Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Thinking Before We Speak

As we are learning in the world of sports, there are consequences to word and actions.  When we are part of a larger organization, those consequences can reach far and wide and hurt many people. 

We usually don't know how broadly, until it happens. 

But, we can still think ahead and imagine the consequences before we act or speak. 

Monday, April 28, 2014

Hunters and Farmers

Sales organizations are getting smarter in how they organize.  Well, actually, most have always organized in the manner that is most successful but today they are getting better at giving the organizations names that better describe what they do. Back in the day you had "New Account Teams" and you had "Existing Account Teams".  Now, we have "Hunters and Farmers". 

Hunters bring in new business.  Farmers expand the growth.  Subtle, but big differences in the type of people to do these jobs and their responsibilities. 

Some times just getting better at describing what someone does can make the difference in hiring and assigning the right person to the job.

Friday, April 25, 2014


There is a new book out by Nikil Saval, called "Cubed".  I have not read it yet, but have read the reviews of it and I will be picking it up soon.  What Saval does in his book is give us the history of our current workplaces covering things like the drop ceiling, lighting, filing spaces, open door policies and yes, the "Cubicle". My total time working in corporations was 21 years.  Of those 21 years, as best as I can add up, I spent eight years in a Cube and two and a half years working in an open floor space. So, almost half, not in an office.

The best of all of those years (including a couple of years in offices that were well beyond nice and totally not necessary), were the years in the open floor plan where there were no walls and I was out in the open with everyone else.  I learned new forms of boundaries (headphones on meant I was busy), shorter phone calls, discretion of conversation (loudness and content) and time management (there wasn't any hanging around with the feet on the desk shooting the breeze).

Where we sit can make a difference in how we work.  Where we assign others to work, can make a difference in their productivity and motivation. Part of what we are to do, if we want to be good leaders and managers, is to be cognizant and sensitive to the environment that we ask people to work.

If you have people begging to work at home, you might want to ask yourself if that cubicle might be part of their motivation.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Breaking the Tape First!

This is not a sports blog, but I can't resist.  Yesterday, something amazing happened in the sports world and it couldn't have happened at a better time, a better place, or to a better athlete.  Yesterday, on April 21st, 2014, marathon athlete Meb Keflezighi, at 38 years old, won the Boston Marathon and became the first American winner in 31 years.  Why was this victory so sweet?  Sure, it was because he won on the first anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombings.  Yes, it was great that he is an old guy as 38 is over the hill for marathoners.  And for sure, the American win is not the norm. But, his win was more than that.  I happen to serve on the board of runcoach with Meb and I have heard him talk of overcoming injuries and working his way back to his top form.  Marathoners are much like we are in business.  We get a couple of great moments a year and the rest of the time we are up early, logging the hours of training and doing our best to balance the rest of life, fueling ourselves for the next bit of competition.  And when we start to feel the pains and hurt, it takes time to get over them.  We'd be well served to bask in the win of Meb yesterday and remind ourselves that winning only comes because we put in the hard work, understand what it takes to win when we need to, and shut out the rest that keeps us from getting to our peak form.

Thursday, April 17, 2014


A friend's child didn't get the summer job that was expected. It was the first time in a short life that a rejection that couldn't be changed happened.  Shock and awe, along with lots of questioning ensued. I was not surprised as we have a generation plus now who don't know what it means to not play on the team or to not be able to do things over until they reach satisfaction.  It seems that now, everyone, regardless if the team wins or loses, gets to get out on the field or court and play.  In videogames we let you start over and over and nothing really ended, or died...until now.  Games are making the turn to what is called "Permadeath".  That means that once the character or figure dies, they don't come back.  I remember this being experimented with in the late 90's only to receive outrage from customers who claimed that they had the right to bring the character back over and over. Who is to know what is best, but I don't see that much harm in teaching the next generation that loss and rejection are real and that we need to learn the lesson early, not wait until employers and business have to be the first to hand out the word, "no".

Monday, April 7, 2014

Always Open for Business!

Patti and I rushed on Saturday to get to an art gallery/framing store before its 5:30pm closing time.  We arrived at 5:24pm and they closed early.  We were bummed.  I looked at the "Closed" sign in the window and thought, "What an antiquated way to run a business".  We've all had the experience of cupping our hands to our eyes and staring into a plate glass window to see what is on the other side in a darkened store, knowing that we won't probably every be able to come back during their open hours.  We miss out and a retailer misses out.  But, that is about to change, or at least I think it will soon.  

My friend Jason Johnson is working hard on his new digital door lock, August Smart Lock. I imagine that in the not too near future, we will be able to walk up to a physically closed retail store and because we carry a trusted digital ID on our iphone (kind of like TSA Pre for retailers), we will be able to digitally open the front door of the retail store.  As we do, the lights come on, a motion activated set of cameras begin recording, and a motion activated voice recording welcomes us into the store and gives us directions on how to scan and pay for what we buy using our digital wallets.  The voice probably asks us politely to turn off the lights before we leave, digitally locking the door behind us.  

Are we possibly entering the age of "Always Open for Business"?  

I think so!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Going Out On The Limb

Sometimes to get the recognition and notoriety that our brand or service requires, we have to be willing to go out on the limb to get people to take notice.  Whether or not this is smart or not, we find out when the limb holds us and causes others to look up, or the limb breaks and we fall. 

We are in the age of being able to crawl out further and further because of the support of low cost technology and infrastructure support.  We can try small things, at low cost and if they work, continue them.  If they don't, then discontinue and look to the next idea. 

Google and Amazon are the leaders in this.  It seems every month, they each offer something new and they climb a little further out on the limb.  Not all of their moves work, but lots do.  Their latest moves?  Google:  Google Express Shopping.  Amazon: Kindle Fire Streaming device.  We are looking up to both of these to see where they lead us next. 

What are you offering that has you inching out further on the limb?

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Voice Recognition

If you have taken to using the voice options on your phone to dictate texts and emails, you know that the translation is not quite perfect, but so far better than it was just a year ago, that before long, with another generation of voice recognition advancements, and a little user interface improvement, that thumbing our way through typo galore filled  messages is about to become a thing of the past. 

What will this mean for all of us?  Good and bad likely.  Good in that I have noticed that when I speak a message that my thoughts are more fully formed and the messages tend to be longer.  A return to long form communication?  Maybe.  Bad in that it becomes even easier to blow off steam and say something that is now written that you wish you hadn't said. We are on record forever now with everything we write, record, photograph, or video.  That's not all bad, but it all has implications.  

I grew up learning how to write sentences and then how to put those sentences into paragraphs and later, how to put them into full thoughts to achieve a purpose.  But, seldom were we taught on how to "communicate".  No one taught in school how to have a productive phone call, or how to discuss something that is difficult over dinner. 

It may be time to begin thinking about teaching our employees how to communicate, especially as it relates to how to translate our thoughts into messages that are productive, effective and good.