May 15, 2009

Transparancy pitfalls

I learned a lesson today. I'm in telecom, among other things, and I tried to explain the rather technical and bureaucratic reason why some processes are what they are in telecom to a customer that isn't a) very technical and b) doesn't really care. My intent was to genuinely explain "why it was" and to be very transparent with the process and expectations. Instead, it just blew up in my face and the customer got frustrated and started asking all sorts of questions. I had opened Pandora's box with my tranparancy efforts.

I'm all for tranparancy, but it doesn't (shouldn't) get carte blache. Sometimes it's best just to say, "I'll take care of that for you...".

Apr 17, 2009

The Cover Letter

Seth Godin points to a blog article on interviewing tips where one of the tips is that cover letters are "worthless" -- especially when you've got 350 applicants to sort through. The argument is that the meat is really in the resume and that's what sells you.

I respectfully disagree. I beleive the opposite is true. While there certainly is meat to a resume, it's the cover letter that explains who you are, what you believe in and how you connect the dots for the employer between resume and role. I believe the cover letter is where you give the example of standing out (with good writing, good relevance, good personal brand) and then the resume supports that with the technical details.

Apr 15, 2009

Old World Social Networking

I had a nicely-dressed, mid-50s gentleman knock on my door this morning and introduce himself as a new financial advisor in the neighborhood. I had never had this happen to me before (for financial services). I smiled, accepted his flyer and said thank-you.

Then I got to thinking about it after he had left. In the Facebook/Twitter/IM/texting/social media world, here's a guy that's going door-to-door to meet people to build his business. I'm impressed and I might even call him. I think surprising people with the old school techniques is very effective. I think both can work concurrently -- they are not mutually exclusive.

Plus, sometimes people (your target audience) just like a face.

Apr 13, 2009

Big Hair Economy Buster

I know they're fairy common -- the guys-centric haircut place where you can watch sports on TV while getting a haircut for around $10. Some are even chains. I heard about this place that basically even took the Hooters concept to the salon chair. The place I went to in particular was busy, had nice TVs and waiting room and I got a decent haircut with hot towel and all the extras for around $10 bucks. That's what I call economy. And they were nice...

I feel sorry for my bald friends. It's sooo nice to get your hair washed by somebody else!

My Son Thinks He's Slash

I think there is something inherently gratifying about having your son or daughter walk around the house humming "Hit Me With Your Best Shot" or "Barracuda" from playing Guitar Hero.

Ah, classic rock...

Apr 7, 2009

The thing about surveys...

I use tax software. I had a problem with it and looked to their support site to help solve it. Today I got an email from them asking about my experience and for me "to take a few of my time"...

Here's the thing to me about surveys. If you're not offering some sort of worthwhile incentive for me to take that time to complete your survey, then you're basically left with the people who are either a) so extremely happy with your product that they want to praise you for it (congratulations!) or b) so pissed off that they want to let you and everybody else know that your product or service really missed their expectations -- by a mile.

So then there's me in the middle. It wasn't a great experience and it wasn't horrible either. Seems to me it would be these people that you would REALLY want to know about. "What can we do to improve this guy's experience just a little bit...". I'm really not a discount-driven person, but I would have been more willing to fill out their little service had they offered to file my state and local taxes for me for free next year, or something like that.

Instead, it seems to me, they just catch the extremes...

The Abrupt Cutoff

Why in this age of hard drive space abundance, do cell phone and other voice mail systems insist on only giving the messenger a certain amount of time to leave a voicemail and then abruptly cutting them short?

I hate that, it makes no sense, and it certainly would not make me a customer of their service.

Apr 5, 2009

Does Social Networking border on voyeurism?

My brother recently asked me this question -- which got me to thinking: Do I actually need to know what somebody has on their grill or how they've scored the their top five 80s hair bands (although I fully intend to rate this myself)?

I know there are security controls but one of the things about these sites, Facebook in particular, is that whatever response you place up there in the cloud, it's a pretty good bet that it's going to read by not only hundreds of your friend's friends, but potentially their friends, and so on. It's like about the 2 or 3 degrees of social networking. And most of it sure looks like personal release to me.

This fascinates me, because of all the relative infancy of the technology, how it's proliferating so quickly and how to use it best. I think the opportunities here are enormous to connect and communicate. But one has to know the potential pitfalls as well.

Great Lakes water levels improving

This chart from the Corps of Engineers and NOAA shows that the 2009 water levels on lake Michigan will rise nearly a foot between April 2009 and September 2009 -- welcome news for the economic climate and the recreational boaters alike.

Destination ImagiNation

One good program, My wife led our daughter and her team to 1ast place and an appearance at State finals. Way to go!

Apr 2, 2009

The Pendulum is Swinging

Isn't it fascinating that all of your friends in their 30s, 40s and 50s have suddenly come out of the woodwork and embraced social networking such as Facebook, Twitter and even LinkedIn? I firmly believe that there is a pendulum effect at work here. Social attitudes and cultural acceptance follow a rather predictable swing from being all about the one, to being all about the group, over a course of time throughout histroy. This theory is well documented in the book Generations by Strauss & Howe. This dictates many things, including your marketing strategies and the tailoring thereof to arrive at maximum benefit based at which point of the swing we are at.

You see, the kids are always the one to culturally embrace the new; the newest music genre, the latest fashion, and emerging technologies. So it's no wonder that what started with the kids a few years back has now blossomed into use by their parents and even grandparents. And now we're on to the business applications of social networking and thus completing the full acceptance of the new, by the old(er).

A Few Good People

When you work in an organization , particularly a larger organization with many complex processes and solutions, you're surrounded by lots of mediocrity. And it can be very frustrating. I'm talking about the kind of people that don't share the same passion for making things better and making things right. That's when it's good to surround yourself with a few good people to go to for nearly anything: advice, consoling, an energy boost or brainstorming. Of course, this takes some time to cultivate, but once you've got a few good ones in your back pocket, you can recharge and move forward a lot more quickly.