Archive for March, 2013

I have been having many conversations lately that made me think of this video I shot awhile ago. Even though it is a couple of years old, it is still very relevant today.

Are you expecting your customers to do business with you or are you taking steps to ensure that they WANT to do business with you? In an age when connecting with and caring about people is easier than ever, if you don’t care enough, someone else definitely will.


Great quote by Peter Drucker that captures the essential difference. I hope that all of you are doing well and that you have a terrific weekend!

“Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.” — Peter F. Drucker

In some past blogs, we discussed the basics of Facebook and how to create a Facebook page for your business. In this blog, I want to discuss why it is important to get more people to “like” you and how this can translate into increased business. First, if you have not already set up a Facebook page for your business, WHY NOT? Facebook now boasts more than 1 billion active monthly users with over 60 percent of these people using Facebook daily. These statistics make Facebook an ideal place to market your business. Best of all, other than your time, it is completely free! You really cannot afford to ignore this as a viable way to increase the visibility and credibility of your business. Setting up a page has never been easier. It will take you about 90 minutes to build a nice page for your business. Just follow the link below and it will guide you through the process.

Now that all of you have a Facebook page for your business, how do you use it and why is it important to get people to “like” you? The first thing that you should do is suggest the page to all of your friends. This first step is important as it will get a number of people following your page very quickly. You might say, “So what? These people all know about my business anyway.” Regarding that, you are correct, but what about all of the people that those people are connected with? When someone decides to “like” your page, that information is posted for all of their Facebook friends to see, many of whom may not know about your business. In that moment, two things just occurred. That person became aware of your business and your business was endorsed by someone they are friends with.

We all know that word of mouth endorsements carry more weight than almost any other form of advertising. A Facebook “like” is like word of mouth on steroids. Let’s do a little math to prove my point. You ask your friends to “like” your page and 100 of them decide to do so. According to statistics, the average Facebook user has 245 friends. If we assume that some of these friends would be mutual, we can still easily assume that 100 of the friends would be unique to each of the 100 people that decided to “like” your page. Let’s do the math. 100 friends x 100 unique friends = 10,000 individual people exposed to your business via a “word of mouth” endorsement of a friend.

That is a pretty powerful marketing campaign that cost you nothing but about 90 minutes of time. The example above only represents what would happen if you get 100 friends to “like” your page. It does not even begin to take into account what can happen when customers begin to “like” your page and some of the things you can do to increase the effectiveness when that occurs.

Still think you can afford to ignore Facebook as a way to promote your business?


Since when did doing the right thing need to have an ROI?! What is the ROI on integrity, ethics, character, etc.? Maybe I am old school, but there are some things that you do because it is the proper thing…regardless of the ROI!

Working through this Wednesday and I wanted to share this great article! While many of us have already heard these things multiple times, it never hurts to hear them again. I know that I gained some fresh perspective by reading through this list today. I hope this post helps you in some small way in breaking through to that next level of success.

Article by Heidi Grant Halvorson that originally appeared in the Harvard Business Review

Why have you been so successful in reaching some of your goals, but not others? If you aren’t sure, you are far from alone in your confusion. It turns out that even brilliant, highly accomplished people are pretty lousy when it comes to understanding why they succeed or fail. The intuitive answer — that you are born predisposed to certain talents and lacking in others — is really just one small piece of the puzzle. In fact, decades of research on achievement suggests that successful people reach their goals not simply because of who they are, but more often because of what they do.

1. Get specific. When you set yourself a goal, try to be as specific as possible. “Lose 5 pounds” is a better goal than “lose some weight,” because it gives you a clear idea of what success looks like. Knowing exactly what you want to achieve keeps you motivated until you get there. Also, think about the specific actions that need to be taken to reach your goal. Just promising you’ll “eat less” or “sleep more” is too vague — be clear and precise. “I’ll be in bed by 10pm on weeknights” leaves no room for doubt about what you need to do, and whether or not you’ve actually done it.

2. Seize the moment to act on your goals.
Given how busy most of us are, and how many goals we are juggling at once, it’s not surprising that we routinely miss opportunities to act on a goal because we simply fail to notice them. Did you really have no time to work out today? No chance at any point to return that phone call? Achieving your goal means grabbing hold of these opportunities before they slip through your fingers.

