Today, a friend of mine, Ed Viator, discussed points of advice for newbies (newly hired people) in marketing. Great article on www.evil-marketer.com.
It got me to thinking. What advice would I have to anyone starting in a new job or new business environment. There is always – create something of value that makes them thankful you are there. However, I wanted more, so I came up with a list of 10 things:
1. Your #1 customer is your boss. Remember that. Your other #1 customer is whoever your boss says is your number #1 customer if it is not them. How can you have two #1 customers? Figure it out.
2. Your colleagues, boss, and underlings are not your buddies. They are your co-workers. Do not get drunk with them, do not confide too much them, and especially do not sleep with them. Being friendly and professional with mutual respect is great. Showing comraderie is excellent. Just do not take it too far. You are constantly being judged by others and your actions even outside of work reflect the person they see as their co-worker. Furthermore, there may be unscrupulous people that use these not so professional instances to their advantage and against you. Stay professional.
3. Think that you have to create value and demonstrate your value to them every day. Just because you are there does not give you justification to stay there. You are only as good as your latest achievement today. If you do not have a latest achievement then you quickly losing value.
4. Start with mutual respect and trust. They can increase it or decrease it, just like you.
5. Do not gossip. If someone says something negative about the boss, or a colleague, do not even agree. They or an onlooker might say you said it. It may or may not be true, so just be quiet about it. Try to quietly get out of the situation.
6. Do not brag. War stories are okay as long as they are funny or have a point. Talking about successes is okay as well, as long as it is done in a funny way or related to the current situation to make a point.
7. Document important decisions (and even minor ones) with an email. In todays fast paced environment people can forget and get confused as to what was agreed upon and who agreed. This insures that the the right people take responsibility (including yourself).
8. Be careful with company expenses. Understand the guidelines. If there are no guidelines, make some and stick with it. If a customer wants to buy the $500 bottle of wine say it is against company policy for any wine over $100 and then suggest something else. One guideline is, “Spend it like it is your own money.”
9. Become an expert in something even if it just that you have all the information on the product line in one directory on your computer. When people start coming to you for more information they will see you as the go-to person. So will management.
10. Offer encouragement and congratulations publically. Give admonition and criticism privately. When criticizing, offer first what they are good at, or at least that their intentions are to do a good job (very people want to do a bad job, regardless of how incompetent they may be). However, get to the point quickly. Sometimes it has to be similar to, “You have good intentions, but they did not receive it that way…and here is why”.
Stay focused on the goals, support your boss, and be the great team member. Remember this is work, you can have fun and enjoy it, but do not forget you have to be professional.
Money for money? An investor is going to put money (or something else in your company) and then get money (or something else out). People start throwing around fancy terms like stock, warrants, debentures, etc. Okay, maybe some of those terms are not that fancy, but I like to keep it simple.
What can the investor give you?
What can you give the investor in return?
It boils down to this:
1. What and when do they pay in?
-stock in something else
-goods & services from another company free or at preferential pricing
2. What do they get for it?
- sell at IPO
- sell earlier
- when do they get the stock
- can they sell the stock back to the company
- can they buy more stock (warrants)
- preferred pricing on product
- cash out
- other rights
As a reminder, it boils down to these basics. Before you get too fancy, find out what they can provide and what they want! They means investor.
How important is fitting in with your workplace culture? Its vital. If you do not, then you usually lose your job. And, if someone is not fitting in, should the employer do something? If the odd person is causing problems that prevent the group from working effectively, usually they get rid of that odd person.
An article on CNN, Good job, lousy coworkers, does not address these questions, but rather shows how employees just did not fit one place but fit somewhere else. The incidents were:
1. Colleagues did not want to have lunch with the person or do any outside activities with the person.
2. The employee in question did not participate in extracurricular activities.
3. An employee was older with a family in a company with mostly 20-something singles; and left for the evening to be with his family. The young people centered their life around the company and resentment built up.
4. One employee was very young compared to his coworkers and felt awkward and out of place.
5. A new manager jumped into a situation with everyone creating drama that was counterproductive.
6. The last person could not spout any new ideas as they were all shot down; everyone resisted change.
Given that I do not know the particulars of each situation and in each situation the employee moved on to bigger and better things. However, one thing stuck out. Each one of these situations is common in most companies, and the successful people learn how to leverage the situation, manipulate the people, or move on quickly.
