Search This Blog

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The Power of Appreciation

The other day I realized it is unusual for people to be told they are appreciated.

The revelation came about from my offering a compliment to the person responsible for the logistics of my meetings and events.

The comment was: people do not appreciate the effort required to have a perfect meeting – if it is done well no one notices; however if there's a glitch, it is glaringly obvious – and I thank you for creating perfection.

The recipient immediately sent an urgent response asking what had gone wrong and with assurance that any problem would be corrected immediately and it would not happen again.

Recognition for doing a great job of the logistics was so unusual that she heard the comment as a preamble to a complaint. I quickly said there's no complaint – just the opposite - I appreciated the work your team does to make everything ready before we walk through the door.

The response was memorable - oh, yes it does take a lot of work and care to create an experience that people take for granted, and you make such a good point about folks not taking the time to acknowledge when things go well. We appreciate that you are always complementary and appreciative of our efforts to support your events!

Have you noticed the reaction when you thank someone for their help – a smile; they stand a bit taller; they will replicate that action over and over again.

The one I like a lot is the look of surprise followed by a big grin and a wave when I thank the crossing guard near the subway – a painless way to make someone's day.

The same principles apply to the people you work with (or for) and volunteer with as well. Ever tell your boss or your partner you appreciate him/her for _________ (fill in the blank as appropriate) – the reaction is priceless.

Leroy Jethro Gibbs (NCIS) is a master at expressing deserved appreciation – he acknowledges a good job to the individual but does so within earshot of their co-workers. The recipient almost floats off the floor with pride and satisfaction, and gets another good jolt when seeing the reaction of the coworkers. Do you think they are motivated to do more good work – you bet they are!

Share your appreciation – catching someone doing good is effective mentoring when you shine a spotlight on it.

Give it a try – share what you find.

Rainmaker– 300 seconds of new possibilities

Monday, July 29, 2013

Experience Causes Scope Creep

I don’t know how many times I’ve seen a customer develop world class skills using a tool, going from no presence to a highly customized, effective environment.

Then they run beyond the capabilities of the tool.

And they have to change.

Which is going to cost time.

And make everyone have to learn new ways to do the same things.

So they complain.

If we had known this was going to happen, we wouldn’t have started with the tool!”


That first tool took you from nothing to excellence. Instead of using 15% of the capabilities, you use 105%.

You figured out things the people who designed the tool didn’t know. And you surely figured out how to provide results that went way beyond your starting competence.

Some project managers want to design in a vacuum.

Tell us what you want and we’ll go away for six months and bring you what you asked for.”

More nonsense.

Experience causes scope creep. The purpose of learning is a better solution.

If you have misguided managers telling you you can’t afford to do a better job, they are taking money out of your pocket, now or later.

Find some buckets to overfill. It will improve your total project average.

The Dune Leadership Lessons – Ancient Texts Of A Future

Sunday, July 28, 2013

The Bartender's Lesson In Finance

One of my favorite projects was 3½ months as the general manager of a country club while a search was under way for a new GM.

My goal was to improve the performance of the dining and grill rooms, increase diner volume, and grow revenue from this area of the club.

To record sales, each area had a terminal for the central a point of sale (POS) system. Each night after the club closed, the POS was closed out and reconciled. My first night, the bartender, who typically did the close out, helped me learn the process and printed the tape with details of the close, including the gross receipts for the day.

When we were done, I took the tape and asked his estimate of the gross receipts amount – he said he had no idea. I asked for his best guess – I showed him the amount...he was way off. The next night he was closer and after about a week he was within a few hundred dollars of the actual amount.

The next night, as I was locking up the club, the bartender did the close out and was waiting for me with a Cheshire cat smile – when I went to start the close, he was standing there holding the tape, with a hand over the gross receipts figure. His smile got bigger when he ASKED ME for an estimate of the receipts for the day! After a quick mental review, I told him the figure – it was within $75 of the actual amount.

