Archive for the ‘think’ Category

I’m Not Sure Everybody Gets It

June 10, 2011

I’m not sure everybody gets it.

For the 5,000 years leading up to about 10 years ago, bigger was better.  Bigger paid higher salaries, bigger won more often, and bigger carried more clout.  Bigger was low-risk and high-reward.

But not now.  Now, 2 guys with passion can launch a business on the side and literally change the way an entire industry operates.  Now, customers care about agile, and smart, and responsive – and don’t really give a damn about size.  Now, you can be anything you want to be, and create anything  you want to create, without permission or a lot of cash.

I’m not sure everybody gets it, but that’s OK with us, because we do.



Face Time

March 15, 2011

I’m not a huge fan of big business – that is to say the prototypical bloated, top-heavy, publicly traded company.  I would trade agility for brand any day.  By and large, the bigger the company, the harder it is to get everybody to row in the same direction, and thus the more difficult it becomes to anticipate your customers’ needs and add value.

All that being said, Fortune magazine published a very interesting article this week on Sam Palmisano, the CEO of IBM, and leader of the biggest (and perhaps least efficient) IT company on the planet.

The nugget I discovered, buried among pages about history and strategy and product mixes, was this single sentence:  “When [Palmisano] became head of global services back in the ’90s, he blocked off 70% of his calendar for customer meetings, and he still speaks to at least one customer every single day.”

So here’s a guy, who at the time, was running a multi-billion dollar division of IBM, and he spent 70% of his time with customers.  I’m ashamed to admit that I’m not even close to that number, and that’s my day job.  It’s what I’m on this earth to do.  Embarrassing.

The next time you are tempted to check your LinkedIn account, or fill out a forecast, or straighten your desk, remember this:  Your customers are buying something from someone.  And if you’re not spending time with them, you’re risking a loss to a big, bloated, inefficient behemoth that’s got it’s priorities in the proper order.


January 7, 2011

Earlier this week, 2 people (one in Idaho, the other in Washington) won an equal share of the $330 Mega Millions lottery jackpot.  I think it’s safe to say that these two individuals have a lot of soul searching to do over the next couple of months.   They now have enough money to do anything they want to, but (more than likely) not enough money to do nothing forever (see MC Hammer and the long list of lottery millionaires now bankrupt).

What would you do?  I mean after the dust settles, and you’ve taken your friends to Vegas and bought your mom a new house, what next?  Some of you are thinking you’d just quit working, travel the world and play golf every day.  But let me tell you, this would get old.  After a few weeks, you’d be itching to get back in to the real world.  And when you that happens, what would you do?

Which begs a second, more important question:  Why aren’t you already doing that today?

Multiple Choice

December 7, 2010

Here’s a simple multiple choice question:

A.  Do you have a manager because you need solid coaching, a sounding board, and assistance with navigating the corporate machine?


B.  Do you have a manager because you lack the motivation, perseverance and discipline to get the job done on your own?


C.  (There is no C)

the little people

October 22, 2010

I read an interesting passage in Pamela Slim’s Escape From Cubicle Nation this week.  Something struck me in this passage, where she provides some tips on what she calls Networking Tips form a Nine-Year-Old Expert.

One of her suggestions is simply to “be nice to everyone”.  I know that sounds ridiculously simple, but it really is meaningful advice.  Dale Carnegie shared a similar philosophy more than 70! years ago in his watershed book (and possibly the best sales/relationship  primer of all time), How To Win Friends and Influence People.  In fact, “being nice” was the major tenant of the book.

Here’s the point:  Everybody you come into contact with deserves to be treated with respect, regardless of their station in life or occupation.  Remember, you were once a waiter, a babysitter, the guy who makes copies or runs for coffee.

So while you’re busy catering to the “important people”, focusing on those who stand in the way of your paycheck or promotion, the folks that you condescend are growing up, and moving up the corporate ladder, and they won’t soon forget the assholes they encounter along the way.

The View From Floor 10

September 7, 2010

Imagine that you live in Sherman, Texas, where the tallest building is 10 stories.  Also imagine that you take an amateur photography class, and your most recent assignment calls for a panoramic view of the city.  Naturally, Sherman’s tallest building would provide some fantastic pictures…especially from the 10th floor.

