Archive for March, 2009

No Go on Zoho.com

Thursday, March 19th, 2009

Never fall in love before you really know someone. Okay, fall in love but don’t make a commitment. My most recent heartbreak happened with Zoho.com. The free test was promising, and the reviews the site posted (from Economist and Time) were impressive. The only caution came from a reviewer who nabbed the CEO as being “more frugal” than half-penny pincher Michael Dell. Okay, sometimes “frugal” means lean (good) and sometimes it means you’ll be shortchanged (bad). We plunked our money down, loaded up projects and ran into 4 major snags. Not a problem – we called their 24-hour toll-free line and sent emails. We did that again. And, again. Each time we called we reached a lonely man who called himself “Phillip.” First he told us the project management software support “team” was in a meeting. After 2 days of no support, Phillip reported the team was sleeping. After all, he said, it’s India and they’re not on our time zone.

Because I have this system – you know if you’ve read my book: Speak Up! & Succeed, I can almost always get the so-called impossible get. And, I did this time. The head of Zoho finally called me – in fact, he calls me regularly now. Like a lover that’s done you wrong and realizes he’s going to feel the loss worse than you, the calls have kept coming.  His accent is so thick and his purpose equally difficult to discern, I’m not sure what he’s offering. I ended two calls by saying, “I simply don’t know what I can do for you.” I have moved on to Bootcamp. I’m not in love, but it’s a functional relationship so far. And, I didn’t have to go through a pint of Ben & Jerry’s to get over the break up.

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Why Business is Good: It’s the Little Things

Tuesday, March 10th, 2009

At just after 6 PM today, I walk into Le Pain Quotidien in Beverly Hills, a magical emporium of upscale coffee and Nutella dripping pastries that are calling out to me: “Come have us and you will regain the strength to work another 6 hours, weary business woman!”

Unfortunately, guarding the goods is a squat, magenta headed clerk, who yells at me from behind the counter, “We’re CLOSED!” Yes, she yells in CAPITAL LETTERS. Plus, she smirks. Apparently the store did not need a “closed” sign or a locked door. It just had a gaping mouth above the counter to do its dirty work. I’ve heard this voice for the last few years. It is the voice of “business present” in most every retail or food establishment. An angry, overly-familiar, spit-in-your-soup, no-I-won’t-check-in-the-back kind of voice.

I reply: “How good for you then.”  I turn, fling my imaginary boa over my shoulder and begin to exit the place that I never should have entered (for both service and caloric reasons).

Our sad little scene is suddenly interrupted by a man who magically emerges from the kitchen, like the ghost of “business future” and yet also “business past.” In his crisp white shirt with the sleeves rolled up, he speaks. “We are open. You may have anything you like, except espresso. But, we have everything else.”

I smile at him because he, whatever his title or responsibility, is like me. We want to do business. We want to go out of our way. We want to stay late and come in early. We believe that we make the difference, as consumers and as purveyors. No matter what the news reports, we are still building our businesses and our careers. We know it’s just hard work after hours and above or below our pay grade, that makes us look lucky to people who do less.

I get a regular cup of coffee and 200 calories of something crunchy and sweet from this man, for the crazy price that delicious costs at these places. “It was a mistake. A misunderstanding,” he almost whispers to me as I thank him for helping me. I am restored just by his intention.

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Rung the Bell at Amazon!

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2009

Melted down Amazon today. The Sandler Rules – the book I’m in charge of launching for Pegasus Media World, hit #1 – sales and selling, #2 – marketing and sales, #3 – business and investing, and #16 – ALL books! Feel the joy. I love this book, man. I could read it everyday. I’m going to nap, but you might visit www.SandlerRules.com. This is a short post, so you know I’ve been up two days straight. It is so worth it.

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Why Don’t You Take Your Audience’s POV?

Monday, March 2nd, 2009

I spent a good part of Monday mentoring some exceptionally bright and talented people, each facing terrific opportunities, along with the terrific uncertainty you feel before anything is certain.

Consider this a shout out if I saw you today.

Here’s the terrible thing I forgot to tell you and you and you and you. Almost everyone I saw, not just today, but in the last 90 business days (that’s 3 months in my world – I work weekends), doesn’t really need mentoring.

Most people just need a POV adjustment.  POV? Point of view.

We all need to “get over ourselves.” We need to think about our audience – and you know I call anyone you speak to – one or ten thousand people at a time – your audience. And, you know I call some of them players – those people who play an important role in your life. Players can say yes and greenlight the job, project or payment you desire. Or, they can say no, and stop you in your tracks.

Rather than mentor, I mostly remind people that we have to feel the other guy’s/girl’s/group’s pain and we have to appreciate him/her/them (honestly does anyone have a solution to the pronoun thing?). With empathy and affirmation as the foundation for all your interactions, you naturally say things that connect with your audience. This will be true whether you’re asking or answering a question, or giving a presentation.

Consider this typical employment interview question. I promise, I had this role-play with a wonderful man today, whose answer was not wonderful.

For example:  BAD ANSWER
Q: “What do you like about our company?” says prospective employer.
A: “You seem to really take care of your people. I like the support you provide your sales team, especially that the presentation decks are produced by administrative staff.”

OUCH!!!!!! Crack, pop – POV adjustment delivered.

For example:  GOOD ANSWER
Q: “What do you like about our company?” says prospective employer.
A:  “Your brand name symbolizes the best marketing practices. It seems that every bit of your product portfolio has been carefully crafted, not just for its own attributes, but also for what it means to your overall brand. I would be very proud to be an ambassador for that brand.”

It’s better to receive than give.

How did we forget that connecting comes from “receiving” our audience? Receiving isn’t a synonym for listening. Receiving means showing with your words that you have tuned them in – that you’re on their wavelength.

You may be unintentionally twittering in public.

I love social media  – in fact, if you are present tense with me, you know how monumental it is to my company’s communications strategies. But like too many eggs, over-indulging in social media might cause your arteries to block the oxygen that should be flowing to your brain when you’re with ACTUAL PEOPLE.

Those aren’t avatars. There are real people in your real meetings, even your web or phone meetings. You should be INTERACTING. This is totally different than  your every 10 minute broadcasts, courtesy of  your social media profile’s WIIFM station. That stream of conscience you’re delivering is from station: What’s In It For Me?.com.

Because I, too engage myself in social media, I get the connection crisis.
–    As one of your followers on Twitter, I’m fascinated you’ve “scored” an apple green shirt, albeit grey market .
–    Via Facebook, I see you’ve told your ex-boyfriend from high school that you are now happily coupled with a well-PhotoShopped new mate (who did that Photo-Shopping? I’ve seen your new guy, and frankly you are not dating Brad Pitt)
–    And, from YouTube, I see that you have shredded your sister’s cow slippers on your very own Will it Blend? video.  Totally cool. Thanks for sharing.

Just don’t twitter when you speak up in public. You could be engaging players for your next project, promotion or paycheck, simply by expressing your empathy and affirmation. Tell your story from their POV.

Enjoy the sunshine, the fluorescent lighting and the dim bulb. It’s easier than ever to get what you want, because your so-called competition is just twittering away the time. Or is that frittering away?

Need it in 140 characters or less? Give and take from your audience’s POV.

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