Friday, September 30, 2005

Guest Blogger Friday - Mark Merenda

Welcome to another exciting "Guest Blogger Friday". Today we are blessed to have a great parable by Mark Merenda, of Smart Marketing in Naples, Florida. You can read Mark's "Smart Blog" at

A Guide To Successful Fishing:
1. Fish.
2. Keep fishing.

By Mark Merenda

“If I had to select one quality, one personal characteristic that I regard as being most highly correlated with success, whatever the field, I would pick the trait of persistence. Determination. The will to endure to the end, to get knocked down seventy times and get up off the floor saying, ‘Here comes number seventy-one!’"
— Richard M. DeVos

This is the story of two fishermen, Frank and Joe.

Frank loves fishing. He goes fishing every day. He’s always trying new fishing spots. Sometimes he catches a lot of fish and sometimes he catches none. But that doesn’t really bother him, he just gets up the next morning and goes fishing again. He reads books and magazine articles about fishing, and hires a fishing guide.

He invests in new lures and fishing poles. He even tried fishing with a net, then with a spear. Sometimes he uses a fly and sometimes live bait. Sometimes he fishes in a lake and sometimes in a stream. He’s even tried the ocean.

Sometimes he wonders if he isn’t wasting his time and money trying to catch these crazy fish. But most of the time he enjoys it.

If the fish he catches is too small, he throws it back and re-baits his hook. If the fish is the right size, he takes it home, and cooks a delicious meal. If he has more than he can eat, he puts them in a freezer.

Occasionally, he fishes all day in the cold rain and trudges home empty handed, feeling like he’ll never catch another fish.

Every now and then, he catches a whopper, and feels like he just won the lottery!

He finds that as time goes on, he gets better and better at fishing. He learns the techniques that suit him best, which lures work in which locations, the best time of day to catch each kind of fish, and which spots are best in different kinds of weather.

He knows that he can never think that he’s found “the secret” because the fishing is always changing. Fishing holes that were great a year ago are now dried up. Rivers where he couldn’t catch a cold before, now are full of fish.

Interestingly, every time Frank goes fishing, he meets other fishermen, who are only too happy to share fishing stories and to tell him what techniques and locations have been working — or not working — for them.

But most of all, he just keeps fishing every day.

Now let’s meet Joe. He isn’t at all sure that he likes fishing. He wishes someone else would catch the fish and just let him cook and eat the fish, which is, he explains, what he is trained to do. He doesn’t feel he should have to fish.

When someone proposes fishing, Joe wants to know how much it costs to go fishing and if he will be guaranteed to catch fish that day.

If he does go fishing, he doesn’t bother to learn anything about it. He rents a pole and some lures, making sure he gets the cheapest ones possible.

He goes to the nearest body of water, because he can save money by walking there instead of driving. He casts his line in the water a few times and — when he doesn’t catch any fish — drops his pole in disgust and declares “Fishing doesn’t work!”

He does this once a year.

A fishing guide offers to take Joe to the best spots and teach him what he knows about fishing, but Joe turns him down because he’s too expensive and he won’t guarantee how many fish Joe will catch.

The guide does offer one guarantee to Joe, however: “I guarantee that if you don’t go fishing, you won’t catch any fish.”

In your opinion, who will catch more fish, Frank or Joe?

When it comes to marketing your services, are you Frank or Joe?

Are you simply interested in cooking and eating the fish, but not interested in investing the time and money that is required to ensure a steady supply of fish?

You don’t have to be a marketing wizard. You don’t have to have all the tools, all the knowledge, all the methods, all the experience, all the personnel, and all the expertise. You don’t have to do anything, except one thing.

You have to be committed to catching fish.

“Nothing in the world can take the place of perseverance. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.”
— Calvin Coolidge

Thanks Mark for a great "Guest Blog Post". I bet that a lot of people can relate to Frank and Joe!!!

Have A Great Day

Thom Singer

Thursday, September 29, 2005

In-House vs. Outsourcing Your Marketing?

I recently received a call from a lawyer with whom I used to work. His new firm was debating hiring an "in-house" person to handle their marketing, PR and business development or contracting with a local PR/marketing firm to help them get more attention in their marketplace. He wanted my advise on which would be better for their small office.

In my opinion it is always best to have a person in-house to oversee these important functions. Even if you continue to utilize the services of outside consultants, you should have at least one person inside whose full-time focus is to promote and protect the image of the firm. This means in each market where you have an office, not just at headquarters. If not, it is too easy to just let it slide. (I am not saying outsourcing certain functions is a bad many cases it is a GREAT idea. However, it should not be "either/or" should find the consultants who enhance the skills of the inhouse marketing professionals).

But a qualified marketing and PR executive will cost money. In most cities their salaries will easily top six figures. Many firms make the mistake of hiring a very junior level person or outsourcing these functions because it will reduce the overhead expense by around fifty percent.

But I ask you, which is a better investment? $100,000 that produces measurable results, or $50,000 that just makes you feel better because you saved money? Too often professionals think that outside consultants know some magic formula that will make their phone ring off the hook. I believe that the only way to gain more business is for you and your co-workers to invest the time to personally build relationships with your clients, prospects and other VIP's in your industry. Having someone on the inside can help keep you focused. There are no shortcuts.

If you have a need for marketing, PR, sales, advertising, etc.... then spend the time and money required to do it right.

In the end, this firm hired a marketing guy to handle the firm's image related activities. He will use outside help.... as one person, no matter how good, is not an whole department (that is a topic for a whole other post!!!). I am positive this firm will be very happy with their decision.

Have A Great Day.

