Monthly Archives: March 2007

The Living Green Expo

The Living Green Expo comes to the Twin Cities area on May 5th and 6th at the State Fair Grounds. 

I am a big fan of green living and support companies that are green in their business efforts.  Admission is free so really what do you have to lose to go check out what products are available and hey, you just might learn how to save money by going green.  I have switched almost all my light bulbs to the low watt bulbs over the past year.  Not only am I saving money on replacement costs, but energy bills are lower as well.  Going green means saving green in more ways than one.

 Check it out:  http://www.livinggreen.org/index.cfm

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Blog Bump, Light

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Edward’s Employer Handbook Rules

Rule #1  Reward life skills and personal growth.

 

 

Doesn’t matter what field you are in, too few companies do this.  It’s all about the technical skills.  You know what, here’s a little hint, technical skills don’t mean a whole lot if the person is not a developed person all around.  Bad people do bad work, and good people do good work, regardless of degrees or career pedigree.

 

 

Life skills and personal growth are very under rated skills in the world of business.  Few people put any value on the skills someone learns through personal growth.  Frankly those are the skills that really matter at the end of the day.  Personal growth means facing oneself, warts and all and really learning what it means to be who they are and develop their unique abilities.  Those are skills you just can’t teach in school or in a company management program.  They are learned by getting kicked, or thrown to the wall a few times by life.  The kind of soul searching a person is forced to do in such situations is priceless and if they come out a better person, you would be very wise to snatch them up.

 

 

There is a value to this kind of personal growth and the lessons found in them that you just can’t get from books, courses or work experience.  The value you can gain from those life skills will pay off.  I remember a guy I hired, didn’t have the degrees or work experience but he had some really tough life lessons and he used to develop really well as a person and I saw that in him.  He ended up being the top sales guy.  He didn’t have any industry experience or sales experience, but he knew himself better than any degree or experience in a career could have taught him.  That’s real value that produced real results.

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Going Global?

I wanted to update my blog roll and was doing some research for a new service I am researching for my website.  It all focused on international business, that is, the actually process of doing business cross borders, not to be confused with globalization or political, economic or social issues of internationalization.  I was very surprised, I did a 10 page deep search on Google with various phrases and hardly found any blogs.  The ones I did find were either too basic in information or they just updated so infrequently that it they were not timely. 

This actually does surprise me, all the time there are plenty of articles about the importance of international business yet there is no one actually talking about it on a real day to day level on any blog that I could find.  Does that mean people really don’t care or is it that there are really so few experts out there? 

If anyone has any good blogs that deal with international business, let me know, I’m on the look out for them.  In the meantime, I guess I’ll try and switch a few topics of conversation on here to the area of international business to help.

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Poor Returns Means Poor Marketing

Forrester came out with a study earlier this month saying that 76% of marketers had no way to determine their ROI on advertising, yet spend 60% of their budget on it and gives agencies a failing grade when it comes to returns. 

 

During a recent marketing presentation, an information poll was taken and 79% of the marketers had no clue how to measure marketing’s impact on sale’s ability to close a deal.

 

These two situations demonstrate the real need for some solid metrics in the world of marketing.  It really strikes at the core as to why marketing doesn’t get much respect and why CMOs have the shortest tenure of any top officer in most companies. 

 

When is marketing as a community going to wake up and admit they need to rethink their approach?  My alarm clock went off years ago, has yours?  There is no reason why those numbers should be has high as they are.  Any marketer who is in the camp that can’t explain how marketing impacts the bottom line in direct ways, better be worried.

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Dancing With the Devil – Marketing Metrics

The devil is in the details, as the saying often goes.  Today I was lucky enough to be in on a presentation with two professors from Darden School of Business, Prof. Farris and Pfeifer, co authors of a book on marketing metrics.  The presentation was mainly on the marriage of financial and marketing metrics and of course on their book.  It was a very interesting presentation and far too short, I would have enjoyed going another two hours on top of the one hour provided.

 

 

However there was one small comment they made that stuck the most with me.  They mentioned that the drive to a metrics based culture in business often can and does go too far.  The devil is in the details and you don’t want to dance with the devil because in the end, that extra work will cost you more than the returns to know that extra information. 

