Search the blog:

Archive for March, 2008

Words Are So Important. Which Ones Do You Hope People Use To Describe You?

Monday, March 31st, 2008

I tend to interview a number of people during the week. One of my favorite questions is to ask the candidate is, what would his/her boss say about them? What four or five words would they say to describe them? There are hundreds of thousands of words in the English language.

So here is today’s question to try and accomplish in two minutes or less. Top of mind, what four-five words would you hope that people would use to describe you?

For me – I started with a list of 10 words:

  1. Thought provoking
  2. Teacher
  3. Competitive
  4. Passionate
  5. Kind
  6. Intelligent
  7. Fair
  8. Athletic
  9. Leader
  10. Fun

It was interesting and a challenge for me to narrow that list down to 5 words. After a few minutes I chose:

  • Leader

  • Passionate

  • Teacher

  • Fair

  • Fun.

I must admit it was hard. Here was my thought process. When I think about my life I always tend to have leadership qualities in everything I do. I find it very hard to turn that off and on. I tend to be very passionate and love life to the fullest and have fun each and every day as I accomplish my goals. I try to be a teacher and enjoy seeing someone grow as a result of something I may have said or showed them. My parents always taught me to be fair. That is a great quality to have and I hope people would use that word to describe me.

As I am typing away, I probably should have included goal-oriented in my list. As the day goes on I am sure I will have other words that I should have had on the list.

  • What’s on your list?
  • What are the 4-5 words that you hope people use to describe you?

I look forward to your comments.

Attention Researchers: I Know Everyone Likes A Discount, But Do You Like This One?

Friday, March 28th, 2008

bargainOkay, I will admit it. There are some things that I buy that I will bargain shop. No, I won’t drive all over town, but I tend to buy a lot of DVDs and will go to Target, Circuit City or Best Buy depending on price. Like I said I won’t drive 20 miles to do this, but all of those stores are within two miles of where I live so it isn’t a big deal. I am sure a number of people (if not most) go through the newspaper every Sunday looking for deals or items on sale that they either need or are too good to pass up. In essence they love a discount, yes love a discount. The reality is where does it stop? Does everything we do or buy need to have a discount? Yes I will buy some things based on sale items like paper towels, mulch for our yard and bottled water for sure. Clearly I view those items as a commodity. But where does it stop?

Not a week goes by where I don’t receive an email from a market research company not only highlighting their services but highlighting their discount. "Try us now and receive 20% off." "Use our services before the end of the month and receive a discount."

  • I realize that business is challenging these days, but isn’t there another way to promote their services?
  • Doesn’t it commoditize our industry and cheapen the value of research?

If I need a lawyer, am I going to go to them because they send me a 25% off coupon? What about going to a new dentist because I can save $10 on my next cleaning? The answer for me is NO, NO and once again No!. I consider those types of services professional and would never choose one because of price. I have never and will never choose a hospital because a surgery might be $400 less than another hospital. Don’t we all choose those services based on reputation, quality of service and location?

Isn’t the market research industry the same thing? Aren’t we all professionals? Don’t we want clients to use our services based on our service, quality and insight? NOT because of price! NOT BECAUSE OF A DISCOUNT. AND I WOULD NEVER USE A COMPANY FOR THE FIRST TIME BECAUSE A COMPANY SENT ME A DISCOUNT.

  • Would you?
  • How do you feel when you get one of these discount opportunities?
  • If your company does it (clearly your choice) what is your position and strategy?

I realize this might be a controversial posting but I really look forward to reading your comments and point of view.

March is Health Awareness Month

Wednesday, March 26th, 2008

I never knew that there was a month that was designated Health Awareness Month, but a co-worker (thanks PW) mentioned it to me and it gave me reason to pause. Am I healthy? I feel okay. I have a pretty good support system: a scale that weighs me every day and colleagues (AB) who will point out without me asking if I have put on a few pounds. The problem is, weight doesn’t always determine if you are healthy. (I have started to realize this later in life, but the real question is, “WHAT DO I DO THAT HELPS ME STAY HEALTHY”)

Let me start by saying this is a scary post for me to write because I am putting the question out there, and I’m not sure how long a list of items I will have. Here goes:

  1. I work out five times a week
  2. I eat oatmeal five days a week (actually try NOT to skip breakfast)
  3. I take Lipitor to lower my cholesterol–ok that’s cheating…let’s get that off the list
  4. A few times a week I will eat a handful of unsalted almonds
  5. Manage my caffeine–only one soda a day and I’m not a coffee drinker
  6. Get an annual physical (very important)
  7. See number one
  8. See number two

It would be great to say I drink lots of milk, or eat lots of fruits and vegetables, but since I don’t, I can’t say that. When I look at this list it’s pretty sad. I’m getting older and older every day and can’t even get ten things that I do to stay healthy!

