Archive for the ‘Rant’ Category

Changing education paradigms

September 12th, 2013

A great video follow up to the post below. Thanks Jamie.

We have a pill for that.

September 10th, 2013

theviking

I’m the father of a very active five-year-old who is also known as #theViking. To say he has trouble paying attention would be an understatement. But he’s also brilliant, hyper creative, and at five, he’s memorized our entire family tree and who is related to whom. He can sing songs from the radio word for word. Outside the box? He doesn’t even know about the box.

But even at five, we’ve had teachers suggest that he be tested and even medicated to get him to “pay attention.”

Now before I create an onslaught of angry comments or start an ugly debate, let me offer the following disclaimer: I’m not at all suggesting that medication is always bad; in some instances, it has a very positive effect and is much needed. I get that.

What I am saying is that medication shouldn’t be our first reaction. I sometimes fear that we’ve become a society that trusts “the experts” blindly without question or common sense (that’s a whole post on it’s own). My dad has a great line about kids. He says, “God gave you the kids, you’re the expert.” When something doesn’t feel right, I think we have an absolute responsibility to question what “the experts” are saying. Thirty years ago, a kid with ADHD was just considered active, and we didn’t have this urgent need to “fix” them.

Medicating a five-year-old just because he’s overactive doesn’t make sense to me. That’s sort of a cop out. Medicating him would certainly make things easier. It would make him less active, he would fit inside the box, and he would travel through the system with ease. But why is that the answer? Especially when we don’t even know the long-term effect of these medications.

It’s sad that we force these kids to conform and fit inside the box, but then we wonder later in life why so many adults can’t think outside the box. Um, I can’t because you told me not to.

Nah. I think I’ll let my beautiful, active son be brilliant instead. I’ll take the hard way out and deal with his active nature. I’ll help him find his way even though it might be different. Medicate him? I’m going to unleash him on the world instead.

As one of my friends said recently, “If we keep down this path, who is going to invent anything anymore?” That’s a very good question.

Some links:
A recent study looks at how kids taking ADHD medication might not actually learn better after all. Really? The experts might not actually know what they’ve been talking about?

“The Medicated Child” – a heartbreaking documentary about medicating kids.

Paralyzed by Perfection

July 25th, 2013

The Straw Man Promise

June 22nd, 2011

It’s been almost a month since I dropped AT&T for a Verizon iPhone. One of the major perceived issues with the change to Verizon was that you can’t use data and phone at the same time. Problem was, because my AT&T service was so bad, I wasn’t able to use data and phone together anyway. In fact, what finally sent me over the edge was that I was no longer able to send text messages from my house.

I was discussing this over Twitter where someone went on to call AT&T’s claim a “Straw Man argument at best.” I think that Twitter assertion is spot on.

I can honestly say that I haven’t needed the use of data and voice together yet, and really how often would I need that feature? As often as I would like to be able to make a call? Highly unlikely. However, what I have needed and enjoyed immensely is full signal wherever I go. My iPhone now works as, well, a phone.

It’s an interesting play for AT&T for sure and it may be their only play against Verizon at this point. We all know that they have been investing millions of dollars in the network and perhaps one day this will pass through to the consumer, but for now, I will enjoy my bars.

Fearing the “straw man,” I avoided Verizon for awhile. So, for a time, the AT&T campaign worked on me. But at the end of the day, if your product’s quality and service is missing, I guess you have to resort to attacking the competition.

I offered to stay with AT&T if I could get a MicroCell for home, but that wasn’t offered. And so I’ve moved on. I’ve also encouraged many others to do the same, four of which have followed suit.

I think the cell phone industry, like many other commodity industries, is waiting for a brand to stand up and simply beat the competition by giving consumers what they want instead of some lame straw man promise.

Goodbye AT&T. I took your advice and rethought possible.

Slow and steady wins the race

June 16th, 2011

I’ve said many times that I believe “slow and steady wins the race.” In a world driven by profits and self preservation, I think we’ve lost sight of paying attention to the toll this pursuit can have on our relationships.

Over the past two years, I’ve had some amazing things happen and it’s been a bit of a reward to feel like I’ve always leaned towards relationships first. It’s not that I don’t want profits, it’s that I don’t think you have to give up relationships to get profits, unless you’re trying to get them too quickly. I would much rather build a strong business over time and have some great friendships along the way than step on people to get to the top.

I don’t believe we can be truly profitable at the expense of others. We’ve certainly seen this to be true when companies like Enron do anything and everything to appease shareholders only to crash in the end. I’m pretty sure if we looked into the history books, we would see the same model played out over and over again.

