Friday, December 30, 2011

Merry Christmas

In the spirit of the season, I'd like to share some observations about well wishes at this time of the year.

I have an eclectic collection of friends; they observe a variety of different religions. Years ago when Happy Holidays crept into use, I asked each person if they are offended or feel uncomfortable in any way when I wish them a Merry Christmas – all said NO...unless I would be offended if they wished me Happy Chanukah or Joyous Kwanzaa or other celebration of the season. In the reverse situation, I am honored when a friend says they will include me in their prayers for the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur).
In my tribe, Merry Christmas and Happy Chanukah wishes abound throughout December, with big smiles and good cheer!

This year I conducted an experiment – in December until the 25th I wished people a Merry Christmas. It was totally indiscriminate – friends, strangers, clerks stocking shelves, people helping to find an item or give directions, letter carriers, the guys on the Trash Truck, and every kid I saw. I offered Christmas wishes to over 250 individuals during the experiment.

Here's my report of this non-scientific project – exception...broke out into a smile and most returned the greeting, with some Happy Chanukah's and Joyous Kwanzaa's sprinkled in. There was no negative reaction – not the slightest indication of any discomfort by anyone. Each person beamed at being acknowledged and offered a positive wish for them.

Ben Stein says it best in a note he wrote about Christmas – being wished a Merry Christmas is inclusionary and a positive expression of celebration, which in no means diminishes or degrades the beliefs and observations of the listener...not by intent and not by practice.

Hope you had a Merry Christmas - here's a wish to you for good health, peace, joy, and success for the coming New Year.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

2011 – Observations From the Front Lines

2011 – Observations From the Front Lines

This year's collection of Ah-Ha moments in no particular order.

  1. Doing Leads to Understanding – I designed the software architecture for a project and saw clearly how the pieces related to each other. I made changes to enhance its functionality from this structural knowledge.
  2. Can't Predict What May Move Readers – In a blog post about the New Normal, focusing on poor economic performance and shifting business structures, the readers' comments blossomed into a lively discussion of what is 'normal' and why it's important.
  3. Exponential Focus – When learning something new, initially discovered elements float around independent of each other until critical mass is achieved and BLAM! - these pieces come together for deep understanding and practical application.
  4. Sales Is a Conversation With a YES at the End – Gone is the role of being an information resource (buyer can get that from the Internet); now we listen to the needs and share customer stories of situations where our solution filled their need and benefited the customer.
  5. Develop an On-line Personality for You and Your Business – Google has added to the kit of social media tools with Google Plus and Google Plus Business Pages, which can showcase your activities, offered products and services, posts about topics of interest and value to create your electronic persona. And all of this is findable by anyone with access to the internet.
  6. PowerPoint is NOT Required – Shifting to a value-based handout to guide the presentation creates a more intimate session and leaves useful information (and your contact specifics) in the hands of the attendees.
  7. Business and Education: A Necessary Partnership – Business needs a stream of potential employees with a strong foundation ( including reading, writing, math, critical thinking, problem-solving) to train as workers to produce the company's products and services. The education system is responsible for building this changing foundation.
  8. The World Has Changed While I've Been Working – It's not job change – it's career redevelopment! Individuals in transition are shocked to find that the job they have just left no longer exists in the job market. Suggestion - look for opportunities to acquire new skills while in your current position.
  9. The No Customer Recession – Customers stop buying – businesses cut back (or close) – uncertainty abounds. A mantra of the politicians – create jobs! and they throw money at the problem. When all the smoke and noise has settled, it still comes back to “are the customers buying?”
  10. Technological Confluence – Using computers, telecom, and internet has matured and the promised changes have arrived – it is altering how things get done. 'Doc in the box' changed how many people get routine everyday out-patient care; Amazon, Zappos, eBay has shifted buying and trading patterns; tax, accounting, and legal software substitutes standard elements in lieu of a trained professional for simple needs.
  11. It's the Same – But Different – In the past, selling a better mousetrap was successful by better meeting a need...this still applies today. Now, as before, things that fill a need sell. What is different is the evolution of the solo and small business developing and marketing the solutions. Perfect example: Phone apps: narrow scope; solves a specific issue; sold cheap (99 cents - $5, or free with ads), delivered on-line immediately, and promoted by word-of-mouth or social media.

What was the best thing you learned in 2011?

Best wishes for success in the New Year.

