Archive for the ‘business’ Category

@maurilio:

17

Your First Impression Matters

“You never get a second chance at a first impression,” sounds like a tired cliche  your mother used to get you to comb your hair as a teenager. But I must say that, too often, professionals lose big when they discount the value of a strong first impression. We all have heard someone say: “he was not what I expected,” or “I imagined her being different.” Often these comments translate into “he did not look like he had his act together,” or “I expected her to be more professional.” Before you call me shallow and too focused on the veneer of human existence, hear me on this one. I agree we are so much more than the sum total of how we look and dress like. I get that. But no matter how hard we try to get people we meet to see the real us, we will be categorized…

Read More
6

Learning vs Arrogant Organizations: A Lesson in Survival

Learning organizations grow and live. Arrogant organizations die while looking back at the glory days. In my work as a consultant I can quickly assess if I am dealing with a learning or arrogant organization. No matter the size or age, learning organizations find themselves relevant to their audiences, while arrogant ones might continue to provide a product or service that fewer and fewer people seem to want. But when asked, no business, church, ministry would identify itself as arrogant. But here’s how I differentiate between them. Learning organizations ask the right questions. While we all want to do what we do better, sometimes that’s the wrong question to ask. “How should we do what we do better?” is a good question but “what should we be doing?” is a better one. You can improve your product or experience to the point of, not only diminishing returns, but obsolescence. You…

Read More
16

How to Decide If You Can Trust Someone

There are times you instinctively know you should not trust someone. I have learned to trust my first gut reaction after getting in a business or personal relationship with someone I had second thoughts about only to be burned by them later. While I don’t think I can teach anyone how to develop an intuition on such matters, I can share some of the signs I look for in a person when I first meet them.  Here’s what I watch for: How they treat people whom they perceive “beneath” them. I watch closely the reaction to a restaurant server or an assistant when he or she messes up or fail to perform to the person in question’s standards. I remember one man who wanted to invest in one of my ventures yelling at a woman who served us the wrong beverage. It was an honest mistake. His reaction was clear…

Read More
35

The Danger of Being a Critic

Negativity always comes with a price. A big one. It’s easy for me to be a critic. I grew up in a family that prided itself in finding what’s wrong with the world and each other. It was sort of a sport around the dinner table to see who would outwit the rest and deliver the best put down. We all laughed, but someone always got hurt. Now I’m a professional critic whose livelihood is partially funded by my ability to discern what’s wrong or what’s not working and help organizations figure out how to communicate in order to move to the next level. Being a critic is dangerous, and I’m very aware of the negativity that can creep in and suck the life out of every experience. I have to work hard on being positive because cynicism and negativity are the first ones at my gate. I don’t want…

Read More
7

Persuasion and the Two Types of Motivation

What motivates you? That’s the fundamental question for every communicator, sales person and for all us in marketing and communication. While there are a lot of different motivators in our lives, we all fit in two big general motivation categories: 1.  Those who look at what they can gain from life: what can I get out of this? 2. Those who look at what not to lose in life: what am I missing and how can I avoid loss? Often both groups  of people will come up to the same conclusion and course of action, but they will arrive at their decision through completely different motivations. This classification goes beyond the “half-full or half-empty glass” perspective of positive and negative people. In my experience, those who look at life for what it has to offer them are always trying to push their personal and professional boundaries in search of the…

Read More
14

The 10% Rule of Life

We judge most things and experiences on details. I call it it the 10% rule because most of that what makes the details worth of notice usually happen at the very end of a project, building construction, manufacturing, design, experience–the last 10% of completion.That’s why finishing well is not just a good idea, it’s the difference between mediocrity and greatness and even success and failure. I don’t care how solid the foundation of a house is or how well-framed the walls are, if the painting is sloppy the entire structure gets devalued. “It’s just cosmetic,” you might say, but in the minds of most people the entire product gets devalued because of the last 10% of effort was not done well.  The opposite is true as well. Sometimes a beautifully finished building will garner top price before its owners find out that at core the structure is substandard. The value,…

Read More
7

Vision, Tenacity and Your Success

I was recently reminded that great organizations, missions and even products were ideas in the mind of a visionary who more often than not, did not have the proverbial two dimes to rub together when they saw the opportunity and set out to seize it.  Such dynamic has always fascinated me. For me the question has always been, “Did it succeed because it was a good idea or because the sheer tenacity of its visionary leader?” After going back and forth on the answer, I have come to believe that the answer is both –a good idea in the hands of a passionate and committed visionary.  I have seen great ideas, quantified by research, die because it lacked a champion that drove through the obstacles and refused to let roadblocks stop it from coming to fruition. I have also seen strong, hard-driving leaders hold on to a bad idea and…

Read More
8

What’s My Motivation? How to Reward Your Team

Understanding how to motivate people is key in any business and specially in non-profits. Early in life I thought most people were motivated by cash. After all happiness comes with more stuff, right? Well, that’s not been my experience. While most of us want to live well, most people I know would give money for the satisfaction of doing something they love. While I still have a long way to go in becoming a better manager of people, here’s a few things I’ve learned over the years. Praise publicly, criticize privately. There’s nothing more encouraging to a team member than the praise of a superior in a public setting. The opposite, however, is true for criticism. Over the years I have made the mistake of inverting this equation with dire consequences. Take a chance. Everyone wants to have an impact in their work environment. One of the most motivational things…

Read More
9

Selfishness: a Team Killer

Some call it self preservation. I call it selfishness. As a consultant I see selfishness and a lack of respect for the team that happens in most organizations, including in ministry. But this less-than-ideal motivation is often masked as an altruistic quality by its offender. Here are few examples of how people hide their selfishness in business settings. The Exaggerator. He makes the problem bigger and more dire than it really is so he can assure his request gets funded. His new computer is way more important than anyone else’s. In my experience, people in IT have the corner on this one. Throw in a few jargon words like API, SAS followed by “security breach” and the boss is asking how soon he can have that computer set up. The Diva. Everyone knows that if she doesn’t get her way, there’s going to be a meltdown soon. The Diva’s project,…

Read More
5

Marketing and the Conversation Strategy

In the new world of marketing and advertising, it’s not as much about your message as it is about engaging your audience in a dialogue about your message. Long ago marketing was all about exposing a product to the public. As competition grew and more products and services continued to vie for our attention, exposing a product was no longer enough. Marketers then began positioning it within a category or industry. They strived to place products in the minds of consumers by creating an unique promise, claim, or even story. But in today’s social-media drive culture, position is not enough. Consumers want a conversation with their favorite brands. Consumers now want, and will soon demand, marketing that gives them a chance to dialog with their brands of choice. It’s not enough for us to know the story behind our favorite car, soap, or burrito. We now want to be able…

Read More