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Sunday, September 30, 2012

Making Family Out of Friends By ELAINE LOUIE Published: September 26, 2012

           
In Bushwick, five friends (two architectural designers, two fashion designers and one advertising executive) rented 2,700 square feet of raw space and agreed to fix it up. 


IN a slowly gentrifying section of Bushwick, Brooklyn, where gunshots are no longer heard and the local brothel has been turned into a family home, five friends made a 10-year commitment.

The group — two architectural designers, two fashion designers and one advertising executive, all in their 20s — rented 2,700 square feet of raw space and agreed to fix it up and live there for a decade. Two years into that commitment, it seems to be going pretty well. Which is not to say there haven’t been rough patches, or what they call “family moments.” As one of the roommates said, “We fight like siblings.”

But before you can have family moments, you have to have family, and the origins of this particular family can be traced to 2006, when Corey Schneider, an architectural designer with S. Russell Groves in Manhattan, met Margo Lafontaine, the design studio director at Vera Wang. At the time, Mr. Schneider, now 28, and Ms. Lafontaine, now 29, were living in a building a block away. They became friends, dropping by each other’s apartments to borrow food and small change.

Eventually, they met each other’s friends. Max Lemberger, an account executive at an ad agency who is now 25, was Ms. Lafontaine’s roommate (and later her boyfriend). Aubrey Fry, now a 29-year-old women’s-wear designer for J. Crew, was one of her co-workers, an intern at Vera Wang. And Ryan Welch, a latecomer to the group who is now 29, worked for O’Neil Langan Architects and had gone to Kansas State with Mr. Schneider.

As they got to know one another, they discovered they had a lot in common. All were exceptionally handy, and most were designers.

It was Mr. Schneider and Ms. Lafontaine — “We call them Mom and Pop,” Ms. Fry said — who initiated the move. Someone they knew was living in an old knitwear factory and told them about a space available there, a loft with little more than concrete floors and ceilings, plumbing and electricity. The rent was $4,500 a month.

On July 1, 2010, four of them moved in. (Mr. Welch wasn’t in the picture yet.) Mr. Schneider provided the design: a minimalist scheme with four bedrooms, two showers, one toilet and wide, open spaces for entertaining.

In the beginning, things were a little rough. After work, they would all put in what amounted to a second workday, building out the loft. Around 10:30 p.m., they would leave to shower. (For the first week, there was a toilet, but no shower, Mr. Schneider said, so “we used friends’ homes.”) Then they would return to sleep on mattresses on the floor.

They hauled up 4.4 metric tons of drywall in the freight elevator and built, spackled and painted walls. They built cabinets, loft beds and shelves, and poured cement to create a kitchen island. “We did it the hard way,” Mr. Schneider said.

Then one night, Mr. Welch showed up. He had been planning to live with his girlfriend, but they had broken up, he said, and “I had nowhere to go.” Though there was “sawdust everywhere,” he continued, “I liked the finish, the concrete and the old industrial windows.” He wanted in.

About two years later, the construction is done, for a cost of $17,000. And when the roommates fight, it’s usually about the furnishings.

As Ms. Fry said: “Corey has a very minimalist style. Margo and I are designers and collect stuff. We’re more the cluttered type.” That means that decorating the public spaces can often result in a family moment. Once they come to an agreement, though, the rule is, whoever buys a piece of furniture owns it. That way, whenever the roommates split up, they can take it with them.

But there is little talk of splitting up at the moment. They are a family, and they are currently having a minor family moment over whether to get a dishwasher. Is it really necessary? And who would be responsible for loading and unloading it?

To buy or not to buy?

A version of this article appeared in print on September 27, 2012, on page D6 of the New York edition with the headline: Making Family Out of Friends.

Foil the email time bandit BY MARIBETH KUZMESKI SEPTEMBER 28, 2012 •

How many times a day to you check your email? Do you check your email if you are in the middle of another project, on a phone call with a client or even face-to-face with someone? We are so connected in this day and age, but are we really getting more work done? Email is like texting and driving: a dangerous distraction from your more immediate priorities.

For a salesperson or business owner, checking email can actually be a counterproductive activity. Virtually any email can wait for an hour or more before being addressed. Some emails can even—dare I say?—wait a whole day.

The solution is to turn your email program off and on. Seems very simple, but you will discover that life truly changes when you turn your email on only periodically throughout the day. You may even consider scheduling time for email in your calendar, so it doesn’t bleed over into the work you get paid to do. And turn off your notifications, because although you may shut off email on your computer, it can still come through on your phone or tablet.

There are some great tools for controlling your inbox, too. One I came across recently is SaneBox.com. SaneBox saves you time by moving distracting emails out of your inbox and into a “SaneLater” folder. The program uses an algorithm to prioritize emails on the basis of your past interaction with senders. Right now, it works with Outlook as well as Gmail. A lifesaver for prioritizing!

I get nearly 300 emails a day. Most of my emails are business related, some are subscriptions and others are just junk. But some of my emails are so interesting and compelling that I just want to jump into them and read them right away. An email note from an old friend, seemingly constant email updates on sports and politics, a few Facebook notifications and pictures from my sister and brother (just some of my emails yesterday). I want to read them all and I can—just not while I’m on the phone with a client or in the middle of another project. It is a matter of commitment.

