Posts Tagged ‘Identity’

Week In Review: Oct 3 – Oct 9, 2010

by Magesh Tarala on October 10, 2010

Project Leadership #1: 7 Ways to have a kickass kickoff!

by Himanshu Jhamb, Oct 4, 2010

A project manager’s real purpose is to provide CLARITY to a project. That happens when all the stakeholders are on sync regarding the purpose and outcome of the project. Project kickoff is a golden opportunity to provide this CLARITY to the team. If you follow Himanshu’s tips in this article, you can make your project kickoff purposeful and it will lay the foundation for a successful project. more…

Chaos and Complexity #4: Push on or Regroup?

by Gary Monti, Oct 5, 2010

A hallmark of a complex situation is unpredictability. One doesn’t know where things are leading. That’s why the situation is “complex” or worse yet “chaotic”. A good project manager (PM) should enable the team to identify possible solutions that will help eliminate the complexity. That’s just the first step. Coming up with the right schedule, dealing with the politics, etc can put the project at risk. Ideally the PM should avoid these situations by staying with reality. more…

Social Media and Tribes #25: A tribe of foodies – Connecting food to life

by Deepika Bajaj, Oct 6, 2010

Still in India, Deepika has been exploring the various tribes. Food is an integral part of the culture, but the tribe works differently. Food is not a standalone interest, but it is tied with other local flavors like Bollywood and roadside stalls. more…

Flexible Focus #22: New degrees of freedom with a digital mandala chart

by William Reed, Oct 7, 2010

Owning a car does not preclude you from using your feet. Similarly, you can print out a Mandala Chart and use it. Or, you can access an online program to create, save and share them. http://www.mandalachart.net is an eMandala Chart website that you can leverage. more…

Alternate Sales Partnerships #4: Ways to keep a healthy sales relationship (Part-2)

by Tina Burke, Oct 8, 2010

When the head of Sales in an organization changes, there will be radical changes. The new person will shake things up. This may lead to loss of revenue for agents. So, it’s very important to have good contracts and have them reviewed by attorneys. It may not be cheap, but in the long run it will help save tens of thousands of dollars. more…

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Commitments Change Over Time

by Guy Ralfe on February 17, 2010

Making and fulfilling commitments is the only way by which we can accumulate power and produce an identity in the marketplace which to a large part determines our value in the marketplace. Commitments (promises) are such a cornerstone to our lives yet we often pay little attention to how we manage them.

Business is about people making promises and accepting commitments, through conversations of action in their lives. Yes there are loads of conversations that take place around the water cooler, but until they turn into something you care about, those conversations will not be contributing to building your identity and power, most of these are just expressive.

Managing and keeping our commitments is fundamental to our personal business success, first we start by trying to memorize our commitments. But the more complex our requests become we need to seek out tools to help us manage such as calendars, notebooks, software. With even more complexity and number we outgrow our tools and hire PA’s /Assistants to help us. When this is not enough we hire more people to make more commitments on our behalf which then becomes the enterprise organization – the business, our power.

Thankfully the map of a conversation for action was mapped out by Terry Winograd and Fernando Flores back in 1986 in their book Understanding Computers and Cognition.

There are only a set number of possibilities at each stage of a conversation, which would lead you to believe this would be easy. However for a conversation to have been successful it needs to have been fulfilled and produced an assessment of satisfaction for the requester after completion.

This is where I witness the challenge coming into business. Time as always is the culprit, and we as humans living in a world of our own stories, see the world as a reflection of our moods and circumstances at any point in time. No matter how well a request is made and accepted between a requester and supplier, over time both will be in different situations from which to assess the commitment and this can lead to many breakdowns.

It is a bit like taking my child to the toy store and asking him which toy would he chose if he could have one choice. In the aisle that we are in he will find the best toy he can see based on his current criteria and space. With the toy locked under his arm we then move off and walk into the next isle, suddenly the toy will be dropped and a new one snapped up – as his circumstances change.