To seize the moment, decide when and where you will take each action you want to take, in advance. Again, be as specific as possible (e.g., “If it’s Monday, Wednesday, or Friday, I’ll work out for 30 minutes before work.”) Studies show that this kind of planning will help your brain to detect and seize the opportunity when it arises, increasing your chances of success by roughly 300%.

3. Know exactly how far you have left to go. Achieving any goal also requires honest and regular monitoring of your progress — if not by others, then by you yourself. If you don’t know how well you are doing, you can’t adjust your behavior or your strategies accordingly. Check your progress frequently — weekly, or even daily, depending on the goal.

4. Be a realistic optimist.
When you are setting a goal, by all means engage in lots of positive thinking about how likely you are to achieve it. Believing in your ability to succeed is enormously helpful for creating and sustaining your motivation. But whatever you do, don’t underestimate how difficult it will be to reach your goal. Most goals worth achieving require time, planning, effort, and persistence. Studies show that thinking things will come to you easily and effortlessly leaves you ill-prepared for the journey ahead, and significantly increases the odds of failure.

5. Focus on getting better, rather than being good.
Believing you have the ability to reach your goals is important, but so is believing you can get the ability. Many of us believe that our intelligence, our personality, and our physical aptitudes are fixed — that no matter what we do, we won’t improve. As a result, we focus on goals that are all about proving ourselves, rather than developing and acquiring new skills.

Fortunately, decades of research suggest that the belief in fixed ability is completely wrong — abilities of all kinds are profoundly malleable. Embracing the fact that you can change will allow you to make better choices, and reach your fullest potential. People whose goals are about getting better, rather than being good, take difficulty in stride, and appreciate the journey as much as the destination.

6. Have grit.
Grit is a willingness to commit to long-term goals, and to persist in the face of difficulty. Studies show that gritty people obtain more education in their lifetime, and earn higher college GPAs. Grit predicts which cadets will stick out their first grueling year at West Point. In fact, grit even predicts which round contestants will make it to at the Scripps National Spelling Bee.

The good news is, if you aren’t particularly gritty now, there is something you can do about it. People who lack grit more often than not believe that they just don’t have the innate abilities successful people have. If that describes your own thinking …. well, there’s no way to put this nicely: you are wrong. As I mentioned earlier, effort, planning, persistence, and good strategies are what it really takes to succeed. Embracing this knowledge will not only help you see yourself and your goals more accurately, but also do wonders for your grit.

7. Build your willpower muscle. Your self-control “muscle” is just like the other muscles in your body — when it doesn’t get much exercise, it becomes weaker over time. But when you give it regular workouts by putting it to good use, it will grow stronger and stronger, and better able to help you successfully reach your goals.

To build willpower, take on a challenge that requires you to do something you’d honestly rather not do. Give up high-fat snacks, do 100 sit-ups a day, stand up straight when you catch yourself slouching, try to learn a new skill. When you find yourself wanting to give in, give up, or just not bother — don’t. Start with just one activity, and make a plan for how you will deal with troubles when they occur (“If I have a craving for a snack, I will eat one piece of fresh or three pieces of dried fruit.”) It will be hard in the beginning, but it will get easier, and that’s the whole point. As your strength grows, you can take on more challenges and step-up your self-control workout.

8. Don’t tempt fate. No matter how strong your willpower muscle becomes, it’s important to always respect the fact that it is limited, and if you overtax it you will temporarily run out of steam. Don’t try to take on two challenging tasks at once, if you can help it (like quitting smoking and dieting at the same time). And don’t put yourself in harm’s way — many people are overly-confident in their ability to resist temptation, and as a result they put themselves in situations where temptations abound. Successful people know not to make reaching a goal harder than it already is.

9. Focus on what you will do, not what you won’t do. Do you want to successfully lose weight, quit smoking, or put a lid on your bad temper? Then plan how you will replace bad habits with good ones, rather than focusing only on the bad habits themselves. Research on thought suppression (e.g., “Don’t think about white bears!”) has shown that trying to avoid a thought makes it even more active in your mind. The same holds true when it comes to behavior — by trying not to engage in a bad habit, our habits get strengthened rather than broken.

