Need a little pick-me-up?

"Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit." – Aristotle

 

There comes times when I have some self-doubt creeping in or sales may not be landing in my favor. Other times, it feels like relationships just don’t seem to be clicking. When I start to get a little anxious, I always get that hunger for learning. I wander around the aisles of the bookstore. I get on Amazon and read the reviews you know those “if you like this book you might also love ____”. Lately, everything I’ve read is just meh. Just repetition of the same material and content I’ve heard years before. It had been quite a while since I found a gem of a read. Definitely, quite a long time since I’ve picked up a book that is life-changing.

While waiting on a cell-phone repair, I wandered into a bookstore and this one called out to me, “READ ME!” High Performance Habits by Brendon Burchard. It’s off to an inspiring start. It’s the kind of book that makes you want to rush home and devour some more.

I’d love to share a few of my all-time faves. This is my go-to list of books I’ve read most more than one time. Some are dog-eared. All have highlighted passages. Some I’ve read 10 times. Not only does the content never get old, I often discover something new messages within the pages. Life situations change and that old text now speaks to me in a different way delivering a new and timely lesson.

Whether you’re looking for a little positive thinking or ready to grow your business to the next level, I hope you enjoy these classics (followed by my two cents).

E-myth by Michael Gerber (Critical for every entrepreneur)
The Magic of Thinking Big by David Schwartz
How to Win Friends and Influence people by Dale Carnegie
Good to Great by Jim Collins
Duct tape Marketing by John Jantsch (Practical advice for small businesses marketing that doesn’t cost a fortune)
Positive Personality Profiles by Dr. Richard Rohm (Forever changed my perspective on interactions with others)
10 X by Grant Cardone
Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill (I had this one on cassette tape in my first car)
Selling the Invisible by Harry Beckwith
The Bible
Drive by Daniel pink
One Minute Manager by Ken Blanchard (Principles are timeless)
Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg (Give yourself permission to do great things!)
Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell (Fascinating research into top achievers)
Just Listen by Mark Goulston

I’d love to hear your all time faves. I’ll add them to my “MUST READ” list.

 

Contributed by Heather Kuth.

All images are Heather’s own & may not be republished without express written permission.

Just Stop.

I'm always trying to bring unusual content to a different audience - a non-art-world audience.Jenny Holzer.

I decided to write this blogpost on another one of my favorite female artists, Jenny Holzer.  Advertising is about making the viewer stop. Stop at that one postcard, or stop at that one page in the magazine. I believe that Jenny’s work makes people stop.

I first learned about Holzer’s work in an Art History class I took at UD. What I found fascinating about Jenny’s work was her meaningful phrases and the way that she displays them. Holzer is mostly known for her large-scale public displays that include billboard advertisements, projections on buildings and other architectural structures, as well as illuminated electronic displays. From big to small, Holzer’s work has also been shown on monuments, small posters and T-Shirts. Wikipedia says, “Her main concern is to enlighten, bringing into light something thought in silence and meant to remain hidden.”

Holzer was born in Gallipolis, Ohio and attended Duke University, the University of Chicago and Ohio University where she completed a Bachelors of Fine Arts Degree. She moved to New York City in 1976. In Manhattan, Holzer participated in an independent study at the Whitney Museum and that is where she first started working with language, installation and public art. Some of her contemporaries include Barbara Kruger, Cindy Sherman, Sarah Charlesworth, and Louise Lawler.

holzercollage

Holzer has done many series, but two in particular made me stop. She has a series called“For the Capitol” that she completed in 2007. Projected on the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington D.C, this piece was made specifically for nighttime projection using quotes from John F. Kennedy and Theodore Roosevelt.

I also appreciated her project from 2006 titled “For 7 World Trade” which is one of her permanent LED light installations. It hangs in the lobby of the 7 World Trade Center in New York City. The WTC’s website mentions Holzer’s piece saying, “Holzer, a conceptual artist, created an animated-text installation of prose and poetry that scrolls across a glowing 65-foot-wide, 14-foot-high glass wall behind the reception desk. The work features pieces written by numerous authors - from Elizabeth Bishop and Allen Ginsberg to Langston Hughes and Walt Whitman - whose work evokes the history and spirit of New York City.”

