Thursday, April 30, 2009

Everything About Today is Enchanting

New York Times reporter Jeff Zeleny had the privilege of asking President Obama one of the 13 questions in last night's "100 Days In Office" prime-time press conference.

He asked the leader of the free world what "enchanted" him about his short term in office.

This question has set off a ton of discussion from the right and the left on cable news and talk radio. The far right is screaming that with so few questions, the Times tossed an asinine softball query. The far left thinks that Zeleny was captivating in his intellectual choice of words and that the question was a fine example of political journalism. (Both are spending too much time on this topic)

The truth lies in the middle. While the NY Times has the right to ask any question of Mr. Obama, I think that the "paper of record" would be horribly embarrassed by this question and would reprimand Zeleny for wasting the time of the President and the American people. If there is only be time for a bakers dozen of questions, we should all expect more. But that was yesterday.

Now "enchanted" is not a word that comes up in regular daily conversation. According to the word means: "to subject to magical influence; bewitch: 'fairytales about witches who enchant handsome princes and beautiful maidens'."

So here is my challenge to everyone who reads this blog post. Work this word "enchant(ed)" into normal conversation 5 times today. I just asked people on Twitter "what enchants you about using Twitter"... which lead to interesting comments!

Try asking your boss how you company "enchanted" customers this week. Ask your children what was "enchanting" about school today. Inquire from the waiter or waitress at lunch if any particular meal on the menu would has the power to "enchant" your taste buds.

I am enchanted by turning something useless (like Mr. Zeleny's question to Barak Obama) into something silly, fun, and different.

The spell is cast. Everything today is enchanting!

Have A Great Day.


Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Internal Integration

Studies show that 50 to 70 percent of mergers fail, in that they don't live up to their financial promise. Beyond that the employees on both sides of the newly formed company are often anxious about their new co-workers, and fear for their jobs.

Little things like new IT programs and protocols, without knowledge of whom to contact leave many feeling vulnerable.

It does not need to be this way.

Integration programs that have an "internal networking" component can help build bridges between the freshly merged teams.

I once worked with a client who had added a new division through acquisition. A year prior to the purchase of the new company, the parent firm had undergone a merger of equals. For 12 months the two sides had bickered and undermined each other. Then they learned what real aliens looked like when they added the newest group. All three cultures clashed and it was clear that nobody trusted each other.

The company would have been better served from the start if they had addressed the issues of internal integration up front.

I offer a half day seminar focused on internal networking and building trust that is geared toward businesses, law firms, and other organizations that are going through the M&A process.

For more information contact me at 512-970-0398.

Please visit my website for more information on my speaking, consulting or to buy my books.

Have A Great Day.


Lemonade Day

This Sunday (May 3, 2009) is Lemonade Day in Austin, Houston and several other cities. The program was founded to teach kids about entrepreneurship. vcfo is a sponsor and I have been volunteering to get the word out throughout Austin about this wonderful experience for children.

Here I am dressed as "LemonHead" at a kick-off event last weekend at the Austin Children's Museum. A good volunteer does what asked at such and event. I was asked to walk around with a giant plastic lemon on my head. I think I made some of the kids at the museum cry. :)

I don't know who made this video... but it made me laugh.

The real important infromation about Lemonade Day 2009 is at

It is NOT too late to sign up and have your kids participate and embrace the spirit of being a real entrepreneur.
Have A Great Day.


Sunday, April 26, 2009

Is Your Business A "Fast" Company?

I had an interesting conversation at a cocktail party with an entrepreneur about the importance of being flexible. In crazy economic times he said it is the nimble who survive, while those who cannot change with the times that will have the most trouble. The conversation began around how individuals can adjust to changing situations in employment, work, starting their own business, etc... but it morphed into a philosophical discussion about companies and the power of corporate culture in the success of a business over the long run.

Just as a person has to be flexible and willing to reinvent themselves to deal with changing situations, a company must be able to do the same thing. He believed that a corporation is much more like a human being than most would ever admit. Similar to a person, a business has the following; a collective personality, internal needs, external desires, goals, a hunger to be fed, a strong ego, fear, self-understanding / awareness (and mis-understanding of that awareness!), vanity, and a can become very set in its ways.

He suggested that all business managers and owners look at the traits they admire in their friends (and other associates) and then look and see if their community would view their organization in the same way. Friendly, outgoing, helpful, charitable, intelligent, understanding, funny / playful, empathetic, loyal, giving, open to new ideas, and interested in others were all traits he said he admires in people and companies. I had never looked at it this way.

My friend was obsessed with "the need for speed" in regards to companies (and individuals) reinventing themselves in these trying economic times. All areas of business have to be able to bend with the changing marketplace. Marketing, pricing models, product and service offerings, best practices, customer relationships, sales techniques, advertising, networking, PR, credit/payment terms, HR policies, and any other of the business practices must be able to adjust. There is no time for anyone who says "because we always do it this way" in today's environment.

During the "tech boom" of a decade ago I loved Fast Company Magazine. The concept of a "fast company" was very exciting. Today the magazine's title is just a title, but at the time, it encapsulated everything that made the business world exciting. Those who were "fast" were cutting edge. Seems everyone has slowed down these days.

