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APE: Stop Double Spacing Confirmed, How to Self Publish Without Looking It & Other Reasons Why You Must Read the Latest Book From Guy Kawasaki

APE (Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur) How to Publish a Book, by Guy Kawasaki & Shawn Welch  and I had to read it!

I enjoy writing and helping to get people get out of their own way; I have given some thought to writing a book on how I help people accomplish this, but that always sounded way too daunting. Then I read Kawasaki and Welch’s book, which reads like an instruction manual on how to navigate the world of self-publishing.

Make no mistake, they do not romanticize the effort that it takes and it is a bit overwhelming at first read, but VALUABLE? ABSOLUTELY!

Why?

  • Step by step from soup to nuts on what to do, where to look, what to look out for and why.
  • Great overview of the publishing world, how it works and why it works or worked the way it did (past and present)
    • this really helped give some perspective on the process and the market in general and how it has changed
    • it validated why eBooks are the here and now, especially if they are relevant
  • The book provides so much insight and clear direction, with lots of examples and pictures, you feel like you should have paid by the hour to a consultant.
  • Even with this book in your back pocket, you still have to be a writer, and a decent one at that. good news there is a great deal of focus on writing and grammar which I was pleased with (along with additional resources beyond this book).
  • Tons of recommended resources beyond this book from publishing to marketing/broadcasting, cover art to set up. These recommendations would take you hours on google to find and research, only to wonder who was paid for what or $$$ in trial and error or consultancy fees.
  • It is humorous, direct and shoots straight therefore although sometimes you feel overwhelmed up pops a comment that makes you smile even for a moment!
  • It is $9.99 on Amazon for Kindle hardly a major investment

Overall, great book I recommend reading 1st as an overview and then in concert with your efforts in writing your book!
APE: How to Publish a Book

Guy Kawasaki is the author of APE, What the Plus!, Enchantment, and nine other books. He is also the co-founder of Alltop.com, an “online magazine rack” of popular topics on the web. Previously, he was the chief evangelist of Apple. Kawasaki has a BA from Stanford University and an MBA from UCLA as well as an honorary doctorate from Babson College.

Shawn Welch is the author of From Idea to App, iOS 5 Core Frameworks, and iOS 6 for Developers as well as the developer of several iOS apps. Previously he worked as a senior media-editor for Pearson Education. He also helped pioneer many of Pearson’s earliest efforts in iPad solutions. Welch has a BS from Kansas State University.

Social Media and Your Company, WHAT PLAN? Don’t People Buy From Me Just b/c I am on Twitter?

Social Media and Your Company, WHAT PLAN? Don’t People Buy From Me Just b/c I am on Twitter?

Chris Brogan wrote a great article on Social Media, “After the Kumbaya” questioning business owners, markets, tweeters, etc… on what their real plan is and how they are measuring results as it relates to SM. I couldn’t agree more but the problem is, most companies have a difficult enough time defining target market segments let alone defining, designing and most important MEASURING their marketing plan. It is kind of like joining an association or business group but not being active, just because you are a member doesn’t mean people know you exist.

Many “experienced” SME’s believe that this is OLD news and that there are bigger things to take on, which may be the case with large companies but I still see Facebook company pages with no interaction with their fans or minimal activity at all and blogs that post once or twice a month, the list goes on and on. What are you trying to accomplish through SM?

  • Increase brand recognition
  • Define your brand
  • Introduce new changes
  • Reach a niche market
  • Launch a new product
  • Find and recruit talent
  • Have a presence just because your competitors do???? Ok this one doesn’t work

Some companies do an incredible job, Anvil Knitwear for instance has a great Facebook page and it is apparent that they are trying to showcase their sustainability/green efforts and work with US farmers. They also have a lot of posts targeting communities and college/university age students. Pictures galore and activity on a regular basis.

What are they measuring? I am not sure? How are the measuring? I didn’t ask… yes that is step 2, we have to measure how well things are working!

Just like the days of newspaper ads, coupons/coupon codes and referrals we need to know where our customers heard about us. Having someone dedicated to SM is costing you money, even if it is you so you have to be consistent and track the dollars spent, even if it is payroll dollars. There are companies you can hire or software you can use that will track these things for you. I have not researched enough in this area to make recommendations, but I am sure they are available.

