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Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Three Rings or the County Fair

  • The circus is all about activity and show.

  • The county fair is about mastery and creating...roll up the sleeves, do it better, excel – pies, pumpkins, sheep, and prize-winning cattle.

Which has the lasting impact on everyone involved?

How to become wise in 5 minute increments –Rainmakers.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Peer Review Or World View?

I read another message touting peer review as a benefit. Umm, maybe.

My experience with peer review is that it is often a closed, self-congratulatory model from a closed, self-congratulatory society about work that is destined to go into the stacks.

We need better.

At one point I led sixty top writers in a production environment. We had immediate deadlines and developed a creative review process to improve our quality.

I learned that junior reviewers would upend a mess of personal issues and concerns to create an edit package that couldn’t be implemented. The better reviewers would identify the one change that everyone agreed made all the difference.

Excellent review is a craft that doesn’t come with elevation. 

Review is quite different from creation.

In evaluating management performance, it’s harder to improve someone who is doing things right. Although we have observed managers feel a need.

Anyone who has ever authored a proposal to the government and then taken it through review has seen how review teams don’t even know the proposal’s objectives, yet have strident and emotional demands.

Will they improve the proposal? Why do you ask?

My teachers in the Pentagon call it, “Changing small dog to puppy.” And they are masters at accepting review, because in review, too often they’re not about making something better, they’re about getting through with minimum damage, in a process that hasn’t been defined for generations.

Once upon a time paper was expensive, print runs were short, and people read scholarly publications. Now, not so much.

Technology has disintermediated publishing businesses, and getting the message to more of the people who can use it may be more important than getting published.

I read a lot of good technical writing. I also read a fair amount of bad technical writing, although not by choice.

Much as I enjoy TED, LifeHacker, or Open Culture, as places that get new knowledge out to the masses, my go-to source for learning is Wikipedia. Even when I disagree, they have a massive amount of links to get to usable information.

Peer review? Better to get World View.

Tips 4 The Big Chair – Perspective 2.0

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

It's All About the People

With the evolving efficiency of technology...

With the reliance on email...

With buying from submitted offers and proposals...

With the voicemail 'barrier' to talking directly...

It is easy to lose sight of:

It's the people, not the paper. A face-to-face visit beats a pile of paper to get the right result.

Sales Lab Video Channel - Entertaining experience

Monday, April 22, 2013

Optimism and Empathy

It’s been my month for hearing about the benefits of empathy. And I agree empathy can sometimes be a key factor in extraordinary performance.

However empathy takes developing a deeper relationship than I often can or choose. Empathy works best with a settled team, which I get less and less. Too often results are required before I know people.

Which led me to think about optimism.

Optimism comes from inside. I don’t need to build it in a team, I bring it. Winners recognize and reinforce it.

Optimism creates mirroring behavior. Optimism creates intense focus. Optimism creates energy, whether people know you or not.

Optimism creates culture. Culture has to be present to have empathy.

Thinking back on the people who have influenced me the most, many didn’t show empathy, heck many didn’t even know me, but the common element was an attitude of experienced, believable optimism.

As you get ready to go in, turn on the grin. People will wonder what you know that they don’t.

The Sales Lab Model – So THAT’S the answer!

Friday, April 19, 2013

New Learning

The Internet has changed the nature of learning. Pre-Internet, the chore was finding facts and then assembling them, an additive process.

Now,we have more facts than we can use, and the game is to subtract the dross to get to what works.

In a similar vein – This month we’ve seen several guys who had been working longer hours for less effect and finally, when they get let go or their organization implodes, they don’t know anyone who can help them. Toby Keith’s I wish I didn’t know now what I didn’t know then... Heartfelt but ineffectual.

A year ago I had a mole my wife didn’t like, so I asked my doc. He said go see a dermo. Took 6 months to see the dermo he recommended. Nobody in her organization wanted to make it easy.

When we finally met, she was too busy with her nitrogen bottle to look at my mole.

