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Friday, January 25, 2013

Creating Knowledge

I go to a lot of meetings. Great facts, ideas, and instruction are routinely provided. I’m always amazed at how much is missed by the audience.

Discussing with the presenter seldom adds much, and cuts down the time for presentation for everyone else. As a related model, when I read a blog, if I have something to add that supports the premise, I comment. If I want to disagree, I go somewhere else, maybe write a positive blog about my point.

Here’s a model for getting the most out of a face-to-face presentation.


Get there early.

Take notes.

Later, transcribe your notes, adding what should have been. Define your action list.

Check your work with others attending. Improve your notes based on feedback.

Kick off the New Year Right at Talk Your Business - How to make more and better sales right away!Wednesday Jan 30, 11:45 - 1:00 at the Arlington Chamber Small Business Roundtable.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

The Privacy Paradox

At the Verisign Distinguished Speaker, Vint Cerf, one of the founders of internet technology, told us that privacy is impossible on the internet. It is a huge copy machine with multiple copies of everything ingested, and a quest for increasingly more information.

There is a strange paradox about privacy.

One the one hand, there are things we do not share with even the closest of friends and certainly do not choose to have the information available via the internet.

On the other hand, we cheerfully click away our privacy (and sometimes ownership) by agreeing to the terms of service, volunteer information on-line forms (why does a utility app want to know our family income?), and rush to tag pictures of friends as well as publicly share information about ourselves and others.

Others ignore the tenets of privacy - a friend told me about a local TV personality and film crew greeting him as he entered a store: “ come on in and shop while we film you”. He turned on his heel leaving the store and the intrusive video team.

On my social security card there it says DO NOT use for identification – however, many states and localities, as well as the Federal government, require the social security number as an identifier – even used it as a driver license number.

Privacy is a complicated issue with conflicting demands by the individual and others to protect or disclose information. In addition, violating an individual's privacy is an emotional issue.

Recall the firestorm caused by Instagram/Facebook changing the terms of service (TOS) to claim ownership of everything posted on their site and the ability to use the information in any public way they chose. The TOS were revised in a couple of days as a result of the public response.

Give out your name, social security number, and mother's maiden name and you may be sharing your identity with a thief.

As leaders we do not want our organization to be on the wrong side of a privacy issue – best to keep in mind that if we don't collect it, there's no possibility of accident or larceny where we'd lose it. Choose carefully what private information you collect on people; if something goes south, expect the response will be magnified by an emotional reaction.

How do you address the privacy paradox?

End January on an up note – at Talk Your Business - How to make more and better sales right away!Wednesday Jan 30, 11:45 - 1:00 at the Arlington Chamber Small Business Roundtable.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Captcha Infestation

How many comments do you get in a week? I never get enough.

I was taking a leisurely read Monday and saw three posts that merited comments.

In each I ran into comment prevention systems featuring undecipherable pictures or obfuscating directions.

Got one the other day that asked for my Facebook credentials. Good luck!

Let’s not even begin with WordPress or Disqus. They offer me the forced opportunity of registering with them, not the blog I read. Damn, and I was just looking for more spam. Good luck with that!

I always feel unworthy after trying to comply with comment preventions systems. As had been observed previously, paybacks are hell.

Let’s go back to first principles. Do you want the comments or not? Or are you trying to drive an automated behemoth that rolls the comment landscape flat?

Are you encouraging or discouraging comments from your readers?

New! Check out Sales Lab Video!

Monday, January 21, 2013

The Babel Effect

Transmitting what's in our mind into the consciousness of someone else is tricky at best. Individuals process new information by comparing to what they’ve experienced and know. Think a child asking is 'this' like 'that' when exposed to something new.

We offer examples to help others understand, but since we are unique - no one else has an identical collection knowledge and memories - sometimes the examples cloud rather than clarify.

