Monday, April 30

Sales and Marketing - Fax it! 

From Sales and Marketing Management:

Think faxes are as antiquated as manual dial telephones? Think again. 'For many organizations plain old faxes are still the way much of their business is conducted,' says Steve Adams, vice president of marketing at Protus IP Solutions, an applications service provider in Ottawa, Canada. Adams suggests why below:

1. Faxes: A Greater Impact
A marketing message via e-mail might be one of 200 customers receive that day. Faxes can be more impactful as a marketing tool, Adams says, simply because faxes stand out in a world where most companies have decided to use the Internet as their marketing tool of choice. Experts say it's still a strong marketing tool for many businesses. And with color faxing and other features these days, such as 600 dpi faxing capability, faxes offer rich options for sending marketing materials and messages.

2. Faxing = Technical Flexibility
With the advancement of new technologies, many might think faxing has gone the way of the cave man. Think again. Many companies are finding that their current fax machines can, through a few technology upgrades, be used with the latest technology, such as VOiP, making them capable of transitioning with the latest communications systems.

3. Fax = Greater Versatility
Thanks to communication between various machines, e-mail programs can send documents to fax machines and vice versa. That means your marketing message can be spread across that many more outlets via fax. It also means you don't even need a fax machine to send faxes?since they can be electronically sent from your computer.

4. Reduced Costs with Faxes
With Internet fax services proliferating, the increased competition means better faxing capabilities for less money. "By eliminating fax machines or fax server hardware," Adams says. "Companies can save up to 34 percent on monthly faxing costs."

Sunday, April 29

Business Leadership the Marine Corps Way 

Check this out about the book SEMPER FI: Business Leadership the Marine Corps Way by Rod Walsh and Dan Carrison...

Former Marines Dan Carrison and Rod Walsh suggest what the business world can learn from the United States Marine Corps. That is, 'Business Leadership the Marine Corps Way.' For example: How to attract a greater number of candidates to identify 'the few' to hire, use your own 'best and brightest' to conduct interviews, determine which candidates are most compatible with your organization's core values, and how to accelerate the orientation of 'recruits' ( e.g. use of a 'boot camp') as well as to measure performance of everyone accurately.

Carrison and Walsh correlate specific situations in the Marine Corps with those in the business world. At the end of each chapter, they provide a Leadership Strategies Checklist.'

Carrison and Walsh suggest that, 'If all employees in a company, from the CEO to the line assembler, believe that they work for the best company in the industry, that they are without peer, and that those who work for the competition do so because they are not qualified to work for the best in the business, then an applicant may be motivated to join for reasons other than money.' Executives who 'command from a forward position' get out from behind a desk and leave the office to walk the shop floor. They visit other facilities, meet with small groups of employees to brief them on company news, attend initial meetings with prospects, call on customers, attend trade shows, and in countless other ways 'fight side-by-side with the troops' there in the 'trenches'...whatever and wherever those trenches may be.

Carrison and Walsh conclude: "Imagine an organization in which the majority of its creative and intelligent people walked around all day with the thought 'XYZ Corp must not fail' in the back of their minds. Such an organization would be formidable indeed." It remains for each reader to determine what is most relevant to her or his own organization. Whenever groups of people are assembled with a common purpose, there will always be a need for leadership. With more than 200 years of experience developing leaders "throughout the ranks", the Marine Corps has suggestions especially worthy of consideration.


David's comment: This is exactly the kind of thinking and client input that caused my team to create the new professional development program, STARS from the Start(tm) coming in 2007... stay tuned. Pilot clients are already coming on board and we're very excited about sharing the early results and outcomes. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, April 25

The Myths of Management 

From Sales & Marketing Management's PERFORMANCE Newsletter:

Corporate ideology can be inspirational. It can be a company's guiding light. And it can also lead the way towards shaky, even harmful management practices. In their book "Hard Facts: Dangerous Half-Truths and Total Nonsense," Stanford professors Jeffrey Pfeffer and Rober I. Sutton uncover some of the mythologies of management.

"The catalogue of poor decision practices is immense, but we focus here on three of the most common and in our experience, most harmful to companies," they write.

They are:

* Casual Benchmarking: Too often, companies seek to copy the successful practices of another enterprise without fully understanding the complex underpinnings of the process. The result is often mindless imitation. For example, many companies look at the success of Southwest Airlines and seek to emulate its performance by copying some of the most obvious practices, such the casual attire of its gate agents and other employees. But the practice ignores the underlying element of Southwest's success, which is its culture and management philosophy.

