Monday, August 30, 2010

What good are fans if you can't motivate them to action

Sam Oches provides an example of the new social media landscape and how it impacts any business,

Rubin says a large number of Facebook fans for a brand means nothing if it's not put to good use. Companies, he says, must utilize the support and information that a large group of Facebook fans represent.

"I think people assume that just because they've got fans, they're going to get revenue," Rubin says. "I don't think it correlates to that. I think having fans gives them the audience to engage with. More importantly, instead of saying, 'Here's what the soup is today,' maybe say, 'What's your favorite bagel?' or 'What's your favorite topping on a bagel?'

"That's extremely powerful, because you're saying, 'I don't mind giving you something, but in return for giving you something, I want to be able to communicate with you.' That's where the shift in social marketing is going to."

Sunday, August 29, 2010

The allure of "trending now"

One of the joys of our always connected world is that one can know the pulse of the universe by viewing the "trending now" section on Yahoo or Google. Our fellow space travelers are typing in words into a search engine. The search engine shares the top ten current searches with the rest of the world which reinforces the search terms. We click aimlessly on search terms that others have chosen because we do not want to be "out of the loop". If tomatoes is trending than I want to know why tomatoes is trending. I do not want to be the only person at the "watering hole" who did not know.

No doubt this need to be connected with our fellow travelers is a comparative advantage from an evolutionary perspective because we would want to know where the lions are or where the safe watering hole is.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

litmus test for ideas

Guy Kawasaki interviews Scott Belsky,

At the early stage, how can one tell if an idea is any good?

Here’s the simple litmus test: Does your community care? Everyone has a “community” of constituents—customers, users, readers, clients, etc. Share your ideas liberally. If your community engages with them (either for or against them), then you know you’re onto something. If they don’t look twice you know that you either need to reconsider the idea or rethink how you communicate it.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Going in Reverse

Compounding the drain in resources, banks have undercut lines of credit which are always the funding of last resort. Both consumers and business simply do not have the credit to keep spending.

Nearly all the closings were among independently owned restaurants: small, family businesses that just couldn't hold on as customers held back. Earlier in the year restaurants reported modest increases in business, but the jumps in sales were too little too late for many.

Bonnie Riggs, NPD Group's restaurant industry analyst, said most companies are holding off opening new locations until the economy improves. "Restaurant owners stop building restaurants and close the underperforming stores so the can make the bottom line look better," she said.

Restaurants are particularly vulnerable to economic cycles because their product is usually discretionary. When people cut back on expenses, meals outside the home often go first. Add to that the cutbacks businesses have made in their travel and entertainment budgets, and the drop in restaurant sales becomes severe.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Lucky and unlucky

Dan Rainey remembers things he wished he knew when he started out

6. You will be lucky and unlucky -In the fullness of time, you will be assuredly lucky and unlucky. And sometimes, things that appear to be bad luck will turn out to be good — the weak salesperson who turned down your job offer — or vice versa. You will have ups and downs, and you will win or lose things that you don’t deserve to win or lose. You will be unlucky and lucky, you just may never know when.

7. Avoid the myth and misery of sunk cost – See the item above about succeeding quickly. Don’t chain yourself to the anchors you lovingly create in pursuit of success. If it isn’t working for you or the business, let it go. Understand that it isn’t good money after bad money, it is all bad money. Fire that salesperson, let that manager go, stop selling that product, get used to moving on. You’ll make a lot of decisions in running a business. Accept that not all of them will be right.

8. Fill the pipe, always fill the pipe – The difference between good times and bad times is often reflected in how many of the opportunities, customers, etc. end up closing successfully. In good times, more deals close from a normal opportunity pipeline. In bad times, less deals close from the pipeline. So, fill the pipeline of opportunities, and always look to add to the pipeline. Deals don’t close for a million reasons. Your only defense is to fill the pipe.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Follow through

Seth explains the secret to chopping wood

don't focus so much on starting something. It's the follow through that will get you there, so the beginning must be with the end in mind. And yes, this actually makes wood chopping far easier.

It is identical to throwing through a target.

Observe without Judgment

To the mind that is still, the whole universe surrenders. ~ Lao Tzu

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

absolute power corrupts absolutely

Jonah explains,

Psychologists refer to this as the paradox of power. The very traits that helped leaders accumulate control in the first place all but disappear once they rise to power. Instead of being polite, honest and outgoing, they become impulsive, reckless and rude. In some cases, these new habits can help a leader be more decisive and single-minded, or more likely to make choices that will be profitable regardless of their popularity. One recent study found that overconfident CEOs were more likely to pursue innovation and take their companies in new technological directions. Unchecked, however, these instincts can lead to a big fall.


There is no easy cure for the paradox of power. Mr. Keltner argues that the best treatment is transparency, and that the worst abuses of power can be prevented when people know they're being monitored. This suggests that the mere existence of a regulatory watchdog or an active board of directors can help discourage people from doing bad things.