Thom Singer

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Reach Out And Sell Someone

When you are actively trying to develop business you must be proactive. Sitting back and waiting for the phone to ring does not lead to sales. If you think that the world's most successful sales professionals are simply highly paid "order takers", then you are mistaken.

That does not mean that order takers do not exist, many large companies have large buildings full of people in cubilces answering phones all day long. While they are called "sales", these are not the ones who drive the business.

True sales professionals who work with the largest, most important clients do not sit around awaiting calls. The best of the best are always networking, prospecting, scheduling appointments, following up and developing unique solutions for their customers and future customers. For these people, selling is not part time....they live it.

And the best do not complain. They do not hang out by the water cooler and gossip about what is wrong around their company. They do not blame others when they have a soft quarter. The best reach out to clients, prospects and others in their network no matter if they are busy, tired or cranky (and if they are those things, they never let others know about it).

When I was in sales and did not feel like making calls, I would take twenty pennies and put them on the left side of my desk. Every time I made a call and left a voice mail, I would slide one penny to the other end of the table. If I actually spoke to someone, I would move two pennies. I would not allow myself to leave until all the pennies were on the right side of my desk. This silly exercise usually led to setting appointments, and it is appointments that lead to sales.

So if you need to develop more business, don't expect anyone else to do it for you. To be successful in sales, you need to be talking to people. So get off the internet and reach out to someone.

Have A Great Day.

Thom Singer

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Sleep Until Noon, Drive a Cadillac

When I was in college and looking for a summer job, the following headline jumped out at me: "Sleep Until Noon, Drive A Cadillac". You bet, I called the number. The job was for a limousine driver. While I did not pursue the position, those six words in the classified section taught me an important lesson: You need to stand out from the crowd.

If the ad had said "Limo Drivers Wanted. (619)555-1212", I would not have even noticed.

When designing advertisements, direct mail, client letters, websites or other marketing materials you only get one chance to make a first impression. You need to a discover a way to grab the attention of your audience. In our "information overload" world, you must make them STOP and take notice.

However, professional services firms usually end up with "marketing by committee". Too many people in the company need to have their input in every decision, and you end up with materials that are very "vanilla" (Yawn). Most executives are too conservative to go out on a limb with their message, and they mistakenly think that everyone will read their marketing materials like one reads a white paper or magazine article.

And the marketing department rarely has the power to say "Whoa.....that is a bad idea", as the committee are the ones who control their job security.

I think that less is more when it comes to marketing (think white space, not paragraphs). Find clever ways to capture attention, and make your first impression memorable. While I didn't become a limo driver, twenty years later I am still talking about that six word classified ad. Now that is powerful.

Have A Great Day.

Thom Singer

For more on business development and networking, read my book, "Some Assembly Required: How to Make, Keep and Grow Your Business Relationships" (New Year Publishing, 2005)....available at

Monday, September 26, 2005

Cough On Everyone

I am a believer in the power of viral marketing and having a strong network of professional contacts that will refer business. But viral marketing, word of mouth advertising and networking do not just happen. Everyone in your company must be proactive and reach out to clients, prospects and others VIP's.

However, too often business people think others will do the work for them. Many executives think that the tasks of promoting the company belong only to the sales and marketing staff. Sales people expect marketing to magically make the phone ring of the hook....while marketing professionals await direction from senior executive and the sales team. (It is the same system in law and accounting firms: partners expect other partners, associates and the marketing staff to be responsible for PR and do not actively get involved in business development).

It is a never ending cycle of passing the buck and pointing fingers.

Most companies could produce better results if everyone started coughing all over everyone. Just as the flu, or any virus, is spread is through human contact, awareness about your firm requires you to be talking with people. Your team needs to be having constant contact with the business community. If there is no contact, they don't get sick. The same is true of your clients and prospects, .... if you are not consistently giving them your message, then they are not going to be moved to do business with your company.

How about your business? Are you spreading the word? Think about it. It is up to you, NOBODY WILL DO IT FOR YOU!!!! Cough Cough.

Have A Great Day.

Thom Singer

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Weekend Blog 14 - Gas Lines Stink

The "Weekend Blog" is off the topics of business development, marketing, PR, networking and sales. It is my chance to rant, rave and pontificate about any subject.

Gas Lines Stink

Yesterday afternoon I stopped at a local gas station to fill my tank. The freeway exit near my home has two major gas providers. I was surprised to find that one of was totally out of gas and the other had lines over ten cars deep at the pumps.

I am old enough to remember the gas lines of the 1970's and having to wait with my mother for hours to buy gas for her 1975 Ford LTD (a true "gas-guzzler"). The rules of the day were "odd and even", meaning you could only purchase gasoline based on the last number on your license plate and the day of the week. I do not have fond memories of gas lines.

Fortunately this experience was most likely a one-time phenomenon. Due to Hurricane Rita and nearly 2 million evacuees from Houston (and the other Gulf cities) fanning out across Texas, the usage and distribution of gasoline is temporarily out of whack. While I was frustrated, I realize that many people in my state have had a many more difficulties dealing with the incoming storm. (One friend had a 15-hour drive to get from Houston to Austin, which should normally take less than three hours). Fortunately, Austin is inland and will remain dry.

Yet seeing a station "out of gas" and the long lines did make me wonder if a gas shortage was something that our country would have to face again? In the past 25 years our culture has become much more accustomed to "fast" for everything we consume, ...... hours in line for gas would not be an easy adjustment for our immediate gratification tendencies.

Without getting political, I hope that the leaders in both major political parties will put the finger-pointing and special interests aside and look for real solutions. But they wont, a gas shortage would just be another opportunity for politicians to get soundbites on the evening news..... while the rest of us wait in line.

