Archive for the ‘Love and Business’ Category

Generosity on a budget

December 10, 2009

You know you’re cheap when, year after year, you put off buying holiday gifts or cards for your most important clients until it’s all over and everyone’s forgotten, including you.

Robroy had his frugal Scottish heritage to blame for this stingy procrastination.  I never could stand to “invest” in cups and hats and shirts with our logo splattered all over them.  With so many unique individuals on my list, I wanted to give thoughtful gifts but didn’t know how.  The holidays made me feel terrible, until …

… I heard about LinkedIn recommendations.

A LinkedIn recommendation is your personal endorsement of someone you know, posted where all of your social network and theirs can read it. Recommendations on LinkedIn are personal and yet professional.  They are brief and yet long-lasting.  The tool lets you make your contacts look great in front of their peers.  And did I mention it’s free?

The only catch is, you have to take a minute to really think about the other person.  Really ask yourself, What impresses me most about them?  What’s their strong suit?  Be generous.  A few words from the heart can be very powerful.

So what do you think?  This is a pretty big gift.  Can we afford it?

(read more posts below)


She has her sales hat on

October 16, 2009

gray fedora

So Robroy is early for a lunch date with his wife in a mall downtown.  With about 15 minutes to kill, I wander into a men’s hat store.

The salesperson is in her mid-20s.  She lets me check out the hats without interruption.  As soon as I start feeling the felt brim of an expensive gray fedora, she slides over.

“Let’s see how you look in it.”

I stick it on my head.  I tug the brim rakishly over my left eye, and look at her.  Her response is remarkable.  Her eyes widen.  She draws a sharp breath, and covers her mouth with her fingers.  The implication is that I look so good in the hat, it literally takes her breath away.

Now here’s the thing.  All men, no matter how doofy-looking, think they are studs.  Conversely, all women, no matter how beautiful, think they are hideous.  So it’s not a new trick in transactional, retail sales to flatter a man’s ego.  He takes it as affirmation, not information.

But there’s a catch.  For a guy sincerely in love with the girl he is going to meet, this flirtatious approach doesn’t fit.  I want my salesperson to be part of the solution.  Not part of the problem.

Somehow she picks up on this. “Wait til she sees how dashing you are in that hat,” she says with a disarming smile.

Now I have no other option but to admire her skill.  Besides, I’m a guy.  How can I disagree?  Grinning, I say, “I’ll take it.”

P.S. My wife loved it!

How to get what you want

September 22, 2009

Robroy has a process for everything.  You should know that about me if we are going to be friends.  I even have a process for helping you get what you want.  I call it the Getting Wheel.  Catchy name, I know.

Getting what you want starts with identifying where you are in the process.  Then it’s a matter of mapping your situation to the Getting Wheel, like this:

robroys getting wheel

Here’s how it works:

  1. GOAL: You passionately need something.  What is it?  Is there something you are afraid to lose, such as money, love or opportunity?  Is there something you want to be or do or have?  The more urgently you want it, the sooner you’ll get it.
  2. PROBLEM PHASE: What’s holding you back?  Where are the complications?  How bad is the stress?  When is the pain worst?  Get out all of the problems  and excuses and see them for what they are.
  3. DECISION POINT: It’s time to make up your mind.  You can’t stand at the end of the diving board forever.  Spring forward across the threshold.  No going back.
  4. INITIATION PHASE: Here you find yourself on the road of trials.  You will be severely tested, challenged, knocked down, insulted and robbed.  But don’t give up!  You are coming up on the …
  5. TURNING POINT: The balance of power has shifted.  For every punch they throw, you throw a counter-punch.  Only now, for the first time, your counter-punch is mightier.
  6. VISION PHASE: The battle for what you want rages on.  From the tears and the sweat and the cloud of dust is shaping a vision of your solution.  It’s like seeing daybreak through swollen eyes.  Your future is there — better than you imagined it.  With a loud cry, you lunge for it.
  7. BREAK-THROUGH POINT: Cradling your greatest treasure to your belly, you take the ultimate risk.  You sacrifice yourself.  You give it up and let go — tumbling headlong into the wonder of it all.
  8. REWARD PHASE: And you land on the feather bed of your reward.  The problem is solved.  You got what you wanted.  The pain has turned to luxurious pleasure.  What felt like an ordeal now looks perfectly natural and necessary.  You’re even glad you had to go through it.

