June 28, 2009

Get Inspired Again

In most of the world, this is the beginning of vacation season. These days, creativity has returned. The money we spend has become far less important than the time and the people with which we spend it.

Gather 'Round
If you sell stuff, make stuff, promote stuff, write stuff, create stuff, think of stuff, market stuff or do anything else with stuff – a.k.a. live on planet earth – this time will give you a fresh perspective. It's probably a great time for us to remember the origins of social media.

Gather 'Round

It's a time to get immersed in the original social network – the cottage, the campfire, the family gathering, the local bar or sporting event to share ideas, precious time and clear your mind.

It feels like the perfect time for some inspiring words…

Cooperation is the thorough conviction that
nobody can get there unless everybody gets there.

Virginia Burden

In union there is strength.

No road is long with good company.
Turkish Proverb

No one can whistle a symphony.
It takes a whole orchestra to play it.

H.E. Luccock

Love all, trust a few, do wrong to none.
William Shakespeare

There is more to life than increasing its speed.
Mohandas Gandhi

The best way to cheer yourself up
is to try to cheer somebody else up.

Mark Twain

We need not destroy the past. It is gone.
John Cage

The difference between perseverance and obstinacy
is that one comes from a strong will,
and the other from a strong won't.

Henry Ward Beecher

Camping: nature's way
of promoting the motel industry.

Dave Barry

knealemann at gmail dot com

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June 26, 2009

The New News Cycle

We are officially overwhelmed with content. It’s everywhere. Blogs, podcasts, news, media, books, pamphlets, it’s being created faster than we can consume it.

The movement in the last couple of weeks on Twitter with regards to the Iranian election has been inspiring.

The Power of We?

The people do have the power. Will any of it change the horrific situation over there? Hopefully. But if not, it will change the next one. We must believe that we can change things as a group.

Thursday 5:10pm

I checked email and in came a series blasts from the various news agencies all reporting that Michael Jackson had suffered a heart attack.

Tune It In

My immediate reaction was to post something on Twitter. No phone call to any of my other media friends, I didn’t turn on the radio or television, I didn’t first visit a website, I tweeted it.

Reports were flying around faster than the speed of 110wpm and an hour had passed. Checking sites, tweeting, reading tweets, checking sites and the confirmation came through that Jackson had passed away.

The Scramble Was On

There were the rumor mongers, the unconfirmed reports, the confirmed reports, the recanted posts, the tweets about the cause of death, the unconfirmed confirmations – it was mayhem.

Twitter servers were vibrating from the pressure. News sites were crashing from the traffic. Traditional media outlets were scrambling to get things on the air.

...Then There Were Three

Earlier this week, television icon Ed McMahon passed away. Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson in the same day. And with channels like Twitter, Facebook and FriendFeeed and others, the reaction was instantaneous.

We live in a tabloid laden quick to the mic/cam/site world. In the quest to scoop, many don’t bother to check for the truth. Hence the Harrison Ford and Jeff Goldlbum rumors that followed Jackson’s passing.

Is There A New News Cycle?

Is journalism no longer about fact checking and respect? Are the rules out the window while most hide behind the thinly veiled “public’s right to know”?

Some claim social media channels aren't reliable journalism. Well while the Twitter stream was searching for real information, TMZ was quick to get the scoop on the news of MJ's death before CNN and NBC while Entertainment Tonight had a picture of him on the stretcher on the way to the hospital on their website.

In a day of two famous deaths, a President's health care town hall, the Iranian election story and the money crunch; perhaps we're all just a little too tightly pressed against the glass.

Our thoughts go out to the friends and families of
Ms. Fawcett, Mr. McMahon and Mr. Jackson.

Ed McMahon: 03.06.23 - 06.23.09.
Farrah Fawcett: 02.02.47 - 06.25.09.
Michael Jackson: 08.29.58 - 06.25.09

knealemann at gmail dot com

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June 25, 2009

Metrics Can Kill Your Business

Promises Promises

You want to take your significant other out for a nice dinner. Maybe you’ll check out that new steak joint? They had those cool commercials on the radio. There was also that direct mail piece and a billboard downtown touting the best Kobe beef this side of Tokyo. Decision made. Reservation for 7:30.