As I have launched my career as a speaker/author/consultant/publisher I have discovered that it is my ability to be flexible that is bringing me the most success. The advice I got in my cocktail party conversation was to never get so confident in myself that I lose the ability to see that others have unique (and maybe better) ways of doing things. He told me to remember not to "believe my own press", as too many accolades in the news tends to bring a false assurance. That over confidence that people would find as "stuck up" in a person translates to a business.

So now I must look for ways to be "fast" without riding that momentum over a cliff. Geeze, this stuff is not easy! But we all should be thinking about adaptability these days, agreed????

Have A Great Day

Saturday, April 25, 2009

If You Want Something AMAZING, Do Something About It

Taking action is the only way to succeed. Sitting on your ass and doing nothing will never produce results.

But sometimes you have to be unique and do something "out of the box" if you want to accomplish amazing results. Sometimes you have to "GO BIG... or go home".

My nephew wanted to go to the senior prom in style. His decade old second-hand sedan or his mom's Honda Pilot were not the dream ride for he and his girlfriend. Renting a limo was too expensive and "overdone". He is too young to rent a car from Hertz.

But Dan is an entrepreneurial young man who was not going to just settle for average.

He created a website "" seeking someone in the Silicon Valley who would lend him their luxury car for the night. He realized it was a long-shot, but that he had nothing to lose, and everything to gain from putting his dream for a sweet ride out into the universe.

The web site got local publicity in San Jose and was talked about by some bay area radio talk shows. A local paper called him to write about his attempt get a "Cool Prom Car".

His story gets better. An enterprising local car deal stepped up and will provide them with prom transportation in a new Mercedes Benz. See photo above. OH YES.... way to go, Daniel!

The Silicon Valley is a place where rewards come to those who attempt creativity and shoot for the stars. The vibe of entrepreneurial success is pervasive in the community. Those who take the risks discover the upside.

It is the soul of the entrepreneur that sees the "cool factor" in this kid trying for his dream. For this, I admire Beshoff Motorcars of San Jose for stepping up and being part of this story. Sure, they are smart, they see the marketing / PR value (CLICK HERE to visit their website...give them a ton of traffic!!) .... but beyond that they recognize the dream in a young man's heart.

I imagine after Dan has graduated from college and made his fortune that he will be a loyal Mercedes driver, but more important this smart car dealer knows that their target customer admires this kid who creates a website late one night to attempt to make his dreams come true.

I will post photos on this blog following the big Prom Night, as I am sure my nephew will send me some good pictures to share with the readers of this blog. I bet his date looks even better than the car!

Have A Great Day.


Friday, April 24, 2009

"Some Assembly Required Blog" Endorses Brewster McCracken for Austin Mayor

I attended a great party on Friday night at the home of Tara and Chad Goldwasser (Goldwasser Real Estate is the premier real estate company in Ausin!). The event was in support of Austin Mayor Candidate Brewster McCracken. The election is just around the corner, and awareness of the issues and the future of this amazing city were the topics at hand.

A large crowd was in attendance to hear the candidate talk about what it is that make Austin a spectacular city, and discuss what we need to do to ensure that we are a thriving city going forward. We cannot rest on our past successes, nor can we just "hunker down" and hope for the best.

Early voting begins on Monday, and the election will be held on May 9th.

Historically Austinites do not have a very good turn out in local elections. The citizens talk a good game about being politically involved, but do not really show up to vote in the actual elections. Bummer.

During these trying times, the future of the city depends on having a plan for tomorrow. No matter who people vote for, this is not the year to ignore the election. Weak voter turn out is reserved for weak cities. Austin is better than that!

Hey Austinites --- No matter whom you support, please go vote. The "Some Assembly Required Blog" officially endorses Brewster McCracken for Mayor of Austin!

Have A Great Day.


Givers Need Not Fear

"I never apologize for the word 'networking' or for the 'act of networking'. When done properly it brings much value to everyone involved" -- Marny Lifshen, co-author, "Some Assembly Required: A Networking Guide for Women"

Do you ever find yourself being shy about networking? Are you a little embarrassed to tell others that you are going to a networking event or that you belong to networking organizations?

Many people have misconceptions about networking involving cheesy happy hours in hotel ballrooms with free beer and crappy fried snacks. While some networking events meet that description on various levels, the power of creating business relationships has nothing to do with drink tickets, food and handing out your business cards.

Networking is about cultivating connections with other people that allow you both to prosper. What is embarrassing about discovering the soul of another human being and looking for ways to make their life better? What makes someone shy about mutually assisting each other in the quest for success?

I think those who are really "embarrassed" have been mis-lead to believe that networking is a selfish act. They have been taught to go out and find people who can become a one-way resource without them needing to provide value in return. It is those who are "takers"... or fear that they are "takers" who have real issues with the concept of networking.

Thus I encourage you to go out and network.... but be a giver! Look for ways to connect those in your network with others whom can help them achieve. The funny thing is the more you give, the more you will get. People LOVE to help those who help others.