I got a touching email last week that included the line, “Honestly dude, you are one of the few people I’ve met in my life that I can without hesitation say that you deserve every good thing that comes your way.” Humbling comment for sure, but it also made me realize and even enjoy a bit of vindication that you can be a good guy in business and still do okay.

I’m reminded by the great quote from Zig Ziglar who said, “You can get everything in life you want if you will just help enough other people get what they want.”

As for me, I’ll continue helping and believing that “slow and steady wins the race.”

Small Company Syndrome

June 14th, 2011

One of the questions that came up after my Kaseya Connect talk was what to do about branding and marketing if you’re a small company. If you’re only a couple of people, what should you invest in and why? Some observations:

1. Don’t spend just because others are
It’s temping to try and mimic larger companies and spend money on things that you may not need right now. Yes, a killer website will help you sell, but it might not be what you need right now. If, for example, you’ve seen success in a certain vertical or have a great success story with a certain type of business, I would spend money on having someone help you tell that story (case study) before I would spend a bunch of money on a website. Focus your money on what will get you in front of the right people. You can always build the killer site later.

Likewise, don’t spend money on a bunch of blanket mailings that go out to anyone and everyone, or on a yellow pages ad that won’t reach anyone. You would be better off putting together a list of 50 potential clients that fit your company, and then spend your money and efforts marketing to that group. Not only do your marketing dollars become more potent, but you find the clients that fit what you do. It’s one of the hardest things to do as a business, but in order to get into the mind of the prospect, you have to sacrifice.

For example, if you had a couple of auto dealerships as clients, and they love what you do, write up that story in a compelling case study. Then start to market to a short list of auto dealerships that could benefit in the same way. Even if you’re not completely selling only to that niche, you can pursue a niche or channel for a season.

2. You must track
If a marketing tactic is not somehow measurable, I don’t think it should be done. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve worked with companies that are spending money on some sort of tactic and have no way of measuring results. They get sold on doing a blanket mailing or a yellow pages ad, but they don’t really know if it’s working or not.

With any tactic, you should be able to measure. Know if it’s working, know how to adjust it if it’s not and, most of all, make sure you at least learn something. It’s okay to try things and maybe have some of them not work, but at some point, if it’s not working, you need to learn and move on. I’ve done this successfully with Google AdWords. Put a small amount of money in the hopper and run a campaign for a short season. At the end of that season, decide if it’s worth investing more, worth investing the same or that it doesn’t work and move on to something else. Try, track, learn and improve. If you’re not tracking and learning, you’re wasting money.

3. Laser sharp focus
I mentioned above the idea of picking a place to focus. This is so essential for a small company. You simply don’t have the resources to play with the big boys yet. You need to find a couple of niches, or just one where you can be that big fish in a small pond. This will allow the marketing dollars that you do have to be more potent. It’s also easier to talk to one industry than it is to try and create a blanket message for all. If you show up to auto dealerships with a story of success with another dealership, you will get further than just putting an ad in the yellow pages.

Some final thoughts …

Just because you’re small doesn’t mean you can’t market and brand yourself well. In fact, you might be at an advantage if you’re forced to focus on a niche. Being small and agile could allow you to find a niche and sell, sell, sell.

Lesson 4 from going large: Sometimes you have to suck it up.

February 25th, 2011

Taking my year-end large project was a contradiction of sorts. I’ve spoke numerous times about only working with clients who are a good fit and how you should work with clients with whom you can do your best work. Generally, I still believe that. But I also believe that sometimes you have to suck it up… Continue reading at CFC blog >

Lesson 3 from going large: Know Your Resets

February 24th, 2011

Being on a deadline doesn’t mean giving up on the idea of a balanced life. Sure, there are times in our business when we have to buckle down and put in the hours, but I think it’s important to not let that become the new normal. It’s easy to come off a large project, dive right in to another project and forget to take a breath and find those resets… Continue reading on the CFC blog >

Lesson 2 from going large: One Point Of Contact

February 23rd, 2011

This seems like a no-brainer, but enforcing the “one point of contact” rule with a larger project/client can be a little tricky. Maybe it’s due to the complexity of the project or just the nature of the client’s organization. But no matter the size, having everything go through one person can make things easier… Continue reading at CFC Blog >

Lesson 1 from going large: Always time for process

February 22nd, 2011

There’s an old saying that goes something like this: There isn’t enough time to do it right, but there’s always enough time to do it over. I think the same applies to process. For certain things, order is king.

Because of the deadline on my large project, I sort of decided to just throw my process out the window and start working. Big mistake. This lead to many false starts, some misunderstandings with the client and the need to redo parts of the project because the direction was incorrect…. Continue reading over on the CFC blog >