Today’s word: relationships

“Developing Strong Work Relationships” by Kerry Patterson (BaselineMag.com, 13 November 2009).This one is as much about the who as it is about the what. “Kerry Patterson is the co-author of three best-sellers: Crucial Conversations, Crucial Confrontations and Influencer. He is also a speaker and consultant, and co-founder of VitalSmarts, which focuses on corporate training and organizational performance.” Influencer has been mentioned here before, and is recommended reading. The other two are on the hopefully sooner of later list. In the meantime these short article will have to fill the gap.

As is often the case, Kerry’s expertise doesn’t reinvent the wheel as much as it serves as another friendly reminder on how not to be that guy/gal. The bonus here is that once you invest the time to consume these tips/article at work, you’ll be able to take them home as well.

— If you want better relationships, never air your dirty laundry in public.

— If you want better relationships, seek face time with your colleagues.

— If you want better relationships, learn to listen and then speak respectfully when conversations become crucial.

Certainly not rocket science, eh? And while we’re on the subject of relationships, “Create Your Own Upturn (A shift from managing volume to managing relationships)” by David Rich (DestinationCRM.com, October 2009).

Relentless attention to getting the customer experience right will yield increased customer equity. When customers are satisfied, companies may reap opportunities to cross-sell products and services, adding to their bottom lines. If approached correctly, the customer experience can also aid the acquisition of new customers, as they determine where they’d like to purchase products and services.

Maybe not as easy to bring home to the wife and the kids but the idea of The Experience having to stick does seem to be universal. What do you think?

The truth about Apple

“Apple The Outlier” by Rich Karlgaard (Forbes.com, 21 October 2009). In response to Mr. Kalgaard’s blog post the following comment (below) was submitted. Maybe you’ll find it entertaining, so it’s also being shared here.

While I didn’t read every comment in detail, with all due respect, I think the essential point has been missed… When it has been more successful, Apple has been the tortoise. There are plenty of cases of Apple and/or Jobs falling on their face. How many of you are using a Next computer :)

On the other hand, where Apple has done really well, is when it slows down while others rush in. The ipod and the iphone both being great examples. Neither were new ideas. What they were were still developing ideas done a bit better and more importantly, rolled out *after* “the tipping point”. Apple doesn’t feel the need to be first to market, they’d rather get it more right their first time. They’ve come to realize the value in learning from others’ mistakes.  If there is an irony, it’s that Apple really isn’t a technolgy company (i.e., technology for technology’s sake). They understand that they are a solutions and services company, and that’s what they focus on providing.

When they get it right, Apple doesn’t waste resources trying to get to the tipping point, they let others do their bidding. In the meantime they’re using their resources (time and people) to build a better mouse trap as well as come up with the marketing spin to make it look new and exciting. I am not trying to belittle the iphone, I am only suggesting it is not the cure for cancer.

There is no doubt, Apple is a great outfit. But the reasons for that success are too often wrong and/or overstated. They have a great formula – look how their growth and market share has nudged up year by year (i.e., like a tortoise) – and at the moment it’s working quite well for them. But a smart competitor could duplicate their formula quite easily. Provided that competitor isn’t blinded by the hype, or fearful of a beast that isn’t even there.

Lucky seven

“The Seven Dimensions of Wellness” By Jasmine Jafferali (Club Industry, 10 July 2007). The process of checking out Club Industry’s new web site (www.ClubIndustry.com) I bumped into this piece from Ms. Jafferali.

Obviously, it’s not new but that is no reason to discount its value. What’s appealing is that these Seven vectors take AU’s holistic approach and brings it all the way back to the individual. Or as Collins would probably say, back to the wellness of the right people on the bus. In other words, a healthy business starts with healthy people – both employees and maybe even clients/customers.

True, Jasmine’s context is within the sports/fitness club industry. If you’re not in that industry then try imagining your company or organization as a club and consider that employees are not just productivity tools but are first are foremost human beings. They need to be well 24/7, not just from 9 to 5.

Btw, clubs have guests too, right? So if you need it, here’s another vote for being guest-centric.

