Thursday, December 3, 2009

Building People

The cornerstones of building into people
1. Challenge
2. Encourage
3. Speak Honestly

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

4 Ways to get Your Cold Call Email Read

Email is the primary mode of first contact these days. But many cold-call emails go without a reply. Whether you are reaching out about a job, a sales inquiry, or just making a networking contact, here are four ways to get the response you want:

1. Personalize it. Don't send a generic email all about yourself. Focus on what you and the recipient have in common. Mention the group you found her through on LinkedIn or something specific you know and admire about her company.

2. Demonstrate value. What do you have to offer the recipient? Be upfront about what you can give her and why she should respond.

3. Include a call to action. Tell her what it is you want her to do: email you back, reach out to set up a call, or forward your email to someone else.

4. Keep it clear. As with all email, make it clear, articulate, typo-free, and to the point.

Today's Management Tip was adapted from "Did Your Email Get Lost in Translation?" by David Silverman.

Friday, November 20, 2009

The Four Principles of Personal Development

1. For things to change for you, you must change.
2. For things to get better for you, you must get better.
3. Attitude is everything.
4. The Great Promise – You can have more than you’ve got because you can become more than you are. But if you stay where you are, you will always have what you’ve got.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Never Quit

When things go wrong as they sometimes will.
When the road you’re trudging seems all up hill.
When funds are low and the debts are high.
And you want to smile, but you have to sigh.
When care is pressing you down a bit.
Rest, if you must, but don’t you quit.
Life is queer with its twists and turns.
As everyone of us sometimes learns.
And many a failure turns about
When he might have won had he stuck it out:
Don’t give up though the pace seems slow –
You may succeed with another blow.
Success is failure turned inside out –
The silver tint of the clouds of doubt.
And you never can tell how close you are.
It may be near when it seems so far:
So stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit –
It’s when things seem worst that you must not QUIT.

My Personal Philosophy

I give value first. Evidence of the value I give can be found in things that I do and the examples I set. Whether it is in my personal or professional life.
I help other people. To the ability that I am able, I provide help for other people. I provide help for people the same way others have provided it for me. I can't help everyone, but I help as many as I can.
I strive to be the best at what I love to do. This statement is as much an affirmation as it is a philosophical expression. Striving to be my best means I never quite achieve it, and I am always trying to do better. In essence, it says that so long as I am alive, I will be a student.
I establish long-term relationships with people. This means in every decision that I make, I am thinking long term. When you think long term, it's more likely that you will make better decisions, especially as relates to fairness and ethics.

I have fun and I do that every day. The daily dose of fun is as important a dose as you could ever find, or ever find time to do. By having fun every day, it means you're smiling every day. And if you need a deeper definition of this, it probably means you're not having enough fun. I found out a secret. If you LOVE what you do, all of your days are the same -- they're holidays -- and I wish the same for you.

Don't Just Communicate, Explain

Good communicators know they need to use energy and enthusiasm to persuade their audience. Great communicators know they also need to explain what all the excitement is about. Next time you need to share something important, be sure you convey enthusiasm, but also clearly explain what is at stake and answer the question "What does it mean?" Lay out what the issue, initiative, or problem is — and be clear about what it isn't. Use metaphors only if they are helpful to your point and share details that support your claims. Then, define what you want people to do by establishing clear expectations. Don't lose or confuse your audience with too many details, though — save those for written communications

How to Ask for Advise Without Looking Stupid

Jodi Glickman Brown

Last week, more evidence emerged in the Securities and Exchange Commission's debacle over the mishandling of the Bernie Madoff über-fraud. While the SEC failed repeatedly to uncover the greatest Ponzi scheme in our country's history ($50 billion and counting), the New York Times revealed a tale of "unseasoned people uncertain about what to do and unwilling to ask for help."
But learning how to ask for help — and how to do it right — is critical to doing your job well and setting yourself up for success.
You may be afraid of looking dumb, but to be afraid to ask for and get the help you need is inexcusable, especially when the stakes are high. Asking for help in the workplace is a good thing. In fact, asking for help the right way can show how smart you are: it demonstrates that you've got good judgment and shows that you know what you know and what you don't know. Moreover, getting help up front saves endless time, energy and resources on the back end; in the Madoff case, it could have saved billions of dollars and immeasurable heartache.
Of course, it's not just asking for help — it's asking the right way. I recently coached a young man in commercial real-estate who relayed a conversation he had with his boss about starting a new regional initiative for his firm's brokers. Several times he asked, "How should I do this?" or "How should I think about this?" I cringed every time.
Instead, think about the following strategy to get the best answer — and show how smart you are — the next time you ask for help:

1. Start your question with what you know. Do your homework first. Get enough background information to put your issue or problem in context. Give the other person an idea of what you've completed to date or what you know already and then proceed to explain what's outstanding, where or how you're struggling, or what you need help with.
2. Then, state the direction you want to take and ask for feedback, thoughts or clarification. Form an opinion on what you think the answer should be. Don't just ask, "How should I reach out to the brokers?" Instead propose a course of action and get your boss's feedback: "I'm thinking of sending out a mass email to the brokers but I'm not sure if that's the most effective format...what do you think of that approach?"
3. If you don't know the direction to take, ask for tangible guidance. Instead of asking "What should I do?" ask specifically for the tools you'll need to make that decision yourself, such as a recent example of a similar analysis or a template for a given task. Or, ask for a referral to someone who has worked on a similar initiative or project in the past.