But do not keep score of your might become disappointed. You will often give more than you get... but so what? The act of giving (and helping someone) is in itself a victory. Do not help someone expecting them to help you. Maybe they will... maybe they wont. It is not about the one particular person returning a favor, it IS about the universe rewarding you in the long run.

Stop all the games about networking, or hiding your efforts... just go out and make things happen. It is not a sin in any religion to meet people and become a positive light in their lives. So why, why, why be shy?

Have A Great Day.


Capital Factory Announces Investments

Capital Factory, an early stage technology incubator in Austin, Texas, announced investments in five emerging technology startups selected to participate in its inaugural 2009 summer program. Each company will receive a cash investment of up to $20,000, more than $20,000 in free services, and mentorship from some of the top entrepreneurs in central Texas. The free services include office space, legal counsel from Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosatti, public relations support from Porter Novelli, and accounting support from The Accounting Group and vcfo, among many other benefits.


  • Cubit Planning - Environmental reports at the click of a button
  • Famigo - Mobile games that bring the family together
  • Homstie - Person-to-person marketplace for storage space
  • Hourville - A marketplace for services by the hour
  • PetzMD - Website for Pet Health, from A to Z

The five startups were selected from a list of more than 250 applicants and five additional companies were recognized as finalists. Applications were submitted from all over the country although more were from Texas than any other state. Four of the five startups were already located in Austin and one, Homstie, will be relocating from California this summer.

The Capital Factory is a great program designed to help inspire and cultivate the entrepreneurial spirit. It is the success of entrepreneurs that will bring about the needed changes to the global economic woes. We need to put more focus on grassroots stimulus programs and encourage those who have the desire to create the future.

Have A Great Day


Thursday, April 23, 2009

Prioritize Networking

No matter how "busy" you are, you cannot ignore the importance of your network.

The people who don't enjoy certain parts of networking will often claim they are "too busy", but when you examine their schedule they have simply decided to make other activities (ones in which they are more confident and comfortable) the priority.

The activities they skip vary, but most often include attending corporate events in their business community (which lead to meeting new and unique people) and following up with individuals with whom they do not yet have an established relationship. They make their focus of networking existing contacts, which while important, can only take you to the level you are already accustomed.

The real power in networking comes from ever expanding your spheres of influence. However, to do this effectively, you must invest time in helping others succeed. This involves taking risks, as the people you meet may or may not help you in return.

I have written several books on the topic of the power of business relationships and networking, and I cover the subject on this blog - and I never said any of this is EASY. If you look at the word "networking" you will find the word "WORK" smack in the middle.

I have talked with thousands of people who have excuses on why such things are "fluffy" or not a priority, and have never been convinced that anyone who is indifferent about networking was anything other than uncomfortable or shy when it comes to the execution of the process.

Introverts will claim that it is "easier" for extroverts, and they are right. But math is easier for mathematicians, and I still have to balance my bank statement!

I have had executives walk out of meetings where I was counseling their employees on the best ways to network. They know it is important and want their team to do it, but they run off to their office to avoid having to admit they are not on board with the activities for themselves. They justify if they don't sit through my presentation, then they cannot be held accountable by their own team.

Examine your own attitude toward networking and building a personal brand. If any of the above hits home (and you realize you are not making it a priority), then challenge yourself to take 30 minutes a week to focus on your networking plan. This does not mean 30 minutes of actual networking activities (that comes later), but instead I am recommending you schedule a weekly session that makes you focus on your brand strategy. If you have no strategy, you have no brand. But that is a choice, too.

Have A Great Day.


Sunday, April 19, 2009

Finding Your Ceiling

How good can you be? What is the premier performance that you can deliver on the playing field of life? Do you give your absolute best in everything?

In his book, "When The Game Stands Tall", author Neil Hayes tells the true story of high school football coach Bob Ladouceur. Ladouceur holds the record for the longest winning streak in football history. De La Salle, the tiny Catholic school in Concord, California won 151 consecutive games from 1992 to 2004, while playing against some of the top football programs in Northern California and beyond.

What is amazing about Bob Ladouceur and "The Streak" of wins is that each year he would have a new team of teenagers who have to work together to find that special spark that would allow them to dominate on the football field. Neil Hayes expertly writes about how this translates to the game of life. The 2002 team, which is profiled in the book, inherited a history - but they were still kids who had to go out and win football games. They had to play at the best levels imaginable. Digging deep as individuals and as a team to carry on the winning tradition of their school.

I was moved by the story, but touched at my soul by the thought of "the ceiling". Wow, I wondered, do I deliver everything at the level of my own ceiling? The answer is often "no", and that is a hard pill to swallow.

Look at your own game of life. Are you giving 100% as a boss, an employee, a husband or wife, a father or mother, a son or daughter, neighbor, friend, volunteer, etc...? We are all lured in by the ease of just giving enough. Viewing those around us and knowing we can easily "get by" with a standard level of effort.

Although I have never played football (or any sport at a top level!), sports are an ideal metaphor for life. We all admire stories of teams like De La Salle, or individual athletes who reach the top of their game. We instinctively respect their natural talent, but it is the extra effort that they put in and the extraordinary commitment to practice that makes them great.

