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Looking Backwards and Forwards

It’s my birthday. Yes, 62 years ago today, I made my way onto this floating orb. I thought I’d take today to look over the last year’s blog posts to see and reflect upon what I wrote about the past 12 months.

First think I noticed is that I was really cranky for many months. I apologize. I was sick too many months and it sure reflected itself in my topics and too frequent snarkiness. Thanks for putting up with me. I’m all better now.

I wrote more than a few politically charged rants and opinions about the quality of our elected officials. There were stories about Big Pharma and Big Ag that I hoped made you think about our country’s policies towards both of those powerful forces and how they impact all of us every single day.

There were quite a few stories about bad customer service along with some ideas of how to extend extraordinary service to your customers. I hope they helped.

I had about six podcasts but that isn’t nearly enough. I already have seven new ones scheduled to be recorded over the next few weeks and I’m about to extend offers to at least ten other guests who I think you will find interesting.

Expect more stories too. You seem to really enjoy when I or my guests write or record stories. There will also be a lot more videos and some of them will be stories.

I’ll continue to write about creativity and leadership but I think you’ll find that more and more I will be focusing on sales. You may have already noticed that. Helping you to be a better salesperson has the most potential, I believe, for helping all of us at a time of great economic upheaval and yet a time of tremendous potential for being able to live your dreams, do productive work, and create your own work of art.

What else would you like to see me write or talk about the next twelve months?

How can I help you?

Here is something you can do for me. As you may already know, I’m working on my next book following up Listen First – Sell Later and I’m already well into it. It has twenty-plus chapters and will be about 50,000 words by the time it is edited. It will be a sales book (no surprise there) and I’ll be focusing on small businesses and their particular sales challenges.

Want to be part of the book? I’m looking for a few people who have started their own businesses or have worked in sales for small businesses and have a story to tell about their journey. I’m especially interested in hearing from those of you who started your own company without much of a clue about sales only to learn you had no alternative but to learn how to sell.

What are some of the things you learned and triumphed over?

If you’re interested, please email me at bob at bob poole dot com or you can also leave a few sentences about your experiences in the comments section.

Photo compliments of barest_smidgen

Humpty Dumpty Wasn’t Weird


Humpty Dumpty fell and all the king’s horses and men couldn’t put him back together again.

This nursery rhyme popped into my weird mind as I read Seth Godin’s latest book, “We Are All Weird.” In the book Seth says that the one-size-fits-all mass market is dead. In my mind that’s Humpty – a bloated way of doing businesses that has crashed to the ground and can’t be put back together no matter how much the mass marketers would like to make it that way again.

Seth makes a case for focusing your sales on the weird and not the masses. In order to understand this better here are two of my examples. Apple Pie and Chevrolet. How much more mass market can you get but those two American icons.

Here’s how you sell those two things to the weird. Instead of selling a plain old apple pie you can get anyplace, you sell apple pie made with organic Granny Smiths grown in your own garden with organic nutrients. The pie contains honey that came from the hives in the apple orchard that are used to pollinate the trees. The flour is milled from organically grown wheat at the local cooperative mill powered by a stream as it was done for centuries. And, with every pie purchase one dollar is donated to the mill and the customer gets a free badge to wear showing that they support locally made and grown, organic, fruit and grains.

And, the Chevrolets you sell are the 1965-1970 Chevy Muscle Cars like the Camaro, Bel Air, Nova SS Convertible, Chevelle SS and the Corvette. That’s it. You don’t sell 1964 or 1971 models. And, you don’t sell GTO’s or Barracudas or any of the other muscle cars from that time period. You sell to the weird.

This book will change how you look at business now and for many years going forward. People have more interests and choices and they have the money to choose what they want to buy – not what you want to sell them.

You have a choice now. You can buy this book and learn and become one of the weird selling to the weird.

Or, you can keep trying to put Humpty back together again.

By the way, the hard copy version of this book is a limited edition that will sell out by my estimate sometime this weekend. If you want one, get it now.