Fine Print Irrelevant

What they didn’t tell you in the advertising was that there is a mandatory $10 parking fee. A bit annoying and scam-like. Still not fazed, you head inside. You are met at the threshold with a line-up. Not a bad thing, it means this new place is doing well and you’re not worried, you have a reservation.

Service On Hold

At 7:45, you inquire with the snappy dressed guy at the front if your table is ready. He doesn’t take his eyes of the calculus that is the restaurant floor plan and barks that the kitchen is busy, they are new and all reservations are 30 minutes behind.

They Won't Make A Fuss

It’s a nice night out, why spoil it with complaints so you go back to the bench and wait quietly. Several minutes later a woman approaches you with two white cards. On one side is the restaurant’s logo and on the other is a questionnaire.

Survey Says

They want to know your demographic, how you found out about the place, how many times you go out for a meal each month, how much alcohol you consume in a year and for your trouble your name is put in a draw for one free dessert on your next trip - if you go to their website and register.

It’s 8:05 and burgers sound good about now. Almost an hour of your life not to return and it was all about them.

Potential Is A Dangerous Word

Before getting caught up in metrics and cost per point, number of impressions and average quarter hours, surveys and coupons, be careful people don't walk out before you get a chance to help them as customers.

knealemann at gmail dot com

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June 24, 2009

The Right Brain Economy

I was listening to my local sports radio station yesterday and the announcer was talking about a multi-million dollar a year salaried athlete being fiscally responsible by parking his private jet during these tough times. I shed a tear.

The report was followed by a string of commercials from companies all claiming to have the way out of the crunch through the purchase of their products.

An Experiment

Do you think it’s possible – just for 24 hours – to turn the other way every time you hear a reference to the world economy? I am not suggesting head-in-sand tactics, just an experiment. The la-la-la-I-can’t-hear-you approach is not a sustainable long-term plan but just for one day. How much is all this chatter and noise helping?

What Do We Have To Lose?

We are driving each other to the collective straight jacket. Just one day of good news, ideas and sharing successes. Social network with a friend over a beer and focus on solutions. Pity party can call in sick.

Right Brains Rejoice

The shift is coming. Creative minds, ideas and experiences will be a significant part of the new worldwide economy. These will become equally as important as commodities and consumerism.

What’s Next?

If you’re looking for ways to build for the future, look to small businesses and small business owners collaborating and networking their services. The offerings will be vast while creativity and experience-based industries will flourish.

It's time for us to shift our focus from whether the glass is half full or empty and get on with designing a new glass.

knealemann at gmail dot com

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June 23, 2009

Have You Met A Social Media Expert?

If you spend even a few minutes on a social media channel you may have picked up on a new phenomenon.

The symptoms are common to most sufferers; they are usually very easy to diagnose but not so easy to treat - or is that tweet?

Look To The Ones In The White Coats

Scientists from the four corners of the round globe have been studying this problem for some time. In some labs this is taking up more time than devising the proper H1N1 vaccine. The symptoms are generally mild at first but if left untreated this can become a serious problem.

It Seemed Innocent Enough

It begins with the belief that one has mastered all aspects of the human condition, relationships and literally has all the answers. What often follows is the production of an e-book or webinar and possibly a website that lists – for a nominal fee of $29.99 plus shipping and handling – the secrets to a fulfilling life.

It's important to note that not all e-books and webinars are bad so it will take your careful examination of all the evidence to make your final summation.

To the untrained it may seem to be a gold rush – a nirvana, if you will – of knowledge and answers to the secrets of our existence on earth.

Use Extreme Caution

If you feel you may be in conversation – or worse yet – in direct contact with a patient of this horrible affliction, walk away carefully and nod politely.

Another quick trick it to ask them something outside of their comfort zone - perhaps something that may require more than simply a laundry list of geek terms tossed in with the occasional share and stumble.