Sounds like I need to change a few things.

What about you?

Attention Baseball Fans: I Love My Boston Red Sox This Year. How Do The Yankee Fans Feel?

Monday, March 24th, 2008

Ok…tomorrow is opening day for the Boston Red Sox. Yes March 25 is opening day. Not sure the season has ever started this early nor this far away. The Sox take on the Oakland A’s in Japan–thousands of miles away from Fenway Park. The defending World Series Champions will actually have four opening days this year in three different countries. They will celebrate in Japan and then have opening day for the A’s in the US before they fly to Toronto and celebrate with the Blue Jays and the following week, open up at Fenway Park against the Detroit Tigers (this game is not to be missed) when they unveil the championship flags.

Ok so here we are. Almost five months ago my beloved Red Sox swept the World Series against a Colorado team that was hot, and captured their second ring in four years. So what has happened? I must say not a ton from my standpoint.

The Red Sox did what they had to do. They signed their free agents, but didn’t really add much of anything else. From where I sit, the Sox have a solid group of starters. Beckett (assuming his back doesn’t cause a problem) will be solid. Daisuke will have a great second year, Tim Wakefield is a solid number three and Jon Lester and Clay "No Hitter" Buchholz will be the best number five in baseball. The hitting will be better this year. Ortiz is healthy, Manny is in a contract year, Drew is in his second year, Ellsbury will be an enormous surprise and most of the other hitters will continue to do their thing. We have plenty of intangibles like trading Coco Crisp (who will get them a decent starter or a top prospect). And then there’s Bartolo Colon. Who knows what you might get from him. Not to mention a great–yes great–bullpen with Papelbon, Timlin, Okajima and others to hold the opposition off in the late innings.

Yes losing Schilling will hurt. He is fantastic and clearly a great money pitcher in the playoffs. Which by the way, when he returns–I believe he returns in August–and makes a few starts, the playoffs will be upon us.

The Yankees didn’t do much either. Yes they lost Clemens (which is probably a good thing). Their defense at first isn’t good and AROD can’t possibly improve on last year’s stats! He was awesome. Their pitching staff is weak at best and no longer scares anyone. Rivera is still in the top five closers in the American League but doesn’t dominate the good teams anymore. When the Yankees play the iron of the AL, like the Angels, Indians, Red Sox and Tigers, they will need their pitchers to go seven innings and then Chamberlain and Rivera shut the door. With the exception of Wang, their starters are old and unreliable. Clearly the Yankee supporters could say I would match up Hughes and Kennedy against Lester and Bucchholz, and the Sox fans would say the same. That is why this debate and rivalry is the greatest in sports and will continue for many years to come. We will see who is right.

Before I sign off , no one can tell me the Yankees are better off without Joe Torre. Nothing against the other Joe (Girardi), but Torre was all class, could handle the players, the media and the Steinbrenners. Girardi won’t be able to do that. His departure costs the Yankees three games in the standings.

Yes the Red Sox will win the division for the second year in a row and if the Yankees aren’t very careful they won’t make the playoffs.

Let the games begin.

I look forward to reading your comments throughout the 2008 baseball season!

  • What are your thoughts?
  • How do you really feel about your team?

Let’s play ball.