Email needs a place and a priority level, because if you don’t control your email, it will control you. Learn to tame this beast and you may find that all of a sudden you have more time for marketing, sales and networking.

Maribeth Kuzmeski is the founder of Red Zone Marketing, LLC, which consults to Fortune 500 firms on strategic marketing planning and business growth. For more information, go to www.redzonemarketing.com.

Facebook, Twitter Growth in China Has Lots of Caveats By Bruce Einhorn on September 28, 2012

An internet cafe in Wuhan, central China's Hubei province
An internet cafe in Wuhan, central China's Hubei province


A new report shows just how porous China’s infamous Great Firewall might be for local Internet users determined to access banned websites. The country’s censors have deemed Facebook (FB) and Twitter unfit for local viewing, but that hasn’t stopped millions of Chinese from using the social-networking services, according to London-based researcher GlobalWebIndex. There are 63.5 million Facebook users in China, up from 7.9 million two years ago, even though Facebook is officially banned there. Twitter has equally impressive numbers, with 35.5 million users in China, triple the amount from 2009.

The new numbers might seem to represent a big win for the U.S. companies. All of a sudden, we no longer should think of China as a big miss for the social-media players. Indeed, the GlobalWebIndex numbers mean that China is Facebook’s third-largest market, behind the U.S. and almost tied with No. 2, Brazil, according to social media research company Socialbakers.

A victory for Chinese net users? Perhaps. GlobalWebIndex acknowledges that there are skeptics who don’t accept its conclusions: “We routinely come across the argument that these sites are blocked in China, and therefore, our figures cannot possibly be correct. However, it only takes a little bit of desk research to discover that what is called the ‘Great Firewall’ is actually much more porous than the Chinese government would like to admit. On closer inspection, Chinese users are using VPNs (Virtual Private Networks), VCN (Virtual Cloud Networks) or connections at work that may be routed internationally. Crucially, this means that users won’t be picked up in analytics and will not register as being in a Chinese location at all!”

Jon Russell, Asia Editor of The Next Web, doesn’t buy GlobalWebIndex’s numbers. He questions the reliability of the London firm’s conclusions because the data come from a survey of 8,000 web users over three years. “Information about Facebook and Twitter are often open to sizeable degrees of error and interpretation, especially when related to China’s murky Internet with VPN connections and censorship,” he writes. “With that in mind, we’d suggest that you treat the GlobalWebIndex figures with more than a healthy dose of skepticism … oh and pour on a tonne of salt for good measure.”

Point—and salt—taken. Even if GlobalWebIndex’s figures are accurate, though, the American social-media companies would be hard-pressed to benefit from the Great Firewall’s failure. Facebook might have 63.5 million users today in China, but would-be advertisers need to be wary about how long the country’s cybercops might allow such an egregious breach in the Great Firewall.

China’s censors are notoriously fickle: Sometimes they ease up and sometimes they crack down, often based on the state of Sino-U.S. relations or other political factors. Over 63 million Chinese are getting around the Great Firewall, according to GlobalWebIndex, but what happens if the censors turn things up a notch to retaliate against an American snub? Or suppose they get embarrassed by the attention the GlobalWebIndex report receives and decide to take action against censorship dodgers? That 63.5-million market could shrink fast.

Yes, I understand that these Facebook users have also demonstrated they can quickly adapt to measures taken by the Great Firewall. Still, the cat-and-mouse game is not likely to appeal to advertisers. Moreover, if Chinese are getting around the Great Firewall via connections that make it seem they are somewhere other than China, censors probably aren’t the only ones that end up confused.

Advertisers might have difficulty targeting ads for them, since it’s unclear where the Internet users really are. Social-media companies that want to take advantage of the world’s largest Internet market can’t build a China business based on breaches in the Great Firewall.

Einhorn is Asia regional editor in Bloomberg Businessweek's Hong Kong bureau.



Saturday, September 29, 2012

From garage to global prominence- MSN Money

From garage to global prominence- MSN Money:
Man at desk © Datacraft/Getty Images

Starting from scratch
Americans glorify the scrappy startups that rise from humble beginnings to become world-renowned brands.

Click through this slide show, published Sept. 21, for a closer look at seven companies started on a shoestring.


'via Blog this'

Friday, September 28, 2012

DAILY BOOST OF POSITIVITY

boost-change.gifCHANGE  September 28, 2012
Big change is often accompanied by a sense of displacement. This can be disconcerting for sales professionals, especially if the change threatens to interrupt short-term gains. Maybe you're moving to a new job or territory, or a new style of management. Maybe the team has seen some new hires. Maybe corporate leadership has shifted. There is change you can control and change you can't control. If you feel yourself starting to become anxious or resistant, figure out which type of change you're dealing with. There is always something small but significant you can do to retain your sense of purpose and focus.












Refresh your cold calling routine | LifeHealthPro

       Refresh your cold calling routine | LifeHealthPro



Prospecting can be tough going. One call fades into the next; you feel like you’re saying the same thing over and over again. Before long, even you get bored with yourself—and then you start wondering if it’s all worth it. And that attitude doesn’t help you or your prospective customers...

