Midnight Musings

Munchies at ChameleonA networking night to remember.

Bruschetta. Layered dip. Gourmet crackers. Poppy seed & almond and “B52” miniature cupcakes. No host bar for drinks if you wanted them. Great food available if the munchies weren’t enough. A bunch of people who want to do business with you and who want to let their connections know what you do so that they can do business with you.

All this and more was present at tonight’s $5 at 5PM event, hosted by the Portland Small Business Network,  at the Chameleon in Portland’s Hollywood District tonight.

We had some new folks and we had some regulars. Lots of photos will be popping up on Facebook since we had two professional photographers at the event. We were a large enough group to have some real diversity in professions and a small enough group to really be able to get to know each other. Some real connections were made as were some appointments for later 1:1 meetings.  All in just a few hours at a great venue.

Could your business benefit from this kind of exposure? My guess, if you are in the B2B world, is that the answer to that question is “yes.” And since many of our business visitors tonight also sell to consumers, there were lots of B2C opportunities as well.

Networking can be hard work. Or it can be fun. Or it can be a combination of both. It’s a chance for you to get outside your normal comfort zone if you don’t do it very often and a chance to nurture relationships if you do. It costs very little, except for your time investment, and it can pay big dividends.

There’s really nothing else like networking to establish relationships with people who you know, like and trust. And those are three key elements to doing business with each other and referring each other to our extended circles of contacts.

If you weren’t with us tonight I think you missed a great opportunity. We’re going to do it again in another month and the date, time and location will be posted on my calendar so please do join us for the next one.

Comments, as always, are welcome.



Making Some Tough Decisions

Times Are Tough - Decisions IllustrationI’ve been working on the upcoming (October 2, 2012) issue of myConnections Newsletter Logo newsletter and as I was examining the MailChimp statistics I came to some conclusions. They’ll be announced in the newsletter itself next week but I thought I’d share them now with those of you who might not have been opening the newsletter regularly or who would like to be informed a little in advance.

The upcoming issue will be the 10th issue of my newsletter and I really enjoy writing it for everyone who reads it. I am always pleased when someone makes it a point to tell me at a networking event how much they enjoy it. I do try to keep it fresh with great content culled from all over the web that I think you’ll actually be able to use.

It is also a lot of work to put that missive together every three weeks. I save links to articles, groups, organizations and resources that I think will be helpful to you as I find them between issues and then curate the best into each new issue.

This newsletter is currently being mailed to 993 email addresses. All are people who I have met and who have shown interest in receiving information from me. Yet the average open rate for this newsletter is only 20.2%.  That’s better than the industry average of 18.1% for my kind of newsletter, but it is still very disappointing. So I’m going to raise my open rate by a whole bunch over the next few issues.

How will I do such a thing? There are really only two ways to do that. I can contine to try to get more of you to open this newsletter, read it and click through on things of interest to you. Or I can begin removing the 770+ people who don’t ever open it from my email list. I’m going to do some of both, of course, and it won’t be an abrupt change, but it is going to happen.

I want to make sure that my efforts reach people who care about growing their businesses through better marketing strategies and, frankly, who will begin to spend some money with me on doing that. An Instant Strategy Session is only $125. The Marketing Plan Seminar online course is only $79. You can sign up for monthly mentoring for as little as $100 per month. There’s only so much I can do without revenue from the product and service packages I offer to support the ongoing freely supplied calendar, resource and newsletter efforts.

If you and I can’t figure out some ways for you to do some better marketing to grow your business with my help then neither of us is worth our salt and I, at least, should stop my current activities and get a “real” job!

So please don’t be one of the 770+ who will lose access to what many consider a very valuable resource. Open each issue and make use of the materials contained in it. And please see if you can’t figure out how best to support my ongoing efforts on your behalf by sending some business my way. That way we’ll both win!

The Power of a Vision

VisionI heard it way back when from Steve Thornton at the 2012 Portland Success Summit. I’ve heard it from Zig Ziglar.  I’ve heard it from Anthony Robbins. I think I’ve heard it from every motivational speaker that I’ve ever had the privilege of listening to, starting 35 years ago with Louis Tice when I worked for the John Fluke Manufacturing Company.

