Friday, December 21, 2012

Practical Pessimism

Great talk on Stoicism and Practical Pessimism. When you no longer fear the thing you once feared, then you can live life with courage. Worth five minutes.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Rethinking Marketing

Jason Fried@jasonfried This 5 minute video by is the most influential thing I've watched in 2012." When I read this on Twitter from Jason Fried of 37Signals, I know it is worth watching and I was right.

"We hire products to do jobs for us."

Why would someone hire printing and what job would printing perform? You can ask the same question with your product or service.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Single Piece of Steve Jobs Advice

Everything in life has been made up by people who are no smarter than you are. This is a piece of advice that Steve Jobs says can change your life because it makes you aware that you can do the same sorts of things. What do you see that others have done that you would like to do?

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Ten Commandments of Continuous Improvement | Gemba Academy

What are the basics of continuous improvement? The Kemba Academy has a video with the Ten Commandments of Continuous Improvement. I always enjoy watching videos like this because I am reminded of concepts or ideas that have slipped my mind. Hope you enjoy.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Where do You Go To Work?

How productive are we at work? Do we get more done at work or do we get more done at home? Here is a great video from Jason Freid of 37Signals talks about this at a TED Conferernce.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012


I love Thanksgiving and living in the USA. This country and the blessings that come from living here are more than I deserve. Here is what I am thankful for.

I am thankful for freedom to worship. Living in a country that allows each of us to worship without discrimination is great.

I am thankful for my family. My wife and kids are the main reason I get up every day and go to work. They are the driving force behind me trying to improve as a husband and dad.

I am thankful for my country. We live in a free country with incredible opportunity. We can chose where we live and we can chose what we do.

I am thankful for my job. I enjoy being able to help others and see them improve and grow. All of this and a paycheck - not bad.

I am thankful for our friends and the time we spend with them.

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Jim Lancaster of Lantech

Last week I was at a packaging show in Chicago and went by the Lantech booth. We buy skid wrappers from them so we thought we may learn something. The first person we met in the booth was Jim Lancaster, who is the CEO of Lantech. Turns out his company was featured as a lean innovator in Lean Thinking and he is presenting at a conference we are attending in the Spring. Below is a short interview from Jim explaining some of his approach to lean. It is worth listening to and reading more about Jim and Lantech.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Chet Holmes

This week I started reading Chet Holmes book The Ultimate Sales Machine again. I read this a few years ago and then picked it back up again today. I found this video online and thought it was worth sharing.

Friday, October 26, 2012

6 Tips for Staying Supercharged

Grant Cardone has written a great article at The article is entitled 6 Tips for Staying Supercharged. The basis of the article in what we need to be doing to keep ourselves mentally, physically and emotionally in a good place.

Grant starts off with "get a good night's sleep" which is key to being in the right mental place. For the past couple of weeks I have been sleeping real well and it has helped me in many ways. I get up on time which starts my day off on the right foot. It also gives me more energy throughout the day which means less coffee and a clearer mind.

"Surround yourself with supportive people" is another of the tips. When we are surrounded with the right people we stay in a better place. If I am around negative people or people who see the worst in every situation it is easy to fall into that mindset. I have to guard against this when I listen to the radio or watch t.v. because there is so much of the wrong influence.

This article has four more tips that are worth reading. Enjoy.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Jungle Jack Hanna

Everyone from Columbus knows who Jungle Jack Hanna is and we appreciate what he has done for our city and for our zoo. If you want to grow your brand and be successful this short video is worth watching. Be yourself, work hard and be true to what you believe.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Break Through Fear & Doubt

Grant Cardone wrote an interesting article on the Entrepreneur magazine website. It covers five keys to breaking through fear and doubt. In sales and in management it is easy to let fear and doubt influence actions and decisions. In my fifteen years of sales I can remember many times when a salesperson put off calling a customer with a problem because of all the fears and doubts in his or her mind. It is so easy to imagine all the negative reactions that are possible. This is a common problem but it is also a weak excuse for not wanting to take action.
Grant says to "don't forget that it's normal" meaning everyone feels the same fear and doubt. If others can feel this and still move forward, so can you. Many times people see the successful and and just assume they don't have doubts or fears but this just isn't true. The successful have just learned how to deal with and work through the wrong emotions.
Grant also says to "fill your calendar" meaning stay busy. The idle mind is the mind that has time to think up all the problems that can happen. A busy mind is experiencing more success and therefore fewer doubts. Stay busy and do more than is expected.
These are just two of Grant's points. Click the link above and take some time to read what Grant has to say. Then push through the fear and the doubt and take big action to achieve big results.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Cutting At Hopkins Printing

