Posts Tagged ‘marketing’

When it comes to the commonly espoused belief that a nonfiction book automatically confers credibility on an author, my feeling has always been maybe, maybe not. After all, surely it depends on whether the book is any good with respect to delivering on its commitment to the reader, and isn’t just a 250-page equivalent of what Steve Jobs called “fart apps.”

When aspiring authors ask for my opinion on what they can do to make their book more credible, my answer is always “research.” Because, as one Harvard Business Review blog post commenter (thanks, Mark Mccarthy, whoever you are!) creatively pointed out in response to an article by a couple of consultants, “…without the research data (this information) could be as useful as a chocolate fireguard.”

Before you go running for the hills at the sound of the “R” word, let me assure you it’s not necessary to go to the lengths of the three co-authors of The Customer Experience Edge: Technology and Techniques for Delivering An Enduring, Profitable, and Positive Experience to Your Customers (McGraw-Hill, 2012).

Having the resources of their employer SAP at their disposal in order to commission an independent study, Reza Soudagar, Vinay Iyer, and Dr. Volker G. Hildebrand might have been expected to come up with a credible book; but not necessarily so. It wasn’t just a question of doing research, but also the kind of deep analysis and organization of material that enables the average reader to immediately “get” the data’s applicability. If that doesn’t happen, all you end up with is another data-heavy, dry textbook yawn-fest.

Let me give you a brief backgrounder to how this book came about, before we look at how to scale-down their approach for the kind of credible book you might write.

The authors had taken notice of IBM’s Global CEO study, which found that getting closer to customers was the number one priority for the executives polled. So they commissioned Bloomberg BusinessWeek to research the topic by surveying their reader base and interviewing companies that had achieved significant transformations through a primary focus on customers. Deciding to weave those findings into a book didn’t strike them until the research was completed, 12 months’ later, co-author Vinay Iyer told me.

What the authors did was to break down that mass of information, extracting four essentials of customer experience: Reliability, Convenience, Responsiveness, and Relevance, which were validated by the real-world responses from 307 director-level and above executives at midsize and large companies. They then mapped these essentials onto three key technology-related areas (they work for SAP, remember) and used specific company examples to show how this framework results in the “customer experience edge.”

What can those of us do, who don’t have the resources to support this kind of large-scale research or want to wait 12 months before getting started on our book?

Why not personally interview a sample of industry or business experts to gather their perspectives about your topic, using that material as a key feature in your book? At the same time you’re gathering advocates to help market the book when it’s published.

Or you could develop a short Wufoo or SurveyMonkey questionnaire, promoting that through your social media channels, to gather relevant data.

Certainly there’s nothing wrong with writing a book based only on your opinion—although preferably if it’s been honed and refined over many years and tested against a wide range of situations. But without the added credibility of research, as the man said, your book could end up as useful to the rest of us as a chocolate fireguard.

Coming Next on Thought Readership: A Legend In Its Own Lunchtime: What A Developmental Editor Could Have Done For This Book!

Liz-AlexanderLiz Alexander is a prime example of how childhood passions are the best indicators of future careers. She’s been writing since she could pick up a pencil, was reading newspapers at age two, and Homer’s epic poems by the age of 8. As “Dr Liz” (granted after five years in the educational psychology doctoral program at UT Austin), she draws on 25 years of commercial publishing experience to transform subject matter experts into best-selling thought leaders. Instead of the usual bio blah, blah, you can find an infographic depicting her communications career here, as well as social media links. Liz loves mutually respectful, intelligent arguments; feel free to challenge anything she writes here, or on her website
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Thought Readership #2: Er, Who Did You Say You Were?

by Liz Alexander on February 20, 2012

We all know the three pillars of marketing, right? Know, Like, and Trust. Then why do so many non-fiction authors, many of whom intend to use their books as marketing tools, ignore this when they write? They dive straight into their material as if that’s enough for us to trust what they have to say.

Sorry, but it isn’t.

Perhaps such authors think that back cover blurbs or page upon page of “praise” from third parties will do the trick. But that’s like asking me to do business with someone because they’ve come highly recommended, without being able to discover for myself whether we’re a good fit.

Superior nonfiction authors never segregate themselves from their topic.

Mike Figliuolo accomplishes this skillfully in One Piece of Paper: The Simple Approach To Powerful, Personal Leadership (Jossey-Bass, 2011). This book takes you through a series of provocative questions from which you can express your leadership philosophy – not in a document the size of War and Peace – but on a single sheet of 8.5- x 11-inch paper. And in a way that not only makes that philosophy unique and easy to remember but ensures it more effectively engages your audience.

The “leadership maxims method” that Figliuolo shares was something he says he “stumbled upon” after graduating from West Point and serving in the US Army as a combat arms officer.

To establish his leadership without resorting to meaningless jargon that inspires nothing in no-one, Figliuolo learned to communicate two clear expectations to his soldiers: work hard; be honest. He further developed his approach as a rookie consultant with McKinsey and Co., before launching his own professional services firm specializing in leadership.