The point here is that just because you have made a request and received a promise or commitment to fulfill, you have to maintain the story for both parties or commitments will fail. Another point to watch out is that we talk of conversations for ACTION – Actions is what produces satisfactory outcomes, lookout for inconsistencies in actions. Such an example would be a client requesting a tightly managed project however they will not commit to signing a scope document…

Guy RalfeThis article was contributed by Guy Ralfe, co-founder of Active Garage and co-author of the upcoming book ProjectManagementTweets. You can follow Guy on Twitter at gralfe.
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The Difference Between Balance and Harmony

by Robert Driscoll on January 8, 2010

Everyone wants their life to be perfect with no concerns and in perfect harmony and balance.  Or do they?  If you think about it, a perfect life with no concerns would actually be pretty boring where you have no disagreements and no worries.  Your life would be like a stick in the stream with no obstacles.  In reality though, life is full of challenges.  Some challenges you can foresee them coming, but most of the time you can’t and it’s how you deal with these challenges that defines you and your identity at home and in the marketplace.  Everyone strives for balance and harmony in their lives, or so they say, but is there a difference?

There are several definitions for each.  For balance, one of the definitions states that balance is a point between two opposite forces that is desirable over purely one state or the other.  With harmony , the definition states that it is an order or congruity of parts to their whole or to one another.

If you take a moment and think about both definitions, they are actually very different.  If you are striving to have balance in your life, then by the definition, you will have to ease up on something or give it up to bring your life in balance.  In the end you might not be fulfilled by having to give something up that brought you some pleasure in life.  Granted, if what you had to give up was causing you or those around you pain, then it’s understandable.  While many of us say that we want to have balance in life, do we really want to have something always pulling on us?

This leads us to harmony.  Life is full of challenges and we face them every day in our marriages, our friendships and in our professional lives.  Learning to work through these challenges and not letting them overwhelm you by accepting and understanding them and by working through them and eventually embracing them, you can have a more fulfilling life.  At the same time, embracing the good things that come to you in life and taking advantage of these moments will make life that much more enjoyable. 

Like Forrest Gump said, “Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.”  Instead of trying to achieve balance in your life and always fighting or dealing with opposing forces, try to find harmony with everything that comes to you and embrace it.  Accepting the challenges that come to you in life and working to improve the areas that bring you joy in life will open up the space for new possibilities  which in turn will make your life more fulfilling.

robert_driscoll_color This article was contributed by Robert Driscoll, co-founder of Active Garage. You can follow Robert on Twitter at rsdriscoll.
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Branding – The mechanics of Branding

by Laura Lowell on November 6, 2009

mechanicsA well designed brand is like a well designed car – lovely to look at, lots of power, and can really take you places.  The power of a brand is based on how well it can convince people to buy your stuff.  There are countless definitions of what a brand is, and regardless of your definition, if the brand doesn’t help you sell more stuff, then, it isn’t doing its job.

All brands are built with three essential elements:  Personality, Message and Identity.

Brand Personality: Defining the underlying personality of a brand is sometimes difficult, but is always necessary if the rest of the brand elements are to come together.  The personality reflects what the organization wants its brand to be known for. Think about specific personality traits you want prospects, clients, employees, and partners to use to describe your brand. You should have 4-6 traits (5 is ideal), each being a single term, usually an adjective.

Authentic, Creative, Innovative, Approachable

Trustworthy, Trendy, Cool, Desirable, Reliable

Relevant, Honest, Flexible, Unique, Relevant

How you define the personality determines the tone and voice of your brand, and therefore all your communications.  A brand that is “hip, cool, trendy” sounds decidedly different from one that is “honest, trustworthy, reliable”.

Brand Message: What do you customers need from you?  Why should they choose your brand of product or service over another one?  What can your brand deliver that no one else can?  The answers to these questions form the foundation of your messages.    I have found it useful to create three core messages based on these customer needs.  Each of these messages needs to be supported by “proof points” which are specific, measurable and relevant to the audience.  For example, think of Brand X as a car.