I want to find my ceiling in every area of my life. We are cheating those around us, and ourselves, when we do not give it 100%. If we are unsure of how good we can be, how will any of us deliver that stellar performance that can impact the world?

But the search for that personal excellence is difficult. Time, egos, demanding schedules, expectations of others, and all sorts of things cloud out judgment. Life has a way of throwing a penalty flag from time to time and sending us backward. The pain and fear can make us forget our desire to excel. It is easy to rest on being good enough.

I want to stand tall as a husband, as a father, as a business professional, as a friend, as a brother, as a member of my church and community, and as a person. I want to deliver all of myself to those around me. Yet wanting and doing are not always the same thing.

While I do a good job in all these areas, I have not yet found my ceiling in any of them - and we are approaching half-time. While I don't have Bob Ladouceur waiting for me on the sidelines, I do have my own "coaches" and my own "team" who challenge me to reach inside myself and discover more grit and determination than I ever imagined. For that I am grateful!

Recognizing those around us who are are teams and coaches is sometimes the first step. Acknowledging how we can help each other and then delivering is what makes the difference. We live in a "Lone Ranger" society that champions the accomplishments of the individual, but that is not reality. The cliche that TEAM means "Together Everyone Accomplishes More" is really the truth.

I hope this post makes you think about exploring the heights of your own ceiling. I imagine that performing our lives at that top level is really the nirvana we all seek. Touch Down!

Have A Great Day.


Saturday, April 18, 2009

International "Reconnect With An Old Friend" Week - May 4-8, 2009

Please join me in promoting International "Reconnect With An Old Friend" Week - May 4th through May 8th, 2009.

Sponsored by New Year Publishing and the "Some Assembly Required" networking book series, this event is meant to remind people that reconnecting with old friends is a great way to expand your network -- and makes you (and those you reconnect with) feel good at the same time.

It takes time to establish meaningful connections with other people. The idea that meeting somebody once and sending them a Facebook "friend request" makes them part of your network is wrong. It takes multiple interactions, shared experiences and mutual respect before somebody is a real friend. There are no shortcuts in establishing lasting bonds.

Reconnecting is much easier, as you already have all those things in place. The reality is that time, geography and life situations can cause people to drift apart. If a relationship is not cultivated it will die. Out of sight is out of mind.

During "Reconnect Week" people are encouraged to call old friends with whom they have had no contact with for over a year. As part of this call, share with them a specific memory that makes them a special part of your life.

Please tell others about this special week. Blogs, Twitter, Facebook, etc.... Spread the word, and then take action the week of May 4th.
Feel free to share your experiences in the comments section.

Have A Great Day.


Friday, April 17, 2009

Networking Is NOT for YOU!!!

If you are easily annoyed with people ... then networking is not for you.

If you find attending business social events to be a waste of your valuable time... then networking is not for you.

If you think the other people in attendance at networking events are beneath you.... then networking is not for you.

If you do not see the value in helping others succeed... then networking is not for you.

If you are so busy that you cannot invest the time to establish relationships that can and will become mutually beneficial in the long run... then networking is not for you.

If you want a shortcut to success.... then networking is not for you.

If you are always making excuses about why networking wont work for you... then networking is not for you.

If you put down the people who have succeeded because of their contacts and referral networks... then networking is not for you.

If you hate the term "networking" and put it down as somewhat icky.... then networking is not for you.

There is not law that says you need to make, grow and keep business relationships. Nobody is forcing you to establish contacts and invest in cultivating professional relationships.

Networking is a choice. You either think it is a valuable part of your future achievements, or you do not. If you do not... why in the world have you read this blog post to this point?

Have A Great Day.


OK, You Really Should Invest Seven Minutes To Watch This Clip!

Sometimes there are things on the internet that go overly viral to the point that people tune them out. Viral is not as cool when it becomes mainstream (Unless it is Oprah joining Twitter, then people feel it is new and fresh.... I know, I don't get the hype on Oprah and her leap to tweet).

For several few days I have heard too much buzz about Susan Boyle, and have avoid viewing her on YouTube because there was mass "over-hype" and I thought I did not care to see the frumpy woman sing. Susan is the 47-year-old out of work woman who recently sang on Season 11 of "Britain's Got Talent" (Yes folks, "America's Got Talent" is a copy-cat. Simon Cowell is a judge on both and usually just as mean!).

I saw part of the clip on the news and on a whim clicked through a link to YouTube that someone had posted on Twitter. The whole segment is seven minutes long. It is worth watching. It is one of those "wake up calls" that reminds you to never prejudge people because of their hair or clothes.

Susan Boyle rocked the house
with her song from the musical "Les Miserables".

YouTube has blocked the ability to embed the clip in my blog, but I suggest you CLICK HERE and go see this one.

It will make you smile. The cynical Simon Cowell's reaction is classic. If, like me, you love to root for the underdog, then you will cheer for this woman's success.

Have A Great Day.


Thursday, April 16, 2009

Building Blocks of Business Luncheon

Please join the Austin Chamber of Commerce for the next "Building Blocks of Business" luncheon on Wednesday, April 22nd.

