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Monday, February 28, 2011

Ramping Up 'Social' With

Social networks have evolved a lot over the last few years.  Facebook is obviously the one that has emerged as the true 'king of social networking'.  The great thing today is that these services don't block out others forcing them to try to create something that mimics them to try and compete.  Today, other companies can create great services that tie-in making the experience and power of these networks even better.

So what's one of the biggest barriers with Facebook?  It's basically all about typing.  If you want video interaction, you have to go somewhere else.  Then you have to open another account, build another group of friends, yada yada yada.  Well, not anoymore because now there is!  This service allows for video chat and conferencing that utilizes FacebookConnect allowing you to log in with your Facebook account and bring all of your contacts with you.  Cool, huh?  I thought so.

When you start up the service you notice 5 slots in addition to yourself to add others in.  Now, from a personal standpoint it may be kind of weird bringing in people who may not know one another.  Well, if you're the matchmaker type, then this may be a dream come true for you and possibly awkward and irritating to your friends all at the same time.

From a business standpoint, this could have real possibilities and take Facebook to a whole new level for your organization.  Rather than Facebook being something just to complain about work and hope your boss isn't masking themselves as some person you don't remember from college so you'll 'friend' him and he can spy on you.  You could build lists of colleagues and video conference.  Just make sure you're not still in your PJ's when the "meeting" starts.

Check it out and let me know what you think.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Success Is Your Own Darn Fault

When I was younger (which is scary that I am at the age to actually be able to say that), I was the first to tell you why it was everybody's else fault that things didn't work out for whatever.  Whether it was my career, my life, etc. if something wasn't going the way I hoped it would . . . someone or something else was to blame.  Now if something did go well . . . I was to blame for that.  I had the proverbial "bad attitude".  Thankfully I had a great boss who said to me one day, "You know.  I noticed you have a tendency to point the finger a lot at others for being the problem.  In fact, check out my hand when I actually point."  I looked at his hand that had his finger pointing.  He asked, "Where are my other 3 fingers pointing?"  Right back at him.  Lesson learned . . . whenever you point the finger, three are pointing right back at you.  Really taking that to heart and truly working on it always has made dramatic positive differences for me in how I approach things, my relationships, my decisions, so forth and so on.

As a manager, some think that is a great position to have a good supply of people to blame for things not turning out right.  The greatest lesson I have learned about being a manager is that my success has everything to do with what my people do.  If I "make them successful.  I will be successful."  In fact, I can always tell a good manager by those who never talk about themselves.  They talk about the successes of their people.  They may talk about goals that were not achieved, but they always speak in terms of what they didn't do to make others successful.  Whether it be not providing clear vision, goals, direction.  Or how they didn't hold people accountable in a timely manner or effectively.  The last part is always interesting because people often think "holding others accountable" is negative and would be contrary to "success".  Holding others and yourself accountable have everything to do with being successful.

So how do you determine if you are not making success your own darn fault?  I look for these three things in myself or with others:
  1. The conversation is about things I, or we, have no control over.  I have no control over "the economy".  It is what it is.  Yes, economic conditions can (and probably will) have an impact on most businesses; but unless you've decided to shuts the doors entirely because "the economy is bad" you still have to continue operations.  You have to make some decisions.  
  2. There is no personal accountability.  The person that is unwillingly to hold themselves accountable will be the one constantly blaming others, lying, and will speak a lot to what they have done.  In fact, even if the person is doing well now, those qualities will be a huge problem when things dip.  Always head this off at the pass.  The person will often be a "Jekyll and Hide".  If things are going great . . . they are your best friend in the world and a blast to be around.  If it's bad . . . watch out. 
  3. The attitude is primarily negative about change.  There is one constant in life . . . change.  And as the saying goes, "You can either look at the cup half full or half empty."  The person who avoids change will always view the cup as "half empty" and either dismiss any positive notion of the change, tell you only why it will fail, and blame change for any problems.  Change is scary sometimes especially if you do not fully understand.  Ask questions! 
So you're probably asking now, how do I make "success my own darn fault"?  It's actually pretty simple:
  1. Determine what you actually HAVE control over.  If business traffic is down, look at your advertising, talk to your customers, go get new business, etc.  
  2. Get the facts and avoid assumptions at all costs.  I love hearing "nobody has any money" or "nobody is buying".  Then you look at the sales and they are in the millions.  Really?  That's a lot "no money" coming in.  What the reality is that you may be over speculating on growth.  Economic impacts may cause you to commit the "ultimate business sin" . . . plan down.  If your industry is trending down, it's important to be realistic so you can make the best decisions.
  3. Determine the root cause for issues or problems.  Yes, life and things seem to move pretty fast these days; but if you try to address problems at blazing fast speeds I guarantee you will miss the best possible solution every time.  My best sales person is not selling as much.  When I speak to him about this he tells me it's because of "the economy".  So I tell him that I've noticed him coming in late quite a bit and taking more sick days than normal.  He's surprised I've noticed that and explains that there have been some "issues at home".  I understand and offer either taking some time off or using work as an outlet to "put home in the trash can for a while when at work."  The attitude and outside issues are the root cause for performance.
  4. Set realistic goals and plans to follow-up routinely.  Goals should be "SMART" (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timebound).  Setting those goals and not following up on the progress daily or weekly is worthless.  
  5. Be open to change.  The person and business that is willing to change and adapt is often the one one "that wins the game" more times than not.  Avoiding change or dismissing it always puts your competition at an advantage.  Borders just recently filed bankruptcy.  Borders financial issues can really be attributed to dumping a ton of money into mall-based stores and giving Amazon their online business years ago.  They totally dismissed the signs that shopping behaviors changed and tried to force success in a dying sector of their business.  And they totally dismissed that people would buy books online and put nothing into developing their web business.  
Granted, you may do all of those things and it still may not work out.  The difference is that you will know why, and the true "go getter" will not let it happen again.  They will learn from their mistakes and do it better the next time.  And there will be a next time.  Life and business are rollercoaster rides.  You have your ups and downs all the time.  When you take the approach above, those downs often become more like dips rather than plunges.