Brand X is BETTER:  safety record, flexible seating arrangements, trade-in options

Brand X is CHEAPER:  gas mileage, insurance premiums, maintenance costs

Brand X is FASTER:  redesigned engine, chassis, performance measurements

Which of these messages best reflects the brand is based on the brand personality and the needs of our customers.  It is not based on what we think sounds good, what is easy for us to prove, or what our boss thinks.   At least it shouldn’t be anyway…

Brand Identity: Ask ten graphic designers their opinion of a company logo and you’ll get ten different answers.  Brand design is the aesthetic that communicates the underlying message and personality of the brand.  There are five core elements to any brand identity:

Logo

Tagline

Typography

Photography

Color

How these elements work together are explained in “Brand Guidelines”.  These help anyone working with the brand know what to do and not to do with the brand.  Combined with templates (Presentations, documents or web pages for example) and standardized collateral (business cards, signage and such) your brand begins to take form.  From here on, it is all about execution.

Laura Lowell PicThis article is contributed by Laura Lowell, Author of the Amazon bestseller ’42 Rules of Marketing’ and the upcoming ‘42 Rules to Build Your Brand and Your Business’. You can follow her on twitter at @42_rules.
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Branding – Your brand lives both online and offline

by Laura Lowell on November 5, 2009

There seems to be a perception that online communication is radically different from offline communication.  I strongly disagree.  As Jennifer Jacobson said in her new book, “Communication is communication, both online and offline.”  The tactics are certainly different, but the objective, tone and purpose is the same.  It amazes me when I hear of people pretending to be someone else online – especially professionally.  Yes, there are the stories where it worked to the persona’s advantage, but most of the time, this is not the case.

One of my favorite online/offline stories is about Britney Mason (aka Dave Peck).  Dave was (and still is) a middle-aged father of five, by his own description.  He was new to social media and created a fictional person, Britney Mason, who developed a really big following based on her knowledge of social media and her big boobs (again, Dave’s description).  No one had met her, they had just interacted online. One thing led to another and finally Dave was forced to fess up on national TV with a profile on CNBC.  For Dave, and Britney, things turned out OK. But this is definitely the exception and not the rule.

For most of us, we need to carefully consider our behavior and how it affects our brand, both online and offline.

Online: Online conversations have been compared to a cocktail party.  In “real life” you wouldn’t walk into a cocktail party, or a networking event, or other gathering and start shouting “look at me!”  The same holds true for online communication.  Here are some of the rules of online etiquette you should try and follow:

  • Be authentic: don’t pretend to be someone you’re not.
  • Be honest: lies, even little ones, will come back to haunt you.
  • Be polite: DON’T YELL AT PEOPLE IN ALL CAPS!
  • Be relevant: in a conversation, don’t change the subject to suite your needs.
  • Be friendly: make friends as they are the foundation of your network.

Offline: Offline conversations are more natural for most of us since we’ve been having these all our lives.  Not surprisingly, the rules of polite behavior are pretty much the same whether you’re online or in person.  In person, you can tell almost immediately if someone is being authentic, if they are trying to pull a fast one on you, or only care about what you can do for them. These are the folks who say “thanks” but you know they don’t mean it.

In a recent study I conducted I asked professionals to rank a list of activities based on how important they are in communicating your personal brand.  10 being the most important and 1 being the least important.  The results are interesting:

  • Personal presence and speaking ability are the most important elements when communicating your personal brand
  • Twitter, FaceBook and LinkedIn – while important – are less relevant than articles, books or your website.

Branding online and offline

What does that tell us?  Your brand lives both online and offline.  We are no longer one or the other; we are now a combination of our personal presence on our social profiles, our speaking ability and our books and blogs.

When it comes to building your brand, remember, we are who we are.  Who we are doesn’t change based on whether we’re online or offline.  Unless you’re Dave Peck, of course…

Laura Lowell PicThis article is contributed by Laura Lowell, Author of the Amazon bestseller ’42 Rules of Marketing’ and the upcoming ‘42 Rules to Build Your Brand and Your Business’. You can follow her on twitter at @42_rules.
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Can you Trust your Gut?

by Guy Ralfe on November 4, 2009

TrustI have found myself in situations where I have had to make the choice of whether or not to trust a clients word as authorization and support for a decision.