 

 

The idea behind pushing it too far, really is at the heart of the debate behind marketing metrics.  Many of us know we need better metrics.  If you leave it up to finance or operations to define those metrics, they will want to quantify everything, dance with the devil.  In strategy and marketing, you come to realize and just accept that there is a certain level of immeasurable aspects to what you do.  You can not define with precise knowing, what real estate you own the minds of every customer you have, we don’t understand the human mind enough to say that.  We know that ROI of marketing is so diverse that it is near impossible to really forecast over a long period, what those returns will be in say 10 years or 20 years, you just can’t say it as a return on asset like is often assumed.  There are so many unknowns out there that you are just wasting your time, effort and resources in trying to get answers to those questions.

 

 

As adults, we want answers, we don’t like to deal with ambiguity, in marketing, you just have to learn to accept it.  It’s not finance where you can crunch a number and have an answer, there is still some art left in the science of marketing and you just can’t crunch it with the knowledge available to us today.  When we try, we dance with the devil, the devil in the details and he plays a rather mean game.  You may get an answer but it will never happen, it’s just too susceptible to changes in the market.  So you spend a lot of money and time for nothing.  Then most just do that again and throw more money and people and time at the problem when in fact the answer is a more simplistic approach.

 

 

Another area is that some people want to quantify all their actions and go over board on the metrics.  They end up with far more numbers than they actually need.  A lot of metrics actually say they same thing, they just say it in different ways.  It really comes down to your style and how your company uses metrics.  You don’t need to do an NPV and CLV on the same account because they pretty much say the same thing, just in different ways.  Having quality metrics is far better than having quantity of metrics.  If you can’t act on the metrics answers, then you don’t need it. 

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Deficit and Asset Based Thinking

Opportunities or problems?  Strengths or weakness?  Can or cant?  Polar opposites of what can make a huge difference in the performance of a team.  Deficit thinking vs. Asset thinking, comes down to how you view what you think about and how that influences how you see the world and your ability to work with in it.  The two are very similar, the words used in both are very similar and very small changes from one to the other can make a world of difference in team performance. 

 

 

Deficit thinking is all about can’t, problems, weakness, obstacles.  In a SWOT analysis, this kind of thinking leads to rather large weakness and threat sections.  Or it leads to a company culture where change is very hard to create because there is a general feeling of, nothing can be done.  Deficit thinking is more wide spread in the corporate world than most would like to admit.  It is everywhere.  You can’t trust candidates they may steal or be serial killers, so we have these fun background checks (deficit thinking).  Corporate politics resisting change agents is another example; the old guard fears change and only see problems (deficit thinking).  Employees steal search their bags before they can leave the building (deficit thinking). You can’t trust the entrepreneur, ring them dry of all control and reward, this is how a lot of venture capitalist operate today (deficit thinking). 

 

 

At the end of the day, deficit thinking creates more problems.  It creates a mentality of fear, of failure of never being able to rise above the situation.  Have you ever experienced a corporate culture as such?  I’ve seen many and it makes most sane people want to run in fear.  I’ll never forget this one guy I had dinner with from a large telecom who was in such a department of deficit thinking.  His only goal in life was to have his side business make enough money so he could get out of his full time job.  He hated his job so much; he saw no reason to go to work other than to get the pay check.  The real curse of the deficit thinking is that it creates a culture where change, even life saving change, takes an enormous amount of effort and energy that it leaves the organization exhausted.  Moral is constantly low and management spends a fortune on the latest behavioral test and motivational consulting package.  It’s like stuffing yourself with junk food and never working out; eventually you get sluggish, tired and lacking motivation.

 

 

Asset thinking is focusing on what works, on opportunities and building strength through positive efforts that move a business forward.  Having worked in an environment with asset based thinking; I know the positive benefits that drive companies to the next level.  It is not the rose tinted glasses view of the world or wishing away the bad.  Case in point:

 

 

Once we had a really bad program experience with a client.  Everything that could go wrong did go wrong.  Some of the team was rather gloom and doom; they knew heads could really roll for that one.  I didn’t see it that way, I saw it as the opportunity we needed to really get management to let us fix some of the areas they had been dragging their feet on.  We analyzed every aspect we could and presented our findings and showed how we can improve.  This energized the team because we were focusing on solutions and creating new opportunities.  And we were able to really break through some areas where approval had been bogged down in committee, with the urgency produced by that bad project, we were able to get things done.  That’s asset thinking.

 

 

This ties in with the theme of the year here, beliefs.  How you see the world (beliefs) makes all the difference in how you interact with the world and approach situations.  Do you believe you have problems or do you seek the opportunity?  It’s not positive thinking, it’s not pretending bad things don’t happen; it’s searching for the route to better use of your assets. 

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