Here is a video showing our cutting capabilities at Hopkins Printing. Hope you enjoy.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Wide Format at Hopkins Printing

Here is a video showing our wide format printing capabilities at Hopkins Printing. Hope you enjoy.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Digital Printing at Hopkins Printing

Here is a video showing our digital printing capabilities at Hopkins Printing. Hope you enjoy.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012


Habits are what have to be changed in the long run to make changes to a person, a company or a family. Often it seems we need the silver bullet but that doesn't work for long. Eventually the old habits take hold and the old outcomes reappear. Below is a great post by Seth Godin about this topic - enjoy.

Crash diets and good habits

Crash diets don't work.

They don't work for losing weight, they don't work for making sales quota and they don't work for getting and keeping a job.

The reason they don't work has nothing to do with what's on the list of things to be done (or consumed). No, the reason they don't work is that they don't change habits, and habits are where our lives and careers and bodies are made.

If you want to get in shape, don't sign up for fancy diet this or Crossthat the other thing. No, the way to get in shape is to go to the gym every single day, change your clothes and take a shower. If you can do that every single day for a month, pretty soon you'll start doing something while you're there...

If you want to make sales quota, get in the habit of making more sales calls, learning more about your market and generally showing up. If you show up, with right intent, you'll start making sales. The secret isn't a great new pitch or a new pair of shoes. The secret is showing up.

Your audacious life goals are fabulous. We're proud of you for having them. But it's possible that those goals are designed to distract you from the thing that's really frightening you--the shift in daily habits that would mean a re-invention of how you see yourself.

Organizations can always benefit from better habits. Every day. Do that first.

Friday, August 17, 2012

12 Tasks That Killer Employees Always Finish Before Noon

Business Insider recently ran an article on the 12 Tasks That Killer Employees Always Finish Before Noon. Most people believe they are part of the "killer" crowd, including me, so I thought I would read what was written. Below are three of the twelve. Go to the article to see all twelve.

5. They practice a morning ritual. Jensen also recommends instituting a morning routine aside from your exercise routine. Whether you opt to meditate, read the newspaper, or surf the Web, Jensen says "it's important to have that quiet time with just you."

7. They arrive at the office on time. This one is obvious, right? Getting a full night's rest and keeping your sticky fingers off the snooze button should make No. 7 a cakewalk. If you're not a new employee, then you've already figured out the length of your average commute. Allot a safe amount of time to make it to work on schedule.

9. They tackle the big projects first. You can dive right into work upon arriving in the office, since you made your to-do list the night before. And Jensen suggests starting with the hardest tasks. "Don't jump into meaningless projects when you're at your mental peak for the day," he says.

Spend some time reading this article and try to do the points you think will make the biggest difference for you. Enjoy.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Focus, Focus, Focus

In a world filled with an incredible number of distractions it's a wonder that anyone can stay focused. Between tv, movies, radio, the internet, our phones and life in general - it is difficult to focus. This morning I was reading about Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg and the issues they face with focus. An article on Business Insider talked about how Zuckerberg doesn't do angel investing because it would take his focus off of his core business - Facebook. He doesn't feel like he can do his job with Facebook and spend time on other ventures. This was also true with Steve Jobs and Apple - he didn't do angel investing.

Then I started thinking about how this should impact me in my life - what is my focus. During work hours my focus should be 100% on building a great business that will be around for the next 100 years. During the day what do I do that takes my focus off of business? Do I allow non-work things to sneak in and take time?