"Networking Essentials in a Down Economy"


Carol Thompson, The Thompson Group
Jason Lavender, ID Theft Solutions of American
Scott Ingram,


Thom Singer

Click Here for more information.

Have A Great Day.


TEXCHANGE Austin - "The Changing Financial Landscape"

Wednesday night's TEXCHANGE dinner in Austin was a strong event.

The topic was"The Changing Financial Landscape" and the panel did a great job in their discussions on Angel, VC and Institutional investments.

The Panelists:

Josh Baer - OtherInbox (and an angel investor)
Mike Dodd - Austin Ventures
Neil Randall - Teachers Retirement System of Texas

The Moderator:

Bill Morrow - CSIdentity

Some have said that the venture capital model is broken, but it in not broken... it has just changed with the economic situations. There are still VC's who are making early stage investments in the right companies. But there are certainly fewer investments being made right now.

Angels, too, are investing. In fact, now is a good time for angels. Angel investing is usually a more local phenomenon - although in Texas it can often go farther than just the local town. There is a statewide interest from angels and Austin companies should look to the strong Angel Networks in Dallas, Houston and San Antonio.

As money is tighter, VC's are expanding their limited partners, and this makes it easier for large funds to get access. Institutional money is out there and looking to invest.

While everyone talked about the active desire to invest, the entrepreneurs I talk with on the street who are seeking money are having a tough time. Until the M&A markets (and dare I say IPOs) come back, there is not as much money available for investors who are waiting for liquidity events.

Before funding a company, investors want to see a faster path to cash-flow positive. They used to be able to rely on others to come along in future rounds, but now they must be prepared to invest in the company the whole way. If they cannot do that, they will pass on the deal. Cautious investors with limited resources are being very judicious in the decisions they make.

My thoughts are that this too shall pass, and we will again see an era with more dollars invested. There is a desire to invest in growth, and as soon as we witness some large returns, investors will not be able to stop themselves... they will be happily investing in early stage companies. Venture (and other) investments spur the economy. Growing companies create jobs and wealth and thus are an important part of our future.

Have A Great Day.


Wednesday, April 15, 2009

I'm Confused

After watching all the news about these "Tea Party" protests government taxes, I can't figure out what anyone wants.

Are they protesting all taxes? Ummm, how would we have road, schools, Army, etc... We need to have taxes, folks.

Are they protesting the overly complex tax code? Ok, I agree, our tax system is so screwed up than anyone who does not think this is either much smarter than me... or lying. We have let the tax code get so complex that it means nobody can figure it out, not even the people who work for the government.

Are they looking for a "fair" percentage to pay in taxes? "Fair" is a subjective term so you can never find that number.

Or... are these protests just another reason for the right and left to run around and say nasty shit about each other? It seems like a chance for those who don't like Mr. Obama to run around in the streets and "glam" for the camera. Meanwhile it is a chance for the President's supporters to run around and keep busy, since they have had little to do since the election.

I believe that Barak Obama is doing a fine job. Regardless of politics, he is the President and that deserves respect and honor. Besides, he has been in office about 35 minutes.... can we please give the man a chance to govern? The right HATED it when the left treated George W. Bush poorly at every turn ... and yet instead of demonstrating how they would have wished the Democrats should have behaved,.... they act like jerks. Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrr. It is a never ending circle.

Seems to me the far right are all in one voice thinking these "tea parties" are amazing. And the far left is commenting on how awful the demonstrators are as people. It is funny to see people making this about "right" and "left". Is it really? Or are people just jumping in support of "their team"????

I am getting sick and tired of all this lock-step "Republican" and "Democrat" stuff. When do we act like Americans first? I am tired of all of it. If you are a partisan, you are equally as guilty as the people on the other side. Really, you are like twins. STOP THE INSANITY and let's find a way to make the needs of America come BEFORE a victory for the political parties.

I tell you, this "Extreme Centrist" stuff is catching on.


Happy Tax Day

It happens every year on April 15th. For as long as I can recall it is a major media event that gets coverage from the local, regional and national news. In every city across the country you will find some junior television reporter standing outside the "Main Post Office" interviewing people who drive up to place their tax returns into the mailbox.

It is nutty that our society finds placing envelopes into the mail so worthy of media coverage.

Now there are these "Tea Party" protests happening in over 50 cities. It seems that these gatherings were designed by Fox News, CNN, MSNBC, NBC, ABC, CBS, and other news outlets .... as they have all sent crews to each of these towns looking to find stories.

Apparently there is no other news today that requires coverage.

It seems that this anti-government tax protest has become a major pissing match between the far right and the far left. The feeling is that anyone who does not love taxation is against Obama (Ummmm, Obama did not invent taxes). I think that most people agree that our tax code is screwed up - and it has nothing to do with what side of the political line they stand on. It certainly has NOTHING to do with our current administration.

Am I wrong?

I will admit, that as an "Extreme Centrist" politically I try to avoid paying too much attention to anything that the far left and the far right do that involves painting signs and jumping on command for Katie Couric's cameraman. This whole "Tea Party" thing has some folks I know fired up, and others are seething with vile disgust over the citizens with different views holding a protest.

Funny, that protests annoy the left when they are organized by the right... and they annoy the right when they are hosted by the left. See the similarities?