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

DAILY BOOST OF POSITIVITY

boost-social.gifSOCIAL  September 26, 2012
Research suggests that our brains are wired in a way that makes us inherently social creatures. What are your social initiatives, either personally or in your corporate culture? Are you reaching out to prospects on social media and using social networks to listen and gain a greater understanding of what their needs and wants are? Sales teams have the most to gain from being socially connected to customers and prospects. Yet many sales leaders continue to think social media is just for fun or a waste of time for business; however, social business can and does create customers. Be open to social ways of selling. The benefits might surprise you.

Monday, September 24, 2012

DAILY BOOST OF POSITIVITY

boost-indulgence.gifINDULGENCE  September 24, 2012
It is important for every person to practice small indulgences every day. This is why we take vacations, watch funny movies, sing in the shower, and order dessert. What are some of the ways you relax, laugh, and enjoy life? How often do you indulge in these things? Without small and routine outlets for pleasure, stress and worry build up and leave us vulnerable to indulging in bloated and damaging excesses. A daily and healthy outlet helps everyone stay balanced and on course.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Rethinking Sleep By DAVID K. RANDALL Published: September 22, 2012




SOMETIME in the dark stretch of the night it happens. Perhaps it’s the chime of an incoming text message. Or your iPhone screen lights up to alert you to a new e-mail. Or you find yourself staring at the ceiling, replaying the day in your head. Next thing you know, you’re out of bed and engaged with the world, once again ignoring the often quoted fact that eight straight hours of sleep is essential.

Sound familiar? You’re not alone. Thanks in part to technology and its constant pinging and chiming, roughly 41 million people in the United States — nearly a third of all working adults — get six hours or fewer of sleep a night, according to a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And sleep deprivation is an affliction that crosses economic lines. About 42 percent of workers in the mining industry are sleep-deprived, while about 27 percent of financial or insurance industry workers share the same complaint.

Typically, mention of our ever increasing sleeplessness is followed by calls for earlier bedtimes and a longer night’s sleep. But this directive may be part of the problem. Rather than helping us to get more rest, the tyranny of the eight-hour block reinforces a narrow conception of sleep and how we should approach it. Some of the time we spend tossing and turning may even result from misconceptions about sleep and our bodily needs: in fact neither our bodies nor our brains are built for the roughly one-third of our lives that we spend in bed.

The idea that we should sleep in eight-hour chunks is relatively recent. The world’s population sleeps in various and surprising ways. Millions of Chinese workers continue to put their heads on their desks for a nap of an hour or so after lunch, for example, and daytime napping is common from India to Spain.

One of the first signs that the emphasis on a straight eight-hour sleep had outlived its usefulness arose in the early 1990s, thanks to a history professor at Virginia Tech named A. Roger Ekirch, who spent hours investigating the history of the night and began to notice strange references to sleep. A character in the “Canterbury Tales,” for instance, decides to go back to bed after her “firste sleep.” A doctor in England wrote that the time between the “first sleep” and the “second sleep” was the best time for study and reflection. And one 16th-century French physician concluded that laborers were able to conceive more children because they waited until after their “first sleep” to make love. Professor Ekirch soon learned that he wasn’t the only one who was on to the historical existence of alternate sleep cycles. In a fluke of history, Thomas A. Wehr, a psychiatrist then working at the National Institute of Mental Health in Bethesda, Md., was conducting an experiment in which subjects were deprived of artificial light. Without the illumination and distraction from light bulbs, televisions or computers, the subjects slept through the night, at least at first. But, after a while, Dr. Wehr noticed that subjects began to wake up a little after midnight, lie awake for a couple of hours, and then drift back to sleep again, in the same pattern of segmented sleep that Professor Ekirch saw referenced in historical records and early works of literature.

It seemed that, given a chance to be free of modern life, the body would naturally settle into a split sleep schedule. Subjects grew to like experiencing nighttime in a new way. Once they broke their conception of what form sleep should come in, they looked forward to the time in the middle of the night as a chance for deep thinking of all kinds, whether in the form of self-reflection, getting a jump on the next day or amorous activity. Most of us, however, do not treat middle-of-the-night awakenings as a sign of a normal, functioning brain.

Doctors who peddle sleep aid products and call for more sleep may unintentionally reinforce the idea that there is something wrong or off-kilter about interrupted sleep cycles. Sleep anxiety is a common result: we know we should be getting a good night’s rest but imagine we are doing something wrong if we awaken in the middle of the night. Related worries turn many of us into insomniacs and incite many to reach for sleeping pills or sleep aids, which reinforces a cycle that the Harvard psychologist Daniel M. Wegner has called “the ironic processes of mental control.”

As we lie in our beds thinking about the sleep we’re not getting, we diminish the chances of enjoying a peaceful night’s rest.

This, despite the fact that a number of recent studies suggest that any deep sleep — whether in an eight-hour block or a 30-minute nap — primes our brains to function at a higher level, letting us come up with better ideas, find solutions to puzzles more quickly, identify patterns faster and recall information more accurately. In a NASA-financed study, for example, a team of researchers led by David F. Dinges, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania, found that letting subjects nap for as little as 24 minutes improved their cognitive performance.

In another study conducted by Simon Durrant, a professor at the University of Lincoln, in England, the amount of time a subject spent in deep sleep during a nap predicted his or her later performance at recalling a short burst of melodic tones. And researchers at the City University of New York found that short naps helped subjects identify more literal and figurative connections between objects than those who simply stayed awake.