I told the bartender that having an accurate feel for the receipts is important – the same is true for general costs as well. I gave him an estimate of the daily combined labor cost for servers, cooks, bartenders, and other dining staff – he immediately said – on Tuesday we don't even take in that much.

My turn to have a huge smile as he says that knowing costs and receipts gives him some tools to manage our operations better. How I ask? The bartender, standing a little taller, says we can have fewer staff on hand for the lighter days, or send them home early based on the diner volume – servers, cooks, and others. Also we could do some specials or deals to promote more activity on the light days.

He got it – make adjustments in the cost and revenue sides of the ledger to better balance operating results. By knowing how the receipts and costs relate, and honing his ability to accurately estimate the key figures, he became more valuable to the club.

With his new outlook, the bartender was making a greater impact on the club's bottom line and in a short time was promoted to a more responsible role (and more $$).

A lesson well learned and applied to get positive results.

Sales Lab Posts – a fresh outlook

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Cost Goes Both Ways

I was invited to view a new software product, JAPMS, Just Another Project Management System. I was in a roomful of people who had letters after their names that meant they were experienced project managers.

The builders showed us screens that represented projects in multiple views, and multiple projects that rolled up into programs, and dashboards for most of the management belief systems.

They were showing us how incredibly easy it was to move a project to the right due to unforeseen circumstances. Man, one thing goes wrong and your whole project recalculates!

I’ve used many project management systems, from the sublime to the blue screen. I’ve even built and sold a couple. So I was surprised at the response when I asked, “What happens when you do something that cuts time from the project?”

They didn’t know what I was talking about. Obviously not owners. Not one in the room.

What do you mean?”

Well suppose somebody comes up with an activity that takes a couple of weeks off the delivery date?”

From the discussion, I realized I was in a room with a group who had never considered running a project in less time than expected. They were more interested in that than in how the software worked.

Back when I was running the construction company, I would tell the estimators to figure out how the competition would price a job, so we could figure out if we even wanted to bid it. The estimators would then figure a better way and bid that.

Then I would go to the site supervisors and tell them that if they couldn’t beat the estimators’ numbers, I didn’t need them on the project. They got very good and very bonused beating expectations.

In selling we see similar situations all the time. If we can’t get better with every implementation, where’s the fun?

Winning a bid just creates another opportunity to excel.

I really enjoy finding a similar requirement after enabling technology has improved. One time I built a second marketing services factory that could create better results in less than two thirds of the time and cost of our original factory. Of course, I had had a heavy hand in building the prototype operation.

Anyway, the project management software turned out to be another record keeping application, but several of the reviewers said they were going to look into building ways to shorten their projects into their project plans.

Who knew?

Sales Lab Resources – Tools for a new economy

Friday, July 19, 2013

Contingent Commitments

During the course of a month I go to several meeting and events which require advance registration (RSVP). I usually work the registration desk and find that between 20% to 40% are no shows – registered to come but do not make it.

Several people have shared their disappointment in the number of people who had indicated they were coming to their wedding, but did not show and did not even send a note of apology/explanation for their absence.

In recent post on a blog I follow, a fellow was gnashing his teeth about having taken a new job - he was starting on Monday - but late Friday he got an invitation for a second interview for his 'dream job' – what should I do, he whined.

When I ran the human resource function in my organizations, there was a small but growing trend of individuals who accepted our job offer and agreed to a start date, but did not show up – no call, no explanation – nothing except they did not make it – ever.

What is common in these four stories is that people committed to an action but a notable portion did not follow through on their commitment.

Why does this happen?

Of course there are unforeseen things that pop up last minute – boss calls an instant meeting, car overheats, kid emergency, spouse late to come home - the list goes on... This can certainly account for some of the no shows, but it does not account for the 'radio silence' in not contacting the host – even a “sorry I could not make it, something came up” shows more character than blowing off the failure to attend.

