By k | October 21, 2010 - 6:00 am - Posted in Corporate Games

A loved one went on vacation
with me last week.
There was free wi-fi available
with some effort
everywhere we went.

Instead of using this free wi-fi,
he told his manager
that if they wanted him
to check into work daily,
he needed the costly cruise ship package.

This wasn’t about convenience.
This was about creating friction,
about putting a value on his time.

Yesterday, I was called about a business gig.
I’m still focused on writing.
I am available at any time.
Did I tell the prospective client that?
Nope.
Because if I did,
they would assume that my time is free
and waste it with endless questions and meetings.

The inputs to what you’re doing
may be free
but your time isn’t.
It is scarce and valuable.
Adding friction can often weed out
the frivolous requests.

By k | October 20, 2010 - 6:00 am - Posted in Marketing, New Business Development

I’m on the great agent hunt
for one of my writing projects.
Most agents now want a query letter first.
In that query letter,
they ask for a one liner
explaining the 100,000 word novel.

That’s it.

One line.
An agent told me
that if the author can’t sell her the book
in one line,
she wouldn’t be able to sell it
to a publisher
using three.

Wally Bock calls this
The No-Expert Rule
and the Intelligent Fifteen-Year-Old Corollary.

“My No-Expert Rule
is that the more expertise
you need to explain your concept,
the less likely it is to succeed.
The corollary to the No-Expert Rule
is the Intelligent Fifteen-Year-Old Principle.

When you’ve got a concept
to get across to others,
test out your explanations
on an intelligent fifteen-year-old.
If he or she gets it,
you’ve got a good explanation.”

Can you explain your product
using one line?

By k | October 19, 2010 - 6:00 am - Posted in New Business Development

Getting honest critical feedback
can often be challenging.

Jim Collins, Author of Good To Great,
has a unique method.

Yes, he gets feedback
from a large circle of people
but…
“To make sure
they don’t hold back,
he refers to them
as his “critical readers,”
and types in large letters
atop the manuscript,
“Bad First Draft.”

“That gives them the freedom to say,
‘Jim already knows it’s bad,
so let me tell him how it’s bad,’ ”
he says.”

I did that when venturing into a new genre.
I gave my story to an ‘expert’ in the genre
and said
“This doesn’t work.
Can you tell me why it doesn’t work?”

She then openly discussed
why it didn’t work.
I learned.
I applied.
I got published.

If you want brutal but real criticism,
tell your critic the product sucks.

By k | October 18, 2010 - 6:00 am - Posted in New Business Development

Regular readers of Clientk
know I think focus groups only have one purpose
and that is to make executives happy.

Turns out…
Steve Jobs shares my disgust
of focus groups.

“Asked why Apple doesn’t do focus groups,
Jobs responded:
“We figure out what we want.
You can’t go out and ask people
‘what’s the next big thing?’
There’s a great quote by Henry Ford.
He said,
“If I’d have asked my customers
what they wanted,
they would have told me
‘A faster horse.’”"

If you truly know your prospect,
there is no reason to hold focus groups.

By k | October 17, 2010 - 6:00 am - Posted in Corporate Games

Jena McGregor reports that
“Researchers from Berkeley and Princeton found
that workers who know what their peers make,
especially if they earn below-median pay,
are more likely to be disgruntled
than their blissfully ignorant peers.”

My stance is that
your pay reflects your value
to the company.
That isn’t the same
as reflecting what you do.

I once worked for a company
that valued education highly.
The MBA/Designated Accountant doing my equivalent job
was paid more than BA/Designated Accountant me.
I didn’t like that
so I moved to a company with different values.

That is why paying attention
during the interview is so damn important.
If the first thing out of the interviewer’s mouth
is ‘I see you’re an MBA’
then the company puts a high value on education.
If instead the comment is
‘I see you’ve led teams on some interesting projects’
then the company could be about
leadership or accomplishment.

Align your strengths
with the company’s values
and, with negotiation,
you will do okay in the pay department.

By k | October 16, 2010 - 6:00 am - Posted in Corporate Games

Great Leadership has a hilarious post
on how to survive department meetings.

