Saturday, June 05, 2010

Friday, June 04, 2010

Social Media Gives Consumers a Voice & Power

Last night I was on Twitter when a link to this story was sent to me and 3962 other followers of @BenPhoster. My ReTweet went out to 982 followers, less than a minute later.

That's how social media sites like Twitter and Facebook can work and the Public Relations departments at companies that act like bullies, need to realize this.

Here's the story from engadget.com:

AT&T warns customer that emailing the CEO will result in a cease and desist letter

Sure, Steve Jobs might be a one-man email PR machine, but his pal Randall Stephenson at AT&T doesn't appear to be quite as gregarious -- as reader Giorgio Galante found out today, sending AT&T's CEO two emails in two weeks results in a phone call from AT&T's Executive Response Team and a warning that further emails will result in a cease and desist letter.

What did Giorgio's emails say? The first was a request to bump up his iPhone eligibility date and a request for a tethering option, and today's outlined his displeasure with AT&T's new data rates and ultimate decision to switch to Sprint and the EVO 4G. That prompted "Brent" to call Giorgio back and thank him for the feedback, but also politely warn him that further emails would be met with legal action.

Ouch. As you'd expect, AT&T just lost itself a customer. We've followed up with Ma Bell to find out exactly why they went the lawyer route instead of oh, say, filtering Randall's email -- we'll let you know what they say.

P.S.- Amusingly, Giorgio says he emailed both Randall Stephenson and Steve Jobs last year about offering tethering and actually got a response from Steve -- maybe these two CEOs need to talk about more than data rates and service quality the next time they meet up.

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Thursday, June 03, 2010

Giving

from the DLM Blog:

How to Really Begin Adding Value

Posted: 28 May 2010 07:54 AM PDT


Many of us have been brought up to think that there is only so much to go around and we must grab what we can before other people get our share. But there is another paradigm which insists on the importance of community, emphasizing our interconnectedness and interdependence. In this view, helping others, giving something of ourselves and reaching out are the keys to success and happiness.

Einstein wrote, ‘Only a life lived for others is worth living.’ This idea can sometimes be called adding value. Why is this way of looking at things so valuable?
  1. When you add value, the whole that you produce is greater than the sum of the parts which produced it. Unlike the ‘not enough pie to go round’ paradigm, the adding-value paradigm insists that when you enrich the life of someone else, the pie gets bigger and there is more for us all.

  2. It makes the world a better place for all of us. When you help someone, you add value to their life and you make the world a better place. Whether you’re a teacher who helps a student to pass an exam or encourages him to apply for university, or an author who writes a book that helps thousands of people, you make the world better for all of us, including yourself.

  3. You’re going to get a whole lot in return. This is not the reason for doing it, of course, but it’s a fact – when you give you receive. Maybe not in the way you think, but when you really try to add value with no expectation of reward, the rewards start rolling in. Life is strange like that!

  4. It makes you feel good. Steven Covey, in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, speaks about an inner darkness which is created when you live a life without integrity. Living a life of integrity and value is the only way to truly feel good about yourself.

  5. It brings opportunity. If you become known as someone who always helps, always tries to find a solution, you’ll win friends and influence people. There are two kinds of person, my friend (can you guess the movie?), problem people and solution people. Which are you seen as? You future success could depend on being in the right category.
So how do we add value? What can we do to experience this rich and rewarding way of living? Here are some examples of how to make sure you are adding value in every situation as much as you can.
  1. Make sure you know what you can do. What are your skills? What are you good at? These are the tools which will allow you to add value.

  2. Do what you love. When you do the things you love, adding value comes naturally. Look at Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Madonna, or any number of rich and successful people: what do they have in common? They do what they love! And they are successful because they add value naturally.

  3. If you’re not adding value, get out! If you’re in a job where you don’t feel you’re systematically adding something, either you need to change the way you’re doing things, or it’s time to quit. You can do better.

  4. Adding value will guide you to the right job or enterprise. If you have a choice of two or more paths, be they career paths or anything else, always choose the one that allows you to add the most value. This will keep you in alignment with your true purpose in life and will, ultimately, bring you greater happiness and greater reward.

  5. Keep on learning new things and expanding your comfort zone. This is how you learn more skills which will enable you to add more value. Go on a course, do a part time degree, put together a website, write a novel – but do something new.

  6. Don’t be scared to fail. When you do something new, you’ll do it badly and you might even be afraid to do it at all. If and when you do fail, you might not want to go through the experience again. But if you push through that initial failure, pick yourself up and keep going, you’ll start to improve and eventually you’ll be good at what you’re doing.