Small plate stress

Ariel shares the stress of side dishes,

Sharing food is stressful. Before the food arrives there's an obligation to make a mutual decision on what to order. I like to avoid this and get my own thing. But with small plates, that's conspicuously anti-social. So I'm forced to engage in the "what do you want to share" conversation. Invariably, whenever this takes place, I find myself repeating: "I can't eat that."

Now we're faced with two choices. Order twice as many dishes and go into debt or choose the food I can eat which naturally tilts the order in my favour and establishes a hostile tone for the dinner. And how do you possibly know if you've "ordered enough". As soon as the waiter or waitress asks this I become anxious. What will be enough? And leaving the menu behind "just in case" doesn't help. By the time we know it's not enough, it's too late.

Once the anxiety and hostility sets in, the order arrives. I'm forced to eat at an accelerated pace just to get a bite in. Suddenly, what was once a leisurely meal turns into an aggressive eating competition. You have to race through your meal or you'll go home hungry.

There's no way to have a meaningful conversation either because if you're the one talking you lose out. Here's an excerpt from the dialogue between two people sharing small plates:

Do not share dishes, it does not work!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Beach town businesses

There needs to be synergy between the the beach and the businesses of a Beach Town. Southwestern Michigan seems to have gotten it right. Southeastern Wisconsin does not get it. Old former rust belt manufacturing towns need to embrace the association between the beach and the future growth of the area. Beach towns need to encourage activity related to helping individuals enjoy the water.

Snow, what snow

As Summer wanes do not count the days, rather make the days count.

Walking along a golden sun drenched beach on the shores of Lake Michigan in the middle of August it is hard to imagine that it snows here and it snows a lot. Enjoy the golden sand and before the first snowflake descends.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Neurons rewire at night

Keep Calm and Carry On!
Dr Ellen Weber shares,

Neurons rewire in REM sleep, based on what you did that day

Neurons rewire nightly as you sleep – which means that changes occur at the synapse. Act calm under pressure, for instance, and you build new neuron pathways to calmly solve the next calamity that comes along. Either the change strengthens and increases the number of connections or change weakens and decreases the number of connections between the neurons.

It’s really a matter of neurons and dendrites that spark new synapses for change. Remember, a neuron‘s nothing more than a nerve cell, and your brain holds about 100 billion of these little critters.

Toxic Leadership

Yea, you're the owner, your name is on the door. If however you manage your business like a fiefdom than the outcome is a foregone conclusion.

Joe Nocera reports on H.P.'s toxic leader,

As Mr. House saw it — indeed, as many H.P. old-timers saw it — Mr. Hurd was systematically destroying what had always made H.P. great. The way H.P. made its numbers, Mr. House said, was not just cutting any old costs, but by “chopping R.&D.,” which had always been sacred at H.P. The research and development budget used to be 9 percent of revenue, Mr. House told me; now it was closer to 2 percent. “In the personal computer group, it is seven-tenths of 1 percent,” he added. “That’s why H.P. had no response to the iPad.”

Mr. House was also offended by Mr. Hurd’s dictum that H.P. executives had to resign from all civic boards, as well as his decision to cut off many of H.P.’s philanthropic activities. “H.P. has always been a model corporate citizen,” Mr. House said.

Plus, he said, Mr. Hurd was “incredibly rude and demeaning, and relied on the fear factor.” Mr. House summed up the Hurd era this way, “He was wrecking our image, personally demeaning us, and chopping our future.”

Remember you need individuals that work for you to work for you.

The corner table

Have you ever wanted to dine at the corner table of your favorite restaurant?

Go at odd hours. Either a late lunch, early dinner or a late dinner will generally find the "table" available.

The decline in entrepreneurship

Carol Tice shares

Here's why the drop in startups might be a good sign for established business owners: Motivated entrepreneurs have already done it. This far into the recession, anyone with a burning drive to start a business in the current conditions may have already hung out their shingle.

Hiring is ticking up. As companies begin to hire again, more workers just head back to the trenches instead of feeling compelled to strike out on their own.

Recession may be ending. Trends in starting companies tend to show how the economy's doing. The decline in entrepreneurial activity could indicate that the economy is really picking up now.


It could also simply be that startup capital remains really hard to get.

It could also mean that as a society we are all very tired of the long dark winter of discontent that this Great Recession has wrought. It was going to be different this time!

Group buying perks

Instead of just recommending restaurants, now Zagat and their ilk serve as group sales rep for your offerings

"The group buying model continues to gain popularity, and we intend to provide the best possible service for both consumers and restaurateurs," said Tim Zagat, CEO, Zagat Survey. "Diners who are passionate about where they eat will have confidence in knowing that these specials will be offered only in Zagat-Rated restaurants."