Have A Great Weekend.

Thom Singer

*Photo from Associated Press

Friday, September 23, 2005

Guest Blogger Friday - Bruce Allen

It is "Guest Blogger Friday". Today's post comes from Bruce Allen. Bruce is a veteran of the legal marketing profession and a long time blogger. You can read his Marketing Catalyst Blog for more of his insights.

Don’t Tell Me What Grass to Eat!
by Bruce Allen

I was reading this post at HB Working Knowledge on leadership and trying to find parallels to the many professional services firms I’ve been exposed to. The tips Jonathan Byrnes offered were incredibly insightful and well worth the read. But what about the leadership environment of law firms where many assert themselves to be “leaders” even when they are not.

The bullet point I would add to Jonathan’s list would be: Faith.

Within a law partnership every partner has a vote in the what, when and how of every major choice for the firm. And, given the trait of strong self-belief that is so important to being a successful attorney, most partners like declaring their own path. Even when shown the end of the rainbow successful attorneys default to finding their own path to the same goal. I call it the, “Don’t Tell Me What Grass to Eat” syndrome.

This is where the leadership quality of “faith” enters the picture.

No group of single-minded, educated, savvy individuals will ever agree completely on the steps toward achieving a goal (aka; a good law firm). Each of the individuals can agree on the goal but consensus on the process will always be contended.

A leader can show the field of grass that is greener; can provide evidence the grass is sweeter; AND, get everyone excited about eating there. But the moment the leader draws a line to represent “the path”? All sorts of opinions and declarations come charging forth.

When I was in the Marines I was led by a particularly charismatic Gunnery Sergeant. No matter what his choice of objective I was determined to make it happen. He possessed every characteristic in Jonathan’s list… plus the one I’ve added. This Sergeant had faith in my ability to get to the goal. His faith gave me the freedom to exercise my judgment; my knowledge; my ingenuity. No matter the difficulty of the objective, he believed I could get there without needing an itemized roadmap.

Faith. The ability to believe in what others can accomplish and being able to stand back to allow them to find their own path. Knowing “I am trusted” gives wings to everything else I might set out to accomplish.

So my advise, added to what Jonathan has already stated, is to learn “faith”. Learn to be a true-believer. Give trust away like it’s candy in your pocket and your faith will be rewarded. Never tell those you lead what grass to eat; simply help them see where they need to go and show faith in their ability to arrive.
A big "thank you" to Bruce Allen for providing today's "Guest Blog".

Have A Great Day.

Thom Singer

Thursday, September 22, 2005

100 Blogs in 100 Days

Over at The Blog Herald they have a GREAT series of posts called "100 Blogs in 100 Days". It is a wonderful read for anyone who has an interest in the wide variety of blogs that exist in the blogosphere. Each day the editor, Duncan, wows his readers with another eclectic discovery of a unique blog.

Yesterday's selection (Blog #30) is "The Ripple Effect Blog", which is hosted by my friend Steve Harper. Steve is the author of a great book, The Ripple Effect, and a successful entrepreneur, speaker and consultant.

Congratulations to Steve and The Ripple Effect Blog for being selected for this great honor. And Kudos to Duncan selecting an Austin, Texas blog!!!

Have A Great Night.

Thom Singer

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Financial Services Coach

The financial services industry is a very crowded field and is a great example of a "relationship business". When it comes to their money, people want to do business with people they know and like. Those who succeed are masters at customer service and cultivating relationships with those they serve. My own financial advisor is a trusted friend, mentor and member of the family.

While he is not with the company that is currently running the national television advertisements where the man is making a toast at a wedding about how they had planned and saved for this day for decades (it turns out the guy speaking is not the father of the bride, but the family's financial consultant).... I still laugh every time I see the commercials, as I know this could really happen at my own daughter's wedding.

Regardless of the type of business you work in, your goal should be to build close friendships with your clients. It is easy to fire a lawyer, realtor or accountant, is difficult to fire a friend.

I know another financial advisor who is a sports nut. He played college football and lives for the game. Although he is not married, he coaches a kids team in an affluent neighborhood. He has discovered that by teaching his deep appreciation for football to the kids, he has become close friends with the parents. Without even asking for their business, he continues to gain clients in the families of the boys on his team. While other financial advisors are making cold calls, he is becoming part of the lives of those with whom he wishes to do business. His coaching skills on the field are embraced by his clients who turn to him for advise in stocks and other investments.

Find a way to be more than a vendor. Become part of the lives of those in your network. You will often not even need to ask for the they will be calling you.

Have A Great Day.

Thom Singer


Happy Birthday to my lovely wife, Sara.

She is more beautiful today than when we met nearly 15 years ago.

Sara is an amazing wife and mother.....and is the co-author of "The Mad At Martha Cookbook", which is the best cookbook on the planet. Yes, I am biased...but others will tell you that the 150 recipes in the book are all easy to create, and all the ingredients are available at any supermarket.

Happy Birthday, Sweetheart!!!!

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

It Comes Back To People

On his Customer Service Experience Blog, Glenn Ross discusses ways to create exemplary client relations (His blog recently moved and was retitled from Searching For Great Customer Service and CRM). A recent post, The Right Stuff, deals with how a variety of business strategies need to come together to achieve your corporate goals. Regardless of what you are trying to accomplish with your company, one of your strategies must be good customer service.

Ross professes that it is all about those you hire. In every aspect of business, it comes back to people. No matter how much you may want to hide behind technology, processes and image..... if you and the other individuals inside your organization are not "likeable", you will never reach your full potential.

