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Thursday, May 31, 2007

The Most Annoying Sound in the Universe

I think most would agree that the most annoying sound in the universe is the sound of your alarm clock going off in the morning.

So, when I saw this over on Barry Moltz's blog and thought how annoying could an alarm clock be that launches a rotor in the air and keeps buzzing until you find the rotor and return it to the base?

Probably not that annoying if you had one of these under your bed as a snooze button.

Just a thought.


Tuesday, May 29, 2007

3 Day Weekend Hangover

A three day weekend is something I always look forward to. Savoring that one day off that I can spend being lazy around the house or being quite productive, depending on how the mood strikes me.

This past Memorial Day was quite the family weekend, which seems to be more of the tradition than the original traditions of the holiday. We had a Sunday dinner BBQ with family. We went to a local festival as a family, saw a movie as a family and got tired and cranky as a family. Well my boys got tired and cranky, but what can you expect after 3 days of non stop family fun?

So, today back at work was not an easy transition. Feeling tired and cranky myself, I pulled myself back to my office and after avoiding it for quite some time I finally got a little work done.

This article from the Career Journal gives some good tips on what to do after coming back from a long vacation, but how about some help on a 3 day weekend? There's a niche market for someone. A consultant on 3 day weekend recovery.


Wednesday, May 23, 2007

What a Friend We Have In Myspace

Myspace has gone beyond epidemic proportions. I don't have and don't plan on ever having a myspace, but I find it amusing to poke around and see who I can find and what is on their site.

The curiosity about myspace is that people who lead normal lives by day will put ridiculous things on their myspace by night. I've even gone to the extent of checking to see if coworkers and professional acquaintances have myspace account. Surprisingly they do. This article will explain why poor judgement on myspace can be costly.

My prediction is that myspace is on it's way out. Why? Because I've now noticed that old people such as parents of teenagers are now putting up myspace accounts. Unless remedied, it will eventually kill myspace because the young and the hip will no longer find the allure of the semi-anonymous refuge as attractive when they realize all of the parents are hanging out there. It's just not cool anymore.

One "old person" that I found on myspace who is pretty cool might just be the savior of the whole thing. Pun intended. Check out his space here. I might just sign up for an account so I can have him as my friend!


Monday, May 21, 2007

Finding a Zoo's Niche

What do you get when two giraffes collide? A giraffic jam.

Go ahead and groan all you want, but hanging out with these giraffes was pretty cool. They are beautiful animals and very soft behind the ears.

A zoo is a zoo right? They all have animals in cages and they all put up some kind of "save the animals" sign. But if you hang out long enough you'll quickly realize that most zoos have given themselves some kind of niche. There is something special about them, regardless of how big or small they might be.

Since my oldest son loves animals, I've spent many hours in zoos so I consider myself to be somewhat of an expert on this topic. For example, the Tulsa zoo had these lions that would frequently roar. Every zoo has lions, but these lions opened up and let go with a chest rattling roar. Sometimes we'd go for a few hours and just sit, watch and listen the lions and do nothing else.

The Omaha zoo has the aquarium with the peanut butter fish. No not really, but after walking through the entire aquarium you see a huge glass pillar filled with live jelly fish. Next to it is another glass pillar filled with some other kind of fish my son called peanut butter fish. He explained that if these are jelly fish, those must be the peanut butter fish.

Well in Colorado Springs, the niche is the giraffes. They stand in a sunken in area with bridges and decks that surround it, which puts you at head height with the giraffes. Then for a few bucks you get some crackers that you get to feed to them. The interaction is the niche here. You can touch and be touched by the giraffes up close and personal. Watch out though. If your personality is like mine, and you enjoy teasing people and animals they might try for some revenge and try removing your backpack when you're not looking.
The best however, was when our son in that gentle quiet voice, screams "EEEWWWW, those giraffes are french kissing!" At which time I felt like hiding in my back pack and hoping the giraffes would haul me off.


Friday, May 18, 2007

My Head Is Going to Explode!

