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Posts from November 2012


--- At a recent press conference, NASA scientists addressed rumors surrounding the Mayan calendar. Scientists say people misinterpret the end of a certain cycle on the calendar to mean the world will end on December 21st, 2012, and that Mayan scholars say the Mayans would not have interpreted the date to signal the apocalypse. Scientists addressed popular rumors such as: a rogue planet will collide with earth and kill everyone, and the danger of killer solar flares. Scientists say neither of those issues are a concern, and that the greatest threat to Earth in the foreseeable future is from the human race itself. (Huffington Post) So, just in case you thought you could escape those end of the month bills, better think again!
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Bacon scented shaving cream?

Today is the launch of J&D’s Bacon Shaving Cream! It’s the world’s 1st bacon-scented cream available on-line ONLY for a limited time. It’s in short supply, costing less than 15 bucks. And of course, it’s proudly made in America! So, would you like for your man’s chinney-chin-chin to smell like bacon; or your legs to smell like Bacon, what about your underarms!? YUM or not? Bacon Shaving Cream is said to be a high end, luxurious bacon-scented shaving cream for all skin types. It is best used after a hot shower or before an important date with someone you may want to spend the rest of your life with. What about you? Would you want some? Huh; I just may after all! I’m getting hungry!
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Here’s the deal! French and Swedish researchers find exposure to blue light may improve alertness in night drivers as much as a cup of coffee. The blue light exposure is known to stop the secretion of melatonin; that’s the hormone that causes sleepiness, into the body. Researchers had a group of volunteers drive at night 3 different nights. During each of the nights the volunteers were given coffee, or were exposed to continuous blue light. Researchers found that drinking caffeinated coffee and exposure to blue light both improved driving alertness about the same amount. (Daily Mail) Give me coffee anyday! There’s just something about the smell that I LOVE; maybe even more than the coffee itself. And besides, whenever I see a blue light, I think of “get ready K-Mart Shoppers, we have a Blue Light Special on Aisle 9.”
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Topics : Health_Medical_Pharma
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Wait! Should You Respond To That RFP?

Several of my clients are frequently asked to submit a proposal in order to be considered as the supplier for an upcoming project.   I believe that before proceeding, several questions should be asked, the most important of which are listed here.

Is this a real opportunity for you or just an exercise for them to internally justify their current supplier?   Who is their current supplier?  Why are they considering making a change?  Will that new manager really take a chance and allow a change with a provider early in his tenure?  What criteria will they use to determine which supplier to work with?   How will price factor in?  Why would they bring in a new supplier when that represents change and change is hard?  

What are the odds of your winning the business?  You should have a good sense of this based on your previous conversations and tracked history of success with the company.  At some point, it becomes futile to continue to work at acquiring business you have little chance of getting, no matter how sexy it seems.  Get input from your team, define these parameters, and stick to them.  

What lines have you established that you absolutely won’t cross to win business?
Are these clearly defined and in writing?  Is your entire team aware of those lines and do they buy in to them and uphold them unreservedly?  Are there exceptions that you’d be willing to make, and if so, in which circumstances?  

What other filters do you have in place to determine your opportunity costs?
How much time will your team have to devote to complete the required specs by the due date? One of my prospects is constantly in the middle of answering rfp requests and, since they’re relatively small, these requests consume most of the owner’s time.  If management needs to be involved, how will their shift in focus affect the team?  To what extent will team members need to be involved?  Will their personal time be impacted?  What other projects will have to be put on hold while the proposal is completed?   What will management have to delegate and how will that affect others?

Is this upfront work a financial investment or expense?  That depends on why you’ve determined it’s important to respond.  Being a go-to provider for a large manufacturing company may sound ideal in theory yet not be in practice.  Do you have the only or best turnkey solution?  Are you helping them create the specs?  Do you need to leverage that relationship to gain other business and credibility in the market?  Does your team agree with your rationale?  Thoroughly review all of the costs you’ll incur if you’re selected, making sure your desired profits can be met.

We all need to generate new business.   Let’s be sure we’re spending our time and resources productively on the opportunities that best fit our business models and allow us to attain the short and long-term profits we desire and deserve.
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Topics : Business_Finance
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4 Things You Will Never Learn in Your Comfort Zone

Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined. – Henry David Thoreau

The year was 1947 and to date no one had broken the sound barrier. Most believed that it could not be done. Some argued that the sound barrier was a literal wall that once hit at 760 mph would destroy a plane. But despite the skeptics and critics there remained a committed group of people devoted to the cause of breaking the barrier.