(Quick aside:  With a name like Fluke, you had better deliver results that aren’t flukes, just like Smuckers needs to deliver good tasting jams and jellies!)

I’ve not only heard it and read about it in books including The Magic of Believing, and continued to use it, but I’ve actually taught it to others. And I am still amazed at the power of a vision.

If you can create a clear picture in your mind of how things are — will be, but in the present tense — when you are doing what you most want to do, your subconscious will cause you to resolve the conflict between the current picture of your reality and the reality as you imagine it. Your subconscious does not like conflict, or disharmony as I once heard it described. It wants you to feel content.

So if you create a vision of how you are when you have accomplished the goals you need to achieve your vision, and if you can couple that with a “feeling good” emotion, it will lead you to do the things necessary to change reality as it is today into reality as you visualize it. Or it will modify your picture of reality as you visualize to match where you are now and keep you stuck where you are. But it will resolve the conflict, one way or the other.

This is not new age weirdness. It is proven science that works for people in business, in athletics, in medicine and in any other field. And there are too many people who have used it, continue to use it, proselytize about it and, in fact succeed with it, to ignore.

If you haven’t been exposed to this powerful mechanism for changing your life, you owe it to yourself to learn as much as you can about it as soon as possible so that you can begin to use it to achieve your vision in life. Unless, of course, you are perfectly happy with the way things are in your life right now.

As I used to tell my students:  Make a picture, make it real and make it feel. Your creative subconscious will go to work for you to help you make your vision a reality.

Want more? Order your copy of Inspiration Now! today.


Reflections on Being an Educator

Food in TaiwanThose of you who have read my many blog posts know that “once upon a time” I traveled the world teaching — and preaching — topics that I was passionate about. I did it because I believed in my causes. And because I made a pretty good living at it. And because I loved visiting new places.

Each one was a new learning experience about people and cultures even as I taught technical, management and marketing subjects. I still do that today, thankfully without nearly as much of the travel, and I still love to see companies grow as a result, at least in part, because of my work with them.

I remember by first trip to Taiwan. The Chung Shan Institute of Science and Technology had sent five people to Chicago, where I was doing a public seminar, to see whether or not I could do it for their people in Taipei. These people had traveled half way around the world, with multiple delays, to participate in the day’s events. It was a challenge to keep them awake with their jet lag during the seminar, which was technical in nature, but the after-hours meeting went well and they decided to spend the $10,000 it would take to bring me to their organization. So off to Taiwan I went.

I was met by a driver and an assistant upon arrival after passing through customers with seven carousels of 35mm slides and five boxes containing 50 binders containing 300+ page each. Thankfully I had created paperwork saying that it was all for demonstration purposes and not for import and had affixed my company’s corporate seal over my signature. Very official looking and quite acceptable to the customs people. Phew! Hurdle number one navigated after my travel half way around the world.

I was given a day to recover from jet lag and then joined the top managers of the Institute for a formal dinner in a top restaurant. And I waited a long time to see what the other people would eat before selecting my meal from the large spinning circular central table upon which the food was arrayed. And finally my host told me to please take some food so that everyone could begin to eat. No one, it turns out, would begin until I, the honored guest, approved each dish.

The food was exquisite. I have no idea what was in most of the dishes, but when in Taiwan, go with the flow! And speaking of flow, there was a lot of rice wine flowing, but it was not to be imbibed without a toast to the person on the left prior to raising a glass. To drink without the toast was clearly an insult. Something that was also explained to me after my first two sips.

OK, this is getting long. The point I was going to make when I started this post was that my hosts, who had paid me a lot of money, were treating me like royalty. During the two days of seminar presentation, they took me to a separate private room during breaks for coffee so that I could have a slight break. And they took me outside for lunch so that I was not required to answer questions during a meal break. In short, I truly felt more respected than I had every previously felt.

I asked my hosts about my treatment as they took me back to the airport after the seminar.  Why, I asked, had they treated me so well? And they were surprised at the question. They explained to me that educators, paid or not, were held in the highest esteem and should only be treated as such. And that they were honored that I would come to speak to their staff.

I think about this experience now and then as I teach people about marketing. I know that I gave 110% during my days in Taiwan because to do less would have been to dishonor my hosts. And that I will not do.

