Category Archives: Business

How Can I Be Useful To You?

Last week I was honored to have Chris Brogan stop by this blog for the first time and leave a comment. Of course, I’d been talking about his post regarding ways to write multiple posts in a day. He stated something interesting in the comment: “The qualifier might be USEFUL posts a day”.


Young “ME”
being real useful

It got me to thinking about how often I’ve been “useful” to those who visit this blog. I know that my business blog is useful, if tough for some people to get into, but what about this blog? Is it supposed to be useful or entertaining? Can it be both?

As I get close to post #900 I decided that I would take just a quick look at topics I’ve written on over the past 3 years, but I’m going in a different direction. For instance, I’ve written around 55 posts on entertainment topics. Out of all those posts, only one could be considered as useful, that being when I spoke on how to create playlists on Windows Media Player. Certainly a post like Saturday’s top 20 sports movies isn’t useful, but it’s fun and, in my opinion, is the type of thing where some folks might enjoy comparing their favorites to mine; an outlet for expression that anyone who likes movies can comment and know that there are no wrong responses (that is, unless someone actually thinks The Fish That Ate Pittsburgh is a top 20 film).

I then looked at personal posts, where I get to talk about anything I want to, sometimes things that have nothing to do with my norm here (do I even have a norm?). I’ve written around 50 of those, and I have to admit that determining what’s useful or not is a little bit harder. For instance, my update post on my gym workouts might not be useful to a majority of people, but if there’s someone who’s been thinking about joining a gym to lose weight and reads my post on my travails, have I given them something useful to think about, since I mention it also takes changing one’s diet? Personally I’d have found something like that useful before I joined the gym, but what about anyone else? Anyway, based on my own criteria, I think at least 7 of those posts were fairly useful; the others, well, at least half are subject to interpretation.

And of course there’s the Sunday Question, which may or may not be useful to people. Its intention is to get people thinking most of the time, and to me, that’s useful. However, I’m not sure people learn anything from it, unless they’re learning something about themselves that they never thought of before.

Anyway, based on the quick review, it would seem that I’m useful at least 80% of the time on this blog; I really hadn’t expected that at all. I’ve talked about blogging, writing, software, plugins, product review, health, social media, motivation and posted some interviews. There are more topics, of course, but you get the drift. For me, it’s been an interesting mix of things over time, and I hope to continue it.

Still, I figure it’s time to ask this question; how can I be of more use to you? Are there topics I haven’t covered that you might want to see me tackle, if I’m able? I’m not going to ask what you don’t want me to talk about because, well, I’m going to write what I want to write about, even when it’s a tough topic to discuss like issues of race. And I will tell a story or two here and there, like my story about The Keys. But I figure why not ask, as it’s the holiday season, I’m on the cusp of 900 posts, and who knows, there might be other posts in your questions as well.

Go ahead; let’s see what I do and don’t know as far as helping you out. But if you ask me how to build a car; ain’t gonna happen! 😀
 

 

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Don’t “Stink”; Not Quite A Rebuttal

Last week, Mitch Joel wrote a post on his blog titled Don’t Suck. It’s a tongue in cheek yet kind of harsh statement on what you shouldn’t do if you don’t want certain negative things happening to you online or with your products.

Whereas I kind of like it, and I understand its purpose, I have to kind of counter it in saying that I don’t believe that it necessarily means you or me, well, stink (yeah, I changed up the word; so sue me, but I just don’t like that term) just because you have difficulties doing certain things or achieving certain results. True, there might be something lacking here and there, but that doesn’t mean you stink.

For instance, this missive: “If no one “like”s you on Facebook…” I’m not sure one thing has to do with the other. I see lots of things I like and comment on that I forget to “like”. I have many posts on this blog that people don’t end up “liking” for whatever reason. I see many things on Twitter that other people write that are very good with very few “likes”. I’m just not sure that a Facebook “like” is the end all – be all of one’s popularity or competence.

Another one is “If no one is leaving comments on your Blog…” I’ve talked about it often, as has Sire, in determining that some of the best writing we’ve seen will show up on blogs where almost no one comments, mainly because bloggers haven’t quite figured out the community part of it all. True, there are some folks that have no real sense of community that will do very well, but I tend to think that’s more of a fluke than the norm.

