Friday, October 27, 2006

Sometimes It's Not What You Think

I was listening to Tavis Smiley today. He had a great interview with Samuel L. Jackson (Snakes on a Plane). Aside from discussing Sammy L's amazing dreadth of work (I saw him first in Spike Lee's Jungle Fever as a jumpy crack addict), he mentioned that Mr. Jackson's the highest grossing actor in Hollywood.

Not Brad. Not Tom. Samuel L. Jackson.

Interesting thing is that Jackson was just released from addictions treatment when he started shooting Jungle Fever. Remember the song from the last post ("There's Hope," India.Arie)?

There's Hope

I got a call from a friend who's a biz buddy (or is it a biz bud who's become a friend) yesterday. I don't think I've heard him this -- flat. He's faced down things that would put anyone else under their car with a hose in the mouth. Still, he's pressing on with his business and his life. He was looking to take another incremental step up and over.

I'm so honored he called me.

Brother of mine, I didn't know what to say to you. Then, I heard this on the radio. I'm borrowing from India.Arie when I say...

There's hope.
It doesn't cost a thing to smile.
You don't have to pay to laugh.
You better thank God for that.

Stand up for your rights.
Keep shining your light.
And show the world your smile.

Brighter days, my friend.

As an aside, catch the NPR interview with India from earlier this summer. It includes a nice selection of music.

LNB #025: Objectives, Strategies and Actions (Biz Plans)

As the final part of this series on business planning, we cover Objectives, Strategies and Actions. These elements round out your business plan and will help clarify what you want to produce, the broad approaches and specific actions you'll take.

Useful Business Planning Resources:


Listen Now: 23:26

Saturday, October 14, 2006

You Know You Shouldn't

I'm on vacation. Right now, I'm on a veranda in Nashville, TN, watching the sun begin to set while I have a quiet moment. My brother, his wife, Amee, and their kids are off to the store and my grandmother is quietly watching a DVD (she's 80 and seeing her with the small player in her lap it just the best).

When my brother gets back, I'm going to be in trouble. I know I shouldn't do, but his kids are going to get some Diet Coke and Mentos and I'm going to give these home-schooled kids a science lesson. Now, I know I shouldn't do it, but this temptation (seeing them run screaming while diet coke jets up 8 feet) is one I'm just not going to resist.

See, I'm going to "own" that this will be messy and leave these kids wondering what else they can drop Mentos in (spaghetti sauce, chocolate milk), but I can live it with, as long as they're doing it at home.

Besides, what good is being their aunt if not to teach them things they will later torture their father with?

I'll bet you know some things you shouldn't have done at work. Maybe it was the deadline you agreed to, pretending you could make it work. Perhaps it was the employees you hired when you felt desperate -- the one that never worked out.

For me, telling the "stank, nekkid truth" (the truth beyond the pretty lies) is about the best thing I can do. It might not change my choices, but it sure gives me power over what comes next.

Until I return....

And Then They Sent Me a Survey!

OK, Im indulging in a little ranting. Ill admit it.

To recap: I contacted HP for a replacement non-skid rubber foot for my laptop (around which the angelic hosts circuit). I did get the 5 they promised; only they were attached to extra plastic doors for the bottom of my computer and cost a mint. Rather than using peel-n-stick to slap on one little rubber foot (the size of a bean), Ill need a Philips-head screwdriver and a magnifying glass to affix a new door on the bottom my computer (the size of your wallet).

Now, they sent me a survey. A customer satisfaction survey. Being the hopeful sort, I opened the link, pulled my tea close and settled in to respond. The survey was over 30 questions, none of which addressed my concern: I didnt get what I asked for and no one told me that I would have to rebuild my computer in the process. Oh, and did I say the survey was over 30 questions?

I feel better. Thanks.

Got a favorite customer service rant? Lets hear it.

Friday, October 13, 2006

LNB #024: Without Vision, the People Perish

Not having a clear vision and mission will add unnecessary complexity to your business. It will be harder to stay on track and to determine quickly whether a new opportunity is consistent with your business model. However, the concepts of Vision and Mission have become obscured with consultant-speak (yeah, we did it).

Here's a simple way to plan these two important factors into your business plan.

  • Vision: include your target market, niche, products/services, territory, scope, productivity level, and other key factors.
  • Mission: use as few words as possible to convey why you're building the company you're building.

Get these resources:
The One Page Business Plan for the Creative Entrepreneur
The One-Page Proposal: How to Get Your Business Pitch onto One Persuasive Page

Listen Now: 30:10

MP3 File

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Aargh! Just Gimme One Rubber Foot!

I saw the FedEx truck and was on my way to the door before I fully realized I was on the move. those trucks do that to me -- like a present under the tree, I just can't wait to see what's there. Anyway, when I finished my pleasantries (with the surliest driver ever), I went to open my package.

It was from HP. You guessed it: the rubber feet I ordered.

Here's what I got: Three different plastic "doors" for different compartments on the bottom of my computer, each of which had at least 1 rubber foot on it.

No instructions, just plastic doors with rubber feet.

Let me see what happens if I escalate this. More soon.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

I Just Want ONE Rubber Foot!

Earlier this week, I noticed that one of the little, rubber feet was missing from the bottom of my notebook computer (the one that makes me as happy as a basket of kittens when I even think about it -- the one I decorated.....yeah, I need a hobby or a therapist). Garland, being the helpful sort, interjected that one rubber foot would be impossible for HP to replace -- I'd have to get a package of 5 for $17.50.