In the vast majority of cases, you'll get a lot further in your career by asking the tough, smart questions. Had the SEC junior staffers pressed senior management for more guidance and help, Bernie might have been stopped long ago.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

5 Traits of the New Creative Leader

Yesterday's leadership skills will not work in today's fast-moving and evolving world. Only creative leaders who are visionary and empathetic will succeed. Here are five things you can do to succeed as a creative leader:
1. Instead of commanding, coach your team and organization toward success.
2.Don't manage people, empower them. The know-how, experience, and solutions are often out there; it's a matter of helping people discover them.
3.Cultivate respect by giving it, instead of demanding it.
4.Know how to manage both success and failure.
5.Show graciousness in your management rather than greediness. Be humble about your successes and whenever possible, give someone else the opportunity to shine.

Today's Management Tip was adapted from "Why Are Creative Leaders So Rare?" by Navi Radjou.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

3 Tips to Making Sustainability a Core Part of Your Business

Sustainability is here to stay. Yet too many organizations treat sustainability as a temporary compliance issue. Use these three tips to make sustainability central to your business:
1. Elevate responsibility for sustainability to the C-suite. Everyone at the top of the organization should be focused on sustainability, but ultimately, responsibility should lie with one person. Establish a Chief Sustainability Officer and fill the position with someone who has the expertise and power to make it an influential role.
2. Treat sustainability like a product or service. Incorporate the "triple bottom line" into the company lexicon. Ask people to think about economic, ecological, and social returns.
3. Establish permanent partnerships with the sustainability community. Identify the NGOs who have influence in your field. Treat them like critical customer accounts and cultivate relationships that allow you to identify win-win solutions to problems
Written by Bob Lurie

How do you "Out Do" the Competition

Out think. Whatever big companies are thinking, it isn’t enough. You don’t have to go very far to beat them in this department. In most cases just think “for the customer” rather that yourself, your job, or your shareholders. Think “invest,” not “cut.” Think “value,” not “price.” Think “be your best.”
Out hustle. This is easy. Most big companies are about as agile as the Queen Mary. And their employees have a sense of urgency about them that’s somewhere between zero and minus zero. Employees of large companies typically have an attitude of “someone else will do it.” This is your game plan: Get up early. Stay up late. Talk to every customer you have ever had. Schedule breakfasts and lunches six weeks in advance. Let your customers know your new hours start before they get there and end after they leave.
Out sell. Be there for the business, and be there when your customer is ready to do business. This means you also have to be there when they are NOT ready to do business. You can’t just hang around for orders. You have to be a consistent value provider in order to be able to earn the business when the time is right and the time is ripe.
Out serve. Now is the time for all good companies to come to the aid of their customer. (With homage to typing teachers.)Now is the time to INCREASE service and service offerings, not cut back.IDEA: Next time a customer calls and asks for help or a favor, before they can say a word, you interrupt and say, “Whatever you want, the answer is yes!” This will make them smile, and feel great about asking. Set the tone for positive action with your words, and follow it up with your deeds.
Out deliver. Cut your delivery times in half. No longer is the excuse “The trucks are already loaded” a valid one. Do whatever it takes to deliver what they need, when they need it.
Out humanize. Throw away your computerized answering service before and after hours. And throw away your voicemail. When the phone rings, answer it. This will put you ahead of 99% of all other businesses in the world. Big businesses answer their phones with a computer and say, “In order to serve you better…” Who the hell are they kidding? (Answer: themselves.)
Out communicate. Throw away the “policy manual” and your “corporate speak.” It’s no longer valid in these times. Any fool quoting “policy” or avoiding direct answers in times of economic chaos is certain to lose now and into the future.
Out truth. One day the bank says they’re in great shape. The next day they lay off 30,000 people. All truths are eventually revealed. Why not just start with it? The more truth you tell your customers BOTH external and internal, the more they will respect you, and remain loyal to you.
Out Google. This is the easiest one of all. When your customers go shopping for whatever it is you sell, make certain you’re number one in your name, and at or near the top in your product or service. This is solely dependent on your “Googlejuice” – not your size. When your customer needs an answer or a resource, they Google it – just like you do.
Out surprise. Even in these times you can still be memorable. Create a budget to surprise customers. Anything from a pizza, to lending an employee for a day or two, will be appreciated. And remembered.
Written by Jeffery Gitomer

Monday, October 12, 2009

The Truth

The bitter taste of poor quality lingers far longer then the initial sweatness of a cheap price

5 Steps to Defusing Discord on Your Team

Team disagreements can be constructive, but as a leader, you need to make sure they don't devolve into discord. Prolonged conflict on a team can be bad for morale, retention, and productivity. Use these five steps to address discord before it hurts your team:

1. Diagnose the root cause. What people are seemingly disagreeing over is likely not the real reason for the conflict. Often the problem is the result of something that happened long ago. Find the underlying cause first.
2. Don't take sides. As the leader, taking sides will only deepen the conflict and feed resentment.
3. Defuse the conflict. Make clear that cooperation in the solution is mandatory and that grudges will not be tolerated.
4. Find common ground. Focus team members on what they have in common and what they want and need to achieve together.
5. Follow through. Your work isn't over yet. Continue to monitor the situation and address any residual issues promptly