How 2005 Of You

They have flown long past MySpace, Facebook is child’s play and Twitter is next. The end is near. Realizing that only 5 to 7% of the world's population has even tried a social networking website is irrelevant.

Search For Signs Of Life

If they drop the social media speak and have an actual conversation with real words like a human, there is hope.

If they offer you assistance with navigating all of the tools at your disposal to enhance your business and personal relationships, then they are safe to correspond with and you can now create solutions together.

I wish you well. Be safe.

knealemann at gmail dot com

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June 22, 2009

Free Beer and Pool Tables

The best argument against democracy is a five minute conversation with the average voter.
Winston Churchill

You can improve productivity exponentially if you create an encouraging environment. There are some important points to heed if you feel it’s time to fix that aspect of your business.


First, watch several episodes of “The Office”. We see a boss trying so hard to be liked and respected you can see footprints on his face. No one likes this guy and no one particularly enjoys working there. It's dysfunction personified.

Flip Flops and Pez

I have been in media and marketing a long time so I have worked in environments where the concept of dress code is merely a suggestion and it’s a badge of honor to fill your office with Pez dispensers and music is requisite.

I certainly would never suggest if you are consulting a government agency you show up in topsiders and a NiN tshirt - though that may shake things up for a change. But this isn’t about dress code – it’s about mind space and attitude.

Fun Does Not Equal Lawless

You want to strike the balance between democracy and no deadlines. You can have too much opinion – I’ve been there, it ain’t pretty. Suddenly no one wants to listen to anyone and the exact environment you wanted to fix has been recreated on the other side of the axis curve.

And important to note that the best evidence of future behavior is past behavior, so if you suddenly switch gears and become co-creative helping person, that may not go well. Baby steps may be required.

It Won't Happen Overnight

This process cannot be taken lightly and it will not happen with a couple of emails and the dismantling of the cubicles. We still respect leadership, we still want meetings to start and end on time, we still want people to show up to work ready to work, but think of the ways to create a place where everyone actually wants to be five day a week.

And if you haven't seen the cult classic Office Space, do that too.
That'd be great.

knealemann at gmail dot com

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June 21, 2009

Sunday Musings

The response I received from last week's post about remembering Sunday has been amazing, thanks! We are in the era of sharing and you never know what will resonate.

Creativity Rules

I have written about it here, I have been in countless conversations lately about it and there is a new wave coming where we will find joy and fun in creative exeperiences. This is not an endorsement for a further slowdown of the economy - actually the oppositie.

Think and Dream

We will always need, want and buy our stuff - most of it serves a great purpose. But if you are stuck wondering what you want to do, focus on your creativity.

Really focus on it.

Think about what makes people feel good and the stuff that makes memories. Create that, and they're buyin'.

Happy Father's Day!

knealemann at gmail dot com

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June 19, 2009

What Would You Do?

I just awarded you $1 million. You can do whatever you want with it, tax free. You have thought about this day, often.

Would you follow your dream?

Would you quit job your job?

Would you start that business idea you were afraid to start?

Money doesn’t buy you passion. A bag of cash will never replace ideas or creativity.

Yeah, I’d take the dough too but all it will do is give you options. Options you may already have but the search hasn't been extensive enough.

And while you're looking, ask yourself what's more important - money or purpose and experiences.

knealemann at gmail dot com

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June 18, 2009

Busy Is Not Our Friend

There is nothing so annoying as to have two people talking when you're busy interrupting.
Mark Twain

I was speaking with a colleague this week and we got to talking about the four-letter word that is used as a crutch, an excuse and the stance of a victim – busy.

Unless you are Barrack Obama, it’s safe to say that you’re only as busy as you need to be. If you work for a company and your name isn’t on the building, your work time is not yours to dictate. In that case, you are not busy you are being told how to spend your time.

If ants are such busy workers,
how come they find time to go to all the picnics?

Marie Dressler

It's moments after you read this post. You are outraged at how I could possibly make light of your very busy life and suddenly your phone rings. It’s me informing you that I have an extra all-expense paid trip to the British Grand Prix this weekend. The plane leaves in an hour. How busy are you now?