This Changes Everything

“This changes everything.” I said out loud even though I was alone in my living room.

I limited my trips to New York City to three days or less in 2001. I’d usually go up on Tuesday, Wednesday, and sometimes Thursday. That Tuesday I decided to work from home instead of taking the train to Jersey City where I would have boarded the PATH to my stop under the World Trade Center.

I said it out loud once again. “This is going to change everything.” I remember tears streaming down my face as I thought about the loss of life and the bravery of those I saw running towards the devastation.

It has changed too many things. We went to Afghanistan looking for Osama Bin Laden and ten years later the cost of the wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan are estimated at over 225,000 killed and almost $4 trillion dollars spent by the United States alone.

An estimated 31,000 men and women in uniform and military contractors have died, including the military forces aligned with the U.S. and also including Afghan and Iraqi security forces allied with us.

The wars have been financed by borrowing, something rarely mentioned by politicians or the media. And, the interest on that money is huge. Almost $200 billion in just interest alone has already been paid and another $1 trillion could accrue through 2020. Care for our veterans of these two wars will likely total between $600-$950 billion.

The Patriot Act has taken away or reduced many of our freedoms. We live in fear to much of the time and most often when it is convenient for bureaucrats and politicians to remind us.

In January 2002, I spent a week in New York photographing both residents and visitors. I visited one of the fire companies that lost several of their fellow firemen and I marveled at their ability to keep doing their jobs. As I left their fire station to walk to my next destination, I kept getting lost because for several years I had taught myself to find my way by aligning with the two massive towers that now were invisible to my eyes.

The tears started flowing so I sat on a bench and shut my eyes. It was only then with my eyes closed that I could begin to clearly see what all of us had already lost.

Now They Get The Picture!

Update on the Avid Technologies Customer Service Fiasco

I really should do this update in a video. That would be appropriate. For those of you who just tuned in, I suggest reading these blog posts. Your Call Is Important to Us – Part 1 and Part 2

When we last talked about Avid, I was waiting to hear from technical customer support that had been missing for days and from Adam the Social Strategy Director from corporate. I was sure I’d hear from Adam as he gave me his mobile number and said call him if I don’t get this problem solved. I even said in the last blog that he appeared to be a good guy.

Maybe he is a good guy but he didn’t follow up.
He didn’t answer my emails.
He didn’t return my phone calls.
So much for Avid social strategy and corporate communications.

On to Avid technical support.

The day after I got the email from Avid saying my problem had been deemed solved since they had not heard from me in five days even though it was me who was still waiting for them; I got a phone call from Norman in support. I was unable to answer the phone though as he called my office at 10:30PM so either he didn’t calculate for the time difference between his part of the world and mine or he really didn’t want to talk to me.

The next day I got an email stating that Norman had tried my video file on all versions of the software I said I had used and it was not possible to display a widescreen image. My response was:

“Did you take a look at the YouTube link I sent you of the exact same guy shot with the same camera at the same settings? You’ll see it is in widescreen. Ultimate 14 let me set a preference for each clip as to whether I wanted 16×9 or 4×3. Please take just a second to look at it so you can see for yourself and then tell me it is impossible for me to have created this on your software.”

This, by the way, is the exact same thing I had been saying since 14 days earlier.

Then I got an idea and sent them an email suggesting I set a GoToMeeting up with them so they can see me actually do what they say can’t be done on their own machine. They can let me drive the mouse and I can show them how Ultimate 14 and earlier versions do exactly what I say they do. All I wanted all along was an answer as to why I can’t do it on the latest and greatest version that I just paid to upgrade!

Apparently that finally got their attention. Here is the email word-for-word I got from Norman in return.

Entered By : Norman
Entered on : 8/18/2011 3:20 PM

Hi Bob,

I hope you receive my email, here is what I sent you yesterday and it was sent for sure.