Written by John Baldoni

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Need to be Better at Leading Change.......Start Small

Change is a constant in today's organizations. Leaders need to be adaptive, flexible, and innovative. However, trying to be "better at leading change" can be an overwhelming and vague challenge. Instead of taking on a leadership style full force, start with small experiments: try out a new way of delegating; test different approaches to communicating your vision and expectations; experiment with new ways of giving feedback. Reflect on what works and what doesn't. These small steps are manageable and what you learn from these experiments will help you shape your leadership skills, while modeling how change happens.
Written by Stew Friedman

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

3 Survival Lessons for Small Business

We hear daily reports of small businesses going bankrupt. But for every small business that goes belly up, there are dozens more that are thriving. Here are three lessons from them on how you can operate your business to survive even the deepest of downturns:

1. Agility. Small businesses have a great advantage in a fast-changing world: they adapt quickly. Without layers of bureaucracy slowing them down, small businesses can act fast to changing circumstances.
2. Rapid testing and refining. Social media and online marketing tools allow even the smallest of businesses to do real-time market testing. They can also engage customers and build a community around their business.
3. Planning. Plans are often outdated as soon as they come out of the printer. Small businesses tend to focus more on planning and less on plans. They watch their surroundings and act accordingly.

Today's Management Tip was adapted from "How Small Businesses Win Big in Tough Economies" by Jeff Stibel

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Three Tips for Becoming an Energizer

Some people become leaders no matter what their chosen path because their positive energy is so uplifting. Even in tough times, they always find a way. They seem to live life on their own terms even when having to comply with someone else's requirements. When they walk into a room, they make it come alive. When they send a message, it feels good to receive it. Their energy makes them magnets attracting other people.
Just plain energy is a neglected dimension of leadership. It is a form of power available to anyone in any circumstances. While inspiration is a long-term proposition, energy is necessary on a daily basis, just to keep going.
Three things characterize the people who are energizers.
1. A relentless focus on the bright side. Energizers find the positive and run with it. A state government official in a state that doesn't like government overcomes that handicap through her strong positive presence. She dispenses compliments along with support for the community served by her agency, making it seem that she works for them rather than for the government. She greets everyone with the joy generally reserved for a close relative returning from war. I can see skeptics' eyebrows starting to rise, but judging from her success, people love meeting with her or getting her exclamation-filled emails. She is invited to everything.
The payoffs from stressing the bright side can be considerable. In my new book, SuperCorp, I tell the story about how Maurice Levy, CEO of the global marketing company Publicis Groupe, tilted the balance in his company's favor when his firm was one of several suitors for Internet pioneer Digitas. At one point in a long courtship, Digitas hit problems, and the stock collapsed. One of Publicis's major competitors sent Digitas's head an email saying, "Now you are at a price which is affordable, so we should start speaking." Levy sent an email the same day saying, "It's so unfair that you are hurt this way because the parameters remain very good." Levy's positive energy won the prized acquisition.
2. Redefining negatives as positives. Energizers are can-do people. They do not like to stay in negative territory, even when there are things that are genuinely depressing. For example, it might seem a stretch for anyone to call unemployment as "a good time for reflection and redirection while between jobs," but some energizers genuinely stress the minor positive notes in a gloomy symphony. A marketing manager laid off by a company hit hard by the recession saw potential in people he met at a career counseling center and convinced them that they could start a service business together. He became the energizing force for shifting their definition of the situation from negative to an opportunity.
"Positive thinking" and "counting blessings" can sound like naïve cliches. But energizers are not fools. They can be shrewd analysts who know their flaws and listen carefully to critics so that they can keep improving. Studies show that optimists are more likely to listen to negative information than pessimists, because they think they can do something about it. To keep moving through storms, energizers cultivate thick skins that shed negativity like a waterproof raincoat sheds drops of water. They are sometimes discouraged, but never victims.
An entrepreneur who has built numerous businesses and incubated others had a strong personal mission to raise national standards in his industry. He began that quest by meeting individually with the heads of major industry organizations, all of whom told him that he would fail. He nodded politely, asked for a small commitment to one action anyway, just as a test, he said, and went on to the next meeting. Eight or nine meetings later, he was well along on a path everyone had tried to discourage him from taking.
3. Fast response time. Energizers don't dawdle. Energizers don't tell you all the reasons something can't be done. They just get to it. They might take time to deliberate, but they keep the action moving. They are very responsive to emails or phone calls, even if the fast response is that they can't respond yet. This helps them get more done. Because they are so responsive, others go to them for information or connections. In the process, energizers get more information and a bigger personal network, which are the assets necessary for success.
The nice thing about this form of energy is that it is potentially abundant, renewable, and free. The only requirements for energizers are that they stay active, positive, responsive, and on mission. Are you an energizer?