They usually have two tellers in my local bank,
except when it's very busy, when they have one.

Rita Rudner

This is not to suggest important tasks and deadlines don't exist. This is not to diminish hard toil and other commitments. This is to point out that we tend to use the word busy like it’s some rented storage unit in the industrial basin of our lives.

Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans.
John Lennon

We never seem to have a shortage of busy. When we need it, it’s always there. Busy comes in all shapes and increments. It’s such a universally accepted word – or perhaps mind space – that we are able to pull it out of nowhere when needed.

Busy this weekend is a great way to avoid unwanted activities. Busy when that creepy guy in the office wants to have some one-on-one time.

Busy is a badge of honor. If you get a call or an email from someone asking if you can see them that afternoon, busy is the first word that comes to mind. You can’t possibly be available on such short notice, what will they think?

We're so busy watching out for what's just ahead of us
that we don't take time to enjoy where we are.

Calvin & Hobbes

Busy is not our friend; it is our crutch. Busy is the cure-all for when we are genuinely busy as well as when we want to keep up with the rest of the kids in the group.

Beware the barrenness of a busy life.

We as a society give no credence to thought, dreaming or sitting quietly. There is no way your boss will allow you to just sit in your office and think. You are obviously lazy or you don’t know what to do.

About five years ago, a friend said that he would get much more out of his employees (not co-workers or colleagues that just happen to directly report to him) if they realized that customers were profit and they were overhead. He wondered why turnover was so high.

Doing nothing is better than being busy doing nothing.
Lao Tzu

I know you’re busy – everyone is. But are you really busy, all the time, every time you say you are? Really? Did I mention I may have an extra pit pass to this weekend’s British Grand Prix? ;-)

knealemann at gmail dot com

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June 16, 2009

Wanna Make More Money?

You are running a business. But you want to increase the bottom line, have a larger market share and get more out of your people.

What Should You Do? What Shouldn't You Do?

Here are some steps you can take to gain a competitive advantage no matter what industry you are in during any economic climate.

Have a plan and be flexible.

◦ Fix every broken window as fast as possible.

◦ Avoid short cuts at all costs.

◦ Be clear in your direction and offer constant coaching.

◦ Manage your expectations.

◦ Tell the truth.

◦ Ban cubicles immediately.

◦ Encourage and nurture a co-creative atmosphere

◦ Demanding respect is an exercise in futility.

◦ Make your company a fun place spend 1,949 hours a year.

◦ Answer customer complaints promptly.

◦ Don’t just say it – do it.

◦ Allow your people to be rock stars.

◦ Your bottom line is directly affected by their bottom line.

◦ Understand everyone is motivated differently.

◦ Compensate fairly - not according to some industry average.

◦ Raise everyone’s standards - most importantly, yours.

◦ If you need to remind them you’re the boss, you’re in trouble.

If you do everything on this list, you will be 50% of the way there. And if you offer adequate products or services your team will win. But if you offer superior products or services your team will dominate.

And Remember...

Accountability only happens when everyone in the building is accountable to everyone in the building. Yes, that means you too.

What will you do today to improve your workspace?

knealemann at gmail dot com

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June 15, 2009

Out Of Uniform

A few weeks ago, I received a call from a buddy who was playing in an upcoming charity golf tournament. He hadn’t golfed in years. The clubs were a bit rusty but nothing compared to his game.

He went out and bought new clothes, along with new golf shoes, cleaned up the clubs and then worried. He hadn’t swung a club since 2004. He was concerned he would make a fool of himself.

How did it go?

He called me last week to say he had a blast. Apparently there were others in the same situation as him. They all had a great laugh about it. The takeaway was sharing the event, not how well they played. His team came in 3rd in best-ball and the event was a resounding success.

We worry about what others think.

I received an email this morning from a friend who told me how she saw her business turn around in the last six weeks simply because she stopped trying so hard. This is not to suggest her work ethic waned or her efforts diminished but she stopped worrying about what others thought because she knows her company offers great solutions for clients.

How can I help you?