A business development consultant was working with a law firm. When she asked the managing partner to define his firm's greatest asset, his response was "the large number of Harvard graduates that work at the firm". He pontificated about why this was very impressive to the clientele (yes, this partner was a Harvard alum). When the consultant interviewed the clients, she learned that most either did not know or did not care about the strong concentration of Harvard educated attorneys. They did care about the attorney's responsiveness, quality of work, and how they were treated by those they encountered inside the firm. (aka: customer service)

This firm's business development strategy was focused on image. They benefited by changing their efforts toward the people aspects of their practice (clients and those who worked inside the firm).

How about your company? Where is your focus? I suggest you look closely at your team and how they treat each other and your clients. If customer service (internal and external) is not part of your daily focus, then it should be.

Have A Great Day

Thom Singer

Want more information about building business relationships? My book, "Some Assembly Required: How to Make, Keep and Grow and Your Business Relationships" is now available for purchase. More information at

Monday, September 19, 2005

Variety Is The Spice Of Life

I am a "creature of habit". I get into a routine, and happily continue along the same path. It is not that these actions are good, bad or boring, just the same...comfortable.

I think many people are like this. Early in life we find certain ways to do things and identify specific products we enjoy using, then we continue along with them.... if not forever, for many years. I still eat the same types of breakfast cereal that I was buying 15 years ago..... With over 19,000,000 different drinks one can create at Starbucks I always have a Vanilla Latte or a Cafe Mocha..... And I only indulge in chocolate chip mint ice cream.

I have recently made an interesting observation about my three-year-old daughter, Kate. She is NOT a creature of habit. This kid marches to her own beat, and does things her own way (Yes, being her parent is proving to be an adventure!!!). But the most interesting thing is that every time we go to an ice cream parlor, she wants to try a different flavor. Kate never has the same flavor twice in a row!!!

I don't think I have ever seen anyone do this. As long as I can recall, I have always ordered chocolate chip mint. While I might branch out and have two flavors, I rarely forgo my green speckled favorite. My wife ultimately orders jamoca almond fudge, and my eight-year-old is a big chocolate connoisseur.

Yet Kate wants to be lifted up to view all the colorful flavors and seeks out something new and exotic that she has not tried before. I am not sure what this means, but I do believe that she will be one who hunts for adventure throughout her lifetime.

This makes me wonder if we all should get out of our routines and try new things. In our business lives, how could we benefit if we tossed aside some of the sameness and looked for new ways to interact with the people at work and in our professional networks. Would we be be able to expand our existing paradigms and achieve more? I think yes.

I am inspired by Kate's way of facing the ice cream parlor, and hope you are as well. I suggest that you find three tasks at work that you can approach differently today and then see if your new tactics lead you to better experiences with clients, prospects or co-workers.

Tonight I will take the family out for dessert and try the pistachio (hey, it is still green!!!).

Have A Great Day.

Thom Singer

Friday, September 16, 2005

Guest Blogger Friday - Rich Ottum

Today we are honored with another fantastic "Guest Blogger Friday". Our contributor is Rich Ottum, the founder and general manager of eStrategyOne in Columbus, Ohio. Thanks Rich.

Does Your Business Need a Blog?
by Rich Ottum

I’m often asked by clients and prospects whether or not their business should blog. While there is no universal answer, there are guidelines to consider. In general, blogs make more sense for business-to-consumer companies. But whether or not you are a B2C company, you should evaluate a number of factors including your brand equity, your target audience, and your internal resources to reach a decision regarding your blogging commitment.

If your company is associated with a well-known consumer brand, you might be surprised to learn you are probably already the subject of a blog or certainly mentioned in blog postings for various reasons. Searching the blogosphere for mentions of your brand is your first step in evaluating the corporate blog imperative. If consumers are posting comments about your brand, products, or customer service, you need to join the conversation. Ideally, you would launch a brand or product blog to give customers a sounding board. Remember, it is not your job to set customers straight with a corporate blog. Rather, it is your job to listen and learn!

Take a cue from your target audience. Consumers often depend upon word-of-mouth referrals from friends in their selection of products and service. If your target customers are likely to share their experiences with your product, a business blog can provide a credible platform for communication. How well does your company field customer service complaints? If you are unsure, a disgruntled blogger who considers your company unresponsive might tarnish your brand online. Consider also, if your prospects are likely to seek information about your products from a Search Engine. By maintaining active blog content, you will actually increase your page rank with Search Engines. For an example of a blog that maximizes brand and the consumer experience visit Weber Nation.

Ultimately, the decision to launch a business blog depends upon your ability to commit internal resources. Technology is a low-barrier to entry in this instance. While you can install software and host your own blog, you can also easily use a low-cost hosted service with no technology commitment. You will need a staff member dedicated to the task of blogging on a regular basis, daily postings are preferred. As such, you need someone who is capable in representing your brand and products in a glib manner. The same person must be a good listener with the ability to engage both your brand champions and your brand detractors. Finally, your company blogger must have the ear of management to share consumer-generated comments, complaints, or issues with executives as required.

Before you begin the business blog evaluation task, eStrategyOne recommends you seek help from an experienced business blogging consultant. For more information on business blogging, download the free eStrategyOne Business Blogging Primer, and read another article entitled 10 Steps to Marketing with Business Weblogs.

About eStrategy One

eStrategyOne was founded in 1990 by Rich Ottum. The company conceives and executes online marketing solutions to increase website performance and profitability. Services include E-Business and E-commerce Strategy, Business Blog Consulting, Online Advertising and Promotion, Website Analysis and Optimization.

Thanks to Rich Ottum for making this another successful "Guest Blogger Friday".

