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Archive for February, 2009

What Five Words Describe Your Dad?

Friday, February 27th, 2009

On my way into the office I was listening to sports radio (I know you are surprised!)The discussion was about Tony Dungy the coach (or actually ex-coach) of the Indianapolis Colts. The sportscasters were discussing all of the players they had talked to in the past few days and each of them said that Tony taught them so many life lessons. They also started to toss out words that describe Tony Dungy — words like professional, classy and gentleman. It gave me a moment to pause and think about my dad and all the life lessons he taught me. I started to think about what words I would use to describe him. Here goes:

  1. Hardworking
     
  2. Giving
     
  3. Over-achiever
     
  4. Integrity
     
  5. Stoic

I must admit this was a fun exercise but found it hard to narrow it down to five words.

Okay, your turn. What five words would you use to describe your dad?

I look forward to reading your comments.

Hello Retail Companies, My Name Is ____________ And I Am A Consumer!

Wednesday, February 25th, 2009

sales, sales, SALES!A few weeks ago I read a funny headline. It said, "ALL I WANT FOR THE HOLIDAYS IS CUSTOMERS!" I thought about that and chuckled for a minute or two. Clearly the headline was accurate. This holiday season was down, in fact way down from the past few years. Now that the holiday season is past us, it will get a lot worse for retailers before it gets any better.

Attention retailers: These days consumers want a deal. THEY DON’T WANT A GOOD DEAL, THEY WANT A GREAT DEAL!

Frankly, I am no different. I want to buy something on sale. If it’s 25% off, I like it. If it’s 30% off, I like it even more. I believe the average consumer wants a 2 for 1 deal. Or buy 3 get 2 free as I saw in the grocery store yesterday. Lots of retail stores are not only giving you a deep discount but future $$$ off for future visits. Kohl’s had a promotion that for every $50 you spent you got Kohl bucks to spend during a visit that had a two week window.

To me it is simple. If you want customers these days, you had better have great promotions. You need to be giving away stuff. You need to make sure the consumer (me) feels they are getting a good deal.

We had a friend over our house last week who was saying she wanted to buy a few items online but was waiting until the company had free shipping. I don’t think she is alone in her thinking.

Retailers need to get creative with their promotions. I feel strongly that this will happen in the months to come.

When we were growing up, retail stores would often have loss leaders. Well I think lots of stores (if not all) are doing that now.

  • Do you agree with what I am saying?
     
  • Are you waiting to buy something until it goes on sale?
     
  • Are you buying more things on sale these days?
     
  • Do you feel bad if you don’t buy something on sale?

I look forward to reading your comments.

Attention Researchers: What Advice Do You Have For People Looking For A Job?

Monday, February 23rd, 2009

I just read an article that had a prediction for 2010. Frankly it was a painful prediction and one that I hope is wrong. The prediction said that the unemployment rate could reach 9.2% by early next year! Ugh! My heart sank when I read this! When are things going to get better? I know so many people in transition and I can’t believe things are going to get much worse than where we are now! One more ugh! Sorry about that.

Since we all know so many people who are in transition I think we should build a list of things that people can do to help a person who is looking for a job.

I will start the list with a few ideas. You need to network, network, network. Most people find the good jobs through industry contacts. You need to do the same thing. Call your friends, email your industry contacts, start to really use social networks like LinkedIn and Spoke. These efforts can really help you and will pay dividends.

The other bit of advice I would say is stay positive! I realize that is hard and sometimes very hard, but stay focused. Stay upbeat! During a phone discussion or a meeting, that can clearly make a difference! Trust me it can.

  • Ok people, how about some advice for our readers?
     
  • If you were looking for a job, what is the first thing you would do?

I know many people will be interested in this information so I hope lots of people respond.

This Is The Most Challenging Time In My Business Life!

Friday, February 20th, 2009

Work is hard these days! Decisions need to be made quickly and correctly! You need to be GREAT on every project for EVERY client! Accounts Receivables are growing for most companies! Exceeding expectations is now the standard!

A few weeks ago my day started (as it does often) with a 6:00am call with Steve Schlesinger. For those of you who don’t know Steve, he is President of Schlesinger Associates, the largest qualitative company in the world. He is very bright and most days (unless we are talking about the NY Giants) has a good point of view. During our discussion we spoke about the economy and the current environment and how challenging it is to increase your business these days. How challenging it is to increase or maintain your profit margin. We both came to the conclusion that this is probably the hardest time in our business lives and frankly might be the hardest time of our business lives if you include the next 25 years.

A few hours later I had a conversation with Lance Hoffman from Opinion Access Corp (OAC). OAC is a very large quantitative company. During our discussion it led us to almost the same points that I had earlier with Steve. Together we agreed it was time we embraced the challenge! We were looking forward to rising to the occasion. Frankly anyone and any company could have and should have made money in most of the 80’s and 90’s but now that isn’t the case. The companies that will increase their revenue, increase their margins and keep their clients happy are far and few in between.