Staying focused is a difficult discipline because there are so many distractions but the payoff is huge. If it's good enough for Mark and Steve then it's good enough for me.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Milton Friedman

Having never studied economics other that micro and macro in a single class, I was never a reader of Milton Friedman. Today I read an article in the WSJ about his thinking and his impact on the USA and I am finding myself being a fan. Today is the 100th anniversary of Milton's birth so there is some coverage of him in the media.

One great quote from the article is "In the 1960s, Friedman famously explained that "there's no such thing as a free lunch." If the government spends a dollar, that dollar has to come from producers and workers in the private economy. There is no magical "multiplier effect" by taking from productive Peter and giving to unproductive Paul." I am always amazed at the number of people, some are even well intentioned, that believe a bureaucrat in a far away city has more insight into what people need than the people themselves.

If you are in sales then you know there is no thing as a free lunch - if you don't develop customers and business then you don't eat. That is one of the things I like about sales.

If you don't know much about Milton Friedman, take some time to read a little today. It may help you in the long run.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Leading by Omission - Ricardo Semler

Ricardo Semler has built a large business using some unorthodox methods. I don't agree with everything he promotes but I find it is educational to hear points-of-view that are different than mine. Hope you enjoy.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Jason Fried - Fireside Chat

Jason Fried is one of may favorite speakers so anytime I can listen to a talk or interview of his I find it is worth the time invested.

Watch live streaming video from techweek at

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

The Declaration of Independence


The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected, whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. — And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.

Friday, June 29, 2012

The "Busy" Trap

I'm so busy! What a common refrain from so many in today's world. A NYT article recently looked into what it means to be so busy. The article was posted by a person I follow - Tim Ferriss so I thought it would be worth reading and it was. The article talks about how people often feel a need to schedule every minute of life. And it's not only adults, the adults are doing the same to their children. What is wrong with kids just going outside and playing for a few hours with the neighborhood kids? What's wrong with a family taking a day to do nothing but spend time together?

Here is an interesting quote from the article:

Busyness serves as a kind of existential reassurance, a hedge against emptiness; obviously your life cannot possibly be silly or trivial or meaningless if you are so busy, completely booked, in demand every hour of the day. I once knew a woman who interned at a magazine where she wasn’t allowed to take lunch hours out, lest she be urgently needed for some reason. This was an entertainment magazine whose raison d’ĂȘtre was obviated when “menu” buttons appeared on remotes, so it’s hard to see this pretense of indispensability as anything other than a form of institutional self-delusion. More and more people in this country no longer make or do anything tangible; if your job wasn’t performed by a cat or a boa constrictor in a Richard Scarry book I’m not sure I believe it’s necessary. I can’t help but wonder whether all this histrionic exhaustion isn’t a way of covering up the fact that most of what we do doesn’t matter.

Is it possible that what we are really looking for is meaning in life and when we can't find the meaing we are filling our time with activity so we don't notice there is no meaning? Is it time to examine our lives and figure out what is really important and focus on that? Don't get caught in the "Busy Trap".

Monday, June 25, 2012

What A Wonderful World

A beautiful reminder that everything we see or hear in the news is not all there is - what a wonderful world.

Friday, June 22, 2012

What The Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast

What do you do in the morning? How much time do you devote to improving your life before the day even begins? Many people believe the morning is the best time to do the most important activities because you are rested and there are very few interruptions.

A recent Fast Company article answered the question of What The Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast. Here is the first of five tips in the article.


1. Track Your Time
Part of spending your time better is knowing how you’re spending it now. If you’ve ever tried to lose weight, you know that nutritionists tell you to keep a food journal because it keeps you from eating mindlessly. It’s the same with time. Write down what you’re doing as often as you can. Use my spreadsheet, a Word document, or a pad and pen.

While measuring your mornings, try tracking your whole week. The reason? The solution to morning dilemmas often lies at other times of the day. You may be too tired because you’re staying up late. But if you look at how you’re spending your nights, you’ll notice that you’re not doing anything urgent. The Daily Show can be recorded and watched earlier--possibly while you’re on the treadmill at 6:30 a.m.