But what's the explanation for the rest to the group who did not have a personal crisis and still did not make it?

Is the idea that 'a person's word is their bond' not as valid or important today - don't make a promise you can't keep and always deliver on your promises is about personal integrity.

There now seems to be the 'contingent commitment' – it looks like a commitment but acts like a maybe. A pledge with an unstated 'except' – yes, I'll attend the event (except if I don't feel like it or something better comes along).

If someone consistently commits but does not follow through, how does that speak about their character? Would you trust them to be a key player on the team working on a high profile or critical project?

My comment back to the guy with a conflict between starting a new job and going to a second 'dream job' interview – “you committed to your new employer – show up to the job unless the employer has unilaterally changed the offer.”

Am I being too idealistic, expecting individuals to honor their word – or revise their commitment - for something as trivial as just another event? Have we gotten so busy and over-scheduled that it is acceptable to be casual about showing up?

Google + - Center of the Internet

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

First And Most Important

I was working with a manager who was unfamiliar with making personal commitments. He had a gift for “management” and “leadership.”

He has a host of imaginings about what can go wrong. He hasn’t been much on results.

Finally, I got him to list each potential problem that concerned him on a failing project and write his solution for every one. Meanwhile, his team was going ahead, hacking out the underbrush and creating a solution to the problem that had stopped him.

After six pages, he realized his problems weren’t likely to occur. He isn’t going to forget them, but he agreed to stop talking about them while other people are doing work. Severely limited his management communication.

I asked him what he had learned?

He said, “First and most important, what can we get done with the time and resources we know we have?” Then he said he had just realized that forward progress creates new options.

That’s a big win for me.

There are three stages to integrity.

First, is the belief that by making no promises, you can maintain perfect integrity.

Then, when no one wants to play with you, you can make appropriate promises and sweat hard to make them happen.

Finally, since life is a rodeo, ostentatious mastery is making the promises that should be made and harnessing the miracles necessary to deliver. That creates your following.

Which church do you attend?

Tips 4 The Big Chair – You’ll like it a lot!

Sunday, July 14, 2013

The Changing Social Paradigm

The Web provided the pathways. The software provided the user with sophisticated tools and utilities. Social media – like Facebook, LinkedIn, Google Plus, Twitter – provided the community and forum. All of which has contributed to far reaching change in the way we interact, conduct business, pursue careers, and entertain ourselves.

bitod (back in the old days) we were mostly a private people – we were limited by desire and opportunity in what information we shared with others – even the braggarts and attention seekers had limited range on spreading their exploits. The notables and infamous receive greater exposure when the news media ignite their 15-minutes of fame.

bitod social interaction was predominately face-to-face, by telephone conversation, and through written letters.

bitod information about individuals was costly to collect and therefore was not freely shared – although bulk information about people was a salable commodity.

Along comes the ability to easily share information – among friends and family or in the business community – and the information about individuals exploded, becoming widely available, intentionally and inadvertently.

Many found an advantage in creating a personal legend using LinkedIn to chronicle professional activities and accomplishments; or Facebook to develop an on-line personality mixing social and professional interest and exploits. This information is available for others to discover or the individual can point interested parties to it.

An alternative to traditional interaction is asynchronous written communication: instant message (IM) or text messaging. Using the phone keyboard one person can send a text message to another phone and the recipient can receive it immediately. Even though the message is a one-way send-receive process, the parties often carry on a 'conversation' of text messages going back and forth.

With the variety of communication alternatives now available, ranging from personal to impersonal, active to passive, engaging to transactional, the social paradigm – how we interact has been shaken up while being broadened dramatically.

People can share their most intimate thoughts and actions delivered in an impersonal way – by posting on-line.

Messaging is so handy and people are quite skilled in its special language as well as the speed of writing and sending, that they may be texting the person sitting next to them. Text rather than talk – indirect rather than direct is part of the shifting paradigm.

