Posts from — August 2010
Part of connecting with people is being realistic about your capabilities…and your faults. Along these lines I share with you my favorite Australian wisdom:
The bigger the hat…the smaller the property.
This got me thinking about Warren Buffet. I had the great good fortune to have lunch with him years ago. Well, to be totally accurate about it, he was at the next table at the Omaha Club and we waved. His office was in the same building as the club and I was there as the guest of a client.
I mention this here because I still remember that he had tuna on white bread with potato chips and diet coke. I was told he always had that for lunch. And he still lived in the same small house he’d lived in for years…which I think he still inhabits.
You might notice there is no hat in the above picture of Buffet. I leave it to you to imagine it’s size. And now imagine the size of the hat you put on for others. And what they see and hear when you’re wearing it…
Off To New York: On another note, I’m in New York City today. As you read this…assuming you read it as it popped into your inbox, I’m sitting in the Cafe Centro at 200 Park Avenue. And why am I there you might be asking?
Well, a couple of weeks ago an old friend of mine sent me a note of introduction to this fine fellow who is some kind of big mucky muck with Wells Fargo Wealth Management. She told me we needed talk. So I called the fellow, had a wonderful conversation, and discovered that he really wanted to know how I can help his clients…all business owners or senior executives.
How cool is this? Seems my friend mentioned that I could solve some problems he had shared with her that his clients are having. Some solutions might be my normal executive consulting and some might require my new EOS skills. So I’m off to breakfast. And why is this worth mentioning?
Because I’m often asked how it is that I know so many people and seem to be able to refer someone for just about anything I’m asked. It’s because I am willing to take the time and expense to go off and meet people wherever they are if it seems like it will lead to something interesting.
As someone once said (maybe me), if you don’t show up you can’t connect. So go out there and get connected:
Connection Tip: right size your hat and go off and lock up a new connection
By the way, while I’m there I’m meeting Julia Sloan, world famous business strategist and author of Learning To Think Strategically, the best book I ever saw on strategic thinking…strategic thinking, not strategic planning. And how did I meet her? I haven’t yet, but some months ago I happened to see something about her that caught my interest so I called her up!
Yup, just reached out and called and we talked for about an hour and a half. Now I’m off to see what we can cook up for the two of us to do together. We’re having lunch at Savore in Soho.
It is so much fun to go places and have people take you out to cool restaurants. Reach out and eat with someone new.
August 30, 2010 No Comments
As you all know, I am a firm believer that attention is one of the keys to success. You might read the previous post if you don’t remember my comments on this. It certainly is one of the most important skills for successful networking and strenthening your connections. So imagine how delighted I was to run across this quote from Marcel Proust, the French novelist:
The real voyage of discovery consists not in making new landscapes but in having new eyes.
Yup, he’s telling you to open your eyes and pay attention…to view things from a new perspective…to throw out your preconceptions…to come unstuck.
Nuff said about that.
Readers Respond: I seem to have quite a collection of management experts reading my thoughts. Several of them…you?…sent me notes or called and tried to get me to expand my nice, short, simple Keys. Mostly I laughed at them but one reader sent such a thoughtful note that I must share his thoughts with you.
He quotes quite a few studies and even Peter Drucker, the management guru, who all suggest that execution is the key to executive success. I totally agree with this since, after all, who cares what you think if you don’t get it done?
But…there’s often a but…execution is part of my list. Perhaps hidden a bit, but it’s there. Simplification of success down to 6 words does mean you have to cogitate on what those 6 words really mean. In case you missed last posting, here’s the nice little list again:
Keys To Success:
- Pay Attention
- Add Value
- Have Fun
(Hmmm, when I write the list and push the little list button it adds little dots. When it gets published the dots become arrows. Anyone know why this is? I don’t. I like the arrows though, they’re kind of cool.)
Anyway, read my keys and think about execution. It’s there.
Now pay attention, go off…add some value, and have fun…
Simplicity Tip: the simpler it gets, the more is hidden inside
August 26, 2010 No Comments
It’s been an interesting few days in Steve’s World. One of the more fun things that happened was that a meeting I had to run in Cape May NJ. Yup, we actually met at the Jersey Shore. I might have mentioned that I run a TAB board for a bunch of business owners…this was our monthly meeting. (Lest I forget…TAB – The Alternative Board)
One of the members and myself drove down together so had lots of time to talk. We got thinking about the keys to success and managed to distill it down to three simple elements.