Eventually, I went back to my doc and chastised him. He said I should probably go see his personal dermo, not the one the government “recommended” he should recommend.

Two days later, the new dermo says, yup, it’s coming off, pucker up.

Four days after that, yup it was hot, can you get back in here today so we can finish it?

I’m into life, liberty and the pursuit, so heck yes.

Now besides the fact that the 2nd dermo is actually practicing medicine which includes sudden service, I noticed that the staff was on time, smiling, and spoke up, saying good morning, and how are you with real interest. I like to play that game. It’s an indicator of competence.

I have a friend, an engineer, who retained a lawyer to get him a patent. Mid way through, the lawyer decided to rethink his compensation, and stopped work. It’s now been five years and he keeps sending statements adding interest to the work he never did, which is now useless.

I accept neither a lawyer or an engineer has adequate social skills. I was thinking too bad their wives didn’t know each other. Then this never would have happened.

The new learning is how to pick a winner. Certification means very little.

My key questions are who have I worked with successfully before, and then who do I know who has worked with someone successfully before? If I can’t answer those questions, I figure I don’t have the expertise to make a good choice.

Knowing that, I try to follow Will Rogers advice, “The quickest way to double your money is to fold it in half and put it in your back pocket.”

Sales Lab Resources – How-to’s you can use.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Save the Date

Nowdays there's a tool for this – an app for that – and web platforms for doing tasks that had required several people many hours to accomplish. is a web-based system which takes the drudge out of holding an event. Load in a contact list and it takes just minutes to distribute an announcement of the event, send reminders, print check-in lists, and name tags. Attendees can register on-line and click to load the event info on their calendar.

Peter Corbett manages the monthly meetings of DC Tech Meetup with this platform for about 1,000 attendees. For this group, the Meetup site serves as a website with information about the group, events, pictures, and member profiles.

Corbett sets up meetings on Meetup 6-months or more in advance – at times some details are TBD (to be determined) – the regulars register and load the date on their calendar as a placeholder for the event (easy to update later when plans are final).

This method is handy for the event organizer – the date and known info is distributed to all, and the recipients can respond and click to update their calendar – simple and easy – fewer cracks for things to fall through in finalizing the event.

Isn't this more effective than an email asking you to save the date?

How to become wise in 5 minute increments –Rainmakers.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Beginning At The Beginning

The doc was sewing me up when she said, “I’d like to do social media, but there is just too much with Facebook and Twitter and all those other things. I don’t know where to start.”

My first thought was she should pay attention, I didn’t want to look like a football, but she’s a real seamstress, and I figured she was either taking my mind off my situation, or she was really thinking about getting started. Either is good.

Where should someone start with social media?

I think the start should be a blog. A blog creates a mostly permanent home for your writing, a base. 

I choose Blogger, because it has required no maintenance during the last four years, yet I’ve upgraded features all by myself, any time I can get a concept. The tough part is figuring something worth changing, not the actual doing.

If you have a domain, your blog can be part of it. If you want a free independent domain, that’s easy too.

Then begins the twin tasks of how to create more posts and how to get more readers. The good news is six posts is a mature blog, and one more reader than last week is a success.

After you have a blog post that you like, it turns out there are any number or places where they are looking for content. I call that “syndication.” Most of the groups I belong to have web properties that need copy. I keep a list handy to figure out who should get what. A typically post I write is read by over 200,000 people.

Last month I attended a fabulous event, and a friend in the audience said, “You should write something about that and post it on your LinkedIn group!”

I said, “Which LinkedIn group?”

She said, “Your LinkedIn group!” So I guess I have a LinkedIn group. Cool! 

I've noticed that people feel a relationship from reading and cheering for you over time. That's how I feel about the several dozen thinkers I've got attending to my education

I figure I don’t want to read me more than twice a week, so why should anyone else? Also I’ve got other things to do. Finally, it’s hard to find things that I care to write about.