Her focus turned from her needs to their needs and things began to fall in to place. There are those who won’t want your services and that’s okay, but if you focus on the needs of others you will quickly stop worrying about yours. In turn, yours will be met through helping others.

Sometimes we feel out of uniform. If you focus on your abilities, you will soon discover you have a lot to offer.

Go clean your clubs and get out there.

knealemann at gmail dot com

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June 14, 2009

Remember Sunday

I don’t know what Sunday morning is in your life but I hope you get to steal some time for yourself or spend it with your favorite people. It’s a time to unplug, a moment or two to catch up with you. It’s your chance to find a place where money and deadlines are not welcome.

Sunday mornings should be about great coffee and rooms filled with music. A time to catch up on all those books piling up to the left side of your desk and the chair beside it. Not sure why I mention that ;-)

As I write this, the new Carbon Leaf album washes over my sundrenched office. The coffee is perfect. Stress? I no hablan Inglés.

Whatever you are up to today, may it replenish and inspire you.

And may you always remember Sunday as a place you can go - especially between meetings on a Wednesday.



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June 13, 2009

Geek Vanity

The hour drew near. The tweets were heavy. What would happen as the clock struck midnight and millions of Facebook users hurried to change their long annoying address to a much easier and cleaner vanity URL.

Some looked on how like race fans hoping for a pile up on the chicane. Would the Facebook servers crash? Would they get their address? John Smith and Bill Jones were most nervous.

The nonchalant seem to have the fastest thumbs on their way to secure their first choice. I too sat there like a moron as the clock ticked 0days 0hrs 0mins and quickly grabbed mine.

Rules & Regs

Facebook reserves the right to disallow your choice if - for instance - you choose an expletitive or a brand that isn't yours, general terms like "social media" and "marketing" will be be taken back but from my unscientific research the experiement went better than the last big door crasher launch.

There's a Bit of Geek In All of Us

We geeks can be tough when it comes to things like vanity URLs and web interfaces. If you haven't done so and here's hoping your first choice is still available, simply visit http://www.facebook.com/username and good luck!

So, now what?

knealemann at gmail dot com

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June 12, 2009

How Can Social Media Help You?

Connecting to Followers thru' Friends

Okay, here we go with the sexy topic on many minds right now. Will social media help grow your business? The answer is very simple: it depends on your commitment.

To think that if you sign up a Twitter account, get a Facebook profile and post your resume on LinkedIn will make you successful is less sound than hoping the $10 you just dropped on this weekend’s lottery will make you wealthy.

Pick your analogy but somewhere will be something about seeds and a garden.

Social Media 101

I will assume you know something about social media, you dabble a bit, but you want to know how it may help your business. I have decided to focus only on the social media big four, unfair perhaps but let’s fish where the proverbial fish reside. This is a potential audience of over half a billion.

And important to note, none of these companies are clients though one could always dream.


Although we know social networking is 100,000 or more years old, MySpace is the grandfather of social media. Before the other biggies, MySpace was a place to be expressive and share, gain friends and discover new music. It has evolved into an artistic marketing and thriving community of musicians, fans, film, comedy, design and more.

Customization and freedom are the backbone of this space. As far as being involved with MySpace on a business level, this is were you can go crazy. Experiment, post your latest and newest and ask for opinions. (And wait for answers!)

Many of the social media early adopters dropped MySpace a couple of years ago, but if you haven't been in a while - it's worth a visit.


Facebook is an excellent social networking site to establish relationships between your company and individuals. It can create an evangelist network of similar thinking people.

If you have good stuff to share, great products to use, then it can be a good place for you to allow the conversation to continue. Remember, branding only happens between customers. But you need to be a part of the conversation.

Facebook has more than 200 million active users and more than 100 million of them log on at least once a day. The fastest growing demographic is 35yrs plus.

With the creation of a company Facebook Group, you can correspond with like-minded people with a vested interest in what you offer. A personal and company profile or group should be developed as solutions-based to benefit the visitors.


Twitter is a channel that demands interaction and contribution. This is where the conversation continues and anyone or any company that tries to “sell” their wares is not received in a positive way.

