Friday, December 22, 2006

LNB #031: What Matters Most

"That which matters most must never be at the mercy of that which matters least."
-- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

In business as in life, this quote signifies the importance of keeping your eye on the ball -- the real one, not the decoy. Having interviewed people over the past 30 days, here's the golden nuggest of those conversations.

Never confuse what you want in your business with what you'd be willing to settle for. If you want people to respect you and your business, don't settle for respect. Busy isn't a good substitute for effectiveness, either.

Further, be clear that your business exists to fully fund your life and interests -- not just to make money. Be clear what you want the money for, so you make certain that you pay due diligence to those things as well.

Special thanks for 2006:

  • John Weymouth ( and YorkAli Walters ( for insisting I podcast (blame them).
  • YorkAli for opening up the blogosphere for me.
  • Rodney Amos for helping me sort out the the audio issues.
  • Jim Horan, Lynne and Toni ( for a new world of planning execution.
  • Toni Nell ( for her support and friendship.
  • You listeners. Thanks for hanging in with me while I sorted our my podcast "voice."
  • My clients for their courage and commitment.

Listen Now: 19 minutes, 48 seconds

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

The Year that Was...

  • The planet-formerly-known-as Pluto (now affectionately designated 134340) got demoted from planet to, well, not-planet. So, the mnemonic for our solar system is now M-VEM-J-SUN (sans P). Don't I have enough to remember?

  • I, er we, got named Time Person the Year. Looking at the cheap mirrory-thingy they put on the cover and noting that, by squeezing the mag, I could turn my image into a kind of fun-house, horrible long, skinny me, I thought: "That's about right."
  • Big Brother arrived in all of his terrible glory. He can be seen sporting a cameraphone and its aimed at you, so behave (or at least dress nicely).

  • Ken Lay escaped falling over dead.

  • "Dead Eye" Dick Cheney shot his best friend in the face, casting a permanent pall on networking events forever. The golf outing: now a venue for certain death.
  • Dick Cheney's best friend apologized...for getting shot in the face.

  • President Bush, well, never mind.

  • Trans fats got the boot in NYC and elsewhere.

  • Foreign babies of color were all the rage. Angelina and Madonna sported these kids like new Prada bags. Now, if we can learn that our domestic, melanin-enriched, materially impoverished babes are mighty fine, too...

  • China, afraid, I'm sure that marauding packs of celebutants will soon descend on them looking to adopt, have instituted new policies to prevent adoption by fat, old, poor, stupid insane, single people (I'm not making this up).

  • Pervez Musharraf, President of Pakistan, is a funny guy. Sure made Jon Stewart giggle like a kindergartner. Who knew?

  • Michael Richards, poor baby, learned an important lesson: "Nigger," no matter what Generation Hip Hop says about "keeping it real" (rope, a tree and people shouting "nigger" was about as real as real gets) is never, ever (listen to me everybody), ever OK to say. Don't even think it.

  • The Midterm Elections shifted us due Left as people struggle to figure out if we're finally, really in a four-party system (the Dems, the GOP, the Liberal Party and the Conservative Cluster -- "party" is way to liberal a term for these good people).

  • An front-runner (George Allen) ran off the rails because of an, um, racial (?) slur and YouTube.

  • Jack Abramoff, though he claimed that God sent him 1,000's of hints that he was running afoul of the law, still landed lightly on his feet in the pen...and his friends are sure to follow.

  • After centuries of speculation on his identity, Hugo Chavez has finally determined the name and location of Satan: Bush, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. I guess all of those burning viburnums should have been a hint.

  • Black Republicans stepped it up, telling us that our Civil Rights heroes were Republicans....and Black people didn't care.

  • We remain a nation at war: on terror, on drugs, on democracy, on principles, on religion, on the poor, on constitutional rights, on the Geneva convention, on habeus corpus, on environment, on good sense.
  • Saddam Hussein's getting ready to try on a new tie.
  • Pappa's Got a Brand New Bag -- in heaven (God save you if you don't know the reference).