If you want to change your ways, ask yourself, What will I do instead? For example, if you are trying to gain control of your temper and stop flying off the handle, you might make a plan like “If I am starting to feel angry, then I will take three deep breaths to calm down.” By using deep breathing as a replacement for giving in to your anger, your bad habit will get worn away over time until it disappears completely.

It is my hope that, after reading about the nine things successful people do differently, you have gained some insight into all the things you have been doing right all along. Even more important, I hope are able to identify the mistakes that have derailed you, and use that knowledge to your advantage from now on. Remember, you don’t need to become a different person to become a more successful one. It’s never what you are, but what you do.

This is a great piece that really made me think about what habits that I had fallen into that were negatively impacting my productivity. Spend a few moments checking this out. I hope you find it beneficial for you as well. Thanks for the great post Francesca!

Written by Francesca Levy,  Editor at LinkedIn

In a convention center packed with thousands of ambitious tech professionals and entrepreneurs trying to find time to choose from over 900 educational sessions, Scott Hanselman, Microsoft’s program manager of development, told hundreds of strivers they were doing it wrong.

“Somehow we’ve become convinced that we can learn all the stuff,” said Hanselman at a panel discussion Monday as part of the 2013 SXSW Interactive Festival in Austin, Tx. But the drive to improve productivity by consuming ever more information only leads to confusion, disorganization and a sort of frenzied idleness, he argued. “I have a supercomputer with a quad-core processor in my back pocket, and I use it to show people cat pictures and argue with strangers on the internet,” he said.

Hanselman spoke with humor about productivity and how we can scale ourselves, combining big ideas with practical tips. Instead of constantly battling a mounting workload with the hope it will one day be vanquished, professionals need to step back and re-evaluate how they think about work, said Hanselman. “We think, ‘If I work harder, stay later, drink more red bull, it will all be OK,” he said. “But hope is not a strategy.”

Effectiveness vs. Efficiency

People who are effective and efficient, said Hanselman, are goal-oriented. They seize on the idea that they’re going to do something, and at some point they decide that they have done it. The effectiveness part is choosing which priorities to focus on. Efficiency comes in when we streamline how we do those things.

“This is why you don’t see Usain Bolt texting,” said Hanselman. “He is trying to sprint. If he were trying to multitask, he’d probably be slowed down.” Effectiveness, said Hanselman, is doing the right things, and efficiency is doing things right.

Why we shouldn’t be trying to triage

Time-management experts often advise “triaging”: Putting virtual toe-tags on incoming tasks to make sure you’re attending to the most dire needs first. But “that brings to mind the walking dead,” said Hanselman, who thinks we should question the suggestion that the most important things you need to do will present themselves in your email folder. “An email from Bill Gates, an email from your mom and an email from Viagra are all peers in your inbox,” he said.

“How often do you see people blocking out time to figure sh** out today?” he asked. Citing productivity expert David Allen’s principle of four Ds: Delete, Do, Delegate, Defer, he noted that there’s one we overlook: “Drop it.”

“Sometimes dropping the ball is the right answer,” he said. He suggested we think about how to make our days and lives better by focusing on the things that really matter.

“Write down three outcomes today,” he said. “What are three things you could do in a single day that would make you feel awesome? Do that for the week and do that for the year; make sure your days, your weeks and your lives always meet that goal.”

If you’re Tweeting, you’re wasting your time

Hanselman looked at a room of digerati dutifully plugged into their social networks, Tweeting, blogging and Instagramming his words, and dropped a bomb: He told them Twitter wasn’t important.

“It’s really surprising how much time you guys spend on Twitter,” he said, adding: “Someone will always be wrong on the internet.”

Twitter wasn’t the only time-consuming product he dismissed. He suggested that our lives are filled with types of media we can do without. “I can drop Tivo and Twitter really quickly. It’s surprising how much people use Twitter as excuse. Twitter is a river of crap and you just need to let it flow over you,” he said.