Being out and amongst increases the number of posts I write. 

I figure being able to easily publish and influence society has been a dream for hundreds of years. It’’s just too good an opportunity to waste.

Tips 4 The Big Chair – Perspective 2.0

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Brainstorming or A Scavenger Hunt

Michael Starobin – 1AU Global Media, LLC gave a brilliant presentation about creativity in leadership at the Leadership Breakfast of Maryland recently.

One question he asked: 'brainstorming' – is this a creative exercise?

And offered an observation: “it stinks.”

WOW! This is popular exercise for organizations – business and otherwise – all you need is a flip chart to record what the group is saying. The facilitator writes what's been said, sometimes asking for clarification.

Unfortunately, the initial results resemble a marching band that has no leader and no practice, so each member does their own thing. Chaos!

IF the group gets to problem solving, it is likely to be rushed in the final 30 minutes of the session and may not be addressing the real problems at all.

Years ago I was meeting with key managers about upgrading our network and computers and trying to figure how to get the biggest bang for the buck. Money was an issue (of course) but productivity was waning due to network/hardware failure. My brainstorming group was moving steadily to a three year phase-in of complete replacement, funded from cash flow, when another manager stuck her head in the door to see what we were up to. Hearing we were working on the problem of updating the network without sufficient funds, she asked if we had considered leasing the software/hardware.

BOING!!! We were solving how to stretch cash, but she saw the problem as investing in productivity and effectiveness. Switching gears, we got all the equipment and solved the right problem as a result of that change in focus.

Isn't it more useful to charge the stakeholders with defining the problem – getting a panoramic view of it from the group. This output is not just a 30,000 foot overview, it includes specifics about how the issues affect different parts of the organization and its processes. That established, a solution to the problem can evolve from the discussion.

Seems logical that defining the problem and seeking a solution is the better why not travel this route?

Problem definition is not fun stuff – it's hard work. And it's risky for the leader or manager to be candid, since solving problems is at the top of their job description – will they be blamed for not doing their job?.

On the other hand, the facilitator and participants enjoy the BS of brainstorming – shouting out first thoughts, coming up with would-be solutions (“what's your first thought – no bad contribution here”), having huge pages of notes taped all over the wall – it's a day of thinking fast, responding verbally, and being agile in direction and movement of the discussion – sounds like that marching band.

Personally, we get better results when we focus on an issue, and ignore the other 'noise' around us. The same applies when a group collaborates to identify and solve problems.

Entertaining experience – watch the Sales Lab Video Channel

Monday, April 8, 2013

There Is Always Useful Behavior

...If you think about it.

I was talking to a friend who hosts a series of industry meetings. Being spring and the sap is rising, her last meeting had a lot more people than usual, but she noted most of the newcomers were prospectors, looking for new sales.

She saw it as the physical equivalent of spam.

I said, now hold on, I’ve been in their position. Did you ask any of those prospectors to help you?

She said in her years of running programs like these, no prospector had ever brought someone she wanted.

I asked if she had a written list she could share of what she wanted? After all, The Lord must favor prospectors, he made so many of them.

I thought about a couple of organizations I’ve inhabited.

I often come in because I’ve been asked to present.

Then, if I like the people, I will come back to accept my sales.

Finally if I like the organization’s mission, I try to support it. That doesn’t mean nodding my head, that means figuring out what I can physically provide that they need.

My best definition of Value in these circumstances is, What costs me nothing that they want and can’t get at any price.

I’ve often seen other, less valuable definitions, right down to, What I want to give you whether you want it or not.

That’s kind of like This is going to hurt me more than it’s going to hurt you. I never could figure that one out, either.

As a prospector, one of the values I can bring is popularizing the activity. That usually lands me in the membership function.

Effective membership activities create a lot of power in the organization, especially if you figure that what and who you sell is often the most direct agent of organization change.

I had one 15 year relationship, where the previous members said, “That Dick, he’s a eww Salesman!” I never got much value from the previous. But their organization had something my prospects wanted, so every month I’d bring one or three new people.