* Doing what (seems to have) worked in the past: There's nothing wrong with learning from experience. But repeating a process that worked before is only useful if the new situation calls for the same kind of action. Blind repetition is not good management.

* Following deeply held, yet unexamined ideologies: Never let belief trump evidence. Require proof, not passion. Be willing to gather data that pertains to your choices as well as others.

Friday, April 20

10 Steps to Becoming a Motivational Speaker 

If you have ever made a class presentation, spoken up at a meeting, or given a toast at a wedding reception, you have spoken in public.

Since public speaking is many people’s greatest fear, if you enjoyed the experience, you might have what it takes to become a motivational speaker. From the storyteller around the campfire to great spiritual and political leaders, speakers have motivated people throughout history.

Today’s motivational speakers inspire students to stay in school, say no to drugs and gangs, and prepare for life after graduation. Adults are motivated by speakers to follow their dreams and achieve greater success in business and in life. Here are 10 steps to breaking into this fab job, based on the Guide to Become a Motivational Speaker:

1. Do an inventory of your life experience

The first place to look for what to speak about is your own life. Make a list of the goals you have achieved, such as: graduating from college, landing your first job, finding someone to love, overcoming a bad habit, starting a business, raising children, or achieving a lifelong dream.

Of course, it’s even better if you have achieved something extraordinary, such as winning an Olympic medal, publishing a bestselling book, or giving birth to septuplets! But even accomplishments that seem “ordinary” can provide material for speeches. People find it inspiring to hear about how others have overcome obstacles to achieve their dreams.

If you have ever had to deal with fear, rejection, financial hardship, or loss along the way to achieving your goals, chances are you have the basic material to give a motivational speech.

2. Identify what you have to offer
Unfortunately, unless you’re already famous, audiences won’t pay just to hear about your life. (Many people are happy to talk about themselves for free!) To be successful, you should identify how your speeches can help people solve their problems, achieve their goals, or otherwise improve their lives.

3. Choose a “niche”
People are unlikely to take you seriously if you promise that your speeches will solve all their problems and help them: get rich, lose weight, find the love of their life, become great leaders, get healthy, make more sales, be happy, etc., etc. Instead, pick one specialty or “niche” such as leadership. It’s important to have a niche because people like to hire experts. After all, if you needed surgery, wouldn’t you want your doctor to be “an expert”?

4. Know your target audience
It can be tempting to say “I want everyone to hear what I have to say!” The reality is that if you develop a speech bank executives love, chances are it won’t go over as well at the local elementary school. Depending on your niche, you could define your audience by characteristics such as: age, gender, geographic location, industry, interests, or any other traits that distinguish one group from another. Once you have identified your audience, you can target your efforts directly to that group.

5. Write your speech
If this is the part of becoming a speaker you fear most, the good news is there are people who can write a speech for you. You could check the Yellow Pages and hire a speechwriter, public relations firm, or speech coach. Prices can vary widely, so ask for a flat fee quote. If you want to write it yourself you can find numerous online resources to help you. There are numerous excellent speechwriting websites including sites offered by communication departments of several universities.

6. Polish your speaking skills
It’s fine to feel nervous when you first start speaking. But as a professional speaker, it’s your job not to let it show. Among the traits that can help you succeed as a speaker are confidence, credibility (a combination of likeability and expertise), and enthusiasm. Most colleges and universities offer evening classes in public speaking to help you develop these traits. Another idea is to join Toastmasters, an international non-profit organization that helps people to practice speaking skills at weekly meetings.

7. Prepare promotional materials
Once you have written your speech and are confident in your speaking skills, you’re ready to start marketing yourself to the people who can hire you. Your promotional materials include a “demo” tape and an information package.

While professional speakers spend thousands of dollars on a demo tape, as a beginner, your demo tape can be as simple as a video recording of one of your speeches. (Set the camera up on a tripod at the back of the room.) Your information package can be a two pocket folder available from any stationery store. It includes such items as: a letter of introduction, a business card, your resume, a color photograph, a page summarizing your experience and the benefits of your speech, and testimonial (reference) letters from people who have heard you speak. To make my package stand out, I also like to include a small gift related to my speech, such as a postcard with an inspiring message.