- Pay Attention
- Add Value
- Have Fun
That’s it. The key to business success. Then I got thinking. Wow! This is also the key to networking success…to business development success…to telling a great story…maybe even to life. How about that?
I thought about founding a cult to take full advantage of this but, on further reflection, decided to just share our thoughts with all of you. Of course, if you want to give me all your possessions and live in a tent in the woods surrounding my house…
During the last few days I also wound up having sharing breakfast and lunch with a number of people. I hope you did the same since this clearly is the best way to connect with people…and get some nice referrals.
One of my favorite people is Lou Beccaria, President & CEO of Phoenixville Community Health Foundation. He’s one of my more favorite people for many reasons: He once interviewed me for an hour on his TV show Poking Around Phoenixville (I tried to find a link but couldn’t…which is a shame since I actually heard a couple of weeks ago from someone in Seattle who told me they saw the program and I was great…and they liked the plastic tree behind my head), he funds Camphill Village Kimberton Hills…where I’m Board President, and…most importantly…he’s a really nice guy and interesting person. So we keep in touch.
So we have lunch and catch up. One thing leads to another and next thing I know…a referral for me to meet a President he knows who really could use a visit from me to tell him about EOS – Entrepreneurial Operating System. (while sharing my thoughts with all of you is great fun…I do need to do some paying things) And he offers to call the President and smooth the path…which he already did.
Of course, I reciprocate. Lou is writing a book so I give him some guidance and offer to read and critique it if he’d like. (you know I’m always willing to critique the work of others…) We part, each getting something useful and strengthening our relationship.
Success Tip: Keep it Simple
I couldn’t think of any particular pictures that would be relevant to the above stories other than a picture of the plastic tree which I couldn’t find, but, as you know, blogs are supposed to include pictures so here are a few lousy ones taken with my Blackberry while walking around yesterday:
By the way, all the above flowers are known by many as Roadside Weeds. Hmmm…it’s all in how you look at things.
August 22, 2010 No Comments
Driving along the other day I happened to hear someone talking about Charlie Chan. It seems there is a new book about him called…Charlie Chan.
One of the speakers was the author, Yunte Huang. It was an extremely interesting conversation…and got me thinking.
In the part of the discussion I heard they were talking about how the Chinese community loved Charlie Chan. They saw him as the first positive image of a Chinese person in American popular media. They were not even upset that he was played by several actors…all non-Chinese.
At one point they talked about how now, in the age of political correctness, you don’t see Charlie Chan movies on television anymore because of the image they project…and because it’s not a Chinese person playing Charlie Chan. Apparently stations are worried about what will happen if they show the movies.
How sad. A piece of our cinematic history banned because we don’t have the intelligence and wisdom to look at it for what it is: something from a different time. Our continual need to change or ignore history reminds me of how many of us forget our own past…and thus are stuck repeating it. I think someone famous once said something like that.
And why is this relevant to our ongoing topics of networking, story, and random ways of connecting with others? Because all too often people don’t pay attention (hmmm, attention…now there’s a topic for another post) to their words and actions and the affect these have on others. They miss the reaction.
Yet we’re all searching for the right reaction: a new connection, a strenthened connection, a referral to someone interesting. Pay attention to what you did and what resulted…do more of the successful and please stop doing the unsuccessful.
Remember your history. You might or might now like it but it is part of you and guides your present and future.
I would be amiss if I left you without some of those famous words of wisdom Charlie Chan would spout at critical moments. “Every front has a back.”
August 19, 2010 No Comments
It was a great weekend. Nothing at all happened. I wrote the Conversation on Networking newsletter which goes out Tuesday or Wednesday, took six months worth of stuff over to the recycling center, and hung around mostly by myself. Oh yes, the picture tube on my old Sony television blew up…really.
I was reading something Friday evening while vaguely watching some eminently forgettable show. I have no idea what which certainly goes right to the principle that you really can’t do two things at once. Clearly the reading…Learning to Think Strategically by my friend Julia Sloan of Sloan International…had totally captured my attention.
Suddenly there was a noise like a gunshot and the television went dark. I went over to hear odd buzzing noises coming from it. Bloooey…dead TV.