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

React to the Future, Not the Past

When someone yells at you, your gut reaction may be to yell back. But following your gut can get you in trouble, and in this case, may result in a damaged relationship. Instead, try responding to the outcome. When an unsettling event happens, pause and ask yourself: what is the outcome I want? Instead of reacting to the event, act in accordance with your desired outcome. The person who yelled at you: do you want an improved relationship with him or do you want to make him feel as bad as you do? If it's the latter, go ahead and yell back. If it's the former, empathize with his anger and respond to the underlying issue in a calm manner.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Value Propositions That Work

Most people can't explain what their company does — its value proposition. The best way to start getting employees and management aligned is to understand the benefit the company is trying to deliver to its customers. Consider that there are only four types of consumer benefits that matter and by extension only four categories of value propositions that work.
1. Best quality. Richard Branson once said that being the best at something is a pretty good business model, and I agree. Think of brands that set a standard, like Louisville baseball bats, Benjamin Moore paints, and Stradivarius violins. You don't have to be a sports nut to have heard of the 125-year history of the Louisville Slugger, nor do you have to be a classical music aficionado to have heard of the legendary Stradivarius violins. Brands that set standards are sometimes luxury brands, but not necessarily. You don't need luxury to set a best-in-class standard. Brands like Benjamin Moore define quality in their categories. That's an enviable position and a value proposition that works.
2. Best bang for the buck. Recessionary woes have amplified the fact that some consumers will always buy on price. Best-in-class value doesn't always mean lowest price, however, but rather the best quality-to-price ratio. Jet Blue is a good example of a company that, though it may not offer the cheapest or best in comfort travel, does a good job of communicating its value relative to its price point. Dell, Chipotle, Ikea, and Toyota are other good examples of best-in-class value, and their value propositions have been sustainable through the years. Incidentally, the founder of Ikea, Ingvar Kamprad, has regularly traded places with Bill Gates on various world's richest lists.
3. Luxury and aspiration. On the other end of the spectrum from bang-for-buck players are luxury providers that promise the experience of a wealthy lifestyle to aspirational consumers. Ralph Lauren is one of the masters of a lifestyle luxury brand; others are Rolex, BMW, and Hermes. While the luxury segment was hurt during the downturn, it is almost certain that as the economy rebounds that customers will return to luxury goods as their discretionary spending increases.
4. Must-have. One of the most attractive value propositions we have seen and studied are the "must-haves." These include basic goods — certain foods, for instance. During my prior work with Thomson Reuters, we often talked about "must-have" content that business professionals could not do their jobs without. The critical legal information and tools WestLaw provides to lawyers are an example. As long as there are legal cases, there will be a need for legal information. It does not mean there will not be competition, but if the category you are pursuing is must-have, then the market leaders will have a great prize to share.
Does your company's value proposition fit in one or more of the categories above? If not, it is time to adjust. Figure out how to reposition your offering. Stop being stuck in the middle and aim to set a new standard
Written by:Anthony Tjan

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Thought for the Day

The grass is always greener...............only when you water it

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Total Leadership

by Stewart D. Friedman

Now more than ever, your success as a leader isn't just about being a great businessperson. You've got to be a great person, performing well in all domains of your life -- your work, your home, your community, and your private self. That's a tall order. The good news is that, contrary to conventional wisdom about "balance," you don't have to assume that these domains compete in a zero-sum game. Total Leadership is a game-changing blueprint for how to perform well as a leader not by trading off one domain for another, but by finding mutual value among all four. The author shows you how to achieve these "four-way wins" as a leader who can: Be real: Act with authenticity by clarifying what's important Be whole: Act with integrity by respecting the whole person Be innovative: Act with creativity by experimenting to find new solutions With engaging examples and clear instruction, Friedman provides more than thirty hands-on tools for using these proven principles to produce stronger business results, find clearer purpose in what you do, feel more connected to the people who matter most, and generate sustainable change. Most leadership development books focus only on your professional skills, while books about personal growth concentrate on your needs beyond work. Total Leadership is different. It's a unique and long-awaited resource that shows how to win in all domains of life.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Networking by the Numbers

Last week I had my 200 networking meeting (thanks Frank Leggio), and in going through my records I came up with the following:

200 face to face networking meetings
13,850 miles driven to meetings
72 breakfasts at First Watch
144 wheat germ pancakes (28,860 calories)
68 lunches (who knows how many calories)
30 meetings at Panera
20 gallons of ice tea (just a guess)
51 trips downtown
2 parking tickets
1 speeding ticket

Opportunity to network with great people like you PRICELESS

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Quote to Live By

You must be quick to hear, slow to speak and even slower to anger.
(James 1:19)

Monday, August 24, 2009

Integration is the Name of the Game

For companies that care about the customer experience (and who doesn't these days?), integration is a must. Choreograph all your customer touch points so the customer has a seamless experience whether he walks into your store, reaches your call center, or uses your website. Be sure the systems and processes that support this coordination are in sync. Often, companies have channel-specific silos that are culturally and logistically at odds. Create incentives that encourage your people to coordinate across those channels. Look out for those who serve as barriers to a harmonized customer experience. If they can't learn to coordinate, it may be time for them to make room for their integration-minded colleagues.

