Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The Network is Your Customer

I am a natural networker and connector.  It is natural for me to try to connect people with other people who might be of interest.

I believe in nurturing a network and have taken time to deliberately do that.  See my blog entry on ways to network easily.

So I was interested when a book The Network is your Customer - 5 Strategies to Thrive in a Digital Age came across my desk it piqued my interest.  But -that is not what the book is about.  It is about how business thrives in the network age.

It starts by talking about the network effect.  How the larger the network, the more valuable it it and at the same time, the more power the network has if your business lacks perfection.  It then goes on to share 5 practical Strategies for thriving:

1 - Access - be instant, be everywhere, be accessible from any device all the time.  Speed in the digital age wins.  I have long ascribed to "sense of urgency wins" in business but in the digital age, it is even more critical.

2 - Engage.  Be there in all forms of social media, Twitter, blogs, Pinterest, HonestlyNow, Linkedin etc.

3 - Customize.  Make your offerings match customer needs.  I see a need for a bit of mass customization simply from a time management viewpoint.  Social media can be time consuming so devising ways to systematize it makes sense.

4 - Connect.  Of course reach out digitally to your customers and prospect.

5 - Collaborate.  Respond to what the network is saying and work with them to constantly improve.  Now more than ever, Kaizen applies.

Interesting and thought provoking book. 

Social media can be an endless task and create guilt if not approached well.  As with any endless task, goals need to be finite in order to get fulfillment.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Happy Father's Day

Happy Father's Day dad.  (my father is the older one in the picture)

I have learned a lot from you and I know many of my traits come from you.

I know I learned a lot of practical handyman type things like painting, caulking, replacing a glass pane etc.  As you know, I put those to work in my first business.  That success was my entrepreneurial start.

I learned much about business from you.   I am sure my success is a direct result of what I learned.  You taught me that business is not only OK, but it is good.  You helped me form my leadership and management style.  You helped me bring systems to the business before I knew we needed them. 

I gained a love of gardening.  Yours was always so weed free compared to mine(and I am sure very little of that was your 4 sons).  Your yield was actually much higher than you thought due to the "son" discount especially in the raspberry and blueberry department.  My compost takes longer but I still do it.

I see your discipline and the success habits you have.  I envy those and copy some of them.

I learned young that exercise was good.  And just like you, I track my workouts.  (and I still think you should enter a 5 K to win the 85 year old age class).

From you, I learned work ethic.  I learned that work is rewarding.

You learned a frugality from the depression that rubbed off on me and has served me well.  I know I would not have had the success in business had I not had that frugality.

From you I learned a love of camping.  I still enjoy the wilderness or just simple hiking.

I know you wanted us to learn some things that you did not feel good in and we did.  EG - swimming. 

My study of time management was inspired by your naturally tidy, organized and  disciplined approach to life.  For me, it is not natural so I need to study it.

I learned integrity by watching how you live your life.  Your high integrity.  Your word is your bond. A handshake beats all the legal paper in the world.  I know Glen and I once chatted about how much easier business would be if everyone was like dad. 

And I am still learning from you.  I appreciate your steadiness. 

Thanks dad for everything.


And did not want Josh to feel left out.

And from Josh (my fathers great grandson) I can learn wonder.  He is so enthralled with everything the world throws his way.  He looks at everything with wonderment. 

Sunday, June 03, 2012

Persist Like a Tomato Seed

The garden is great.  A bit dry even with the rain but overall doing great.

I transplanted a dozen volunteer tomato plants today.  I compost and tomato seeds not only survive composting (just like the weeds it seems)but they thrive.  Next year, I am simply going to prepare my tomato garden and plant no seeds but spread compost.  I am quite certain I will have enough tomatos to avoid planing any.  Just clear the weeds around them.

I admire the persistence of tomato seeds.  While transplanting, I thought this persistence would serve people well also.
The following is another guest Book Review of Running the Gauntlet - Essential Business Lessons to Lead, DriveChange and Grow Profits by Jeffrey Hayzlett.

Written by Nabil Zaman Khan

Would Apple have ever been created if Xerox had not rejected Steve Jobs’ idea for a personal computer? Probably not. John Travolta said no to Forrest Gump, and Gwenyth Paltrow told James Cameron that The Titanic, was not her cup of tea. Mistakes are made by everyone including by those who are successful and end up becoming great leaders in their industries. Making mistakes is just one principle and idea that Running the Gauntlet by Jeffrey W. Hayzlett with Jim Eber discusses. Running the Gauntlet is a personal recommendation by the former Chief Marketing Officer of Kodak, Jeffrey Hayzlett, on how company “change-agents” should strive to lead, drive change, and grow profits.

A term that Hayzlett often uses is “change-agent”. Hayzlett regards this person as the one who is reading the book and/or the person making an attempt to lead and change their business. Change-agents have a specific role in their business, and they are often those in power, for example a CEO, marketing officers, or project managers. The responsibilities of these change-agents are to inspire, lead by example, and walk the walk. Hayzlett provides brief chapters with a main idea stated at the beginning of each. Each chapter reviews a certain characteristic or action that is required of a change-agent. These actions range from taking customer service calls to providing presentations on how to beat the Goliath competitors in industry.

This book is in some sense in combination with Hayzlett’s first book called The Mirror Test, which goes through the various imperfections of many businesses and his solutions. In Running the Gauntlet, Hayzlett delves into the nature of modernity and recent technology. In order to keep up with competition where new technology is the driving force, a business must be on top of the tech industry. Change-agents must be current and up to date with new strategies on how to incorporate new technology in ways that will lead the business to the future.  He emphasizes that the mentality of a change-agent must be aggressive yet frugal, change processes then change the game, and inspire an entire staff to have a common goal and mission.

This book is direct, forceful, colloquial, and yet inspiring. Hayzlett duly performs in appealing to the reader through generic metaphors and elucidating examples. Hayzlett is a cowboy and military boy, literally, and uses many farm household and past battle strategy examples to drive home his message on building and revamping for the future. Hayzlett draws on his own personal and network’s experiences—“friend-sourcing”—to provide inspiring examples of how change-agents can truly propel a company or business to its peak performance in terms of revenue and profits.

The most compelling aspect of this book lies in the writing style and organization of the book. With brief chapters and direct, almost brutally honest, words of wisdom, Hayzlett appeals to the reader in a logical format. The chapter and his direction is easy to follow and engaging. The principles he discusses in the chapters is reinforced by personal examples that use those exact principles, which then helps the reader to believe in what Hayzlett recommends. It is interesting to note that the organization and preparation skills he discusses within the book is illuminated by the actual format of the book; he lays out a proper outline of what the book is about, provides bullet points to eliminate “fluff”, and reinforces recurring ideas throughout.

This book is for anyone who is currently in a position to lead and change, and for those who eventually wish to do so. The clear and straightforward nature of the book paired with the appendices of tips and bulleted principles makes this book a valuable asset for long-term purposes.