As I was writing this, Harriet Lewis was kind enough to send me an message with a great quote I will leave you with:

“The only thing standing between you and your goal is the BS story you keep telling yourself as to why you can’t achieve it.” — Jordan Belfort

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Seeking Your Input for Regional Solutions

In an earlier blog posting, I discussed connecting residents to policy-making (Strategies to Connect People to Policy: Communicating Economic Development to Residents). Now, I am presenting the first of several opportunities for you to provide input regarding solutions that may have an impact on job creation in the region.

The poor economic environment and the weak employment situation currently being experienced in Central Florida are causing the region to lose its competitive advantage in the state, national and global marketplace. The “Let’s Get to Work” Coalition has formed to develop a framework to regain Central Florida’s Competitive advantage. The Coalition is asking for your input on the following:

1. What are the governmental barriers at the local or state level that keep you or your neighbors from “Getting Back to Work” (Where possible, please cite specific county or city ordinances, state regulations or other governmental procedures) For each barrier, please provide any specific recommendations on how to best address the current barrier.

2. What are the economic barriers at the local or state level that keep you or your neighbors from “Getting Back to Work”? (Again, please be as specific as possible.)

**If you do not want to post your comments to this blog, you may send them to me confidentially at

Your input is being requested by the “Let’s Get to Work” coalition and, a Central Florida organization committed to connecting communities by building regional solutions. Harriet Lewis PhD, Flagler County resident and Managing Partner at Konesens Research, is a member of the Northeast Regional Board of Advisors for, which serves Volusia and Flagler Counties.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Top 5 Tech Mistakes Organizations Make Today