There are currently more than 10 million people sharing this space and it is growing at a current rate of 1400% a year. This does not mean they are all paying attention. The downside is that attrition is running at over 50%. That means that more than half of those signing up drop it quickly. But still, the community is growing.

Twitter is a place where you can also interact with your potential customers in real-time. In order to engage, you must participate – and you must mean it.

Some companies have successfully embraced Twitter as a part of their personality campaign.


LinkedIn is the business social networking leader. This is where your company can establish business-to-business, business-to-industry and business-to-customer relationships.

With their integrated search tools, you can quickly find out how many groups are dedicated to your industry or specialty. You can also start your own group and search for others to join. Maintenance, commitment and regular contribution is also mandatory to best access LinkedIn’s potential.

Integrate Everything

Those are the social media big four. And there are other ways to integrate your name, company and message online through feedburner, rss feed, blogs, podcasts, friendfeed, and numerous other social media websites.

And one very important point here - diversify because like the auto industry, you cannot assume any company or web portal will be around forever.

Easy Peasy

And your own site should be easy to navigate and should include links to all of your sites. You should also have search engine optimization and everything wired with Google Analytics. All of your online activity must be streamlined, integrated and aggrated to maximize your impact.

Some or all of this may sound like algebra to you, because it is. It takes time to navigate and most of all it takes commitment to participate.

To butcher the cliché, your social media presence won’t be built in a day.

How can Social Media help your business?

knealemann at gmail dot com

photo credit: ceoworld.biz

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June 11, 2009

What is Integrated Marketing To You?

Yesterday we discussed strategic business plans. Thanks for the excellent emails, keep them coming. Let me know how I can help. Send them here.

Another key part of your business is integrated marketing.

Marketing has become a universally acceptable and often misused catch-all. The distinction here is integration of all that you do.

Years ago I worked with a guy who honestly felt that very little effort and a big “marketing campaign” was the way to build a business. He thought that “they” (that’s us, the public, the ‘great unwashed’) would get “hooked” by a slick campaign. Yawn.

Perhaps that's why the most used form of advertising remains direct mail – because there are enough suckers out there to make it worth your while?

Step Away From The Photoshop

Long before you design pamphlets or transit shelters, devise radio advertising campaigns or social networking strategies, you must have a healthy culture in your company. That may sound obvious but how are things where you work?

This is not about charts and graphs, execution cannot happen through a formula or mandate and put aside the logos and the slogans.

Integration In Action

If you want to know what integration sounds like - have a listen to Hot 89.9 in Ottawa tomorrow(Fri Jun 12) for their annual Pay For Play campaign. All proceeds go to two area hospitals and they will play anything - for real.

They are not a client, they just do this stuff right. Everyone (in and out of the building) gets it, everyone (staff, client, listeners) is in on the co-creation and it's a great example of how to loosen up and stop trying to "market" to people.

This wonderful initiative would never happen without everyone involved.

What is integrated marketing to you?

Tomorrow: How Can Social Media Help?


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June 10, 2009

Setting Up Your Strategic Plan

Teamwork is so important that it is virtually impossible for you to reach the heights of your capabilities or make the money that you want without becoming very good at it.
Brian Tracy

Yesterday, I mentioned the dreaded business plan that takes months to develop which includes grand ideas that no one refers to once the planning meetings end. Been there? Yeah, me too.

Cooperation is the thorough conviction that nobody can get there unless everybody gets there.
Virginia Burden

Today, we talk about how to set up your strategic plan. The most difficult part of this process is buy-in from all involved. Once that happens, the rest is easier than drinking a glass of water.

A group becomes a team when each member is sure enough of themself and their contribution to praise the skills of the others.
Norman Shidle

Have you ever felt yourself shut down in a meeting simply because you didn’t feel your ideas were being heard? Did you ever walk out of a meeting wondering why others hadn’t contributed? Are those two things related? Are they not simply the opposite sides of the same meeting?

No one can whistle a symphony. It takes a whole orchestra to play it.
H.E. Luccock

I often talk about how you can find your competitive advantage or unique selling proposition. Most think it’s about building a better widget or delivering your service faster than the other guy. Neither have anything to do with it.

