Monday, December 17, 2007
Friday, December 14, 2007
Here are five behaviors that, in the eyes of vendors, make for a good customer:
Be Demanding. Make sure the vendor knows you have other options, that you’re going to seek out more than one bid. Ask for references, a good supplier will be glad to provide them. Don’t be afraid to negotiate and pin the vendor down, but don’t overdo it.
Be Respectful. If you want your vendor to do a good job, respect him (or her). Treat him as a professional. Don’t be haughty. Be on time. Ask his opinion. The golden rule applies to customer behavior as well as vendor behavior.
Be Reliable. Do what you say you’ll do. Don’t keep the salesperson waiting if she’s come to your office for an appointment. Pay on time. Don’t try to nickel and dime the seller. Don’t ask for free value added services that weren’t part of the original deal.
Be Engaging. Differentiate yourself as a customer by engaging the seller in some friendly conversation. You may get an extra shot of whipped cream in your café mocha if you’re nice to the barista. Treat the seller as an equal, as a problem solver rather than a mere order taker. The seller may be able to confirm or broaden your perspective. In some cases, you may even have expertise that can help the seller do a better job for you.
Tuesday, December 04, 2007
- Networking is supposed to be mutually beneficial.
- Giving back is important.
- Bothering contacts excessively also can weaken networking efforts.
Read the article. Think about it. I encourage everyone to build networks that create value and quality for everyone involved.
Friday, November 09, 2007
“We are in great haste to construct a magnetic telegraph from Maine to Texas; but Maine and Texas, it may be, have nothing important to communicate. … As if the main object were to talk fast, not sensibly.” - Henry David Thoreau
This comment from Thoreau’s Walden was made more than a century and a half ago, talking about telegraph communication … and yet 160 years later, with the rise of a million means of instant communication, it’s just as appropriate.
Just because we have instant communication doesn’t mean we should do it. Sometimes it makes more sense to talk less, to deliberate, and to communicate more important ideas.
Sure, being a part of a network of constant flowing information can be a thrill, and can be useful. But we are a part of dozens of such networks, and with information and communication flying all around our heads, like a thousand buzzing insects, it can be hard to catch your breath and realize that most of it means nothing.
Let’s remember the words of Macbeth, hundreds of years ago:
“it is a taleTold by an idiot, full of sound and fury,Signifying nothing”
Step back, and think about the importance of what we are doing. Is it so urgent to send off and respond to dozens of emails? Is it worth our time to participate in instant messaging, when we don’t have much to say? Will the world end if we don’t stay up-to-date on what’s going on in the blogging world, or on Digg, or on Twitter? And do we really want to know what people are doing, all the time?
What does it all mean? And is it worth saying, and listening to?
These are the kinds of questions we might ask ourselves, on a daily basis. I’m not saying that I’m perfect: I participate in these networks as much as anyone else. But I am saying that the focus these days seems to be too much on finding new ways to communicate … and not enough on finding important things to say … and making sure that what we’re saying is worth saying.
To that end, I’d like to make five suggestions:
1. Step back. It’s vital that we take a step back from what we’re doing, and what we’re communicating and participating in, every now and then. And more now than then. Without pulling our heads out of the information stream, we can’t get any kind of perspective. How far do we step back and for how long? That’s an individual question I can’t answer, but I think we should step back far enough that we can see the entirety of the network (whether that’s email, blogs, IM or whatever) … and can actually see how the networks relate to each other … and can actually see the relation between these networks of networks and the rest of the world. Only then can we see what’s important.
2. Cut back. It truly isn’t critical that we communicate so much, and participate so much. Find ways to cut back so that you’re not in such a rush anymore. Do email and the other communications in your life less, send less, and read less.
3. Communicate only the essential. What is it that we really want to communicate? What’s truly important? What should we be saying and doing, as opposed to what we have been saying and doing? When you step back and figure these things out, you can learn to communicate just the essential stuff.
4. Learn to let go of the noise. There is a lot of noise in our world. More than we’re willing to admit to ourselves. Let it drop away. Sometimes it’s difficult, because we’re so used to doing it, and when we hear noise enough it no longer sounds like noise. But noise it is, if we learn to focus on the essential. Life will go on without it!
5. Find new ways to communicate the essential, not the noise. As we find new ways to communicate (and new ways seem to pop up every day), let’s not focus on ways to communicate faster, or more, or more frenetically … let’s not find ways to connect with more people, or increase our network … instead, let’s find ways to communicate only what’s essential, to cut down on the noise, to figure out what we should be communicating and not what we can communicate, to reach only those we need to reach and no more. Let that be the focus of our new technology, and let it serve us, and not the other way around.
