Archive for June, 2012

Friday Humor: Homework for Breakfast

Posted: June 29, 2012 by Alison in Just For Fun
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By Jeff Haden

The most successful people in business approach their work differently than most. See how they think–and why it works. I’m fortunate enough to know a number of remarkably successful people. Regardless of industry or profession, they all share the same perspectives and beliefs.

And they act on those beliefs:

1. Time doesn’t fill me. I fill time.

Deadlines and time frames establish parameters, but typically not in a good way. The average person who is given two weeks to complete a task will instinctively adjust his effort so it actually takes two weeks.

Forget deadlines, at least as a way to manage your activity. Tasks should only take as long as they need to take. Do everything as quickly and effectively as you can. Then use your “free” time to get other things done just as quickly and effectively.

Average people allow time to impose its will on them; remarkable people impose their will on their time.

2. The people around me are the people I chose.

Some of your employees drive you nuts. Some of your customers are obnoxious. Some of your friends are selfish, all-about-me jerks.

You chose them. If the people around you make you unhappy it’s not their fault. It’s your fault. They’re in your professional or personal life because you drew them to you–and you let them remain.

Think about the type of people you want to work with. Think about the types of customers you would enjoy serving. Think about the friends you want to have.

Then change what you do so you can start attracting those people. Hardworking people want to work with hardworking people. Kind people like to associate with kind people. Remarkable employees want to work for remarkable bosses.

Successful people are naturally drawn to successful people.

3. I have never paid my dues.

Dues aren’t paid, past tense. Dues get paid, each and every day. The only real measure of your value is the tangible contribution you make on a daily basis.

No matter what you’ve done or accomplished in the past, you’re never too good to roll up your sleeves, get dirty, and do the grunt work. No job is ever too menial, no task ever too unskilled or boring.

Remarkably successful people never feel entitled–except to the fruits of their labor.

4. Experience is irrelevant. Accomplishments are everything.

You have “10 years in the Web design business.” Whoopee. I don’t care how long you’ve been doing what you do. Years of service indicate nothing; you could be the worst 10-year programmer in the world.

I care about what you’ve done: how many sites you’ve created, how many back-end systems you’ve installed, how many customer-specific applications you’ve developed (and what kind)… all that matters is what you’ve done.

Successful people don’t need to describe themselves using hyperbolic adjectives like passionate, innovative, driven, etc. They can just describe, hopefully in a humble way, what they’ve done.

5. Failure is something I accomplish; it doesn’t just happen to me.

Ask people why they have been successful. Their answers will be filled with personal pronouns: I, me, and the sometimes too occasional we.

Ask them why they failed. Most will revert to childhood and instinctively distance themselves, like the kid who says, “My toy got broken…” instead of, “I broke my toy.”

They’ll say the economy tanked. They’ll say the market wasn’t ready. They’ll say their suppliers couldn’t keep up.

They’ll say it was someone or something else.

And by distancing themselves, they don’t learn from their failures.

Occasionally something completely outside your control will cause you to fail. Most of the time, though, it’s you. And that’s okay. Every successful person has failed. Numerous times. Most of them have failed a lot more often than you. That’s why they’re successful now.

Embrace every failure: Own it, learn from it, and take full responsibility for making sure that next time, things will turn out differently.

6. Volunteers always win.

Whenever you raise your hand you wind up being asked to do more.

That’s great. Doing more is an opportunity: to learn, to impress, to gain skills, to build new relationships–to do something more than you would otherwise been able to do.

Success is based on action. The more you volunteer, the more you get to act. Successful people step forward to create opportunities.

Remarkably successful people sprint forward.

7. As long as I’m paid well, it’s all good.

Specialization is good. Focus is good. Finding a niche is good.

Generating revenue is great.

Anything a customer will pay you a reasonable price to do–as long as it isn’t unethical, immoral, or illegal–is something you should do. Your customers want you to deliver outside your normal territory? If they’ll pay you for it, fine. They want you to add services you don’t normally include? If they’ll pay you for it, fine. The customer wants you to perform some relatively manual labor and you’re a high-tech shop? Shut up, roll ’em up, do the work, and get paid.

Only do what you want to do and you might build an okay business. Be willing to do what customers want you to do and you can build a successful business.

Be willing to do even more and you can build a remarkable business.

And speaking of customers…

8. People who pay me always have the right to tell me what to do.

Get over your cocky, pretentious, I-must-be-free-to-express-my-individuality self. Be that way on your own time.

The people who pay you, whether customers or employers, earn the right to dictate what you do and how you do it–sometimes down to the last detail.

Instead of complaining, work to align what you like to do with what the people who pay you want you to do.

Then you turn issues like control and micro-management into non-issues.

9. The extra mile is a vast, unpopulated wasteland.

Everyone says they go the extra mile. Almost no one actually does. Most people who go there think, “Wait… no one else is here… why am I doing this?” and leave, never to return.

That’s why the extra mile is such a lonely place.

That’s also why the extra mile is a place filled with opportunities.

Be early. Stay late. Make the extra phone call. Send the extra email. Do the extra research. Help a customer unload or unpack a shipment. Don’t wait to be asked; offer. Don’t just tell employees what to do–show them what to do and work beside them.

Every time you do something, think of one extra thing you can do–especially if other people aren’t doing that one thing. Sure, it’s hard.

But that’s what will make you different.

And over time, that’s what will make you incredibly successful.