As for the mornings themselves, you can be organized but still not be spending them well. Question your assumptions. You may believe that “a man who wants to keep his job gets into the office before his boss” because that’s what your father did, but your boss may be disappointed that he doesn’t get the place to himself for an hour first! If you decide that something is a top priority, do it, but understand that we have to do few things in life.


If you want to improve what you are doing, start with how you begin your day. What do you do before breakfast?

Monday, June 18, 2012

Share this with Your CEO

In a recent HBR blog there was a post about energy management which is similar to time management but instead of being about time it is about energy. Below are some stats from the blog post.

77% said they had trouble focusing on one thing at a time, and felt easily distracted during the day.
80% said they take too little time to think strategically and creatively, and spend too much of their time reacting to immediate demands rather than focusing on activities with long-term value and higher leverage.
54% said they often feel impatient, frustrated or irritable at work, especially when demand gets high.

The result of these types of feelings is that people get less done and what they get done is lower quality and quantity. One of our goals as leaders is to help people in our organizations to feel good, be energized and get more done.

There were six activities, or lack of activities, that drove the feelings listed above:

82% reported they regularly get fewer than 7-8 hours of sleep and often wake up feeling tired.
70% don't take regular breaks during the day to renew and refuel.
70% eat lunch at their desks, if they eat lunch at all.
65% don't consistently work out.
68% said they don't have enough time with their families and loved ones, and when they're with them, they're not always really with them.
71% take too little time for the activities they most deeply enjoy.

We need to help people improve. We can do this by educating and sharing with our people that live doesn't need to be such a drain - we can feel energized and get more done.

Go to the blog at HBR and see what the author says to do to improve and then share that with your people to get more improvement.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Power Of Questions

Being a believer in the Sandler sales method - I am a big believer in the power of asking questions. Sandler teaches that the person who asks the best questions is the person who will be the most successful. Some people believe that because they may not have the title of "sales person" they don't need to be concerned with asking good questions, but this just isn't so. Every needs to ask good questions because good questions get to the heart of a matter and allow better outcomes. Below is a story from a man who went through Sandler sales training and how the power of questions literally changed a persons life. The excerpt is from the Columbia Business Times.

“I am writing to inform you of an event that happened yesterday that speaks volumes of the curriculum that you teach. Standing in the upper level of one of my job sites I received a startling message. To begin with I am a true single father of two beautiful children whose mother abandoned them about a year ago; with that said here is what transpired.

The startling message was from my children’s mother saying she was going to end her life. This message, of course, was returned by a phone call from me. She answered in tears stating that she had lost her children, lost her lover and was done with life. My initial response without forethought was, ‘[name omitted], what do you mean, tell me more, please.’ She responded saying her life was over. I then said, ‘Please tell me what you mean and how long has it been that you have been in this mindset.’
She told me that ever since she had left me she had been addicted to prescription narcotics and in an abusive relationship. By this time I am in my vehicle racing to south Kansas City to her home. I asked her ‘since this realization’ what has she tried to do to get help or leave. She responded saying she had tried to stop using and tried to leave her lover many times. I told her clearly this has failed to work and she agreed. She then told me that this has cost her her family, children and life. With a lump in my throat I asked her what she was feeling coming to this realization.

When I arrived at her house, I found a beaten woman who was in the process of ending her life. I pulled my wallet out and showed her a picture of my beautiful 6-year-old son and my amazing 13-year-old daughter and asked her, “Are you going to give up on them, and are you done fighting?’ She dropped what she had in her hands and allowed me to call for help. Less than 24 hours later, she was on a plane to Colorado to a treatment center for addiction and spiritual healing.

The skills you teach in this program far surpass sales.You teach how to meet people where they are and to get the root of issues and pain. I thank you, I fully believe that without the skills you have instilled in me, I would not have had the clarity of getting through to her or a guideline to do so, and as a consequence, my children’s mother may have ended her life.”
No one can tell me they don’t sell. If you’ve ever applied for a job, asked someone on a date or raised teenagers, you’ve been in sales.

Sales skills are life skills. All of the attitudes, behaviors and techniques are directly applicable. It’s short-sighted to think they don’t relate to you. And those elements, when perfected, create better relationships. Isn’t that, after all, what we’re looking for?

