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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Notebook Or Pad?

I’m really low tech. I take notes when I talk with someone because I’m trying to figure out and remember what they mean. Also, I’ve noticed if I take notes, people lie less. I use paper, usually graph ruled, because the placement of the notes is an important part of the meaning.

I tried to use a laptop computer, but the customers thought I wasn’t listening to them, and objected.

I use a black and white composition book, center stitched heavy quadrille paper, in a leather or fabric cover. The inside covers have pockets for my name badge, some business cards and three by five cards.

Every month I print a single page calendar of this month with next month on the back, fold it, and put it in the notebook.

The center stitching allows me to put handouts in the book without breaking the binding, so it functions as a small portfolio.

When I get to the office, I type any notes I plan to share on a stationary template in Word or LibreOffice. The file name is the meeting name and the date. The time spent transcribing and reconstructing the notes allows me to check facts and addresses in Google to make sure I understand what happened, and then file by project in my computer.
Often I’ll send the finished notes to the other person in the meeting to make sure I got the facts right.

An investor once said that my notes were not what happened, but what should have happened.

I have recalled and used those notes two years after writing them. If the computer remembers, I don’t have to.

The composition book lasts about eighteen months, so I have all my recent notes with me in the field.

Sometimes I don’t want my notes with me, as when I am meeting with competing bidders, or dealing with a confidential subject or an issue that will end up in a personnel file. Then I use a Circa notebook, junior or letter size, and separate the notes from the notebook as soon as I get back to the office. The Circa also carries a standard load of name tag, business cards, and handouts.

I would really like to carry the Circa book all the time, but it’s not as good with long term information. Some jobs are project based and favor individual piece of paper, and some jobs favor carrying many months worth of data.

Finally, I carry a three by five quadrille notebook, with business cards and note cards, in my jacket. I staple a card inside the back cover, or staple to reinforce an existing back flap. That’s especially handy when I get a minute in a train, plane, coffee shop, or bookstore and get an idea I want to explore.

How do you stay organized?

Friday, January 20, 2012

A Salesman’s Integrity

A salesman’s integrity gets battered and worn...from use.

A salesman’s integrity becomes bright and shiny...from use.

Integrity is making and keeping promises. There are three stages to that.

The first stage is realizing that perfect integrity means making no promises. Most rest here.

The second stage of integrity is experiencing the joy of making a promise and making it come true.

Finally, the third stage is realizing that since life is a rodeo, integrity is making improbable promises and delivering. That realization takes you to a whole new level of play.

I find it easier to keep my promises when I can deliver by myself.

I make more important promises by working with others.

In the Direct Economy, the salesman is the customer sensor, which often makes me the change agent for the organization.

I try to exercise my integrity every day. I don’t want it getting tarnished and stiff in some trophy case. Or worse, used to measure against others.

How do you define your integrity?

Monday, January 16, 2012

Quit Presupposing And Just Do It!

As a leader we are expected to be decisive and to advance toward the envisioned goals.

So why do we find ourselves making excuses to postpone a meeting or delay an action? We sometimes rationalize deferring a task by convincing ourselves it would be better done later – based on perceived factors not directly related to achieving goals.

For example, we are introduced to a person Friday afternoon who will provide referrals of people who are prospective clients for our services. We suggest a follow-up meeting for mid-week, but know from experience that many people leave Monday morning open. Why not suggest getting together first thing on Monday and have 4 ½ days to use for prospecting instead of just 2 ½ days from a mid-week appointment?

As a CEO, my sales team spent considerable effort to persuade me against submitting a proposal for a project because the client was too tiny and the local organizations probably had a lock on the project. No sale - we submitted the proposal and won the project. The team was presupposing conditions that did not prove out.

In the War of Art, author Pressfield identifies how individuals create internal roadblocks to taking positive action to meet goals and offers advice about overcoming these barriers. The section on Resistance and Rationalization speaks to the seemingly rational argument for deferring action based on a presumed view of circumstances, as illustrated above. He suggests breaking the spell by relying on facts instead of opinions and suppositions about a situation.

Parkinson said Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion – strong support for building momentum and keeping it. Does going off track really provide anything positive – or simply grind down the velocity of the forward progress. Seems like the latter to me – additional time does not translate to productive time.

As a leader we are aware that the stakeholders are observing us to learn about the real culture of the organization. It is better to take action now rather than later - when possible, and to plan outcomes based on facts instead of presumptions.