Today's Management Tip was adapted from "How Integrated Are Your Customer Experiences?" by Peter Merholz.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Laying the Groundwork for Growth

Executives surveyed by McKinsey in late July expect their companies to remain financially cautious over the next 12 months, yet they also indicated they are actively seeking growth — and doing so in more ways than they were just six months earlier. Among specific actions companies might take in response to the crisis but haven't yet, many more plan to introduce new products or services or to search for M&A opportunities than plan to start cost cutting or other defensive actions. This finding indicates both that most companies have cut costs already and that more are seeing opportunities.

Source: Economic Conditions Snapshot, August 2009: McKinsey Global Survey Results

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

How to Innovate with Less

Even large corporations need to innovate like start-ups when resources and time become scarce. Here are four tips for innovating in a tough economy:

Forget the big budget. Innovation doesn't have to cost a lot. Rely on open-source software, online market research tools, and virtual prototypes to test ideas cheaply.

Test in the real market. Don't waste time endlessly perfecting ideas before you launch. Get a "good enough" design out there, then test and refine in the market.

Skip the business plan. Focus on making the idea happen, not planning every detail.

Make decisions and move on. Tough times require quick decision making. Don't be afraid to wind down ideas when they start to fail. You'll free up scarce resources for the next good idea.

Today's Management Tip was adapted from "Four Lessons from Y-Combinator's Fresh Approach to Innovation" by Scott Anthony.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Using Your Faith to Cope with Change

1. Keep a positive attitude toward change. Although not all changes are good, we do have the freedom to choose our attitude. Change, even when it is negative, can be an ally if you take advantage of it and use it for good: “Now your attitudes and thoughts must all be constantly changing for the better” (Ephesians 4:23 LB)
.2. Never stop learning. Never think you know it all. Stay humble and you’ll be surprised who you can learn from—friends, neighbors, kids, employees, clients, and business competitors, etc. “The intelligent man is always open to new ideas. In fact, he looks for them” (Proverbs 18:15 LB).
3. Stay flexible! Before glass bottles were invented, wine was kept in canteens made of animal skins. As they aged, they’d become brittle and crack from new wine that was still fermenting. Jesus once said, “You can’t put new wine in old wineskins” (Luke 5:37–39). Here was his point: When faced with change, we must adjust or we’ll explode!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Great Sales Adviced on Any Level

Three things you need to know before you can sell anything

1. What is their pain and if they have more then one what is the order of importance.
2. Have them define what the dollar consequences of those problems on their job and the company
3. Have them define the impact of the pain on their current business and the future.

If you can start with these three things you will be more successful in your sales process.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Need to Build Trust in Your Team?.....Give Them Your Trust First

Although skepticism has its merits, trust is crucial to team effectiveness. To cultivate trust among your team members, place your trust in them first. Show them you believe they are competent and up to the job at hand. Value their contributions by trusting them with increasingly challenging tasks and give them the autonomy they need to shine. Leaders who "test" employees can do serious harm to the overall well-being of the team. Trust is a two-way street and the sooner you start down your side, the sooner your employees will accelerate down theirs.

Today's Management Tip was adapted from "6 Questions to Help You Build Trust on Your Team" by Lieutenant Colonel Diane Ryan.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Setting Expectations

You can set people up for success or failure by your expectations.People tend to become what they think we expect them to be. If you communicate to the people around you that you expect them to be lazy, uncreative, and negative, that’s probably how they will respond to you. On the other hand, if you treat people like winners, they’re likely to become winners. Psychologists call it “The Pygmalion Effect.”
The best salesmen expect customers to buy their product.
The best executives expect employees to have creative ideas.
The best speakers expect audiences to be interested.
The best leaders expect people to want to follow.
The best teachers expect students to learn.
Would you like to bring out the best in those around you? Here's the key: Treat them the way they could be! Don’t just “tell it like it is.” Tell it like it could be.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Making the Best Out of Your Networking

In the past nine months I have learned a lot about networking. I almost consider myself a professional at this stage. First and foremost there are a lot of gracious people out there that are willing to help. Taking the time out of their busy day to network with someone they don’t even know and may never meet again is commendable. People’s willingness to help is rooted in the fact that they have either been or know someone out of work.
People differ on ways to get networking appointments; I prefer “warm” calls based upon a reference from a friend or networking contact. Emailing is the mode of contact that works best for me. But after you get the appointment how do you get the most out of the meeting? These are a few simple rules that work for me:
Begin and end every meeting with a “thank you”
Ask questions about them personally and professionally
Listen, Listen, Listen
Ask for 3 additional networking contacts
Ask how you “can help them”
Always send a thank you note to the contact and whomever referred that person to you.
Keep great records of who you contacted, when, and who referred you.

Following these simple rules won’t guarantee a job but it can help you build your network and increase your chances of finding that next great opportunity.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

There is always time to LEARN

Don't let your ego get in the way of your desire to learn. Successful leaders keep their minds open to new things because they know that no matter how high their level of mastery is, there is always more to discover. If you've become an expert in one field, seek out other fields where you can transfer and apply your expertise. When facing challenges, even ones you've faced many times before, adopt a learner's approach — ask questions or find new ways to solve the problem.