  7. Encourage other people. Try to get the best out of people – encourage them to be the best they can be. This will inspire them to take their own risks and add their own value to the world.
So there are seven ways of adding value. I could have made a list of ten, twenty or even more. Perhaps you have more ideas?

Written on 5/28/2010 by Mark Harrison. Mark Harrison writes about personal growth, communication, and increasing personal wealth. Check out his new book, Thirty Days to Change Your Life.Photo Credit: Wonderlane

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Wednesday, June 02, 2010

The Formula for Success...

Sorry, there isn't one.

There are several.

And you need to discover yours.

This reprint from the DLM Blog has some hints:

The Hard Truths About Building Your Own Success

Posted: 28 Apr 2010 07:03 AM PDT


Have you noticed that society often looks at successful people in hopes of somehow copying their magic formula? I know I have done this and fallen into the trap - the trap of thinking, praying even, that there is one magic solution for success and that it can be replicated by anyone with enough sheer will and desire. Clearly this is not true.

I don't want to miscommunicate here; of course it makes sense to learn lessons from people who have achieved the goals we want. They did something right and some of their ingredients may indeed work in your success recipe too. As Tony Robbins says: "Success leaves clues".

Clues however are not the entire story and as mentioned above, this is your success plan. Realizing this and taking full responsibility for yourself makes a huge difference. Look at you, your desires, your abilities, and with that, your chances of actually being successful increase substantially.

Here are some key realizations that I believe you should consider along your path to success. Take one, or a few, and if they are counter to your current beliefs debate yourself on how this view impacts your plan.
  1. There is no magic formula
    Sometimes we have a warped way of looking at success as a magic formula to be cracked. Life in this ‘post magic formula cracking’ world is easy, abundant, problem free, but completely illusionary. The other point is that successful people have put the effort into achieving their success. Most of the time success hasn’t fallen into their lap. To achieve success in any area of life we need to put one foot in front of the other and move towards our goal.

  2. Life is never solved
    Life is never solved. Recently, I have started working on a self employed basis as a mentor. I have wanted to be self employed for a very long time, particularly doing work I love like mentoring, and it is great to finally do that. However, I have realized that success often brings new sets of challenges that we might not have previously thought about! I am acutely aware of being grateful for where I now am, but also aware now that I am here that there is no magical place to get to! Doing what you love everyday is great but it is not problem free.

  3. It really is about the journey
    While the end result may be a great new product, website, or service, it's the process of developing that idea that often builds your character and provides the most learning opportunities. Look back on something significant you have achieved. Now look at the lessons you learned along the way. Would you really swap them so you could have fast forwarded to the result? However difficult things may be it has made us who we are today.

  4. What’s the rush anyway?
    As society speeds up and we have more gadgets and technology to make life easier, we are getting used to quick fixes. If we don’t achieve something quickly we think it’s not worth achieving or that it is taking too long. Life isn’t a race. We don’t get a badge for the speed at which we travel through life. I sometimes find myself falling into that trap with my blog - thinking it should be more developed or have more subscribers. When I catch myself thinking like this, I try and take a step back and remind myself about what I enjoy about what I am doing and that building anything worthwhile takes time.

  5. Nothing replaces hard work
    Following on from my last point, there is no ‘quick fix’. Anything worthwhile does take time. We need to learn to develop the skills of being persistent and keeping the bigger picture in mind. I think this is why people sometimes say that personal development books don’t work. What they are forgetting is that the missing link is hard work. Reading a book or going to a seminar alone will not change our life. Knowledge, taking action, inserting inspiration, hard work and patience is what will make the difference.

  6. You can’t be taught ‘passion’
    It is for us alone to find our passion. No one can teach us their passion. Others can help us find our passion and can also share their experiences in a way that can help us find our own but our passion is fundamentally different for each of us. Our passion is a unique cocktail of our own inner whisperings, life experiences and individual skills and talents. It is our job to try new experiences in order to hunt our passion(s) down. For example, I didn’t realize I had a passion for blogging till I stumbled across the blogosphere last year whilst setting up my website for my coaching services.

  7. Trust yourself
    By all means, enlist the help of good mentors and learn from others who are further along a similar path. But, remember that we all have a unique path and it is our job to work out how to bring that to the fore. Sometimes the reason we look to others for the answer to ‘success’ is because we don’t trust ourselves. We don’t trust ourselves to do our own thing, to take a risk and to shine. We need to learn to trust ourselves. Start today, listen to what your intuition is saying and start doing what feels right for you.
By seeing through some of the illusions bandied around about success we can get clear on what we need to do and see the wood for the trees. Things become much easier once we take responsibility for our own success.

