Monday, February 14, 2005

Quick Quiz -- What Holiday is Responsible for the Most Greeting Cards?

Is it:
  • Valentines Day
  • Mothers Day
  • Christmas
  • Fathers Day

    Hint: It's a holiday centered around someone wearing red, but it's not the one you think!

    According to Hallmark, Christmas dwarfs the second-highest, Valentines Day, by a hundredfold.

    Here's the data from Hallmark: Christmas (1.9 billion cards), Valentines Day (192 million), Mothers Day (150 million), and Fathers Day (101 million).

    Happy Valentines Day. ;-)
  • Stronger Business Quote: Frederick Wilcox

    Progress always involves risk; you can't steal second base and keep your foot on first.

    -- Frederick Wilcox

    This quote uses a baseball metaphor to illustrate the need to let go of some thing(s) before we go after others. Successful business decisions require a combination of analysis, risk, and courage.

    Wednesday, February 09, 2005

    Give Us (service) Online...And Be Quick About It!

    The Pew Internet and American Life Project said that nearly half of Internet users (44%) now manage their bank accounts online, according to a survey Pew released today.

    What makes this November 2004 survey significant is that:
  • This activity has grown faster than any other tracked since Pew has been doing this research (March 2000)
  • It shows growth in a non-entertainment category
  • It shows growth among a population that is mainstream (ages 28-39, men and women)

    OK, no surprise that those most likely to bank online come from more affluent households. (Add a few premium channels to a basic package, and a cable tv-internet access package can easily top $100 monthly.)

    Implications for your business:

    1. - Now that (technology late adopters, conservative culture) banks have opened this channel and met with success, it's time for you to re-examine what service(s) your clients might be ready for now. What ideas have been "parked" and should now be taken off the shelf?
    2. What other assumptions are you making about your current clients that bears re-evaluation?
    3. What projects under development need to become higher priority to meet this emerging market readiness (and to avoid losing clients/customers to faster competitors)?
  • Tuesday, February 08, 2005

    What Does It Take to Get Value from a Business Network Event?

    I loved Carol Hymowitz's column in today's Wall Street Journal titled, "Networking with CEO's and other VIP's Takes Homework, Confidence" for 3 reasons:

    1. It highlights the nature of networking as relationship building, rather than a "quick sale"
    2. It points out the critical importance of intention as it contributes to networking success: knowing who you want to network with and what you have to offer (i.e. what's in it for the other guy/gal)
    3. It illustrates how to get a return on the investment of an elite conference investment through new ideas, strategies, and trends.

    Now, I haven't been to Davos for the World Economic Forum and chances are good that you haven't either, but the lessons that these participants share are applicable to any business networking situation, even those that cost less than $37,000 to participate.

    What else have you found to be key to getting the most from a business networking event?

    Monday, February 07, 2005

    What's Key to Driving Economic Development in a Region?

    A lot of factors contribute to economic growth.

    However, when you have an overlap of 3 factors -- an educated workforce, investment capital, and networking opportunities -- the rate of business activity is greatly acclerated.

    Business historian and Working Solo leader Terri Lonier labels these three factors as:

    1. Human capital
    2. Financial capital
    3. Intellectual capital

    and introduced me to the term she coined to represent this confluence as the nexus of capital.

    I've found it to be a very useful term.

    Consder the following questions:
  • How is your nexus of capital doing in your company and in your community?
  • What can be done to improve these factors?
  • Who stands to gain?
  • Whose cooperation, support, and influence would be beneficial?
  • How could you start today?
  • Sunday, February 06, 2005

    Stronger Business Quotes: 3 on Stress

    "The reason why worry kills more people than work is that more more people worry than work."
    -- Robert Frost

    "I have a new philosophy. I'm only going to dread one day at a time."
    -- Charles M. Schultz

    "I don't suffer from stress -- I'm a carrier..."
    -- Scott Adams

    You've heard of the good stress that pumps us up and allows us to rise to challenges (eustress) as well as the bad stress that can hinder our thinking and actions in addition to putting undue wear and tear on the body (distress). The interesting thing about stress is how much is determined by our internal perspective compared to external circumstances.

    Friday, February 04, 2005

    Lessons from Malcolm Gladwell's Blink talk - 2/2

    When Malcolm Gladwell, author of Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking visited Philadelphia yesterday, I asked him if the ground hog's proclaimation of winter's duration based upon a quick glance at his shadow qualified as 'blink' thinking, he responded that it had not occurred to him to research that particular line of inquiry.

    Lessons from Malcolm Gladwell's Blink talk - 1/2

    I took advanage of the opportunity to participate in a "meet the author" event at the Philadelphia Free Library when it hosted Malcolm Gladwell.

    Here are four lessons I learned from his presentation:

    1. People are unaware of our biases. We all have blind spots. Becoming aware of them on your own is like a fish pondering a bicycle ride.
    2. Snap judgements happen fast. This isn't just a clever witicism. Consider the study where two groups evaluated the effectiveness of a college instructor. Group A evaluated the professor at the end of the term. Group B in one version only spent an hour listening to single lecture. Turns out the evaluations between the groups were quite similar. Now, the variations become interesting: Group B only gets a 1 hour video of the instructor -- essentially same evaluations; when Group B only got 10 minutes of video, it turned in essentially the same evals; when Group B got only 10 seconds of the lecture, yes, essential the same evaluation; and then, finally, when the sound was removed and only 10 seconds of a visual was presented, the same essential evals were scored. Wow!
    3. Sometimes it's important to exclude data to make better evaluations. Gladwell is a big fan of screens to remove visual data because of the overwhelming bias it creates. When asked how he would structure presidential campaigns to remove extraneous influences, he said he'd want the candidates to be hidden from public view for the year prior to elections, and only issue written or accent-neutralized audio speeches.
    4. Changing the environment changes solves the problem now! Admitting bias is hard; removing its influence by changing the environment is considerably easier and more expedient.

    Here's a link to his worthwhile book:

    Thursday, February 03, 2005

    Weaknesses Can't Be Hidden (Forever)

    Valerie, a strong 11 year old girl at our club who practices with the strongest men players because her strokes are so good, stopped playing tonight in an uncharacteristically abrupt way. We wondered if she was injured. "No," she said, "Patty just came on the court and I didn't want her to see that I was having trouble with short balls tonight."

    I find the underlying lessons between business coaching and tennis coaching highly transferrable, so I offer the following three points as conversation starters with your trusted advisor/coach:
  • It's powerful to be forthright about what makes you uncomfortable. Being direct is an important communication skill for all business leaders and entrepreneurs. What's an example of how you were concise and direct today?

  • When you're feeling low on reserves, you're less likely to take risks, whether perceived or actual. The solution to feeling low on reserves -- whether they're of confidence, endurance, or cash flow -- is to build them up. Identify a resource (either personal or in your business) that is vital and create a super reserve of it. That's right, not just a day or a week's supply, but 3-6 months. What a difference that will make!

  • Eventually, weaknesses have to be addressed. They won't go away on their own, and your competition will find a way to exploit them sooner or later. You might as well address them on your own terms and at your own pace while you have that luxury. Valerie needed to work on her short game, and she was going to do it when she felt less vulnerable and more in a learning mindset. She would have a few weeks to schedule time to do so before her next tournament. What is a weakness that you're aware of in your business that deserves your attention and resources now, before it becomes even more of a liability down the road?