Have A Great Day

Thom Singer

Thursday, September 15, 2005

To Serve Man

My favorite episode of "The Twilight Zone" is one where aliens arrive on earth and are recruiting people to come back with them to their home planet. They treat the humans with great respect and they have have a book that they keep referring to called, "To Serve Man". Many of the earthlings are captivated with the space men, who seem to be treating them like gods, with the goal to deliver them their greatest desires.

Some however are skeptical of the whole situation. While crowds are lining up to go with the aliens, expecting to be worshiped, others question the motivation of the space travelers. Just has hundreds leave on the space ship to be taken into space, one of the humans runs out with a look of horror on his face. He has just finished translating "To Serve Man". He screams; "STOP....IT'S A COOKBOOK !!!!".

If you want to build a successful network of contacts that will lead to referrals and more business, you must go out of your way to "serve" others. Finding ways to selflessly help them will lead to others helping you. But your motivation must be sincere. If you are just doing it to get something in return, eventually someone will figure it out and expose you as a fraud. Your plan cannot be to devour the others.

In my book, "Some Assembly Required: How to Make, Keep and Grow Your Business Relationships" (New Year Publishing 2005), I talk about the "pork chop man". This guy is always out networking. Every time he sees a potential client, it is as if that person has a pork chop around their neck and he is a hungry wolf. Once he gets the business, or discovers the prospect is not really a prospect, he drops them and moves on. His motivation is not really to build a network based on mutual benefits..... it is to get business for himself.

To succeed at networking your motives have to be about mutual success, not just your own.

"There is a great man who makes every man
feel small, but the REALLY great man is the man who makes every man feel great."
- G.K. Chesterton

Have A Great Day

Thom Singer

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

A Job You Love or Hate....It's The People

"Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life." - Confucius

Having a job you love is worth more than just money. It is Christmas, your birthday, Halloween and a visit from the Tooth Fairy all wrapped up in one. I know, cuz I have worked in great, dynamic, uplifting environments and I have had the job from hell. The bad jobs are so awful that you lay in bed in the morning wishing for the flu.

I wish I could tell you there is a way to identify the wheat from the shaft before you accept that offer, but usually you cannot. During the recruiting phase you are only shown the roses, the thorns are hidden away. A crazy or dictatorial boss never informs you up front that they will make irrational demands upon you or belittle you in front of peers at every chance.

I once worked for a woman who made the work environment miserable for everyone. The bad news was not that she was a tyrant, but that her superiors chose to look the other way at her behavior because of her rising sales numbers. Their priorities were nothing but the numbers. Eventually the whole staff left and a new crop of employees were recruited, who also eventually resigned.

Another boss was the type of man who claimed to be a good Christian, but would throw you under a bus to save himself. He routinely would have "discussions" with employees and put a synopsis in their file. He made sure that even good workers had something negative in their write ups, as he had discovered this made it easier to fire them if the need arose. YIKES.

What I have discovered is that the people with whom you work will add to or subtract from how you enjoy your job. If you find yourself hating your career, then it is up to you to make plans to move on. Jobs do not just fall from trees, but if you network and research your options you will be able to easily find new employment. If you do your homework, you can limit your chances of ending up in a dysfunctional workplace. In good times and bad, people make career changes.

I am fortunate, I currently work for a dymanic and growing company in an expanding industry. I like and respect the people with whom I work, and the future looks bright. I hope your does too.

Have A Great Day.

Thom Singer

The Human Fabric

In his book, The Human Fabric, author Bijoy Goswami does a wonderful job of diagramming the three different personalities types that exist inside you and the people whom make up your network of personal and professional contacts. There are Mavens, Relaters and Evangelists. Each type has a unique way of interacting with the world, and the more you know about what motivates you, and those around you, the easier it is for you to cultivate your relationships with others.

Why is this important?

It is vitally important because if you do know know about what motivates another person, you may never be able to make the deep personal connections required to assemble a mutually beneficial friendship. We all benefit from having a network of contacts that can and will refer business, but without real understanding of one another....we can never get to that level intimate level with others.

Goswami does one of the best jobs I have ever seen of communicating the traits of the personalities and describing the ways we can all better interact with the other people we encounter in our lives.

The Human Fabric makes a great companion book to read along with my book, Some Assembly Required: How to Make Keep and Grow Your Business Relationships (New Year Publishing, 2005, now available at Having the understanding of people will allow you to excel at making, keeping and growing any relationship.

Have A Great Day.

Thom Singer

Monday, September 12, 2005

Just Another Monday?

Is today just another Monday? No is the first day of the rest of your life!!!



Sure, but true. With all that we have witnessed on our television news the last two weeks, we should all feel very humbled by the power of mother nature, the randomness of fate, and the ridiculous nature of politicians and news personalities who have pontificated, grandstanded and finger pointed.

I, for one, am very proud of my fellow Americans and many from other countries for how they have responded to the citizens of the Gulf Coast. Katrina was a horrible disaster. Millions of people have been effected. But millions more have reached into their hearts and given of their time and financial resources to try to make a bad situation a little better.

I often ask those who read this blog if they find themselves being "part of the solution or part of the problem?" In an era where so many are accused of being selfish, it is refreshing to see the opposite to be true.

I have six friends who are heroes. They are all local businessmen (lawyers, engineers, consultants, real estate appraisers, etc...) from my church who took time off from work to go to Louisiana and Mississippi and deliver food and water to those in need. Three of these individuals have been TWICE in the last fortnight. They volunteered to go with a charity, Mobile Loaves and Fishes, to feed the hungry and clear debris. Their stories of what they encountered in the storm ravaged areas are both horrifying and heart warming.