“I think I know now what you exactly mean. In Studio 14, you can right-click to your video on your album and change the aspect ration from 4:3 to 16:9 so that when you drop it down to the timeline it will be widescreen. Unfortunately we don’t have it on Avid Studio. You see, Avid Studio is a bit different with Studio 14 but we got that documented and hopefully they can do something about it. But for now, I apologize but we can’t change it in Avid Studio.

Please let me know your thoughts.”

Best regards,
Norman,
Avid

So, fifteen days from when I asked a simple question of support and –

  • after being told that I could not do what I said I did
  • after being told they would get back to me by a certain date but didn’t
  • after being told they’d follow up – but didn’t
  • I got the answer that “You have been correct all along and we didn’t put that feature into the latest release but we’ll let the developers know about it and see if they can do something.”

So now what do I do about this situation? Some of my fellow members of Seth Godin’s Triiibes noodled that question for a few minutes last week. (We didn’t want to spend much time on it.) We decided the best course of action was to send the emails and posts to Gary G. Greenfield Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer and then just let go of it. I’m interested in what he’ll have to say because I found this quote in the July 2011 report to stockholders.

“While Q2 was difficult, I believe our business is sound, said Gary Greenfield, chairman and CEO at Avid. ―Our customer focus is unwavering and I believe we’ll succeed by continuing to listen to them and responding with innovative, open tools to help video and audio professionals and enthusiasts around the world create great content they can distribute anywhere, anytime.

So, I’m going to send him these blog posts and email copies and see if he really does listen and responds.

What would you do when something like this happens?

Cranky

I have to tell you, I’m feeling a wee bit cranky today. Maybe I need to stop paying attention to the news. It could be a result of the relentless heat here in Bucks County. Or, maybe I just feel like being cranky. You tell me.

What is it with people who feel the need to post private thoughts and information on Facebook? Things like:

  • My (insert relative) is having prostate surgery in the morning.
  • Feeling worthless today.
  • I might have just broken my (insert bone here).
  • I think I might have really screwed up this time.
  • You won’t believe how drunk I got last night.

I could go on but I’ll spare you. I thought maybe this kind of behavior was only from the young’uns who seem to have a constant craving for attention. But, no, the behavior doesn’t seem age specific.

Here’s an idea. If you really need this much attention then go buy a bunch of mirrors and hang them where you’ll always have one handy. Hopefully, that will solve your craving for attention.

We are a bunch of fools being misdirected by the politicians from the things they don’t want us to think about. Things like wars, torture, unemployment, cost of food, health care, social security, and the number one priority in the hearts and minds of all politicians – getting reelected.

Don’t you just love clicking on a website only to have an advertisement complete with blaring sound automatically start playing? Ad agencies and companies creating these stupid autos just don’t get how offended people feel when this happens. They click off the site. Immediately.

But, here is what I wonder. Do the morons who convince companies that this is good advertising count that momentary visit as a “view?” I bet they do while hiding just how fast we all disappear from the person paying the freight.

If there is a heaven then there is a very special place reserved for people who rescue and work with the homeless. Here is one way you can help.

I couldn’t help but think of the challenges people face living on the street as I heard all the reasons why the Republicans find the idea of a tax increase (at least for the wealthy) an anathema.  It brought to mind the words of our last president spoken at a dinner for his supporters.

“This is an impressive crowd — the haves and the have-mores.”

And, Jim, before you go sending me another flaming email about my concern for the needy; you need to think about this. Plenty in that crowd of “haves and have-mores” didn’t do a damn thing to deserve their status, wealth, and power other than preserving what was bequeathed to them.

And, many of the homeless on the streets didn’t do anything to deserve their fate either.

Told you I was feeling cranky today.

 

Images compliments of ihave3kids, spike55151, iheartfishtown and Eric Rice.

Things I’ve Been Thinking About

Lizard Brain
I have always taught my sales coaching and training clients that while experience is a wonderful teacher quite often other peoples’ experiences are even better.  They can save you a lot of time, money, heartache, etc. But with an exponential proliferation of opinions on all things (including mine) now available with a mouse click; I am concerned that people are substituting other peoples’ opinions for other peoples’ experiences. One is forged like a katana sword. The other is a personal viewpoint that may very well not be grounded in anyone’s reality.