I invented the free drink coupon so my new believers could bring their friends, and soon both groups, my direct invites and their direct invites were saying, “I think Dick invented this organization.”

I ended up going through the chairs and even presiding. Years later, I still have social and commercial relationships with probably a hundred of those folk.

Last month, Vint Cerf gave a talk at Verisign. I recognized eight tribes in attendance, and I was a member of six. I knew people in the other two, I just hadn’t invested my time in their organizations. That’s a comfortable audience.

Even if what you want to do isn’t what someone wants you to do, is there something else you can offer that they will want? What would that be? Value is what costs me nothing that they can’t get at any price.

Please join us at Sales Lab’s Rainmaker 19, Foam Ball, 300 seconds of enlightenment at The Capital Technology Management Hub, 6:30 pm on Tuesday, April 9 at Teqcorner, 1616 Anderson Road, Third Floor, McLean, VA 22102. Rainmaker 19 Foam Ball will be immediately followed by our headliner presentation, Tom Cooper, BrightHill Group, Are You Too Busy To Plan?

Wednesday, April 3, 2013


I REALLY like sitting down first thing in the morning and powering through ten or twelve tasks neatly written on my three by five card. That’s a feat of traditional productivity mastery. 

But that doesn’t happen every morning. There’s a lot of set up to get to that point, figuring out what to do, what the steps should be, and improving them.

Trying to figure a course of action to make some software work better can involve thinking, and writing, and searching, and talking, repeated several times. Fixing is the fun part!

Yesterday I was talking to a warrior who has created a complex process for getting optimal results. When it works. And it’s not working any more. 

Now, nobody cares. He admits something different is needed, but it’s so seductive to do it the way he used to. Even though he knows it’s not going to work. 

In science, we have a scientific method to investigate phenomena. We’re not supposed to fake data, and then attack anyone who points it out. But we do. 

Having focus is not enough. We need the maturity to generate the right focus. Because paybacks are hell

Sales Lab’s Rainmaker 19, Foam Ball is 300 seconds of enlightenment at The Capital Technology Management Hub, 6:30 pm on Tuesday, April 9 at Teqcorner, 1616 Anderson Road, Third Floor, McLean, VA 22102. Rainmaker 19 Foam Ball will be immediately followed by our headliner presentation, Tom Cooper, BrightHill Group, Are You Too Busy To Plan?

Monday, April 1, 2013

Rainmaker 19 - Foam Ball

Have you ever looked at electrical conduit (pipe) inside the walls of a building?

Do you know how electricians snake the wires through it?

They can’t push it. The wires bend and kink.

What they do is take a foam ball, the same size as the pipe, tie some fishing line to it, put a vacuum on the other end and suck the foam ball and fishing line through the pipe.

Then they attach metal tape, like a tape measure, to the fishing line and pull it back through the pipe.

Finally, they attach electrical wires to the tape and pull that back through the pipe, and that’s how you install electrical wires in conduit. If you think you are going to have to snake more wires through at a later date, you can include a run of fishing line with the electrical wires and leave it inside.

Communicating is a lot like pulling wires through conduit.

When I try to just ram my message through, it tends to bind and kink. Several unsuccessful attempts makes my message ugly and worn, maybe even breaks it.

Instead of pushing, a gentle pull to start the process is appreciated. Then a couple of easy back and forths gives us all confidence we can succeed.

Succeeding the first time takes a lot less time and effort than continually failing.

Previous Rainmakers

Sales Lab’s Rainmaker 19, Foam Ball is 300 seconds of sheer enlightenment at The Capital Technology Management Hub, 6:30 pm on Tuesday, April 9 at Teqcorner, 1616 Anderson Road, Third Floor, McLean, VA 22102. Rainmaker 19 Foam Ball will be immediately followed by our headliner presentation, Tom Cooper, BrightHill Group, Are You Too Busy To Plan?