That's the test of street art - to see if anybody stops. People would cross out ones they didn't like and would star others. I liked that people would engage with them.-Jenny Holzer

Jenny Holzer is currently living upstate New York with her husband and daughter. Her art has been shown all over the world and has won many awards. Her work is controversial but I also think it has a way of pulling people in and enticing them. Her displays are in your face and make you think. I find that is needed in good advertising whether it is advertising for businesses or advertising your own thoughts and ideas. If you enjoy Jenny Holzer’s work I also recommend checking out the other artists I mentioned earlier.

Contributed by Crista Kling.

Crista

 

 

 

 

 

 

For all the pictures and information in this blog, please utilize the sources below:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jenny_Holzer

http://www.pbs.org/art21/artists/jenny-holzer

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/09/12/AR2007091202441.html

http://www.streetscenesdc.com/Projections.html

http://www.wtc.com/about/office-tower-7/office-tower-7-design

http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/j/jenny_holzer_2.html

http://projects.jennyholzer.com/projections/san-diego-2007/gallery#4

http://www.aiany.org/eOCULUS/2006/2006-04-18.html

http://ny.curbed.com/places/7-wtc

http://www.pbs.org/art21/images/jenny-holzer/for-7-world-trade-2006

http://www.omatic.com/public_art/holzer.htmlhttp://projects.jennyholzer.com/http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2010/mar/14/jenny-holzer-baltic-review-cumming

 

Quick History of the Cell Phone

You know, if you think about it, cell phones haven’t really been around that long. The first cell phone approved for commercial use was developed by Mr. Martin Cooper in 1983 – a mere 31 years ago.

The phone cost $9,000 in today’s dollars (Interestingly this is not even the most expensive cell phone ever – Vertu sells luxury phones today from ($6,000-$12,000). Even more interesting, the first call was made to the son of Alexander Graham Bell. I wish I could have been there for that!

The cell phone has completely changed the entire world. It’s changed how we talk, how we log and track our lives, and also how we do business. No longer are we tied to emailing each other (which was invented in 1971 by the way) or making calls from the office. Now we are accessible to anyone 24/7.

Our phones have evolved from the two pound Motorola DynaTAC down to the Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini which is a whopping 107g, or roughly the same weight as a fork or a teaspoon.

 

I would argue it’s one of the most diverse business tools available to us, with a plethora of apps and features to remind us we have a meeting, tell us how to get there, and then remind you to make that follow up call. If you have a need, there is an app for that.

For a list of the top ten business apps, go here: http://www.forbes.com/sites/amitchowdhry/2013/09/16/best-business-apps-to-download/

My personal favorite from this list include Square, where you can turn your cell phone into a credit card swiping machine, and Evernote, which is like a notebook for your cell phone. You can make multiple notebooks with various tabs to keep notes, clip sections from website, and much more.

The Square and it's app. Turns your cell phone into a credit card processor (for a small fee of course).

The Square and its app. Turns your cell phone into a credit card processor (for a small fee of course).

Your options are truly limitless with the technology that is rapidly developing. I am excited to see what the future holds for cell phones and other business technologies!

Contributed by Ashley Hudson.

Ashley

 

 

 

 

 

Would like to thank these sources for the information found in this blog!

http://www.mobilephones.com/top-5-lightest-smartphones/

http://www.vertu.com/en/signature-touch/design

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_mobile_phones

http://content.time.com/time/photogallery/0,29307,1636836,00.html

 

What Gardening Teaches Us About Success

LisaGardener

1. Pulling weeds.  A weed has a stronger and more tenacious root than any plant I intended on being there. If ignored they take over.  Be careful not to let negative thoughts enter your fertile mind. Sometimes those weeds are negative people in your life.  Be careful. They will squelch ideas. Create self-doubt. Strangle your optimism.