In most of the situations outlined clearly the other parties were being jerks, fearful, resentful or just stupid. In ALL the situations, the employee could have done something about it. Here is my take on each one. You can read about them here: http://money.cnn.com/galleries/2010/news/1002/gallery.workplace_culture/index.html
1. Your colleagues are not your friends and buddies no matter how much they act like that to each other. They do not want to play with you? Invite them to lunch with you and make friends towards them, and do not expect them to initiate. You are probably the outsider. If they still do not want to be friends, then remember, they are colleagues and you are a professional.
2. Participate in extracurricular activities. A big part of getting things done in a company is to have people respect you, not fear you, and be comfortable working with you. This is best done in non-work environments.
3. The young people liked to play video games during their lunches. Join them sometimes. You have a family and they do not; but that does not mean you cannot try to make friends with them in off hours.
4. When you are very young compared to everyone else, keep quiet and listen. Learn. Find a mentor. Figure out how to be helpful. Support and give to others.
5. As a new manager, you are a leader. You do not fraternize yourself with everyones drama. When you realize this is a problem you set the tone right away that people need to get along and focus on the job. If it starts to interfere you need to address it one-on-one. The worst offenders, if it is interfering with work, are fired or transferred if possible.
6. People resist change out of fear for losing their jobs, having to work more for less, or just having to face the possibility of failure. Find out what they want to do to be successful and address that. What are their goals for the year and how can your ideas help them?
In general, here are the rules:
1. Keep your mouth shut. If you really do not like it there, then quietly look elsewhere.
2. Find something early on that you can do that can contribute to the company.
3. Offer friendship, assistance, and smiles. Do not demand it or require it comes to you first.
4. Figure out the culture and do your best to adapt to it and use it to your advantage.
5. Colleagues are colleagues and remain professional at all times. You can become friends, but remember, they are your colleagues.
6. If you are in a role that people work for you, act like a leader and not a manager. If you do not know the difference then learn.
This week a lot of news about TED. If you are not aware of it, TED is a series of presentations about cool ideas.
That is it. If you have a cool idea you present at TED.
This one is very appropriate for this blog. What is the SECRET of success. Richard St. John realized that he was at a conference of successful people; so he asked them. He asked 500 people and compiled the data.
His presentation is here: http://www.ted.com/talks/richard_st_john_s_8_secrets_of_success.html..
It is well worth the three minutes.
What leads to success?
Work (that is fun)
Ideas (that are good, which leads to )
Good (be good at something, get to be the best you can be at it)
Push (keep pushing yourself, just like your Mom pushed you)
Serve (remember, you are there to serve others, your customers and your employees)
This combination of eight characteristics leads to success. At least according to Richard St. John.? I agree.
Just makes me wonder what was number nine?
Seth Godin in his blog today writes about how people waffle when asked for their opinion. Instead of giving their opinion they answer with a question or say something negative to avoid answering. He does not offer a solution other than telling the reader just to give their opinion when asked.
Easier said than done.
Why do people do this? Primarily because they want to be liked or they do not want to rock the boat and cause trouble. If their opinion is received badly they may get hurt, or if they may be perceived as troublemakers and dissenters. What do you do with troublemakers and dissenters? You ignore them or get rid of them.
What if you are the questioner? Your job is to get their opinion. The challenge is to get a person to open up in a way they feel comfortable. To do this I can think of a few things to do.
[I love making lists...]
1. Engage them in a conversation as opposed to an interrogation.
2. State initially what you are trying to achieve.
3. Tell them that you need their input.
4. Show appreciation for their input.
5. Demonstrate that their information will be used as part of the whole where they will not get singled out (unless they want credit, and then show how they will get credit).
6. Tell them about the expected results of your questioning. It may be that you just want to learn and be a better person.
Most people appreciate someone seeking their knowledge. However, they do not want to get hurt by providing it. Remember an earlier post when I stated that the first and foremost on people
Sometimes the simplest way of opening a door is to ask a simple question: What are you trying to do?
It is the same question as what is your goal, but it can also be a lot less intimidating. Goals imply organization and thought. IF ther are no goals then there must have been no organization or thought. On the other hand, trying to do something is more relaxed. If someone really has not set goals they will more likely be just trying to do something.
Today I asked that of a client; within 10 minutes I got a call back from there head of marketing. A very excited person was telling me about all sorts of things they are doing and all this help they would like. We had to plan on another conversation this week. That simple question opened up a lot of doors.
What are YOU trying to do?
or, How I spent two days of my life and created more than $1,000,000 in value.
How can you increase your sales potential without doing any sales? Here is how.
Today I took some time to increase productivity. Every day I spend about half of it on the phone talking with clients about growing their business. Yesterday I received an email from someone that had an Excel file with data (on one spreadsheet) for many clients. The idea was that I would have to split up this data into the 27 files needed and Email it to each of my clients.