The dilemma –

Do I get the paper work all cleared up first or do you trust, execute and settle afterward?

Thankfully in the times that I have had to make these decisions trust has come through for me nearly always. From an orthodox project management perspective there is no such thing as trust, but in reality, especially towards the end of a project when all the pressure is piqued and your slack used up, you sometimes have to make some judgment calls based on trust or risk blowing the project delivery.

Obviously value plays a big part in these decisions and the resultant impact. For a project manager you are often doomed if you do or doomed if you don’t. If you don’t take the risk and give the project a chance of being completed then it can reflect poorly on you (right or wrong, it just does). However if you do take the risk and the risk goes wrong, as in still causing the project delay except now with increased cost and risk, you as the project manager are very exposed. The client will be disappointed and unsatisfied with the result that he can now claim no part of.

These examples are very black and white situations and reality is often not like that in that there are often many supporting circumstances that allow you to make the decision between acting methodically or with trust. Some of these are:

  • Previous Behavior – Most notably what has the clients past behavior been like. Are they willing to work with you or are they picking at every item on the invoice.
  • Mutual Respect – Does the client demonstrate support for your team and organization. Remember what is spoken is often what is thought…look out for sly remarks
  • Future Value – Do you see the client as a partner into the future. Is there opportunity for both parties to cooperate for each other’s benefit into the future.

Having thought through the above there is another BIG influence when making these decisions – that is our intuition or gut feeling.

In an interview of Jonah Lehrer, the author of How We Decide, he speaks about when to trust your intuition. It turns out that we should trust our guts for the more complex decisions because our emotions emerge from our unconscious mind and tend to reflect more information than our rational minds can handle. Decisions made on intuition, especially in domains in which we have a level of expertise, have shown to be very effective. A good example is of a radar operator in the Gulf war who trusted his gut and called an incoming blip on his screen as a missile, when its signal looked exactly the same as an American fighter jet and saved a battleship in the process.

Our rational mind on the other hand appears like a very orderly way of making decisions, however our brains have serious computational limitations when making rational decisions and once those limits are reached they quickly become overwhelmed. We also need to be aware that when we assess situations it is very easy to justify our decisions – our brains are very good at coming up with reasons. For this reason we need to always be very clear about what the decision is about and not overload with superfluous input.

So for those decisive decisions, remember that your clients are having to trust you too, always make assessments about the concerns that really matter for the situation and listen out to your gut in your areas of expertise.

Guy RalfeThis article was contributed by Guy Ralfe, co-founder of Active Garage and co-author of the upcoming book ProjectManagementTweets. You can follow Guy on Twitter at gralfe.
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Fishing for Success

by Guy Ralfe on September 23, 2009

fishing for successI used to crew for my uncle, who fished in game fishing tournaments. We would launch around 4:30 in the morning and finish with a lines-up at 3:00pm which made for long, hot and tiring days especially when the tournament lasted seven days and the fish were not very hungry for your bait.

One of the ways to fish for game fish  is to first catch a live bait fish to then use it as bait for a bigger fish. The challenge is catching and keeping the bait fish alive; sometimes it would die early and you would need to go fish for another, or a shark would attack your bait and leave you with half a fish again requiring you go and fish for another bait fish. In the heat of the day when you have not had a bite for hours (sometimes days) on end, or you have lost many baits, it is hard to remain motivated about rigging up the rod and casting out to try and catch another bait fish. It was often easy to think maybe we would be better off packing up and going in to shore. It was at these times that my uncle would always insist that we put an extra rod in the water, or at least always have a hook of sorts in the water and he insisted we fished the whole open fishing period. His saying was “you can’t catch a fish without a hook in the water”.

I can still recall the time during one of these quiet periods without fish for ages we dropped a line overboard and it spooled off the reel and fell deep into the water. I got up to sort the rod out and in reeling it up we caught the elusive bait we had been so desperately trying to catch. We went on to win that tournament with a great 384 lbs Marlin caught in the last hour of the day.