What is the consumer thinking today?

Brett Owens tries to understand the American consumer

The recovering spending addict that is the US consumer still reaches for his or her "fix" of the good life.


Most shoppers are being described as "schizophrenic consumers":

They splurge on high-end discretionary items and cut back on brand-name toothpaste and shampoo. Companies such as Cupertino, California-based Apple (AAPL), whose net income jumped 94 percent in its last quarter, and Starbucks Corp. (SBUX), which saw a 61 percent increase in operating income over the same time frame, are thriving.

An incredible experience at a restaurant would qualify as a "fix". Provide it!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Letting go with flair

The recent JetBlue flight attendant's slide into notoriety underscores how a job becomes overwhelming. The actions of either the customer or your co workers can create an environment in which it makes perfect sense to just say "screw it." The pain of continuing far outweighs some future discomfort of not having a job. There has been incredible support for the individual's action because all of us can relate to a workplace situation that became intolerable.

Entrepreneur's need to understand that their business is reliant on individuals who have feelings and not some inanimate object. They need to convey as much as possible that they fully support their employees and will not allow rude or inconsiderate behavior from fellow employees or customers to go unanswered. Only when employees feel they have support will incidents such as the slide down the chute become rare.

Generate joy

Seth suggests you build these elements into your business,

Generate joy, don't just satisfy a need for a commodity.

Rely on unique individuals, not an easily copyable system.

Plan on remarkable experiences, not remarkable ads.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Bypassing life on the Interstate

US Interstates are incredible creations. The endless ribbon of highway has been an economic engine without equal. They have driven development throughout the country. Interstates have also sanitized the traveling life. On the interstate you miss everything between the points. The journey is shorter however you miss the fun, trials, travails and adventure. No stop lights, no people watching as you drive by, no changing landscape.

Is it worth giving up the journey to travel on the interstate?

Monday, August 9, 2010

Our changing perception.

Christof Koch details studies that indicate that our perception of reality is viewed through the lens of our experience.

Our conscious perception of the world, though relatively stable, is not static. We are incapable of being fully objective, even in our most mundane observations and impressions. Our awareness of the objects around us is informed and fine-tuned by any number of transient factors—our strength and energy levels, our sense of confidence, our fears and desires. Being human means seeing the world through your own, constantly shifting, lens.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Unplug the wifi

Cafe's are fighting back against wifi squatters. Jessica Guynn reports

It would be ridiculous if we didn't have Wi-Fi," Simsch said.

For holdouts like Tooker, the glut of Wi-Fi has made it tougher to keep people from zoning out on laptops.

Across the street from Four Barrel is a new housing project. Coffee drinkers can access its Wi-Fi if they sit at a counter that stretches along the front window of the shop. And, more and more, cafe nomads bring their own portable hot spots — devices that connect laptops to the Internet from anywhere — so they can plug in whether or not a cafe offers Wi-Fi.

Tooker shrugs his shoulders. On a busy weekday afternoon, his shop is packed with customers, only two of whom are gazing at laptops. His decision to ban Wi-Fi hasn't undercut business: Four Barrel goes through an average of 700 pounds of coffee each week.

"We don't glare at someone with a laptop," he said. "But we don't cater to that person either."

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Wire luck into your thinking

Steve Errey shares thoughts on luck

So it follows that you’ll never be lucky if you sidestep the right place or the right time; you’ll never be lucky if you second guess yourself, dilly-dally, get diverted or change your mind on the way. Luck is about being mindful enough to notice opportunity when it comes along and then being willing to step into it.

This could be a deliberate choice or it could be a subtle nudge from your intuition – but regardless of whether it’s conscious or sub-conscious, it requires trust. Being lucky requires that you trust yourself to take a step forwards, to trust your gut and to trust yourself to deal with whatever might happen.

Those people who always seem to land on their feet and always seem to get lucky? Those are the people who have developed a way of thinking that encourages self-trust. Those are the people who have wired luck into their brains.

Steve Jobs speaks of trusting the dots will connect.

How a long line affects perception

Nudge blog offers this tidbit,

arguing that the value you assign to a product increases as more people line up behind you, and even further when your attention is directed backward. Looking forward just reminds you of the effort (the costs) you have to make to obtain that product. These effects are even stronger when people know little about the product.

One long line is better than multiple shorter lines

Having people lined up behind you reinforces your decision to wait in line.

Commit to strategic listening.

Tom Peters explains.

Ignore the shadow

Seth reminds us to ignore the shadow.

when you look the monster in the eye, when you calmly and carefully inspect the actual monster, you discover that he's not so bad after all. It's just the shadow that's scary.

When in doubt, ignore the shadow.

What should I tip?

DivineCaroline shares the tipping woes.