Many hands make light work.
John Heywood

Have you ever had the privilege of launching something? If so, do you remember how it felt to be part of the co-creation? Did you notice that ideas were freely shared and everyone was involved? That is the starting point of a great plan.

Individual commitment to a group effort - that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work.
Vince Lombardi

I was in a meeting yesterday and mentioned my days of 50-page business plans and the person thought that was my preference. My preference is a plan that works – no matter what length it is. That’s the point. In fact, the shorter the better.

Here are 13 things you need to build a proper strategic business plan.

1. Open and honest dialogue with everyone involved. It may include people outside of your organization.
2. Titles are irrelevant.
3. Appoint one person as leader – not the highest ranking official!
4. Keep each meeting to no longer than 45 minutes.
5. End each meeting with the phrase “Who does what by when?”
6. Begin every follow-up meeting with a list of completed tasks.
7. Make your plan simple, executable, realistic and flexible.
8. Disregard your competition. They may be doing it wrong.
9. Keep your focus squarely on your customers and potential customers.
10. Use simple language everyone can understand.
11. The final document should be as short as possible. Edit if needed.
12. Choose no more than three objectives for the next year.
13. The entire process should be completed in no more than five meetings.

Good luck. And let me know how I can help!

P.S. If you are the boss, you must afford everyone the chance to be right. This is not about you.

Thursday: What is Integrated Marketing To You?
Friday: How Can Social Media Help?


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June 9, 2009

What Is Your Plan?

Next Stop: Lobby

What do you do? What does your company do?

Can you explain it in a sentence or two – the dreaded “elevator speech”? Or do you require more time to explain? Sadly, you have about 10 seconds to say your piece because most are waiting to tell you theirs. That’s not a cynical observation but the majority of conversations consist of two parts – talking and waiting to talk. We all need to listen more.

Shush You

As far back as grade school, my mom received a similar comment on my report card – the boy needs to stop talking, he has the gift of the gab, he’s too social and distracted. Perhaps that’s why a career in broadcasting for over two decades worked out well?


I like to help companies with overall strategy and business plans because it’s paramount to have that foundation poured before ordering the custom cabinets and hardwood floor. I also like to help with integrated marketing and social media solutions, but more about that later in the week.

If you can build a solid foundation inside your organization, you stand a better chance to build the rest of your house. Your company must have an elevator speech and if it’s different from employee to employee, you may wonder why you have confused customers and potential customers.

Machines Need Not Apply

As the cliché goes; everyone needs to be watching the same movie.

This is not a suggestion to build companies full of mindless drones because that never works either. An internal collaborative environment works best but once decisions are made, they need to be consistent with everyone.

Shiny Things and Lollipops

I often see eyes begin to glaze, mouth starts to drop, attention drift to anything but “business plans” when this topic comes up but it is paramount to your success.

This reaction is common because most business plan conversations are agonizing experiences of swirling non-decisions and butt covering. You spend months on a document no one will read that contains grand plans you are unsure you can execute.

I had this conversation with a colleague about a year ago and he uttered the infamous phrase "Why does everyone keep bugging me about a plan? I just wanna do it." They still have no plan and they are not - in fact - 'doing it'.

And before you begin the eye glaze again, this does not need to be a laborious tree killing exercise. Pixar was born on a napkin. It's important to also note that business plans must be fluid and alive. Things change, times change, flexibility is essential.

Start by being realistic. What is your company known for? What do you want it to be known for? What areas of your chosen industry can you win?

Tomorrow: Setting Up Your Strategic Plan
Thursday: What is Integrated Marketing To You?
Friday: How Can Social Media Help?


photo credit: www.newslettercartoons.com

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June 8, 2009

Can You See The Trees For The Forest?

It seems to be everywhere: bad news and poor economy. The big question is – what will you do about it?

Facts and Garbage
There is a great analogy about dealing with bad stuff. Imagine a friend walks into your house and dumps a big bag of garbage in the middle of your living room.