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

How To Succeed

This morning I was reading an email from a consultant in California that explained the three excuses business people make for having a bad year.

1. The economy is bad.
2. Fewer people are buying.
3. I've tried everything and it's not making a difference.

He claims that 8 or 9 out of 10 business will struggle this year due to the recession. So instead of focusing on those companies, he is looking at the 1 or 2 out of 10 that are going to grow their top and bottom lines. His advice is to stay confident because customers can smell fear and to do more marketing to turn more prospects into clients.

This year we are increasing our marketing investment for that exact reason. The plan is to grow this year over last year and I see it being possible but not easy. We just have to keep monitoring ourselves so we don't repeat the three excuses, keep our heads up and go find new business. There is no substitute for just doing something and then refining the process until the correct results happen.

Friday, May 25, 2012

8 Core Beliefs of Extraordinary Bosses

What does it take to become an extraordinary boss? How do you compare to this standard? What can you do to improve yourself? One way to improve is to compare how you operate to the gold standard and then work on closing the gap.

Geoffrey James wrote an article entitled 8 Core Beliefs of Extraordinary Bosses in a recent entry on the Inc magazine website which is the source for this post. Below are a couple of the beliefs and what Geoffrey says about the beliefs. The full article is worth the read.

A company is a community not a machine. He means, "Extraordinary bosses see their company as a collection of individual hopes and dreams, all connected to a higher purpose. They inspire employees to dedicate themselves to the success of their peers and therefore to the community–and company–at large."

Motivation comes from vision, not from fear. Here he means, "Extraordinary bosses inspire people to see a better future and how they'll be a part of it. As a result, employees work harder because they believe in the organization's goals, truly enjoy what they're doing and (of course) know they'll share in the rewards."

All of Geoffrey's points have similar insight. Read the article, start to put these beliefs into your management style and enjoy the improvement.

Friday, May 11, 2012

An Inspiring & True Sales Story

This is a blog post from Gerhard Gschwandtner that I could not help but post here. It is the story of what happens when you take action. Get up out of your chair and do something!


In January 1949, Hugh A. Wedge, sales-training director with Security Mutual Life in Binghamton, NY, offered an unusual account of an all-night sales binge conducted by 29 tireless, life insurance sales professionals.

The group participated in a life underwriter training course and, on a dare, decided to plan "Operation Paul Revere," to be conducted on Friday, the concluding day of the course.

At 7 p.m., they began to canvass the city of Binghamton, determined to find prospects and sell insurance policies. One salesman started out alone and visited people in gas stations, restaurants, bakeries, and any other place he could find open. He wrote four life insurance policies for $20,000. He closed the first sale at 12:30 a.m. at a gas station and his last at 4:30 a.m. at a trucking company. Another agent sold a $50,000 policy to a young doctor in a hospital at 1:05 a.m. and collected a check for the first premium.

"One woman in the group," wrote Wedge, "made it a point to establish herself in the cafeteria of one of the hospitals. Here she could sit under comfortable circumstances and talk with the nurses as they came in for their suppers. She had three interviews and closed three sales. She also got 10 new sales leads."

One intrepid agent canvassed policemen wherever possible. One policeman he approached said that he had been looking for a chance to talk with a life insurance agent because he wanted to go into the business himself. He later was signed up as a new agent for the company, got an "A" on the aptitude index test, and is planning to work full-time for the company.

The group worked until 5 a.m. and then met at an all-night restaurant to compare notes. The waiter who served coffee told one of the alert salespeople that he wanted to buy some insurance but hadn't had the chance to talk with anyone about it during the day. He, too, signed the application and paid his first premium of $107 in cash after producing a roll of bills.

The 29 agents worked a total of 209 hours that night, made 227 calls, concluded 125 successful sales interviews, closed 61 sales, sold $285,608 of life insurance, and earned an aggregate of $3,203 in commissions.

Monday, April 30, 2012

How Do You Inspire Your Staff?