In the field of recruiting and employment branding, you cannot use your twitter or FB page just to talk about the jobs you are recruiting for… BORING! You will only be reaching a small group (those connected with you). You have to be engaging, exciting, interesting, add value and be inviting. WOW, yes, you have to be all of those things and consistently.

In B2C environments the demand is the same as above or you just another mouth shouting out, buy from me because I am no twitter… It doesn’t work! Start my mimicking your advertising plan, even if it is one you used a year ago. This way you aren’t trying to do too much at once, and you will also see vast improvement on your new tactics which will motivate you for future marketing efforts.

B2B is still similar and in each environment let me add something more, you need to be the expert and you need to add VALUE… yes big boring overused word that is never really defined. What is value as an expert? Well it varies from market to market, but you need to provide something to your followers, customers, prospects that they would have to research to find on their own. It should be something of relevance to your audience and you should be solving a problem or at least acting as a resource.

In summary, SM is no quick fix! Chris Brogan said it best, “You Can’t Eat A Hug”

Best Kept Secret on Closing a Deal: Getting People to Like You

I was doing some of my daily reading and came across a great post by Guy Kawasaki on Increasing Your Likeability and I thought to myself, well, I like people to like me so how can I get them to like me more?

In his infograph there is a great tidbit on how Zappos has a turnover rate that is over 9% lower than the national average which I hope to get to addressing in a future post because what I really want to focus on is this, “the best negotiators spend 40% of their time finding shared interests with the other party.”

40%

This is a very large number and to me makes perfect sense when I look at how I personally choose to build relationships and what my relationships look like with those I partner with whether as a vendor or customer. This is also the reason why so much business gets done on the golf course, well, maybe not but we now have data to take to our SVP or CFO as to why that expense really does have an ROI.

When you have shared interests with someone it is easier to relate to them, right? I don’t want you to run out and create a survey to send to your customers and prospects of their hobbies, I am sure they will see right through you.

How to create and understand shared interests? Much of this is sales 101:

  1. Ask open ended questions about events happening in your community such as a play, sports team or musical acts that are in town currently to see if there are shared interests.
  2. Are you involved in a Charity: Review their LinkedIn page for Board seats they hold especially involving charities is their an opportunity to share fundraising ideas?
  3. Open up and be personal: Talk about what you did over the weekend and open yourself up personally first but please use caution in the timing of this. You are not looking for a new best friend with someone you have just met, that makes everyone uncomfortable. “I was thinking of taking my family to the community theatre to see Peter Pan, have you been or heard any reviews” sounds much nicer than “I have 2 extra tickets to Peter Pan would you like to join my family and I.” Especially early on.
  4. Be sincere and genuine! No one wants to be sold to, ESPECIALLY when it comes to personal interests. If you see that they have a signed jersey from a team you despise, don’t fake it. If you find out that they love opera and you are clueless, don’t say that you love the opera, let them know that this is something you know nothing about and you are curious as to how they gained exposure to it.
  5. Write it down! The worst thing you could ever do is have a personal interchange with someone and then mix them up with someone else a few months down the road re: their favorite hobby or sports team.
  6. Know what you are good at but don’t flaunt it. If you are an expert on local restaurants, where the best deals are, specialty beers, etc… Share your knowledge but don’t be pushy. If you become a resource to your potential customer they will be reaching out to you sooner than you know, even if it is on the best red wine!
Here is the infograph from Guy Kawasaki’s post, isn’t it fabulous!

Enchantment - Increase Likability

Which is it: Feed Your Followers or They Will Die? OR Have Something Interesting to Say?

Which is it: Feed Your Followers or They Will Die? OR Have Something Interesting to Say?

I have to admit that my tweets are pretty boring. I do not do a great job of creating a buzz or even contributing to the buzz. Why? I forget, well that and I fell like the energy and work that I put in to my blogs are enough, or they should be. Jessica Merrell-Miller writes about creating the buzz as recruiters, employers, executives and sales people so that people are interested and engaged with you; one of my favs is why people follow and un-follow you. It sounds simple and common sense enough, that simply posting a job that you are looking to fill is not going to excite anyone.

Maybe I should look at myself as the Laziest Recruiter Ever (rather than job seeker) if I am not going to do all that it takes, I cannot be frustrated when I am not gaining results using certain tools like Twitter. Isn’t that the definition of insanity, doing the same thing in the same way expecting a different result? I would say it is also the definition of a know it all. I think I have all the answers and know what I am doing.