  • and, worst of all, we lost Lou Rawls.

Now, it's your turn. What were your fave (or not so favorite) moments of 2006?

Friday, December 15, 2006

LNB #030: Get the Most of What's Left of '06

On a recent call with consultants from all over North America, we generated a list of things we could do to get the most of this waning year. Here are the highlights of our conversation (with my own offerings added for spice) and my invitation to try some of the things we're doing now to ramp up for 2007.

  1. Take someone new (or weird) out to breakfast or lunch.
  2. Send out information to begin lining up speaking gigs.
  3. Finalize my own One Page Business Plan. Done!
  4. Write out 3 things I won't do again in 2007. Oh, Lord -- just 3 things.
  5. Remember the power of "Thank You."
  6. Pick people to help shamelessly. I like this one.
  7. Finish that one project I've been procrastination on. Mine is a booklet on habits, thinking and business success.
  8. Build on successes from the past.
  9. Schedule two, 1-week vacations for 2007. For me, that means no tech.
  10. Write down three things that would make 2007 better.
  11. Do year-end check-in calls with clients (as Jim Horan of One Page Plan fame says, "leaving the sales hat off.").
  12. Attend holiday parties with a smile and a question.
  13. Call five non-clients I haven't spoken with in 6 months.
  14. Take the last week of 2006 off.

Listen Now: 14 minutes, 23 seconds

Decidedly Creepy.

Democratic Senator from South Dakota, Tim Johnson, suffered a life threatening brain bleed earlier this week, the result of a congenital condition, AVM, arteriovenous malformation. For those of us in the know, this is the malady that killed off Nate Fisher from Six Feet Under as well. Dropped the poor fellow like a stone and sent women (and many men, I'm sure) into a swoon. Oh, sorry, back to Senator Johnson. He fell ill while being interviewed, not being able to speak, and had to be rushed away (AOL offers up the audio of the interview: Symptoms Apparent During Interview).

Like ants on a dead rodent (should have thought that one to myself), the members of the news media raced to tell a panting public what was likely to happen if the good Senator was unable to serve. And while the family "is encouraged and optimistic," the rest of the folks in the political world are trying to figure out how to jockey for position...without looking like they're jockeying for position. Here's the scoop: If Johnson is unable to return to office, there'd be no run-off. His replacement would be named by South Dakota's Republican governor, Mike Rounds. That would create a 50-50 tie and they'd have to dust off Vice President "Dead-Eye Dick" Cheney for tie-breaking, efffectively moving the Senate due Right. On the other side, there's a long-standing tradition in the Senate of not removing ailing members (See US News for more info).

Regardless of partisan politics, I hope Senator Johnson makes a full recovery. I'm sure the GOP wouldn't want to gain back control, well, this way.

Oh, and think of this when you find yourself inwardly cheering the misfortune of a competitor.

(Cross-posted to the American Values Alliance)

Monday, December 11, 2006

Get the Most out of the Rest of 2006: I Ain't Doing THAT Again!

Some of the stuff we did in 2006 really worked. Some of it didn't. Tell the truth about your actions and results for 2006.

Generate a list of things that didn't work. Focus in root causes (the why behind the why). An example may be that you were chronically late to appointments. Why? Because you were afraid to let the phone ring over to voicemail even when you knew picking up the phone would make you late. Consider what it will take for you to either let it ring over or to make sure you can get your phone forwarded to your cellphone and your headset on so that you can answer without hurting your ability to arrive on time.

Here's how I've parsed out my list:

  • Satisfaction: getting these things out of my business and life would increase my satisfaction. Here's one for me: Taking on last-minute speaking engagements. I don't get to to the PR and I'm just there to fill in. Why do I do it? I'm concerned that I might have too few speaking engagements. What will I do to make sure I don't fall into an old trap? I'm going to the Encyclopedia of Associations to find an exhaustive list of organizations, generate a letter to the speaking coordinator and fill up my docket with people who are excited to have me.
  • Ease: Some of the items on my list may be relatively simple to get taken care of -- things that I don't want to suffer over anymore. I took care of this one yesterday: the caller-id tag and the white page listing for my home office looked too personal. I called the phone company yesterday and changed it.