In business and society today there are plenty of people telling you how little chance you have of succeeding. My personal favorite is “statistically there is very little difference between having a lottery ticket and not having one at all – so don’t buy a lottery ticket!”. What everyone fails to see is that compared to not having a ticket, having one ticket has an infinitely better chance of winning the lottery. Just like if you don’t have a hook in the water when the one fish feeling hungry comes past, your single ticket might just be the one that gets called in the lottery.

Business is social and you have to participate to build identity and trust; if you are never putting yourself out there you will never know what could happen. Put another way YOU are actually not giving people a chance to recognize you and help you.  That is not to say that what you desire, happens but by continually making offers or sounding ideas in the marketplace you create situations for yourself that didn’t exist before. That is the space that might get you introduced to someone, might expose you to some technology, might ignite a new project or it might just spark something else you never imagined. These are all big MIGHTs but invariably they offer the positive possibility that something may result. Doing nothing, means you guarantee that situation stays the same or worse you guarantee that the situation is in control and not you. Now is an important time to assess our actions and make sure we are not causing our own concerns?

As with fishing you need the bait to fish for the big game, which is where the prizes are. In a marketplace being crippled by insecurity, making a move could be the glint that  opens up future possibilities – go fish it’s a far better proposition than sitting on the shore!

I have a wise uncle who used to fish for our country that I crewed with in big game fishing tournaments. We launched around 4:00 in the morning and lines up was at 3:00pm which made for long, hot and tiring days especially when the tournament lasted seven days and the fish were not very hungry for your bait.

One of the ways to fish for big game fishing is to first catch a live bait fish to then use it as bait for a bigger fish. Apart from the small detail of catching the bait fish, this was a good strategy as your fish not only looks like the real deal but it is also gives out distress signals which attracts the type of big game fish you want to catch.

What would often be the challenge is catching the bait fish, sometimes it would die early and you would need to go fish for another, or a shark would attack your bait and leave you with half a fish again requiring you go and fish for another bait fish. Often in the heat of the day when you have not had a bite for hours (sometimes days) on end, or you have lost many baits, it is hard to get motivated about rigging up the rod and casting out to try and catch another bait fish. It was often easy to think maybe we would be better off packing up and going in to shore. It was at these times that my uncle would always insist that we put an extra rod in the water, or at least always had a hook of sorts in the water. His saying was “you can’t catch a fish without a hook in the water”. I can still recall the time during one of these quiet periods without fish for ages we dropped a line overboard and it spooled off the reel and fell deep into the water. I got up to sort the rod out and in reeling it up we caught the elusive bait we had been so desperately trying to catch. That bait from the accidental line overboard won us the tournament with a prize marlin.

In business and society today there are plenty of people telling you how little chance you have of succeeding. My favorite is “statistically there is very little difference between having a lottery ticket and not having one at all so don’t buy a lottery ticket!”. What everyone fails to see is that compared to not having a ticket, having one ticket has an infinitely better chance of winning the lottery. Just like if you don’t have a hook in the water when the one fish feeling hungry comes past, your single ticket might just be the one that gets called in the lottery.

Business is social and you have to participate to build identity and trust, if you are never putting yourself out there you will never know what could happen. That is not to say that what you desire, happens but by continually making offers or sounding ideas in the business place you create situations for yourself that didn’t exist before. That is the space that might get you introduced to someone, might expose you to some technology, might ignite a new project or it might just spark something else you never imagined. These are all big might’s but invariably they offer the positive possibility that something may result, where doing nothing, means you guarantee that situation stays the same. How is that working for you?

As with fishing you need the bait to fish for the big game which is where the prize money is. In a marketplace being crippled by insecurity, making a move could be the glint that hooks the bait and opens up future possibilities – go fish it’s a better proposition than sitting on the shore!

Guy RalfeThis article was contributed by Guy Ralfe, co-founder of Active Garage and co-author of the upcoming book ProjectManagementTweets. You can follow Guy on Twitter at gralfe.
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Be socially responsible with your Social Identity

by Guy Ralfe on September 2, 2009

hacker

The social media call today is to get online and participate. Over the last year a day hasn’t gone by without someone mentioning a new contact through a social network site or some new statistic about the presence and reach of social media networks, but more often of late we are hearing more news of misfortune surrounding social media.