It didn’t take me long (by page 10, actually), to get a clear sense of who this author is (know) and to admire his openness and honesty (like). Certainly, the clarity and confidence of his writing style helped engender a sense of trust, but also the way he shared his own development story.

The author could have limited referencing his military career to the dust jacket and simply focused on telling me about his extensive consulting experience. That wouldn’t have been anywhere near as interesting or engaging. To successfully differentiate yourself as an author these days, when so many coaches and consultants are publishing books, it helps to have something to share that goes beyond bog-standard professional knowledge.

For example, in Chapter 6 of One Piece of Paper, Figliuolo explains that one of his maxims (and to get a full appreciation of their power either read the book or someone’s review) is “What would Nana say?” (Nana was his grandmother). He relates the story of how, as a young platoon leader, he discovered his unit had “lost” a tank tool that would have cost $2,600 to replace. But this isn’t the usual whitewashed story; Figliuolo reveals that he didn’t follow Nana’s example of integrity but opted instead “to reinforce a culture in which barter and white-lie extortion were acceptable behaviors.”

It’s that kind of human frailty, and admissions of such, that endear us to others because we recognize the same tendencies in ourselves. That’s what makes the method Figliuolo shares so authentic and motivational.

Know. Like. Trust. That model works for marketing products so why not use it to better engage with your readers? After all, if I don’t know who you are, I can’t determine if I like you or not. When I do, I’m of a mind to forgive authors a heck of a lot more than if they never bothered to introduce themselves at all.

Coming Next on Thought Readership: What’s wrong with “chocolate fireguard” books — and what to do instead.

Stay tuned.

Liz-AlexanderLiz Alexander is a prime example of how childhood passions are the best indicators of future careers. She’s been writing since she could pick up a pencil, was reading newspapers at age two, and Homer’s epic poems by the age of 8. As “Dr Liz” (granted after five years in the educational psychology doctoral program at UT Austin), she draws on 25 years of commercial publishing experience to transform subject matter experts into best-selling thought leaders. Instead of the usual bio blah, blah, you can find an infographic depicting her communications career here, as well as social media links. Liz loves mutually respectful, intelligent arguments; feel free to challenge anything she writes here, or on her website
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Note by Will Reed

A few weeks ago, Roger sent me an email telling me he was adapting my One-Year Planning MandalaChart, described in Flexible Focus #64: The One-Year Plan, into a writing and marketing tool for authors. I immediately asked Roger to share his ideas as an ActiveGarage guest post, and he agreed. His post appears below. I think you’ll agree it’s a great example of “tinkering” with an idea and putting it to work in new ways.

Why author’s need an Author MandalaChart


I’ve been following, and learning from, William Reed for most of the last decade. I tend to listen when he speaks. He’s introduced me to numerous creativity ideas and resources, including mind mapping.

I’ve been reading, and saving, his Flexible Focus series since it began. But, I knew that Will had really outdone himself when I saw his One-Year Plan MandalaChart.

The One-Year Plan MandalaChart resonated with me because it addressed several of the most important challenges authors face when planning, writing, promoting, and profiting from a brand-building book: book, including:

  • There’s more to book publishing success than simply “writing.” It’s not enough to provide a clearly and concisely written advice; the advice has to be relevant, and the book has to be visible to its intended readers.
  • Publishing success involves simultaneously addressing multiple tasks. Publishing is not a linear process. Success requires addressing multiple issues at the same time. For example, how authors intend to profit from their book should influence their choice of publishing options.
  • Success requires goals, priorities, and deadlines. In a time-strapped world, it’s more important than ever that goals and tasks be accompanied with deadlines. Without deadlines, days, weeks, months, and years can go by without progress, resulting in a terrible waste of opportunities..

Modeled on, and inspired by, Will’s One-Year Plan MandalaChart, my Author’s MandalaChart provides a visual way to create goals, prioritize tasks, and measure your progress as you move forward.

Author’s MandalaChart matrix

The starting point was to adapt the 8 topics Will addressed in his original One-Year Plan MandalaChart to the specific needs of authors.

Will’s original matrix was addressed the following spheres, or activities, of an individual’s life:

  1. Personal
  2. Financial
  3. Study
  4. Business
  5. Home
  6. Society
  7. Health
  8. Leisure

When adapting the One-Year Plan to my Author’s MandalaChart, I included the following activity areas that authors must address:


