Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Resource: Travel Sites Worth Visiting

As summer approaches, travel plans need be made. When traveling for pleasure rather than for business, I have much more flexibility, and so I rely on reviews and advice from the travel community who post their experiences, for better and worse, on the web to share.

Here are several sites worth considering:
For flight info, check out FlightStats.com -- it's got every detail about real time flight status worldwide.

Travel blogs:
  • www.Airfarewatchdog.com
  • thetravelinsider.info/blogs/ti/
  • www.Flyertalk.com
  • www.Joesentme.com
  • www.aviationplanning.com
  • JohnyJet.com
  • www.hobotraveler.com
  • www.travelblog.org
  • www.gadling.com
  • www.onlinetravelreview.com

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Weak Managers vs. Dangerous Managers -- Can You Tell the Difference?

A 2,400 person enterprise can more easily absorb a dangerous manager compared to a 24 person start-up.

Identifying, developing, and retaining talent is a vital competency for entrepreneur business leaders, yet what I've found in my coaching work with founders is that it's one of the most overlooked and poorly planned functions.

The ideal of course is to hire top people: strong technical skills, strong communication skills, strong industry background, strong intellect, strong all around.

However, the ideal candidate doesn't walk through our door everyday, so compromises are made.

That's where we've got to be very thoughtful, because the difference between a manager who is weak in a particular area and one who is dangerous to the organization makes a world of difference.

A weak manager is aware of his weakness and is often smart enough to surround himself with the systems and people with the skill sets to compensate for that weakness. A dangerous manager minimizes, disregards, or neglects his weak areas. Thus, it should not surprise anyone that decisions made by that manager in this particular area are poor.

A weak manager may be well-intentioned as she develops a new capability. A dangerous manager lacks integrity between her words and her actions, and that can spread like a cancer through a company. One executive I've met said for a year at monthly meetings that she was handing her top priorities, yet the reported numbers and results didn't support those statements. At first her excuses were entertaining and amusing. Then when challenged, she became defensive. The president had to let her go because simple decisions and simple actions were not being completed in a reasonable timeframe.

Layoffs may seem cruel, but the costs of keeping a dangerous manager around are enormous.

Look at the cost of lost productivity in the department of a dangerous manager. Look at the quality of the hiring decisions a dangerous manager makes. Look at the cost of the scutteled initiatives, loss of customer goodwill, and drained morale a dangerous manager leaves as a trail.

I've gotten pretty good at spotting the differences between a weak but improving manager vs. a dangerous manager. How about you -- what do use to tell the difference?

Monday, May 15, 2006

Internet Cookies are Crumbling

Today's NYT Business article covered the February 2006 Jupiter Research that found that 2/5 (41%) male Internet users deleted cookies at least once per week, while 1/4 (25%) of female users polled wiped them out.

This is an increase in manual cookie deletion from previous year's surveys, such as the Revenue Science one that took place in December 2005, indicating two trends:
  1. Capability awareness: As more people learn how to do this to prevent advertisers and other marketers from compiling statistics about site visits, they exercise this capability.
  2. Risk awareness: As more stories are reported about privacy breaches (from credit card/insurance companies/ etc losing sensitive data or safeguards being breached by hackers to government agencies collecting telephone records to scan for potential terrorist contacts), users are taking preventative security measures.
If your business relies on Internet cookies to evaluate the effectiveness of its web traffic or ad campaigns, perhaps it's time to look into other technologies or methodologies for your metrics.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Internet Facilitates Fans and Foes Because of the Power of the Organized

The Internet is many things to many people, including a stellar trumpet blower to call likeminded people together, as highlighted in The New York Times’ article “Groups Opposing Wal-Mart Get Help from New Web Site”.

There is no shortage of small businesses getting in line to protest Wal-Mart. But the web is allowing two groups, Wal-Mart Watch and Sprawl-Busters to pool together their resources to launch the no-holds-barred Battlemart .

Launched this year Battlemart’s goal is “to level the playing field”.
  • The website offers users:Information on grants for citizens groups
  • Reports on the economic impact of Wal-Mart
  • Names of local traffic engineers to testify at zoning board hearings
  • A guide to brand names for your citizens’ group
  • Fundraising tips (“avoid labor intensive events like bake sales and car washes”)

According to Sprawl-Busters founder Al Norman, the website is intended to make it easier for people to organize against the big box retailer.
“It’s a grab and go. You download it and take it to your Sunday night citizens groups.

Wal-Mart Watch, the host of Battlemart, has received a cash injection of hundreds of thousands of dollars from the Service Employees International Union. Wal-Mart Watch has awarded start-up grants from $500 to $3,000 to at least 10 groups such as Gresham First in Gresham, Ore, and Great Falls First in Great Falls, Mont.

Norman will work as a blogger for Battlemart to cover local campaigns to block stores and answer questions.

People will rally passionately around an idea, particularly when they believe their businesses are threatened. The Internet has proved again and again that it can bring people with mutual interests together to help build stronger businesses or help them rally together in solidarity.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Government Intrigue in Internet Privacy Grows

Internet privacy is a hot topic of debate following the Bush administration’s policy of gaining access to phone conversations and email messages in the name of national security.

Salon.com ran a story on AT&T’s cooperation with the government, including details about secured rooms used by government spies to access private e-mail messages and monitor Internet traffic in a story by Kim Zetter. Zetter noted that no proof was available to confirm that the National Security Agency was using the room for spying. But interviews with company employees featured in the interviews appear to build a case for that theory. AT&T and the government declined to comment on the article.

Employees told Salon.com that the room required retinal and fingerprint identification and that employees were informed by the company that the room was being used by a government agency.

A report in the NewScientist.com revealed that the NSA was financing research into harvesting information that people post about themselves in social networks such as MySpace.com. This data combined with banking details as well as retail and property records could be used to build comprehensive personal profiles of individuals.

The revelations in these publications give pause as to how information on seemingly innocuous social networks like MySpace is being used by the government. Is it specifically tied to the war on terror or is there a broader agenda? Companies need to ask themselves these questions and use these revelations to have a frank discussion in the business community and with the government about how information is being used and be informed of their rights. By doing so you can build a stronger and more secure business

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Time for Women to Get Even

Washington Post columnist Amy Joyce wrote an important piece on equal pay for women last week.

In the 1960's women earned 59 cents for every dollar a man earned; today, it's closer to 77 cents.

As a society, we've made gains in the last 40 years in this respect, but we're nowhere near done.

Check out this well-done wage comparison calculator on the wageproject.org site to see how your salary compares to others in your industry and geographic location. I was amazed at the disparities!

Equality begins locally. Raise awareness of this issue at your company.

Fair compensation is another very important way to have a stronger business.