Want To Be More Successful? Here Are A Few Thoughts…

Wednesday, March 19th, 2008

Most people want to be successful. The question is, how does that happen? How can you be more successful? Here are a few thoughts that might help:

  1. Read all the time! In fact never stop reading. Concentrate on things happening in your industry, companies and names in the news. Focus on best practices that can help you with your job!
  2. Ask, "What if?" Things change, and quite frankly things are changing all the time. If you have a system in place for more than 5-10 years, chances are very good that there can be some type of improvement on that system which will save your company money. This will also put you in a position to stand out and be noticed. "Why can’t we do things this way? What if we tweaked this and do that?" Most successful people have these thoughts very often!
  3. Push yourself – really push yourself! "Get better at something every day" can and should be your mantra! If you are a programmer, IT specialist or in new business development, you can get better. The question is, will you put the time and effort into getting better?
  4. Use your friends and industry contacts! Most people don’t realize that your friends and industry contacts can help you get better. Have you ever asked someone what is the one thing they think you need to improve on? Have you asked your best friend, "How did you accomplish this?" If you haven’t, you need to.
  5. Google, Google, Google! I tend to Google everything. I probably use it 10 times a day, and as a result am more productive and better informed. What do all these things have in common: Looking for a contact at a prospect company, interviewing a potential candidate for a job, finding out something about Omnicom, misplaced contact information for a friend of mine? I use Google to help my with every one of those scenarios. If using Google can give me the information and save me a phone call or time searching for the information, over the course of a week it could save me almost an hour. To me, this tool is invaluable.

Those are just a few things that could make you more successful.

What do you do to make yourself more successful?

I look forward to hearing from you and reading your comments.

Attention Poker Players: I Made The Final Table…Thanks.

Monday, March 17th, 2008

As I write this blog, my annual Super Bowl trip with my friends has come and gone. Yes we had fun, yes we got very little sleep, yes we saw Jerry Seinfeld (the show was just ok) and yes I played poker–in fact, Texas Hold ‘Em! On the flight to Las Vegas, I felt pretty good that I had printed out the 13 comments from the readers of the blog and was prepared to read and study each of them in detail. I was able to do that and felt even better! We were staying at the Luxor, and like most poker rooms they have tournaments. I signed up for the 2:00 PM, $53.00 buy-in game. Depending on how many people joined determines the prize money. I was one of the first to enter (obviously I was very excited) and was instructed to come back a few minutes before 2:00.

The clock strikes 1:55 and there I am, ready to go, no sunglasses, a Red Sox hat and somewhat of a strategy. The tournament is about ready to start and basically for $53 you received $1200 in chips with no buy back opportunity. The blinds were $5/10 and would change every fifteen minutes.

My first few hands were horrible and I didn’t play them at all. In fact for the first six hands, it was like I got a Two and Six unsuited every time. Finally I got some cards. In fact some pretty good cards. Queen and Jack of Clubs, suited connector….. I felt pretty good about them. The flop comes and it is a Two and Nine of Clubs and a Jack of Diamonds. The guy to my left bets first (I should mention there were only four players still in after the flop). He goes all in. I have about a minute or so to make my decision. One by one everyone goes out and then it is up to me. Here are my thoughts. I have top pair and a flush draw. I put him on a small pair. But I have no idea since he played a few hands and had lost some of his chips. I also thought there was a chance he was bluffing for the blinds which can be common early in a tournament. I came to gamble manned with your comments and called – I am all in….. very dramatic no doubt…. or at least in my mind. He has a Jack and an Ace. All I need is a Club and he goes home and I feel pretty good. Guess what happened? The turn and river didn’t help either of us! No Club – and I lose $1100 of my chips and am now hanging on for dear life. I couldn’t believe it! I know the percentages were with me. Two more hands and now I am short stacked. The next two hands I went all in and won the first and lost the second!

The entire experience took eleven minutes! Yes I was the first one out!

  • Where did I go wrong?
  • What would you have done different?
  • Did I really make a huge mistake?

I look forward to your comments.

P.S. – You may be asking yourself how I made the final table. I did since there were only ten players in the tournament and one table!!! Hence the way I made the final table!

What Is Your Favorite Sports Picture?

Friday, March 14th, 2008

As you know, I love sports. A few weeks ago I received an email with 15 great sports pictures. I pared it down to 6 and wanted to share them with you today.

Yes these are all classics. I love baseball, but the player getting accidentally punched in the face wouldn’t make my top two. The Yao Ming picture is funny but again doesn’t make my top two. I think the diver looking frightened is the best! His facial expressions are amazing! My other top one is the soccer ball crushing the face of the player. How fast was that ball going to have that type of impact? 60mph? 70 mph? Call me crazy but that had to hurt a ton and leave the player in a need for many Tylenols.