  1. Goals. Goals involves answering questions like, Why are you writing a book? and How do you intend to profit from your book? As publishing has changed during the past few years, it’s become more and more important for authors to view their books as new business ventures. Books have to generate income beyond that which comes from book sales. 
  2. Readers. Reader topics include answering questions like Who are your ideal readers?, Why should they read your book?, What do they need to know?, and How will they benefit from your book? Nonfiction publishing success isn’t about how much you know; success is determined by offering the information that your ideal readers need to know.
  3. Competition. Books are not self-contained islands; new books must offer something better than what’s already available. Success requires identifying existing books and analyzing their pros and cons, so you can answer the question, What’s the “missing book” my ideal readers are waiting for?
  4. Message. From analyzing your goals, readers, and competition, you should be able to position your book and organize your ideas into chapters and subtopics within chapters. Your book proposal and press releases must be able to quickly answer questions like, What’s your book’s big idea? and What will readers take away from your book?  
  5. Format. Information can be communicated in lots of different ways, for example, step-by-step procedurals, case studies, personal experiences, question and answer, etc. You can also publish a big book or a small book. Format questions include, How much of a book do you need to write? and How can you simplify your book so you can get it into your reader’s hands as soon as possible?
  6. Awareness. Books are not magnetic, they don’t attract readers like a magnet attracts steel filings. You have to help your reader find you, answering questions like, How can I get my book reviewed? and How can I share my ideas while writing my book?
  7. Demand. Awareness has to be converted into demand, demand must stimulate purchases. Questions to address include, How can I stimulate pre-orders for my book? How can I sell as many books as possible when it’s available? and Where can I sell my book outside ofnormal bookstore channels?
  8. Profit. Finally, authors must leverage books into back-end information products or coaching, consulting, or paid speaking and presenting events. Questions include, How can I help readers implement my ideas? and What kind of marketing materials are speaker bureaus and event planners looking for?

Setting and attracting goals

The most important part of Will’s original One-Year Plan MandalaChart was the way it encouraged users to address each topic in matrix from four perspectives:

  • Current status. Where are we now? What are the strengths and weaknesses of our current position? What are the forces we have to deal with?
  • By December. What are our goals for the remainder of the calendar year? What do we want to accomplish by the end of the year?
  • Image for the end of a year. How can we visually communicate our accomplishments after 12 months?
  • Steps to reach this. What do we have to do to achieve our December and our One-Year goals?

In my version, I made a few simple changes, as follows:

  • Situation. (the same)
  • 90-days. This addresses the fact that “By December” implied an August starting date.
  • 1-year. Rather than a visual image, I felt a description of accomplishments during the past 12 months would be most helpful.
  • Steps to success. (Simple wording change.)

Author’s MandalaChart benefits

Writing and self-publishing involve a curious blend of creativity and self-discipline. Success requires a flexible perspective that combines long-term vision and consistent action in 8 different activity areas.

Although all projects are a work in progress, I feel the Author’s MandalaChart achieves its primary goal of helping authors avoid the common myopia of focusing entirely on writing and makes it easy to maintain a “big picture” view that encourages action in all 8 areas. The Author’s MandalaChart makes it easy to describe short term and long-goals in each area.

In addition, it creates an engaging visual to display on your wall as well as share with co-authors, agents, editors, and—when appropriate—your blog and social market community.

Conclusion

In addition to building on Will Reed’s already strong framework and adapting it for a specific vertical market, the Author’s MandalaChart shows the importance of constantly being on the lookout for ideas and tools that you can put to use in new ways.

The power of idea-sharing venues like the ActiveGarage is that it creates a community of achievers, constantly looking for ways to do a better job to address the challenges we all face, including the need to get more done in less time.

Editor’s NoteRoger C. Parker 37-part ActiveGarage Author’s Journey series offers practical advice for writing a book. He invites you to visit Published & Profitable and download a free proof of his do-it-yourself guide to developmental editing, 99 Questions to Ask Before You Write or Self-Publlish a Brand-building Book

rcp-heming-picRoger C. Parker helps others write books that build brands. He’s written over 30 books, offers do-it-yourself resources at Published & Profitable, and shares writing tips each weekday. His latest book is Title Tweet! 140 Bite-Sized Ideas for Article, Book, and Event Titles
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5 Steps to Sound Growth for Small Businesses

by Matthew Carmen on July 4, 2011

Over the last several months, I have mostly written about the financial, strategic and operational needs of mid-sized and large companies.  What about small business?  Companies with, say, 10-150 employees…what in these areas can best serve them?  Of course there are the obvious: the ability to track expenditures, report on company spend, rudimentary budgeting, payroll, etc. Certainly these are very important, but really, the owners and stakeholders of the small business should be able to handle this on their own – or with minimal help.   The most important need for small business owners is to work with someone well-versed in things financial, who can offer a growing business the ability to formulate strategy and then develop sound finance processes, procedures and who can offer the right tools to turn strategy into practice.  In this way, the finance person participates in the growth of the business and helps take the company to the next level.