8. Approach potential employers
Potential employers of speakers include: seminar companies, conventions, conferences, trade shows, corporations, non-profit associations, government agencies, continuing education departments, schools, colleges, and cruise ships. One of the best ways to approach potential employers is by phoning, faxing, or emailing them an invitation to see you speak. If they can’t come to see you in person, the next best thing is to send them your materials so they can see you on tape.

9. Get employers to approach you
Imagine if employers approached you, instead of the other way around. You can make it happen by becoming well known in your community. The most effective ways to become well known as a motivational speaker include: get interviewed on radio and TV, write articles for publication in local newspapers and magazines, put up a website, attend networking events, give free speeches to community groups, and present your own seminars.

10. Get represented by speakers’ bureaus
Speakers bureaus are companies that can find work for you. Once you have some experience as a speaker, you can start approaching bureaus in your community to represent you.

Sunday, April 15

How Can I Lead When I Am Not in Charge? 

I just came across this article, which reminds me that a LOT of advice and strategies and tactics that are supposedly geared towards women... apply equally (in some cases more so) to MEN!! Take a look below and you'll start to see what I mean.

Whether we're talking about self-management, leadership, building trust, attitudes, respect, assertiveness, or influence... these lessons apply whether aimed at one gender or the other.

Men MAY be from Mars; Women MAY be from Venus - but here's the news folks... planet Business works pretty much the same way for all of us.

-- David

How Can I Lead When I Am Not in Charge?
Four tips that will help you lead your boss

By: Angie Morgan and Courtney Lynch

Let’s face it – almost everyone has a boss. Our relationship with our immediate supervisorimpacts so many aspects of our lives. A solid rapport with that one person allows us tobalance work/life more effectively, work in a positive environment and feel more fulfilled inour careers.

On the other hand, a poor relationship with our boss gives us a bad attitude – one that spillsover into our personal lives after we’re off the clock. When the bond between us and ourboss is weak, we often feel helpless – like victims to our careers. These feelings cancontribute to career uncertainty, job dissatisfaction and, ultimately, they can make usquestion our professional ambitions.

Rather than suffer through the daily grind, there are things we can do to improve ourrelationship with our supervisors. First, and foremost, we can be better leaders.We don’t have to be in charge, or have a management position, to be a leader. A leadercan be anyone, despite rank, title or tenure. Leadership is not about power or prestige. Aleader is someone who takes control of their lives to influence outcomes, which includecreating a more gratifying relationship with our boss.

To work towards that ideal relationship, you can incorporate the following leadershiptechniques into your professional life:

1. Don’t take things personally. Your supervisor’s mood swings or snide commentsmay get under your skin, but they shouldn’t affect your disposition. As a leader,you’re confident about who you are and you’re able to shrug off negativity before itweighs you down. Your supervisor’s bad attitude has nothing to do with you – sowhy take it personally? The less emotion you give to someone else’s unpleasantnature, the more energy you have to spread some light on your day. You can alsouse your optimism to make your coworkers days a little brighter. If you have atough boss, chances are, they also need some cheering up.

2. Set the example. Your words and actions set the tone for how you want to betreated. If you want more responsibility, prove yourself dependable. If you wantloyalty, don’t disparage your boss to your coworkers. If you want more pay, justifyyour salary increase. Always hold yourself to a high professional standard, one thatmay even be higher than the one your boss holds for himself. When you set apositive example, you contribute to creating a more positive, professionalenvironment.

3. Earn respect, not praise. You may never be your boss’s best friend – and that’sokay. Stop looking for affirmation from your boss and start striving for respect,which can be earned by your hard work and integrity. You may never have theperfect relationship with your boss– but if you have her respect, then you’re in agreat position to influences outcomes.

4. Be an Effective Communicator. If you feel your boss’s attitude has become aroadblock, have the courage to voice your concerns. Confrontation can be difficult,but it’s easier than suffering through a bad situation. Approach your boss with tact –choose your words carefully to ensure your message is received clearly. Prepareyourself with suggestions and ideas. Always have proposed solutions ready whenyou plan to highlight a problem. Chances are that your boss is unaware that hisactions contribute to a poor work environment. You may be surprised how quicklyyour situation can improve.

Your strides towards leadership development will help you regain control of yourprofessional life and will allow you to develop and maintain a positive relationship with yourboss. While you cannot force another person to change, by being a leader you can influenceprofessional behavior through your solid example. Each step you take towards becoming astronger leader brings you closer to job satisfaction.As you develop your leadership abilities, you become a person your supervisors will want topromote. This professional progress will allow you to have an even greater influence overyour environment in the future.

