Thursday, September 30, 2010


Quote from Christopher - Filed for possible application: "What???? You got a B??? You're not a Bsian!!! You're an Asian. What is the matter with you???"

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Make your point faster

In my re-post series...

Make your point faster and better. Some of the points I liked

1. Articulate ideas in plain language.
The less jargon you use, the more engaging you become. 
Watch those long and cumbersome sentences. 
Don’t spew one idea after another. 
Keep your message lean, low-carb and free of nonessential words. 

2. Hanger words
Use “vocal hangers.” These conversational hooks attract people’s attention by building excitement around what you’re going to say next. Examples include: The secret is… Here's the deal… Let me ask ya this… Here’s the best part… Think of it this way… Yes, and here’s why… Here’s my suggestion… And here’s the difference… The question I always ask myself is… I have one observation and one question — are you ready?

The secret to using vocal hangers is to pause ever so slightly before you deliver the goods. This heightens the level of anticipation and energy into the conversation. What’s more, the more you use them, the more you’ll internalize them. The more you internalize them, the more natural they will sound. The more natural they sound, the more they will become part of your lexicon. The more they become part of your lexicon; the more people will begin to expect them. And the more people begin to expect them, the more they will pay attention when they hear them.

3. Stories trump resumes.
Lesson learned: Facts are retained – stories are retold.Which one are you using to prove your point?

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Delivering bad news

Seen on a linkedin board by Jenny Feng. Absolutely true.

"Inevitably, at some point in our careers, we have to be the bearer of bad news to our customers (or even our manager). It happens to everyone, but the key here is how to deliver it without causing a permanent rupture. offers these recommendations to handle it:
1. Lay it out quickly: Get the news out in a timely manner to the people who need to know it. Don’t hide the facts or exaggerate anything.
2. Have a plan of action: As soon as the bad news has been conveyed, disclose how you plan to address it. Show that you have a good grip on things and how you will rescue the situation.
3. Leverage the relationship: Talk about how your relationship with the person being given the bad news (or between your companies) has been strong and with their support you will resurrect it despite the current setback. Ask them for advice based on their experience in similar situations."

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The future is not Unlimited?

Interesting - Comcast is now (maybe they have been for a while) tracking my usage, and has a 250GB limit. According to them, I used 8GB in feb, 15 GB in March, and 50GB in April. April was when my parents were visiting and took full advantage of Netflix streaming.

All this just makes me wonder -
- Why do I feel uncomfortable about having my usage limited - even if I am not close to reaching the limit?
    Probably because I fully expect internet usage to really take off as we have more and more devices that are connected and provide useful services over the net. At home, both our phones, our TV, blu-ray player, xbox and of course laptops are already connected to the net...
- How many personal users actually go past the 250GB limit???
     That would be an interesting piece of data. Are there enough of these already that Comcast is forced to do this? Or is this just the ISPs preparing for the future? Which leads me to..
- What on earth happened to "Unlimited"??
     Even the iPad is not coming out with an unlimited plan... I am guessing that people are learning (the wrong?) lessons from the at&t iPhone experience...

Monday, May 10, 2010

local seo - resources

From Tony Emerson (Apogee results) and Laura Alter (Austin Internet marketing meetup.)


Yahoo patent reveals how they detect local intent in users' searches:

April 2010 Emarketer Articles regarding Local Search

Creating Geositemaps

SEO by the Sea - Local Search Glossary

10 Likely Elements of Google's Local Search Algorithm

How to Create Effective Local Business Landing Pages

David Mihm's Survey of Local Rankings Factors (May 26, 2009)

SEOmoz - finding citations from competitors (how to) - Usability and Local Factors (mainly postulation)

hCard micro formatting

Distribution List of Universal Business Listings (you can pay these guys $30 per submission or just go down the list and fill out everything that applies)

Places to which you should definitely submit your listing, other than Google, Yahoo, and Bing

Google Tools for Success for Small Businesses 

Chemicals in Food Can Make You Fat

Interesting article makes a major case for buying organic... especially fruits and canned stuff sounds like...