Friday, December 08, 2006

LNB #029: One Page Proposals?

While on my "one page kick" I didn't want to leave out one of my favorites: The One-Page Proposal: How to Get Your Business Pitch onto One Persuasive Page. I found the book several years ago and have used the principles the author espouses religiously in my business with great success. I found that it allows me to give a prospect all of the key information they need to make a decision on my and my services without me having to give away the store in terms of specifics on my process or suggested approach. Several years ago I found myself competing with another consulting company on a project where the prospect asked for increasingly detailed information. Turns out they'd already decided to give the business to the other company...and they gifted that other consultancy with a copy of my proposal.


Here's the lowdown. After reading the book, you'll understand how to write the following sections:

  • Title and Subtitle, defining the entire proposal
  • Target and Secondary Targets, clarifying the goals of the project
  • Rationale, with information about the client's needs and why the project is needed
  • Financials, with info on what money is needed and how it will be spent
  • Status, showing where things stand now
  • Action, listing the next steps and what you need the prospect to do.
While this process isn't workable for all types of proposal opportunities (like the government or grant proposals), it can help introduce you and your thinking to a prospect and have them chomping at the bit for your detailed plan (expanding on the information in your One Page Proposal).

Listen Now: 20 minutes, 57 seconds

Here's another impact of globalization: Height

We know that people want to do business with, hire, promote, marry or otherwise hang with the attractive. Studies have raged through universities asking the question "What is 'good looking' and how do we know?"

This story from the New Zealand Herald showed that doctors in China are beginning to balk in huge numbers from requests to perform height surgery -- breaking the legs of their clients, affixing steel cages around the break point and keeping the gap between the two broken ends opened up while it heals and the bone fills in. This process can add up to 3 inches per can also leave them with horrible deformities or amputated limbs if the surgery goes badly. Patients say that the pain is excruciating (remember that scene from Gattaca?)

Why do they do it? Oddly, job ads have been including height requirements, particularly for candidates seeking customer interaction positions, especially for those working with customers from parts of the world where people are taller.

Seems a little extreme to me. However, African Americans and others have been altering their appearance to gain acceptance for decades. However now we're learning that acceptance is hinged more on their competence rather than countenance. Still rumors of skin bleaching and hair extension procedures on black actresses fill some with sadness. And black businesses can be notorious for refusing to hire someone who may appear "too ethnic."

I remember working as a branch marketing assistant for a large multinational corporation who's initials stand for "I've Been Moved." One of the reps handed me a copy of John T. Molloy's New Dress for Success and told me not to deviate from it. Hated that book.

I wonder what the impact will be long-term on business and professional relationships. Will the short find themselves backwatered into low wage jobs? And what will the country do about an increasing number of disabled and disfigured workers who endured failed surgeries?


Get the Most of of the Rest of 2006: Thank You

There are friends and business associates who have helped me immensely this past year-- people who've given me ideas, information and support. I'm in the process of contacting them and telling them that they've made a significant difference for me. I'm going to meet them with my "sales hat" off (as Jim Horan said in a conversation with other One Page Plan consultants). I'm just going to thank them and ask them how I can help them in 2007.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Get the Most of of the Rest of 2006: Plan

Review and finalize your business plan. Now, you've done the work to create your business plan, perhaps to get funding or to find partners, but now what? Be certain that you include measures and action plans. Otherwise, you've got a set of good ideas that may be difficult to operationalize.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Get the Most out of the Rest of 2006: Available-One Speaker

Organizations are in desperate need of speakers. Trust me. They'd be happy to find nicely dressed, well-spoken business people to come and read the telephone book. You can do so much more. Some tips:

  • Look up organizations you share an interest with. Your local library has a copy of the Encyclopedia of Associations you can refer to (call the research librarian -- he or she is a brilliant, underutilized, college-degreed professional who can find the Moses' mother's maiden name if you asked them to). Generate an exhaustive list and be sure to ask the speaker coordinator if they know of any other groups that regularly have speakers. Get contact information and ask them if they would be willing to drop that person a brief note letting them know you'll be calling.
  • Outline several talk topics the speaker coordinator can choose from.
  • Tell them what kind of PR you'll need. Listen: give them the run-down of everything you need. If they balk at something key for your success, don't play with them. Some coordinators think you shouldn't be allowed to solicit in any way. They're dreaming. Put the phone down gently. You don't want to wake them. Be sure to arrange for someone else to introduce you and give them your bio in advance (making sure its written so that it sounds like it's coming from them). Be sure that the organization sends out lots of advance information about speakers. Request a link to a key page on your website be listed on their site. You may even want to consider preparing a brief bit of "homework" for the participants so they come ready to get the most out of your talk.
  • Set up your apre-talk system: include a link for more information, a sign-up sheet to be added to your news-zine and for additional contact requests.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Get the Most out of the Rest of 2006: Take Someone to Lunch

Take somebody who's a little "out there" to breakfast or lunch. There are lots of innovative people out there that are interesting to talk with and important to know -- you just haven't made time for them yet. Consider this: before he made it big, people would walk right past Bill Gates and Ben and Jerry were two hippies talking about ice cream.

Now, I'm not talking about adopting a stray cat. I'm talking about people who are up to something or in the process of innovation -- people who leap out of bed in the morning because they love what they do or the people they get to work with. Go find them. They bring a certain energy to business dealings that will energize you and you may find an unexpected synergy with them.

Friday, December 01, 2006

LNB #028: Collaborative Business Ventures

OK, you've found an opportunity that's big and juicy and maybe a little bigger than you have the capacity and skills to accomplish. Consider bringing in others to help round out the gaps. However, as you're marshalling the troops, be sure to focus on the things that matter -- particularly before you start creating a business proposal for services.

Joint Ventures
What you need to know about a joint venture (JV) is that it is a business entity (partnership or corporation) that the members or member organizations create. Wikipedia lists these reasons to JV:

  • Internal reasons: spreading cost and risk; maximizing financial and other resources, creating economies of scale, accessing new tech and customers, leveraging innovative managerial and process practices.
  • Competitive goals: gaining the upper hand on the competition, generating velocity in market entry, increasing flexibility.
  • Strategic goals: use of synergies, improved technology and other skills, diversifying and broadening reach.
Collaborative Ventures
Here, several business owners or specialists join forces to gain market advantage. Things to consider, chiefly, are how you'll manage risk and cost -- items that are usually taken care of in a JV arrangement. You'll need to consider how you'll manage budget, communication, contracting among each participant (who'll be the prime contact and contractor and who'll be the subs), fees for each service offered/needed, which services are strategic and which ones are tactical and, of course, you'll need to ensure that everyone has the kinds of insurance and other protections in place.

Ever notice how we're more likely to talk with people about communicable maladies they might have before we swap spit with them and get emotionally entangled than we are to do the kinds of background checks on people we might become financially entangled with? Take the hint: do the background check on each participant. This way you can head off trouble in advance. Anyone who would be unwilling to be checked isn't someone you want to work with. If you're the one with questionable info, be sure you can truthfully and fully explain the circumstance. People can understand if you've fallen and gotten up. No one, however, likes surprises in a business deal.

CHIME IN: Do you have a "win" you want to share -- a time when you partnered successfully with another or several other businesses? Let us know what worked. Do you have a "loss" in your column? Well, that's still a solid opportunity for you to teach us. You can submit your comments anonymously.

Be generous.