Others try with limited success to restrict personal information on-line and in social media sites, only to find it is elsewhere on the Net. A friend was shocked to learn that her name, age, address, and others in the household were readily available on-line from several sources, although she has been judicious about protecting such information.

During a presentation at Verisign earlier this year, Vint Cerf made the point that there is no privacy on the internet - it is a vast copy machine with no delete key. Any information about you can be found eventually.

How does this affect the new social paradigm? The common assumption is detailed information about the individual is available through social media and on the Web. The unspoken assumption is what is not readily available did not happen.

How does all this come together and how does it affect you?

You are profiled on the internet – your legend is a combination of what you have contributed directly – like your content on Google Plus, LinkedIn, and Facebook – and passive content that search engines and information aggregators discover.

Today a person interested in your background, accomplishments, and activities will research it on-line and use their own legend on the internet as a metric of the accuracy and completeness of your information.

For those of us in business – whether selling products/services, working in a role within an organization, or in a transition between roles – our collective profile is an important tool to increase our visibility and aid in our success. A strong showing aids in a winning contract, a promotion, or landing a new job; a weak showing can make it harder to reach your objective.

Personally I use LinkedIn as my address book and research tool for a person's career and accomplishments. I glance at Facebook content to get a broader sense of the individual. Google Plus is a running faucet of activities, thoughts, and alerts from people I find worth listening to about near and future innovation and change.

We each have a collective profile on the internet; it is important that you contribute and shape your content where able. That means working on your presence in the social media sites and publicizing your activities to be visible for search and information aggregators.

Writing a good profile (and updating it every 3-6 months) is an investment of your time and energy – but worth the results. Adding other content routinely to the site shows you are engaged and paints a vivid picture of your capabilities and interests. If not posting your own blog, commenting on others' posts increases your visibility, especially among your tribes – the people you know and others who may be interested in you.

Today's social paradigm is built on ready access to information about people and their activities and an array of methods to make contact, carry on conversations, and develop relationships.

Time has past to sit in wonder about how to engage social media for your benefit – your absence or 'in-name only' participation is not an answer.

Sales Lab Video Channel - Entertaining experience

Join us on Monday July 15th for The Changing Social Paradigm - How It Affects the Job Market, for details about this free presentation: 40Plus Washington, DC.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Useful Thinking About Big Data

Ever wonder why “Big Data” is referred to in terms of somebody’s solution, tool, application, utility?

And why that doesn’t offer much value to you?

You know there must be some value...otherwise why all the noise?

The best way to define Big Data is in terms of how you are currently using it. You aren’t? Bugger!

In that case, “Big Data,” like the blind guy said, “is like a wall.”

Like the blind guys and the elephant, we are going to have to construct a model that is useful and entertaining for you. Here goes:

Web 1.0 was that gray background on your computer screen with black type, “Hi, I’m computer programmer. Here is a picture of me and my dog!” That was 1995. I was artsy, so I had flaming letters, proving I had more research than taste.

Today, Web 1.0 continues on corporate websites with tabs like, “Our Team,” “Vision,” and “Shopping Cart.” A billboard in cyberspace, hiding the countryside above the big tubes

Web 2,0 is adding two-way conversations, the back and forth, often with hilarious or cringey  results. From trolling right up to creating new ideas, organizations, and things.

The Cluetrain Manifesto alerted us to the coming of Web 2.0, with the first thesis, All markets are conversations. If you've staked your claim on Google Plus or LinkedIn, you are a Web 2 resident.

Web 3.0 is repurposing what has already been loaded into the web.
For Web 3.0, the words, pictures, and ideas have often already been loaded into the Internet. Not all, but the ease of using existing data makes gathering whatever else is needed much lower cost. Repurposing existing data creates another round of value.

Examples are pictures of winsome cats and a caption, “I can has cheezburger?” to all the privileged and then stolen boilerplate in the legal universe, to everything everyone knows about our health, wealth, and happiness. That whole pile is big data, and the people telling you about it have clever hacks to connect pieces of that data into useful piles.