Wednesday, November 07, 2007
- We shall follow and advance the four principles of Grameen Bank --- Discipline, Unity, Courage and Hard work – in all walks of our lives.
- Prosperity we shall bring to our families.
- We shall not live in dilapidated houses. We shall repair our houses and work towards constructing new houses at the earliest.
- We shall grow vegetables all the year round. We shall eat plenty of them and sell the surplus.
- During the plantation seasons, we shall plant as many seedlings as possible.
- We shall plan to keep our families small. We shall minimize our expenditures. We shall look after our health.
- We shall educate our children and ensure that they can earn to pay for their education.
- We shall always keep our children and the environment clean.
- We shall build and use pit-latrines.
- We shall drink water from tubewells. If it is not available, we shall boil water or use alum.
- We shall not take any dowry at our sons' weddings, neither shall we give any dowry at our daughters wedding. We shall keep our centre free from the curse of dowry. We shall not practice child marriage.
- We shall not inflict any injustice on anyone, neither shall we allow anyone to do so.
- We shall collectively undertake bigger investments for higher incomes.
- We shall always be ready to help each other. If anyone is in difficulty, we shall all help him or her.
- If we come to know of any breach of discipline in any centre, we shall all go there and help restore discipline.
- We shall take part in all social activities collectively.
Nothing new, but well stated. Guidelines to help improve the lives and communities of everyone invovled. Guidelines that should be adoptes more broadly.
Really something to watch, learn from, and find ways to apply.
Sunday, November 04, 2007
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
He is really on target with this blog post, I encourage everyone to read it. Beyond that, I encourage everyone to support what he seeks to do with his LitLiberation Project. If that project doesn't meet you objectives find one--invest your time and money to make a difference.
Kudo's to Tim for his efforts (though my praise and a couple of $'s will get you a cup of coffee at Starbuck's). Please read his blog and find a project to get behind.
Here is the Link;
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
Thursday, August 30, 2007
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
Monday, August 13, 2007
Tuesday, August 07, 2007
A critical meeting is finally scheduled, it took weeks to do, but everyone is scheduled to attend The Meeting.......
Everyone spends the first 5 minutes jockeying for power outlets, network connections, etc.
You finally start, it's now 17 minutes into the hour....
Fortunately, you're organized, you have an agenda, you're focused, you persevere. Things get going, in the background you hear the sound of fingers on keyboards.....
...No it's not people taking notes, it's people responding to emails.....
With one ear, people are listening to the meeting, but part of their mind is distracted by the latest critical email......
"Can you repeat what you said, I missed it." Fantastic, you caught some one's attention, they have stopped doing emails for a moment. You begin to answer, then the inevitable sound......
....The deadly Nokia ringtone....
or, Hello Moto.......
Politely, someone gets up, desperately putting their mobile phone to their ear and walking out of the room......
You're 30 minutes into the meeting......
....You try to regain control of the meeting... present the agenda again, start over....
A couple of people are sitting quietly at the end of the table, eyes demurely downcast, hands seem to be neatly folded in their laps below the table.......
......no, they have the "blackberry pose"....blackberry held below the table, both thumbs fully engaged in dealing with email.
Time to get assertive---or maybe a desperate plea, "Would everyone please turn off emails, cell phones and blackberry's so we can get on with the meeting?"
You're now 40 minutes into the meeting....present the agenda again, things start going well, people are paying attention, you are finally accomplishing something....
....10 minutes later you start seeing it, fidgeting and restlessness, suddenly one person's eyes are again demurely downcast......
55 minutes into the meeting, activity starts.....no you haven't caught their attention, they are starting to close their computers, pack up their things, after all there is the next meeting to go to.......
....well maybe we can continue by scheduling another meeting........
We all know the story. Today, we protest our busy lives and the number of worthless meetings we participate in, yet we have met the enemy and it is our own obsessive behavior. Too often, it seems we measure our worth by how busy we are......or at least how busy we can appear to be. It used to be back to back meetings and a full daily calendar was a test of one's business worth. Now, multitasking has added another layer on top of it. We can sit in a meeting, do email, blackberry's, and listen on mobile phone calls all at the same time.
In the end, we accomplish nothing. One blog I read says that multitasking adversely impacts productivity by 30%---I think that is understated. Another described the computer phenomenon of thrashing--I think that's a good description.
Everyone today is genuinely busy, each of us has a lot going on. But then I look more deeply at things, aren't many of us just thrashing. We're doing a lot, but not accomplishing a thing. This blog is about making a difference---it's about producing results.