This resource discussed above is the hardest to articulate to small business clients.  They usually want someone to tell them how much they are spending, on what, and how they can spend less on the same services.  These are important questions, but somewhat short-sighted.  What the client should be asking, (and I like to ask questions to get them thinking this way) is:  How can I get my company to the next level?  The proverbial next level of course means something different for each company: it may be $10 million in sales for one, higher margins for another, or opening up new markets for another still. Regardless, I’ve found that there are 5 key steps that must take place in order to reach ‘next level’ status:

  1. Decide what the next level is, specifically.  What is the direction in which your company wants to go?  There will be some type of desired growth, what is it?  Does this growth match the company’s mission and values?  Formulating your goal is most important; if the goal is unclear, there is no way that a strategy can help achieve that goal.  Sure, some goals are reached anyhow simply by dumb luck, but as you probably guessed, it is not a scalable process.
  2. Develop a strategy to reach a clear goal.  This takes true leadership from within.  Once a goal is formulated, a well-thought-out strategy or detailed plan is needed to get there.  What will it cost to reach our goal? What skills are required (marketing, product development, operations, etc)?  How much time with this endeavor take?  Once these large questions are answered, a program or project management team should be able to take over and develop a detailed plan of action.
  3. Plan of action. The program team in a small company (usually 1 or 2 people) will need to develop the timeline for the actions that need to take place, and who will actually perform the work.  This program team may be made up of internal employees or outside contractors/consultants.  There are many tools which help in this area as well, including Microsoft Project and others, that can help organize tasks and timing.  Once a plan is developed and approved, the real work starts.
  4. Communication:  The plan and assignment of roles must be clearly communicated to the entire organization.  This serves multiple purposes: it lets those that will be involved understand their roles and what their expectations are, and it also lets those not involved know what the future state of the organization will look like. Finally, it lets management know how they should start planning for future roles in a fashion that will evolve along with company goals.  Expectations of everyone will change during this process, typically for the better.
  5. Reporting and Tracking:  This step entails reporting on the progress of the strategic implementation.  The best tools for this are a balanced scorecard and separate financial reports.  A balanced scorecard will track the inner workings of the strategic implementation – what is going on at the operational, leadership and learning levels, how the organization is changing and ensuring it is on track to meet goals on time.  The financial reporting piece will let leadership know if they are spending what was approved and in the right areas.  Analysis of both these reporting mechanisms will allow for operational changes as the external environment changes (competition, products, legal, etc.)

The process is finished once the project goals are met.  (Have the new systems been put into production, etc.?) Now the claims made by the new strategy need to be monitored closely, and the results examined likewise.  Is there progress being made towards our goal?  If yes, is this progress happening as planned? Faster? Slower? Perhaps the new systems now in place allow for amending goals upward, or results in better returns on investment. If so, what a great problem to have, right?  Continued reporting and vision are also required – and once new goals are established, the process should ideally begin anew.

So you see, the finance person at a small company must wear many more hats than his/her counterpart in larger organizations.  In the scenarios above, there is a good chance that the finance person will also serve as the program manager for the strategic implementation, or at least play a key roll in that implementation.  The risks are often greater for a small company, but the rewards for the company can be greater as well – and isn’t that what owning a business is all about?

Matthew Carmen launched Datacenter Trust along with Marc Watley in February, 2010 and serves as Co-Founder & COO as well as Managing Partner of their Financial Intelligence practice. Datacenter Trust is a recently-launched consulting and services delivery firm, providing outsourced server hosting, bandwidth, cloud services, and IT financial intelligence and analysis services to growing businesses. Follow Datacenter Trust on Twitter @datacentertrust
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Resist the temptation to start your Author’s Journey to a brand-building book by immediately starting to write. The Author’s Journey refers to my series of 34 ActiveGarage posts describing the steps involved in writing a nonfiction book to build a personal brand.

Instead of immediately starting to write, take the time to ask the right questions. It’s important for you to get your bearings by developing a “big picture” view of your writing project.

An important part of the “big picture” is focusing on the desired end result. By identifying the goals of your journey, you’ll be better able to make the right decisions at every stage, so you can write and market toward them as efficiently as possible, helping you focus your writing and avoid digressions, false starts, and wasted time.

There’s magic in asking questions

Perhaps Brian Tracy, said it best in his international bestselling book, Change Your Thinking, Change Your Life: How to Unlock Your Full Potential for Success and Achievement:

The very act of questioning opens your mind and expands your options. It increases your creativity and stimulates your imagination. Questioning enables you to think more effectively and reach better decisions.

Brian Tracy re-emphasized the importance of authors asking questions before writing during a recent Published & Profitable interview, (Number 100 in my recent series). He discussed how asking questions helps authors focus on their readers, their needs, and their hot buttons while sharing the process he has used to write 50 books that have been translated and are sold in over 37 countries.

Alexander Ward, American author and pastor, stated it differently:

Before you speak, listen.

Before you write, think.

What kinds of questions & answers?

There are 4 categories of questions you should ask before starting to write your brand-building book. These correlate to Published & Profitable’s 4 steps to Writing Success: Plan, Write, Promote, and Profit.

Your answers to these questions don’t have to be elaborate or formal. You don’t even have to work on your computer; it’s entirely to jot down your answers by hand.