Today's Management Tip was adapted from "Never Let Your Ego Stop You from Learning" by John Baldoni

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Banks developers launch inclusion efforts

The master development team of Carter and the Dawson Co. will host its first general information session for the private development portion of the Banks, the massive development being built on Cincinnati’s central riverfront.
The goal of the event is to encourage the participation of small, disadvantaged, minority- and women-owned business enterprises and minority and female workers. The session also will provide general information about private development phases of the Banks and encourage both disadvantaged business enterprise (DBE) and small business enterprise (SBE) certification.

The event is free and will give interested people and businesses the opportunity to hold one-on-one discussions with members of the Carter-Dawson project team and other project personnel. Pre-registration is strongly encouraged. Those interested in attending should contact Ellington Management Services at
The session will be held from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday, July 28, at the Community Action Agency at Jordan’s Crossing on Langdon Farm Road.
The Banks is a joint project of the city of Cincinnati and Hamilton County. Construction is under way on the first phase, which will include a revised street grid, a parking garage and at least 300 apartments and 70,000 square feet of retail.
Once completed over the next decade, the project cost will reach nearly $1 billion and will be Cincinnati’s largest mixed-used development with a blend of residential, office, hotel and retail components.

Monday, July 27, 2009

3 Tips for Leading Without Authority

In today's flat organizations, leaders need to influence and persuade not only their direct reports, but a cast of peers, contractors, and managers. Here are three tips to assume authority in any situation, whether or not you're the official leader:
Remember enthusiasm is contagious. Your genuine excitement about a project will motivate others to become engaged and care about it.
Take care of your own ego. No one wants to be responsible for making you feel important. Assume authority by demonstrating excellence in your field, not soliciting others' approval.
Lead quietly. When you don't have formal authority propping you up, others will be suspicious if you grab the reins too forcefully. Don't be overinvested in the outcome; lead quietly, get everyone involved, and ask questions along the way.

Today's Management Tip was adapted from "Leading When You Don't Have Formal Authority" by Steven DeMaio.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Good News in Home Sales for a Change

Greater Cincinnati's June home sales notched their first year-over year gain in more than three years, while Northern Kentucky's record improved from last year, but remained in minus column.
The Cincinnati Area Board of Realtors reported 1,955 June home sales, up 0.8 percent from 1,940 in June 2008. The average price dropped 13 percent year over year, to $164,450, from $189,372, and gross volume was off 12.5 percent, to $321.5 million from $367.4 million.

Compared to May, home sales jumped 16.6 percent, with the average sale price rising almost 6 percent and gross volume up 23.4 percent.
For the first six months of 2009, 8,460 homes were sold, down 11 percent from 9,524 in the same 2008 period. The average sale price fell 12 percent, to $145,201 from $165,472, while gross volume dropped 22 percent, to $1.23 billion from $1.58 billion.
June home sales in Northern Kentucky jumped more than 17 percent over the previous month, according to the monthly report from the Northern Kentucky Association of Realtors.
Sales are off about 7 percent year over year, but the drop seems to be moderating, the association said in a news release.
Homes sold in June totaled 491, compared to 529 in June 2008. In May of this year, 405 homes were sold, according to the report.
Year over year, the average sale price fell 17.7 percent to $133,320 from $162,007, while total volume decreased 23.6 percent, to $65.5 million from $85.7 million.
First-time homebuyers taking advantage of a federal tax credit have helped push up home sales, said Johnny Hodge, president of the association, in the release.
For the first half of 2008, home sales fell 18 percent, to 2,210 from 2,699. The average sale price dropped 21 percent, to $134,757, from $170,112, and total volume plunged 35 percent, to $297.8 million from $459.1 million in June 2008.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

What McDonalds Can Teach Us About Recovery (long but worth the read)