Lance and I spoke about it as being the bottom of the 9th and you are down by two runs, bases are loaded and you are up to bat. A double wins you the game, while a strike out…and you go home after losing the game.

  • What are you going to do?
     
  • What decisions are you going to make these days?
     
  • How are you going to handle the pressure?

Even though the year just began I am energized, in fact really energized. Â I have taken the economy as a personal challenge and met it head on. By the way, Steve and Lance are the same way. To me this is a real challenge and will test my ability:

  • As a leader
     
  • As a strategist
     
  • As a motivator
     
  • As a business executive

My hope is that my friends, peers and industry contacts feel the same way Steve, Lance and I do. We are up for the challenge and look forward to coming to work each and every day to move the business forward.

  • Do you feel the same way?
     
  • Care to join the three of us on this journey?
     
  • Steve/Lance, anything you want to add?

I look forward to reading your comments and insight.

Attention Yankees, Mets, Tigers, Cubs, Rays, Angels, Red Sox And Baseball Fans: How Do You Feel About The 2009 Season?

Wednesday, February 18th, 2009

BaseballThe last pitch for the 2008 season was thrown months ago on October 27. Since then teams have all tried to improve themselves.

Some teams have signed free agents, while others have concentrated on resigning their own players. Some teams have cut their budgets and will be going with some rookies and inexperienced players hoping they can stay competitive with the high payroll teams like the Yankees, Cubs, Mets, and Red Sox. Did I mention the Yankees on that list! Of course I did! While most teams acted fiscally responsible, the Yankees decided that they would toss around hundreds of millions of dollars to Burnett, CC and Tex. Let’s see if it works.

For me, I am excited (of course) about my Red Sox. Although they were outbid on a few free agents, I like who they have added to the team. Smoltz and Brad Penney should help the team. If Beckett, Ortiz, and Lowell are healthy, watch out! Our pitching will be solid and our young players are awesome.

Most Yankee fans (AJ) think they have a lock on the AL East and will win 100 games. Think again! That will NOT happen. They will win over 90 games but that team has lots of question marks. Cano never hits until the end of May. They have no center fielder. Damon, Matsui, Posada (whom I love) are coming off injuries and will probably struggle. CC will be great and Burnett has as much chance to be successful in NY as he does to be a bomb! Not sure what will happen — look at his career stats — they aren’t that good. And frankly I still believe in the Curse of AROD (who continues to win personal awards but doesn’t have a World Series trophy and NEVER WILL!)

  • With spring training starting, how do you feel about your team?
     
  • What rookies are you excited about?
     
  • Who do you think made the right moves?
     
  • Who do you believe didn’t, and will be out of it by the end of May?
     
  • What questions does your team have?
     
  • Who do you think will be playing in the World Series–which by the way will be in NOVEMBER! Yes November! Probably in a cold city!

I look forward to hearing your comments and how you feel about the upcoming season!

I love this time of year!

Enjoy Some Friday Fun With The Best “Out Of Office Auto Replies”

Friday, February 13th, 2009

will returnThanks to B.G. for sharing these funny auto reply messages:

  • I am currently out of the office on a job interview and will reply to you if I fail to get the position. Please be prepared for my mood.
     
  • I will be out of the office for the next two weeks for medical reasons. When I return, please refer to me as "Roberto" instead of "Debbie."
     
  • Sorry to have missed you, but I’m at the doctor’s having my brain and heart removed so I can be promoted to our management team.
     
  • I will be unable to delete all the emails you send me until I return from vacation. Please be patient and your email will be deleted in the order in which it was received.
     
  • Thank you for your message which has been added to a queuing system. You are currently in 352nd place and may expect to receive a reply in approximately 19 weeks.
     
  • I’ve run away to join a different circus.

Okay, hopefully you at least laughed at a few of these. My favorite is the last one. I’ve run away to join the circus. For whatever reason I just think that is hysterical. I am sure the person’s management team really appreciated the person saying he is having his brain and heart removed so he can be promoted!

  • Which one is your favorite?
     
  • What is the best auto reply you have ever read?
     
  • What was the funniest auto reply you have used on your (personal) email?

I look forward to reading your comments.

Something I Try To Do Every Day: BE A RESOURCE!

Wednesday, February 11th, 2009

resourceAnyone who has been in one of my presentations has probably heard me say, "You need to BE A RESOURCE! BE A RESOURCE to your clients, prospects, friends in the industry etc."

I am sure this sounds familiar to many.

Over the past few weeks I have been reading a number of interesting reports on what is happening with the economy and with other companies.

In the spirit of BEING A RESOURCE, I thought I would share those reports with you. Rather than posting all of them, I will make them available to anyone who asks. All you need to do is post a comment on the blog as to which reports you want. In return I will email them to you. The only requirement I have, is you read them and post a comment about your thoughts on the report and whether it helps you. Sound fair?