30 Second MBA video from Fast Company. In this video Mike Williams, the CEO and President of the David Allen Company, answers the question posed above. Care about your staff and listen. Enjoy.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Jack Dorsey - Running Twitter and Square

Jack Dorsey runs Twitter and Square. This is an older interview Jack did with Kevin Rose. The conversation talks of entrepreneurship, decision making, trial and error, and the path Jack took that lead to the creation of Twitter and Square.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Secrets of the Most Productive People I Know

How can you know if you are being as productive as you are able? How can you know some techniques for continuing to improve on the productivity front? In a recent article on the Inc Magazine website, Margaret Heffernan shared four ideas for improvement. If you're like me there is no end to learning how to improve, so this is worth reading and sharing.

Margaret starts with writing that highly productive people still have a life. They are not just the people who give their entire lives over to a job or a cause. Often it's the time outside of work that brings the ideas for work. Secondly, she discusses that they take breaks. I for one find that my time away from the office allows my mind to settle down and then add some new ideas.

Third she says they often work in multiple industries. This can mean that they have a job career that spans different industries or it could mean that they "work" at hobbies or volunteer in charity work that gives them exposure to other industries. Lastly she she writes that they often have outside collaborators. This is often a sounding board or a group of friends that bring a totally different perspective. Could Jeff Bezos of Amazon have been able to build the largest online retailer by only talking to brick and mortar book stores?

There is no end to ideas for productivity improve. This article had some great ideas that I thought were worth sharing. Enjoy.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Davos 2012 - John Chambers

In this video the CEO of Cisco, John Chambers, answers four big questions that will impact business in the U.S. This video is worth watching because there will be at least a couple of items that can be put into place in almost any business you run. My biggest take away for our company is to keep increasing the use of video in communicating with our people and our customers.

Here are the four big questions:

What great transformation will the world face in the next decade?
What new models will drive change in your industry?
How can organizations build competitive innovation for the next generation?
How can your industry work with other stakeholders to improve the state of the world?

Enjoy the show!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Learning The Softer Side Of Leadership

Learning The Softer Side Of Leadership is a blog post from Fast Company magazine. When I first saw a link to this post, my initial reaction was another soft and sappy article about holding hands and chanting together. I decided to click through anyway and see what the meat of the post was about. Turns out I really enjoyed the read and thought it would be worth sharing.

Our company, Hopkins Printing, has been going through a lean transformation for the last three plus years. It has been a difficult and time consuming process that has resulted in some great gains in productivity, engagement and improvement. One of the pieces we have added is an annual strategy session that results in three top goals that then drive department and personal goals for each person in the company. This is where we are in alignment with "Learning The Softer Side Of Leadership" because it focuses on getting everyone in the company aligned with the strategic goals of the company. The hard side of leadership is the daily activities and the "to do's" that consume so much of our time and energy. The soft side is trying to keep the mood and the attitude of the team moving in a unified direction.

Below is the headline for the blog post - "Leaders' primary objective is to empower others to make decisions and take actions that are aligned with the organization’s vision, purpose, and strategy. These nuances are the softer side of leadership, beyond the technical skills that you have already mastered." This statement gives the overall purpose of the post. Our job as leaders is to get the entire company moving in a unified direction. This is the softer side.

Friday, March 23, 2012

6 Lessons for CEOs from ‘Boy CEO’ Mark Zuckerberg

Not sure that I like the title of this post but it does make a point. A leader like Mark Zuckerberg can teach us more than we may expect. The title of this comes from a newsletter put out by Chief Executive magazine. The article covers a series of things that Mark does that have taken him from a college website programmer to the CEO of Facebook. Facebook has grown at an amazing speed and Mark has been able to lead the company through the growth and it appears he will do the same after the IPO. Below are a couple of the points from the article - click to the article to read them all.

Make your own development a priority. I have read that the average CEO reads a book a month to improvement him/herself. To grow and improve, this is a great goal. Think of your top weaknesses, whether it's HR, marketing, strategy, leadership, operations or something else, and find some good books to improve in any area of weakness. It is also good to occasionally read on the subjects you are strong in so you don't get behind.

Be open. To be a great leader you must be open and willing to over communicate. Many times I make the mistake of thinking everyone knows what I know - which is rarely true. One speaker I have heard said it this way, "In the absence of information people assume the worst". This is so true in business. Make sure you spend extra time being clear about what is going on and more importantly, where the group is headed.