They witnessed first hand the strength of the human spirit that is present in everyone, regardless of race, religion or economic situation. Ben, John, Derek, Richard, Stuart and are heroes by any definition. Thank you.

So how is today just another Monday??? How can one not be moved to want to make more of their lives today, after watching those who have faced the eye of the storm. I challenge everyone who reads these words to reach inside themselves and make today spectacular.

Have A Great Day.

Thom Singer

Friday, September 09, 2005

Guest Blogger Friday - Bert Decker

This week our “Guest Blogger Friday” contributor is Bert Decker, author of “You’ve Got To Be Believed To Be Heard” and NBC’s TODAY show communications expert. Bert is founder of Decker Communications, Inc. and is also a professional speaker, entrepreneur, coach and consultant, and a blogger. See his blog and website for more great communications tips and resources.

The Five Key Principles To Great Communicating
By Bert Decker

Thanks Thom for the additional forum. Now I’ll have to put this “guest column” on my own blog – but you saw it here first. And I appreciate all the great tips and blogging help you’ve given me.

I thought I’d try to get a lot of info in a short space, so I’m going to try to summarize what I’ve found to be the Five Key Principles to Great Communicating:

1. The Spoken Word is More Powerful than the Written Word.

To all you writers (and readers) out there, this might seem heresy – but hold on. The written word is GREAT for information. People can read five times faster than they you can speak. The written word is great for reference. And we are taught the written word, and how to write. But it isn’t the most powerful medium if you want to create action.

The power is in the spoken word – in our voice and eyes and movement. We involve all the senses, and our very powerful unconscious brain in our messages. We are the message. In speaking you can reach the emotions more immediately and more forcefully. You can reach The First Brain in speaking, not as easily in reading. (See “Blink” and “You’ve Got To Be Believed To Be Heard.”

Imagine being moved and inspired by Martin Luther King’s “I’ve Got A Dream” speech, or John F. Kennedy’s “We’ll put a man on the moon” speech. Being filled with the sounds and words and energy. Then imagine reading the words by themselves. They words alone would not live in infamy.

2. Always Have a Point Of View. Always.

No more rambling data dumps if you want impact in your business presentations. I’ve seen and heard thousands of speeches, messages and presentations, and I’d guess about 80% of them do not have a focus. It should be the first thing.

Anytime you are speaking, including on the phone or even sending an email, ask yourself, “What’s the point?” What’s The Big Idea. Why is it important for someone to listen to you. If anyone can be listening to you and say, “So what?” – you do not have a strong Point Of View.

We have a preparation “triangle” we teach people who want to be influential, and it sets three keys:

What’s my point!
What action do I want people to take!
What’s the benefit in it for them!

If you will just set those points even before you start creating your arguments and telling your stories, you will have the great benefit of always being on target.

3. Communication Rides Energy

When you are speaking, think of yourself as a horse, and your message is riding to the destination of influence. Or if you want another metaphor – you are the computer, and your message is the software that delivers those folders and files. If you have a clunky old computer with weak chips, it doesn’t matter how great your files are – they won’t get there very fast.

There are what I call the Behavioral Big Six – habits of our voice and body that have nothing to do with the content we speak, but everything to do with the impact that we have. There are subtleties and nuances of each, and it is worth finding out your ‘energy’ habits through feedback in these areas:

Eye Communication – the most important, at least five (5) seconds
Posture and Movement – move, don’t stand behind lecterns
Dress and Appearance – “thin slicing” or the first three seconds
Gestures and the Smile – animation reflects our enthusiasm and passion
Voice and Vocal Variety – beware the monotone voice
Pausing – rid of non-words and the Power of the Pause

4. Visual Impact Dominates Personal Impact

We often give inconsistent messages. When we do, the visual is what is believed, not the sound of the voice, or even the content. Professor Albert Mehrabian’s classic study showed this in what people trusted in these three areas when there were inconstancies:

Verbal: 7%
Vocal: 38%
Visual: 55%

And why not. We are overwhelmingly visually dominant. The nerve pathways from the eyes to the brain are 25 times larger than the next biggest – the auditory. There’s much more here – suffice it to say this is why video feedback is so dramatically powerful. Observed behavior changes.

5. Authenticity Is the Core of Communicating

Speaking effectively is a learned skill, it is not a born talent. We are all born with certain capabilities, just like some athletes are born faster, taller, stronger, etc. But the great athletes are those that are coached and practice. They learn – by getting out of their own way.

Speaking and communicating well is not a slick thing. But it is learned. The process is much like peeling the onion. All we have to do is get out of our own way – remove barriers between ourselves and our audiences.

The problem is fear often blocks us. Or thinking that speaking is just a different form of writing, and that if I say the words people will ‘get’ them. Not so. Speaking is as much a behavioral process as an intellectual process. We need to be enthused and passionate about our subject. We need to be authentic.

For more details and information, see

Thank you to Bert for being our third "Guest Blogger". I hope that everyone is enjoying these informative posts each week. Tune in next time for another great "Guest Blogger Friday".

Have A Great Day

Thom Singer

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Four Days To Better Team Work (day 4)

Day Four - Assess Your Progress

The best laid plans of mice and men will often go awry (from Robert Burns poem: "To A Mouse"...and the from the book, "Of Mice and Men", by John Steinbeck)

Even though you know your destination and your team has taken action, you could still discover that you're headed the wrong direction. Many times people blindly try to reach their goal, heading down the wrong path Even when it is clear that they their journey is flawed.

If you find yourself leading your team toward a goal that is no longer what you desire, it is not only okay to re-assess your plans and change is your duty to the team to do so.

There is no shame in saying "Oooppps, let's change our course". However, it is bad to keep running for the wrong goal line. If your team needs to revisit what success looks like, then the leader needs to bring everyone back together to revisit the plans.

