Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Ten Ways Modern Leaders and Artists Become Findable

easter_egg_hunt The Pony Express would be celebrating its 150th anniversary this year, were it still in existence, but it’s not.  It lasted for 18 months before being replaced by the telegraph.  Now, when did you last send a telegraph?

Successful leaders and artists know that the world has changed and more change is inevitable.  Hopefully you’re doing things differently today than you were five years ago.  It’s certain you will be doing things dramatically different three years from now.  We live in a tumultuous time.  Many choose to be excited by it, while for others, particularly those who hold on to their old ways, fear is the predominate emotion.

We’ve seen it before from those who were in the horse and buggy business, or the American railroads, and recently, the music, newspaper and publishing industries.  Technology has again given way to innovation, opening new worlds, helping level the playing field and leaving those unable or unwilling to adjust to fade and fail.  We are living through a high level of change today.  Compounding that are the generational, philosophical and ideological shifts taking place.  I completely understand and empathize with the fear many feel.  Not confronting that fear or simply denying the reality of the changes is what pisses me off.

Today, as always, leaders and artists like you need to be findable to provide whatever it is you offer to others who are looking for you.  If you’re not findable you won’t be found; there’s just too much competing noise.  If you’re still of the mindset that you are in control of the message your customers hear, get some fresh batteries for your pager in case last century tries to get in touch with you. If you know that the basics of forming a relationship haven’t changed, but the expectations and findability needs have, then there’s hope for you.  There are a few things you can do to catch up while there’s still time.  Your primary role in communications as a leader and artist is to educate people about what you have available so they can tell others.

Here are a few things that leaders and artists ought to have to help become findable.

  1. A clear and concise one sentence explanation of who you are, what you do and why you do it.

  2. An easily repeatable mission, vision or mantra.

  3. A persuasive reason why someone should invest their time, treasure or talent with you.

  4. A list of the primary keywords other people use to find you and people like you.

  5. An ability to use analytic tools to look at the effectiveness of your web presence.

  6. A well-managed email mailing list with an easy way for people to sign-up.

  7. An ability to use search engine optimization audit tools to fix potential problems.

  8. An ability to easily accept online transactions.

  9. An array of action-oriented letters and marketing materials that describe what you do.

  10. Active accounts on the major and relevant social networks with a username reflecting the name of your organization or a meaningful domain name with links back to your website.

Get rid of the barriers between you and prospective clients who want to find you.  Contact Karl Bimshas Consulting to help you build an action plan, organize your web marketing efforts and make  you and your company more findable.

Monday, March 29, 2010

What's so FAB about you?

YRUFAB.001Everything in life has features, advantages and benefits.

Features are sometimes called technical specs.  These are the things the product or service has.  A washing machine with five speeds.  The nightclub that provides only A-list performers, the airline that offers warm towels to passengers on red eye flights.

Advantages are the things that the product or service has that others don’t or they provide exceptionally better than anyone else.  The washing machine that’s available in four jewel toned colors, the nightclub that has a frequent guest VIP program, the airline that doesn’t charge you for the niceties.

Benefits are the things that people consider valuable.  It may not be unique to you, but it’s very personal and it’s how people make their decisions.  What’s the benefit?  You’re a designer and need a stylish red washing machine, or you collect autographs of top musicians for your ailing mother or you like to go straight to work after an overnight flight and want to feel refreshed and ready to go.  It’s easier to make a decision when you know the benefits.

That’s how it works in business everyday.  Now, what about you personally?  You have to “sell” yourself everyday to prospective employers, customers, maĆ®tre d's, loan officers.  The list goes on.   So, what’s FAB about you?  Give it some thought.

What are your Features?
What do you know?  What are your core values and beliefs?  What do you stand for?

What are your Advantages?
What do you offer your world that others can’t do nearly as well as you can?  What skills make others think of you first?

What Benefits do you bring?
What value will the people who are looking for you gain?  This takes self confidence.  You need to know yourself well, and you’ll need to discover what your audience needs.

Lead with your benefits, this is what people base their decisions on.  Then shore up your advantages and features, because if people feel the need to justify their decision about you, that’s where they will look.  If you don’t have anything there, they will quickly change their mind.  They will look there for validation, so keep them happy.  Do the work and you’ll feel FAB.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Seven Simple Truths

7SimpleTruths.001Here are a collection of my original a-ha’s I first penned fourteen years ago during a cross-county flight.  I called them the Seven Simple Truths.