See, as an "Extreme Centrist" I have come to see our political system as performance art. The far left and far right are both so filled with hate in their soul that they are more comedy and tragedy than relevant. But they get the press, so they have the power.

My prediction - Nothing is going to change. The far right and far left will be flinging arrows at each other while the rest of us just sit there and watch for decades. Unless... the centrists unite.... which wont happen.

Have A Great Day.


Monday, April 13, 2009

Can I Pick Your Brain? - Sorry, There Is Nothing Left :)

Scott Ingram at has a new post on his blog called "Brain Picking Is Rude". In this posts he talks about how people often call others (those they know and successful strangers) and ask "Can we get together so I can pick your brain....".

Scott has some good advice for those who are seeking advice (do not just show up unprepared, but have a purpose for you meeting. Additionally, if you are the "picker", find ways that you can provide value to the "pickee"). You should read his thoughts.

I thought I would add my two cents to this topic and expand on Scott's wisdom.

1. Gush a little. If you are calling someone because you admire their accomplishments and seek advice, be sure to tell them as much. Make people feel important, not that you somehow deserve the audience. If you are seeking guidance, say so -- do not try to position the get together as something else.

2. Be flexible. If you are asking for time on their calendar, find a way to be available at the time they suggest. If they say "7:00 AM", do not say "Oh, I can't, I have to take my kid to school". Instead get your spouse to drive your child that day or make arrangements with a friend. If you are looking for a favor (time on their schedule), you need to work around them... not the other way around.

3. Ask them how you can help. Just because they are more successful does not mean they do not have needs. Be sure that you find out what you can do to add value. Then look for ways to take action. You will be surprised when you help others how quickly they (or someone else...KARMA!) will return the favor.

4. Send a "thank you" note. Yes, handwritten. Blah, blah, blah... on all the damn excuses. If you cannot find 5 minutes to send a thank you note to someone who sat with you for an hour and shared advice, then you are not worthy of their time. I hear so many reasons why people don't do this, and have never heard one that is credible. Just send the note. Even if you simply use email.

5. Be available to help others. The sad thing that I regularly witness is successful people who had others extend them a hand up along their journey who are suddenly "too busy" to make themselves available to help others. Few people have reached the top by themselves. But once they get to the highest levels some forget how fortunate they were to have mentors, guides, and friends who assisted them along the way. Return the favor to those who helped you by being one who will help others.

Have A Great Day.


Sunday, April 12, 2009

Free Networking Seminar - Monday, April 13th

Westover Hills Church (located at Steck and Mesa in Austin, Texas) is sponsoring a seminar called "Networking - Your Safety Net in a Tough Economy" on Monday, April 13th at 7 PM.

If you have lost your job (or know somebody who has) or are just concerned about the "what if" factor, this presentation and facilitated discussion is an important event. It will be both an informative and a motivational two hours.

The event is open to members of the church and ANYBODY else who would like to attend.

CLICK HERE for more information.

Have A Great Day.


Saturday, April 11, 2009

Cool Car For The Senior Prom

Remember when you were a senior in high school and you wished you had a hip ride to the prom?

One enterprising Silicon Valley high school senior wants something better than his 1999 beat up sedan or the choice of taking mom's Honda. Thus, he has started

His hope is that some local CEO / entrepreneur of a local tech company is just crazy enough to lend him is swank BMW -- or better yet.... a local auto dealer will become his Wizard Godfather and turn his pumpkin into a stylish coach for transportation to and from the ball.

Will someone come forward and make this kid's dream come true? Maybe... maybe not. But I admire the entrepreneurial spirit of an 18-year-old who sees what he wants and creates a creative path to reach his goal.

This is proof that the future of the world is in good hands with the next generation. We need leaders who are willing to try unique things and blaze unconventional paths to victory!!!

I asked this kid why he didn't simply rent a limo? He replied that it was too much money for his budget, and that it was certainly over-done. He wants to live his life by not just being part of the pack. He want to do more than with his life!!!

I think that a Porsche, BMW, Mercedes or other high end dealership should step up and get these kids to the prom in style. Or better yet, isn't Tesla Motors based in the Silicon Valley? A Tesla would rock as a Cool Prom Car!!!

Check out his site at

Have A Great Day.


Friday, April 10, 2009

Thank You For Reading This Blog

Greg Nemer at the Internet Business with Purpose Blog is participating in Darren Rowse's Problogger.Net 31-Days to Build a Better Blog Challenge. He left a comment on Darren's blog that he was going to follow his advice and make today, April 10th, "Reader Appreciation Day" on his own blog.

Dang, that is a good thought! So I am going to copy that idea right here at the Some Assembly Required Blog. Not all ideas have to be original. Inspiration should spread organically!


Four years ago I began blogging. I was anticipating the release of my first book, "Some Assembly Required: How to Make, Grow and Keep Your Business Relationships" and I began the blog to help extend the message and reach of the book. I was not sure how to blog, what to say, or if anyone would come to read these little ditties I was writing.