Jolly Joker.

So, I went directly to the HP website and IM'ed a nice lady, Patricia (who was probably a prisoner at Attica on an internal work release program). "She" got all of my information and set up a call from their order department.

So far, so good.

I wasn't out of their chat room 5 minutes when "Sam" called. It's weird to be talking with an Indian operating under an assumed "Euro-sounding" name, when I'm a Black American with a very Indian name (named for a goddess, by my Baptist mother). He took down my information and very professionally confirmed my particular needs: one rubber foot. When he gave me the total, I almost passed out: Not $17.50, but $41.29! (I liked Garland's price better).

I want one rubber foot -- these must be made of platinum!

I'm asking myself what I'm going to do with all of these extra-damned-rubber-damned-feet (wonder if they'll breed like Tribbles in my credenza). Here's my current thinking: I think I'm going to raffle them off on my podcast show! Any other suggestions (and be nice, I'm delicate).

Friday, October 06, 2006

LNB #023: What If Everything We've Been Told About Business Planning Is, Well, Wrong!

People know that the chief reason businesses fail is lack of planning, followed by lack of a system for implementation. Still, business owners don't create them and don't operate from them.

What gives?!

Here's what people are saying:

  • I put together a business plan for my company when I started it. It was a horrible process and I ain't doing that again.
  • I put one together. It cost me a mint and then the consultant wanted more to implement it.
  • I don't have time.
  • I don't have a business that needs a 70 page business plan.
  • My other managers are doing "stuff," but we're not all on the same page.

and more.

People are looking for a process that will allow them to have a business planning and implementation system that's nimble, simple and elegant.

Here are the key questions you need to answer with your planning:

  • What are we building?
  • Why does this business exist?
  • What results will we measure?
  • How will we build this business?
  • What's the work to be done?

Be looking for a 25 October 2007 webinar on business results. The webinar will be from 11 am - 12:30 pm ET (US). Check back often for additional information, including how you'll sign up for this complimentary webinar.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

On Bullshit -- a Great Book

There I was, hiding out at Books-a-Million (there was web stuff back at my office I just didn't want to do). My plausible excuse was that I was supposed to be in a Black Enterprise magazine article that explained coaching and the coaching industry and wanted to pick up the mag to read it. I couldn't wait to get my hands on it -- I've been in the professional coaching industry for over 15 years and from the view here at Babel Towers, this baby isn't getting any clearer.

With the magazine tucked under my arm, I walked up the center aisle to get a cuppa tea and I spotted this book along the way.

Yup. An entire book on the topic of bullshit (well, about 70 pages, anyway). On Bullshit was written by a retired philosophy professor and put out by the Princeton University Press. Pretty reputable, no?

I wondered to whom I could get this little book. I stood and read it and it was real and dear and sweet. A former professor of mine and his wife (THE philosophy power-couple at Purdue University) came to mind. Martin taught me to challenge what I thought was real (I took it as getting a handle on my own bullshit, which has served me well). Yeah, that'll do just fine.

Off to read and sip.

Oh, and there was not mention of me in the article. Just some of the usual and customary -- dare I say it...bullshit.

Monday, October 02, 2006

It's National Meetings Week -- Um, Yay?

Imagine: I'm sitting at my desk, furiously typing on a project with the NPR station playing softly in the background. I'm so totally in the zone, I can barely hear the murmur of the station, which had switched to BBC World News.

What had me stop typing wasn't the report about Congressman Foley and House-Page-Gate. It was the report that in Britain it was National Meetings Week.

Huh? An entire week devoted to events we would rather lie "I've got root canal that day" than attending. In fact, I can think of only one other commonly-accepted time waster -- the off-site --that starts eyes a-rolling.

Seems this annual event started in 2001 was formed to generate more business for, you guessed it, meeting organizers. Crafty.

There are ways to have your meetings be more effective. Chief among them is not having them. If you find you really must get a group together for planning of to discuss execution of a project or process, keep these things in mind:

  • Decide what results you want to achieve -- even before you consider anything else.
  • Decide whether this is a stategic meeting or a tactical meeting. Strategic meetings focus on high-level issues of planning, guidance and alignment with other capabilities -- the kinds of things you see at 30,00 feet. Tactical meetings focus on how things are getting done, focusing on the work -- what you see on the ground.
  • Then choose the people who can best help achieve these results.
  • Think about how much time you'll need. Here, you'll need to be thinking about the value of each person's time.
  • For the results desired, the people attending and the value of their time, think about whether the meeting needs to be held in-person or virtually. Many meetings are made up mostly of reporting (kill me!), which can be taken care of with a group email. You'd be surprised how many meetings can be cut in half with better communication.

Some other considerations:

  • Lunch or breakfast meetings are mostly about the food
  • Meetings after lunch are more sparsely attended (meaning: get 'em in early)
  • Crackberry addicts (I'm not bitter) will suck up a lot of your time checking emails instead of paying attention
  • The higher level the manager, the more late they'll be -- even if they called the meeting

Consider well, gentle Brits, Happy National Meetings Week!


Sunday, October 01, 2006

Make Your Own Ringtone? I'm All Over It!

OK, folks. Here it is -- another technological red herring for me to chase. As if I'm already time-strapped (marriage, grad school, business, life), I'm going to make my own cellphone ringtone.

Seems CNN's Techno File report says I can do it. As long as I have a legally-owned piece of music. More as this develops.