This is not unexpected as this is a common characteristic of social groups. It has gone on for centuries and is to some degree the cause of wars and organized crime – where there’s a large group that appears to have something relative to another it produces an opportunity to exploit. In social media this has manifested itself in Identity Theft and Brand Damage (topic of next post)

Identity theft seems to be rampant today and rather intimidating. An article in the Daily Mail quotes a large UK insurance company Legal & General as warning that insurance premiums may rise if household members utilize social media sites.

This is on the back of the claim that criminals are preying within these network sites for opportunities such as burglaries, personal account details and identity theft. What appears to be an innocent use of your ability to broadcast everything from your thoughts through twitter, photos on Flickr and everything about yourself on facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn or such sites, can potentially provide key information to criminals to utilize against you.

What this means is that we have to be conscious about how we configure our accounts on these sites and responsible with what information is shared through which channels.

Here is some edited advice published by Robert Siciliano on bloggernews

  • Before you post anything online, think about what a criminal could do with that data.
  • Don’t post specific details about yourself such as address, date of birth, kids’ names, pets’ names, phone numbers, or any account numbers or financial information of any kind. This information can often be used to retrieve passwords and help get fraudulent access to personal accounts.
  • Do not tell the world you are going on vacation! This is an open invitation to any would be burglar. Remember posting pictures of your vacation while on vacation is much the same as writing that you are on holiday.
  • If you’re a “partier” and like to imbibe, informing the world that you just smoked a joint is not only one of the worst things you could do for your career, it also makes all your friends guilty by association.
  • Before posting pictures or videos, consider what a criminal or potential employer might see. Could they be used against you in any way?
  • If you let your kids use social media, you must monitor every aspect of their Internet activities. Pick up McAfee’s Family Protection software and take control of your childrens’ Internet use.
  • Take advantage of privacy settings and lock down your profile, so that only those who you approve can view everything.
  • Get a credit freeze. This is an absolutely necessary tool to secure your credit. In most cases, it prevents new accounts from being opened in your name. This makes your Social Security number useless to a potential identity thief.
  • Invest in identity theft protection and prevention services such as Intelius. Not all forms of identity theft protection can be prevented, but identity theft protection services can dramatically reduce your risk.

Remember that it is not only criminals that are potentially scouting you out! Today it does not take a lot of effort to perform searches on individuals. Posting something that may be illegal or unsavory can just as easily be picked up by a prospective future employer, client or worse used against you in court!

Social media is built on trusting relationships. It is this trust that is manipulated to exploit your situation and information. As aptly demonstrated in Himanshu Jhamb’s article Social Media: A Dangerous Opportunity, this does not need to be intimidating and there are many things we can do to protect ourselves. We just need to be aware how these tools can be utilized and act responsibly to protect ourselves from criminals or others carrying hidden agendas.

Don’t be intimidated, enjoy your social media experience!

Guy RalfeThis article was contributed by Guy Ralfe, co-founder of Active Garage and co-author of the upcoming book ProjectManagementTweets. You can follow Guy on Twitter at gralfe.
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Ask For Help And Free Your Mind

by Robert Driscoll on August 27, 2009

create ideasEvery writer I know has trouble writing.” ~Joseph Heller

Recently, like many writers, I was having a hard time coming up with new concepts to write about.  I was struggling and at first I didn’t want my colleagues to know and, more importantly, I did not want to let down ActiveGarage by not being able to contribute.

As luck would have it, our Active Mentor, Rajesh Setty, happened to be in town and I was fortunate enough to sit down with him for a couple of hours before he flew home.  The first hour of our “meeting” was your typical get together with common questions and just plain catching up.  As we continued with our conversation, I finally mentioned to Rajesh that I had been struggling recently with finding new material to write about.  I had the infamous “writers block” and I wondered how I got this so early on in to my journey with ActiveGarage.  With so much information available to us at our fingertips how could this possibly be happening?