2. Reap what you sow. Before the fruits of your labor can be enjoyed, much hard work must precede it.  Last spring I skipped the annoying and backbreaking step of tilling the soil to plant my vegetable garden.  My shovel could barely break the surface to plant my seeds.  Because I didn’t take that extra time and put in the work, my plants lacked room to grow and nutrients necessary for delicious fruit.  In much the same way, many calls must be made to enjoy the reward of a face-to-face meeting with the client.  That meeting may not lead to a sale, just as, despite my best efforts, many seedlings wither and die. But sure enough if I do enough of the hard work I'll have a bounty to enjoy.

3. Don't procrastinate.  I peer out my window on a sunny morning and think I really ought to get out there and feed those chickens now...ah, I'll do it after work.  After work, an unexpected thunderstorm hits and I'm running to the chicken coop drenched in chilly rain trudging through mud and muck.

4. Victory is sweet.  Pluck a tomato straight from the vine. Take a juicy bite. Savor a crisp cucumber the day it's harvested.  Crack a farm fresh egg for breakfast. Share a slice of fresh baked zucchini bread straight from the oven.  Snip a few fresh mint leaves for an icy cool refreshing Mojito. Somehow my harvest tastes better than anything store bought.  Those easy wins in my professional life aren't nearly as fulfilling as the ones that required blood sweat and tears before victory was finally realized.  Failures and setbacks are merely temporary states.  Remember, into every garden a little rain must fall.

This little backyard garden somehow brings me great joy. It doesn't feel like work. It's relaxing, dare I say, even therapeutic. I know the payoff is worth it.  I haven't gone so far as to talking to my plants.  But, hey, a little positive self-talk in life can't hurt anyone.

 “The mind is what the mind is fed.” –David J. Schwartz, The Magic of Thinking Big.

Contributed by Heather Craaybeek.

Heather

Being Responsible When It’s Not Your Responsibility

Responsibility

 

Recently a client shared a story with me. They had ran an ad with another company and the other company accidentally inverted some digits in their phone number. The client signed off on the proof without realizing it. They didn't think it was something they needed to worry about because they had ran the ad before. When the mistake was discovered later the company told my client they weren't liable because the client approved the ad.

While that is technically right, it is also so wrong.

Clients should feel that their vendors are looking out for them, proactively working to not make mistakes and fixing any if they do. They need to feel their vendors have their backs.

Before we run an ad for a client we check every single phone number and website, every single time we run the ad for them, even if it is the same ad we have always run for them. Some might ask “why would you waste your time doing that when your clients have already approved their ads?” We don’t view it as a waste of time. We are in business to help our clients grow. We help do that by looking out for them, even though we don’t technically need to. We’re responsible when we don’t need to be because it’s the best thing to do for our client and because it’s right thing to do.

 

Contributed by Jodie Hook.

Jodie

Sales People: Learn More About Your Product Than Your Company Taught You

WD-40

When you were being educated about the value and benefits of the product that you would be selling, did you learn everything there is to know about the product?  Most likely, no.  It’s not that your company withheld information about your product, it’s just that even they probably don’t know all of the uses, benefits, or value of their own product.  So how do you find out this information?  Ask your customers.

Your customers can tell you things about your product (good and bad) that will help you in the sales process and make you more prepared to overcome the challenges of selling your product.  But you have to ask them.  They’re not likely to volunteer this information just because you sell the product, but they would be happy to share their experiences with you.  It gives them a feeling of authority with your brand.

Here’s an example:  WD-40 was developed as a lubricant (water displacement) for machinery parts.  It solved a common problem for many industries.  It was later revealed  in Reader’s Digest that there are many additional uses for WD-40 beyond lubrication.   Their customers were the ones that figured out these uses, most likely out of necessity to solve unforeseen problems, and applied WD-40 to solve the issue.  One of those uses was for roach extermination.  I highly doubt that the inventors of WD-40 knew, or invented WD-40 with roach extermination in mind.  But, they never would have known this without the feedback from their customers.