I especially liked
“There really are stupid questions.
The first thing you will hear
from the person in front of the room is
“We want this to be interactive
– there are no stupid questions,
so ask away”.

Don’t take the bait.
A stupid question will make you look stupid,
no matter what they tell you.
A single good question,
on the other hand,
can make a good first impression.

However, don’t overdo it.
Limit it to one
– anything more comes across as grandstanding,
or being socially clueless.”

I’ve heard some incredibly stupid questions
over my decades of attending meetings.
If you aren’t sure if your question is stupid or not,
ask a trusted coworker or manager
BEFORE you ask it in front of the room.

By k | October 15, 2010 - 6:00 am - Posted in Corporate Games

I am not a rule follower.
Show me a rule
and I’ve bent it.
I don’t outright break rules.
I bend them.
I have to or work doesn’t get done.

Bill Jensen and Josh Klein
talk about this bending or ‘hacking’
in their book Hacking Work.

“It’s one of the biggest workplace secrets
that most top performers
are already breaking their company’s stupid rules.
Current research shows
that about one-third of today’s workforce
use technologies not sanctioned
by their companies.
Why?
Because corporate-sanctioned tools
hold everyone back.
Those rule-breakers are
just trying to do their best.
They need the best tools available.
And if corporate won’t supply them,
they’ll hack a workaround.

Same thing with university students,
which is tomorrow’s workforce.
Studies show that almost one-third of them
have hacked around their institution’s IT structures.
When you add in non-technical hacks
—how people use their relationships
to work around processes and procedures
—between two-thirds to three-quarters
of our workforce are currently hacking their work!

So, if you’re not hacking,
you’ll be more alone.
It’s a good bet some of your best-performing buddies
are already hacking.
They just didn’t tell you about it.
We are.”

By k | October 14, 2010 - 6:00 am - Posted in Corporate Games

The writing world
is run almost exclusively
with virtual teams.
I’ve never met my editor
or publisher or cover designer.

With virtual teams,
more than with any other
type of team,
responsibilities have to be clear
and timelines have to be kept.

Each team member is doing
her own thing.
There is often little communication
between the team members.
All communication is flowed
through the coordinator.
So any overlap in roles
causes… well.. chaos,
duplication, angst.
The coordinator has to be clear
about who is doing what.

Timelines are also more important
because, again,
there is little communication
between team members.
Jackie doesn’t know that
the part she needs from Jill
has been delayed.
Also because Jackie has limited contact
with Jill,
any failure like missing a timeline
is magnified.
Jill is seen as unreliable and untrustworthy.

Erin Meyer points out more differences
between virtual and non-virtual teams.

By k | October 13, 2010 - 6:00 am - Posted in Marketing

Ed Roach has a list of
10 Branding Cracks To Avoid.

#1 is The Authenticity Crack

“You say you are service oriented,
- in reality you don’t deliver.
This is a crack that will soon be a chasm.
Authenticity cracks can disgust
a customer faster
than almost any other type of crack.
If you want to destroy
your hard-earned reputation,
allow this one to fester and grow.
To patch this crack,
you’ve got to walk the walk.”

Vampires are hot in the romance world
right now
(yes, they are STILL hot).
I don’t write them.
Why?
Because I think vampires are creepy
(those cold, cold hands)
and I know that will come across in my writing.

My readers are intelligent.
They will pick up on my lack of love.

Your customers are intelligent also.
Be authentic to your brand.
Walk the walk.

By k | October 12, 2010 - 6:00 am - Posted in Marketing

I’m a customer.
I’m both selfish and lazy.
I’m not buying from you
because of you.
I’m buying from you
because of me.

Chrisg has a great post
on why entitlement may be holding you back
from being successful.

“We all need to get past the idea
that our customers give
any thought to us at all,
they do not care
unless we tell them
why they should be interested,
show some proof, and
demonstrate relevance to their lives.”

THAT is why we market.
It is not enough to be the best choice.
We have to tell prospects
that we are the best choice
and WHY that should matter to them.