Robert Stickgold, a professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, proposes that sleep — including short naps that include deep sleep — offers our brains the chance to decide what new information to keep and what to toss. That could be one reason our dreams are laden with strange plots and characters, a result of the brain’s trying to find connections between what it’s recently learned and what is stored in our long-term memory. Rapid eye movement sleep — so named because researchers who discovered this sleep stage were astonished to see the fluttering eyelids of sleeping subjects — is the only phase of sleep during which the brain is as active as it is when we are fully conscious, and seems to offer our brains the best chance to come up with new ideas and hone recently acquired skills. When we awaken, our minds are often better able to make connections that were hidden in the jumble of information.

Gradual acceptance of the notion that sequential sleep hours are not essential for high-level job performance has led to increased workplace tolerance for napping and other alternate daily schedules.

Employees at Google, for instance, are offered the chance to nap at work because the company believes it may increase productivity. Thomas Balkin, the head of the department of behavioral biology at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, imagines a near future in which military commanders can know how much total sleep an individual soldier has had over a 24-hour time frame thanks to wristwatch-size sleep monitors. After consulting computer models that predict how decision-making abilities decline with fatigue, a soldier could then be ordered to take a nap to prepare for an approaching mission. The cognitive benefit of a nap could last anywhere from one to three hours, depending on what stage of sleep a person reaches before awakening.

Most of us are not fortunate enough to work in office environments that permit, much less smile upon, on-the-job napping. But there are increasing suggestions that greater tolerance for altered sleep schedules might be in our collective interest. Researchers have observed, for example, that long-haul pilots who sleep during flights perform better when maneuvering aircraft through the critical stages of descent and landing.

Several Major League Baseball teams have adapted to the demands of a long season by changing their sleep patterns. Fernando Montes, the former strength and conditioning coach for the Texas Rangers, counseled his players to fall asleep with the curtains in their hotel rooms open so that they would naturally wake up at sunrise no matter what time zone they were in — even if it meant cutting into an eight-hour sleeping block. Once they arrived at the ballpark, Montes would set up a quiet area where they could sleep before the game. Players said that, thanks to this schedule, they felt great both physically and mentally over the long haul.

Strategic napping in the Rangers style could benefit us all. No one argues that sleep is not essential. But freeing ourselves from needlessly rigid and quite possibly outdated ideas about what constitutes a good night’s sleep might help put many of us to rest, in a healthy and productive, if not eight-hour long, block.

David K. Randall is a senior reporter at Reuters and the author of “Dreamland: Adventures in the Strange Science of Sleep.”

A version of this op-ed appeared in print on September 23, 2012, on page SR1 of the New York edition with the headline: Rethinking Sleep.


Data Centers Waste Vast Amounts of Energy, Belying Industry Image - NYTimes.com

Data Centers Waste Vast Amounts of Energy, Belying Industry Image - NYTimes.com

Data centers are filled with servers, which are like bulked-up desktop computers, minus screens and keyboards, that contain chips to process data.


THE CLOUD FACTORIES
Power, Pollution and the Internet
By JAMES GLANZ 1:43 PM ET
In processing a staggering amount of Internet activity, data centers waste vast amounts of energy, belying the information industry’s image of eco-friendliness.

Friday, September 21, 2012

DAILY BOOST OF POSITIVITY

boost-beginnings.gifBEGINNINGS  September 21, 2012
Every ending is the start of a new beginning. Think of the end of every year, month, week, day, and hour as an opportunity. To create the ideal version of yourself, bear in mind the principles of new beginnings. Keep an open mind and open heart. Refuse to listen to those who say you can't or shouldn't. Don't take disappointments personally (they happen to everyone). Make your decisions with the conviction that you have considered your options well and carefully. When something comes to an end, find the seed of the new thing that awaits.

5 Ways to Make LinkedIn Work for You | LifeHealthPro


                                  
5 Ways to Make LinkedIn Work for You | LifeHealthPro:
 "A question I often get asked by insurance agents at conferences is “I’ve signed up on LinkedIn. What’s next?”

If you’re not familiar with it, LinkedIn is the professional social network. Its 175 million members from 200 countries form the wealthiest and oldest demographic among the most popular social networking sites. We members are predominantly male and college educated. (Fortuna"

'via Blog this'

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

How to Identify Your Target Customers by Karl Stark and Bill Stewart

The clock is ticking on our 20-minute business model. Today's task: Describing potential customers for the new business - in five minutes or less.
        customers in line

In a prior article we discussed a potential new Avondale venture around private equity (PE) investing. We succinctly described the problem we want to solve as follows:

Investors have a lot of cash sitting on the sidelines earning ~zero returns.
Investors are dissatisfied with the current PE model, which elevates fund managers' enrichment above investors' desire for prudent investment.
Some investors want to better control and manage risk and take a more active role in their PE investment choices.
So far, so good, but the clock is ticking on our 20-minute business model. The next question to answer is: Who are our target customers and users?

Running Lean

Ash Maurya has developed a lean business model canvas that allows you to put the key elements of your business model on a single sheet of paper in 20 minutes. In his book Running Lean: Iterate from Plan A to a Plan That Works, Maurya suggests we:

Think about problems in the context of the job customers need done;
Identify other users* who will interact with the customers; and
Home in on possible early adopters (our objective is to identify early adopters, not mainstream customers).
*From Running Lean: "A customer is someone who pays for your product. A user does not."