The power of one, plus one (or more)

“Dynamic Duos” by Stephanie Overby (CIO Magazine, 15 October 2009). Further proof that the myth of the individual as victor is just that, a myth. Regardless of how many successes (and failures) are painted, in nearly 100% of the cases there is actually a team behind the individual being attributed with the accomplishment. For example, believe it or not, Tiger Woods has a caddy and he has a coach. Yes, he is obviously very talented but he can not do what he does on his 0wn.

Here are a couple choice pull quotes:

“Isolation is quite literally unhealthy—as bad for you as smoking or lack of exercise,” explains Rodd Wagner who, with fellow Gallup executive Gale Muller, coauthored the book Power of 2: How to Make the Most of Your Partnerships at Work and in Life. “The more we collaborate, the more we accomplish.”

“We have a culture that emphasizes being the all-around hero, even though research is quite clear that each of us is a mixture of strengths and weaknesses. It’s a real blind spot in business strategy,” says Wagner. To forge good partnerships, “you have to recognize both that you need help and that you are also the help someone else needs.”

The irony is, while many individuals become self-absorbed in their quest (and in turn come up short), the smart money pulls up a bus and focuses on getting the right people on board. Believe that myth all you want, but the truth is that realizing success — whether you’re on the clock, or after hours — does in fact take a village.

There is no perfect point of view

“Mixed Signals” by Sam Gosling (Psychology Today, October 2009). True, this might be a bit heavy weight for a Friday afternoon post. On the other hand, it has the potential to supply you with some provocative pondering over the weekend. What makes this one special is that in functions on so many levels. The insights can be applied to your personal persona, your business persona, your online persona, and even to your company/brand.  It’s like a personification of, “it’s not what you say, it’s what they hear.” In this  case it even applies to what you say to yourself.

Needless to say, you already know how much we like to push forward truths that can be followed across the multiple vectors life. “Mixed Signals” fulfills that quest.

All you, all the time

“Retail Mentor’s Roundtable” by Dan Bolton (Specialty-Coffee.com, September 2009). Someone please put a star next to Mr. Bolton’s name for this one. This is pure genius!

Answers to these two questions neatly sum up the situation:

— Do you believe the retail coffee business is harder now than it was two years ago?
— Do you believe it is going to get any better in the next two years?

Whether you were asked these questions last year (when times were bad) or this year (as times got worse) or next (as things improve), the answer is the same. “Yes, it’s getting harder. No, it’s not going to get any easier.”

So here’s another question: If the coffee business is not going to get any better in the next couple of years, then who has to get better? The answer: “You.”

If you can’t inspire you then who can?

Rules that leaders should follow

“Decoding Leadership” by Norm Smallwood (HarvardBusiness.org, 15 September 15, 2009). And where do you stand? Where do you wish to stand? Better yet, where do you need to stand? Something to ponder this weekend as you indulge in some downtime, eh?

Look good. Feel good.

Design matters. Why? Because it is one of the first things to effect The Guest Experience. It establishes the tone of the on going relationship. Whether it’s your store, your club, your restaurant or your web site, these impressions matter. If you have any doubts about the value of investing in good design, and thus The Guest Experience, these two articles should help reorient your compass.

“Environment Plays a Huge Role in Member Retention” by Bruce Carter (Fitness Business Pro, August 2009).

When you spend on your club’s environment, you are spending on marketing. Think about having an environment that is so exciting, fun and stimulating that people actually love being there, and it makes them want to tell their friends about it.

“Turning Up the Juice” by Garrett Peck (Sante Magazine, September 2009)

No matter the size or demographics of your bar, creating and sustaining a successful vibe requires tuning (and sometimes retuning) the sensory experience and physical layout to match your clientele’s expectations and, above all, affording each customer personal and professional service.

The key is empathy. Stop thinking about what you see, or what you think you see. Now look at your company from the outside in. What do they, The Guest, see? And what impression(s) does that make on their experience?