Finally there’s this one: “If no one is clicking on your banner ads…” Almost no one clicks on any of my banner ads, and I think that pertains to lots of other people who blog. Does that mean we all stink, or does it mean that people just aren’t clicking on them because it’s not why they’re visiting your blog, or even website, if you have a sales website, so to speak? Even if I happen to write about a product and add the link to it at that point, and no one clicks on it, does that necessarily mean I stink, or anyone else stinks, because no one clicks on it? And, by extension, does it mean I stink if no one visits any of the products I posted last week on this blog, even if none of those products apply to the audience I’m writing to? Or do I stink because I know the folks visiting this blog aren’t the market for those products and I wrote it anyway?

As I said, I really do understand the premise behind the post, which is this; “be good!” Heck, it’s probably “be outstanding”. Those who exceed will achieve better than those who are just middlin’, who don’t give full effort, who leave the public wishing for more. If you can go over the top with what you do and people see it, they’ll flock to you and your products and you’ll do well. If you don’t give your all, or you present something lackluster that people feel they were cheated on, not only might they ask for a refund but they’re going to spread the word about you and, unless you’re really big already, you’re going to suffer. That’s never good.

I hope you read Mitch’s post (yeah, I like the name :-)) because overall it’s pretty good.


Vantec DSH-200U2 Laptop Docking Station
from Tiger Direct
 

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Let’s Talk About The Word “Expert”

The word “expert” is an ugly word, though it’s not supposed to be. It’s an ugly word because when people use the word in describing themselves other people don’t like it. Some people dislike it so much that they go way out of their way to be called anything except an expert. I know this because I’m one of those people. I’ve been thinking about the word a lot lately, even before I took a gander at Scott Stratton’s book Unmarketing, which I read in about 40 minutes and that seems to stun people. No matter, it is what it is.

I’m going to make an interesting disclosure here as part of the sidebar. I kind of Mets got online back in 2004 on Ryze. It was the precursor business website that also had a lot of personal things that people could interact about to both LinkedIn and Facebook. it was pretty neat, and I still have a page on that site, but it went obsolete fairly quickly because the owners of the site really didn’t care to put much maintenance and it, probably thinking it was fine just the way it is and not seeing the juggernauts that were coming. Anyway, I wasn’t a big fan of his. I thought that he showed a lot of meanness to a lot of people and that he projected an image of not having any patience in dealing with people who may not be as smart as he thought he was at the time.

Now the one thing I like to think I am is somewhat fair, and just because I might have a negative personal feeling against someone or something does not mean I can acknowledge when something they do is pretty good. And the book Unmarketing is a pretty good book; after all I never said he wasn’t a smart guy, just probably not as smart as he thinks he is. That’s why I’m linking to the book and if someone decides they want to read it anyone buy it from me who am I to turn down a little bit of money?

Anyway back to this topic of the word “expert”. Scott takes the word on in his book and it’s kind of interesting what he says. He starts off by saying that when people call themselves experts you really need to be careful of that because it’s hard for anybody to be an expert in a field that’s constantly changing. And since that’s pretty much every business, you really have to be up on your stuff if you’re going to call yourself an expert. At the same time, that doesn’t mean that you can’t claim to have expertise in something, and by de facto having expertise in the field does help to make you an expert in someone else’s eyes. He admits to cringing when people call him an expert, yet acknowledges that there are things he has done in his life that in the eyes of others and himself does justify the terminology here and there.

He makes a good point in his absolutely right. The truth of the matter is that there are a lot of people who are experts in their field. Being an expert does not mean you know everything there is to know, but it certainly means you know a heck of a lot about it. I don’t think there’s many people who would say that Stephen Hawking is not an expert on black holes, and yet even he wrote a different book 20 years later that disputed some of the things he had said was his original book, A Brief History of Time. See, true experts aren’t stagnant on something; they’re always evolving, always learning, and hopefully always open to the possibility that something they said the first time might not still be valid years later.

Back in February I wrote a post called Expert, Specialist, Professional Or Hack? In that post, I railed against the term because of a seminar I went to where one of the speakers had advocated herself as a social media expert, yet it turned out she knew a lot less about the subject and probably 50% of the people in the room. My mind said I didn’t want to be associated with something like that, so I have avoided the term like the plague. In thinking back on it though, I’m wondering if it’s fair to myself to dampen in some fashion the knowledge that I have attained over the years and some of the different fields I’m in. At the very least, if someone else is writing up marking materials that are promoting me for a speaking engagement or some other type of presentation, should I eschew the term or just roll with the punches?