With all the news coverage today on financial mismanagement, I can tell you from first-hand experience about a company that continues to prosper amid all the chaos. And I think it is worth trying to understand why.
I have spent most of my career inside McDonald's. First, as a crew member, peeling potatoes and flipping burgers in my native Stockholm, Sweden; then, as most McDonald's executives, advancing through the ranks and learning the tricks of the trade through marketing, training, HR and operations. After nearly 10 years at the helm of the Swedish operations, I moved to the U.S. to assume the role of chief strategy officer.
This was a time when McDonald's was facing its toughest headwind in the history of the company. Some of it was self-inflicted; some of it was just evolutionary. Most institutions die young, as they fail to reinvent themselves. As we celebrate the 200th anniversary of Charles Darwin, it is important to remind ourselves that only the most adaptable species indeed survive. So it didn't come as a real surprise that after decades of steady growth rates, even McDonald's would stall. It happens to almost everyone. But as I studied the corporate history books, I realized that the rather short list of companies that had reinvented themselves was intimidating and certainly humbling.
At McDonald's, we tried many things. Some might say, too many things. But at least we tried them with a sincere intention to find our "inner voice" again. The job of chief strategist in times of rediscovery is closer to "corporate psychiatrist/philosopher" than traditional strategist. Your tools are less about spreadsheets and data and more about introspection and deep discovery. If you once were successful, chances are that somewhere in the past lie the building blocks of your future. Your job is to find whatever it was that connected you to your audience in the past and then to adjust it to be more relevant in today's marketplace -- without losing its essential connectivity.
Fortunately, there were many people wanting us to succeed. But there were also many, often loud, voices that couldn't wait to see us fail. Perhaps they inspired us to try harder. Few things motivate us as much as proving the cynics wrong.
What emerged out of years of hard work were two important insights. Both are simple and powerful.
The first was that there was really nothing wrong with the original premise of our business model. As our chief marketing officer at the time, Larry Light, said: "The time we need a new business model is when we believe that our customers no longer 'Deserve a Break Today.'" Clearly, in today's time-starved landscape, this was not the case.
The second insight was that we had confused size with success. Over time, we started to believe that one more restaurant meant "job well done." And sooner rather than later, all our metrics, all of our incentives and all of our capital were chasing growth -- the bad form of growth: growth from quantity, not quality.
As we dug in, we realized that growth must be "deserved" in order to be sustainable. As long as you are getting better, it is good to get bigger. But if you are buying size, particularly at the cost of quality, then you are on a slippery and ultimately unsustainable slope.
In 2003, we launched our new strategy, "Growth from being better." We aligned the entire company around this very simple idea. Human and financial resources were now directed at truly improving, not just increasing, their activities. The rest is really history. The turnaround of McDonald's has been a remarkable one.
To me, it has been a labor of love for a few reasons. First, McDonald's is an important company. Its success matters to so many -- particularly the hundreds of thousands (probably millions) of people who get their first job there and who learn critical skills for life. Secondly, McDonald's is a decentralized company. It is really a system of companies -- thousands of them. Most of them are small entrepreneurs who have invested their savings in a dream to be in business for themselves, but not by themselves.
I believe there are four important lessons that can be learned from the remarkable turnaround at McDonald's.
1. How you grow matters as much as that you grow. The financial services industry would have benefitted from a focus on "growth by quality, not by quantity." Clearly, the "growth at any cost" credo of some led to exactly that: any cost.
2. Changing your business model may not be needed, but belief in it is. Start by asking yourself what business you are in and whether customers still have a need for it. If they do, commit to it -- fully. At McDonald's, we knew that people still "deserved a break today" and we were willing to let go of all other initiatives (many of them very exciting) in order to demonstrate unwavering commitment to the core business.
3. None of us is as good as all of us. It's the system, stupid! Understanding that you are leading a system, not a company or a person, is a critical insight if you want to successfully change something large. McDonald's is extremely good at this. To some people (me included), it is a frustrating process. It takes time. It requires buy-in and plenty of patience and tolerance from everyone. It also requires adequate policing, oversight and incredibly detailed measurement systems. This is tedious work, and intimidating to those being measured. But it's needed.
Large systems work best with a hard-wired operating system in the hub that enables innovation, entrepreneurship and decision-making in the nodes. The Internet would not have happened without HTML. Our country would not have prospered without the U.S. Constitution. But it is worth all the pain. And it must start with the humility that you are in the service of something larger than your own institution. As we say at BE-CAUSE -- the company I founded -- a purpose bigger than your product.
4. Plan your work, and work your plan. At McDonald's we created a "plan to win." Some would argue that it wasn't perfect. Perhaps it wasn't, but we decided that it was. And we haven't looked back. Even through tragic circumstances -- losing two CEOs in less than one year due to tragic deaths -- the plan stayed intact and is still central today to the focus and alignment of the organization.
So often, companies feel a need to change something for the sake of changing it. I say, "If it works, don't change it."

Mats Lederhausen is a former senior executive with McDonald's and the founding partner of BE-CAUSE, a company focused on building businesses with a purpose bigger than their product

3 Ways to Avoid Micro Managing Yourself

Training yourself to avoid micromanaging others is one thing; but handling controlling tendencies toward your own work can be even harder. Here are three ways to keep the micromanager in you from impeding your own progress:
Keep your eyes on the prize. Don't focus on details before the big picture is laid out. Keep the larger project goal in mind and resist temptation to dive into minutiae.
Don't second guess yourself. You'll inconvenience yourself and the people who work for you if you shift project direction midstream. Take a complete pass through a project before deciding to change course.
Micromanage when it's time. Almost every project requires some detail work. When you reach that point, unleash the micromanager in you and handle it.

Today's Management Tip was adapted from "Are You Micromanaging Yourself?" by Steven DeMaio.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Quote for a Lifetime

Tought times don't last forever, but tough people do!

Greatest Business Book I Ever Read

The ages are filled with great business books. The book stores devote entire sections to “Business”. Most of us have read “Good to Great” “First Break all the Rule” or the books by Jack Welch of GE. But the best business (and life) book that I have ever read is Patrick Lencioni’s, Five Dysfunction of a Team. This is a first in a series written by Lencioni but is the cornerstone of his work. Five Dysfunction of a Team describes in detail the problems that teams have in accomplishing their goals and meeting objectives. Overcoming the Five Dysfunctions allows teams to prosper and become successful. The main building block on accomplishing success is trust.
Few businesses or teams are built upon the concept of TRUST. Without trust you can not resolve conflict and will not be able to become successful. If we could begin every relationship, whether it is in business or in life with TRUST, we would be much more successful.
I highly recommend this book and the series he has written. It is quick read but highly worth the time.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