Saturday morning I went off to drop off the recyclables and realized that I had to go past a Sears to get there. On the way back I stopped in to the television department and had my mind boggled by the array of small to huge ridiculously expensive things enticing me. I have never bought a TV but have always had the great good fortune to have someone donate some old thing to me when they got a new one…clearly realizing I don’t care a whole lot about television…so I found all these televisions really amazing. (I am often easily amused)
I felt like George Bush the first must have felt when he saw that supermarket scanner some years ago. (I figure some of you will remember this odd incident and the rest of you can look it up). Luckily they had the most amazingly knowledgeable salesperson who helped me discover that I really did want the one with the better picture…and the higher price.
He was exceptional. No hard sell, just lots of information that clearly showed me the difference in picture quality as well as various features. He even managed to clearly explain the difference in the quality of construction and what it means for how long the damn thing will last…hopefully for the 20 or 25 years my old Sony lasted.
In his low key way he cleverly left me looking at the various screens showing some movie trailer while he went to check on the availability of the first model I was going to buy. By the time he returned…about 3 minutes…I had managed to convince myself that he was right and I really did need the one that cost $629 instead of the original one which was $399.
The good news is that when he rung it up there was a sale starting just that morning so it only cost me $549. What a deal.
I told you all that as background to the important part of this story. Well, the paragraph before the previous one has a pretty important message in it but I leave you to find it yourself.
Anyway, here’s where the story gets odd. Knowing that technology really doesn’t agree with me I asked about installation. “No problem, it does it all by itself.” “Sure”, I thought. But I decided I’d give it a try and trundled off with my huge television.
Of course you know where this is going. That’s right. It took me three calls to the Sears Service Center and three calls to the Comast (my cable provider) help people. And about 4 hours. Yup, you read that right. On a beautiful Saturday afternoon I spent 4 hours fighting my new television and talking to service people.
All of these people were amazingly nice and helpful…unfortunately the first five were also clueless about the problem. Each walked me through set up (I have memorized what doesn’t work) while chatting with me about setting up televisions. Each suggested sending a technician for a small (sure) fee. The fifth one, a Sears serviceperson, finally told me that maybe I should just bring it back and get a new one. I immediately pictured the TV flying off the seat and smashing to bits just as I drove into the Sears.
So I figured I’d call Comcast one more time. I reached a delightful lady who listed to me, talked to me for about 2 minutes, told me what the problem was, told me what to do…which included waiting a few minutes after I did it to see if it “took.” It worked! Total elapsed time including the wait, about 10 minutes.
I leave it to you to figure out the message in this part of the story.
Gremlin Tip: When gremlins attack your technology keep calling the Gremlin Doctors until you get one who actually went to Gremlin Doctor School
My new television. (It’s actually way bigger than this)
August 15, 2010 No Comments
I am pleased to report that my talk on story to SMEI…Sales and Marketing Executives International…went very well. The group was very engaged, I was passionate, energetic, and even managed to say a few useful things, and I started and ended right on time…without a watch! They liked me.
How do I know this last? I asked for a rating. That’s right, way out there at the end I asked them to rate how I did…by raising their hands. I’ve started doing this all the time. I just ask people to rate me on a 1 to 10 scale by raising their hands. Since it was a big group, to make it easy I asked them if I rated 9 or 10, 7 or 8, 6 or less.
Luckily the group rated me mostly 9 or 10 with a few 7 or 8. No 6 or less. Whew! 9 or 10.
It is so cool. You get instant feedback. And it does keep you on your toes knowing that everyone is going to see how the group rates you. If you get a top rating, keep it up. And if not, time to go off and think about what that means and how to improve.
I really should find someone to follow me around and film these talks.
On Persistence: On another note, I wound up spending a delightful hour and a half with Wade Colclough, President of PA, NY, DE MSDC…Minority Supplier Development Council. Getting to him took an amazing amount of effort…and persistance. I decided to share this with you because I often get asked how many times you should reach out to someone before giving up.
I have no idea if there is a numerical answer to this question…I doubt it…but there definitely is an action answer: as long as it takes to get through. Of course, you have to use a bit of common sense about this but if the opportunity is worth it, keep trying.
Wade is a very busy fellow. He recently became the president so has a lot going on. In the midst of this, on of his members, Fred Taffer, Tonbo Visual Promotions (if you need promotional stuff, you need Fred), suggested he meet with me.