The problem with me is that I have a bit of recruiter ADD sometimes, I put my plan together and map it out, but then I get distracted. I move down a path and start seeing some momentum and keep going and then that takes me to a new path and I move down that and by the time I am ready to wrap up the day I have 4-8 windows open (none of them are shopping sites). I know that other professionals have this same issue; typically this is when there are 5 people in and out of your office door or you have sent a plan for review and it takes on another life.

With Twitter you have to remember that you have to start following and listening to what others are saying and share that with others who are following you. I know many of you are saying this is a lot of work and how can 140 characters be valuable or make an impact? Well, even if you are not a recruiter, it is important to understand what recruiters are saying about Twitter and how they use it.  Think about it, in business, you want to know what your competitors or the experts in your field are doing to stay on top, right? Then it is in your best interest whether you are corporate HR, business manager or job seeker to know what recruiters are doing to find the best talent.

The common thread and theme I have found that really resonates with me re: Twitter is to BE SOCIAL!

  • You have to work it in to your daily lives and ping.fm and other tools make it easy to use your other social media content and incorporate them all together.
  • Follow people that you find interesting, you will be that much more likely to check in, interact and be inspired
  • Add the Twitter feed to your phone, when you are waiting in line at the grocery store check in and retweet
  • Know what your specialty is and find and follow others in the field
  • Believe that you are a person of interest and share your ideas
  • Question and poll your followers with something you need an answer to (be sure it is relevant to others)
Feed your followers or they will die? Maybe, but then I have to investigate why I follow people and really it is because they have something interesting to say not because they retweet my stuff.
Image borrowed from Carlos in a 2009 article re: Twitter and if it is stupid or not and that people can’t figure it out so he created some visualizations!

It Takes a Village: Employee Engagement; Is it Important?

It Takes a Village: Employee Engagement; Is it Important?

Poor HR, employee engagement is their responsibility, yet it is definitely one of those things that cannot be done alone. Employee Engagement is one of those things that companies really struggle with when it comes to prioritizing, surveying, implementing and monitoring effectiveness; why? Well it is overwhelming. When we think about engaging our employees and our teams we want to be sure that we have all of the pieces together, we want it to be successful and repeatable and there are a lot of employees.

Let’s start with the survey, you must have a benchmark to judge from right? There are incredible companies out there that manage this process so if you have a serious problem in service, attendance, sales, operations, etc… you may want to engage someone. If you are going to attempt to build this on your own reach out to your networks, don’t try to reinvent the wheel. Your survey should ask questions like:

  • People in my work group/team work resolve conflict as soon as it arises
  • I feel that I am recognized for the work that I do
  • I feel personal satisfaction from the work that I do
  • Team meetings are informative and efficient
So you have this series of questions (and please ensure that your process allows for complete confidentiality) but what are you measuring for? Well before you implement anything let’s look at what you are trying to impact:
  • What is your current turnover rate? Can you break this out by sector?
  • What is your absenteeism? By sector?
  • What are your sales numbers? What is the % to sales goal?
  • What do your customer satisfaction surveys look like?
  • What is your quality error number?
Alright, we are starting to get some where. We need to really move towards what to do with the survey. Employee engagement is when an employee feels that they are valued and appreciated, believe in what they do/who they do it for, is intellectually committed to their work and has a sense of satisfaction from their work.
Do you, as an employer care if your employees are engaged (satisfied, feel valued, appreciated, etc…) Don’t answer that, let’s ask it another way:
Do you as an employer care if your employees close more deals, increase your customer satisfaction, grow the business, show up so you can run a line, decrease rework and quality errors?
Then the answer is plain and simple: YES, you as an employer feel that employee engagement is powerful, important and a priority in your organization. Why? Not just because it is the right thing to do, but because it impacts your bottom line.
There are studies out there, DDI did a great one, that show that the difference in an employee engaged workforce vs unengaged had the following stats:
  • 14.5% vs 4.1% turnover (Fortune 100 manufacturing company)
  • 8% vs 4.8% absenteeism
  • 91% vs 99% of their sales goals
  • 5,678 vs 52 quality errors (Fortune 100 manufacturing company)

Employee engagement starts with hiring the right people

  • managers who are innovative, empowering and motivating
  • employees who have the innate characteristics you are looking for to be engaged in the work you do and the culture you offer
  • putting the right people in the right jobs
  • getting rid of dead weight
  • removing an unsuccessful manager to another position for the betterment of the entire team
Employee engagement is one of those banks that you have to make deposits in to in order to see the rewards being withdrawn. When you provide and create a high performing organization with supportive leadership that motivates you will reap the rewards of increased customer satisfaction, profitability and a decrease in turnover. It may sound like a great deal of work, but the more people that are on board and assisting with the process the more seamless the process will be and your return on investment will be that much greater.