Come join us for The Direct Economy - How Can You Benefit From The Strongest Economy In The History Of The World? At The Association for Information Technology Professionals (AITP) January 12, 6 pm, Chevy Chase RSVP Here

Monday, December 26, 2011

Doing the Impossible – The War Horse Lesson

With the holiday celebration over, the eggnog finished, and dinner a very pleasant memory, we went to see War Horse (liked it).

Early in the movie, the boy and the horse took on the monumental challenge of plowing a field of thick deep-rooted grass and stone for the first time. They succeeded.

What we watched was the accomplishment of a virtually impossible task by sheer will-power, refusing to quit, and learning to work together.

This scene serves as a powerful reminder to leaders that inspiration, focus, and working together can overcome huge obstacles to achieve results.

Kennedy and landing on the moon is another example...can you recall others?

January 10th Sales Lab’s next Rainmaker is Designing Your Work To Take Advantage Of The Internet at the Capital Technology Management Hub on Tuesday, January 10th. The featured CTMH speaker will be Hector Del Castillo on the topic of Why a Product Strategy is Essential to Drive Your Company’s Revenue Growth. More Info

Friday, December 23, 2011

Rainmaker #9 Convey Your Business Personality – Easy, Simple, and Free

 Definition: A Rainmaker creates a significant amount of new business for a company. The Sales Lab Rainmaker Series is one rainmaker technique for technologists during the first 300 seconds (five minutes) of the monthly Capital Technology Management Hub Meeting. This is the handout for our December meeting.
At the beginning of this Rainmaker presentation in December, 3 of the 25 technology professionals indicated they had put up a Google Plus Business Page. At the end of the session, two more planned to put up a Plus Business Page next day – 20% adoption in five weeks of availability.
The handout:

Google released Plus Pages just for business in November. Who cares – I got a website. CARE!
 Be found – show your stuff – give some value – share your knowledge
 ñ Searchable from anywhere on the web
ñ Pictures and videos to showcase your offerings
ñ Live links to pages, website, blog, catalog...the world
ñ Blogs and articles from you, resources from other thought leaders, and your community highlighted (list automatically updated)
ñ Small group video conference ability
ñ Simple, easy set-up and updating – can do it yourself
ñ Cost – free to the individual.
 Face to face meetings - you can do maybe 20 per week. Google does over 121 MILLION searches per day – want to show up more? Google Plus Business Page bumps to top of the pile through Google + search

The previous Rainmakers:
Rainmaker # 7 - Mark Your Territory
Rainmaker # 5 – Start With An Offer
Rainmaker #4 – Time, Talent, and Treasure
Rainmaker #3 – Process to Purchase
Rainmaker #2 – The Nametag
Rainmaker #1 - Gifts

The next Sales Lab’s Rainmaker series for the Capital Technology Management Hub, is Tuesday, January 10th with 300 seconds of Designing Your Work To Take Advantage Of The Internet. The featured CTMH speaker will be Hector Del Castillo on the topic of Why a Product Strategy is Essential to Drive Your Company’s Revenue Growth. Come join us!

Monday, December 19, 2011

The Whine Connoisseur

You know them – always the glass half empty outlook...complaining about the brightness when the sun breaks through the dismal gray February days.

They derail conversations and meetings. When making a contribution, it comes with negative overtones and is diluted by the complaint of the day. They are disruptive to creative sessions and are toxic to an organization over time.

I met a person in transition recently, who said they resigned to take advantage a sweet deal in bonuses and pension supplements. The conversation went on about how unfair it was to be cut loose after 18 years, into a horrible economy, at this time of year, without some rehab training, and with experience that is stale and limited. Next was a question if I could recommend some employment prospects (couldn't think of any).

Make no mistake, these folks are not seeking help to resolve a problem – they revel in their gloom. It is a mistake to take time to try to understand their issue and problem-solve for solutions or alternatives. Waste of time. Waste of effort. Not appreciated or heeded.

When speaking with a whine connoisseur, it is useful to be like a 4-year old child and continue to ask 'Why?' repeatedly – the individual will drift off to rain on another parade fairly soon.

As a leader, you will have these folks in your organization – make use of their skills and contributions, while mitigating their negative impact. Avoid putting them in key results process roles; on project teams or committees, balance them with strong can-do positive personality.

Our staff and managers are a diverse collect of talent and personality – sometimes it take some creativity to make the best use of them. It is worth the effort.

Do you have suggestions for mining the positives from the whine connoisseurs?

January 12th! Join us for The Direct Economy at AITP!
Consider: The future is already here, it's just not evenly distributed.
Did you ever notice, no matter how hard you do the wrong thing, it never quite works?
The Direct Economy will give you a better understanding of what is changing and how you can win at the new game. RSVP Here!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Google Plus for Business – Why Be An Early Adopter?