Even with a referral from Fred, I was far down on Wade’s list of important things to do. I left some telephone messages, sent some emails, talked to his assistant, had a few tentative times set which got cancelled, but kept after him. Then it happened. I called early one morning and he answered the phone! My first words: “there really is a Wade Colclough.”
We had a nice chat and set a time for me to visit. And now we’re talking about me doing a presentation on EOS (you remember that I am one of 21 EOS Implementors worldwide) to his members and have a few other thoughts about how we can do some things together. And most importantly, I have a new friend.
So don’t get frustrated. Lots of people are like Wade…way too much to do and way too little time to do it. As a random outside element you just naturally go to the bottom of the pile of things to do. If there’s a good reason for why you’re reaching out…keep reaching.
Aside: For awhile when I gave talks on networking I would ask people how often they tried to reach someone before giving up. To my amazement a huge percentage said 2 or 3 times. Wow!
Measurement Tip: If it’s worth doing, it’s worth measuring
Speaking about filming, my Web Ogre dragged me out to be filmed…or I suppose I should say videoed these days…for some promo stuff they’re doing for Dinkum Interactive. As is my wont, I rambled on about this and that and apparently managed to say something useful for The Ogre’s purposes as well as a few things he thinks would be nice for me to have. As soon as it’s ready I’ll try and share. In the meantime, several of you asked me to share another of my favorite videos from my ongoing exercise in huckstering beer.
Some of you will see this picture and some won’t. I have no idea why this is. So for those who don’t, try this link.
Have fun my friends…and remember, donate organs…save a life.
August 13, 2010 No Comments
Figured you all might be interested in hearing the result of my reaching out last post. You remember, I mentioned my upcoming talk for Sales and Marketing Executives International and I asked for some financial support for a project I’d like to do with my Wharton students to help Lumana…a wonderful microlending and economic development program in Ghana.
Aside: While thinking about this laying next to my pool yesterday, I looked up and saw this:
It reminded me that really do need to look at things from a different perspective ever now and then…or perhaps more often than every and then. I wonder what they thought gazing down at my naked butt from 500 feet. Hmmm, maybe this is too much information.
Back to our story: Unfortunately, no one sent me emails with checks enclosed. But, I did receive a note from Carolyn Glackin who wrote a book called Entrepreneurship which is a fantastic manual for “starting and operating a small business.” (And who has quoted me in her new book on entrepreneurship coming out in a few months…wise lady that she is)
It turns out that she is an expert on microfinance! Who knew? So she offered to talk to Sammy and give her whatever advice and support she can. Not only that…and this is truly amazing…Carolyn just happens to know Yaw Agyeman Badu, the chancellor of GIMPA, Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration, and has offered an introduction to him. I am mindboggled.
So think harder my friends out there in cyberspace. Scroll down and real the last post. Who knows, perhaps you’ll discover a that your company does work in Ghana and would love to help sponsor a Wharton project to help the rural population improve their lives…and send me to Ghana to meet royalty…Yaw Agyeman Badu.
Now about that talk. To my amazement it has been plastered all across the internet. Here are a few links to peek at to see what’s happened:
It’s really scary. As thought I wasn’t under enough pressure to do a spectacular job so that the person who set it up…my Web Ogre…won’t be embarrassed, now I have to worry about every little stupid thing I say being plastered across the internet forever…which is a really long time.
So I better rush off and figure out what to say since as I sit here writing this I have 47 hours and 25 minutes to get it together. I leave you today with these things to think about:
Help Thought: people really do respond to requests
Cyber Thought: it’s there forever…and anyone can find it
That last one is something that all you young folks reading this who are thinking about posting drunken naked pictures on your Facebook page might want to think about…and think some more…and some more.
August 8, 2010 No Comments
I’m going to do something I rarely do…ask you all for some help. Before that though, I’m thought I’d mention a talk I’m giving that you might want to drop in to see. The talk is on August 10 and any day now I’m going to figure out what to say. It’s for SMEI…Sales and Marketing Executives International…and I was told they have heard everything from the best so I need to be erudite, scintillating, engaging, and, most importantly, say something different.
Not that there is any pressure.
So come on out and see if I manage to survive. Business Building Through Your Story at the Plymouth Country Club in Plymouth Meeting PA. You get to ask that burning question…live! Laughter, applause, and participation will be greatly appreciated, my loyal readers.