1. It’s better to be good. I don’t mean pious, I mean knowing ethical behavior and common sense manners. Knowing you’re values and acting in accordance to them.

2. Cause and effect works in every event whether we choose to believe it or not. Everything happens for a reason and the reason is a reaction to what has already occurred.

3. We all need to give more. We need to give more of our time, our energy our thoughts, our ideas, our talents, ourselves -- more of everything imaginable.

4. Anything is possible. Everything that exists today that was created by man was once a foolish idea that most people thought would never work. The truth of the matter is everything is possible. Every problem is solvable. Every epidemic is curable and every thirst quenchable. We have the power and the ability to abolish poverty, to end starvation, to resolve conflict without bloodshed. With patience, perseverance and focused thinking we can accomplish any goal. It may not be easy, but it can be done.

5. The body and mind must be exercised. The body must guard our mind and our mind must inspire our body. While in this form they rely on each other.

6. Being happy is better than being sad.  Both are emotions, and emotions are not right or wrong.  They are the by-products of an action. Therefore it’s better to do things that make you positive and upbeat. Always smile, laugh and inquire like a child.

7. Know what you want. It is simply that easy. Just knowing what it is you want to accomplish sends you way ahead of the indecisive pack.

Think more.  Do more.  Give more.  See more.  Be more.  Laugh more.  And know that anything is possible.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Making Effective Decisions


Knowing why, who and what makes your decision making easier

Decision making is often full of confusion when it comes to who, what, where and when it takes place.  To be effective at making decisions there are a few things to keep in mind.  It’s important to listen to your intuition however, base your decisions on the facts and available data whenever possible.  Gathering the facts shouldn’t unnecessarily delay or hindering your progress.  Consider all your decision making criteria and if needed, make a tentative or pilot decision before full commitment.  Once you’ve reached a decision, support it whole heartedly until new critical information becomes available which could alter the conditions.

With decision making think about; why the decision is important, who will make the decision, and what criteria will they use?  Below is a checklist to help keep focus on the vital elements of a significant decision.

Decision Making Checklist

  • Determine the decision or goal to be achieved.

  • Establish the criteria to be considered.

  • Generate then narrow alternative solutions.

  • Evaluate the alternative solutions against your criteria.

  • Select the top ranking solutions.

  • Assess the feasibility, risks and gains of each solution.

  • Make a tentative decision and explore intended and unintended consequences.

  • Make the decision and develop an action plan.

Decision Making Options (Who Decides)

  • You decide with no input from others.

  • You decide with input from others.

  • You let a group decide with less than half the group making the decision.

  • You let a group decide with more than half the group making the decision.

  • You let a group decide with consensus or unanimity.

Factors or Criteria to test Decisions

  • The Quality Impact of the decision.

  • The Acceptability of the decision by stakeholders.

  • The Time to make and implement the decision.

  • The Capability to implement the decision.

  • The Level of Accountability for the results of the decision.

Some decisions are not particularly significant so observe the 80/20 rule and ensure you put time and resources around the things that will have the greatest impact.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

5 Perspectives in Decision Making

5 Eyeglasses.001

We make hundreds of decisions everyday, often based solely on habit or personal preference.  That’s fine for the little things in life, like what soup to have or which dressing to pour over our salad.  When facing complex issues, you need an approach that is worthy of more attention.

When making a decision, it is best to make it fast and change it slowly. Fast decision making does not mean rushing.  It involves thoughtful debate, running through your options and then proceeding with self assuredness.

Decision making is not merely picking yes or no, left or right.  Thoughtful decisions take into account the implications of your actions.  Once you know you’re comfortable with the possible ramifications, you act.

How can you determine all the possible outcomes of your decision?  You can’t, though you can increase your likelihood of being prepared by quickly looking at it from five different perspectives.

1. A Factual Point of View: Spread out all the facts you know before you.  Opinions and beliefs aren’t allowed here.  Be ruthlessly fact based.

2. An Intuitive Point of View: What's your gut telling you?  What are your feelings?  Being rational does not serve this perspective.