In November Google released Plus Pages for Business – it is similar to your personal Google Plus Page, but with features to create your electronic business personality.

Whoa! – you say you work for a large organization or an agency and can't put up a page for your day job...the Plus Business Pages works well for a community association, a swim team, or a social group where disbursed information, schedules, and news are valuable to the group.

Establish your brand on-line in a highly flexible (and easy to use) environment and be visible to everyone on the web through the search box. They can find you by your organization name or by a full text search of your content.

I just did a presentation about Google Plus Business Pages at the Capital Technology Management Hub meeting and asked the 25 technology professionals how many had put up a Plus Business Page – three had.

Why Not? – I asked. They are trying to figure out how Plus Business fits with the other outreach vehicles.

Here's how I use the stack:

  • The website is a fairly static resource with info about the organization, services/products, and other useful material;
  • Twitter and Facebook can be used to alert the readers about what's happening – like events and blog posts;
  • LinkedIn is your professional history and it also has a broad range of discussion forums to exchange ideas, but LI is restricted to just other LI members;
  • Blogs provide an outlet for sharing thoughts and discovered information, but distribution can be a challenge;
  • Plus Business Pages tie all of the above together – it can spotlight current activities and posts, display a detailed description of your organization, show pictures of your products or activities, provide direct access to your videos, and even hook up video conference of up to 10 connections.

Why be an early adopter? Naming the Plus Business Page is on a first come basis – getting in early offers the greatest selection. Based on the experience with Twitter, early adopters enjoy a sustained higher level of activity – worth leading the charge if history repeats itself.

As a Plus Page, Google search provides a useful filter to seek out the plus pages and display at the top of the pile of results – a significant advantage if you want to be found.

Google Plus Business Pages – it's easy, simple, and free – and integrates with all the other Google features. Why not lead your community by putting up a Plus Business Page? Of the 25 technology professionals mentioned at the beginning, two more put up their Plus Business Page the next day (20% now).

Please share your thoughts.

January 12th! Join us for The Direct Economy at AITP!
Consider: The future is already here, it's just not evenly distributed.
Did you ever notice, no matter how hard you do the wrong thing, it never quite works?
The Direct Economy will give you a better understanding of what is changing and how you can win at the new game. RSVP Here!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Last Chapter

The last chapter of the book on our life has not been written yet.

We may feel that it won't be turning out as we had hoped or expected.

While we were working – the world changed!

  • The Internet has evolved and many roles which were staffed before are on-line now;
  • Processes which had required labor now use technology and fewer people with lesser skill and experience levels;
  • Vast amounts of data, research, information, and content are available by simple searching through the browser;
  • Entire professions have been radically changed by an 'in-the-box' approach – e.g., basic accounting, legal documents, family physician.

What do we do now, having seen the significant changes that have evolved?

One action not to take is 'wait it out' in hopes of a return to 1985 – won't happen! Holding on to this point of view is like retiring in place and not telling anyone.

Things have changed – now it's your turn:

  • Learn new skills and techniques with application in the new economy – become a doer to get greater depth in what you are learning. Building a website teaches more about planning, design, layout, functionality, and connectivity than it does about writing code;
  • Explore the new normal – going beyond the local newspaper or evening news. Read blogs and articles by a variety of writers with differing viewpoints – go to events and listen to the comments by the audience for a richer experience...develop your own assessment of 'what is' and 'what's possible;'
  • Be open to a new approach – whether as a provider or a recipient – does the change provide benefit...value...efficiency...access? An example – you don't have two-hours for dinner at your favorite restaurant, so you order solo catering on-line and drop by to pick up your dinner (and all the trimmings) – hot and ready to eat at a restauranteur or a diner, you win using a new approach;
  • Find out what is needed and figure out how to provide it – do this as an employee and you may be on the way to redefining your job in a World 2.0 model; as a provider, offering what is needed is an evergreen business goal and a possible new line of service for you.
Even more so with the rapid pace of change today – we do not live in a stagnant environment. Change is dynamic. It is not practical to be in a dynamic setting, trying to remain static (unchanged) – imagine how much energy you would expend in a rowboat at the mouth of Niagara Falls, trying to maintain your position. We must continue to evolve in a dynamic setting – or go over the Falls.

The good news is – our last chapter has yet to be written and, by being engaged, we can greatly influence the story.

Got some stories to further the discussion? Please share.