Lean Business Model Example: Customer Segments

In this business model, the investor is clearly a customer. Having worked and talked extensively with individual investors as well as the professional services providers who work with them, we already had a very clear idea who the early adopter investors would be.

Of course, for every investor there must be an investee, i.e., a business owner who is willing to sell some or all of their business to Avondale and our investors. Those people are our customers too! They must see the value in our offer, since their payout is often linked to our ability to create value once we acquire their company.

Our hypothesis is that there is a large and growing market of retiring or near-retiring business owners, typically 55-70 years old, who face both a leadership challenge and a capital challenge.

Leadership Challenge

The owner must turn over the business to the next generation of leaders, who may not yet be ready to hold the reins. In many cases, the owner may not have an individual within their company who can successfully become the new CEO.

Capital Challenge

The owner may naturally be conserving cash in preparation for retirement, rather than investing to grow the business. As a result the business may need an infusion of capital to accelerate growth (e.g., modernize the facilities, add more production capability, etc.). The retiring owner is financially unable to make such an infusion, even though they recognize the value potential they are leaving on the table.

With our experience and our network of business leaders and investors, Avondale can help address both of these challenges. Thus retiring business owners can be a very attractive segment to us.

Our customer segments are therefore:

Customer Segment A

Investors with large chunks of investable cash who have not seen satisfactory results from the current PE paradigm.

Early adopters:  Active entrepreneurs/investors with significant investable cash, who already have a value creation thesis to pursue.

Customer Segment B

Businesses with attractive growth opportunities that are constrained by capital and/or human resource limitations and recognize the need for transformation.

Early adopters:  Retiring business owners who need to facilitate both a capital and a management transition.

Because we have been refining and debating these customer segments for a few months now, it was easy to articulate these segments; it took only three minutes. Nevertheless, with eight minutes of our 20-minute budget already gone, we need to pick up the pace. In the next article in this series we will discuss our Unique Value Proposition.

Are these attractive customer segments to pursue? Do the problem statement and customer segments seem well-aligned? Please let us know your thoughts at karlandbill@avondalestrategicpartners.com.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

How to Ask for a Referral BY KELLEY ROBERTSON SEPTEMBER 15, 2012

Today I am going to outline a few ways you can ask for a referral without coming across as weak, needy, desperate or pushy. Asking for a referral can be uncomfortable for many people, but it doesn’t have to be. With these tips, you will be well on your way to snagging your next referral.
Are you uncomfortable? Many salespeople feel uncomfortable asking for referrals and for some of the following reasons:

  • They’re afraid they will be perceived as begging for more business.
  • They’re afraid the other person will be offended by their asking.
  • They assume that their contact won’t be able to refer them.
  • They’re afraid of appearing desperate.
However, if you ask for a referral in the appropriate manner, people will not think you are rude, weak or desperate.
How to ask. Once you have described your ideal client to a referral source, it is simply a matter of asking. Here are a few examples:
  • “Bill, as you know, I have helped your sales team achieve a 17-percent increase in sales in the last year through my programs. What non-competing companies do you know that might benefit from my services?
  • “Susan, do you know any sole proprietor business owners who might benefit from health/dental coverage?”
  • “Rick, who in your network might be able to use some PR services to grow their business?”
You can also start your request by saying something like this:
  • Eleanor, as you know, I rely on referrals to grow my business…” Then ask for the referral you’re seeking.
Here are few things to keep in mind when asking for referrals.
  • Start with people you know. It is much easier to ask for a referral from someone you know well, providing they know exactly what you do and the results you achieve.
  • Ask recent satisfied customers. Your most recent satisfied customers are a great referral source. After you have completed a contract or job with a customer, take a moment to remind them how you helped them and follow up by asking them for a referral. Most customers who are completely happy with your solutions will be more than willing to give you a referral.
  • Don’t rush it. Just because you have met someone at a networking event does not mean that you have earned the right to ask for a referral. You will get much better results by asking them to connect you with someone else after demonstrating the value you can offer. This includes referring them to someone else or helping them to solve a business problem.
It may sound simple, but too many people focus solely on getting referrals instead of giving them. Set the stage for others to help you by helping them first. As author and speaker Bob Burg puts it, “Go-givers get.”

Kelley RobertsonKelley Robertson
Kelley Robertson helps sales professionals master their sales conversations so they can win more business at higher profits. Get a free copy of “100 Ways to Increase Your Sales” and “Sales Blunders That Cost You Money” at http://www.Fearless-Selling.ca.


DAILY BOOST OF POSITIVITY

boost-dazzle.gif
DAZZLE  September 18, 2012
Sales and marketing teams usually excel at the courtship stage of customer relationships. That's the time they get to trumpet new features, designs, and promotions. But flash won't help strengthen a relationship with a customer who experiences problems at other stages, such as signing, delivery, and implementation. As author Lior Arussy says, not every customer touch point needs dazzle: "Sometimes the customer says, 'Just make it work.'"

