A Story about My Grandfather

My grandfather had an expression he used to use on occasions such as a beautiful early Fall evening.

“I wonder what the poor people are doing?”

Now this might strike you as odd, extraordinarily glib, or even downright insulting. It was not.

It was actually meant as a reminder to take pleasure in the wonder of life. His implication was that we, my family, were “the rich.” Financially, I can assure you, we were anything but.

We were, however, rich in health (mostly), in spirit, and, most importantly, in love!

“The poor people” in my grandfather’s heuristic expression, were those who lacked this richness in spirit and love.

On those evenings he felt blessed, and his expression and his attitude about life, live with me to this day.

“I wonder what the poor people are doing?”

On Imitation

Yesterday, my brother Rich and I had a Skype conversation during which were talking about imitating star performances. He then told me this great story.

“In 1998, Nathan Lane played the Cowardly Lion in a concert adaptation of the Wizard of Oz.

“A women came up to him after the performance and snidely said, 'What if I told you that your performance was just an exact imitation of Burt Lahr's.'

“Lane replied, 'I'd say thank you, because Bert Lahr was pretty fucking great!'”

Sometimes imitation is not such a bad thing.

 

Considering Facebook Advertising

At the end of my recent failed political campaign for Texas State Senate, I took out a few Facebook ads which I believe to have been moderately successful.

The first was early in the campaign after launching my campaign Facebook site. The ad was to all anyone in the United States who had listed “Libertarian” in their profile. Within four days I had gone from 150 friends of the site to over 600. The ad cost me $100 and while I do not think anyone who “liked” the page from this ad donated money, several become regular contributors the conversation on the site lending it higher credibility to subsequent visitors who did, in fact contribute.

The second ad was over the five day period before Election Day. In created an ad specifically targeted at the four major cities in the Senatorial District in which I was running and it excluded people who were already friends of the page. In all, I received 1,227,893 impressions over this critical five day period. I am certain that this helped my campaign with name recognition and increased my overall vote total.

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What I find so fascinating about this is the ad engine works 180 degrees differently that Google Adwords. With Adwords, you are trying figure out what a prospect might type into the search box, with Facebook, you are selecting the criteria of the intended target audience. It is very powerful.

imageAs an example, I created an ad for everyone over the age of 18 in the state of Texas who listed “Accounting” as a interest. As you can see this ad, if I ran it would target 8,440. Not a large number, but certainly a very targeted list.

I see this as assisting not only prospecting, but in the creation of candidate pools for jobs.

If any of you have additional experience with Facebook ads and care to share your results, I would love to hear about them.

Firm of the Future Insights Session

For those of you who are so inclined (probably only my Mom), I present for your viewing pleasure the video feed from the dialogue session I did at Insights entitled Creating the Firm of the Future.

Here is the session description:

This session will be dedicated to the possibility that a professional organization can be run more effectively when it becomes a knowledge firm rather than a service firm. Creating such an organization is hard work and not for everyone. It requires us to think differently than we have in the past about what it is that we do. You are hereby invited to open a dialogue on a different model for creating success in a professional firm.

And, here, more importantly, is the warning slide I had on the screen as folks entered the room:

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The video is in two parts.

Part One (runs 1 hour and 25 minutes)

Part Two (runs 1 hour and 40 minutes)

Right idea, wrong thinking!

Yesterday, I received a solicitation regarding a “solution for transferring knowledge!” It included a link to the following video.

 

Problems with this:

  1. Bad name – Knowledge Harvest. It sounds like you are using a sickle or combine and lopping peoples heads off.
  2. Defeatist attitude. – It implies that there is no way to keep this people around, so you should just exploit them while you can.
  3. Victim mentality. – “It is not your fault we are leaving, it is just the way we are.” Again, there is nothing you can do.

Now, I did view their product page and the system itself seems like it would be helpful to collect and disseminate tactic knowledge throughout an organization. This is, in fact, something sorely needed in professional knowledge firms. However, I would suggest to them:

  1. That they change the name.
  2. That they emphasize the value of disseminating the knowledge throughout the organization. It will increase the overall value of the firm by increase the knowledge of the individuals because the knowledge will be shared rather than hoarded.
  3. That having this solution might even make the firm a better place to work because you can gain knowledge far more quickly than at other companies.

If any of you pursue looking at this further, please let me know what you think about it.

I have asked the channel to ping their existing customers about a discount on training. Say what!

My colleague Diana Waterman asked me this week for my list of least favorite jargon used in business. I quickly came up with five, they are:

  1. Existing customer – as opposed to a, what, non-existing customer, the term should be current customer or just customer.
  2. Discount – when we really mean preferred price or promotional price.
  3. Channel – sorry I just don’t like the term when referring to people.
  4. Training – when we mean education. Horses and dogs are trained, people are educated.
  5. Ping – when used to mean “get in touch with.” I am not an IP address, I would prefer not to be pinged, thanks.

I asked Diana and she graciously allowed my to post her top five as well. They are:

  1. Dialogue – when referring to a conversation. (OK, I am guilty on this one. In all fairness I do try to explain the term.)
  2. Spearhead – when used as a verb meaning to take the lead on on a particular project.
  3. Incentivize – meaning to create an incentive for. PS – incent is not a word either.
  4. Interface – as in have a conversation. Again, this is one of those computer terms that is degrading to use when talking about people.
  5. Socialize  – when speaking about an idea and meaning to talk about it with others.

Please share your list with us. You do not have to have five, but I ask that you limit yourself to five.

Consulting Rule #3

I often state a truism that I stole from someone I can’t remember – In consulting, as in medicine, prescription before diagnosis is malpractice. (If you are this person, I apologize, I owe you a beer.)

In a recent conversation while on a walk with my wife, Christine, we concluded that there is a corollary to this rule – You can’t prescribe if the patient/customer will not let you diagnose.

I hear about this problem more than a couple of times a week from Sage partners with whom I am speaking. It usually manifests itself like this, “Ed, I was trying to get an understanding of why the customer thought a request they had made was important, and they told me that they don’t reveal that information to outsider consultants. What can I do?”

My initial response is a half-kidding, “Run away!”

After explaining that I am kidding, sort of, I state, “Perhaps you should suggest to them that they reconsider and explain that while you understand their concern, it is not in their best interest to withhold this information. Consider this – if you go to a cardiac surgeon and just ask for a triple bypass operation, any ethical doctor will first insist on a few tests before performing the surgery. Certainly, they would want to take your blood pressure and heart rate. Would it make any sense to say, ‘Hmm, I don’t know, I don’t think I want to reveal that information to you.’? Clearly, it would not. I am in the same situation as the doctor, without a full understanding of the problem, it would be unethical for me to proceed. So, I ask you to reconsider and answer my questions. If not, I really don’t think I can help you.”

Is this hardball? Maybe, but your only alternative is to violate your ethics and prescribe before diagnosing.