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Friday, February 16, 2007

I'm in Mexico

Guy Kawasaki posted links to a new World Map of Happiness created by Adrian White, who studied a variety of information sources. The study listed Denmark, Switzerland and Austria as the 3 happiest places on the world.

Though not an actual country, the happiest place on earth was Frontier Airlines leaving Denver last Sunday morning and arriving in Can Cun, Mexico later that day. Conversely, he saddest place on the earth will be Frontier Airlines leaving Can Cun, Mexico this Saturday and arriving back in Denver later that day.

What happens in between should be an adventure. I went to the library to pick up some music for listening pleasure on the beach. I've got a couple of books packed, including a couple of e-books I got from Suzan St. Maur to read and review.

While I'm gone, check out a couple of these links for fun.
Proof hockey is the toughest sport
Bob MacDonald's Cheat to Win podcast on lying bosses
The Onion - America's most reliable news source

By the way, I'm issuing a press release to Fox News informing the world that I might be the father of Anna Nicole Smith's baby. I figure everyone else is, why shouldn't I_

So far the only thing about the states I miss is a regular keyboard. For the life of me I can't figure out how to type a question mark on this stupid thing! _-+= AAAAGH!!!


Thursday, February 15, 2007

SBA Disaster Loans

The Small Business Administration, like any part of the government has its problems. In my experience with the SBA and financing, they can be good and easy to work with if you have someone to help you navigate the system. Unfortunately you can also end up with a bunch of trained monkeys like this video shows. We had several people we worked with that were Katrina victims and they told similar stories about how screwed up things were.

When the recent apartment fire happened here, the SBA came in last week and set up shop for disaster relief. I'll be interested to see if it's any easier to navigate ashes than it is water.

When they were here they got a parking ticket that cost them $30. Maybe that's why they try to collect on loans that haven't been made - to pay off the parking Nazis in Colorado.


A Valentine's Day Recap

Last night was Valentine's Day and my wife and I along with another couple went out for dinner at the Ritz Grill in down town Colorado Springs. The highlight of the meal was the Chocolate Hazelnut Pyramid, which you can see in the picture of their dessert tray above. Almost as divine as my lovely wife's smile. (It never hurts to suck up)

We've now spent 15 V-Days together and if you ever hear her complain about our V-Day track record, remind her that she should have known from the start things weren't going to get much better. I compare it to signing up with a new vendor who on the very first delivery has everything wrong. In business, at that point you either say "get lost" or "I'll suffer while you grow into your ability".
Well, my wife has undoubtedly suffered through some bad V-Days. My fondest moment is still eating pizza and playing ski ball on our first V-Day together at Chuck E Cheese with her and two of her friends along with two of my friends who were all dressed up. I figure if you set the bar low, you don't have to work hard to make it over the bar next year. Am I right?

Any way, last night was light years beyond Chuck E Cheese. First, I actually remembered to get her a card. Who knew what a brilliant thing that would have been 15 years ago? Then a nice dinner at a restaurant that doesn't have a play area for little kids. Great conversation the whole night through and I look like Don Juan instead of Don Quixote.

I'm not sure what I'm going to do next year to top this year. Fortunately I have a whole year to work it out, or convince her that this year was a total fluke and I'll most likely be back to my old ways next year. Do you think chili dogs and paint ball would be better than Mac-n-Cheese and playing the X-Box I got her as a gift?


Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Implementing a Siesta Time

The next time you feel sleepy at your desk, tell your boss you're doing him a favor by laying down and taking a nap. Now your boss might balk a little at this, but the truth is taking an afternoon nap has been proven to reduce your chance of heart disease by a third.

The Toronto Daily News reported that according to research conducted by the University of Athens Medical School, people who napped at least three times a week for an average of thirty minutes saw a 37% reduction in coronary mortality. So between yawns and stretches as you curl up with a warm blanket under your desk tell your boss that this is your way of cutting that ever growing cost of health insurance the company has to pay, not to mention training a new person to do your job.

However, if your boss replies, "Get off the floor you slacker, that's what I'm counting on!", you may want to find another boss to work for. Now if you'll excuse me, I have to write a proposal for our personnel policies to include a 30 minute nap time. (Yaaa-aawwn) I want to get it done before my vacation to CanCun begins next week, where I'll be developing my new siesta habit.

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Friday, February 09, 2007

The Luke Johnson Phone Experiment

As viral marketing continues to grow on the internet, I came across something that truly displays and even measures it's power.

Luke Johnson decided to post his cell phone number on the internet and see just how many phone calls he'd get. Below is the initial video.

I would have guessed maybe a thousand and a few from England or Australia, but certainly not the response that he actually got. Now watch the news story follow up on him to see just how many phone calls he got.

Major kudos to his wife, Annie. Mine would have killed me after about a week of the experiment using words like ridiculous and asinine while she smashed the phone with a hammer.

None the less, his product (himself) will no doubt be selling for top dollar in the near future.


Thursday, February 08, 2007

The Step Dynamic

I recently had the opportunity to sit down and share lunch with Laddie Blaskowski, a local business consultant who co-authored his first book with his wife Judy titled, The Step Dynamic: A powerful strategy for successfully growing your business.

"I think you'll enjoy the book" and "It's a quick read" were all I needed to hear from Laddie to know I had to read the copy he'd just handed me.