What can your product do that you’re not aware of?  You don’t have to brainstorm new solutions for your product to solve, just ask your customers.  Use the feedback provided by your customers in your discussions with new prospects.  You’ll find that it will make those prospects more engaged and receptive to your product helping solve their issues too.  It’s worked for me.

Actively ask your customers how they use your product and you might be surprised what they tell you.   The other thing that might surprise you is that you might get invited to lunch with the CEO more often, too.

Contributed by Jeff Vice.

Jeff

Thoughts from a graphic designer….

WhatTheFont

 

What is a font?

A font is the collection of characters.

 

What is a typeface?

The design for a set of characters.

 

A typeface is not font. A font is not a typeface.

 

Confused yet?

 

The term font is often used as a synonym for typefaces, which is not technically correct. For most people who are not in the design world, they only think of about fonts when choosing one in Microsoft Word. The two terms frequently cause some confusion to those unfamiliar with the difference.

 

Typeface = a type family’s design

Think of a typeface as a set of characters of the same design. A typeface is the ‘design’ of the design of the alphabet, the shape of the letters that make up the typestyle. Typefaces describe the overall look of the characters.

 

Font = one member of a type family

A font, on the other hand, is traditionally defined as a complete character set within a typeface, often of a particular size and style. Fonts are also specific computer files that contain all the characters and glyphs within a typeface.

 

A typeface is like a jukebox while font is the tunes inside.

 

ITC Bodoni

 

Contributed by Caitlin Tuohy.
Caitlin

Mirror Neurons, Glossophobia and A Thousand Paper Cuts

Spotlight

You are standing up on a stage bathed in the blue-white light of a spotlight. You know there is a crowd before you, but you can’t see past the very stage you stand on. Tremors buzz through your chest that turn your stomach into a hollow knot. The feeling works its way to your limbs as your heart begins to race and your mouth goes dry. You try not to breathe too hard, but surely they can see you practically panting up here. Your hands begin to tremble as you take hold of the microphone. You begin your speech, praying that this time your voice doesn't shake.

Good grief – I’m stressed out just reading that. Glossophobia: the fear of public speaking. 74% of Americans in 2013 suffered from speech anxiety. Interestingly, the feelings we create for ourselves in public speech situations do not really change even when presented with a similar smaller-scale situation. I recently spoke with a friend who said she panics when speaking in front of a handful of her colleagues at regular meetings. It doesn’t matter if we’re standing up to give a presentation in front of 5 people or 500 – we still feel the glare of that spotlight.

I realize public speaking for most may be akin to death by a thousand paper cuts: slow and painful. You may never be a world champion Toastmaster, but you can still be an effective and engaging speaker. There are a few things I’ve learned over time that have helped me with addressing a room full of people: boost your confidence – talk yourself up before you begin. No one can do a better job than you right now. There is always someone in your audience who is a worse speaker than you are. Just strive to be better than them. Regardless if it’s true, the confidence you give yourself will make all the difference in your presentation.

Be mindful of your body. How we move says more than our words ever could. Video tape yourself – even just the first couple minutes of your speech. You’ll be critical of yourself, but be sure not to overdo it. Just identify the nervous habits that are distracting, and change them. We all have mirror neurons in our brain which help us to mirror how another person is feeling. If you are passionate about what you are talking about, even if I typically don’t care, at that moment I’m engaged and passionate with you. If you are nervous, I am just as uncomfortable as you are.

So the next time you sit down with a potential client, a roomful of co workers, or the whole world, sit up straight with your shoulders back, raise your chin and smile. You are a fabulous speaker, if only for the moment.

Contributed by Ashley Hudson.

Ashley

The Introvert Bias

Quiet

Susan Cain, author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking is one of my favorite public figures. She herself is an introvert, but has found it within herself to speak to the world about the power of introversion and why the world is leaving them behind.

Cain explains that there is a difference between shyness and introverts, yet as a society,  we've come to regard them as one in the same. She says shyness is a fear of judgment and introversion is simply introspective, reflective and quiet.