What are your favorites?

I Don’t Like These Phrases At Work — How About You?

Wednesday, March 12th, 2008

Most people spend a lot of time either going to/from work, at work, or even thinking about work. Clearly I qualify as one of those people. From time to time I have heard phrases over the years at different jobs that bother me — actually really bother me:

"I am just trying to go under the radar screen" – I was shocked when someone said this to me. This person is very smart, has a lot to offer a company and probably has 20 years left on their career. To me they are trying to coast, not go above and beyond, never have an opinion on anything so you don’t ruffle feathers.

"It’s not my job" – I am sure there are a few people reading this who just yelled out that they dislike this phrase as well. Job descriptions CAN’T contain everything that someone will do in a week or month. Because most businesses have peaks and valleys, some people will be slammed while others have time (possibly lots of time) on their hands. No matter what the business or industry you are in, if people don’t help out co-workers, companies will NEVER maximize their profits and client service could potentially suffer.

"That’s the way we’ve always done it" – Isn’t there always a better way to do something? With the business environment moving at light speed, there always seems to be areas or systems to improve. The key is, you have to have the right people to find those areas.

  • What do you think when you hear these phrases?
  • What phrases do you hate to hear in a work environment?

I look forward to your comments.

Read This Interview For Exciting Advice And Tips From Three Authors

Monday, March 10th, 2008

Have you ever thought about writing a book? What’s the process? How much time does it take? I have thought about that a few times and recently a few industry contacts have done that and I thought readers might enjoy getting a little more insight on the process.

I hope you enjoy getting to know these three authors.

What was your motivation for writing a book?

Sherri Thomas (Author of Career Smart — 5 Steps to a Powerful Personal Brand.)

I’ve had an exciting and enriching career and learned how to successfully transition into the radio, TV, professional sports, finance, and high tech industries, as well as advance up the corporate ladder. But I’ve also had some bumps and bruises along the way. One of the mistakes I made was putting my career in the hands of a manager or a company, and that’s a career killer! I’ve learned some key career success strategies, which have also been very helpful to my clients in achieving their goals. I wrote the book because I wanted to teach other professionals about the importance of personal branding.

(To see all of Sherri Thomas’ responses, click here)

Sybil F. Stershic (Author of Taking Care of the People Who Matter Most: A Guide to Employee-Customer Care)

To share my passion for internal marketing as a way to create a better workplace committed to both employee and customer satisfaction.

Here’s the back story to my book. Early in my career in services marketing, I became aware that the employees’ impact on customers (positive and negative) was an outcome of how employees themselves were treated. To ensure this impact was positive, I used marketing internally as a way to focus attention on employees — based on the premise that to effectively take care of customers, you had to first take care of employees.

Although the workplace has changed significantly since I began working more than 30 years ago, the need for internal marketing still exists. I continue to meet managers who are hungry for guidance on how to better engage employees. In addition, too many companies still give "lip service" to employees as their most valuable asset.

(To see all of Sybil Stershic’s responses, click here)

Katya Andresen (Author of Robin Hood Marketing: Stealing Corporate Savvy to Sell Just Causes)

I wrote the book because I had something to say, and I felt passionately about it. I think that’s important, because most writers (at least me) don’t get a lot of external motivation — we aren’t going to make a fortune or appear on Oprah. So you need a lot of internal fire to fuel your project. I felt strongly that I wanted to help people with a cause to promote their issue far more effectively. Corporations shouldn’t be the only ones who are savvy about winning people’s hearts and minds. Charities should too. But we’re not always good at it. In the nonprofit sector, we think that because our cause is worthy, people will support us. We equate a mission statement to marketing. Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. We have to do less preaching and more promoting if we want people to support us.

(To see all of Katya Andresen’s responses, click here)

What was the hardest part about the experience?