Do it now. Finish it promptly. Ship often. Ignore Surface Thinkers.

Keep the conversation going – What are your thoughts?

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Jim Hodges on Networking

I first met Jim Hodges at the event described. I’m big, but my wife says Jim makes me look puny. I have never seen a man have so much fun charging through life. He has shown me the humor in a couple of triumphs and even a few semi-triumphs. Any opportunity with Jim is an adventure. Here is his first blog:
Ethan and Jim Hodges

Let me tell you my story. When I was transitioning out of the Marine Corps in 1992--after about 10 worthless interviews--through NETWORKING I found a sales trainer with an incredibly large, professional network. I attended his month-long course. He suggested I attend a sales association's meeting which comprised saleswomen. He told me there were plenty of networking opportunities. So late on a hot afternoon, I drove to a Washington hotel; signed in [paid $10]; and mingled. I was approached by one of the members. She said that they needed more men in their group and asked if I would join. Like Ethan--my 3-year-old grandson--I answered: "Sure my can!" It was only $90. A guest speaker provided some interesting ideas about sales; then the evening concluded.

Afterwards as we were making small talk, a well-dressed businessman approached me. I recognized him by his nametag. He said, "Well, Marine, you have passed all the tests. You showed up; socialized; joined; stayed for the program. So I will give you one contact." He wrote a name and number on the back of one of his cards. He said, "Call Ron tomorrow and ask: 'How hard would I have to work in order for you to buy me a cup of coffee'?"

The next morning from my new office at my old section in the crossroads of the corps [Quantico] which means in the ancient, Native American dialect: “where fat colonels go to die,” I had moved out of my executive office into the "bullpen," I called Ron. “This is Ron," came the voice. I was startled. No secretary or admin chief or AA, just the CEO answering his own phone. I stumbled through the line Dick [my contact] had given me. 

Ron answered, "That sounds like Dick. What can I do for you?"

I am completing my military career and am in the job hunt mode,” I answered. “Last night I was at a women’s sales association meeting. Dick suggested I call you. About 300 women were there and a handful of males.”

Ron: “How kinky! Why don't you come in tomorrow about this time and we can talk."

I had no idea what Ron's company did! I arrived the next day, in a hot, wool, expensive BLUE suit [in reality I was way overdressed]. The meeting was not going well until he asked where I was from. Being a smart-ass, I was going to respond: "Po' Hang or Da Nang or “Mulesbreath, Kansas," but common sense won out and I told him "Bloomington, Illinois." His eyes glazed over as he reminisced about chasing college girls in Bloomington when he attended Eureka College. I commented that's where President Reagan went. Ron seemed offended, and countered with, “I went there LONG AFTER the Gipper!”

A few days later I met Mrs. Ron [I called her June, Cleaver, in my mind] and their son Beaver. Beaver was fresh out as an Army captain helo pilot. When we met for lunch, Ron told me to wear golf attire since he knew I had at least one suit.

The restaurant had “Godfather” written all over it. The husky-voiced owner told me Jack Nicholson hangs out there when he’s in town.

Anyway, son Michael [Beaver] kept referring to me as "colonel" or "sir." Each time I would correct him. He later told me his military bearing was a test to see if I could handle being called "Jim” by underlings.

Then magic happened. In an effort to make small talk at the Cleaver's table, I asked about a basketball player I had seen play from their hometown--Waukegan, Illinois.

Ron dropped his fork; June and Beaver disappeared. I thought I had made the mother of all social fox paws. Ron blurted, "How did you know he is my best friend? We share box seat tickets at Bears' home games!"

"Touchdown, thank you Jesus!" I thought. I went from Pfc. Yum-Yum to Ron's heir apparent. A few days later I received a formal letter of offer and started selling for Ron a few weeks after that. I was on my way.

We provided communication services for associations' annual meetings: AV, automated reservation services, cell telephone rentals [1992], IMAG [image magnification], SI [simultaneous interpretation], etc. During my 18 months in the conventions' services industry, I sold and managed 16 major "shows."

From further networking a colonel-Tom Parker type[a retired Marine colonel] adopted me and we started a technical, staffing agency. After I found exiting mil types to be undertrained, inflexible, and mostly na├»ve, I expanded our candidate pool to include all comers. Then, we took off and rode the “IT” boom. I bought out Colonel Tom in 2000 and have been recruiting ever since.

Jim O'Fallon interviewed a retired colonel in 2005. The colonel told Jim that he knew the best headhunter in the DC area. So Jim called me and I was hooked up with Portal Dynamics [an anchor client for five years].

