I recently met Dr. Diane Hamilton at a conference. We started talking and I discovered that in addition to being a wonderful human being, she’s the host of a nationally syndicated radio talk show. She’s had some amazing guests, including Steve Forbes and Jeffrey Hayzlett. When she asked me to be on her show, I leapt at the opportunity.
I discovered that on the same show with me was also the amazing Scott McKain. I’ve known Scott for many years. In fact, he and I did a 75-minute webinar together a while back about differentiation and distinction. It was a blast and we’ve been threatening to do it again soon (so stay tuned). If you missed that, you can watch it here.
To listen to our recent interview with Diane, you can stream it here:
The other day I decided to check “broken links” on my website. Basically these are links from my site to other sites. In most cases, these were articles I referenced, books I promoted, or interesting people I highlighted.
Since 2006, I have posted over 800 blog entries. ( I started my website back in 2001)
I was shocked to find that I had over 300 dead links on my site! This means that 300 times I thought there was good content on another website, and that website is no longer running.
Congratulations to those of you who have had an active website for the past decade. It is sometimes good to be reminded that longevity is not a given and that staying in business requires dedication and determination.
There are ups and downs. Joys and heartaches. Wins and losses. Ebbs and flows of income.
There have been moments when I was unsure when the next paycheck would arrive (it’s happened more often than I’d like to admit). And although there seems to be an endless number of opportunities, I suspect most are distractions disguised as opportunities (making investment decisions difficult). Plus this year I’m taking on some massive projects (for my business) that are exciting yet quite scary.
Despite all this, I feel more blessed than ever to do what I do.
Today is Independence Day in the United States; something that was achieved with struggles and battles. But of course, in the end, it was worth it.
Today I am also celebrating my work-independence. It’s not always easy, but I can’t imagine working any other way.
Happy Independence Day to all of my entrepreneur friends!!
According to Klout, there are 190,000 experts on innovation. #1 is Fast Company. #2 is WIRED. And #6 is the Harvard Business Review. And I am listed as #4. I’m not sure what criteria was used to make this determination. Regardless, I am please to be on this list.
I was invited to participate in the new television reality series, Girl Starter, to mentor young women in launching their businesses. The show pairs eight “girls”, ranging in ages from 18 – 24, into 4 teams. Each team develops a new idea from scratch and goes through the process of planning it, validating it, and launching it. All of this was done over a 6-week period, with $100,000 being awarded to the winning team to put toward the development of their business.
As I write this, the second of six episodes just aired where I was featured as a mentor and judge. I was brought in to share my 30 years of experience with these young woman. And while I was able to provide an insight or two, I feel like I was the one who learned the most from this inspiring experience. (below you will find a brief video clip where I and co-mentor Tiffany Pham provide our two cents)
Although filming is completed and the winner determined, there are four more episodes left to air. With this in mind, I share my observations in a way that will continue to keep you in suspense.
Listen, Learn, and Pivot
Having been part of the show during weeks 2, 4, and 6, I had the opportunity to see the evolution of the business plans. Some teams were headstrong and opted to not listen to the advice of the mentors. Some teams made very few adjustments from day-to-day and week-to-week, while others made massive shifts. Those teams that were open to learning and adapting were deemed as the stronger businesses by the judges. Additionally, those teams that listened to potential customers and pivoted accordingly, rather than being headstrong, performed better.
Knowledge May Hurt
The show’s producers did a great job of bringing in girls with a diverse range of personalities, experiences, and interests. Some of the women were more artistic. Others were more entrepreneurial. And others were more technical. It was fascinating to see that experience and technical competence were not always helpful. Past experiences sometimes interfered with their ability to think more creatively about their businesses. Or in some cases, technical knowledge led to solutions that were leading edge yet overly complex.
Stories Impact Reality
Throughout the show, teams pitched their businesses and ideas to the judges. In addition, most weeks had mini-challenges (e.g., Visa, a show sponsor, had the girls work on a new payment device concept) that they needed to present. As a judge, I focused on which ideas/businesses had the greatest potential. However, it was amazing how the pitch influenced the perception of the business. Pitches that were emotional and created visual images in our minds fared better than the ones that were “just the facts.” Our reality is shaped by stories and can influence our behaviors. Decisions are not always rational.
Some teams were all over the map, attempting to appeal to everyone. Although this may appear to create a larger base of buyers, it typically leads to a less successful start-up. The ideas with wider appeal seemed to be watered down solutions and ultimately less attractive. The ones that were more focused on specific demographics or only solved a limited set of problems for a target group were deemed as more valuable in the minds of the judges. This was evident in week two where the winning team had initially started with a much larger vision but pared it down to the most viable aspect.
Only one team could win the $100,000. It would be easy for the losing teams to pack up their bags, go back to their lives, and call it quits on the business. Without giving away the ending, I can tell you that none of the girls did this. I am writing this one month after the winner was chosen, and all eight women are still actively involved in developing their businesses. Even in the face of defeat, they are still committed to their dreams.
These insights are the tip of the iceberg and it is my pleasure to present to you this first in a series of articles garnered by observing the hearts, grit and determination of these young ladies. It is clear that the opportunity to learn is an ageless phenomenon.
Be sure to watch Girl Starter Friday nights, 7PM ET on TLC. You can also catch past episodes online at https://www.tlcgo.com/girl-starter/ or on-demand.
Here’s a short clip where we provide out advice to the Girl Starters:
So for $20 I get enough to last me a lifetime, assuming I don’t keep losing a set each month.
I’ve played around with different size magnets and these seems to have the best combination of hold and size. I sometimes use a smaller size (1/4″ x 1/16″) magnet, but these have a higher likelihood of falling off. Someone I know uses black magnets so they are less visible then the shiny silver ones. Given the collars lay pretty flat, I’ve not seen this as an issue for me.
So now you can have the cool, funky shirts you love without looking like you arrived in a time-machine from the past.
But now, companies are turning more and more to social media for their customer service. So when I had an issue, I decided to give it a try.
On Delta.com I paid extra for a Comfort+ seat. It has more legroom and lets you board early. I saw that there were some desirable seats still available (in addition to a number of middle seats). So I paid for the upgrade and went to book my seat. But the system wouldn’t let me choose a seat and was told that I would be assigned one at the gate before takeoff.
I was not happy. I did not pay extra to end up in a middle seat. So I tweeted about it.
Within minutes I get a tweet back from Delta:
And after sending them my confirmation number via DM, I was assigned a wonderful exit row, aisle seat:
They took (what I assume to be) a system failure and turned it into a customer satisfaction success story. Knowing that I can get this level of service from them is very encouraging and makes me want to fly them even more.
Consider how other airlines have handled some recent (albeit much bigger) issues via social media: United leggings fiasco and American’s wheelchair debacle. Neither of these resulted in building fans for their airlines. They could have handled these situations differently and come out looking good (or at least not as bad as they do).
How can you turn each negative situation into a chance to create a positive image in the eyes of others?
P.S. Most of my experiences are not this positive. Just yesterday I had a terrible experience with a major timeshare company. Their phone support was atrocious and the Twitter support has (as of now) been non-existent.
P.P.S. Only a few days after writing this, the king of all failures was delivered by United when they dragged a Doctor off the airplane. Afterwards, United did nothing to improve their position with their customers. YIKES!
In the past few videos I discussed the personalities of individuals and what this means to high-performing teams.
In today’s episode I discuss the personality of the organization. And no, this is not the average of the personalities of the people. It’s something completely different. And understanding this is critical to the success of your innovation efforts.