A young pilot by the name of Chuck Yeager was invited to be the one to break the sound barrier. Colonel Body, his superior, said, “Nobody knows for sure what happens until somebody gets there. Chuck, you’ll be flying into the unknown.” On October 14, 1947, Yeager broke the sound barrier. He later wrote, “I was thunderstruck. After all the anxiety, breaking the sound barrier turned out to be a perfectly paved speedway. After all the anticipation it was really a letdown. The ‘unknown’ was a poke through Jell-O.”

Comfort zones have a tendency to lull us into thinking that out fears are justified and average is acceptable. “Courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point,” said C.S. Lewis. Comfort zones are the testing points of leadership. As a leader, here are five things you will never learn if you remain in your comfort zone.

The depth of your talent. You will never fully discover the depth of your talent if you are not willing to grow to a place where more is required. If your talent brought you to the place where you are today then contentment will keep you there. Is that acceptable to you? The better practice of leadership is to discover the depth of your talent by embracing the advice of Brian Tracy who said, “You can only grow if you are willing to feel awkward and uncomfortable with  trying something new.”

The reach of your potential. The greatest obstacle to breaking the sound barrier was not engineering but attitude. It was the perceptions of comfortable people. You will never fully reach your potential so long as small thinking makes you comfortable. The better practice of leadership is to be surrounded with people who believe that breaking barriers and overcoming the odds is all in a day’s work.

The reward of your risk. History records the names of risk-takers (Chuck Yeager, Thomas Edison, Steve Jobs, Henry Ford, Bill Gates, etc.) who, in the face of overwhelming odds made a determination that the restrictions of the comfort zone was just not for them. Risk-takers are a peculiar people who had rather fail at something big than succeed at something small. The better practice of leadership is to count the cost of exceptional leadership and dare to change the world.

The power of your dreams. Comfort zones tend to put a lid on dreams. Why dream if you are not willing to take risks and explore the depths of your talent and abilities to achieve it? However, when you unleash your dreams you open yourself to new possibilities reserved for those who have escaped the predictable and the expectations of the ordinary.  The better practice of leadership is courage. When others discourage you or talk about invisible walls that do not exist, you can go confidently in the direction of your dreams and live the life you have imagined.

The challenge for you is to get uncomfortable with the comfortable and comfortable with the uncomfortable. Your growth as a leader depends on it.

© 2012 Doug Dickerson
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Results of a new study published in the journal Psychological Science has found sadness can lead to impulsive, and irresponsible financial choices. No kidding! For the study, participants watched either a sad or neutral video and then were offered a monetary reward. They were given a choice- they could receive the money after the session, or receive a bigger reward that would be mailed to them in the future. Those who watched the neutral video chose to have the reward mailed to them 13-to-34% more often than people who watched the sad video. Scientists involved with the study say people who are sad tend to focus more on the present, rather than the future. (Women's Health)
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Strive for Depth and Breadth of Contact

Recently I heard a statistic that 65% of all college graduates who find jobs do so because someone referred them to the hiring manager.  I would venture a guess that this percentage is even higher in business.  In mine it’s 75% currently and I fully expect that to increase over time.

Since referrals are so critical to each of us we need to understand the importance of developing and nurturing relationships at every possible level within our client’s organizations, especially our key and target accounts.  

Consider the depth of your contacts.  Say you primarily work with one or two departments, do you know everyone in those departments?   Everyone?  If so, you’ve achieved 100% depth of contact and you need to work continually to strengthen those relationships.   If not, you should make an attempt to get to know those you’ve not met within the next 30 days.  

Next, consider the breadth of your contacts.  If you have a good working relationship with one manager or team, how many other managers or teams might become clients?  Identify these and make a plan to get introductions, recommendations or referrals from your existing contacts within the next 30 days.  If your company should be doing business with five divisions and currently works with three, there’s untapped potential that you should make a targeted priority for growth.  

The depth of your contacts will determine the breadth of your contacts.  It will always be true that the more people you know in one department, the more people you’ll gain access to in others.    Strive for 100% depth of contact.