As I've been involved with various businesses and organizations they all want to grow, but few of them could make it work well. There were many bumps and bruises from previous attempts at growth. In my mind, I've always had the concept of how to successfully grow a business, but could never put it into words to explain to someone else.

"Growth does not occur on a straight line", Laddie explained to me. "Instead it occurs as a staircase. You move forward on the stair until it becomes necessary to step up to the next level. At this point, you have to increase your capacity in one big step."

"A big and scary step" I thought to myself, having been at that place before.

Being the visual learner that I am, I instantly related to the graphs he used to illustrate in his book so simply what I have struggled to put into words. The concept makes complete sense and the principle, once understood, can easliy be implemented immediately into any organization, regardless of size, function or position.

As this graph shows, as your revenues increase you will reach a point to step up to the next level. To get to the next level, you have to increase your capacity to produce, sell, manufacture, evangelize or whatever your organization does.

The difficulty with "stepping up" is that it has to be done in one step. You can't add half of a computer, or two-thirds of a software package to increase capacity. Therefore it takes some discipline, patience and risk to make the step.

This graph shows the stages of the step and illustrates the mistakes that often haunt the entrepreneur as growth is attempted.

According to the book, A and B represent the normal stages in business. The Y and Z represent problematic situations.

Y - Shooting past the step - extending your sales beyond your capability
Z - Stepping up too early - making the step before sales can support the growth
A - Phase 1 (Sales focus) - increase sales to pay for new capabilities
B - Phase 2 (Profit focus) - increase efficiency, improve technology and improve the workflow process.

So, if you want to grow your organization to the next step, this book is a must read. I've already used it several times as I've talked to clients about growing their business and they seem to get it right away. A kind of "Ah-ha" moment for them occurs. I keep using the word "organization" instead of business because the principle will work for any organization considdering growth. I'm on my to another lunch right now where I'm going to give the book to my pastor and tell him he needs to read it.


Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Blending Personal Life With the Work Place

Today's workplace is a consistent fluid state of change. That is why people struggle so hard in managing it effectively. What was once appropriate is now forbidden. What was once a mistake is now considdered good managment.

The difficulty of managing, when the rules are continually changing, is that it is like trying to understand your wife's emotions. You might get lucky and guess right one day, but try the same thing again the next and you'll find yourself with a woman crying, angry or worse. I'm not being chauvenistic. Let's just face the fact that men are cluless when it comes to women, which illustrates my point that it is difficult to manage an office when rules continually change.

One such example of this is bringing your personal life to the work place. In the not to distant past it was considdered unprofessional to bring personal problems to work. "Check them at the door" was a common phrase used in employee training. Now, the workplace has in many regards replaced personal life, and so it has become a natural extension to discuss personal problems, struggles and successes with others at work. In larger corporations this isn't such a big deal because problems can be more easily solved by transferring to another department, but in a small business environment there's no place to hide from making a blunder in this area.

I'm not saying this is right or wrong to any extent, I'm simply observing the trend. What I do want to leave you with is several things to considder before dragging out your personal laundry, running a clothes line from your desk across the room to the water cooler and back into the copy room and proceeding to hang your intimate garments or your soiled briefs for all to see.

Here are four things to measure before you bring your personal life into the workplace.

1. Measure the risk before speaking. Understand that most people are going to be willing to listen to problems. Why? For some they want to help because they care. For others they want the dirt on you. Be cautious about who you talk to. Make sure you trust them before you spill it all.

2. Measure the consequences before speaking. Different than risk, where someone might use your personal information as an opportunity to sabbatoge your plans for promotion, consequenses deal more with how you will be perceived after you share the information by the person you shared it with. Again it goes back to trust, but because we mix personal life and work so closely, we often count coworkers as friends when they are simply friendly coworkers. If you're willing to share personal problems with coworkers, be ready for the possibility that they may perceive you differently afterward, and the dynamic at work may change.

3. Measure the potential benefits. The argument for combining personal with work is that it creates a stronger bond between everyone. As we let our guard down and expose ourselves to others it signifies trust, which often times can causes a response from others to do the same. It is a balancing act to keep it all from being personal, but sharing some personal fact has the potential of allowing someone to feel closer to you and strengthening a bond between you. I read somewhere that President George W. Bush would share some sort of personal secret with new people he meets and then watch to see what they do with the secret. If they let it out, he knew he couldn't trust them. If they kept it quiet, he knew he had a bond of trust.

4. Measure the other person's desire to hear what you have to say. While some people want to hear all the latest, juciest gossip about your life, not everyone does. Before unloading every last tear jerking detail about your life, considder that you are giong to be burdening the other person with that knowledge. It's never impolite to ask the question, "Could I share something personal with you?" But be prepared for an honest answer of "No" from time to time and don't count it as rude.


Friday, February 02, 2007

Jack Bauer: Office efficiency guru

It's Friday and I'm in a great... make that a half silly mood. We have plans to go out to eat and hear some live music tonight. I have free lunch today and a fluff meeting before. I lost almost 3 pounds this week and I'm just feeling fine. So I thought I'd post some silly humor to add to my mood.

I don't watch 24, but I'm aware of the basic concept. No I dont' live under a rock and no I'm not a socially backward loser, though some may debate the later.

I did however find this to be rather funny. Partly because I've worked with people like this and partly because I've often felt like this, but have managed to repress my feelings.

Jack Bauer on office management:

I'm thinking of bringing him in as a consultant to help improve office efficiency.