I've been up in Denver the last 2 days and finally get to go home tomorrow. Normally I'd enjoy the fun of haning out on the 16th Street Mall, but when you spend 8 hours in a conference room with 20 people, going over PowerPoint slides... Ohhhh, my head hurts.

This is our semi-annual director's meeting, and in all honesty it's not that bad. The rest of the directors aren't griping and complaining as has happened in times past, and the information I'm getting will really help my clients when I get back and recover.

On top of it all, I finally convinced my superiors to count a contract I helped a client get that took me from 50% of my annual goal to 700%. When the told me I could count it, I joked and said I'm going on vacation for a couple of years. They gave me the courtesy laugh and said no.

It's 2am, my head is going to explode from all the information I've gotten and slides I read in the last two days. I'm going to bed now so I can get up in a few hours and enjoy the half day of meetings planned for tomorrow. Fortunately my friend and role model, Harold from SCORE will be presenting for part of the day. He is anything but boring Power Points and overload of information.


Monday, May 14, 2007

It's a Little Known Fact That...

With Mother's Day this last weekend I thought this would be an interesting tid-bit of information to share.

According to the National Retail Federation, florists do most of their
business around Mother's Day.

The day of maternal appreciation usually brings them 30 percent of their annual sales. Florists also report the week before the holiday is their busiest. Consumers were expected to spend $2.3 billion on flowers for mom this year.

Those are the kind of stupid facts that stick in my head for years. I know that at some point in the not so distant future, while standing at some networking event, I'll look incredibly intelligent by saying, "It's a little known fact that Mother's Day is responsible for bringing in 30% of the annual sales for a florist shop."

If you think that I sound at all like Cliff Clavin from Cheers, my deepest thanks to you.

Only recently did I quote Cliff's Buffalo Theory to some friends. Though I don't drink so I can't prove it, I'm quite sure it's true. Cliff Clavin, you are my hero!


Encouraging Words

I just got an email from a friend, Lynne Rosiak who is a life coach. I've always enjoyed our conversations and her words of encouragement were kind and thought provoking.

Like most common sense things, if you really stop and think about them you knew it anyway, but it was the act of stopping and thinking that you hadn't done until someone brought it to your attention.

Her email had the following quote from Ralph Marston in it. I hope it gets you to stop and think about this common sense realization in your life and causes you to look at your life and see where you can improve.

Everything in your life has an influence and an interaction with everything else. Make an improvement in one area of your life, and many other areas will benefit. Everything in your world is interconnected. Create value in one place, and that value casts its light in additional places as well. Your positive thoughts and actions often have immediate and direct results. They also have indirect results that can continue far beyond the obvious. A small kindness offered to just one person can end up benefiting countless others. The love you give will always, in ways that you may never even realize, come back to you. Success and fulfillment do not occur in isolation. You'll receive no great benefit from being positive about only a few things if you take a negative approach in other areas. Instead, focus all your awareness and intention in a positive, fulfilling direction. Then, all the many connections will organize in such a way as to move you quickly forward.


Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Why Matching Employee Values to Company Values is Crucial

Many small businesses I deal with have difficulty finding good employees. One insurance company I'm meeting with next week sent me the question, "How do I motivate sales people who are not self-motivated?"

I thought, well let me shake my magic crystal ball and rattle off the answer to you.

As crazy as that question sounds, it is the one question that at one time or another, every business owner lies awake at night staring at the ceiling, contemplating the answer to.

The essence of the question, however, goes beyond motivation and gets to the issue of how do I find employees who value what I value and value what the company values. I'm not even going to try to attempt answering that question here. I'll save that for the topic of an entire book I may someday write. What I want to mention is how absolutely important it is that you hire only the most value consistent employees that you can find for your company. I would further clarify this by suggesting you leave a position vacant until you can find such an employee and don't just jump on the first square thing that floats by that you can somehow pound into your round hole to temporarily ease your pain.

My friend, Scott Hodge, a pastor at a church near Chicago and original inspiration for starting my blogging journey, posted this video yesterday on his blog.