The ideas behind your answers are what matters! So just quickly write down words, ideas, and phrases that you can go back later and expand. There’s no need to write in full sentences, and you don’t have to be concerned with grammar. The answers are for your eyes only- – it’s OK to change your mind when you go back later and review your answers.

Planning questions

There are three types of planning questions:

  • Your goals and objectives. Start by identifying your long-term goals and objectives beyond the rewards of selling your book. Concentrate on how you are going to leverage your book into lasting and profitable relationships with your readers. Avoid writing and publishing decisions that might limit your ability to achieve your goals.
  • Reader goals. Who are your intended readers, and what do they hope to gain from reading your book? The more you know, the easier it will be to target the right readers, choose the right title, and provide the right right content.
  • Competing books. Finally, you have to analyze competing books, so you can position your book as a better alternative to anything that’s currently available.

Just as you wouldn’t start a business without a business plan, you shouldn’t start to write a brand-building book without knowing your goals, your market, and your competition.

Writing questions

Next, you have to answer a series of questions about your ability to write as consistently and efficiently as possible, so your book is completed on time. This involves answering questions like:

When you’ve answered these questions, you’re ready to start writing!

Promoting questions

Books- -even the most helpful and best-written books- -don’t sell themselves. Authors have to begin promoting the book while writing the book.

Ideally, book promotion never really ends, because your book’s brand becomes your brand!

Creating a book promotion plan involves evaluating current online visibility (or author platform), looking at ways to build your expert network, exploring free promotional tools, and creating an integrated book marketing plan.

Profit questions

Leveraging your book to meaningful and lasting profits involves answering questions about looking at how other authors profit from their books, evaluating ways to create and manage information products, and looking at ways to attract lucrative speaking opportunities.

Questions, answers, and action

The above are just some of the ways that questions lead to answers, and answers lead to informed action. Take the time to ask- -and answer- – the right questions and save time writing the book your market is waiting to read!

If you’d like to get on the inside track to learning more about asking the right questions before writing a book to build your brand, drop me an e-mail or sign-up to receive my weekday blog posts in your in-box.

rcp-heming-picRoger C. Parker helps others write books that build brands. He’s written over 30 books, offers do-it-yourself resources at Published & Profitable, and shares writing tips each weekday. His latest book is Title Tweet! 140 Bite-Sized Ideas for Article, Book, and Event Titles
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My work has given me the opportunity to be at the helm of rapid innovation in the world of gaming. And one of the fastest growing segment is interactive gaming where the user gets to play the game and also create content like videos, virtual goods and even produce story lines. This is largely influenced by video gaming.

Here are three scenarios to help you make sense of what I am saying:

  1. Communities get involved in creating content: Guitar hero is a game which allow users to create their own songs and share it with their friends. Also, game content creation enables users to create their own virtual goods to share with their friends. This leads to a new digital economy when the users can share the profits from the sale of their virtual goods with the developers. Allowing both communities of users and developers to benefit from each other – a win-win situation.
  2. Games become advertising channels: The massive amount of users on some of these games make it attractive for Brands to be in front of them. But now it is not an irritating ad banner but your hero in the game has the ability to get his favorite “drink”, stop by their favorite “Gas station” or  even dress their avatars in their favorite brands. For brands this is an ideal product placement since traditional media is not effective for reaching the growing demographic of digital natives.
  3. Story lines get interactive: Game developers are now building games where a player can engage in the story development. He is required to upload a video, find a clue in another website or even visit a real location to get a “clue” to progress into a next level if they wish to continue playing.

For this behavior to continue it is critical to nurture the communities of gamers. So, the marketing departments in different gaming companies have to become competent in listening to these communities and engage with them by tweeting, blog posts and updates so that they retain the users who are HARD CORE gamers.

Photo Credit: Papermag

DD-new-pic-headshot Contributed by Deepika Bajaj, President and Founder, Invincibelle, LLC and co-founder, ActiveGarage (the company behind 99tribes). Deepika is also the author of the book DiversityTweet: Embracing the growing diversity in our world and Pink and Grow Rich:11 Unreasonable Rules for Success You can follow Deepika on Twitter at invincibelle
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Week In Review : Feb 6 – Feb 12, 2011

by Magesh Tarala on February 13, 2011

Developing Organizational Bench Strength

by Sean Conrad, Feb 7, 2011

Identifying your core, differentiating competencies, and then developing them in your entire workforce, but especially in your high potential employees helps to ensure your organization has the bench strength it needs to compete and succeed. Developing bench strength is about developing pools or groups of employees, not just individuals. It’s vital that you identify these high potential employees. If they’re valuable to you, they’re likely also valuable to your competitors and to companies in other industries. more…