A few more of Hanselman’s tips:

  • Make an email folder called “inbox cc.” If it isn’t directed to you, don’t do it. When your boss emails you to follow up, apologize and remind them that the request wasn’t addressed to you.
  • Don’t email in the morning. “Email in the morning is how you time-travel to 2p.m.” Instead, trust that truly urgent information will find its way to you, and focus on something that really matters.
  • Conserve your keystrokes. Joked Hanselman: “There is a finite number of keystrokes left in your hands before you die.” He urges people to ask themselves why they’re writing. “Email is not a skill. Nor is using Microsoft office,” said Hanselman. “Delete those things from your resume and ask yourself: What is it that I do again?”


My first job after college was with Schwinn Cycling & Fitness. The year was 1996 and Schwinn was trying desperately to shake the image of being “your parent’s bike”. Their market share was way down and several other major brands dominated the mountain bike trails, roads, BMX tracks and bike racks on college campuses. The management team needed to act quickly to change the course of this legendary company.

I learned three important principles during those years at Schwinn that have stuck with me through the years and are instrumental in guiding me as I lead my company today.

1.       Be Willing to Take a Risk: In order to capture the attention of the target demographic; the management team at Schwinn had to be willing to break out of the conservative mold that had guided the company to that point. This meant trying some new and often controversial things. Everything was considered from edgy advertisements (see above) that got people talking, to off the wall trade show booths that were the buzz of the industry and cool swag that everyone wanted.

It’s easy to look back and see how all of these things worked to reinvent the Schwinn image, but at the time these decisions were very risky. Schwinn had been in business for over 100 years and had built their reputation with multiple generations. This new image could have turned off many Schwinn loyalists and still not resonated with their target demographic. However, the team stepped out of the comfort zone and that was an important first step to capturing the attention of the intended audience.

Principle 1: Change will always feel uncomfortable, but it is often necessary to achieve your goals.

2.       Know Why People Buy from You, and Understand Why They Do Not: In the midst of this transition, the management team needed to understand all the reasons why their traditional customers bought from them. However, it was likely more important to understand why people WERE NOT buying from them.

At that time, the people that bought from Schwinn did so because it was the safe bet. The brand loyalists had grown up buying Schwinn bikes and, if they were not enthusiasts, they felt comfortable with the brand. However, the enthusiast view of the brand was quite different. The product line was outdated from both a style and a technological standpoint. If that wasn’t enough, the brand was not viewed as being “cool” by those concerned about image. The team had to find a way to keep their base while attracting the interest of consumers that were not even considering a Schwinn.

The solution came when the product team improved the bike quality and style dramatically. This coupled with the marketing team using some innovative advertising, point of purchase displays, promotions, SWAG and trade show displays. This strategy played off of the rich heritage of the brand while spinning it in a new way.  The combination of great product with terrific marketing forced the entire industry to take a fresh look at this iconic brand. Through it all, the leadership team successfully walked the line of keeping the loyalists while attracting a new market segment that had previously ignored them.

Principle 2: In your efforts to attract new business, don’t alienate the customers you already have.

 3.       Have Fun!!: Probably the most important thing I remember from those years was how much fun we had as a team while chasing our goal. Don’t get me wrong, there was plenty of hard work, but we found time to enjoy the process. Not that I would admit it at the time, but there were days that I thought “I can’t believe that they are paying me to do this?!”

I think that much of this was a result of two important things. First, the management team hired people that understood the culture they were trying to create and embraced it. Second, the leadership painted a distinct vision of where they were taking the company and got the entire team to buy into that vision. Once we had the right team in place galvanized around a common vision, we were unstoppable!

Principle 3: Enjoy the process, hire the right people and create a vision that people embrace. If you can do that, reaching your goals will take care of itself.

In part, because of the chemistry of these three principles, Schwinn eventually became the best-selling bike company in the United States. They management team re-invented the brand while never losing sight of what the brand represented. As a result, the brand became even more loved by the loyalists and respected by the enthusiasts.

I hope these three lessons I learned with Schwinn help you in your pursuit to achieve something special with your company!