Here’s to better times ahead

“Influence Others To Take Action” by Stacey Hanke (Business XPansion Journal, September 2009). Another page from the School of When The Going Gets Tough, The Tough Revist, Refine & Re-Attack. If things are slower today than you’d like use that time wisely, use it to invest in the future. Even if tomorrow isn’t that much better than today at least you and your company will be. Relatively, that will translate into better times.

While we’re on the subject of influence… “Influencer – The Power to Change Anything” by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, David Maxfield, Ron McMillian & Al Switzler (McGraw Hill) raises some interesting points. I won’t say I’m thrilled with the quality of the writing itself (i.e., how well the ideas are presented) — just stick to the ideas / concepts. If you believe what they say then there’s the potential for  some simple game changing lessons. Worth a go if you’re looking for something to stir the gray matter a bit.

Luck is what you make it

“Life Pursuits: Chris Gardner” by Marta Bright, Bobbie Hartman, Christopher Null, Kate Pavao, Joe Shepter, Lia Simpson, and Tara Swords (Oracle Profit, August 2009). More words of wisdom to keep you going from Chris “The Pursuit of Happyness” Gardner.

Profit: What are you encouraging people to do in these uncertain times?

Gardner: One of the things I’ve encouraged people to do is to just turn the TV off. Use it for entertainment purposes only. All of the smart-guy pundits you see on television are saying, “The feds should do this. The Treasury should do that. Credit markets need to do this.” The truth is nobody really knows. Too many of us allow what we do to define who we are. If you’ve been laid off, fired, downsized, outsourced, or pushed out of a job, you really need to ask yourself, “Who am I?” It’s important not to confuse your self-worth with your net worth. Net worth is going to fluctuate, because that’s what markets do. They go up, and they go down. Your self-worth, who you are as a person, what’s important to you, and what you care about, those are the things in life that won’t fluctuate.

The entire interview will take you about 90 seconds to read. But you must invest the time to get the payback.

Your knowledge is your power

“6 ways to train your employees on the cheap” by Mary K. Pratt (Computer World, 10 August 2009). It’s official — common sense is finally back in style. The best stuff here might come from the sidebar (on the first page) titled “3 ways workers can get their own free training.” Let’s be honest, if you’re not going to make an effort to keep yourself sharp then it’s not really fair to complain when management is neglectful and your skills become dated or even obsolete. There is one person in charge of your career and that person is you.

On the plus it’s nice to know that there are some outfits who are trying to push forward in spite of the economy. There are however a handful of AU caveats:

— Why cheap? Shouldn’t the emphasis be on cost effective? Cheaper isn’t better if it yields third rate results. Regardless of economic conditions the focus should be on ROI.

— Fact: Nothing like this comes to life and stays alive without full and proper commitment from management. If management sees training and growth as not worth the investment then it’s not going to happen. If that’s the case either update your resume and move on or go into DIY mode, or both.

— The other side of the coin is that employees have to want to learn. If someone wants to coast then they should expect to be run down from behind. Don’t be that guy / gal. You shouldn’t ever assume that someone else knows what’s best for you and your career.

The bottom line… If things are slowing then use that time wisely to improve, because if you or your company doesn’t then someone else cetainly will.

Honesty is the best policy

“Opinion: When things go wrong, the truth shall set you free” by John D. Halamka (ComputerWorld Mag, 15 June 2009). It’s never easy when things collapse. What makes it even more difficult is that as emotions increase rational thoughts get shoved aside. In short, being human isn’t easy. Lucky for the rest of us Mr. Halamka isn’t ready to give up yet. Here he offers five steps to take out some of the sting. We recommend commiting these five to memory. They will come in handy no matter what your role / profession. The bonus is, they have value off the clock as well. If necessary, look in the mirror and practice them. Because as we all agree, practice makes perfect.

Talking tough is cheap. Get going!

“How to stay up in a down economy” by Julia King (Computer World Magazine, 25 May / 1 June 2009). Whether you’re unemployed, under-employed, or even over-employed, Ms. King has some pearls to share. One of the best is:

Don’t watch CNN. It just induces hysteria.
– Paul Glen
(ComputerWorld Columnist)

There is one suggestion we’d like to add, as well as one comment to supplement the article’s list.