Jeff Haden learned much of what he knows about business and technology as he worked his way up in the manufacturing industry. Everything else he picks up from ghostwriting books for some of the smartest leaders he knows in business. @jeff_haden

By Jon Gelberg

Attention spans have gotten shorter and the competition has only grown stronger. What are you doing to rise above the noise? Online marketing is not for the timid.

Consider: On the one hand, millions of companies online produce mountains of content. On the other, consumers have pitifully short attention spans, little to no patience, and an unwillingness to take the time to really delve deeply into any online content.

How do you even compete in that environment? In general terms, you can’t–unless you’re doing three things:

  1. You’re damned sure you’ve got something worth saying.
  2. You get your message across quickly, briefly, and clearly.
  3. You’re loud!
    Whether you’re using your company website, blog, social media activities, or advertising, you have to shout to your target audience, delivering the message that you have real, valuable expertise

How do you turn up the volume?

At a speaking engagement last month, I spoke about content marketing and how to position yourself as an expert online. I told the crowd that they had to embrace their inner Einstein and be prepared to tell the world just how smart, creative, and innovative they are.

A member of the audience raised his hand and expressed his reservations about presenting himself as an expert or even someone with a particular expertise. A member of the boomer generation, he was uncomfortable with the whole notion of self-promotion.

While sympathetic to what he was saying, I also knew that that attitude would not serve him well in the digital world. In the gentlest possible terms, I suggested to him that he either forget about marketing himself online or that it was time to start tooting his own horn.

Remember, your target audience is demanding and wants only to hear from the best. If you don’t have something to brag about, then you are doomed. If you have something to brag about and don’t do it, you’re doomed.

Your ammunition

Sit down right now and make a list of what differentiates you and your business.

  • What are your academic and professional credentials?
  • What are your best success stories/case studies?
  • What industry/professional awards have you won?
  • What great things are your customers saying about you (testimonials)?
  • What great things have the press said about you?
  • Who are your most impressive clients?
  • Just how successful ($$$) is your company?
  • Armed with this information broadcast it–loudly–to your target audience.

If you can’t convince yourself why customers or clients should be coming to you instead of your competitors, then how are you going to convince your target audience?

However you feel about it, there is little or no place for humility on the Web. In a world where your potential customers are looking for the very best and all of your competitors are just a click away, you’ve got to make yourself heard.

Jon Gelberg is the Chief Content Officer at Blue Fountain Media, a leading Web design, development, and marketing company based in New York. @JonBFM

By Marla Tabaka

If you’ve been avoiding launching the business of your dreams, try these simple attitude adjustments.

Who most inspires and influences your actions as an entrepreneur? Can you name your top five influencers; aside from family members and friends? Now, I ask, how many of them are women?

You may be unable to connect your inspiration to a female role model, simply because there aren’t enough female leaders out there.

Here’s one likely factor in that truth: A study of women entrepreneurs released last December by the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor shows that women worldwide see entrepreneurship as just as attractive as men do, yet they lack positive attitudes about their own capacity for starting businesses. A comparison between sexes reveals that women have, on average, lower perceptions about opportunities and capabilities, lower intentions, and higher fear of failure than men.

Best-selling author Maria Gamb sees these trends firsthand in her work as an executive mentor.

“Women don’t always recognize their own value,” says Gamb. “This lack of confidence escalates their struggle with success. In fact, of the women who don’t feel 100% fit for the role of an entrepreneur, only 14% of them are likely to move forward with their vision.”

If you’ve ever questioned your ability or diminished your achievements, Gamb suggests you set yourself on track by using these five strategies.

1. Know exactly where you’re going. You must have a destination. Just like vacation; otherwise it’s like getting in a car and going nowhere. Get clear on the big-picture vision for your company and break down the steps to get there. It’s not enough to say that you want a million-dollar company. Break it down into bite-sized pieces so that it’s digestible. Everything is achievable if you take it one step at a time.

2. Know your value. Test your service or product in the marketplace. Ask your audience what is important to them about your brand and why it’s important. This can lead to valuable input. For example, when the Target Corporation asked its consumers these questions, it received feedback that people expect more from Target, but know that they will pay less. This resulted in their current tagline: Expect more. Pay less.

3. Realize that you don’t have to know how to do everything. There is nothing wrong with asking for help; it doesn’t make you weak or powerless. In fact, according to the GEM study, the men and women entrepreneurs who had larger and more diverse networks reported greater levels of innovation, internationalization and growth expectations. Yet compared to men, women may be at a disadvantage because their networks are smaller and less diverse. Build a large network of advisors and ask them for help!

4. Be willing to share your idea. One of the reasons businesses fail is that too many people keep their great idea a secret. They feel that the idea isn’t good enough, or that someone else will beat them to it. They lack the confidence to bring their idea to the world. Do your research, let it evolve and understand that when things go “wrong” it is not a failure, but rather an opportunity to learn. The more you learn, the better your end-execution and product will be.

5. Take the lead. In a popular TED presentation, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg emphasized that women must learn to “sit at the table.” She says that when women come to the boardroom, many of them will choose a chair on the perimeter of the room, rather than at the table with the men. Sandberg stresses that women don’t negotiate for themselves often enough, but simply take what is offered to them. Gamb agrees, saying women may walk away from opportunities constantly because they underestimate their abilities in business. Take the lead; assert your opinions, honor your talents and abilities, and be willing to take emotional risk.

Marla Tabaka is a life and business coach who helps entrepreneurs and small-business owners grow their companies faster. She coaches for Make Mine a Million and has 25 years of experience in corporate and start-up ventures. @MarlaTabaka

Friday Humor: Need a Loan

Posted: June 22, 2012 by Alison in Just For Fun
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