With over 14 million Americans unemployed and many underemployed, I wonder why they aren’t screaming and marching in the streets. What’s different now from years past when people finally said, “Enough is enough!” and protested in huge numbers. It has never been easier to organize given all the social networking tools that we have today. And, yet, the unemployed are strangely quiet.  Have they given up as some pundits believe or are they waiting for things to turnaround? What’s your take?

Have you shopped for a mattress lately? The sales process is similar to how car dealers sold most of the last half of the 20th century. Cars were sold using a track system where customers were manipulated and passed from sales person, to sales manager, to finance and so on. Most customers came away feeling like buying a car was one of the most stress-filled and personally demeaning experiences possible. Sadly some car dealerships still use this system.  But it appears that all companies selling mattresses use something similar these days. Why is there always pressure to buy today when shopping for a mattress? And, why are there different prices and deals for different customers on the same day in the same stores? It’s all bogus! I suspect it has a lot to do with the fact that the stores have their salespeople on straight commission. I understand we spend more of our lives in bed than our cars but it should not have to be the major, stress-producing decision mattress sellers make it. The first company that makes purchasing a mattress a pleasure is going to take over the market.

I was curious what would happen in the way of SPAM if I started using a different email address for most of my online activities. I found out very quickly. SPAM to that address went up at least 1000% I hope if hell exists that there is a very warm place reserved for spammers.

I wonder why so often the same politicians who sign Right to Life pledges are also the first ones to call for spending cuts to social programs and education once those children are born. Are they no longer of any value to them? Or is it they are no longer of any value politically to them. I believe it is the latter.

I’d like to move more of my coaching and education services to online video conferences. It makes sense from a time and productivity viewpoint for both my clients and me. But, I wonder about the nuances of body language that I’d lose with a typical Skype setup. On the other hand, I get an even closer look at facial expressions. And, since I use so many stories to teach, I wonder if they will still elicit the same attention and emotion that they do in-person. Who wants to test it out with me?

Reality shows are something I just don’t grok. On the other hand, I love catching the best reality shows in the universe from time-to-time. They are on YouTube. Friends send me videos of dancing dogs, wedding mishaps, bat-shit crazy politicians, insane musical performances, and the occasional ninja or zombie fighter. I never want for reality shows with YouTube around.

Have you made friends online that you can’t wait to meet in person? I’ve got a least a couple of dozen and my ideal way of meeting them would be to have all of them in the same place at the same time. I’d love to participate in and observe that party. Actually, I’d love to record all the conversations and stories. What a trip it would be. Can I make it happen? Absolutely! Get ready.

I have heard people say to friends and acquaintances “At least you have your health, “when hearing about something bad that has happened to them. I always thought it was a dumb thing to say because how did the person know the other person really “has their health?” They might be chronically ill and never show it. It happened to me over the last year or so and while I tried not to show how badly I was feeling; the last thing I wanted to hear was someone saying something stupid about my health. The good news is I’m feeling much better. And, I really appreciated the thoughts and actions of friends who knew and let me know they cared.

My Mother is On Facebook but not Twitter

Today is my Mom’s birthday. She’s 83 years young and still keeping me in line as she reminded me on a recent visit home. She’s compute literate, uses Facebook, email, Google and more technology than many of my peers. She has dismissed Twitter as being of any value to her. And she still reads a dozen or more books every month. I’m the oldest child out of five and all of us are constantly reading. We owe that to Mom.

We didn’t have a lot of money growing up but we did have plenty of books and we shared them with each other. Both her and my father loved to read and their example molded all five of us kids. Mom made also sure she took us to the library every week from the time we were preschool until we could get there on our own. Today those five kids include two sisters who are PhD professors, a sister running a successful bank, and my brother who is tops in his field of medical services management. You think that love of reading might have something to do with that?