In your fridge: pesticides and PCBs
The Dirty Dozen: Non organic peaches, apples, sweet bell peppers, celery, nectarines, strawberries, cherries, kale, lettuce, imported grapes, carrots, pears
• Unsustainable fish: farm-raised salmon
• Corn/soy-fed beef and chicken

In your pantry: plastic compounds (in particular BPA)
• Lining of canned foods such as canned tuna, soup, beans and tomatoes
• Lining of canned beverages such as energy drinks, baby formula
• Sports drink bottles

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

4 Grammer pitfalls to avoid

Most of these should be obvious, but I see a surprising number of people make at least a few of these mistakes. I know I am guilty of the last one!

Original post -

1. Multiple Versions of Words

Since these words sound exactly the same, everyone has made these mistakes while writing, and spell-check is no help since they are proper words. When you go back to edit, pay special attention to which version of the word you are using.
  • There, Their and They’re: “There” refers to a place. “Their” is the possessive of “they.” “They’re” is a contraction of “they” and “are.”
  • Then and Than: “Then” is used to show chronology. (We went to lunch, then to the movies.) “Than” is used to show comparison. (The rabbit is faster than the turtle.)
  • Too, To and Two: “Too” means in addition or as well. (Jim is coming, too.) “To” is a preposition that indicates approach and arrival, motion made in the direction of a place or thing. “Two” is the written version of the number 2.
  • Here and Hear: “Here” refers to a place. (I am here.) “Hear” refers to the act of listening. (I can hear the music.)
  • Its and It’s: “Its” is used as the possessive of it. “It’s” is a contraction of it and is.
  • Except and Accept: “Except” means to exclude. (Everyone except Terry can come.) “Accept” means to receive. (I accepted his invitation.)
  • Affect and Effect: “Affect” means to influence. (The layoff affected his mood.) “Effect” refers to a result. (The effect of drinking on the liver is damaging.)

2. Bad Grammar

Regardless of what career path you’re on, basic grammar is expected of every job candidate. Don’t get caught in the trap of these simple grammar mistakes.
  • Either/or and neither/nor: Remember to always use the parallel conjunction when using either or neither. (e.g. Neither Joe nor Paul are going. Either John or Michael can be a substitute.)
  • Run-on sentences: Two independent thoughts should be separated by a period, semicolon or conjunction. No exceptions.
  • Dangling participles: Make sure that it is clear which noun the phrase is supposed to modify. (Wrong: After crying for hours, the mechanical swing finally put the baby to sleep. Correct: The baby was crying for hours before the swing put her to sleep.)
  • Would’ve, could’ve, should’ve: Don’t use “of” in place of the contraction ‘ve. (e.g. should of.) Just remember each of these is a contraction of the word have.
  • Compound modifiers: Use a hyphen when compound modifiers proceed a noun. (e.g. fast-paced curriculum) Do not use a hyphen for compound modifiers after the noun or following an adverb.
  • A lot: A lot is two words. Every time.
  • Split infinitives: This is one of the most common grammatical mistakes. Do not insert adverbs in between “to” and the verb. (Wrong: to swiftly run. Correct: to run swiftly.)

3. Changing Tenses

Switching tenses in the middle of a resume or cover letter can be confusing to the reader. But it is one of the most confusing grammar situations when dealing with resumes and cover letters. Since you are (usually) still employed at your current job, you use the present tense to describe it, but switch to the past tense to describe former jobs. Here are a few common tips to help deal with tense-switching situations.
  • Use the present tense when referring to accomplishments that are ongoing.
  • Use the past tense (ending in –ed) when referring to accomplishments that you have completed.
  • Never change tenses in the middle of a sentence. Break the idea into smaller sentences if needed.
  • Avoid starting sentences with –ing verbs.
  • Avoid perfect and progressive tenses when talking about accomplishments. Keep it simple.