Multitasking hurts us, we actually accomplish much less. As an advisor to many organizations, I preach the importance of focus. The principle is as important for our own personal behavior. We are more effective and more efficient when we focus.
Thursday, August 02, 2007
What's your view about what it takes to start, build, and grow a business?
Some things I am reacting to:
At the recent Dow Jones D conference, Bill Gates and Steve Jobs were asked if making money was what drove them in building their businesses (In both cases, a LOT of Money!). Steve had a very interesting response. He stated that starting a business required a certain amount of insanity. He suggested that sane people would be driven to more reasonable means of making money. The commitment, sacrifices, and desire to overcome any obstacle in building a business had to be fueled by PASSION. He suggested that without this, success, consequenlty money, would be difficult to achieve.
Bill Gate's response was also good. He said, the thought of the money wan't in the forefront of his mind. Seeing new thingss, doing what he wanted to do, working with people who are fun, and being at the forefront is what drove him.
(By the way, their interview in the June 2007 Dow Jones D conference was very interesting, worth watching. Download from Itunes or go to http://d5.allthingsd.com/20070531/video-steve-jobs-and-bill-gates-highlight-reel/)
Separately, yesterday on Guy Kawasaki's blog, Glenn Kelman offered an interesting view called "The Flip Side of Entrepreneurship." He starts by stating he has been "thinking about how hard, not how easy, it is to build a new company." He goes on to talk about the realities and insanities required to build a start up. His views echo and amplify those that Steve and Bill cited.
Finally, I think about a conversation I recently had with a colleague that was escaping the "Fortune 10," to start a consulting company. He sought my experience in building a successful consulting company. I asked him what he wanted to accomplish with his business, and he replied, "make lots and lots of money." I thought about it and responded that he probably would fail to achieve his goal and never be happy. I reflected on our success and priorities. I said there were 4 key objectives that we had in our business:
- Make a difference in the business and personal lives of our clients. We want to have an impact on improving their businesses. We want to impact their careers and lives to help them better achieve their personal goals.
- Learn something new. We hope our clients learn from us, but also we learn from our clients. This keep us fresh, it gives us new ideas. It enables us to bring greater value to each of our clients in growing their businesses.
- Have fun! We work hard and we play hard. We want to work with people we enjoy and who enjoy us.
- and the distant 4th is making money.
In reflecting on our success, I said that if we did the first three things really well, the fourth always followed. As I have watched other organizations, driven purely by money and personal reward, I find they many some success, but it is usually short lived. Making decisions based purely on what you get financially, leads to all sorts of errors that threaten the longevity of the business.
I'm don't mean to sound naive or not motivated by money, but I tend to view it more as a scorecard than an end.
Perhaps this is a chicken and egg question--I'm not sure.
What are your views. what does it take to build and sustain a growing business?
Wednesday, August 01, 2007
What are your views about building your "social" or "business" networks, Quantity versus Quality?
My current network, at LinkedIn, about 30 percent of the people, I actually don't know. Many of them have been unresponsive to my queries---I write saying "we're linked to each other, why don't we try to get to know each other?" Why are we networked, what's the point other than bragging rights?
My real world or physical world network is very important to me, it's one I treasure and protect. Why should I, or anyone for that matter, do otherwise for our virtual or digital networks?
I'm starting to pare the list of contacts to represent a smaller but more functional network and a better replication of what I use my physical world networks for.
I have recently started using Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/), partly at Jeff Pulver's recommendation. It is an interesting application, I like the real world and dynamic feel to it. At the same time, having learned from my experience at LinkedIn, I am being much more careful and slow in expanding my friends and network on Facebook.
I'm also excited about the application and community building aspect of Facebook. I'm looking to learn a lot from it.
Join me if you want. If you are part of LinkedIn, my email is firstname.lastname@example.org. Send me an invitation. At Facebook, search for me and send me an invitation. I do want to "meet you" and learn about you and how we can help each other, so when you send an invitation, know that is expected.
I actually started this a two years ago, as a complement to my company's website. For a few months, I actually posted articles and thoughts. However, it was really a struggle, it didn't feel right. To some degree it felt too preachy and arrogant. I also wondered, how did the blog fit with the business oriented website at http://www.excellenc.com/. So I dropped it.
Lately, I have been struggling with how to restart. Probably thinking about it too much and not actually trying and learning by my mistakes. So, borrowing from Nike's old tag line, I decided it was time to "Just Do It."
I apologize for my mistakes, I welcome your comments, advice and help. It is important to start building a community that we can learn from each other and contribute. Thanks for joining in, the adventure begins........