Wait a minute. Split into 27 files?
Wait another minute. I was receiving this from someone whose job was to notify the clients with this information (not my job).
The problem was that she had 16 people she was sending this information out to. She had mailed all these clients before, but what was the problem? The problem was creating culling data and creating files for over 400 clients.
For me to do this would have taken probably two hours, not counting mailing it out. So, it was equivalent of about 2 person days worth of work for our team.
You are probably thinking: Oh, why did she not first create an analysis program that created 400 separate files? I do not know. Having worked with analysts that create these programs (and having been one), at some point you realize that creating one big file is not going to work, since the readers only can see one part of it and there are many readers. You create multiple files. In most cases, this happens because a) the creator of the program is not talking to the user of the data, and b) the user of the data does not know how to create this program or even ask for it.
Instead of just doing it (or more likely, forgetting about the file and waiting until someone asks for the data), I remembered something. I had written a program a couple of years ago that allows you to split data from one spreadsheet into multiple files at the touch of the button. Why had I written this? At that time, I was getting similar files that needed to be broken up.
So, today I opened up that old program and upgraded it to work for Excel 2007 and added a few bells and whistles that made it more user friendly. Furthermore, it would be able to handle some of the quirks in the data file and still work.
I emailed it to the sender of the file; and told management that they now had the capability of sending that out directly to the client without bother us.
What did I really do? I eliminated 2 days per month of my team’s time. That comes to 24 days, or approximately 1 month, or 8% of a yearly cost of an employee. 8-16,000 dollars. Not bad, need to put that on my resume somewhere…maybe.
However, on our team that extra month of time can translate into a lot more revenue. Our focus us to create more revenue, so, 1 month could be worth … another million dollars? That is not really that much of a stretch when you consider that the combined efforts of our team tally up to a lot of revenue.
So, today I possibly created somewhere around $1,016,000 in value by working on that program and enabling people on different teams to focus their time elsewhere. The cost? One day today and about one day before initially creating the tool. Two days. However, I already had the tool, so that first day was a sunk cost. The investment of today enabled it for this company. One day. One Million Dollar Day.
Of course, the program works on many other types of data…even more savings in time…and more creation of value.
This article is a resource article (quicky way of getting you needed information found elsewhere).
New article up today on CNN called Best Places to Launch.
The article provides you a list of 50 places and why each place is important, statistics about each location, and resources for getting help in that location.You can organize the information by what is near you, lending hot spots, business climate (growth), and costs (example: wages).
I came up with several ways to use this article.
1. Find resources to get assistance.
2. Contact these resources to learn about networking groups in your area.
3. Identify other cities to launch your products and salespeople.
4. Identify locations to make your products/services.
The idea is that this is a starting point to get more information.
If you only had a few questions to ask a client prior to making a recommendation for their website what would you ask?
I recently found myself in this situation. I am assisting a group of people in creating their new website by developing the design document. Their business has multiple divisions and each division in located in a different part of the Dallas Metroplex. Furthermore, while they have a commonality that brings them together (the company), each division owner has a certain autonomy that allows them to do what they want.
Given a short amount of time and a lot of people to interview, what questions would I ask? I hit upon just a few:
- What is the mission statement of the organization?
- What is your mission statement as it fits into this organization?
- Who is your audience?
- How do you use the web site, and how would you like to use it?
- What would you like to see on a web site?
- Who will maintain it?
Very simple questions. The first few questions puts me in the context and mindset of this particular person. Questions four and five get into the type of product they want to see. Finally, question six really tells me how interactive they will be with the web site. Combined, this tells me how they see the web site as an extension of themselves.
The answers were very surprising.
I could ask a lot more questions and will probably follow up with them. The point of this exercise is to get started and understand the customer and their fundamental approach. As any company developing a new product, you need to get into the mind of the customer get the voice of the customer in your design. This is one technique I am using now to hear their voice.
You can either go with facts or emotion. The problem with using too many facts is that people tend to get bored, forgetful, and unsure of how to digest all the data. As Seth Godin writes in his article, Too much data leads to not enough belief, too much data crowds out faith. Rather, too much data overwhelms and causes the listener to stray.
Going with emotion leads to the wrong choices being made because the facts are not really thought out.
If you are the persuader, then using facts or emotion does not matter as long as you get your idea across and people to your side. To the persuaded, emotion counts NOW but facts count later.
I think the best approach is a balance of the two. Carefully chosen facts that can lead to an emotional response: This choice feels right. However, if the person just chooses not to believe the facts, then you have to address the cause of the emotional need to not believe. In some cases, you just cannot win – with that person.
Move on and persuade other people.