3. A Pessimistic Point of View: Be a Negative Nelly.  What’s the worst thing that could actually happen?

4. An Optimistic Point of View: Okay Pollyanna, your turn.  What’s the best possible result of your decision?

5. A Creative Point of View: Now for something completely different.  What’s an entirely new outcome you could create with a creative perspective?

Actively running possible scenarios through these different points of view gives your mind the opportunity to weigh your options so you can be best prepared for the implications of your decision.  First decide.  Then act.

Monday, March 1, 2010

The Modern Haberdasher


I am a rare breed of man who is as comfortable in suits as others are in a well-worn pair of jeans. As a result, I tend to burn through them quicker than most. An unfortunate realization, I generally buy them from stores that have “depot”, “wearhouse”, or “factory” in their names. One day I may evolve to purchasing suits from the array of stores that end in apostrophe “s”, but for now, I’m still a bit of a skinflint.

One time, my wife went to one of our neighborhood haberdashers and had four suits held aside for me to peruse later. That evening, the two of us returned to the store where I was greeted by one of the clerks who asked if I needed any help. Out of habit I immediately dismissed him but my wife thankfully stepped forward to tell him we had several suits on hold. He fetched them and we met near the dressing rooms. I tried on each of the suits, subjecting myself to the three-way mirror while my wife editorialized about cut and color. We whittled the selection down to two. Throughout this, the sales person hung back quietly. I voiced some concern over the particular cut of one of the jackets when he finally chimed in with some nonsense about it being very popular now because all the newscasters are wearing them. The extent of his influence on my buying decision was infinitesimal.

As the cashier rung up the final choices I noticed three of the sales staff coagulating near one of the bargain racks, eerily reminiscent of a used car lot. From across the store another sales associate, probably a supervisor, called out, “No clumping. Remember the meeting. Circulate. Circulate.” They quickly scattered with laughter. The gentleman who had “helped” me earlier walked passed the supervisor with a smile and remarked, “Of all the places I’ve worked over the years, this is the only place I’ve been that the sales people actually work.” Pathetic. What sales “work” actually occurred? It was nothing more than demand fulfillment. Now, I may be guilty of turning suits into a commodity, after all my buying criteria tend to be price and overall look and feel. Still, how successful was the sale? I had four suits in my hand but left with two. How could this have been a more effective experience for the store?

At another establishment, where price is commensurate with value, they also value team. The sales person measures me, asks what I’m looking for, gushes over how wonderful I look and what a smart choice I’ve made. He then introduces me to a charming sales associate who suggests a new shirt that can make the interwoven threads of the suit “pop”. She’s right, of course, and what’s the point of a new shirt without a new tie? She offers two, taking the guesswork out of it. Can’t decide? Buy them both and bring one back later. (Like that would ever happen.) What about cuff links, or brass stays to keep those bothersome collars from winging up? In this establishment I am cared for as an intelligent and powerful man, capable of making scores of decisions which are repeatedly validated through the sale. Do I value that? Yes, who wouldn’t? Yet the money I spend on that value-added white glove treatment never fails to make me feel a little worked. Is it all worth the price of an additional suit? Not to me, right now.  This is still old school, because value-add is generally for the benefit of the seller. There’s not much sales work to be done. It’s like an ineffective real estate agent taking a grown man and woman through a house and proudly beaming, “and this is the kitchen.” No kidding, a five-year-old child could figure that out.

Business development is about demand creation. How could a suit sales person be an effective business developer? They would canvas a particular geography, or demographic. Study what is being worn. Know the industry well enough to accurately tell someone his or her size and complementary color scheme. Know the customer’s preference of form or function. Then address the target market with custom tailoring. Perhaps offering cuffing and minor repairs onsite or within an hour. They would know if prospective customers needed suits or casual sports coats. They would know when their clients needed to look especially sharp and respond accordingly.

The sales profession is often maligned. Unfortunately, as happens with the practice of law, faulty practitioners create the perception. Mediocrity disguised as effort. The professional who makes the time to know their client, to truly care about their well being and success, who feels the compulsion to serve, rather than an attitude that they deserve, will far exceed the results of those who still think shepherding customers to their already researched and decide conclusion is hard work.