Enjoy the article and become more like Zuckerberg.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

When Office Technology Overwhelms, Get Organized

If you were asked whether or not you were more productive than you were ten years ago - how would you answer? Many would give a resounding "no" because they are overwhelmed and buried by the stream of information coming through the various technologies we all have. Cel phones, Twitter, Facebook, texting, Linkedin, email, RSS feeds, newspapers (yes, I still read two a day) and other sources of information are more than we can often handle. One of my favorite authors, David Allen, recently wrote about this in the New York Times in an article entitled When Office Technology Overwhelms, Get Organized. Below are six statements he often hears from his consulting clients. Keep in mind that his personal clients are often Fortune 500 CEO's and even with their skills they still have these feelings.

• “I’m overwhelmed, and with all the changes going on here, it’s getting worse. There aren’t enough hours in the day to do my job.”

• “I have new responsibilities that demand creative and strategic thought, but I’m not getting to them.”
• “I have too many meetings to attend, and I can’t get any ‘real’ work done.”
• “I have too many e-mails, and, given day-to-day urgencies, the backlog keeps growing.”
• “I feel like I’m not giving the right amount of attention to what’s most important.”

And here’s a common kicker, for those willing to admit it:
“I just can’t keep going like this.”

Here is David's view of what is happening in our technology based world.

"Cranking out widgets is one thing; deciding which widgets need cranking first, and in what quantity, is quite another — especially if you are now charged with continually improving the system, or determining whether you should even be cranking out those widgets at all.
It can be a recipe for frustration, as employees feel overwhelmed by their companies’ very progress. And the problems and logistics of workers’ personal lives add yet another layer of complexity. "
One our our reasons for being frustrated is because we are doing more and more and often we still are not sure if we are doing the right thing. David has many tools to help with this in his book Getting Things Done - it's a must read to bring sanity to your life.

Our world is never going to be as slow paced as it is today - life will only get faster and faster. The good news is that if we can get on the leading edge through improving our own lives - we can be one of the winners. Don't let the onslaught of information bring you down. Get into David's thinking and improve your own life.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Seven Reasons Salespeople Talk Too Much

Selling Power magazine is one of the leading trade magazines for the selling profession and the Editor, Gerhard Gschwandtner, runs a tight ship. Gerhard also writes and posts to the Selling Power blog on a consistent basis. Recently Gerhard had a blog post about reasons that salespeople talk too much. It has always been interesting to me how much salespeople talk. I go on calls with sales people and I get pitched on a regular basis and more times than not, salespeople talk too much and listen too little. Below are the seven reasons Gerhard covered:

  • Anxiety
  • Lack of preparation
  • Stress
  • Lack of a road map
  • Lack of a time budget
  • Lack of humility
  • Ineffective thinking

One great goal for sales it to listen more and more. It takes a conscious focused effort on a daily basis but the results are incredible. When a customer is listened to it shows a deeper level of respect that results in a better relationship. Take a tip - listen more and talk less.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Warren Buffett Annual Letter

This is the weekend that Warren Buffett posts his Annual Letter. Each year Warren puts a years worth of thinking into a short, this year 21 pages, letter. Many believe this letter is a mini MBA from an incredible teacher. Warren has a book he credits for much of his success. It's a book written by his mentor and he still uses the philosophy of the book today.

The Intelligent Investor by Benjamin Graham was the book that Warren credits with his success. Below is a video answering why he thinks this book is worth reading.

Warren Buffett knows business and investing. He gives us a free course each year with his Annual Letter and he believes we should be reading The Intelligent Investor. If it's good enough for him, it's good enough for me.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Shortest Course on Selling - Jack Daly!

A few years ago I was in a sales training session being put on by Jack Daly. He was full of energy and enthusiasm but more than that he was full of great sales training ideas. One of the concepts Jack taught was the "Shortest Course on Selling" - it is only four words. ASK QUESTIONS AND LISTEN. That is it, nothing more. He knows that if a sales person just believed and lived by these four words s/he could really improve.