That brings us to the next layer of questions.  Who are the people that you know that no one else knows?  Who are the people that you have the best relationships with?  Who are the people they might introduce you to?  How else might you leverage those relationships?  Can you refer them business?  Can you introduce them to another company that would be a good strategic alliance?  

In addition to the ‘who you know’ is the ‘what you know’.  What have you learned about your client personally?  How about their business, industry, market trends, etc., that no one else knows?  Anything?  What are you doing with that information?  How might you leverage that knowledge to further solidify your relationships and deepen their trust in you?  Can they share confidences with you without reservation?  How might you personally help them be more successful?

The whole point of having deep and broad connections is to provide insight, offer help and solutions and become a valued source to your client’s entire organization.  You want your company to be the one they turn to first.  When you can accomplish that, you’ll have the ‘in’ your competition can only dream about.
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Topics : Human Interest



A new study finds that most Americans think old age is not represented by a birthday, but by a person's actions. For the study, researchers interviewed people in their 80’s, their family members, and their paid caregivers. They found that the ability to participate in certain activities, such as grocery shopping or attending medical appointments, serve as a way of identifying if someone is "old." Oregon State University researcher Michelle Barnhart found says that society views and treats people in their 80’s and 90’s as "not old" if they are aware, active, safe or independent. (Live Science) NOT OLD? AND THEY’RE IN THEIR 80’s and 90’s? Lemme tells ya folks, that’s OLD…I’m decades from it and I’m old now…yes, I do everything for myself but not nearly as fast or with as much fun as I once did. Admit it, old is nothing to be ashamed of, it is a sign that you have lots of memories and hopefully lots of loved ones with whom to share them.
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People : Michelle Barnhart



More stores will be starting Black Friday sales before you even have time to digest your turkey. Walmart, Target, Toys "R" Us, and Sears will start their sales on Thanksgiving at 8 p.m. while Macy's and Kohl's will open at midnight. Retailers say that opening Thursday night is a good thing for consumers because they can finish their feast, head to the stores late, and sleep in the next morning instead of getting up before dawn to get on sale lines. (NY Daily News) So what about you? Good idea…quite frankly, I LOVE IT! But would YOU shop on Thanksgiving?
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Should you make that presentation?

So your prospect has granted you an appointment and asked you to present your ideas.  Sounds like you're one step closer to a sale, but are you really?  Before you ever make a presentation and share your pricing answer these italicized questions.  
What are their specific needs?
Comments like: "we're experiencing some difficulty with our current supplier"; "we're planning budgets and need to understand all of our options"; "we need more storage space and are ready to upgrade", are not real needs. They are only indicators of underlying issues, nothing more. Ask questions like these to determine needs.
What does 'difficulty with your current supplier' mean exactly? How is that impacting your business?  Your team?  Your efficiencies?   
When you assessed your current system, what was lacking? How would having those items help you and impact your bottom line?
Why is it that you need more storage space?  What happens if you don't expand?  If they don't admit to having a need, you can stop the conversation right there, they won't make a purchase.
What's their budget?
If they won't share a budget with you, beware.  Anyone who is planning a purchase has an idea of what they'll spend and if they're truly in the market to buy, they'll give you a dollar figure. If they won't, they aren't serious about buying. You can give them some price ranges based on other customers in similar situations to see if they'll at least agree to a range they'd spend. If they have no money, they can't buy, so move on.

When will they make the purchase?
Is there a malfunction resulting in an immediate need for replacement?  Are they planning to expand in the next six months?   When you hear 'we're in the market, or looking to buy, or need three bids', realize that doesn't really mean they'll be purchasing anything any time soon.  Ask:
Why now?  Why then?  So, what happens if you wait another six months?   Understanding the real timeline allows you to properly forecast.  Don't kid yourself, if they can wait to make the purchase, they likely will.
Who will make the final decision?
You need to understand who is involved in deciding which supplier is selected.  Present to the decision maker(s).  Ask:
Who else will assist you in making the final decision?  How about anyone else?  So, when will I be presenting to the group?
Stand firm on this, you want to present to the decision makers so you're the one to answer questions, etc.  If you haven't been speaking with the decision maker you need to get face time with them and start over at the top with your questions and get confirmation of what you've learned from others.
Take the time to get these answers.  That's when you'll be one step closer to making the sale.
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