The next hour of our conversation was about what I could write about.  We were tinkering with new ideas.  He was helping me get out of my rut.  With his help, I was thinking again all because I reached out for help.

While most of us find it hard to ask for help because of our fear that others might see it as a sign of weakness, once you become comfortable asking, it can be very empowering and liberating.  As psychologist Dr. Deborah Serani states, “Asking for help creates an atmosphere of empowerment. It communicates to others that, while you may not have the answers, you are willing to find them and make things better.”

So how do you ask for help?

  1. Recognize and identify the problem.
  2. Look within your network of help on who to go to. This step can be the hardest because so many people don’t like admitting to others that they have a problem to begin with.
  3. When you reach out for help, be direct (and polite of course).  Tell the person you are reaching out to the problem you are experiencing.  No one likes to deal with a passive-aggressive plea for help.
  4. Be clear in your request for help. It’s important for the person you are asking for help to understand not only what your breakdown is, but what your desired end result should be.  This is easier said than done, but very important.

Think of how you feel when a friend reaches out to you for help and you’re able to assist.  Great, right?  Well, it’s never too late to reciprocate and ask for help.

robert_driscoll_color This article was contributed by Robert Driscoll, co-founder of Active Garage. You can follow Robert on Twitter at rsdriscoll.
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What’s In The Name

by Robert Driscoll on August 20, 2009

2008-01-28-domain-real-estate-istockphoto572188-400x300Many different areas of business have been covered in the past several weeks on Activegarage.com from the dance of entrepreneurship , creating and protecting your intellectual property, to protecting your company’s data .  Our goal is to help people transform their world by coming up with uncommon offers in the marketplace. 

So, now you’ve come up with the next breakthrough and are ready to take your first step as an entrepreneur.  You’ve come up with a name for your company and have set up a corporation.  You’re excited.  Financial freedom is just around the corner.  You go to register your company’s domain name and you come to find out…someone already owns it.  Don’t give up. 

Here are some simple steps to help you to continue moving forward.

1.     Change Your Domain Suffix

If .com is not available, look to see if any of the other domains are available (.net, .biz, etc…).  Be careful though as you might be in violation of a possible trademark infringement if the other domain in use is a legitimate business.

2.     Change The Name Slightly

Work on finding variations of the name you want until you find one that is available.  Again, be careful with this option as well as you could also be in violation of a possible trademark infringement. 

3.     Buy The Domain Name

Domain names are bought and sold all the time at sites like GoDaddy.com or BuyDomains.com.  Having the right domain name online can help establish your company’s identity.  Determine what the value of building your brand without being able to use the company name and domain you desire and compare that to what it would cost to buy the domain you want.  If the latter is less, simply buy the domain and continue moving forward. 

4.     If You Already Own The Trademark

If you already own the trademark to your company’s name, you have some options.  If you are dealing with a cybersquatter, the first, and less expensive, option is to contact ICANN and file a dispute under the Uniform Domain-Name Dispute-Resolution Policy.  The cost to go this route varies as it depends on the number of domains filed in the dispute and the number of panelist required.  You can also send a cease and desist letter to the party that is “squatting” on your desired domain.  A sample letter can be found here .  While this process might be time consuming and cumbersome, it is considerably less expensive than the final option. 

5.     Seek Legal Advice

When you’ve exhausted all of your options, this might be the only one remaining.  Before going down this path, consider the time and money it might take if you try to resolve this matter with the “help” of an attorney.  If this goes to court and you win, you could have all or part of your legal expenses paid for by the other party, but be careful as you could very easily lose and incur legal expenses and still not have the name you wanted for your business. 

Unfortunately there is no one way to resolve this issue, but it is important to understand that you do have options should you encounter this problem.  It is just as important to determine how much time and money you are willing to invest before you go after the name you want.  Sometimes it’s just easier to come up with a new name.

robert_driscoll_color This article was contributed by Robert Driscoll, co-founder of Active Garage. You can follow Robert on Twitter at rsdriscoll.
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