18 Minute Plan for Managing Your Day

Yesterday started with the best of intentions. I walked into my office in the morning with a vague sense of what I wanted to accomplish. Then I sat down, turned on my computer, and checked my email. Two hours later, after fighting several fires, solving other people's problems, and dealing with whatever happened to be thrown at me through my computer and phone, I could hardly remember what I had set out to accomplish when I first turned on my computer. I'd been ambushed. And I know better.
When I teach time management, I always start with the same question: How many of you have too much time and not enough to do in it? In ten years, no one has ever raised a hand.
That means we start every day knowing we're not going to get it all done. So how we spend our time is a key strategic decision. That's why it's a good idea to create a to do list and an ignore list. The hardest attention to focus is our own.
But even with those lists, the challenge, as always, is execution. How can you stick to a plan when so many things threaten to derail it? How can you focus on a few important things when so many things require your attention?
We need a trick.
Jack LaLanne, the fitness guru, knows all about tricks; he's famous for handcuffing himself and then swimming a mile or more while towing large boats filled with people. But he's more than just a showman. He invented several exercise machines including the ones with pulleys and weight selectors in health clubs throughout the world. And his show, The Jack LaLanne Show, was the longest running television fitness program, on the air for 34 years.
But none of that is what impresses me. He has one trick that I believe is his real secret power.
At the age of 94, he still spends the first two hours of his day exercising. Ninety minutes lifting weights and 30 minutes swimming or walking. Every morning. He needs to do so to achieve his goals: on his 95th birthday he plans to swim from the coast of California to Santa Catalina Island, a distance of 20 miles. Also, as he is fond of saying, "I cannot afford to die. It will ruin my image."
So he works, consistently and deliberately, toward his goals. He does the same things day in and day out. He cares about his fitness and he's built it into his schedule.
Managing our time needs to become a ritual too. Not simply a list or a vague sense of our priorities. That's not consistent or deliberate. It needs to be an ongoing process we follow no matter what to keep us focused on our priorities throughout the day.
I think we can do it in three steps that take less than 18 minutes over an eight-hour workday. STEP 1 (5 Minutes) Set Plan for Day. Before turning on your computer, sit down with a blank piece of paper and decide what will make this day highly successful. What can you realistically accomplish that will further your goals and allow you to leave at the end of the day feeling like you've been productive and successful? Write those things down.
Now, most importantly, take your calendar and schedule those things into time slots, placing the hardest and most important items at the beginning of the day. And by the beginning of the day I mean, if possible, before even checking your email. If your entire list does not fit into your calendar, reprioritize your list. There is tremendous power in deciding when and where you are going to do something.
In their book The Power of Full Engagement, Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz describe a study in which a group of women agreed to do a breast self-exam during a period of 30 days. 100% of those who said where and when they were going to do it completed the exam. Only 53% of the others did.
In another study, drug addicts in withdrawal (can you find a more stressed-out population?) agreed to write an essay before 5 p.m. on a certain day. 80% of those who said when and where they would write the essay completed it. None of the others did.
If you want to get something done, decide when and where you're going to do it. Otherwise, take it off your list.
STEP 2 (1 minute every hour) Refocus. Set your watch, phone, or computer to ring every hour. When it rings, take a deep breath, look at your list and ask yourself if you spent your last hour productively. Then look at your calendar and deliberately recommit to how you are going to use the next hour. Manage your day hour by hour. Don't let the hours manage you.
STEP 3 (5 minutes) Review. Shut off your computer and review your day. What worked? Where did you focus? Where did you get distracted? What did you learn that will help you be more productive tomorrow?
The power of rituals is their predictability. You do the same thing in the same way over and over again. And so the outcome of a ritual is predictable too. If you choose your focus deliberately and wisely and consistently remind yourself of that focus, you will stay focused. It's simple.
This particular ritual may not help you swim the English Channel while towing a cruise ship with your hands tied together. But it may just help you leave the office feeling productive and successful.
And, at the end of the day, isn't that a higher priority?
Written by Peter Bregman

Monday, July 20, 2009

Good News from the VC World

The U.S. venture-capital industry showed signs of recovery in the second quarter as venture capitalists invested $5.27 billion in 595 deals, according to Dow Jones VentureSource.
The second-quarter total is still dramatically lower than the $8.33 billion put into 726 deals during the year-earlier period. But it’s a 32 percent improvement over this year’s first quarter, which saw the lowest quarterly investment since 1998, with $4 billion invested.

“As the venture-capital industry’s rebound gains traction, we’re seeing a new landscape emerge,” said Jessica Canning, director of global research for Dow Jones VentureSource. “Investors are diversifying their portfolios away from traditional investment areas like biopharmaceuticals and software toward segments like medical devices and information services, while also pulling back on how much they are willing to invest in each deal.”
The health-care industry saw $2.23 billion invested in 184 deals completed in the second quarter. That’s a 14 percent decline from a year earlier, when $2.6 billion was put into the same number of deals. It’s the first time on record that health-care investment outpaced investment in information technology, which attracted $1.88 billion in the latest quarter.
As usual, California dominated venture-capital activity in the second quarter, representing 42 percent of the nation’s deal flow and 46 percent of the capital invested.

Welcome to my BLOG

Welcome to my Blog.
The purpose of this Blog is to keep you informed and up todate on business issues that are going on in the market place. Information that is important to you and might make you say "Oh I didn't know that". Stay tuned for news from the intelligent WORLD