Monday, September 17, 2012

How to Manage Your Clients’ Expectations | LifeHealthPro

How to Manage Your Clients’ Expectations | LifeHealthPro

DAILY BOOST OF POSITIVITY

boost-listening.gifLISTENING  September 17, 2012
As a sales professional, how are you using social media to enhance your core selling activities? In a social-media world, sales managers fear that their reps will end up wasting time chasing the wrong customers down rabbit holes. Your goal on social media should be, first and foremost, to listen, and listen carefully. What are your customers saying about you and your competition? What are their concerns and worries? Jump in with an answer only if you have relevant, useful, and targeted information to share. Nothing will increase your chances of being ignored faster than an obvious sales pitch. In order to make a successful connection on social media, you must first listen.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Is 'Opting Out' The New American Dream For Working Women? by Meghan Casserly, Forbes Staff

When her daughter was born twelve months ago, Erin, a mother of one living in Seattle with her husband and golden retriever, weighed her options and decided to give notice at the company she’d worked at for nearly a decade. “We ‘re in the fortunate financial position that I got to choose whether I wanted to stay at home or work,” she says. “My husband was fine with either… And honestly it hasn’t changed our lifestyle at all.”

At age 36, with a bachelor’s degree and 15 years in the workforce, Erin is living the New American Dream. Lest you vilify her, trust that Erin is more than aware of how good she has it. “I do view that as being very fortunate,” she says. “I know a lot of people can’t make that choice without great sacrifice.”

According to a new partnered survey cosponsored by ForbesWoman and TheBump.com, a growing number of women see staying home to raise children (while a partner provides financial support) to be the ideal circumstances of motherhood.  Forget the corporate climb; these young mothers have another definition of success: setting work aside to stay home with the kids.

For the third year running, ForbesWoman and TheBump.com surveyed 1,000 U.S. women in our joint communities (67% were working outside the home and 33% stayed at home with their children) about their employment decisions post-motherhood, and how their family finances and the economy affected those choices. You can find survey highlights here.


At a moment in history when the American conversation seems to be obsessed with bringing attention to women in the workplace (check out “The End of Men,” or Google “gender paygap” for a primer), it seems a remarkable chasm between what we’d like to see (more women in the corporate ranks) and what we’d like for ourselves (getting out of Dodge). But it’s true: according to our survey, 84% of working women told ForbesWoman and TheBump that staying home to raise children is a financial luxury they aspire to.

What’s more, more than one in three resent their partner for not earning enough to make that dream a reality.

“I think what we’re seeing here is a backlash over the pressure we’ve seen for women to perform, perform, perform both at work and at home,” says Leslie Morgan-Steiner, the author of Mommy Wars: Stay-at-Home and Career Moms Face Off on Their Choices, Their Lives, Their Families. “Over the past three to five years we’ve seen highly educated women—who we’d imagine would be the most ambitious—who are going through med school, getting PhDs with the end-goal in mind of being at home with their kids by age 30.”

Radical feminists–who’ve long put women who opt out of the work force on the defensive, espousing and that feminism is rightly about access to all opportunities, not adherence to one script–will of course take issue.

But as a choice-feminist, Morgan-Steiner sees the opportunity for women to make this choice and I agree. No feminist voice can or should make a woman feel bad for the decision to choose family over career. But from the perspective of a young woman who works to balance career and life (even without a husband and child), I feel there’s something more at play beyond a simple choice. Instead, I believe working women have been wedged between a clich├ęd rock and a hard place.

Ann Marie Slaughter worded the demands placed on working women beautifully this year in her Atlantic essay “Why Women Still Can’t Have It All.” The myths of the happy, “have-it-all” working woman are not necessarily lies, she writes, “but at best partial truths.” No matter how hard we try or who we marry, having kids while simultaneously to achieve career success sucks.  (Unless you’re Sheryl Sandberg, but I’m not even buying that one).

Carley Roney, the editor-in-chief of TheBump.com (and my partner-in-crime on this survey) says she isn’t surprised that women are opting out, given the pressure they face to achieve perfection in all things. “I think it’s all tied up in this Super Woman complex that we have,” she says, “When you’re at work, you’re not giving enough time to the kids, when you’re at home, you’re not giving 100% to the office. Something’s got to give.” It’s no wonder then that the dream of many women is to leave work to raise children while maintaining their standard of living.


But while our survey suggests that working women believe staying at home would be a luxury, Roney points out that the economy could be keeping their dreams from taking off. “It’s especially crippling to see women’s sense that, if it weren’t for the economy,” they might be able to realize these dreams.”

As one (working) mom of two told me, she may dream of leaving work to take care of her kids, but the (financial) reality of it is not so ideal. “Sure, if my husband made so much money that I could spend time with the kids, still afford great vacations and maybe the occasional baby sitter to take a class or go out with friends, I’d be the first to sign up,” she said. “So maybe while it’s a luxury I do think about, it’s not one I would want unless it was actually luxurious. I don’t want to be a stay at home mom who clips coupons or plans her weekly menu to make ends meet… If that’s the case, I’d gladly go on working to avoid that fate.”

Interestingly enough, most stay at home moms polled were not so quick to describe their “at-home” status as a dream. Of that group only 66% say the ability to stop working to raise children is a financial luxury for their families, and it shows: nearly 80% told us they spend less than $100 on themselves each month. A more concerning stat than the fact that eight out of 10 women barely spend enough to cover a trip to the salon every month? That money’s still an issue: 44% of stay at home mothers say their partners make them feel as if they are not pulling their financial weight. Would they be better off in the workforce? It’s possible; roughly 20% feel they’d be happier if they worked outside the home.