4. Unnecessary Phrases

You only have so much room to sell yourself in a resume or cover letter, so why clutter it with unnecessary phrases. Many use these phrases to emphasize their point, but in the end, it just complicates the sentence. Avoid these commonly-used extraneous phrases.
  • It goes without saying: If it goes without saying, there is no point in saying it.
  • I will say this: You are already saying it, there is no need to announce that fact.
  • Exactly the same: If two things are the same, they are already exactly the same.
  • Each and every: Every doesn’t add anything to this phrase, just use each.
  • As a matter of fact: If you are stating a fact, you don’t need this phrase.
  • As far as I’m concerned: If you are stating your opinion, you don’t need to preface it with this phrase. It will speak for itself.
  • For the most part: If you are making a generalized statement, most is already implied.
  • In a manner of speaking: This phrase is useless since anything you write is a manner of speaking.
  • What I mean to say is: If you have properly stated your case, there should be no reason to point out the meaning of your writing.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Asking questions

Focussed on "managers" but relevant to most conversations...

Be curious
Be open-ended
Be engaged
Dig deeper

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Some things that should always be factored into product planning

Great article at zigzagmarketing 

These things were my focus recently in re-jiggering some of our investments our products, so thought it was worth posting... 

Top 3 Culprits of Under-Performing Products

1.  Vague Definition of Target Customers
When products try to be all things to all types of customers, the result is usually a mediocre fit for most. 

The Solution:   Prioritize your product investments on the customer types most conducive to revenue/market share growth and deliver closed loop solutions that have the most significant impact on their top or bottom line.  You'll be rewarded with steady revenue increases.

2.  Inadequate Definitions of WHAT, WHY & HOW
If your products have lots of features that are rarely used by most customers, you've probably delivered features without thoroughly understanding the context in which they're used (WHAT are customers doing?  WHY are they doing it?  HOW should it be done?).

The Solution: Get out of the building more often and learn the business of your customers.  Make their business part of your culture.  Ask WHY as it relates to everything and you'll build fewer features that have greater value to more customers.

3.  Irrelevant Value Propositions 
There's a one-to-one correlation between points 1 & 2 above and your sales and marketing effectiveness.  If the dots aren't connected, your value propositions will be laced with product features and fluffy benefit statements that mean nothing to your buyers.  Connect the dots well and your value propositions become very sticky.

The Solution:  Define customer needs without regard to your products first, then add product specifications as the means for creating the solution.  The reasons for building new products and features are the same reasons buyers pay for them.  

Monday, January 18, 2010

Working better with sales

1.  Stand out at the Sales meeting.  Don’t just do another product demo, ask for feedback, and sit down – this is a guaranteed nap-inducer! (No wonder they all head to the bar after a long day of meetings!)  Instead, liven things up with an Innovation Game or two.  gather input on feature priorities by playing Buy a Feature or Speed Boat.  Tap their creativity with Product Box or Give Them A Hot Tub.  If you don’t have time to organize Games, call us – Mara and I are Certified Facilitators for this powerful and fun technique.
2.  Remove a “choke point” in the Buying Cycle.  You havemapped your product’s buying cycle, right?  If not, take advantage of the Sales meeting to interview some key sales people and begin that process.  They’ll tell you where buyers get stuck; where the delays in the process occur.  Then work with Marketing Communications to address buyer concerns with the right tactics:  a set of competitive talking points, a white paper explaining the product advantages, a case study that details a customer’s success… whatever it takes.  This isn’t a one-time shot.  Keep this conversation going with your Sales team and you’ll be a hero!
3.  Perform win/loss analysis.  This practice delivers powerful insights in several ways.  First, you get to talk with customers to find out why they really bought, and leverage that in your marketing.  Was it really the sales rep’s sparkling personality?  Or was it a specific capability that competitors can’t match?  Second, you get to talk with buyers who didn’t choose your product to find out why – essential information for segmenting your market and expanding your market share.  Third, you get to find out more about the buying cycle and how well your sales team executed, so you can work to remove more of the choke points we talked about above.  We think that win/loss analysis should be outsourced to an objective third party.  Why?  The results aren’t subject to any group’s tendency to skew the result in support a specific point of view.