Here are the six FREE available reports:

  1. Trendwatching – Top 15 Trend Questions and Answers November 2008
     
  2. Marketing Research Association – Research Industry Index (RII) December 2008
     
  3. Trendwatching – Half a Dozen Consumer Trends for 2008. December 2008
     
  4. CASRO – Data Collection 2008 survey Results. November 2008
     
  5. Rockhopper Research – Research Industry Trends 2007 Report – November 2007
     
  6. The BlogHer/Compass Partners 2008 Social Media Study

I can assure you they all are very interesting. Some of them are specific to the research industry, while others are more general and have value for any business.

Okay, in order for me TO BE A RESOURCE, at least a few people need to request the reports.

  • Okay, who wants a report?
     
  • Once you read it what did you think?
     
  • Did it provide value to you?

I look forward to hearing from you.

Today, Let’s Talk About Broadway Shows

Monday, February 9th, 2009

Last month I was reading an article that was very sad. The economy has struck again, and more than a dozen Broadway Shows will be closing January 2009. The list includes:
 

 
As most of you know I am very hyper. Some would say off the wall. Not sure I would disagree at all. With that said I don’t just like to go to Broadway plays I love to go! When I was younger I would love to get dressed up, go to dinner and on to a show. What a night! I love the music, the production, the atmosphere. Going to a show relaxes me, calms me down, allows me the opportunity to sort of forget about life. I remember going to opening night Bring Back Birdie with Donald O’Connor. I enjoyed the show but apparently I was one of the few since it closed the next day! Over the years, I have seen:
 

 
The list goes on and on. The question is, what was my favorite? First I had to say I love musicals. I thought Jersey Boys was simply amazing. Loved the music, the simple set, the performers! I also loved Other People’s Money which I saw with LK almost twenty years ago. I remember attending a research conference and going to a small off-Broadway venue that was incredible. No surprise that another one of my favorites was A Chorus Line, and I truly loved Miss Saigon. Powerful story and an amazing set.

  • Do you enjoy going to shows?
     
  • What is your favorite?
     
  • Do you collect playbills, posters or other memorabilia?

I look forward to reading your comments.

Friday Fun — Hey What Would Your Caption Be?

Friday, February 6th, 2009

As you know, during the course of the week I get lots and lots of emails for potential blog topics. Sometimes people just want to share things with me, and depending on my crazy mood I might use them in a different way than they had suggested.

Here are six great pictures. Thanks (KW. I believe these are some of National Geographic’s best pictures of the year. The change I made is I tried (hopefully succeeded) to add a funny caption. Here goes:

 

"Now Fred that was a really funny joke! The best one I heard in a long time!"

 
 
 

"I think that is an awful smell. Do you smell it yet? I don’t think it is me."

 
 
 

"It’s ok your brother didn’t mean to call you names!"

 
 
 

"Why didn’t you bring a jacket? I told you it was going to be cold!"

 
 
 

"The itch is a little over to the left! A little lower…"

 
 
 

"Hey Mom, Can you please get up I want to play! "

 

  • By the way…how did I do?
     
  • Did you chuckle at any of the ones that I wrote?
     
  • Which one is your favorite?

Ok now it is your turn. Take a minute and try and write a funny caption to one of the pictures.

I look forward to reading your comments.

Ok I Don’t Understand. How Does The Government Make These Decisions? Please Help Me Out.

Wednesday, February 4th, 2009

Yes the economy is a mess, and yes lots of companies are hurting and many are going out of business. Early last year the government bailed out AIG and gave them 85 billion dollars. A few months after that, the government decided to give the U.S. automakers 17.4 billion dollars. This was after they gave the three auto presidents a tremendous amount of grief for flying on private jets, coming to Capitol Hill without a plan and … of course asking for billions of dollars…. (Why wouldn’t they get the money? Note to self — when you are asking for money–lots of money–don’t bother with a plan. You get much better results without one.) Sorry I digress. That isn’t what this posting is about.

What I really want to know is how does the government decide whom to help out and whom not to? Of course there’s the BIG question: Why bail out AIG and not Lehman Brothers?� And there are tons of retail stores struggling. Yes I shopped at Sharper Image – I liked the store. Over the years I have shopped at Linens and Things. (Stop laughing! I was single!) I believe Cache and Talbots have also gone out of business. Gap is closing 85 stores — who hasn’t shopped at the Gap? Apparently not enough people. Disney is closing 98 stores (with more coming) — who doesn’t like Mickey Mouse! You get the point.

The question again is what are the criteria for deciding who gets billions of dollars and who doesn’t?

  • Is it based on how many jobs the closing affects?
     
  • Is it based on if Capitol Hill shops at those stores?

We know it can’t be based on who has the best communication, plan or presentation skills! Because if that is the case, I will enlist friends Steve Schlesinger, Frank Luntz and Jeffrey Lorber and we will go secure billions for our companies!

  • Is it based on if they think the money will help?
     
  • Is it based on if the companies ask?

What are the criteria?

I really don’t know, don’t understand and need your help with this one.

I really look forward to your comments.