And so, every day you visit that building, but every day you get off on the 2nd floor, where the views are blocked by trees.  Common sense should prevail, telling you to go to the top, so that your shots are unobstructed, and your chances of success are greatest. But for some unknown reason, you never go above the 2nd floor, and you never get the shots you’re looking for.

That’s too bad…I bet the views are great up there.

What’s Your Tagline?

August 24, 2010

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what message I’m sending to my customers, and how that might contrast with what I want it to be.  Companies spend a lot of money trying to craft that message  – I’ll call it their tagline – in hopes that people see them as they want to be seen.  Mercedes’ newest slogan is “The Best or Nothing”, which I like.  It effectively says “We didn’t show up here to finish in second place, because second place might as well be last place”.  It’s cocky, for sure, but delivers a powerful message.

Have you thought about your personal tagline?  I’m not talking about some cheesy motto or a worthless mission statement.  I mean the distilled, refined version of who you are and how you want to be perceived by your customers, colleagues, and competitors. It’s a worthwhile exercise, because once you decide what your slogan is, you can use it to validate your actions and keep you on track.

Incidentally, mine is “Radically Over Deliver”, which I borrowed from a Seth Godin blog months ago.  I’m not there yet, but at least I’ve got a beacon that helps me keep the ship righted.  Any action I take (or decision I make) can be measured against that tagline and gives me clarity of purpose.  Don’t have a tagline yet?  Well, as the Avett Brothers sing, “Decide what to be, and go be it.”

Would They Ask for You by Name?

August 10, 2010

If you were a waiter or waitress, would they ask for you by name? Do you provide the type of memorable service that would cause people to seek you out, if they had a choice?

It isn’t that hard, really. Waiters who get asked for by name might exert an additional 5% of effort. Perhaps they remember your name, or that your child has a peanut allergy, or that you like to order the entree that’s no longer on the menu. Whatever it is, you get the feeling that they care about their job, in fact that it’s less like a job at all, and more like…art.

Seth Godin has written a wonderful book (Linchpin) about the creation of art, and how we all need to become “artists” in our own right, in this new economy.  I highly recommend it, but in the meantime, consider whether or not people would ask for you by name, if they had the opportunity to choose (which of course, they do).

The Opinion of a Perfect Stranger

July 27, 2010

I find it surprising (and funny), in this day and age, (when we never leave our houses unlocked, and wouldn’t dare speak to someone at the gas station), how willing we are to trust the opinions of a perfect stranger.  These days it’s commonplace to seek out the feedback of the anonymous masses before making purchasing decisions (I did so before booking a hotel this week).

Sure, we like selecting quality products or services, but even more than that, we hate making the wrong choice.  So we read reviews, pay attention to the number of stars, and are thankful that someone was motivated enough to speak up (under an alias, of course).

Websites like Amazon, Trip Advisor, and Angie’s List put so much emphasis on the input of strangers that their rating systems can literally make or break a product.  The power of a 5 star or 1 star review, articulately crafted by someone you’ll never meet, is mind boggling.

This leads me to two questions:  How would you rate if your customers began ranking you personally online?  How far away are we from this scenario becoming reality?  By the way, the domain name is available…help yourself.

The Lost Art of Dependability

July 23, 2010

Dependability has lost the cache it once enjoyed in American business, particularly in sales.  Ask most salespeople what traits are valued in our line of work, and they’ll tell you that being aggressive, a polished communicator, great at building relationships and proficient in  establishing rapport are the hallmarks of success.    Sure, these traits can be important, but if you consider your customer’s point of view, simply being dependable ranks pretty high on their list of what matters.

Sounds pretty boring, I know, but sometimes boring is exactly what’s required, particularly when you’re trying to convert a prospect to a customer.  Let me give you an example:

Imagine that you have your first meeting with a prospect, and things go well.  As a follow up, you agree to provide a list of references by the end of the week.  But your schedule is slammed, and instead of delivering it on Friday, you provide the list on Monday.  Missed it by a business day…no big deal, right?

Maybe not to you, but here’s what you’re customer is thinking:  “I’m not even a customer yet, and already, this guy is missing his commitments.  If I can’t count on him now, when he’s trying to win my business, how dependable will he be when I’m an existing customer?”  Certainly a fair question.

It’s not flashy, but let me tell you, being dependable is underrated.  Master the art of dependability and you’ve added a trait that hardly anybody you compete with gives a second thought to.

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