On the other hand, by assessing your progress you may discover that everyone is going just great. Your team will appreciate the clarification and your complimentary attitude can help recommit their efforts.

In most cases your situation will be somewhere in between these two scenarios. In this case you can tweak the plans and adjust your goals, keeping everyone committed to achieving success.

Have A Great Day.

Thom Singer

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Four Days To Better Team Work (Day 3)

Day Three - Take Action

Now that you know where you are and where you are going, you must take action. Most organizations make all kinds of plans, but never do anything to convert them into reality. Once you have defined what is "success", you should divide the work among your team and let them start achieving. Look closely at your the member's strengths and assign people clearly defined tasks that are inside their "sweet-spot".

Most people that I have worked with like to have action items. They want to know what their boss and co-workers expects. They take pride in doing a good job.

Once you have assigned the tasks, you must hold your team accountable. I do not mean that you need to hover over them (micromanage) or constantly ask them for progress reports....but you need open two-way communication with the entire group, (both one-on-one and with the whole team) so that you are aware of how things are progressing. You do not want to be surprised by any successes or failures along the way.

Remember that taking action is an important step in the achievement of your goals. Without action, a goal is simply a "wish".

"If wishes were horses, then beggars would ride." -An Irish Proverb

(my Irish grandmother loved this saying, though I still am not fully sure I know what it means!!!)

Have A Great Day.

Thom Singer

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Four Days To Better Team Work (Day 2)

Day Two - Know Where You Are Going

Once you know where your team is starting, you have to know where you are going. If you do not know what success looks like, how would you know when you got there?

Everyone on the team has to be part of defining your goals. If someone does not help you create the roadmap, you can be sure they will look for ways to knock you off course in the future.

It is crucial that everyone realizes and acknowledges the direction. Team members must realize at the end of this discussion that they are all passengers on a "Northbound Train". When you are on a northbound train you only have two choices......YOU GO NORTH or YOU GET OFF.

If someone cannot agree to the destination, they are free to leave the team. But you cannot tolerate people who will constantly question your direction and/or try to derail your progress.

This might sound harsh, but it is okay for people to leave or be asked to leave. Those who are always undercutting management by their poor attitude will not contribute to the success of the whole group. Those who will criticize fellow team members and hurt morale are more trouble than they are worth, no matter how long they have been with the company or what past successes they may have achieved. If your team supports and understands the goals, you cannot afford to coddle the naysayers.

Determine your goals and make sure you have the support of the group. Be sure your team is all on the same track. Then Go For It!!!!

Have A Great Day.

Thom Singer

Monday, September 05, 2005

Four Days To Better Team Work (Day 1)

Day One - Know Where You Are

When you are part of a team you have to interact with other people. Often times you do not select who else is part of the group, and that can cause conflict. Everyone has strengths and weaknesses. It is human nature to see your own positive traits as superior to others, and to view your negatives minor. The converse is how you might view others. This can cause the perception of reality to be skewed.

Before you can improve the dynamics of your work situation, everyone on the team needs to objectively look at what the other members of the company contribute. Without everyone's buy-in about the current state of affairs, real progress will be stopped before you can even get started.

This is not easy. People are judgemental and have preconcieved notions. Changing their minds is nearly impossible. I recommend that you do not try to change others opinions, but rather to refocus them.

Create a spreadsheet with each name down the first column. Have every team member annonomously write one or two positive attributes about other teammembers. Then compile each strenght onto a master sheet and share them all with the whole team. Many will be pleasantly surprised to see why others admire them and the rest of team.

Have a staff meeting with and discuss the contributions that each members strengths can mean to the advancement of the whole group. Allow everyone to participate and buy into the group dynamics.

Tune in tomorrow for "day two".

Have A Great Day.

Thom Singer

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Weekend Blog 11 - Gulf Coast Relief

The "Weekend Blog" is off the topics of business development, networking, sales, PR and marketing. It is my chance to talk about whatever is on my mind.

Gulf Coast Relief

I do not know where to start on this post, as the images that have been shown on our television screens of New Orleans and the other areas are heart breaking. From the families that have lost their homes, to those who were stranded in the Superdome, to the people who are displaced to other parts of the country... it just makes one want to cry.

The news has been dominated by reports of the horrible response to the New Orleans tragedy by the local, state and federal government officials. This was unacceptable and unfortunate at all levels. However, it is a bigger tragedy that people are trying to make this a political issue rather than a humanitarian issue.....all the name calling, finger pointing and political grandstanding is not helping the people who are currently in need. Now is not the time for dividing this nation, it is a time for uniting the American people. (Gosh, aren't we divided enough on regular days....we will have forever to assign blame!!!).

It is events like these that should allow people to put their differences aside and stand together. In addition to all the "bad" that exists within this horrible crisis, there are also many examples of people reaching out to assist their fellow man. This is where I choose to focus.

My family and I have donated food, clothing and money to the relief efforts. Friends of mine have gone to New Orleans and the surrounding areas to volunteer. On the television I have seen so many people do heroic things to make a bad situation a little better. This is what America is really about.....people chipping in and helping out when the worst times are upon us.

This message (public service and charity to others in times of great need) is what I want my young daughters to learn from this disaster.

My thoughts and prayers go out to everyone from this region of the country. May God bless all of the victims, volunteers, policemen, firemen, doctors, nurses and government officials.

Have A Great Weekend.