What seems like a “grass is greener” mentality between working and at-home moms is what Morgan-Steiner and Roney agree is the very basis of the Mommy Wars. “What every mom wants is time with her kids, financial security and a sense of identity,” says Morgan Steiner. “When you feel like you don’t have enough of any of those things and you see a woman who has made different choices than you, it’s easy to point fingers. We’re all looking for “having it all” in our own lives and not finding it… And that’s the moment when we start thinking it’s better on the other side of the fence.”




Should Creole replace French in Haiti's schools?By Cordelia Hebblethwaite BBC News

                      Haitian school child looking a bit perplexed

Creole is the mother tongue in Haiti, but children do most of their schooling in French. Two hundred years after Haiti became the world's first black-led republic, is the use of French holding the nation back?


                                                                           
"The percentage of people who speak French fluently is about 5%, and 100% speak Creole," says Chris Low.

“So it's like a toddler who is forced to start walking with a blindfold”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        

Ms Low is co-founder of an experimental school, the Matenwa Community Learning Center, which has broken with tradition, and conducts all classes in Creole.

Educating children in French may work for the small elite who are fully bilingual, she argues, but not for the masses.

Most linguists would share her view - that education in vernacular languages is best - says Prof Arthur Spears, a linguist and anthropologist at City University in New York, and an expert on Creole.

"That is what children arrive at school speaking, and it's obviously going to be better for them to learn in that language," he says.

Michel DeGraff, a Haitian professor of linguistics based at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the US, describes educating children in a foreign language as "a well-proven recipe for academic failure".

He argues that French should be taught in Haiti as a second-language - after children have learnt basic literacy skills in Creole.

"Learning to first read and write in a foreign language is somewhat like a toddler who is forced to start walking with a blindfold, and the blindfold is never taken off," he told the BBC World Service.

Job prospects

No matter which indicators you pick, Haiti has an appalling record on education.

One recent report rated it as the third worst place in the world, after Somalia and Eritrea, to go to school.
               
It's estimated that about one-third of children never enrol at primary school, and only about one in 10 complete secondary school.

Prof DeGraff is working with the Matenwa school to try to prove the case for mother tongue education, in studies with the children there, showing - for example - their progress in maths, when taught in Creole.

But if the weight of expert opinion supports mother tongue schooling, not all Haitians agree.

Interestingly, those most opposed tend to come from the poorest backgrounds, who speak little or no French, and see school as the best place to correct that.

Twenty-five-year-old Daphnee Charles, who is among the 1% of Haitians who go to university, attributes her academic success to the Catholic primary school selected by her parents - who did not go to school themselves and speak no French at all.

"You would have [extra] homework to do if the sisters caught you speaking Creole, even during playtime - they didn't want you to speak Creole," she says.


But the tough policy worked for her, as she now speaks two languages to a high standard.

"When you can speak two languages, you can have a better job. It can open many doors," she says.

Theodule Jean-Baptiste, who is studying medicine, is also unconvinced.

"Whether we want it or not, we are influenced by French because of the history of colonialism - this is not something we can get rid of quickly," he told the BBC World Service.

"I don't think education should be only in Creole - Creole is not a scientific language."

English and Spanish

The belief is widely held in Haiti that Creole is somehow a primitive, inferior language - possibly because of its origins in the days of slavery.

                                     Haitian child with rubble behind. Photo by James Fletcher.
                                              The earthquake in 2010 destroyed about 80% of schools


But linguists are at pains to counter this perception.

Creole is "fully expressive", as well as being rich in imagery and wisdom says Prof DeGraff.

"Most have accepted the ideology of elites which says that if you go to school it's in French - that Creole is not worthy of being used, and that Creole is not a complete language," adds Prof Spears.

"Most parents accept that same ideology, just as in most societies, most of the masses accept the ideology of the ruling elite."

More than 30 years ago, a law known as the Bernard Reform was introduced in Haiti, with the specific aim of boosting education in Creole - but critics say it has never been implemented.

The Haitian Ministry of Education accepts that textbooks in Creole are in short supply, though it says Creole is already being used widely in classrooms, alongside French.

But the question of Creole or French as the language of instruction appears to be of less concern to the Ministry than the very different question - how to give students a good grounding in English or Spanish.

These are the languages, according to the Ministry of Education's Pierre-Michel Laguerre, that will really open up the world for Haitian children.



A brief history of Haitian Creole
30th July 1949: Learning to read Creole, which will be used to teach French, the official language, at a school set up by UNESCO

*It emerged towards the end of the 18th Century as slaves from Africa began mixing African languages with French

*Lots of the vocabulary comes from French, but the grammar is quite different
*Spelling was standardised in 1979
*A law called the Bernard Reform was introduced in the early 1980s, designed to boost Creole in schools
*The 1987 constitution states that French and Creole are both official languages in Haiti

Friday, September 14, 2012

DAILY BOOST OF POSITIVITY

boost-jargon.gifJARGON  September 14, 2012
If you want to improve your conversations with customers, lose the jargon. The next time someone asks you what you do (or what your company does), watch to see how many insider industry terms you drop. Corporate-speak is generally more confusing than helpful to someone who's asked you a straightforward question. Plus, jargon limits your reach to folks who already understand those phrases and terms. What about the people who could use your solution or service but don't know it yet?