But readers did come, and then I felt an obligation to keep writing. I hope that this blog has inspired others. For me it has helped fine tune my skills as a writer and has served as a type of communal therapy. For that I can never properly say thank you to all of the regular readers, subscribers and those who just drop in via a random Google search. This blog and the dialogue with each of you has guided me toward being a better person.

We have come a long way at New Year Publishing since the release of that first book and the start of this blog. My life-long friends and business partners and I have left full-time jobs to work in this company. We have ten books that have been completed by a variety of authors, and many more being released in 2009. Additionally, we all actively have business consulting engagements and I have my career as a professional speaker.

None of this could have happened without all of you who have read this blog and have purchased my books. I am not sure that "Thank You" are even strong enough words to express the gratitude.

I wish you all a wonderful weekend. May the spirit of joy fill your hearts.

Have A Great Day.


Thursday, April 09, 2009

Open Letter to American Airlines

Dear American Airlines,

I would like to inform you that I get angry every time I have to pay you extra to check a bag. I would have no problem with fees for a second checked bag (although Southwest Airlines does allow me to check two bags at no charge!), but a fee for the first piece of luggage is extortion.

Why not just make the ticket cost $15 more? Then I would only have one receipt to track, and not get so dang annoyed each time I fly with your company.

Maybe I am the only person in the world who feels this way. Maybe you don't mind that I pick Southwest Airlines first when the schedule and destination allow. But have you ever thought that that little perky upstart airline from the 1970s actually figured out the nuts and bolts of customer service, and thus there is a reason for their success? Rather than just doing everything that Delta and Continental do in lockstep, maybe you should copy the airline that is winning in this game!


A Passenger

PS- I know first hand that Southwest Airlines monitors blogs and Twitter to see what people are saying about them. And they respond and show that they hear the people out there who are making noise. I know that at SWA important things from the blogospher and Twitterville get passed all the way up the chain to the management. I do not know if that happens at American Airlines.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Five Reasons To Network In A Tough Economy

It seems in boom-boom times many professionals forget that they are not alone in their outstanding success. They bask in the glow of the big deals and high income and start believing that they are the central cause for their own glory.

Welcome to the recession.

Now people who ignored others and felt invincible are feeling the pinch of hard times. Alas, they are frantically going back to the basics of business, and one of those basics is realizing that nobody succeeds in a vacuum.

Seems networking is a hot topic.

My total number of speaking engagements in Q1 of 2009 is almost double that of the same period in 2008 for my "Some Assembly Required: How to Make, Keep and Grow Your Business Relationships" seminar. The topics of results oriented communications, business relationships and networking are no longer viewed as "fluffy", but are instead being devoured by everyone. Book sales are also up this year!

My new seminar: "Social Media, Networking and Ethics" is also generating a lot of interest from law firms and other professional services organizations.

Here are 5 reasons that your network is important in a tough economy:

1. All opportunities come from people. Those who were "too busy" to go to lunch or invest time in cultivating meaningful relationships are hungry to network. In a tough economy any and all referral sources become important to survival. If you want more sales, the people you know can be the conduit to discovering new clients.

2. Your network is your safety net. If you get caught in a lay-off it is the people in your network who can help you find your next employer or lead you to consulting gigs. Additionally those with whom you have already developed mutually beneficial relationships are the ones who will be available for moral support if and when you need it. If you have no network, these tough times can seem very lonely.

3. When marketing budgets are cut, word-of-mouth is your only hope. If you cannot afford marketing, PR and advertising, you need to get out and spread the word yourself. But you can only go so far, thus having strong contacts who understand the value you bring can multiply your visibility by telling others about you and your products / services.

4. We learn from others. Being around other intelligent and creative people can motivate and inspire you to succeed. If you have a network of contacts with whom you share information, you cultivate an environment of learning. When you learn you grow. When you are stagnate you die.

5. If you are not networking, remember - your competitors ARE networking! Out of sight is out of mind. If the success of your business in this economy is important to you then you will find a way to make it to the breakfasts, luncheons and "after hours" events. Yes, it is time consuming, but with more people out seeking to make connections, you can rest assured that your competition is trying to meet your customers. If you stay home you are giving them a free pass to begin to build relationships that can and will lead them to future business.

Have A Great Day.


If your organization is interested in having me speak at an event or consult with your team on your business development strategies, please contact me at thom (at)

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

If Your Competitors Are Better At Business Development - They Will Win!

Many attorneys and other professionals are scrambling to discover the "news" about networking, referral partnerships, and creating their personal brand. While not really "new", some have ignored these important business skills that are key to success.

But tough times are making many hunt for more effective ways to gain the visibility necessary to win more business.

The economic crisis has left professionals in the "white collar" industries feeling vulnerable. BIG LAW firms continue to lay off staff, associates AND partners, leaving others in search of their personal business development plans. Nobody is safe, and the message is being heard by all but those who are choosing to live in denial.

I have begun coaching attorneys on creating their personal business development plans. The senior associates and junior partners with whom I am talking are deciding to be proactive. They realize that their careers now require them to be active in their business communities and go beyond just the minimum marketing requirements imposed by their firms.

I spent four years as the business development director for two AM LAW 100 firms. In my work I witnessed those who embraced having a "rainmaker's heart" and those who felt their profession was "above" other businesses who had to "market".