This thought isn’t only for me. I’m betting most of you feel the same way I do about this term. Yet, if we look at some of the people we follow on other blogs, I’m betting we see some of them as experts, even if they would fight it if we called them that. Pat is obviously an expert on lavender; my friend Scott is obviously an expert on photography. Everyone else has expertise in something, whether they read about it in their blog or not. Do you find yourself running away from the term, or are you willing to embrace it when necessary, especially if it’s possible it just might be true?

Y’all have read here where I said I want to be rich and famous; a big deal if you will. Well, in this world you get to be a big deal in two ways. One, you do something spectacular that everyone sees, or two, you have expertise in something and are able to get people to notice and then pay you for. And since I don’t see myself winning Wimbledon anytime soon, I guess I’d better shoot for number two.

What are your thoughts? What will you own up to being an expert on?
 

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2 Followups On Negative Customer Service Issues; eBay And AT&T

I’m big on customer service. When it’s good I’ll point it out; when it’s bad, I’m also going to talk about it. I’ve had a couple of negative things occur lately, so to speak, and I’m going to talk about the aftermath of both of them; neither has ended well.


by Piez

Let’s start with the tale that I told on this blog about buying something used on eBay. The overview is that I bought something, a Palm T/X, it didn’t work right, sent it back, guy fixed that issue, something else immediately broke, I sent it back again, and then I hadn’t received anything, ever. Guy wouldn’t return either phone calls or email; very irritated. And the thing is I knew he wasn’t going to fix it, and he wouldn’t even think about just sending me a different one.

Here’s the aftermath, since I wrote that post on 10/5. I wrote the guy 2 more times and left a phone message once more; nothing. I kind of outed the guy on Facebook by mentioning his name, but I never pursued it, as I knew it wasn’t going anywhere, and my heart really wasn’t in it to go that route. Finally last week I talked to a lawyer about my options; it was a quick down and dirty thing. He said I really didn’t have any. Sure, I’d paid m money and I had a registered note saying he got it, but if I wanted to file a small claims suit against him I’d have to go to his state, which was Michigan, and for the $151 it cost me I’d lose more money than I’d get back.

Knowing that, I figured I’d write him one more time. In that letter, I threw in that I had spoken to a lawyer, which I had, and that it was recommended that I try to work it out with him, which was kind of true. That letter got a response, and the guy said he thought he’d sent it back months ago; yeah, right! He mentioned in the letter that it bothered him that I went to a lawyer. I wrote back that all I wanted was my Palm back and asked what he’d have done if he’d been in my shoes and hadn’t received his product in almost 4 months.

That didn’t get a response, but today, finally, I did get my Palm back in the mail. The alarm still doesn’t work, but everything else does, and man, I really have found that I need my database and my calendar with me, even without the alarm. That plus it can connect to the internet if need be, plus I can use it as a reader and for a host of other things; I’ll deal with it. So I have it back, but I really still can’t say it all ended well.

The next story is new to some of you, especially if you don’t read my business blog. It involves the negative process of trying to get a replacement phone from AT&T, then finding out that we had insurance where my wife could have gotten that replacement instead, and how the processes for everything were very long and convoluted. I complained that in this day and age it shouldn’t take an hour just to set up on a new plan, or, after I learned about the insurance, to put in a claim. If you want to see more of the setup, go to that link.

Here’s the follow up. My wife and I started thinking about all of this and we got irked. It cost us $50 to replace her phone after I’d been paying insurance on both her phone and my phone for more than 2 1/2 years. At $5 a pop, that’s around $300. The replacement phone they sent her looked nice, a Samsung Propel, but when I looked it up it was a 2-year old phone that they don’t make anymore; and it was refurbished! Come on, they couldn’t send her a new phone after all these years for what I’d been paying for insurance, even after spending another $50 for it? All for the privilege of not having to sign a new 2-year plan?

And that’s not all. My wife loved the look of the phone and loves the keyboard, but it’s a power hog. We thought that the phone was brand new, and it still might be, but the battery wasn’t holding a charge. So I spent another $20 to buy a new battery from a local battery company, only to see that the new battery also won’t hold the charge. That means it’s the phone; sheesh!