Angie and Courtney are founders of Lead Star, a leadership consulting company thatchallenges women to be the best leaders they can be. The duo learned valuableleadership lessons while serving as Marine Corps Officers. For more information onLead Star, visit www.leadingfromthefront.com

Tuesday, April 10

Develop effective working relationships with direct reports 


As a new manager, you must rely on your people. The more you commit to developing and maintaining respectful, productive relationships with them, the larger the payoff in terms of motivation, commitment, and support.

You will enhance your relationships with your employees by showing:
· Sincere interest in them and what is important to them
· Respect for all, even for people with whom you disagree or do not understand
· Simple courtesy: saying “please” and “thank you”
· Respect for employees’ ideas and experience by asking for their advice and involvement
· Recognition of their contributions

You can improve your relationships with your employees by soliciting their feedback. Ask for the feedback in an informal, nonthreatening manner. Also, let employees know that your reason for requesting such information is to improve your working relationships with them. To solicit employees’ feedback:
1. Arrange an individual, informal meeting with each employee to discuss your working relationship. Provide as nonthreatening an environment as possible for this meeting. Hold it in “neutral territory” — conference room, cafeteria — not in your office.
2. Ask the employee for comments on things you do that help the working relationship and for suggestions on how you might improve it. Be careful not to dominate the conversation, and try to respond to the employee’s remarks in a nondefensive, honest way.
3. Don’t promise more than you can deliver; remember, your follow-through will be the key to improving the relationship.

You may wish to explore other ways of soliciting employees’ feedback on your relationships with them. Some employees may prefer to give anonymous feedback. Or, you may ask for feedback from a trusted peer who is in a position to observe your relationships with your employees.

Whatever plan or procedure you use to obtain feedback, your aim should be to generate goals for improving your working relationships with your employees. You may want to share your goals with them. After working toward your goals for awhile, go through this feedback solicitation process again to get their impressions of how your relationships with them have changed.

To build relationships with your people, show interest and concern for them as individuals, not just as "your employees."

Over the next few months, use the following guidelines to demonstrate a personal interest in your employees. Take a gradual approach to getting to know your employees; a sudden, intense expression of interest may look like you are prying into their personal lives.
· Take time for informal chats with employees in the hallways or during brief, unscheduled visits. Ask about their personal interests — family, hobbies, goals. Follow up by occasionally inquiring about their current concerns.
· Share some of your personal interests. Employees will feel more comfortable sharing their interests with you if they feel that you are willing to reveal information about yourself.
· Consider arranging occasional social events, such as lunches or department parties, where you can discuss mutual interests other than business.
· If employees wish to discuss personal problems, be willing to listen. Take care, however, not to take on roles for which you may not be professionally trained, such as that of financial or family counselor.

Finally, respect the confidentiality of employees’ personal concerns and avoid using shared personal information in a way that employees may see as traitorous. For example, if an employee is late to work, a comment such as, “I know you have small children you must take care of in the morning, but it’s essential that you get to work on time,” can make the employee regret that he or she opened up to you and reluctant to share personal information in the future.

Thursday, April 5

Top Business Book Reviews 

Check out my latest review of The Seven Minute Difference on the business book site that I edit, Top Business Book Reviews.

Sunday, April 1

Treat people with respect 

In their book, Leaders: The Strategies for Taking Charge, Warren Bennis and Burt Nanus suggest that before managers can treat others with dignity and respect, they must possess or develop positive self-regard. To achieve positive self-regard, they say:
· Recognize your strengths and compensate for your weaknesses.
· Continue to work and develop your skills and talents.
· Learn to discern the fit between your strengths and weaknesses and your organizational needs.

Bennis and Nanus observed that once managers develop positive self-regard, they demonstrate positive "other-regard". Here are some guidelines to consider:
· Accept people as they are, not as you would like them to be. Try to understand what other people are like on their terms.
· Treat those you are close to with the same courteous attention that you extend to strangers and acquaintances.
· Give people the benefit of the doubt.
· Apologize to people when you have hurt or ignored them.
· Be objective and nonevaluative in your day-to-day dealings with people.
· Confront issues, not people.
· Minimize sarcasm. Be aware of instances in which you might be perceived as insensitive.
· Allow people to save face.
· Foster an environment of openness and trust.
· Be honest, yet respectful.

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