Recently I participated in a discussion with a lawyer who said "the [legal] profession used to be above marketing. Advertising was prohibited. Now it's just a business,... like a car dealership". Ouch.

Just a business? As an attorney is this the message of contempt you are sending toward YOUR clients? If so, you many never reach the levels of success you desire in the new world of corporate relationships and transparency. Sales and marketing professionals are held in places of honor in most successful organizations. It is not seen as an option or something that is "below" the rest of the corporate team. Additionally, top CEOs are often salespeople at heart. You can be too!

Today clients expect more than just good work, they want to feel a connection with those whom they do business. Here is where I can assist a professional to expand their practice beyond just being viewed as one of the pack. Discovering how to stand out and make in impact with clients and prospects at a deeper level is the key to success. Just doing good work will not produce the results you desire in this highly competitive marketplace. (Doing good work is a MUST, but it is not enough).

If your competitor is better at business development that you are.... they will win.

Feel free to contact me directly if you or your firm wants to explore this topic.

Have A Great Day.


Sunday, April 05, 2009

I Got Some Beer And The Highway's Free

"Well I got some beer and the highway's free

And I got you, and Baby you got me!"

I have always loved that line from Bruce Springsteen's hit song "Sherry Darling". You know, it just is a reminder that no matter how much crap is going on in the world (the economy, layoffs, the stock market, international affairs, health care costs, etc....), the ones you love - and who love you - are what matters.

This weekend Sara and I celebrated our 17th Wedding Anniversary. We did so by spending part of the weekend with our kids, and then tonight we went to dinner with our close friends, Kelsey and Dave. After dinner (and some wine!) we all went to see the Bruce Springsteen concert at the Erwin Center (in Austin, Texas).

I first saw "The Boss" in concert in 1985 during his "Born in the USA" tour. Wow, 24 years ago. The guy can still rock the stage (he turns 60-years-old this year). The average age of the crowd was a little older (his fans have all aged, oh God, that means I have aged, too!), but the spirit was still there.

One of the best parts of the show was watching some guy in a red shirt across the arena who was just cutting lose dancing his heart out to every song while standing in the isle. This guy had passion for Springsteen.

My brother Bob introduced me to the music of Springsteen when I was 14-years-old. He gave me a copy of the double album "The River" for Christmas in 1980. I opened the package and my disappointment was evident. Bruce who? This unshaven musician's record, who was yet to reach his coming levels of fame, was not what I was hoping was under the tree.

But I began listening to the songs, and I was forever a fan. Most of my friends took to "The Boss" five years later when he hit the top of the charts, but my favorite songs go back to "The River" and "Born to Run" (He didn't play enough of my favorites in concert, but these old superstars never play a "Greatest Hits" concert. He was still great!).

The great thing about Springsteen is that he sings songs that speak to the soul of the human condition. He has added a 155-year-old civil war song called "Hard Times Come Again No More" (by Stephen Foster). The song sounds like it was written for the modern day world with modern day problems, as Bruce sings it his way that lets the audience know he feels our pain.

From Main Street to Wall Street, we can all relate "E-Street" (Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band are back together after a decade of him being solo). They wrapped a bow around the audience and made the whole evening a gift. For me, it was fun to celebrate our anniversary with friends, but also to wax nostalgically in the sounds of the music.

Have A Great Day.


Friday, April 03, 2009

ONE STEP TOWARD SUCCESS - Tell People What You Desire

I write often about the importance of letting others know what you want to accomplish in life. If you do not tell them, they cannot serve as the link that connects you to your future.

Sometimes it is a friend who holds the answers, while some crossroads are mapped by complete strangers. If you keep your goals, dreams and desires to yourself, then you are missing out on the fastest path to success.

Last fall I received a phone call from Pam Sherman. Pam is a former practicing attorney, a writer, entrepreneur, consultant, trainer, speaker, and much much more. She had read my book, The ABC's of Networking, and referred it to several of her clients. She reached out just to tell me how she appreciated the motivational advice in the book.

When we spoke, I was boarding an airplane to fly to Phoenix to give a speech. She was in the back of a cab in New York City on her way to a client's office. We did not have much time to talk, but we had a great conversation. I could tell right away that she is a powerful personality.

At the end of our conversation she mentioned her desire to complete her first book, a compilation of articles she had written. I referred her to Dave at New Year Publishing. I figured if nothing else, he would have some useful ideas that could help her make the book a reality.

Six months later Pam's book, The Suburban Outlaw, is now in print and Pam has joined the New Year Publishing author family. (Available at

I love this story. It is a simple reminder not to hide your dreams under a blanket. Instead, tell others what you want in life. A stranger on a plane 2000 miles away might have the phone number to your next project. The ONE step toward success is to simply tell others what you desire!

I believe in people. I have seen countless others lend me a hand and pull me up to higher levels time after time. I am confident that there are catalysts around every corner who can change our worlds for the better.... if we just give them a chance.

Pam has returned the favor and introduced me to possible speaking opportunities with groups like Young Presidents Organization and others. She is someone whom I know will become a good friend, too. All from a phone call.

Have A Great Day.