I returned to the office after a doctor visit with a huge bandage strapped to my arm. A collegue asked about my 'injury' and I told her I had a punch biopsy done. What's that, she asked?

It's like a core sample of a concrete roadway (a hollow-core drill takes a cross-sectional sample to test for quality control) – the punch biopsy is a miniature version of this for tissue samples.

Didn't help...she'd no exposure to core samples – I learned about them when driving a concrete truck in undergrad school. Like a chat among people at the Tower of Babel, we were not understanding each other.

People hear what is important to them, colored by their own experiences. As the speaker, we have surprisingly little control of what the listener actually takes away from a conversation or presentation.

To understand what they heard, I ask the person to repeat instructions or assignments in their own words, or ask what was the best thing he or she learned from a presentation. This reduces the 'Babel Effect'.

What's your experience?

Kick off the New Year Right at Talk Your Business - How to make more and better sales right away!Wednesday Jan 30, 11:45 - 1:00 at the Arlington Chamber Small Business Roundtable.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

How Sales Came To Be

And it came to pass that the organization gathered to chew the fat.

The question was asked, “What causes sales?”

The Pharisee explained that sales came from management, that cut of jib and attitude created sales.

The Sadducee disagreed. Any fool could see that sales come from the genius of marketing, advertising, and Following The Plan.

An Essene, who was at the meeting on sufferance, to demonstrate diversity, thought hard and said, “Sales come from customers.”

The Pharisees and Sadducee were exceeding wroth, saying, “Customers are not in this meeting.” And they covered the Essene with management dung and drove him out of the safety of the walls. where all the money was.

Kick off the New Year Right at Talk Your Business - How to make more and better sales right away! Wednesday Jan 30, 11:45 - 1:00 at the Arlington Chamber Small Business Roundtable.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Teaching Leadership

Some individuals are thought to be 'natural' leaders – they seemingly step into the role fully functional – such as George Washington.

Some individuals develop as leaders once in the role – Steve Jobs, for example.

Some individuals learn leadership by opening their mind and soaking up the rich material provided by other leaders, coaches, individuals from business and academia.

Based on this sampling, individuals can learn leadership.

At a recent presentation about leadership I noted no organization has a position 'leader'. Dick Davies offered a description: 'Leadership is a collection of behaviors, a calling, and a practice.'

Can we teach behavior? Passion? Continuous practical development and application?...

Can we teach leadership?

Teaching leadership may be like making policy.
Policy can make people do things; but not make them do it well.

What do you think?

Kick off the New Year Right at Talk Your Business - How to make more and better sales right away! Wednesday Jan 30, 11:45 - 1:00 at the Arlington Chamber Small Business Roundtable.

Thursday, January 10, 2013


Over the end of the year I met a person who is creating a Social Media Certification Program.

“Do you use social media?”

“No, I develop certification programs. I ask people who hire social media professionals what they are looking for, and then create lessons and examinations. That way, managers who are new to social media can hire competent professionals.”

Why would a manager who doesn’t know social media want to hire someone to create social media?

Appears to me certifications work best if you can somehow separate users from buyers, separate effort from results.

Reminds me of that old, politically incorrect description of socialist enterprise, “They pretend to pay us, we pretend to work.”

Think about your personal experience for a minute. Have “certifications” created better results for you? I’d like to know your thoughts.

New! Check out Sales Lab Video!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Focus and Goofing Off

Recently, I was talking with Dick about keys to successful results.

We identified focus as an important element contributing to superior outcomes.

Today was one of those rare balmy January days in Washington, DC, hovering around 60 degrees, so Dick and I headed to a nearby course for a round golf.

While returning to our cars, we had to chuckle about the focus conversation in the context of a mid-week golf game.

However, we suddenly realized that this confirmed the focus principle – instead of goofing off 10 minutes here and there, we had concentrated it in a 4 hour block.

It seems right on so many levels. At times focus can become sharper when you shift your focus to something else for a while.