That bag of garbage is bad news and negative thoughts. What do you do? Thank them? Hang on to the garbage? Or get them to clean it up? We have a choice to own the garbage or discard it.

Anytime After Now

Humans are the only beings on earth that can conceive of the past and the future. Every other being can only live in the now. Something we humans should do more often!

If you run a business, what can you do about yesterday? What can you do about tomorrow? What you can control is what you do right now.

You Probably Know The Answer

If you have inefficiencies, staff in the wrong positions, product lines that need improvement, communication issues that need to be dealt with – deal with it right now. Tomorrow will never get here. You have today.

There is a theory that the best psychologists or coaches simply show us the path to the answer we already know. You know what you need to do. You know how you can improve your business. And it may be as simple as opening up your mind to your co-workers and staff for the answer.

Sometimes we forget that the thick lush forest is made up of many trees.


photo credits: www.nanps.org | www.boston.com

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June 6, 2009

Can I Help You?

Just looking, thanks.

You barely get your big toe across the threshold of the front door and Chippy Chipperton is all over you like a blanket of annoyance. One thing is clear, Chip is on commission and his manager has pummeled the up sell into his cerebellar cortex. You avoid eye contact and hurriedly say “No thanks, just looking.”

Do You have it in blue?

Then you really need help, you like the shirt but can't find your size. You don’t want to call the Chipster back, you just want the shirt not the sales pitch. Ultimately you walk out with the decision to do without the shirt avoiding more time spent with the over attentive sales dude.

Is it lunchtime yet?

It’s one of those days where you wonder why you’re on the verge of passing out. You then realize that it’s 3pm and all you’ve eaten that day is a chocolate chip cookie at your 10am meeting. You sit at your desk in a haze wondering if anything you said made any sense to anyone. Blood sugar levels need attention.

Anything will do.

So you grab your keys and head to the closest drive-thru’. Guilt is overwritten by need and anything to keep the wolf from the door will do. Then you are met with the barely breathing attendant at the other end of the speaker who can hardly muster the energy to lob your burger combo into the bag. Your happiness is not a concern.

The cheese is missing, they added extra pickle when you asked three times for none and you don’t even like root beer. But you gag down your late afternoon feast and try to forget the ordeal as quickly as possible. Your day ends without that new shirt and a delightful case of heartburn.

Which outlet is giving great customer service?

Chippy doesn’t care about solving your pain, he just wants to make his numbers and our friend at the burger palace is simply putting in time – the similarities between what you ordered and what you get are strictly coincidental.

Are these two places common or rare? How could each improve during our tight economic times? Are you working in either environment?


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June 2, 2009

Clock Management

Minutes To Go - Time Out.

It’s amazing what can happen in the last minute of a sporting event. This is when the coaches on either side of a basketball game seem to call endless time-outs. It’s when we expect heroics during the last ditch effort from the quarterback.

One team pulls their goalie for an extra attacker and often it works to tie the game and send it in to overtime.

You are reviewing your presentation in the hotel room before hitting the showers. The same presentation you have been working on for days, if not weeks. And you just want to have one more look at it.

Why do we do that? Why do we wait?

Why don’t we manage the clock better when we have hours, days, weeks, even months to prepare? Why does the coach not call a time-out and get his team pumped for a 90-second touchdown drive in the third quarter?

Why doesn’t a coach pull the goalie in the second period to see if it can boost her team? Why don’t we trust our abilities in the presentation and have a calm breakfast before heading to the client’s office?

Because we are human.

Think back to school and how many times you crammed for exams or did the project on the Sunday night before the deadline. We do it to ourselves and cause additional unneeded stress. Or is it the juice we need to get the job done right?

Can Convenience Help?

I can remember when I first started banking online. A bill would come in the mail and I would immediately pay it. In the “olden days”, I would have to find a stamp and write a check to the company. Inevitably, I would be writing it a day or two before the deadline hoping the mail service had a monumental day and got it to the payee in record time.

So if we know that most of us operate like this, how do we increase our chances as business partners and colleagues? What can we do to help each other manage the clock better?


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© Kneale Mann knealemann@gmail.com people + priority = profit
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