Disruption, Comfort Zones and Dying

Disruption, Comfort Zones and Dying

Be Sociable, Share! Tweet Let’s talk about disruption. Newspapers and magazines always felt that when the Internet came around they could continue to survive on print editions. Wrong. Journalism lives, but the printed word on paper continues to decline as more and more periodicals move to an online-only approach. Trickle down? I wouldn’t be buying stock in press, ink and newsprint companies. Local movie rental companies felt that people would still want to go to the store, even when online streaming and movies by mail started out. In April, Washington D.C.’s last video store closed their doors. We’re always going to want to burn our pictures and music to CDs. The recordable media industry is going to grow. How many different MP3 players and cloud photo systems are available now? Nothing can beat going to the local book store to buy the latest hardcover. eBooks now make up 30% of all book sales. The number of independent book stores has halved in the last 20 years, and less than 10% of all books sold are done through the remaining ones.  Barnes & Noble is closing 20 stores a year. The US has the best manufacturing capabilities in the world so there’s no worry about a decline in job availability. Wrong. (Although we are starting to see the return of some jobs to the US due to the rising “cost of doing business” in other countries). Travel agents. Insurance agents. Bank tellers. Taxi drivers. Photo finishers. News stands. In the last 20 years there has been mass disruption of individual jobs and entire industries as people move towards wanting self-service...
It’s Time to STOP

It’s Time to STOP

Be Sociable, Share! Tweet This post is going to be short and simple. One of the most overused quotes on the Internet – maybe in general – is by Albert Einstein. “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” There’s a reason it’s overused. It’s because people still constantly do the same thing and expect different results. Here’s my response. “Duh.” There’s another quote. “Fail fast.” I’m not sure who said it first, so I’ll leave it unattributed. My response? “Bravo” And herein lies the problem. People are resistant to change and are usually afraid to pull the plug on something that’s failing. They’ll keep doing it and they’ll expect it to start working at some point. They’ll pump time and money into it without thinking about how that time and money could be better spent. That leads me to my next quote. “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.” Now, I don’t fully believe in this one. For example, how do you quantify creativity? But it’s right – so right – on many levels. If you can’t quantify something, it’s near impossible to know whether it’s working. So let me create a new quote that, perhaps, brings all of this together. “If you don’t define success, you’ll never know if you have it. The same goes for failure.” When was the last time you took an “outside looking in” view of everything your company does? How about the ways that you do things? Sales, marketing, websites and social media. Customer service, product and service delivery and support. Human resources, management and...
Smarts + Experience + Listening = Greatness. The Magic Formula.

Smarts + Experience + Listening = Greatness. The Magic Formula.

Be Sociable, Share! Tweet People often ask me how I was able to make my last business successful. What special skills and capabilities did I bring to the table? How was I able to make the Inc 500 list for several years and manage continued fast growth? Having a big ego definitely wasn’t the skill that made it happen. So what was? For corporate leadership, I was good at finding people far smarter and experienced than myself, and then I listened to what they had to say. Groupthink, and the opportunity to have others evaluate, give me feedback, and tweak my smartness and stupidity as I built strategy – and executed on it – was the only reason I was successful. Notice that there are three parts to the above statement. Three very important parts that need to be in sync for it all to work. I was very good at finding people far smarter and experienced than myself, and then I listened to what they had to say. Woo Hoo. Three Parts. So What? Each statement means nothing on its own. If you hire smart and experienced people but don’t listen to them, you’re greatly limiting your opportunity for success. If you hire people who “haven’t been there and done that”, or just don’t “get it”, and then take their advice, you could be headed for failure as easily as greatness. I’ve seen both happen on a regular basis. In addition, note that I said “smarter and experienced”. Intelligence without experience means they still have to go through the process of learning what works and what doesn’t. They have to have...
FWS Weekly Business Roundup n.3

FWS Weekly Business Roundup n.3

Be Sociable, Share! Tweet It’s the beginning of June and it’s finally warming up here in the great Northeast.  There’s less than a month of school left for the kids.  Summer vacation plans are all the buzz at the virtual watercooler, and everyone is prepping for the great Summer business slowdown as offices become ghost towns and beach resorts is where things are happening. What better time is there to start looking at some of the tools you use, and to leverage some great ideas and inspiration from others to improve your small business.  Welcome to the Fair Winds Strategies Weekly Business Roundup, third edition. Managing Projects and Lists in a small business → I’ve been using Trello for a long, long time.  First of all, it’s free, and it’s a great small business tool.  You create a “board”, and then create multiple “lists” on the board.  You then populate the lists with “cards”.  Each card can contain checklists, group comments, attachments, due dates, people, voting and more.  As cards are updated, members of the board are updated.   Let’s look at a quick example of how I use it.  When we work with clients, we have a 200+ question checklist we go through to assess our client’s business.  How do we add questions to that list, but do it in a team way?  In Trello, we have three lists – general discussion, proposed questions and approved questions.  Everyone adds the questions they like to the proposed questions list and the rest of the group comments and votes on the questions.  The questions with the highest votes then move into the...
Interviewing: What they say vs. What they know

Interviewing: What they say vs. What they know

Be Sociable, Share! TweetAn older “adage” about interviewing updated to today… Interviewer: How long have you been designing websites for? Candidate: Five years Interviewer: Do you understand HTML CSS and Photoshop? Candidate: Yes, Yes and Yes Interviewer: Can you design responsive sites? Candidate: Absolutely Interviewer: Javascript, PHP, Ruby and HTML5? Candidate: I’m completely up to date Interviewer: What about content? Can you develop content too? Candidate: I blog every day Interviewer: You’re exactly what we’re looking for!  You’re hired! Candidate: Ummm… don’t you want to see my portfolio? I know that candidates hate it, but before I hire a designer or programmer, we go through the interviewing, and then we give them a practical test, at our office, that either probes a weakness or verifies a strength.  We examine the candidate’s approach and evaluate the results.  THEN we hire or move on.  Didn’t your parents always say that words are easy to say? Be Sociable, Share!...
Your Employees are a Tremendous Resource

Your Employees are a Tremendous Resource

Be Sociable, Share! TweetI always think that certain things were taught in “Leadership 101” class, but when I read articles like this one – I sometimes realize how easy it is to lose touch with your customers as your business grows or you climb the corporate ladder. The link is to an open letter from a senior RIM (the makers of the Blackberry) executive to the RIM co-CEO’s. It asks them to change the company by listening to what RIM’s customers and employees are asking for. This concept shouldn’t be rocket science.  I mean, who is closest to your customers anyway?  In my organization, it’s the account executives and the engineers/consultants.  They are in front of customers every day and hear what they need, what they don’t need, what they have an easy time finding and what they can’t find help with.  Also, keep in mind that it’s not always what you sell that makes customers use you or leave you – it’s also how you do business, your processes, your approach and all interactions they may have with you. Last time I checked, delivering solutions that customers want and need is the easiest way to increasing revenues.  Trying to sell services or products that customers don’t need or can get from a multitude of sources is a great path to extinction.  Also, listening to employees at all levels helps you create a more efficient organization and one with a more positive work environment – employees like to know you are hearing what they are saying and are reacting to it. Other than directly meeting with my customers, which...
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