Project Reality Check #8: Project Execution – Fantasy vs. Reality

by Gary Monti, Feb 8, 2011

No good deed goes unpunished” is a common project reality. It happens in spite of the best of intentions because of the disconnect between the various truth systems. One of the project manager’s jobs is working the interfaces between all those truth systems and doing so in a way their integrity remains intact. more…

Brilliant advertisements = Phenomenal Sales. True or False?

by Vijay Peduru, Feb 9, 2011

Don’t expect your product to sell more with brilliant ads and average product. 1984 Superbowl commercial for Macintosh computers is a great example. This strategy does not work in the Industrial age anymore. A product has to be first really useful to the customers before advertising helps. Now we need remarkable products or remarkable ideas, which can spread virally. more…

Flexible Focus #40: The 8 frames of life: Society

by William Reed, Feb 10, 2011

In today’s world, your place in society is not longer controlled by birth, circumstance or fortune. The amazing impact of technology to connect people and facilitate communication is firmly put you in control of your personal identity. There is plenty of good and generous advice searchable on the Internet about personal branding through Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Linkedin, and many other popular social networks. The challenge is not so much how to get online but rather why, knowing your role, mission, and purpose in engaging in Social Media. Download a Social Media Mandalato help you think about which aspect of social media you might want to include or improve. more…

Leader driven Harmony #11: Know your Boss’s job and Your Replacement’s Name

by Mack McKinney, Feb 11, 2011

Succession planning in some organizations happen more methodically and maybe only for key positions. But in most cases, it may not be thought out or planned for. And when circumstances arise, you may be in your boss’s shoes… soon. You never know. Learn about how to get ready to take your boss’s job. more…

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Flexible Focus #40: The 8 frames of life: Society

by William Reed on February 10, 2011

Defining your role and your mission

What is your place in society? At one time, and still in many countries, this was a not a question which you were permitted to answer or control. Rather, it was a matter of birth, circumstance, good or bad fortune, and your place in society was largely determined by people and circumstances beyond your control.

Throughout history in various times and places, individuals and groups of people have raised this question, and asserted their right of self-determination, the right to determine their own role and mission in society.

Now due to the momentum of such movements in the past, and the amazing impact of technology to connect people and facilitate communication, these questions are being raised widely around the world, not just in the traditional style of political movements, but in a brand new style of personal movements.

No man is an island.So said English poet John Donne in 1624, and the connectivity of life today is increasingly obvious, in the environment, on social networks through the Internet, and in the mood of the times. We are all connected, for better and for worse, and one of the fabrics of our connection is Society, the fifth of the eight frames of life on the Mandala Chart.

A new kind of nation

While nations continue of course, with governments and economies performing a mix of useful and some useless functions, there has emerged in the last decade a new kind of nation, formed of social networks residing virtually on the Internet, but with feet firmly on the ground in the real world.

The movie Social Network, featuring the meteoric rise of the world’s largest and fastest growing social network Facebook, in which one in 12 people on the planet is now a member, is a story of how one such nation was formed in just a few short years.

The beauty of Facebook, and of Social Media in general, is that it is a classless and virtually free territory. Virtual real estate is much easier to come by, more accessible to visit, and easier to connect and cultivate than its counterpart in the real world. On my Creative Career Path Column I wrote about the Facebook phenomenon in an article called What’s in a Facebook Fan Page?

But how do you communicate your role and your mission, or even make your voice heard at all, in a online nation that if it were a country, would be the third largest population in the world, behind only China and India?

The territory in Social Media is dominated not by force or even by size, but by establishing a presence, having a clear message, and delivering value. It is an ongoing process of continual improvement in your ability to create content, and make it accessible to a widening circle of people who like what you offer, and are happy to tell their friends about it.

How do you engage people on Social Media?

It is now possible, and much easier than ever before to establish a presence and a personal identity using Social Media. There is plenty of good and generous advice searchable on the Internet about personal branding through Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Linkedin, and many other popular social networks. Much of this advice centers on joining the conversation. An important, but often overlooked ingredient is having something worth saying.

The challenge is not so much how to get online but rather why, knowing your role, mission, and purpose in engaging in Social Media. Above all, you need a platform, a website or blog on which you can take a stand and express your ideas. As shown in the figure, the platform is the hub for engagement with both social and traditional media, and can give you great leverage in your engagement with society.

Many people struggle with creating a short self-introduction, a 30-second message that engages people’s interest, and makes them want to hear more about you. With a little help from a good designer who understands social media, you can make this much easier with a high-quality graphic in the form of a logo, or online business card which introduces you in just 3 seconds!

This is more than a conversation starter, because it leaves a lasting impression, and it stays online, delivering your message to an ever widening circle of people who get and are interested in your message. Unless you are a brilliant graphic designer with social media savvy right out of the box, you are better off getting help from someone who already is. My website and Facebook Fan Page were both created by the Bigfish Webchicks in New Zealand. They can get you there further and faster. The before/after picture speaks volumes.