The tip jar—it sits right next to the register, staring at me as the barista rings up my order. Sometimes it’s full. Sometimes it’s empty. The last thing I need before my coffee is a moral dilemma. A dollar in there seems like way too much (over 25 percent!), but tossing in change feels cheap.

Tip jars, according to Post, carry no obligation. But when should we contribute to them? And how much? My sister, Amber Firestone, is a former barista who isn’t afraid to enlighten me on tipping expectations: “If all you’ve gotten is a plain coffee or tea, you’re probably not going to offend anyone by not tipping,” she says. “If you order something complicated or if you’re a regular, you need to toss something into the jar.”

Is the change toss-in really enough? “Totally,” Amber says. “Even that adds up over the course of the day.”

Instead of having to memorize a different percentage expected for each situation, we can all fall back on a few recurring rules in ambiguous, awkward moments. When in doubt, 15 percent is a safe bet. Tips jars? Spare change is quite all right. If you’re a regular, tossing in a fiver every once in a while will probably keep those smiles and prompt service coming. And in any situation, service that delights should definitely be honored in return with a monetary thank-you.

More lessons from the world's largest sporting event

Andy Birol shares his thoughts on the lessons of the World Cup

  • Preparation? The Cup had teams who played well together, like the U.S., and those who didn’t, like England. Is your company focused on a common goal or too busy pursuing individual agendas?
  • Coaching? The French team walked out on their coach after he exerted his authority, while Maradona created a cult of leadership around his Argentina team. What would your team do to you when faced with pressure?
  • Fans? Is your team like Ghana who united their fan base across tribal Africa or like Brazil who booed them upon their return without the Cup? Do your customers really like you or just pay you because they have to?
  • Commentators? Does the media treat your company like first-to-be-eliminated Cameroon (“They’ll be home before the postcards arrive” ) or like the Spanish, who consistently kept a low profile, played ever-so-well and took home the Cup and the world’s respect.

leaders running businesses in the age of social media, we share many of these same challenges and opportunities.

The loss of the cool factor.

“Nobody goes there anymore. It’s too crowded." Yogi Berra

A business grows exponentially because it is cool. Once the cool factor disappears, the business model must change.

Hollow inside the bamboo

Garr Reynolds shares lessons learned from bamboo,

It is said that in order to learn, the first step is to empty ourselves of our preconceived notions. One can not fill a cup which is already full. The hollow insides of the bamboo reminds us that we are often too full of ourselves and our own conclusions; we have no space for anything else. In order to receive knowledge and wisdom from both nature and people, we have to be open to that which is new and different. When you empty your mind of your prejudices and pride and fear, you become open to the possibilities.

Present your challenge to a child.

Mitch offers ideas on how to be creative. Here is process improvement that you can implement immediately. Ask a child how they would solve a problem.

Staff rudeness and the customer experience

Christie Nickelson shares that rudeness between employees on your staff impacts the customer experience.

The studies confirm that witnessing an uncivil argument between two employees leaves a bad taste that goes well beyond the individual incident. Customers tend to generalize their newfound negative opinion to the entire organization, its employees and any future interactions with it. So serve it with a smile, please, for those in front of the counter and behind it.

Is outsourcing an option for my business.

Rhonda Abrams suggest you outsource,

• Get help! The single most important thing I did was I outsourced my financial management. I realized I was terrible at taking care of my bills. Entrepreneurs want to handle everything themselves, especially their money, but, like me, they're not always good at it.

One of my contractors, Rebecca Gaspar, wasn't good at it either. "One of the big lessons I learned from my first go-round as a freelancer was that taking care of my finances was not one of my strong points — keeping track of invoicing, payments and taxes. Quarterly taxes sneak up on you fast. I'd be all messed up." So when Rebecca became an independent consultant again, she changed. "I hired a small-business accounting firm. They make sure my invoices get out, I receive payments, that tax money comes out, and I pay my quarterly taxes. It's a relief for me not to deal with that stuff, and I can stay focused on client projects."

Shameless self promotion, email

KeepTabs helps firms maximize their operational profit
so they can more easily attract investors, recruit top employees, and
minimize taxes and fines.

Restaurant coupons trending

The other morning I logged into my email account and noticed that restaurant coupons was trending as the fourth most popular search term behind Miss Teen USA. By inference that would indicate that maybe people are ready to spend whatever money they do not have and go out to eat. The contrarian would argue that the recent uptick in traffic and business has hit a wall and consumers still want to dine out however their finances are now constrained and they are looking for a little help.


Leaders emerge from rampant uncertainty.

Jeffery Tang explains how authority is an offshoot of conviction and confidence.

Wherever there’s rampant uncertainty, those who are willing to be certain (at the risk of being wrong) are given the chance to lead. This works in politics, in office politics, and in pretty much every social context.

Conviction is the strength to hold onto your personal opinion.

Confidence is the strength to share and defend that opinion in public.

Authority is the power you get as a result.