Sherri Thomas

I was blessed to be in a position where I could take 8 weeks off to simply focus on writing the book. So I rented a corporate apartment in Dublin, Ireland and was able to spend each day writing. Since my main priority was writing the book, I had to be extremely disciplined and not go sight seeing or enjoy the pubs as much as I would have liked. 🙂

Sybil F. Stershic

Dealing with fear and time pressures. I’m one of those writers who is intimidated by the blank page, but am OK once I get started. As for time, I had to balance my client workload with taking the time to work on my book. It was a good news/bad news scenario — if business was up, I didn’t have time to focus on my book. If business was slow, I could work on my book, but I also had to make time available to fill the business development pipeline.

Katya Andresen

The hardest part, quite honestly, was getting up at 5am before work every day and facing down a blank computer screen. There were mornings I started rearranging my sock drawer — literally — when I was stuck. Fortunately, that task turned into one of my favorite chapters when I realized that Gold Toe socks provided a wonderful marketing analogy for my fourth chapter! When you’re writing, everything in your life becomes material for your work. The next hardest part was realizing that halfway through the manuscript, I’d finally found my voice. I threw out the entire first half of the book, and I wrote it again in the right voice, with the right tone, content and structure. That was painful but correct.

How did you get a publisher?

Sherri Thomas

I talked to a couple of publishers and found out that it takes 1-2 years to get a book published, which was a much longer than what I wanted. I also realized that the royalties were quite low, and some of the publishers required that I sign a waiver handing over all of my rights to my content. I quickly determined that I did not want to go through a traditional book publisher. I remembered reading an article in the Oprah magazine about a writer who had a good experience with self publishing. So I checked out Oprah’s website and found 5 self publishing authors that Oprah’s team recommended. I researched each of them and determined that one met all of my criteria which were: low cost, high royalties, experience in publishing my book’s genre, and design services. It was a really great experience and I highly recommend it!

My publisher was Booklocker.com. Angela Hoy and her team of book cover artists and publishing experts were fantastic!!

Sybil F. Stershic

Interestingly, I was fortunate to get a book contract offer on my first book proposal; although it didn’t pan out as we couldn’t agree on the book’s size. Not wanting to contribute to information overload, my goal was to write a compact, easily read book (around 150 pages), but the publisher was looking for a book twice that size.

So I started over with other publishers and received several rejections. I considered self-publishing, but didn’t like the available online options — the books didn’t look professional to me. I was motivated to get back in the game by a friend who self-published a high quality book. She found a graphic artist to design the cover and page layout, registered for the book’s copyright and ISBN number, worked with a printer on production, and handled her own distribution & fulfillment. The process was way too overwhelming for me.

Then I found the perfect solution: WME Books (www.wmebooks.com) — a new type of POD (print-on-demand) publisher who offered author support services (editing, layout, copyright permission, etc.) along with marketing support and fulfillment. WME Books offered me more control than a traditional publisher and, by using print-on-demand, I’m not sitting on any unused inventory. Yvonne DiVita, WME Books founder, is a well-known blogger and very knowledgeable about online marketing, where most business books are sold these days. It’s been a wonderful partnership with Yvonne and her team.

Katya Andresen

I got an agent first, then a publisher. I got the agent by getting a personal introduction from another writer and presenting the agent with a strong book proposal that sold the concept.

What are the takeaways that you hope people get from reading your book?

Sherri Thomas

Those professionals who know how to showcase their strengths, talents, and accomplishments are the ones getting the bigger promotions, better clients, and higher salaries. By incorporating the 5 critical steps to attaining a strong personal brand you will stand above your competition, put yourself in high demand with clients, managers, and potential employers, and have a more gratifying and enriching career.

Sybil F. Stershic

  1. The way your employees feel is the way your customers will feel … and if your employees don’t feel valued, neither will your customers!
  2. You don’t have to be a marketer to use internal marketing. It’s a blend of marketing, human resources, and management that includes any effort that recognizes the importance of customers AND the employees who serve them.
  3. If you are not in a position to apply internal marketing throughout your organization, you can still have an impact on a smaller level such as a department, division or business unit.

Katya Andresen

I think I’d be happy if people remembered just one thing: to succeed in marketing a cause, you have to stop trying to get people to value your work and start showing how your work relates to their existing values. It’s about connecting to the perspective of audience. It’s so powerful to listen to another person and then relate to their world view. We forget to do that so often in our work and in our relationships.

What advice would you give a reader who was thinking about writing a book?

