSW), which takes place in Austin in the spring).

The Austin City Limits Music Festival (ACL) is a three day event that brings thousands of people to Zilker Park to listen to the top bands in the world. It is a party. A BIG party!!!

Here are some tips
on how to network at an event (like a music festival) where you will run into tons of people you know, but in a non-business setting. I was quoted on the Austin360 Music Source Blog about how not to ruin the fun if you see your business contacts at ACL.

If you are going to ACL, have a great time..... and wear sunscreen!

Have A Great Day.


Thursday, October 01, 2009

Carry Business Cards - It Is About The Other Person

There is a lot of buzz about "business card alternatives". In tech savvy circles many people think it makes them look trendy and cool to loudly announce they do not carry business cards... brazenly proclaiming business cards to be "old school".

I met one young dude who captured the hearts and minds of a group at a networking event with his long song about his being cardless for environmental reasons. He drove an SUV. Poser.

I have encountered a number of people who tell me to to send them a LinkedIn request. Ummmm, why tell me to do all the work. Meeting someone and giving them a homework assignment so they can be connected to you is a bit pompous. Don't ask me to do the work. Lazy.

Worse are those who who profess not to carry cards for any number of reasons, but instruct others to give them a card, promising that they will follow up with an email or social media connection. Silence, no follow up. Liar.

The thing with using technology to replace business cards is that the technology must be pervasive and the user must not drop the ball. Since the odds of these lining up (everyone using the same technology and humans following through later) is zero.... get over yourself and carry business cards.

The reason for having business cards with you is not about YOU, it is about the other person.

Don't be so self-focused that you expect others to operate in the same manner you do when it comes to making connections. I am not damning these technologies, as I use them (I just "bumped" my iPhone with someone a few minutes ago). Technology is great, but to make up reasons to discard business cards thinking you are trendy might make you appear to be a lying lazy poser!

Do not try to prove your coolness to the business community by being a "business card contrarian". I know that our society gets all wacky in love with contrarians... but the truth is we think many of them are jerks at the same time. Prove your coolness by doing great work and helping other people succeed.

Carry cards because it makes it easy for the people you meet to remember you later. You never know who might be the person who could one day bring you an opportunity. Painful to think you are leaving money on the table because people are missing establishing contact because you do not have a business card.

Have A Great Day.