The Getting Wheel keeps turning.  In life, no sooner do we reach one goal, up pops another.  That’s why getting what you want is a simple matter of following a process — nothing really changes.  No need to reinvent the wheel.

(Read more blog posts below.)

Platform agnostic (the cathedral)

September 7, 2009

Once upon a time, a long time ago, a traveler came to Baltimore to visit the Digital Harbor.  There, in the renovated sweatshops and warehouses along the water, he observed hundreds of software engineers hunched over their keyboards, pecking away incessantly.  To him it looked like soulless work.  He pitied them.

Interrupting one worker, he said, “Isn’t it boring, writing lines of programming code all day?”

The programmer looked up and said, “Writing code?  I’m not writing code.  I’m building a cathedral.”

cathedral in milan

(Read more blog entries below.)


May 4, 2009

Most men in their 40s have no idea how close they are to losing their wives.

In their 30s, the wife was the one at risk.  She had to worry every time he went on a business trip.  But now it’s the husband’s turn.  He is fat, gray and balding – while she is still curvy, dark haired and hot-blooded.  He is looking for the sports.  She is looking for the action.  He’s thinking, “What’s for dinner?”  She’s thinking, “Why should I wait 15 years to divorce him, when I can do it now, while I’m still young and beautiful?”

The same thing happens in business.  You think you are doing everything possible to keep the customer satisfied.  In fact, I’ve known far more CEOs committed to their customers than to their wives.  But even that committed relationship can fall apart if you don’t keep it fresh and exciting.  There’s a home-wrecker lurking in every lobby.

So how can you save your customer base?  The same way you can save your marriage.  Surprise them tomorrow.  Show up, unannounced.  Sweep them up in your arms.  Tell them you are blinded by desire.  You can’t stop thinking about them.  You want them; you need them; you must have them.  Then deliver your custom solutions.  Implement your paradigm shift.  Oh, baby.

And when it’s all over, if it ends, it ends.  But if you can pay attention well enough, and if you can be responsive long enough, you just might come away with a relationship that lasts a lifetime.

And if that happens, don’t thank Robroy.  Just doing my job.

This ain’t no party, this ain’t no disco

March 2, 2009

Twitter is good for people living on mobile. The value is in the “retweet” feature, a/k/a “RT,” a/k/a plain ole simple copy-and-paste. Because that’s all RT is. Copy and paste in the status bar. The outcome is that you will have forwarded a link, with reference to the source, so that a broader and broader community may benefit from it instantly. When would this be useful? Well, for example, let’s say there is a need to evacuate your city. The tweeters will share maps, gps routes and updates on the run. Won’t that be fun?

Let’s get you started:

1) copy a status update that you like

2) go to your status bar

3) type “RT@” then the user’s name you are re-tweeting

4) paste

5) send

Master the simple art of retweeting, and you’ll be prepared for the end of the world.


Here we are in the future

February 15, 2009

Marty McFly: Do you know where Riverside Drive is?
Sam Baines: It’s on the other end of town, a block past Maple. East end of town.
Marty McFly: A block past Maple? That’s, uh, that’s John F. Kennedy Drive.
Sam Baines: Who the hell is John F. Kennedy?

In the movie Back to the Future, Marty McFly takes a time machine back to a transformed but strangely unchanged period in time in which he and his parents are together as teenagers in their old hometown. His unique perspective as a time traveler gives him wisdom.

Isn’t that sorta what’s happening now with social networking?

The boom in popularity of Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, MySpace, etc., has people connecting and communicating by the hundred-millions all over the world, bridging gaps in time as well as geography.  Sometimes the connection can create quite an impact.  When you’re back in touch with your first crush from 3rd grade, for example, you gain something and lose something, softening the lines between present and past, work and personal life.  You open yourself up to a new perspective.  You have careers now.  Kids.  You want to say goodbye to the past, but somehow stay connected and build on what you’ve learned together.  Like Marty did with his folks.  Social networking makes that possible.

For business owners, there is opportunity here. Chances are, some of your employees are linked with potential customers and don’t even know it. With a little guidance, they may discover, for instance, that their aunt is the CFO of your competitor’s biggest client.  Wouldn’t that be an interesting lunch meeting?

Of course, there are dangers. You could miss out on the opportunity to connect, as Marty nearly did at the end of the movie, and stay stuck in the 20th century: “You’re late,” Doc scolds Marty, as the lightning intensifies around them. “Have you no concept of time?”