Scary? Could be.

Miraculous? Sometimes.

Will people be swindled? Always.

Will people be helped? More.

But the work of making it work is not magic. It is figuring out what goes where.

Doc Searls, an author of the previously mentioned Cluetrain, has been working on Vendor Relationship Management (VRM).

Customer Relationship Management allows siding salesmen to know what time you sit down to dinner so they can call. VRM allows you to make the best choice when you want something, and not spend time with it when you don’t.

Thankfully, Big Data and VRM are largely an open source collaboration, so you can find it and see what others are doing.

And yes, it’s bad what fast buck artists, lawyers, and legislators are trying to do to you. But yes, it’s good how you’ll be able to improve your life with the resources that are available to you.

The internet is so big it creates an opportunity for advantage from scaling and availability that we have never seen before. Sturgeon’s Law (Ninety per cent of everything is crud) notwithstanding, there are tremendous opportunities.

What we learned from the App Economy is:
  1. First in gets the biggest reward,
  2. Nothing is ever so completely finished that it can't be radically improved, and
  3. Collaboration outproduces closed systems.

Be on the lookout for a use of Big Data/Web 3.0 that will help you a lot.

Open Source Leadership – A useful way of seeing the world

Join us on Monday July 15th for The Changing Social Paradigm - How It Affects the Job Market, for details about this free presentation: 40Plus Washington, DC.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Write It Down! – Multiply the Value

The planning session was a success – plenty of energy, ideas flowed freely, all captured on the flip chart, everyone added to the conversation. At the end, the notes were reviewed, consolidated, prioritized, summarized as bullets on a new flip chart – which were typed up and distributed – a record of the session.

During implementation, the bullets are interpreted differently among the doers – people not at the planning session don't know the context and the session participants have different views of what the distilled items mean.

Like reading an email quickly written and sent – gremlins must have changed it – this isn't what I thought I said.

Business leaders need to get it out of their head and on to paper – was a point Randy Taussig, Core Leadership, made during his presentation of “Leadership Lessons from the Cockpit” at the July meeting of the YPLG. Writing it down is a beginning.

I carry a notebook (paper, not computer) and usually write extensive notes during a meeting or event – things of interest and significance at the moment. My notes serve to remind me of the discussion and aid recall of relevant information.

Often I'll write up my notes as a 'one-pager' to share with Dick and others, or to document a new concept or technology application. Writing up the notes is a learning experience in itself.

Reading and distilling the notes, I recall more detail about what was said and have a chance to think more deeply about it.

Focusing on content, instead of capturing what's said, offers an opportunity to validate and assess the information. – does it fit with current knowledge, does further research reflect, contradict, or not address the new information.

Distilling the notes eliminates distractions and improves clarity and depth by concentrating on significant elements of the presentation or event. I also find this 'head work' leads to greater scrutiny of the critical thinking behind these elements – often leading to an additional level of understanding.

My notes are not unlike the typed bullets from the meeting or the unfocused email – perhaps adequate but not illuminating. However, the process of writing up the notes helps to dig deeper and know the topic better, as well as creating a useful document to share with others. The writer learns more and a good document helps others to understand the significant elements from the meeting or event – well worth the effort.

The Sales Model – So that's how to do it!!

Join us on Monday July 15th for The Changing Social Paradigm - How It Affects the Job Market, for details about this free presentation: 40Plus Washington, DC .

Monday, July 8, 2013

Live Tweet Google Plus – The Center Of Your Internet

Monday July 1, I gave an hour plus talk about how I use Google Plus to 40PlusDC.

Best thing I learned at the meeting was about the baggage we make up about being unemployed. If you’re not interesting a potential partner, lack of employment is an easy a way out of a boring meeting. If you’ve created an interest, being immediately available is an asset.

The talk was live tweeted by Susan Mandel, on the 40PlusDC Twitter site.