As you provide your product or service, I hope you will think of both your customers and your suppliers as honored partners. For they deserve no less than that.

Comments, pro and con, are welcome as always.  Thanks for reading.


Your Prospect and Customer Information – Your Business Lifeline


Original Self Published Design for Testability BookOnce upon a time I wrote a book. It was actually my 2nd book but the first one I published on my own. I wrote it in a weekend on an IBM Selectric® typewriter. Yes, this was before computers so I guess I’m dating myself here. And the diagrams in the book were hand drawn using templates. Archaic, huh? But that’s what we had in those days.

I had discovered that increasing circuit complexity was driving test generation costs through the roof. And I knew the tricks needed to solve that problem. Thus the book. Everyone thought I was nuts trying to sell a 77-page book for $95 (in 1978 dollars!). But I had a hunch. So I spent $1,800 for an ad in Electronics Test magazine (see Media Selection for Your Target Markets for a related topic) and I sold enough books to put me into the teaching and preaching business for over a decade.

I decided, however, that I wanted to broaden the reach of my company by having the book published by a “legitimate” publisher and advertised and sold through that publisher’s distribution channels.

Design to Test Book - 2nd EditionThus came this version that sold for $39.95 to the “mass market,” such as it was at the time.  And Van Nostrand Reinhold did indeed sell more of these books than I did. Three times as many, as a matter of fact, in the first year. So everything was going great, right? Not so fast.

Take a look at the chart below to see what happened financially. While unit sales tripled, income from those sales dropped from an 80% gross margin to a 15% commission rate. That cut from $80 per book to $6 per book reduced revenues by $62,000 per year!

Some deal, huh? Now look at what happened to seminar revenues. They dropped by a factor of four — from more than $200,000 per year to less than $50,000 per year.

Revenue Comparison ChartSo what happened? Where was the disconnect in this strategy for broader distribution? It can be summed up in these two pictures:

Moral of the Story A Total Contact Disconnect





Strategies that look sound at first blush really need to be examined and vetted to make sure that they do not have hidden unintended consequences.

Have you ever had a similar experience? If you have it would be great if you’d be willing to share it.  Your comments are solicited and thanks for reading.

P.S.: You can view the whole presentation from which these slides were taken here.

Version 1.0

Version 1.0 IllustrationI have to say that the number of comments I’ve received about my posts about the WOW customer experience has been gratifying. Some comments have related to the need to get things to market now and letting quality and functionality follow, which I find incredibly short-sighted in the majority of cases, while others have agreed with me about the need to get things right the first time if you want to avoid headaches in customer support down the road or the actual failure of your company due to bad product reviews.

The best comment, however, came from my good friend Peter van Geijn in Munich, Germany. His company sponsored my seminars and workshops in Germany in the 1980s and he recently reminded me of the story I used to tell about Version 1.0.  It goes something like this…

Did you know that the only people who never miss a development schedule milestone are software design engineers?  That’s right, software engineers. If today was the day they were supposed to deliver the product, today is the day that they will deliver it. It will be called Version 1.0.

It will be missing a lot of the originally specified functionality, of course, since there was no time to implement it all during the unrealistic management-dictated, all-too-short schedule, but it will be delivered today.  As Version 1.0.

It will also like contain a large number of “undocumented features,” known in the old days as “bugs,” that will have to be addressed in a future version release. But it will be delivered today. As Version 1.0.

Marketing and sales people hate Version 1.0 because it makes selling the product successfully more difficult and causes customers to complain to them — a lot. It also makes it difficult to get early testimonials and delays the purchase of large quantities of the product until the bugs are worked out.

Designers don’t mind. They keep cranking out new code and patches for the bugs. Sometimes it’s great job security and other times it isn’t. If it isn’t there’s always the next product for the next company to be developed.

Customer support managers love it for the job security reasons as well — subject to the risk of no job at all if the product can’t be fixed in time to save the company.

If the product was developed with OPM (other people’s money), top management will get rich in any case and move on to start another company where they can dictate another unreasonable schedule for a product that must do everything, cost nothing and be done yesterday. It is called Version 1.0.

I’d love to hear your experiences with products that fit this mold. Please share them and thanks for reading.