Thom Singer

Friday, September 02, 2005

Guest Blogger Friday - Steve Harper

Our "Guest Blogger Friday" writer this week is Steve Harper, author of The Ripple Effect. Steve is a successful entrepreneur, writer, business consultant, blogger and all around good guy. I am honored to have him as my friend, and my second "guest blogger". You can find more information about Steve and his book at

Impressionable Impressions
By Steve Harper

I appreciate Thom asking me to participate as this week’s guest BLOGGER. I am thrilled to do it!

I recently completed a talk for a financial services company in which one of the main principals asked me, “how can I turn a casual networking connection into something more?” It’s a great question!

My advice is really quite simple. Take the time, to make the time spent with a casual connection more meaningful. How do we do this? Set yourself apart from the rest of the pack!

Most business people don’t do anything more than surface hits. What I mean by that is they meet someone at an event, they have a brief verbal exchange and conclude it with the customary “so do you have a business card.” For 90% of business people that’s where it ends. The card is forever lost or only will be resurrected to prove to the boss or spouse that you actually attended the event.

If you really want to be different and make an impression, show the person how appreciative you are to have met them. Take the time to invest in some nice stationary and a good pen. Immediately following the event, within a day, sit down and write out a brief note of appreciation for the time they spent with you. Personalize it by recalling something that was said or something that was done at the event to let the person know you were really participating in the moment with them.

I recently attended a networking function where I met a VP of a local bank. During the course of our conversation he mentioned that he was likely in trouble with his son. It seems the event was being held right in the middle of his son’s baseball game and though he hated to miss it, the President of the bank had insisted he attend. I asked him casually about his son, age, team name, etc.. I turned that casual conversation into a meaningful moment because I showed sincere and genuine interest in him and his family.

Upon returning home that evening, I immediately took out his business card, penned a “nice to meet you note” and attached two discount coupons for Chuck E. Cheese with a brief note that hopefully this might help him get out of the dog house with his son. Within two days I had received a call back from him thanking me for the great gesture and just how shocked and impressed he was to receive my note and the coupons.

Now I don’t want you to think I manipulated the situation to better my chances of getting business with him. In fact, what I do has no barring on what this man does with the bank so the likelihood of us ever doing any direct business together is slim to none. However, as a VP of a well known bank, the opportunities that might flow through him and because of my sincere effort is very real. At the very least, I know that I now have made a meaningful connection with a pretty high ranking VP of a bank and that isn’t such a bad thing.

Now I know what some of you might say, why expend the effort when you don’t have any recognizable opportunity. That’s where you can really set yourself apart from the rest of the heard. Most people would see a situation like that and simply gloss over or outright ignore it because this “contact” wouldn’t prove directly valuable.

My contention is everyone you meet has the potential to enhance your life; personally or professionally. Taking the time to find a unique way to connect can open doors of opportunity that otherwise will remain closed to others.

Doing simple things like a prompt handwritten note with a heartfelt sentiment for the time spent is something that is completely out of the norm. Email doesn’t do it! A handwritten note shows a level of class and sophistication that has in large part been lost in the business world today.

Taking the time to contact the person on the phone following the event to just express how much you enjoyed meeting them and thanking them for taking the time to chat with you can go a long way too. Too often business people do the follow up phone call but do it purely for selfish reasons. “Hey Chuck it was great meeting you at the event last week. Listen, I want to tell you a little bit more about what I do in hopes of working with you.” Blah, blah, blah…Chuck and I could care less about what you do at that point. There is no sentiment only motivation to sell me something. Not a good impression!

Think about the last time you got a phone call from someone just because they were thinking about you. How did that make you feel? Business professionals are not impervious to feeling good. Take the time out of your day to simply call and say “It was great meeting you. I enjoyed our chat. I hope our paths cross again soon.” Talk about making an impact!

Impressionable impressions come in all forms. They have to be sincere, they have to have no agenda and they have to show you for the person that you are…not the person who sells this or promotes that.

Take a moment and look at the people you have crossed paths with in the past week. Sit down and ask yourself, “What can I do to make a favorable impression on this person.” Whether that’s a phone call, handwritten note or special delivery box of chocolates, do something! Trust me, just by doing something you will likely make an impression that will pay off for you in the future.

Thanks Steve for a making today's post a great "Guest Blogger Friday"

Have A Great Day.

Thom Singer

Thursday, September 01, 2005

A Brochure Can't Make A Cold Call

Everyone has opinions about marketing and sales, regardless of their role in the organization. Many people who have never worked inside the marketing department are quick to throw stones at the marketers, but are slow to have suggestions that will add value to the company's strategy.

Those who are notorious for tossing grenades are often sure they have all the answers. They seem to think that a design change to a brochure or a full-page color advertisement will make the phone ring more frequently.

Sadly, brochures and advertisements do not sell professional services,....people do. While it is important to have good marketing materials, sales will not happen by magic....NO MATTER HOW GOOD YOUR MATERIALS ARE!!!

I have a friend who is in sales for a large technology company. He does not tolerate his fellow sales professionals complaining about things like management, marketing, advertising, PR or the competition. His philosophy is that the sales team is there to sell, regardless of all the other stuff, and that a good sales person can sell in spite of what goes on around them (he is right).

My friend never has disparaging words about his company, co-workers or competitors. He just sells his products and services....and earns hundreds of thousands of dollars per year doing it. He believes that everyone should find a way to be part of the solution, not part of the problem.

How about you? Are you part of the solution?

I am planning a series of posts to this blog called "Four Days to Better Team Work" that will focus on this issue. Rather than find fault in those with whom you work, what would happen if you identified the strengths and weaknesses of everyone.....and then made it possible for everyone to utilize their strengths? I think you would see more sales and have a much happier workplace. Stay tuned for Monday (day one).

Have A Great Day.

Thom Singer