She goes on to question why we have started emphatically using group work, open office spaces and stimulating environments. Introverts feel most alive, creative and capable in a quiet, less stimulating environment. The ironic part is that up to half of Americans are introverted – so nearly half of the population’s needs are being either ignored, or worse, shamed.

Something I found very interesting that she said was that extroverts get so excited that they put their own stamp on things, and other people’s ideas might not as easily bubble up to the surface. Recently I took a leadership class, and this truth was very self-evident.

As a class, my professor took us out of the classroom and outside, down the stairs and past the parking garage until we had walked a total of about ten or so minutes from the classroom. He stopped us all and started passing out bandanas (to which we gave him very confused looks). He stated we’d have to make it back to the classroom…blindfolded. And we had to do it all together, never letting go of each other. If that wasn’t enough, we had only 5 minutes to make a plan and get ready, then only 1 hour to reach the classroom.

What happened next was interesting. In a room full of leadership students, chaos broke out. Quickly and subconsciously the group broke in two, with the loud students shouting their ideas and the quiet, more introverted speaking quietly amongst themselves and observing the other group. Eventually the decision was made (in well under 5 minutes), and the plan was executed. Was it the best solution? Maybe. Maybe not.

When all was said and done our professor stood before us and recapped what he saw. He told us that while the group was deciding on a solution, the extroverts completely shut out the introverts, who were in fact coming up with the more creative ideas. But because they wouldn’t yell above everyone else, their ideas were never heard. His lesson for us that day was that sometimes a great leader isn’t the one who will yell the loudest, but rather the one who won’t.

Susan Cain did a very entertaining and informative TED Talk , which you can watch below.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c0KYU2j0TM4

Contributed by Ashley Hudson

Got bad customers? What to do?

Customers are revenue. The more the merrier. Right?

If you don't care if your business is just another competitor in a crowded field, then sure, more customers should be your ultimate goal.

The other side of that equation is fewer customers but better customers. Better customers make your business better in the long run. There are a variety of reasons why better customers trump more customers.

Better customers understand your value and are willing to work with you. A good customer doesn't look at you as an adversary that they need to hold at arms-length and with an attitude of always having the upper hand over you. Because better customers look at you the vendor, as an equal, your relationship together is much more friendly and consultative in nature. Interactions are rarely strained or combative and by extension allow you to get to know your customer outside of the business transactions you conduct.

We would all like to have "better customers" all the time if given the opportunity. Many times it doesn't work out that way even if we felt like it would going into the initial relationship. So, what can you do about it?

If you feel like the relationship you have with a customer is not what you envisioned going in, then there should come a point at which you must address those concerns. Do that with an honest but non-combative conversation. Suggest to your customer that maybe you are not the right fit for his or her business. This way you won't be putting your customer on the defensive. It's likely that your customer wouldn't have seen this conversation coming and thus will also allow them to realize that perhaps some of the issue is due to their actions. They may take responsibility for those actions and work to make the relationship what it should have been from the start.

Something to consider in this situation is that you may be underestimating the value of what you or your company bring to the table and that the customer may think that losing that value is too much of a risk for them to take. Even if you don't learn that specifically, within that conversation you are likely to learn from your customer how to handle them or their business in a way that makes the relationship stronger after all.

In the end, if things don't come to a satisfactory conclusion for you, you can always tell your customer that "It's only a good deal when it's fair to both sides", and end your agreement. It sounds harsh and counter-intuitive in a sales capacity to intentionally lose a customer, but you and your company will be better off in the long run as you can put more productive time and effort into your existing "good" customers and leave behind the angst and dread of dealing with bad customers.

I have actually had competitors call me to tell me about situations they're having now, with my former client, that were the same situations I had had with that former client. That's when I knew that any indecision about letting that former client go was now vindicated knowing that it wasn't anything that I had done wrong, but that it was a bad customer all along.

It may hurt in the short-run to lose that revenue but this one business situation may fit into the money-can't-buy-happiness category.

Do you have a bad customer story to share? Tell us about it below.