New In Town: Building Your Business Tip #1

So I was talking to a woman yesterday who is new to Asheville, she moved to the area because a few years ago she saw a special on Good Morning America about what a great place to live it was. When her mom passed away this past year she decided to pack up and move. Courageous for sure! She is at do it yourself, build your own network type of person but she has fears just as strong as the rest of us.

She is a massage therapist, artist and muralist who is later on in her career and can’t see herself in a salon or punching a clock. Many can relate.

Earlier this week she went in to a restaurant and sat at the bar, she says it’s a great way to meet people. Typically she gets talked to because she is alone, but not on this particular day. On this day there was a woman at the other end and she was surrounded by a swarm of people all talking and laughing and carrying on. Come to find out this woman is getting married this weekend. So what does my new “friend” do, she offers the soon to be newlywed a free 1/2 our massage as a gift to her. The pre-bride came in for her massage, had a wonderful experience and took a stack of cards and said, “I know a lot of people, so prepare to be busy!”

The morale, sometimes you have to give just a bit away to reap some big potential returns. Oh yeah, and don’t be afraid to take some risks!

Service & Sales Is There a Difference? Divided? Separate but Equal?

I know it isn’t fall yet, but this heat is starting to wear on people I have spoken with lately (not me, I say bring it on) but I thought this picture of the gorge with the water down the middle was quite fitting. I do not believe that sales and service are divided but I do know that they are different. Having worked my entire career in sales until this past year I have been thinking quite a bit about the differences in sales vs service. Just year ago, I designed and wrote a sales training manual for my former company and would have told you that there were minimal differences between the two. With my most recent company I was the Service Director that partnered with a well tenured sales person and I did notice some differences.

Some of the differences I noticed may have been due in part to my issue of having to control and know what I am selling and services from start to finish. It took me a while to understand that the sales person (we had quite a few wonderful similarities) also had the same need and desire for control. It came down to trust, could she trust me to deliver what she was out selling and could I trust her not to over sell or over commit to our customers on what we could deliver and on time with great value. All this while working together and as a team because in some ways I used to think that the role of service was to deliver and follow-up on what sales was negotiating. Looking back this way of thinking isn’t healthy for any company.

I am sure that there are differences depending on the structure of your organization but I want to attempt to see the differences in black and white. I am not sure why, I guess I am still trying to define what blend of sales and service works best for the customer while igniting passion in the staff and I am a bit on the fence.

Sales:

  • Prospecting future customers
  • Identifying existing or previous customers who are not yet capitalized
  • Soliciting via phone, email, social media, marketing campaigns
  • Creating or working in part to create these campaigns
  • Networking both in the profit and not for profit sectors to gain connections and industry knowledge
  • Most often has met the customer in person or spent a great deal of phone/face time
  • Designs packages of the product or service that fit the customers needs and budget
  • Brought in to handle major problems/issues with customer
  • Is typically responsible for renewals/re-orders
  • Working on a commissioned basis typically
  • Has a quota to meet
Service:
  • Has a specific sector of customers to service and is an expert in the sector or with that product
  • Has a schedule of when and how to follow-up with the customer
  • Handles issues and problems with product or service
  • Can take future orders of existing customers
  • Not usually responsible or equipped for up selling or cross selling
  • Has not met the customer and many times the contact the service person has differs from the sales person
  • Networking is not a typically activity or expectation of this person
  • Responsible for showing performance results to sales and executive team that will be brought to customer
  • Typically paid hourly/salary
  • Judged by service score cards, renewals, satisfaction
Getting some of this out on paper, even though much of this is generalization based on experience, was eye-opening for me in that there are definite areas for opportunity within organizations when it comes to truly making the most out of your sales and service partnerships. It also prompted me with some ideas about structure within a company and why some operations are more successful than others. The biggest impact you want to keep in mind when looking at your sales and service lay out are the impact on your team first and your customer second because the former can definitely have repercussions on the latter.
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