Kick off the New Year Right at Talk Your Business - How to make more and better sales right away! Wednesday Jan 30, 11:45 - 1:00 at the Arlington Chamber Small Business Roundtable.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Sam Phillip’s Lesson

Saw Million Dollar Quartet at the Kennedy Center, a play about the one night Elvis, Jerry Lee, Johnny Cash, and Carl Perkins got together and played at Sun Records.

Sam Phillips was Sun Records. He made himself a new job. Not A&R like John Hammond. Not a dealmaker like Ahmet Ertegun or an empire builder like David Geffen. That all came later.

In the play he says, “I brought something out of those boys they didn’t know they had.”

Now I’ve heard that claimed by a lot of LTGs, most of the time it’s not true. With Coach Gibbs it was.

I think it was true with Sam, especially after another line, “Those deejays wouldn’t even play their records AFTER I paid ’em!”

Bringing someone along is not management, or leadership, heck, it’s not even usually rewarded, no matter how much we might wish to cash in.

Bringing along is just making a contribution to a relationship, an accident of time and opportunity. An honor for a human.

And that is Sam Phillip’s Lesson in Million Dollar Quartet.

Now, about Million Dollar Quartet – Listening to Carl Perkins play, I heard most every George Harrison lick, live! A joy to understand the connection.

A noted social critic wrote:
All Chuck’s children are out there playing his licks,
If you need a fix,
Well you can come back, baby, rock’n’roll never forgets!

Come back to Million Dollar Quartet.

New! Check out Sales Lab Video! Tell us what you like!

Friday, January 4, 2013

New View from the Big Chair

The World Is Changing

Future Shock in the ‘60s said we could only accommodate so much change before a melt-down; many believed Toffler but does it still apply? Change happens at a breakneck speed, however it takes time to recognize and adapt.
The Information Interview, a mainstay of job transitions, doesn’t work anymore.

Thought Exercise: Identify a ‘rule’ that was the foundation for thinking in the past – but no longer applies today. Got several - pick the best and share it with others to see what they think.
Changes and Influencers

“Want it done right – do it yourself.”
Want it to scale – must do through others; express the results wanted - not process they should use. Be amazed that there are ways to accomplish the goal that are different from what you would have done.
Next 3 years will find more of the following:
  • Do it yourself (DIY).
  • Fix yourself – reorient how you get and use information and vision.
  • Scale – small or large are both available now; do you need an expert to help – if so, when?
    Fail Forward Frequently (F3) – experiment and learn, experiment again. We have tools to do this now. Try it yourself first (small,economical scale), learn what you can, then bring in the expert if you need one.

Here’s a description of what’s here now and what’s next : Chris Anderson: Makers; David Weinberger: Too Big to Know – two books about manufacturing and information acquisition changes that are radically affecting our world – today and into the future.

Traits of Learned Leaders:
  • Relentlessly tell yourself the truth and require it of others.
  • Surround yourself with people committed to change.
  • Keep reading, keep learning, keep doing, and keep sharing.

If you are not learning, you are losing ground...regressing.
The economy is about 80-20 right now – 80% is below earlier levels and hard going, but 20% is on fire. Why? Not evenly distributed and winners are providing what’s needed and wanted.

How do you feel about leadership in the businesses today? Not ‘big organizations’ or ‘big government’ that you read or hear about – the ones you actually know and deal with frequently – on a scale of 1 (low) – 10 (high) – how are they doing leadership-wise? I raised the question with a group today and found a lot of 2's and only one at a 5. Plenty of room to improve.
How Do We Learn Today?
The quality of leadership has improved year by year – but like pouring water in a tank, it’s improving for others too – if you feel that leadership IS ESSENTIAL for quality of life, business, and the economy - We need the very best you have to offer!And as a leader inspiring that level of commitment in others. How? Learning about the changes, sharing your knowledge and experience, mashing it up to apply the mixture – and seeking what others – peers, and others in and out of your organization – have learned, experienced, and know. Learning is a collaborative (not competitive) sport.