And that’s how I figured out Networking is the only way to get ahead.


Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Get The Right Model

It’s okay to talk to yourself. Just don’t tell yourself any lies.” Danny Evans, Carpenter

Reality is complex. To understand and predict reality we build models, simplified versions of reality.

Managers often confuse their model with reality. The model doesn’t care. When your model no longer works, build a new model.

Since New Year’s, I’ve been hearing several senior executives invoking the holy management pyramid to justify their contributions and absolve them of some ugly behavior.

Observing their organizations, I couldn’t find no stinkin’ pyramid. However, like phantom pain after a limb is amputated, these guys can still imagine their pyramids.

I rarely find a whole operation executed in one organization. That was where the pyramid came from. Now we have outsourcing, socioeconomic goals, and increasingly narrow areas of expertise.

It’s been years since a boss could fulfill their end of the pyramid bargain, “You do what I tell you to do, I’ll cover you,” hasn’t been true for a while now.

Last year one CEO told me, “I have a 60 day event horizon at best. My board would fire me in a heartbeat if they could find someone who could do my job.”

And they say two year old kids are crude irritable!

I have two other management models, which I think are more accurate.

Looking at my own organization, I see a hub and spoke model. I am currently involved in over ten projects, some I am leading, some I am supporting. For the past ten years, I have been building a network of trusted co-workers, people who are better than average at some set of work. That’s my first replacement for the pyramid.

The second is the Pony Express model.

You know how the Pony Express got the mail delivered so fast? They swapped out the horses when they tired. They had horses for the flats, horses for the hills, always with the emphasis on speed to finish.

A good model should help you predict reality. What are the management models you are seeing?

If you would like to learn more, come to the AITP 2012 Kickoff:

Association Of Information Technology Professionals (AITP)
Thursday, January 12, 6 – 9 pm
Alfio's La Trattoria,
4515 Willard Ave, Chevy Chase MD 20815

Monday, January 9, 2012

Metrics, Analytics, And Common Sense

A tenet of Leadership is if you don't measure you won't change.

There's plenty of software and tools available to measure just about anything and provide statistics as well.

Some items can be counted – like responses to a survey questions. Other items can be measured by the responses – click-through sales. Sometimes an indirect approach is required – effect of a sales campaign by measuring gross sales before, during, and after the campaign.

There are some situations which are not quantifiable and effectiveness must be inferred – like the effect of print advertisements on sales.

A key to useful metrics and analytics is identifying what you want to learn and how best to measure it - by direct or relative measurement.

Trends are direct measurement candidates – here's my baseline of x-units over y-timeframe ...the measure is the change in volume of units for each time block.

Effectiveness can be measured on a relative basis – here's the volume and outcome of the target compared to the volume and outcome of other comparator producers or the norms of the group – like traffic on a website related to on-line orders.

Since the computer can be tasked with the slicing and dicing unlimited amounts of data, we can get hundreds of statistics from even simple measurements. When we had to pay for to compile data, the amount of statistics, ratios and comparative information requested was more focused than than a click of a key availability of today – a practical limitation of time and cost.

We can be overrun by statistics and the analytics to interpret them. The time investment now is in the use of the output. And we can be mislead by results from indirect and relative measurements if the comparator group is not appropriate to the target.

For example, traffic on a website can be mistakenly shown as aggressively above the norm or horribly behind it, if a static information site and a promoted sales-based site are compared. Apples and oranges.

Keep metrics and analytics simple to get meaningful results which can translate into changes that affect revenue.

I have run an organization using about eight key indicators available on a real-time basis. The system had capabilities of generating over 200 elements of real data and ratios – the other 192 were of no value to me – so I did not request them.

Best story about meaningful analytics was a comment from Dick Davies after we attended a meet & greet event – he said he had spoken with 35 individuals. I asked how he knew – he said 'I counted' (resource sheets at the beginning of the event minus sheets at the end). Simple. Effective. Practical.

What are the best (and most effective) metrics and analytics you have seen?

This may be of interest:

Association Of Information Technology Professionals (AITP)
Thursday, January 12, 6 – 9 pm
Alfio's La Trattoria,
4515 Willard Ave, Chevy Chase MD 20815

Friday, January 6, 2012

What's a Plan?

Something I heard that rang the bell:

       A plan is a report of what has just happened.

Your thoughts?