It's not a true example of business, customers and employees, and it's an analogy that I've received some criticism for in the past, but I think it drives home a very obvious point that for most Americans can relate to in some form. Let me explain. My analogy would place Jesus as the business or product, employees as Christians and customers as the people represented by those being interviewed in the video.

Shocking how it is easy for people to have some sort of a good opinion about a company (Jesus), but a horrible - to the point of not even wanting to comment in come cases - opinion of employees. Now, knowing that your product or service is being represented by your employees, do you want people to say I'd love to buy that product or service, but those employees make me so sick to my stomach that I can't even stand to go in the store.

If you disagree, think of your favorite kind of car. Now think of the experience you expect when you go to buy that car. If you like Chevy, I'm guessing you probably don't like Chevy car sales people. Same with life insurance. When your grandpa died and left you money, you probably liked the insurance, but you probably don't want to sit down with a life insurance sales person.

Bottom line is that before you hire a quick fix employee to help you out of a pinch, consider how their values compare to your company's values or run the risk of clients having a split opinion about your company.

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Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Making Decisoins Without Blinders On

In the April issue of HBR, an article by James Hackett references something called cognitive blinders. Cognitive blinders "prevent a person from seeing, seeking, using or sharing highly relevant, easily accessible, and readily perceivable information during the decision-making process."

Though the article was about a product launch, this one thing has been the most revelatory piece of information that I've learned in a long time.

I've long since been aware that when in a place when a decision needs to be made quickly, or has significant consequences behind it, the average person's ability to make an effective decision decreases significantly. It's the can't see the forest for the trees analogy. I've often compared it as soldiers in the heat of battle can't see the war. And just as the General used to sit on the hill on his horse to direct the battle, we should each have a General in our life to help us evaluate our decisions when we are in the heat of battle.

Unfortunately, many of us think we are talented enough that we don't need help, or we are ashamed that we will look weak if we ask for help and as a result, we never ask. This isolationist attitude is your quickest way to making a bad decision and it is what has led me to develop a network of people, both personal and professional that I can run scenarios by to get their feedback on so while I'm wearing cognitive blinders they can objectively see what is actually going on.


Friday, May 04, 2007

My first You Tube Video

I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that I was going back for my fraternity's alumni weekend. Well I took with me my golf clubs for our annual golf outing and my video camera with the idea of putting together a recap video of what went on and make it a hook to get people not able to make this year's event eager not to miss next year's event.

For my first attempt it's a little rough and needs some things added to be more effective, but still pretty good.

On a side note, I made it on my Mac with iLife, which is pretty good for free software.


Lost in Translation

As the world becomes flat, international business is quickly becoming a growing part of every community. Even small communities now have international businesses. Some even have city offices designed to help local small town businesses go international.

This brings back the issue of multicultural and multilingual products.

Azteca America television has a show that maybe just hadn't gone thorugh enough scrutiny when they named it.

Infarto, spanish for heart attack, doesn't quite "conveyo" the same "meaningo". Though it looks funny when I watch it. Just wish I spoke spanish.


Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Overcoming Stress In My Life

Several months ago at Panera Bread, I had a great conversation with a young business owner about the possiblity of putting together some kind of trade show for small businesses. That conversation ended up turning into a two day conference which is going to be held this Friday and Saturday at the local Sheritan hotel, include 18 seminars, 2 lunches, exhibitor booths, key note speakers during lunch both days and a partridge in a pear tree.

On one hand I'm beyond excited because it's the first major event that I've been a part of at this level in the area, but on the other hand it's down right terrifying. Thoughts like, "What if no one shows up?" or "What if one of my instructors doesn't show up?" have plagued my mind for the last two days.

So earlier today, I pulled out my favorite stress reducing tactic to ease the mental pain and asked myself these questions.
  1. What is the worst case scenario?
  2. If worst case becomes reality, can I live with it?
  3. What can I do to prevent worst case from happening?
I don't remember where I developed that tactic from, but I imagine it's some kind of hybrid blend of all the slef-help books I used to read. It doesn't matter too much where I got it, becaue it still works. Since answering my questions I realized it's all good and I've been extremely produtive and had less stress since then.

So, if you find yourself stressed about any thing at all, give my questions a try.