At this point there’s no recourse for that, so we’re stuck with it for at least a little while. I did call and cancel the insurance, and I told the guy why. I mean, if we’d just stuck with the new phone after the rebate it would have only cost $20 and it would be working great. Turns out phone insurance is a joke, and that’s irksome. Turns out you can just keep buying new phones, even if your plan isn’t completed, as long as you’re ready to sign a new one, but you can still keep whatever you had on your old plan; that’s what I have now. So, I feel like an idiot of sorts, but what can you do, right?

So, nothing else on eBay that I can see, and I’m going to have to think about my association with AT&T after 15 years when I’m ready for a new phone and a new plan, since I figure the next time around I’m probably going to have to get a new plan anyway. Kicking and dragging into the new technology; thy name is Mitch!


Get Virtual Phone for Your Small Business! phone.com

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How To Evaluate When It’s Time To End Something

I used to write two newsletters for my business, one on employee topics, the other on health care finance topics. I started writing both of them in February of 2003, and in some fashion I’ve kept up with them over all this time.


Stress Relief by Cassidy Curtis

A few weeks ago, I finally decided it was time to end the health care newsletter. It wasn’t a decision I took lightly, yet when all was said and done I knew it was the right time to end it. There are many people who post these things saying that one should never quit and give anything up, because success is just around the corner. How one decided to measure success is up to them, but I tend to believe that there are times when you’re beating your head against a wall in some fashion, and at that point it’s time to give up the ghost, take your ball and go home.

Still, even though I say it’s up to each individual, there should be a series of steps one takes before deciding to give it all up. That includes anything you do in life, including divorce, changing jobs, having children, getting married, or rooting against any sports team I support. With that in mind, here are those steps, with my mentioning how I came to my decision.

1. Determine how much passion you still have for it. If you’re just going through the motions with something you either need to figure out how to refresh it or get away from it because it can be quite a brain drain. I pretty much lost the passion on writing about health care finance issues and topics on a regular basis. Those articles took awhile to research and write, and I kept trying to figure out what I could write about that was new and fresh, and kept failing.

2. Determine the time you spend thinking about it as opposed to working on it. When couples are getting ready to separate, they start spending less time with each other, or dreading much of the time they’re together, even if they’re able to enjoy moments together. In my case I started out writing that newsletter every six weeks, and it started pushing itself to every 4 or 5 months. That just wasn’t going to get it done.

3. Determine if you’re getting out of it what you want to get out of it. Some jobs are just stepping stones to something bigger and better, and at a certain point you might recognize that you can’t progress where you are and want something better. In my case, I reached the high number of 60 subscribers for that newsletter and then it pretty much stagnated, ranging only between 50 to 55 subscribers after awhile.

4. Determine if your efforts can support whatever actions you can put into it. Many people have children they then have problems supporting. Other couples will talk about it up front and may decide to push things back until their situation is better. In my case I had to weigh if I was generating any income out of it at all, or even any interest in what I was writing. On the first part nothing whatsoever; on the second, I actually got it into many health care magazines and newsletters around the country, some national, and I thought that might help me in some fashion, even if it generated a few calls. It didn’t, and other than a few links here and there, I didn’t feel I ever got any real benefit out of it.

5. Determine if there’s any other way you could handle things to keep it going. Years ago there was a guy on Dr. Phil who had to be convinced that a product he was still trying to market 7 years after he’d created it just wasn’t marketable, and was probably obsolete. He hadn’t even made 100 sales of his product, yet has cleared out his life savings first mass producing the things, then trying all kinds of marketing for the item. He couldn’t think of anything he hasn’t tried, and Dr. Phil convinced him it was time to move on. In my case this particular newsletter was kind of unique, in that no one else was writing anything like it, though some were writing things close to it. I didn’t have another way to market it, I wasn’t making any money off it, and it was taking my thinking and production time away from those things that were actually bringing in money.

All 5 of these factors led me to give it up. I don’t see it as a failure, though, because I have enough content there to put together a book if I so choose to do some years down the line, and those particular concepts are timeless. And I only heard from two people when I ended it, which pretty much told me almost no one was going to miss it. Now we’re all at peace, and I can be more useful in other areas, such as writing this blog.

Don’t ever take giving something up lightly, especially if you’ve put your soul into it. Realize, though, that sometimes the best way to move forward is to drop the baggage holding you back.

fitnessem Boddi Ball - Scented Stress Balls

Boddi Ball – Scented Stress Balls






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