Technology is not only changing individual lives with things like social networking, social media, mobile apps, etc.; it's been seeping into companies and organizations more and more.  Some companies and organizations have been slow to adopt beneficial services while others seem to be fully engaged.  Some employees and members even find themselves frustrated when they see the benefits of trying out a new tech idea, but the response is dismissed because leaders are not understanding the services.  Here's some of the common mistakes companies and organizations make today in regards to technology and how to avoid them.
  1. "It's too expensive and we just don't have the funds for that." - Many of the tech things that are providing huge payoffs actually cost very little (or nothing at all), use existing equipment, and increase revenue.  In the past, yes, most tech initiatives could be very costly in terms of equipment and/or software. Take for example creating a Facebook page for your organization; it's free, easy to maintain, and when done correctly can increase exposure to your brand.  And . . . all you need is an internet connection.
  2. "We have seen others run into issues and we need to develop clear policies first." - Here's the funny thing about the 'policy' issue, the policies most often already exist within these companies and organizations but they just don't see it.  These are your organization property policies and public relations policies.  Whether it's physical equipment, a website, a social networking service, social media . . . those same policies apply.  All of those things are property of the organization of the company and you simply need to tweak the policy to include digital media.  The issues many organizations run into are because the internet is regarded as something entirely different.  Stop thinking that way.  If an employee plasters all over their social networking profile or blog that they work for a company or organization and are constantly misrepresenting the organization through false or derogatory information publicly, they can be held accountable.  Likewise, using the company's email system and the address provided is not considered an invasion of privacy if the company checks those messages and it's use.  That email address and the system it the messages travel through are property of the company.
  3. "Things can go viral these days." - Yes they can!  The marketing term 'viral' sounds negative because it derives from the behavior of viruses in terms of the ability to spread quickly.  Yes, you can spread a negative message very quickly.  BUT you can also spread a positive message very quickly.  Viral can be a very very good thing.  If you are focused on your mission and sending out messages that provide beneficial services, you want it to go 'viral'.  Why wouldn't you?  This comes down to a fear, and allowing fear to guide your decisions is a great way to be unsuccessful.  It's like launching a great new product but not wanting to tell anybody because someone might use it and sue you.  Sounds silly right? That's because it is, but it's the same way people are approaching the concept of 'viral' on the internet today.
  4. "Nobody's doing that other than kids." - I particularly love this one.  This total denial of what real customers and the adult public is actually doing.  Let's take Facebook for example.  They currently have 500 million  users in the world and 200 million of those use the service on mobile devices (according to Facebook).  Over 60% of users are over the age of 25 according to in the US alone which has about 1.5 million users.  Likewise, companies are seeing huge traffic generated from promotions through services like Groupon.   Barnes and Noble just launched a Groupon in which you pay $10 and get a $20 e-gift certificate to use in store or online.  The Jacksonville and Daytona areas saw about 3,000 participants combined and major cities such as New York City and Philadelphia saw as much as 22,000+ participants in each city. 
  5. "It's just a fad." - Some tech things have been 'fads' in the past.  Google searches were considered to be a 'fad'.  eBooks initially were considered to be a 'fad' over 10 years ago.  The difference today in the explosion that we are seeing with tech developments is that they are taking hold beyond being a 'fad' because the infrastructure is now in place to make these developments mainstream.  With things like readily available WiFi and cellular data transmissions, connections are no longer tethering users to their wall in their home.  Doing the things that were spoken about just 10 years ago but were difficult are now easy and becoming mainstream.  Want an eBook?  Simply shop on an eReader or mobile app, select your ebook, and download it immediately. Yes, some things will be 'just a fad' as they always have in society.  But be careful not to confuse fads with things that are truly taking hold as long-term consumer behaviors and demands.  Likewise, so as not to get caught off-guard later like many have today; look at those teen and young-adult generations because they are the next generations of large consumers that these tech things are normal parts of their live.  Yes, I'm of the generation that can say we didn't have the internet when I was in college or we had to watch things at the time they were one TV on one of the 6 channels we had or that we had phones tethered to our wall in our house for phone calls.
I find many of these items usually come up as a means for the person whatever tech initiative is being presented to is somewhat embarrassed to say they do not understand.  When it comes to tech these days, be open-minded at all times and never be afraid to say 'I don't understand' and ask for clarification.  I can tell you first hand that many tech professionals have a difficult time explaining in layman's terms.  They speak in languages they know.  It's important for presenters to make connections to what people already know.  For example, Groupon is like finding out about a great coupon deal and calling your friends to tell them to check their papers for it.  Only instead of getting the 'coupon' offer from the newspaper, you 'clip it' from the website by signing up and it's delivered to your email box.  You can also tell all of your friends very easily by sharing it on Facebook, Twitter, or email rather than making a bunch of phone calls.  QR Codes are the same as putting a link on a website for people to click.  The difference is they scan the code with their phone's camera using an app that directs them where/whatever the QR code is generated to do.  
    Have fun.  What tech initiatives are you considering but just not understanding?

    Thursday, February 3, 2011

    Year of the Rabbit in Flagler County

    This is a guest-blog-post by Larry Maccherone from Pak’s Karate serving Flagler County

    Chinese New Year starts with the new moon on the first day of the new year, and that is today, February 3, 2011.   The lunar year is 4709.

    This is the Year of the Rabbit.

    The origins go to the story of Buddha asking all the animals to meet him on Chinese New Year. Only twelve animals came for the meeting, and Buddha named a year after each one.

    He announced that the people born in each animal's year would have some of that animal's personality. Those born in rabbit years are popular, compassionate, and sincere.

    Some of the famous folks born in the Year of Rabbit are: Francis Ford Coppola, Michael Jordan, and Drew Barrymore.

    The rabbit is extremely lucky in business and monetary transactions; and astute at striking bargains. The Rabbit is said to be a calm year during which relaxation, happiness and a carefree attitude are said to be easy to obtain.

    It’s been a few trying years in Palm Coast, so let's embrace the Rabbit, and follow suite with the calm relaxed traits of the Rabbit. In the traditional celebration we should take this chance to spend time with family and friends.  The New Year is also referred to as a time to celebrate birthday as we are all one year older.

    Xin Nian Kuai Le!  Happy New Year!

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