Written on 4/28/2010 by Jennifer Smith. Jen is a Life Coach and Personal Development blogger who can be found at Reach Our Dreams. You can connect with Jen on Twitter @reachourdreams or if you liked this article then why not subscribe to her RSS Feed? Photo Credit: Sugarmonster

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Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Tech Tuesday Tip

Another way to manage your Facebook privacy from Drew:

Facebook privacy -- how to protect yourself

Posted: 23 May 2010 10:45 PM PDT

Let's face it -- Facebook is becoming a significant element in many business' marketing plans. And with good reason. As the member mark approaches 400 million -- it's hard to imagine an audience that does not have a strong presence there.

It's also a potent tool for establishing your personal brand.

But at what cost? Facebook's most recent policy changes have people in a panic. There's more talk about leaving Facebook than I've heard in a long time. Most of that talk is ignorant panic. The truth is...most people don't understand the privacy setting and the risks well enough to know if they should leave or not.

I'm not suggesting that it's not an important issue but I'm guessing most people don't really know how to safeguard against the kinds of exposure we're talking about. People know they share a lot of stuff but they really don't know who is or isn't able to see it.

So let's add this up. Facebook, for most businesses and professionals, is someplace we should be. And, we have no idea if our privacy settings are what we want them to be. So what do we do?

You go to Reclaim Privacy. (reclaimprivacy.org) They've created a browser bookmarklet that will tell you exactly what's going on with your Facebook account AND help you fix it. All for free. (God love the internet!)

You simply drag their link to your browser's bookmark bar and then log into Facebook. Once you're there, just click on the link in your bookmark bar and voila, a window pops up and assessed your privacy settings. Here's what mine looked like:

Screen shot  2010-05-23 at 2.47.59 PM

It not only told me which areas were secure...but as you can see by the red and brown boxes... it told me when I should worry and when I was definitely not secure. But the best part is -- with a click on the blue boxes, it fixed (or gave me the chance to fix) the issue.

As with most things -- there is a happy medium. Thanks to the free tool from Reclaim Privacy, we can keep using Facebook without worrying about over exposure. Or without having to be Facebook fanatics who know how to modify over 170 settings located in 50 different spots. We just need to click the mouse!

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Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day



A long forgotten holiday that we need to keep alive.

My Dad used to say that certain holidays were "merchant holidays", but not this one.

My Dad and my uncles all served in the military in the 1940's and 50's. All of them served and came home. Memorial Day is to remember those that did not come home.

My Dad was stationed in the States when he served, never went overseas, but he was extremely patriotic. And I have an Aunt who lost her first husband in the war.

In Fort Wayne, we have a Coliseum where the Komet Hockey team plays, the Mad Ants Basketball team plays, and an arena football team plays. The full name of the Coliseum is the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum, but most folks never use the full name. Today their will be a parade, it is a parade that my Dad & I would go to every year, the Memorial Day Parade that ended at the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum.

Considering the fantastic weather, I wonder how many people attended today's parade. And I wonder too, how many people realize the reason for the day off. Do your part to keep it alive.

Harvey Mackay wrote about this too:

Land of the free because of the brave

By Harvey Mackay

For some, Memorial Day is the unofficial start of summer, a long holiday weekend to head to the beach or fire up the barbeque. I sincerely hope that Americans attach a deeper meaning to this unique holiday.

Lee Greenwood wrote a popular patriotic song a number of years ago with lyrics that are perfect for Memorial Day:

"And I'm proud to be an American,
where at least I know I'm free.
And I won't forget the men who died,
who gave that right to me."

Whenever I hear that song, I am reminded how fortunate we are to live in a country where we can live pretty much as we please, within the law, of course. We rarely stop to think about what we are allowed to say or do, or where we can go. We are free to make our own choices.

What does this have to do with a column about business? Plenty! Our whole democracy survives because we have brave men and women who fight to protect our way of life. What we have in America simply doesn't exist anywhere else in the world.

We all have the chance to study what interests us, work where we choose to work, take risks and fail and try again. We sell our products on the free market, hire from a well-educated and motivated workforce, grow our businesses without limits if we are successful, and make a fair profit. We go to sleep at night knowing the morning will bring another opportunity.

