After hosting my Spring Idea Garage Sale, and realizing there was still some more stuff sitting around my bookmarks folder, I’m back with a final installment of the Carnival of the Leftovers. Like a box of kittens, these ideas and links are Free for a Good Home:
If you want to build your idea, share it. If you’re afraid someone will steal it, then how will you sell it? If a copycat could take you out, then nothing can turn your idea into a gravy train.
I’ve had several customer service jobs. I’ve recently come to realize that the customers aren’t stupid. It may seem like a disproportionate chunk of the people you see every day are complete idiots, but the fact is that they’ve got more going on in their lives than, say, renting a movie. So if they don’t know the late fee policy at your rental store, it’s because they haven’t spent the time to learn the policy, not because they are too stupid to understand it.
When rinsing your toothbrush, flick the bristles facing down towards the sink rather than facing up towards the mirror. You will never have to clean the toothpaste off the mirror again.
Today at noon, however, Yahoo got serious about Hack Days by making it Yahoo-wide. Every Yahoo engineer is invited to participate, and other employees are joining in as well. Anyone with an idea is encouraged to gather a team up and spend a day coding. Tomorrow (Friday) at noon, the hacking stops and everyone will get together to review what’s been built.
We show ourselves in moments of system failure and panic and change and difficulty and crash-landings, not calm. Does true self emerge only (or especially?) when tested? Lessons about others come, perhaps, from their response to great fear or significant peril or the opportunity for sacrifice either taken or not. My colleague had failed that test before, but it was this final failing grade that made it clear: I could no longer work with him. He got his pool time; we gave our speech. I walked off that stage and never worked with him again. I knew I needed different seatmates for the rest of my flight.
1. Package it – Given the nebulousness of selling intangibles, Harrison coined the term i-Stuff. To shed i-Stuff of this stigma, one idea is to package it with manuals and other tangible material that helps define what the know-how is. People understand exchange of funds for tangible goods, so to the extent to which you can make the intangible seem tangible helps bridge the gap. If you don’t have a unique name for you know-how, name it, make it a “thing” that people can talk about. A three-letter acronym can be good, but another thing to think about is a name that communicates the value-proposition of the know-how. What problem does it solve? What benefit does it impart if you have it? From what I’ve heard, it can be difficult to sell know-how because your buyer may have trouble admitting they don’t know what you know. By packaging it, you give them a way to pitch it to their boss without making it sound like the valuable part they’re buying from you is the knowledge. Help your buyer save face.
8. List why it’s impossible - Now we are getting into the mental game of failing. This is quite possibly your greatest weapon against achievement because it destroys hope and optimism. So as soon as possible, set aside some time to create a long list of how impossible your goal really is. No matter what your target is, I am sure you can come up with plenty of reasons why it’s impossible. Be creative, make up some if you have to (i.e. “It’s impossible for me to lose weight because I was kidnapped by space aliens and injected with a fat-serum.”) Bonus: You get extra points if you can come up with an excuse using UFOs, ghosts or the Bermuda Triangle.
I charged below market rate for my services. This was because I did no research and had absolutely no idea what the going rate was for an outside consultant. I was so totally thrilled that anyone would hire me that I was prepared to pay THEM. The embarrassing thing is that my second client actually offered to pay me more money without me even asking. Is that humiliating or what? Lesson: Research the market for your product or service. Be realistic about where your pay scale should be based on your experience. Then charge it unapologetically.
At Exemplar our interests are aligned with the client and we have an incentive to get them to their destination as safely and promptly as possible. We have a pricing committee of professionals who are dedicated to understanding value from the customer’s perspective. They make sure that the intake process is effective at getting the right information so that we understand how to design our services around exactly what the customer wants. What’s more, centralizing the pricing function in an organization is critical to providing a consistent customer experience. This also allows us to communicate, learn, and correct any errors in the process that would not otherwise be discovered if attorneys priced individually.
The office should be a hang out: a pleasant place to spend time. If you’re meeting your friends for dinner after work you should want to meet at the office. As Philip Greenspun bluntly puts it: “Your business success will depend on the extent to which programmers essentially live at your office. For this to be a common choice, your office had better be nicer than the average programmer’s home. There are two ways to achieve this result. One is to hire programmers who live in extremely shabby apartments. The other is to create a nice office.”
Give favors. One of my great pleasures in life is helping other people; I believe there’s a big Karmic scoreboard in the sky. God is keeping track of the good that you do, and She is particularly pleased when you give favors without the expectation of return from the recipient. The scoreboard always pays back. You can also guess that I strongly believe in returning favors for people who have helped you.
Ask for the return of favors. Good schmoozers give favors. Good schmoozers also return favors. However, great schmoozers ask for the return of favors. You may find this puzzling: Isn’t it better to keep someone indebted to you? The answer is no, and this is because keeping someone indebted to you puts undue pressure on your relationship. Any decent person feels guility and indebted. By asking for, and receiving, a return favor, you clear the decks, relieve the pressure, and set up for a whole new round of give and take. After a few rounds of give and take, you’re best friends, and you have mastered the art of schmoozing.
I’ve thought about this a bit and I’ve decided if I could only have one marketing tool or activity, it would be business cards. A business card, with a compelling message about your offering, is the most effective marketing tool you can have…if you can only have one.
Beyond simple contact information, you should have a statement about your key benefit. Make your card a mini postcard about your most compelling offer. Use both sides of the card and get creative.
Business cards are the most underused marketing tool available. You can carry them with you anywhere. And they’re inexpensive enough to give away to everyone you meet.
Everyone you come in contact with should walk away with a card or two to remember and refer you when a need arises.
Would you just hire anyone because you needed help? Even someone that you can’t stand being around? Even someone that doesn’t have the skills to get the job done? If no, then why would you just take any job? Even a job you can’t stand doing. Even a job that won’t let you flex your skills. Even a job that will embarass you when it’s all over. What’s the point? To stay in business just so you can take on another job that you don’t want to take on?
While there are almost half a million lawyers practicing in the United States today, there are (gasp!) more than 125,000 in school right now. No matter what you believe about lawyers creating ever more work for ever more lawyers, there’s no question that with so many of them, they’re hardly scarce.
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