You’d Better Do Your Homework BY JILL KONRATH SEPTEMBER 13, 2012

                                

Have you noticed these days how many prospects have a whole lot of knowledge regarding what you’re selling before you even open your mouth? There’s a good reason for it: They’ve been online doing their homework on you. Prior to your meeting, they have conducted research on your company. They know about your products and services, and they know about your competitor’s. They may even have learned a good deal about you personally.

If you want to have a good meeting with these savvy people, you have to be sharp. They have no tolerance for sellers who simply want to pitch their stuff. They want an intelligent conversation centered on their key business challenges and needs. They have done their homework on you, and they expect you to have done your own homework on them.

They expect that you will have thoughtful questions about their objectives, challenges and initiatives. In simple terms, the Internet has raised the bar for sales professionals. If you’ve been selling for a long time and haven’t changed what you’re doing, you’re on your way to extinction. Seriously. You will find yourself working harder and harder with diminishing returns. If you’re new to selling but are listening to all that old, outdated advice about the importance of having a good pitch, you, too, could be in trouble.

Today’s customers want to deal with savvy, educated sellers—people just like them.

Jill Konrath is the author of SNAP Selling and Selling to Big Companies. If you’re struggling to set up meetings, click here to get a free Prospecting Tool Kit.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

DAILY BOOST OF POSITIVITY

boost-veterans.gifVETERANS  September 12, 2012
Newer sales professionals will always have something to learn from sales veterans. But given the rapid changes in technologies that help grow revenue, no one can truly claim to have an advantage based on the number of years he or she has been in the business. A sales veteran is someone who knows how difficult it is to carry the bag and who has hopefully learned more than a few ways to lighten that load. It's important to pass that knowledge on to newer members of the sales team. It's equally important, however, that experienced sales professionals work to stay sharp. In today's world, you're either linked 

No One Said Selling Would Be Easy BY ANTHONY IANNARINO SEPTEMBER 11, 2012

                                
Selling isn’t easy. In fact, it’s getting tougher all the time. The environment is more challenging, and much more is expected of us.

There are countless charlatans out there marketing the “magic bullet” that will allow you to produce better sales results faster and with less effort. But you know that the too-good-to-be-true remedies are just that. There are, however, some who are honest enough to tell you the truth about how to make selling simple (but not easy).

Recently my good friend, sales coach Mike Weinberg, published a new book entitled New Sales. Simplified. I was fortunate to have the opportunity to write the foreword to Mike’s book, and I wanted to write it because I strongly believe that this book will help salespeople improve their sales results and win new business.

Three big ideas are at the heart of Mike’s book. The first is Mike’s insistence that you choose your sales targets thoughtfully—and that you continue to pursue them. Readers of my blog will recognize this idea as something akin to my concept of the dream client. You need to know for which prospects you are able to create breathtaking, jaw-dropping, earth-shattering value and pursue them. Mike’s approach will help you draw up that list and pursue these prospects over the long haul.

Mike’s second really big idea is the sales story. You have to know how to share your ability to create value. You have to know how to convey the value you create in a way that is compelling to your dream clients. Most of all, you need a consistent story. Mike’s book provides instructions on how to build and use your sales story.

Finally, in an act of undaunted courage, Mike has the audacity to suggest that you pick up the telephone. He even goes so far as to suggest you develop a script. Then he provides you with hints on how to do so.

These three pieces together solve a lot of sales problems. The right targets make selling simpler. The ability to create compelling value for those targets makes selling simpler. And a focused, disciplined pursuit of these targets by continually prospecting and unlocking opportunities makes selling simpler. Simpler, but not easy.

Anthony Iannarino is the managing director of B2B Sales Coach & Consultancy, a boutique sales coaching and consulting company, and an adjunct faculty member at Capital University’s School of Management and Leadership. For more information, go http://thesalesblog.com/s-anthony-iannarino/

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

DAILY BOOST OF POSITIVITY

boost-diligence.gifDILIGENCE  September 11, 2012
Too often, salespeople are too quick to talk up the wonders of their terrific solutions. Before you start trumpeting the virtues of your product, service, or company, do your homework and diligently assess your prospect's unique circumstances. Great salespeople approach a customer or prospect's problem with the mind-set of a physician, methodically probing and analyzing symptoms before arriving at a diagnosis. Be curious, and be real. Let go of preconceived ideas and open yourself up by paying close attention to the needs of other people.

Monday, September 10, 2012

DAILY BOOST OF POSITIVITY

boost-longevity.jpgLONGEVITY  September 10, 2012
Salespeople who think of long-term value for customers are more likely to create long-term wins. Relationships and loyalty are still very important in the sales profession, especially in a world where customers can choose to take their business elsewhere in the blink of a single tweet or mouse-click. If you keep the longevity of your customer relationships in mind, they'll never have a reason to stray elsewhere. What have you done recently for your long-term clients and customers? Think about your track record of longevity the next time you talk with a prospect for the first time. It might help them to know that you have a proven history of providing long-term value.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

OPINION Why Fathers Really Matter

       

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