Social Media Mandala

The key ingredients in social media are content, communication, and creating a channel. People like having a range of options for content delivery, depending on their communication style and lifestyle preferences. Social Media is set up to accommodate as many types of styles and delivery options as possible.

Even with the best media platform available, ultimately it is up to you to create the content and continually refine and engage people with your message. Using Facebook as an example, by creating a Fan Page you can easily deliver your content in the form of a blog, photos, videos, lists, discussion forum, event pages, a bio, and links to anything or anyone you like. Download a Social Media Mandala to help you think about what you might want to include or improve.

Of course there are many ways to engage in society without ever going online, an option which has only become available in recent years. However, increasingly it is an option that you cannot afford to ignore. You can engage well in both worlds on and offline, and skillfully integrate the two. You may choose what you want to filter for privacy or for focus, but in the interests of integrity, be yourself in both worlds.

William ReedWilliam Reed specializes in applying practical wisdom from Japanese and Asian culture to solving the problems of modern business and living. He is the author of the Flexible Focus column on Active Garage, the syndicated column Creative Career Path and the book A Zoom Lens for Your life. William is also a Representative Director and Co-Founder of EMC QUEST Corporation, which provides Coaching for Communication and Change, World Class Speaking™, and Accelerated Action with GOALSCAPE™.
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Pop-up retail, meet pop-up office

by Marc Watley on January 31, 2011

Gap did it next to their flagship 5th Avenue location in New York.  Method did it in San Francisco’s Union Square shopping district. (Method, those funny teardrop-shaped bottles of good eco-friendly soaps and cleaners found at stores like Target and Whole Foods).  You’re likely most familiar with Boo! – The Halloween Store that ‘pops up’ every fall.  Right – now I know you’re with me.  Pop-up stores are seemingly everywhere these days, and if retailers can enjoy success with these temporary locations, why not B2B-focused organizations?

The beauty of a pop-up office is the ability for a growing company to take full advantage of high-visibility retail space, making a high-impact presentation and increasing exposure to prospective customers in a particular market. Think of it as your booth at a 90-day-long trade show.

Last November, BusinessWeek did a story on pop-up stores and interviewed Erik Joule, Levi Strauss’ Sr. VP of Merchandising. “Success is exposure.” Erik said.  His Levi’s ‘workshop’ pop-up space in Manhattan reportedly draws 3,000 visitors each week.  Procter & Gamble apparently enjoyed similar success with their pop-up initiative, drawing some 14,000 visitors in just ten days!

Think about it: Let’s say your business is a Software-As-A-Service (SaaS) company, and you’re launching a software development and testing application focused on growing technology companies.  You’re based in, say, Dallas, but you desperately need exposure to – and presence in – Silicon Valley in order for your new product to succeed. You also know that University Avenue in Palo Alto or Castro Street in Mountain View, for example, are both hotbeds of Valley activity – with everyone from Googlers to Facebookers to VCs constantly rushing along these thoroughfares to coffee/lunch/dinner meetings.  These are the exact folks you need to reach, and ideally you’d like to have a company presence with proximity to one of these two areas.  Here’s how I’d go about this:

  1. Location. Find a small, high visibility vacant storefront on one of these streets and arrange for a temporary lease (with an option to extend if possible). With luck, I might be able to negotiate down to 50% of the market lease rate.  I might also consider reaching out to the local Chamber of Commerce, whose goal is to have zero vacant spaces in these busy areas and who might offer leverage during negotiations with the landlord.
  2. Strategy. I’ll work with a retail design professional to create my ‘storefront’ for maximum impact. (A local art college would be a good place to start, given they typically employ ‘working’ faculty.) Ideally, I’d want to have an open, inviting area for all passers-by, perhaps with large monitors looping mini-commercials of my new product.
  3. Move in. Gather one or two of my Dallas team, hop on a plane, and ‘move in’ to the new location. I might also consider bringing on a local sales rock-star with a solid track record of winning SaaS deals in the Valley to help with lead generation.
  4. Marketing. With the location and team in place, we’ll need lots of PR for the new pop-up shop. Enter social media: Facebook page. Press release. TechCrunch story.  Tweets galore.  I think you get the picture.
  5. Launch! Now to invite as many folks as we can find to our launch party (yes, with cocktails), barking on the street if I have to.  We’ll schedule and host regular interactive lunch-n-learn product demos, offering something a bit higher-end than pizza for lunch.  The door is always open, presenting a standing invitation for all puzzled-looking pedestrians to come on in.

Right now is a particularly good time to consider a pop-up office. Despite the recent corner-turning of the economy, most cities’ central business districts still have plenty of empty storefronts and ground-level offices. Aside from taking long walks through central business districts of prospective cities (which you should do), there are several online resources available to help find available retail spaces for lease; a couple that immediately come to mind are Rofo and Pop Up Insider.

Imagine your delight in giving directions to a prospect: “We’ve taken over the old Kenneth Cole location – you know, at the corner of Fifth and Main?” Oooh…was that a light bulb I just saw illuminating above your head?