And now for that help. As you all know, I have a high falutin’ title at The Wharton School: Professional Faculty and Africa Region Manager of the Wharton Global Consulting Practicum, a program in the marketing department of the MBA program. Mostly I work in Africa on social impact projects of various kinds.
It’s amazing. I actually get to grade students! And Wharton sends me to wonderful places. The hard part is coming up with the projects, organizing them, getting faculty and students lined up, and, getting the financing set. Yup, it cost money.
I mentioned Lumana last posting. (Scroll down beyond this post and you can read it again…how cool) Sammie Rayner founded Lumana several years ago and is still barely in her mid twenties. It’s amazing what she’s done. Based on microfinance for the poor, she is building an economic development and educational program that is well on it’s way to improving the lives of bazillions. Okay, so far it’s not bazillions but it will be some day…with your help.
There’s the request. You saw it.
Most GCP projects outside Africa are for corporate clients who pay the expenses, a big piece of which is travel. You already know where this is going…that’s right, social impact projects are for non profits operating on a shoestring…and sometimes not even that.
Wharton covers some of the cost for these projects but we still need to come up with a few bucks. I’ve helped raise some funds in the past, a few students have gotten their employers to donate some funds, and some students have even pitched in frequent flyer miles to cover airfare costs.
Wednesday I was talking about Lumana to my most excellent and intelligent friend Dan Wallace. I told him how I really wanted to figure out how to come up with around $20,000 so we could do the project. He said “well Steve, why don’t you reach out to your network?” Well, duh. (Such cleverness must be why he ran a few companies and is now a partner in Launchpad Partners and has a great blog)
So in my usual random way, here’s the ask: if you’d like to help me help some amazing young folks change Ghana…and Africa…for the better, let me know. I guarantee all supporters will receive a beautiful piece of Ghana as a thank you.
Help Tip: Reach out when it’s important
If I had a clue how to make a link to an email address…which I don’t…I would have made “help me help” a link to my email. But since I don’t have that aforementioned clue, just send me a note at: email@example.com You’ll be glad you did.
August 4, 2010 No Comments
After an amazing Gathering, I’m back: car to boat to van to teeny tiny plane to van to big plane to bigger plane to van to car and finally home. It was worth it all. And why? That Managed Serendipity I mentioned last posting…and the chance to see a bunch of people I haven’t seen since last Gathering. And just being on Cortes Island:
The Gathering takes place at Hollyhock, a most magical place. In amongst the usual unusual Hollyhock programs, we take over the entire place. Each day starts with people sitting around having breakfast on the big deck looking out over the water…for hours. Then off to a few talks by some amazing people. Lunch on the deck for more hours and then a free range afternoon where whoever wants to invites people to come and share in something they’re passionate about. A long, long dinner…on the deck, of course…and then some evening event including the final night party which went until 5…AM. Whew!
All that time to talk, to think, to strengthen connections with old friends and develop friendships with new people, to hear about amazing things each person is doing. For me, there was a particularly nice thing which occurred: quite a few people sought me out to spend an hour or three discussing business or personal issues. One of them even made a point of announcing to the entire group how I had helped him completely rethink his business…and decide to move it forward.
And for me, all those connections. Strengthening old ones and creating new. I wound up with numerous invitations to visit Whidbey Island in Puget Sound. There are a bunch of people at the gathering from Whidbey…seems that all Gathering people who decide to move wind up there.
I spent hours talking about helping The Tova Company use it’s amazing Test of Variables of Attention for corporate purposes in addition to its psychiatric use in identifying levels of ADHD. With a couple of other people, we did the first reading of the new Kid Pan Alley Musical. And I talked a lot about Africa since many of the people there are somehow involved in something Africa.
Why, I even met Sammie Rayner and Cole Hoover who are creating a fantastic program in Ghana based on micro finance. In addition to basic lending, Lumana is adding a full educational program to ensure the borrowers have the knowledge necessary for success. Hmmm, might just be a project for my Wharton Global Consulting Practicum students in there somewhere.
But enough for now. You get the idea. Manage your serendipity. If you only do what you always do and go where you always go you’ll only meet who you already know. How boring.
Travel Tip: Cortes Island…leave with more
August 2, 2010 No Comments