These may be of interest:

Capital Technology Management Hub
Tuesday, January 10, 6:30 – 6:35 pm
Arlington GMU Campus
Founders Hall, Room 126
3351 Fairfax Drive Arlington, VA 22226


Association Of Information Technology Professionals (AITP)
Thursday, January 12, 6 – 9 pm
Alfio's La Trattoria,
4515 Willard Ave, Chevy Chase MD 20815

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Nuvo Quo

Change. It's unsettling and exciting. It's evolutionary and inevitable. It's widely initiated and frequently resisted.

Alvin Toffler, in his 1970 book Future Shock, says we can only take so much change before we hit overload and shut down mentally to additional change – like a sponge reaching its saturation point.

The pace of change has increased dramatically since Toffler defined Future Shock, and our capacity to adopt change has evolved also – but limits still affect us.

At a recent meeting, the facilitator did an observation exercise in which one person altered their appearance and the other tried to identify the changes. A few minutes after the exercise, the facilitator noted that most individuals reversed the changes – returning to the comfort of the pre-change conditions. The illustrated principle – after change, people strive to return to status quo (the old normal state) – they try to re-establish what was before.

Simple examples of this tendency – New Year's resolutions, diets, personal development training... a strong pull to return to the old way.

So what happens in an organization when the changes have eliminated the status quo for the individual? They will make up a new story – new rules – a new norm – to replace the no longer available status quo. They create nuvo quo - a new normal state – to guide them in their roles. Nuvo quo helps the person regain the feeling of control of their environment. There is no coordination with mission or vision of the organization as the individual develops a New Normal state – to mitigate the uncomfortable feeling of change overload. Communication of nuvo quo to the leaders of the organization is virtually unknown.

Conflicts develop between what the individual is doing and what the organization expects the individual to do - “Just doing my job (as I define it)” versus “not doing your job (as documented in the position specs)”. An employee of a transportation agency boasted in an external meeting that he had the ability to completely shut down an entire sector of the transportation industry country-wide with just the flick of a computer key – wonder if that's part of the ops plan for the agency and under what controlled circumstances?

Have any examples of Nuvo Quo after a change in the organization? Please share.

This may be of interest -

Association Of Information Technology Professionals (AITP)
Thursday, January 12, 6 – 9 pm
Alfio's La Trattoria,
4515 Willard Ave, Chevy Chase MD 20815

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Review Your Lists!

If you are like me, you live and die with lists. Things to do, people to call, tasks to complete, volunteers, prospects, schedules, action items… In many organizations, staff meetings consist of everyone reading their list to each other.

You also may have spent the whole year working hard to add contacts to your…LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, etc., etc., …lists. How often have you gone back and looked at who is on your lists?

Wherever your list is kept, in order to get the most out of your connections you need to organize your contacts, make notes about them (where did you meet, what did you do for them, what did they do for you, abilities, are they a guru???) You might find that there are four types of people on your lists:

  • someone who actively see and connect with regularly (a keeper),
  • someone you don’t remember (de-friend, remove),
  • someone you forgot you knew, but is someone who you should re-connect with (a keeper), and
  • someone who is not cataloged anywhere (maybe a lost prospect or a connection that helped you some time – you have to decide whether to keep or remove).

What is the advantage? Won’t the worthwhile connections surface once you have them on a list? You probably can think of several answers to these questions yourself! To me, this is like attending another networking session (or two) because it often comes up with people I should call (just to re-connect), people I should have thanked, people who I can help and people who can help me.

Sometimes you can find the most gold by digging in your own back yard!

Monday, January 2, 2012

Rainmaker 10 - Tune Your Work For The Internet

Definition - A Rainmaker creates a significant amount of new business.

Anybody here ever seen or used this Internet thingie?

How long have you had access to the internet?

In the last 15 years, how have you adapted your work to take advantage of the internet?


Name a company that has really taken advantage of the internet?

How did they do that?

How did it work out?

What should you be doing to make better use of the internet?





So, Resolved – This Year I will ________________________to take advantage of the internet in my work.

To get the answers, join us at

Capital Technology Management Hub
Tuesday, January 10, 6:30 – 6:35 pm
Arlington GMU Campus
Founders Hall, Room 126
3351 Fairfax Drive Arlington, VA 22226


Association Of Information Technology Professionals (AITP)
Thursday, January 12, 6 – 9 pm
Alfio's La Trattoria,
4515 Willard Ave, Chevy Chase MD 20815

It’s 2012! Exercise your resolution and leave a comment! You’ll get extra points!