We owe our freedom to those who are willing to defend it.
As a businessman who has realized the American dream, I understand that the sacrifices of our valiant service people have enabled us to live free and pursue our opportunities. We take our liberty for granted, but as the saying goes, freedom isn't free. We owe such a great debt to those who have died wearing an American uniform, or lived to tell about it ... is one day a year enough?

Here's a brief history lesson about Memorial Day. In the 19th century, "Decoration Day" was started to encourage citizens to decorate the graves of soldiers who died in the Civil War. After World War I, the observance expanded to include ceremonies honoring those who died in all of America's wars. The holiday became Memorial Day in 1967.

Now, Memorial Day is celebrated on the last Monday in May. Touching and beautiful ceremonies are held at cemeteries across the country, and if you haven't ever attended one, I encourage you to go this year. I guarantee you'll come away with a new appreciation for the extraordinary efforts of our veterans, and the ultimate sacrifice of those who gave their lives for our country.
General George S. Patton offered his own perspective: "It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died. Rather we should thank God that such men lived."

Over 400,000 American soldiers and sailors died in World War II. Around 1,000 World War II veterans are dying each day. These are the unsung heroes who saw action in Europe, Asia and Africa, and then came home and got down to business. We know them as the "Greatest Generation" -- the men and women who took on big challenges and gave selflessly. Can we meet those standards?

I drive past Fort Snelling National Cemetery in Minneapolis every time I go to the airport. The unending rows of white grave markers are a solemn reminder of the millions who have died for our country from the Revolutionary War to the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

I wonder how many of us could survive boot camp, much less wartime conditions. My worst day at the office will never compare to what our veterans have endured.

We honor them for their commitment and service. We recognize their sacrifices, and their families' sacrifices, that allow us to go about our everyday activities. Even those of us who work seven days a week still go home at night, unlike those on long deployments overseas.

We shouldn't wait until Memorial Day to show our gratitude for our servicemen and women. Yes, I am an unashamed flag-waver. I like it here, and I am grateful to those who have made my freedoms possible.

Mackay's Moral: Show your true colors -- honor our veterans.

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Sunday, May 30, 2010

Money & Debt


from Seth Godin:


Consumer debt is not your friend

Here's a simple MBA lesson: borrow money to buy things that go up in value. Borrow money if it improves your productivity and makes you more money. Leverage multiplies the power of your business because with leverage, every dollar you make in profit is multiplied.

That's very different from the consumer version of this lesson: borrow money to buy things that go down in value. This is wrongheaded, short-term and irrational.

A few decades ago, mass marketers had a problem: American consumers had bought all they could buy. It was hard to grow because dispensable income was spoken for. The only way to grow was to steal market share, and that's difficult. Enter consumer debt.

Why fight for a bigger piece of pie when you can make the whole pie bigger, the marketers think. Charge it, they say. Put it on your card. Pay now, why not, it's like it's free, because you don't have to repay it until later. Why buy a Honda for cash when you can buy a Lexus with credit?

One argument is income shifting: you're going to make a lot of money later, so borrow now so you can have a nicer car, etc. Then, when money is worth less to you, you can pay it back. This idea is actually reasonably new--fifty years or so--and it's not borne out by what actually happens. Debt creates stress, stress creates behaviors that don't lead to happiness...

The other argument is that it's been around so long, it's like a trusted friend. Debt seems like fun for a long time, until it's not. And everyone does it. We've been sold very hard on acquisition = happiness, and consumer debt is the engine that permits this. Until it doesn't.

The thing is, debt has become a marketed product in and of itself. It's not a free service or a convenience, it's a massive industry. And that industry works with all the other players in the system to grow, because (at least for now) when they grow, other marketers benefit as well. As soon as you get into serious consumer debt, you work for them, not for you.

It's simple: when the utility of what you want (however you measure it) is less than the cost of the debt, don't buy it.

Go read Dave Ramsey's post: The truth about debt.

Dave has spent his career teaching people a lesson that many marketers are afraid of: debt is expensive, it compounds, it punishes you. Stuff now is rarely better than stuff later, because stuff now costs you forever if you go into debt to purchase it. He's persistent and persuasive.

It takes discipline to forego pleasure now to avoid a lifetime of pain and fees. Many people, especially when confronted with a blizzard of debt marketing, can't resist.

Resist. Smart people work at keeping their monthly consumer debt burden to zero. Borrow only for things that go up in value. Easy to say, hard to do. Worth it.

Fort Wayne Site-of-the-Day


Every time I have lunch here, I see a couple of people I know. Click on Pic.