Written by Marc Watley, Co-Founder & CEO of Datacenter Trust and CMO at Reppify. Datacenter Trust is an IT consulting and services delivery firm, helping growing businesses make smart decisions from sound financial analysis and business intelligence. Reppify is a leading-edge technology company pioneering the use of social media data to drive better business decisions. Follow on Twitter: Datacenter Trust @datacentertrust and Reppify @reppify
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Before I talk you into shelling out $1,000 for this e-book (just kidding – it is Free to download!), a little bit on what this book is about:

  • Creative Success and
  • More Freedom, Money and Time for you.

Being Creative

Are you a creative person? Well, before you answer that question, it stands to reason we first define what being a “creative person” means. In the author’s (Mark McGuinness) own words:

“By creative people, I mean people who take creative approach to work and life. People who work hard, but because they love what they do, it doesn’t feel like work.

They may be artists, writers, musicians, actors, filmmakers, coaches, scientists, cooks, entrepreneurs, healthcare professionals – or tackling complex, meaningful, inspiring challenges in other fields.

If this sounds like you, read on.

Why do creative people need Freedom, Money and time?

Creative people need three things to be happy.

  1. Freedom – to do what you want, when you want and how you want it. Not just in holidays and spare time – but also doing meaningful work, in your own way.
  2. Money – to maintain your independence and fund your creative projects. Of course you want a nice place to live, but you’re not so worried about a bigger car than the guy next door. You’d rather spend money on experiences than status symbols.
  3. Time – to spend as you please, exploring the world and allowing your mind to wander in search of new ideas.

Usually, you’re lucky if you get two out of the three. But if one of them is missing, it compromises the other two.

Without money, you don’t have much freedom, because you have to spend your time chasing cash.

Without time off, money doesn’t buy you a lot of freedom.

And if you’re doing something you hate for a living, it doesn’t matter how big your salary is, or how much holiday you get. You still feel trapped.

Surely there must be a more creative solution?

If this still sounds like you and you’d like a little more freedom, money and time in your life, read on.

What I got from this book?

In one word, Plenty! Here’s a list of the top 10 things I learned:

  1. Am I creative?: Creativity is not just a fancy label that only artists with long hair and thoughtful expressions carry – even though you might think you are not creative (or not creative enough), after reading the book, you might change your mind.
  2. It’s about Quality of Life: I want Freedom, Money and Time. Why? Simply to improve my quality of life.
  3. Don’t Compromise: It is OK to be Unreasonable about having all three – Freedom, Money and Time. Just one or two out of the three will just not do!
  4. Being skillful does not guarantee you money – Yes, you need to be skillful to make money, but, as Mark found out in his 2nd business, it’s not guaranteed.
  5. Your first love and the Market: In Mark’s own words – “Your market may be next door to your first love”. With poetry being his true love, he found “market-love” when he looked next door!
  6. Sharing adds; not subtracts: In today’s “knowledge based” marketplace, the more you share, the more you increase your chances of success. Why? Because it depicts your knowledge and people trust knowledge sources.
  7. Sales without Marketing is like surgery without an anesthetic:  Mark’s suggestion. Don’t try either. It’s way too painful.
  8. Your biggest enemy. Is sometimes (ok, most of the times), Ready?… YOU! Let go of your prejudices that limit your capacity. These usually start with thoughts like “I don’t think I can do that” OR thoughts that contain sentences that have the words “never” or “always”, in them.
  9. The wrong business model can crush you. Yeah, I know you knew this already. But, it’s these simple things that we neglect and overlook… until it’s too late. Mark shares his story about how this one got him!
  10. Never Give Up! – Well, before you take this too literally and rush to make some 2011 resolutions (you’re 17 days late!), there are some things that you should give up (like smoking?) … and then there are some that you should Never give up. I am talking about the latter – like pursuing your dreams. Persistence does pay! Keep creating and innovating!

About the e-Book

A few quick points about the e-book:

  • It’s FREE!
  • It’s a light read – 34 pages in all.
  • Describes Mark’s unconventional career journey, as a poet and creative coach, and the lessons he’s learned the hard way about finding the right combination of freedom, money and time.
  • It’s full of practical advice you can apply to your own situation, if you want to earn a living from your creative talent, or if you’re a freelancer or small business owner and want to make your business less stressful and more profitable.
  • Mark and his partners have also prepared an in-depth training program to accompany the e-book, and I’m pleased to be an affiliate partner for the launch. But the e-book itself is free to download, with no need to even give your email address.

Get your copy of Freedom, Money, Time and the Key to Creative Success by clicking here OR by going directly to the download page.

Also, please feel free to share the e-book with anyone who you think would find it helpful.

Himanshu JhambThis article was contributed by Himanshu Jhamb, co-founder of ActiveGarage and co-author of #PROJECT MANAGEMENT tweet. You can follow Himanshu on Twitter at himjhamb.
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