This is the first time I’ve been live tweeted. I reversed the order from the 40 Plus twitter page so the tweets are in chronological order. I like it!
We plan to livetweet today's event, Google+ for Job Seekers, with @DickDavies starting @10am …

.@dickdavies: I say Google+ is the center of your Internet.

.@DickDavies: Writing your own resume can take 6 wks since we're coming to grips w/ who we are. Same for creating your 1st Google+ page.

.@dickdavies: It takes just 10 min. to create your 2nd Google+ page.

.@DickDavies: Use a URL shortener for your Google+ page., or

.@DickDavies: You don't get to layout your Google+ page. You answer questions & it comes up.

.@DickDavies: Creating Google+ will take you 6 weeks while you come up w/ the language @ who you are.

.@DickDavies: You can take parts of your Google+ page and paste them onto your LinkedIn (and other) profiles.

.@DickDavies: Google+ follows a stock template and it works.

.@DickDavies: My blogs are syndicated on my Google+ page. Artwork from my blog shows up on my Google+ page.

@DickDavies: Google+ will give you a great web presence.

.@DickDavies: I blog twice a week.

.@DickDavies: I tweet my blog posts.

.@DickDavies: If you retweet other people's stuff, you should add something or be the 1st to do it.

.@DickDavies: I learn a lot of useful Google+ tricks from presenters at the Google Technical User Group.

.@DickDavies: First thing I use Google+ for is to get news.

@DickDavies: You can use Google+ to post info to different streams of followers, so everyone doesn't have to see everything you post.

@DickDavies: I find lots of useful info on Google+.

.@DickDavies: Unlike Facebook and LinkedIn, anyone can follow you on Google+. You can block them if you want.

@DickDavies: Job hunters should get 20 face-to-face meetings a month. Can be just 15 minutes, if you leave something of value.

.@DickDavies: Have something interesting to talk about at your meetings, could be something you read on Google+.

.@DickDavies: I go to 20 meetings a month.

@DickDavies: Google+ is my morning paper. That's where I find stuff I need to know & events to attend.

.@DickDavies: I like XKCD blog, which is cartoons @ tech, science. I send things from it to my buds.

.@DickDavies: You can post stuff on Google+. & in the About section, you can put links to your blog, videos, recommendations, etc.

.@DickDavies: My Google+ page is the best-managed website about me.

.@DickDavies: Read other people's Google+ pages to learn how to create yours. R&D is Research and Duplicate.

.@DickDavies: Metrics - I aim for 20 face-to-face meetings a month, run an ongoing public program, and post 2 blog posts a week. That’s a good activity metric for the new economy.

.@DickDavies: Biggest advantage of Google+ over Facebook & LinkedIn is that you can choose who sees each of your posts.

@DickDavies: You want to post your original content on Google+.

.@DickDavies: You can use the best content from your personal website on Google+.

Tx @DickDavies for a great talk.

Sales Lab Handouts – You’re giving this away?

Monday, July 1, 2013

Teaching and Learning

I notice that when people get promoted, a story develops about their previous value. It boils down to, “The older I get, the better I was.”

That includes old fools standing up in front of a group, reading fifteen year old notes...with vigah!

In education, value comes from learning, not teaching. That’s a disappointment for teachers.

What if the purpose of education was to maximize learning...for every student? How would that change the teaching business?

I was working with a junior executive, who would look me in the face, nod his head, and take perfunctory notes. He wasn’t learning anything, he was never going to put our discussion to use.

He had learned how to be exceedingly amiable when someone was talking. It had taken him far. Teachers ate it up.

Learners want to take what has been taught and make something important. That often creates mission directed social skills.

According to St Bumpersticker, Well Behaved Women Seldom Make History, especially when well behaved means listening to an ongoing recitation of old notes. ]

If learning, not teaching, was what really mattered, what would you change?

Junior Academy – Home Of The Future