Sherri Thomas

Just do it! It’s been such an awesome experience. The process helped me crystallize several concepts and strategies, which helped me strengthen my writing skills and be more effective in my presentations, and even sessions with my clients.

Sybil F. Stershic

Regarding the book’s content, the subject has to be one you’re passionate about that is also of interest to others. As for getting your book published, I encourage you to consider print-on-demand publishing as an alternative to traditional publishing. Regardless of whether you decide to self-publish or work with a publisher, it’s important to understand that you need to spend as much time marketing the book as you do writing it. Once your book is in print, your work isn’t over … but the result is so rewarding!

Katya Andresen

For nonfiction, do the book proposal first — it will help ensure you have a book that the market needs, that has a keen focus, and that has a chance of seeing the light of day! A good proposal includes a pitch letter, a synopsis, an author platform showing why the writer is uniquely qualified to write and promote the book, a competitive analysis showing why this book stands apart, a table of contents, and a sample chapter. This exercise is very clarifying and gives you direction as you embark on the long, messy process of producing the final product.

Sherri Thomas is President of Career Coaching 360, an international speaker on personal branding and career advancement strategies, and author of, Career Smart – 5 Steps to a Powerful Personal Brand.


Sybil F. Stershic is a marketing & organizational advisor with more than 30 years of experience helping service providers strengthen relationships with customers and employees. She is the author of the recently released book on internal marketing, Taking Care of the People Who Matter Most: A Guide to Employee-Customer Care, published by WME books.

A graduate of Lehigh University, Sybil began her career in bank marketing. (The banks she worked for were merged into oblivion.) She launched her own business, Quality Service Marketing, in 1988 specializing in internal marketing and marketing/strategic planning facilitation. Sybil also conducts marketing workshops nationwide for business and nonprofit professionals and is a frequent speaker at national conferences.

Active in leadership and professional development, Sybil is a former Chairman of the American Marketing Association. She is also a member of BoardSource and the International Association of Facilitators.


Katya Andresen develops and executes Network for Good’s marketing strategy, including consumer outreach, media relations and corporate partnerships. Before joining Network for Good, she was Senior Vice President of Sutton Group, a marketing and communications firm supporting non-profits, government agencies, and foundations working for the social good. As a marketing consultant overseas, Katya promoted causes ranging from civil society in Ukraine to ecotourism in Madagascar. She has trained dozens of causes in effective marketing and media relations, and her marketing materials for non-profits have won national and international awards. She is the author of the book, Robin Hood Marketing: Stealing Corporate Savvy to Sell Just Causes.

Katya traces her passion for good causes to the enormous social need she witnessed as a journalist prior to her work in the non-profit sector. She was a foreign correspondent for Reuters News and Television in Asia and for Associated Press, the San Francisco Chronicle and the Dallas Morning News in Africa. She has a bachelor’s degree in history from Haverford College.

Attention Parents Of Teens: Would You Vote Yes Or No?

Friday, March 7th, 2008

Let me first start by saying my kids are still young so I don’t have any teens. The town we live in we found by accident. A number of people stressed…yes stressed for us to live in University Park or Highland Park. The area and homes were nice but not for us. We settled in Southlake which is absolutely beautiful. Our Town Center might be the nicest in the country or at least in the top ten. It is spectacular with great shops and restaurants, and the center is filled with little parks and fountains. Very nice. Apparently the area is now becoming home to teens – in fact lots of teens. The town is trying to do something about it. They are proposing a curfew for anyone under 17 to be out after 11 pm Sunday through Thursday, and after midnight on Friday and Saturday. There are a few exceptions if the teen is with his parents or traveling to/from a job or a school related activity.

Since my kids aren’t that old, it should be very easy for me to vote. Although my vote might surprise you. I say no… I don’t think it is a good idea. If there is a problem with a few, punish them. Find out who they are and take care of the situation. Don’t make a law with a curfew to punish many. It makes no sense to me. It is the responsibility of the parents to be in charge of their kids. Not the town. In a recent newspaper article, the Police Chief states, "We’re trying to head off a potential problem, it’s also better to be on the preventative side than the reactive side." I understand his point but my vote would still be a no.

  • What would your vote be?
  • Does your town have a curfew?
  • What is your curfew for your teens?

I look forward to hearing your comments.