How can it be this simple? It's simple but it's not easy. Many sales people get into sales because they are outgoing fun loving people. They are good at meeting, getting to know and talking with others. All of that is great but it doesn't always help the customer. Asking questions and listening is customer focused. It becomes all about the customer and not the sales person. By listening you can find out what is on the customer/prospects mind and what is driving the purchasing decision.

Who are we there for? How can what I am doing benefit the customer? Do I just show up and throw up? We need to spend more time focusing on the customer and finding out what is important to them. Selling is about serving the client and making sure they are taken care of. Take some time to go to Jack's website and buy some of his material - it's a great investment.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

7 Marketing Lessons From RIM’s Failures

Just to be clear, I don't think RIM has failed - I have a Blackberry and have had one for years. The technology is good and it's stable. That being said, Blackberry has had some problems. In a recent Mashable article, Alex Goldfayn discussed seven lessons we can learn from the problems RIM is experiencing.

The first lesson is to make great products. RIM has historically made the best product, the Blackberry, but as other smart phones have taken off, they have been left behind. As a company that is at the top, it is easy to not respect what others are doing. When this happens other companies can pass you up. This is not a phone only problem. In our industry, commercial printing, there have been two Ohio based companies who were seen as the best and could command a 10 to 15 percent premium. Unfortunately, both of these companies are now in trouble because as they were enjoying success, many other companies were able to pass them up.

Keep talking to your customers is another lesson covered in this article. Here is a quote from Alex, "If you’re not talking to your customers, you’re just guessing from a conference room." It is imperative to get in front of customers. I remember once reading that Michael Dell, the founder of Dell, spent 30 percent of his time in front of customers. That is a great benchmark.

The other 5 lessons are well worth reading and learning from. It's valuable for all of us to keep working on our companies and keep improving so articles like this are not written about us.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

"What Got You Here Won't Get You There" with Marshal Goldsmith, PhD

I know this is a long video but it is great to the core. About a year ago I read the book and it was a great read. If you like the video, buy the book, support Marshall and learn something.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

How Top CEOs Cope with Constant Stress

Whether you are a CEO or not, this video will give you some techniques for coping with the constant stress of today's world. It's encouraging that all of us can improve how we cope. Enjoy the video.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

The Rewards of Delayed Gratification

What is delayed gratification? What are the rewards of delayed gratification? Why is this something worth spending time thinking about?

Delayed gratification is nothing more than putting off the reward until the work is complete. This is as simple as not eating the cookie until the homework is done. It's as simple as doing your exercise today instead of tomorrow. It is doing what you should before what you want. Many people, as evidenced by our national debt and by our personal debt, can't save first and spend second. They can't wait to buy a new flatscreen after they save the money. It's too easy to just put it on the card.

When you practice delayed gratification it isn't fun to begin with but is sure is fun to reap the rewards. A few years ago our family bought a new boat. It was a boat we had wanted for a while and it was an upgrade over our current boat. It took some time but we saved the money to buy the boat. When we were finalizing the purchase of the boat we were asked if we wanted to use the sellers financing. It felt good to tell the seller that we couldn't afford his interest so we would just pay for the boat. It would have been fun to have the boat sooner but it was better for us to save and then spend.

Below is a cartoon I found online the other day that I thought told the story of delayed gratification better than anything I could do so I have added it below.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Focused Communication

Currently I am reading a book by Cameron Herold called Double Double. Chapter 5 begins with the following statement about communicating that I thought would be good to share.

"Communication is difficult. To prove my point, try reading the next sentence six times, and put the emphasis on a different word each time.

"I Didn't Say You Were Beautiful"
"I Didn't Say You Were Beautiful"
"I Didn't Say You Were Beautiful"
"I Didn't Say You Were Beautiful"
"I Didn't Say You Were Beautiful"
"I Didn't Say You Were Beautiful"

If this set of six words can mean so many different things, it's no wonder that communication within a company can be so confusing and frustrating at times."

When working with a group of people make sure what you are saying is what is being heard. A great tool for this is to ask someone to repeat back what you have said in his or her own words. When doing this I have saved a tremendous amount of trouble.