Suggestion: Start a blog that speaks to your desired profession. One, it will give you an outlet. Two, it will keep you involved and engaged as well as serve as a real live diary that you didn’t waste your downtime watching Oprah. Three, anyone can fake a resume but over a series of weeks that’s not possible to fake a blog.

Supplement to Ms. King’s point 4: Contact a local non-profit(s) and offer them your pro bono talent. This is good for you (for all the reasons lists for a blog), as well as good for your community. NPOs can also be a good opportunity to develop new skills to break into a new field.

When dinosaurs fall like dominos

“The New New Economy: More Startups, Fewer Giants, Infinite Opportunity” by Chris Anderson (Wired Magazine, June 2009) If you’re trying to make sense of what has happen and of what’s to come Mr. Anderson sheds some valuable light on the matter. As expected, there are two AU caveats:
1) Capital was traditionally only available to fairly large companies. The internet changed that. Investors can not only move money quicker and easier, they now have a tool for mitigating risk by providing a better way to identify and evaluate the smaller companies with the potential to be the next big thing. (Note: This relationship also works in the other direction. The internet provides a platform to companies seeking investors.) The large companies have reached growth capacity, the smart money is looking for better returns, and there are small upstarts lining up to accept that backing. The internet provides the frictionless fluidity to make that happen.

2) From the consumers’ side the internet provides each individual a choice. No longer are consumers forced to consume the me-to, mass marketed products and services that are the by product of the large companies’ cookie cutter (i.e., economies of scale) approach. Also, consumers are no longer at a disadvantage in terms of the availability of information. They know what they want and they know where to get it. Big is out. Small and personal is the new black.

The real question is, will the USA be the next debt ridden, too-big-to-fail dinsaur to fall?

Stop being your own worst enemy

“Does CIO Behavior Derail Intentions?” by Dr. Paul Hertz and Chris Dowse (CIO Insight, May 2009) Part of being human is having a personality, as well as having habits and patterns under particular circumstances. We all admit that sometimes the past causes us to not  act in our own best interest. This is hardly an issue that’s unique to IT. This article is a friendly reminder to pause the next time a bad habit is about to undermine a moment.

Service as a software

http://AlternativeTo.net

Software, software everywhere. Sometimes the question before what to choose is how to choose. This site – and there are certainly others with similar intentions – looks to be a good starting point. Find the app you wish to “replace” (e.g. Dreamweaver) and click on from there. Aside from the major operating systems there is also a Cloud tab for those wishing to live more of their app life online. The immediate downside is there doesn’t seem to be too many comments at the moment but as that changes there will also be value add from your peers. Just keep in mind that just because you read it on the internet doesn’t mean it’s true.

The best investment right now is in yourself

“100 Free Open Courseware Classes on Journalism, Blogging and New Media” from OnlineDegreeWorld.com Simply put… WOW! Even if you only find a couple winners for you, that’s still a wow!

Love thy Big Brother?

“What Google knows about you” by Robert L. Mitchell (ComputerWorld, 11 May 2009)  One has to wonder if Google isn’t upset with Geiko for stealing their theme song. You know the one… “I always feel like somebody’s watching me…” If this article troubles you – and it should at least a bit – then also invest some time in this:

“6 ways to protect your privacy on Google” by Robert L. Mitchell (ComputerWorld, 11 May 2009)

So much for not doing evil, eh?

Grab an iced tea, kick your shoes off and relax

Change of pace this time. These two from Wired magazine should get your grey matter jazzed to think a little deeper:

“American Stonehenge: Monumental Instructions for the Post-Apocalypse” by Randall Sullivan (20 April 2009)

“Mission Impossible: The Code Even the CIA Can’t Crack” by Steven Levy (20 April 2009)

Btw, the May issue features guest editor Mr. JJ Abrams.

Share your home movies with the world

“Make your own HD movie” by By Suranga Chandratillake (Fortune Small Business, March 2009). While doing some research for a project that might entail some video we came across this round up. FSB might not be a technology bible but this is a good place to start if you’re considering some simple video solutions. At this point, the revolution probably isn’t going to be televised but it will most certainly be on YouTube.