Give the kids in your life one of the greatest gifts you could ever give them. Read to them when they are little and then show them how they can read their own books. Take them into a children’s bookstore as often as possible and let them explore. Get them a library card. And, if can afford it an e-reader. Your life and the child’s will be the better if you do.

Thank you, Mom, and Happy Birthday!

 

PS – Rylie is my granddaughter and one of three of Mom’s great grandkids with one more due any day!

A Picture Is Worth More Than Words

Morfo and Bob PooleThe first time I caught a fish all by myself without an adult around to guide me it was a sunfish out of a tiny farm pond when I was about 6 years old. I snuck away with a bamboo rod, one hook and some worms I dug up for bait. It was a moment in time that I remember but as the years go by the memory gets less clear. The farm pond is gone now as is the farm. I wish I had a photo of that fish and the pond. It’s when I think about these kinds of moments that I find myself excited about the way photography and cameras have evolved.

Can you imagine? You can carry a camera that will fit in your pocket Olympus FE-4020 14 MP Digital Camera that allows you to create beautiful, color photos and view them instantly without chemicals or even paper. My 5 year old grandson already uses his mom’s cell phone to take photos and even videos. She’s always surprised to find them in the memory. And, some of them have amazing composition. If I want to take a photo of my grandkids first fish I can even take it while it is still underwater with something like the Sponge Bob underwater digital camera. The camera sells for under $25. Amazing!

As marketers and business owners, I think we should be taking advantage of the using still and video photography more often and in different ways. Here are some ideas you might want to try out.

1.  At the next client event you host pass out a bunch of one-time use cameras to attendees. I’d put a label on the camera with a number and keep track of who has the camera and ask them to return it to a designated person before leaving. You can get a camera that will capture good images in low light situations for less than $10 each Kodak Max HQ 35mm Single Use Camera. When you get them developed get both prints and a digital CD made of them images and then share them with the attendees. Put the photos on your website, in your newsletter, and have some fun with them.

2.  Try to use an image in every blog post. As a former professional photographer I know I should be following this advice. Senior Drug DealsPeople are more likely to read the post if you have an image that captures their attention. We also use original comics created by Martin Whitmore for both my site and some of my clients. It is a fact that the blog posts with the comics have the highest ratings and the highest on-site time. Images work to retain and increase the number of readers.

3.  Start using video in your blog. Don’t wait for the “right moment.” If you don’t know how to capture, edit and upload the video then give me a call or drop me a note. We’ll send you a free eBook that is being written right now and if you want more hands-on instruction we can do it with you online using Skype and GoToMeeting. You have no excuse not to be using video today. YouTube is the number two search engine and many of us who use video in our blogs will tell you that we get more leads from them than any other method. You can get a video camera that will do everything you will most likely need like the Kodak Zi8 Pocket Video Camera (Black)

4.  Check out what kinds of apps are available for you in the world of photography. There are some fascinating ones that are sure to also fascinate your readers. I use an iPhone and iPad and I have the following apps that I love. The photo at the top of this post is yours truly that was created in seconds using Morfo. You can also then animate the image and have it dance to music. It’s mind blowing. Put it on an iPad and take it to a client party or picnic (you do have those don’t you?) and have some fun. People will get in line to use it. Same thing does for PhotoBooth which produces a strip of photos like an old-time photo booth.

5.  Carry a camera with you at all times and learn how to use it quickly. I can’t stress this enough. When I was studying photography one of the masters, Jay Maisel, told me that if you want to capture wonderful images to have a camera with you at all times. And, he meant at all times. Check out some of his images. By always being prepared to capture a photo you’ll be able to put together your own library of images that you can use in your blog, newsletter and presentations and you won’t have to rely on stock which can be both bad and expensive. I also get some images to use from Flickr but you’ll have to learn how to search for those with a Creative Commons Copyright. You can learn more by clicking here.

That’s it for today. Don’t forget to drop me an email if you want to be put on the list for the free eBook on Capturing, Editing, and Uploading Video.