Acquiring information has changed. Where do you get your information today? – newspapers, biz magazines, TV or on-line news, blogs, user comments? All of the above and more.

Learning by doing – a new emergence of do-it-yourself – permits us to roll up the sleeves and get our hands dirty making something – physical or virtual. We learn much from what doesn't work, and our next 'prototype' is much better.
Funny thing - there are no tools of a leader – but there are tools to help you be a leader – like sharing experiences, thoughts, and vision with peers. Ronald Reagan painted an image of the ‘shining city on the hill’ during the downtrodden time - and got him elected.
Historic or Functional Structure
If you are not doing something worthy, start doing something worthy. Don't know who said this, but it's brilliant.

For tasks – add technology not people. Meet ‘Boots’.

After 30 years of high water in the pond, we are now seeing the shopping carts & tires.

How to capitalize on a market – Jack Welch (be # 1 in that market) v. Clay Christensen (disruptive innovation – make it simple and cost less and take over that market)

Today, if you can make a change without redesign, you have waste – serious change must redesign.

Business is NOT about being a benchwarmer and getting a ‘show-up’ trophy at the end of the season. It’s about getting results, paying your bills, and having funds left over to reinvest or to repay for investment.
Success comes from doing real work – not from the posers…no matter how articulate…who are not producing.
Collaborate – share to build better with more efficiency less fixed costs.

Leadership Will Return The USA To Greatness
This is not what we read from those playing to our pessimism – their message: be prepared for no growth into the future. I see that as an active embodiment of defeatism. Observation shows that there are islands of growth and prosperity in businesses around the country today. Winners are filling wants and needs of the customer, user, and buyer.
What’s our role as leaders today and in the near future? Things are changing and a new order is about to revealed…soon. Limitations and barriers are being disassembled. Tools are available to do things we have not – could not do additive manufacturing (3-D copying) and affordable small batch production jobbers.

Leadership is like a preference in art – you'll know it when you see it. It's elusive to capture by definition or articulated vision. But it is essential for our future success to create leaders and improve leadership. Let’s come up with what it takes to be a great leader before the end of this year. How – use the tools: learn about change, share experience, knowledge, vision - and practical application through others.
How Leaders Speak - Frank Reagan Quotes (from Blue Bloods TV show):
  • Situations like these don’t build character, they reveal it.
  • Courage is not the absence of fear, it is the judgment that something else is more important than fear.
  • Everything has a cost, even the truth. But the reward for truth is a clear eye and a clear conscience.
Three Final Questions

  1. What was the most important thing you learned here today?
  2. What is the role your organization in advancing leadership from this day forward?
  3. What are the last two words following the National Anthem? [Play Ball]
Add to the conversation – what are your thoughts?

Kick off the New Year Right at Talk Your Business - How to make more and better sales right away!Wednesday Jan 30, 11:45 - 1:00 at the Arlington Chamber Small Business Roundtable

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Can You Fool Some of the People Some of the Time?

I spent 'a week' in an auto repair shop one day recently and watched an energetic guy wearing yellow rubber boots while waiting 3-hours for an 'about-an-hour' work on my car.

This guy was fascinating - 'Boots' was in perpetual motion – heading toward the parking lot, the front office, the mechanic bays and elsewhere. He showed a sense of purpose and moved with great determination. But he never made it to any destination before changing course – off to a different one - lickety split!

Fascinated by this constant activity, I flagged down Boots and asked what he was doing – “Keeping this place organized and working!” was his reply. Interesting; I never saw him touch a car or accomplish any task during the entire time.

When paying my bill, I asked the service rep about Boots and he told me that 'Boots' is of our most valuable employees – this guy is on the move from the time we open until we close.

Our next presentation is How You Can Prepare For Our Changing World at the Leadership Breakfast of Maryland (by invitation) on Friday January 4th.