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Archive for April, 2009

How Connected Are You To Social Networking Sites?

Wednesday, April 29th, 2009

Things are changing so fast. I guess every generation can say that, but for me things seem to be moving faster than normal. The web is such an important business tool for me. Whether it is emailing business contacts, clients and friends or doing some research about a prospect or looking for an image to include in a conference presentation. All of those things are critical to saving time and making things happen…quickly. Over the past few years social networking sites have exploded. Names like Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, YouTube or Twitter are common to most of us and used by many of us. Below is a recent ranking of the top 25 Social Networking Sites.

For me I have a Facebook (123 friends) page and with every day get a little more comfortable. With LinkedIn (184 contacts) I haven’t really used it that much. Only dabbled. What am I missing? YouTube has been a good resource for including videos in presentations. For me I like to mix it up a bit and drive home a point with a video. Plus it allows the audience a chance to get involved with the presentation a little bit more. I have just started to use Twitter and kind of like it. I have about 64 people I am following and 141 followers. It is quick and allows you to stay connected to friends and information.

  • The question is what are you using?
  • What are you comfortable with?
  • How often do you post?
  • How big is your network?
  • What do you use it for?
  • How has it helped you in business?
  • Other than this blog what other blogs do you read?

I look forward to reading your comments.

P.S. Feel free to include links to your social networks in your comments.

Hey Professional Athletes, You Are Going To Want To Get Used To _______

Monday, April 27th, 2009

Yes it would be great to be a professional athlete. It would be great to be able to play a game that I love–like baseball–against the best competition, in big stadiums, and get paid a lot of money.

Today’s posting is about the future and how sports will be changing.

Hey professional athletes you are going to want to get used to:

  • Smaller crowds. Yes most baseball stadiums now are getting smaller so that is an obvious statement, but also the percentage of paid seats will be dropping like a rock and very fast!
  • Smaller contracts for anyone who isn’t a star. Yes Lebron James, AROD and other big name stars will get their money. But the professional athlete who isn’t a perennial all-star will be signing for less money and less years for sure.
  • Not only will crowds be smaller but it will also be TOP heavy. Meaning that most of the fans will be in the less expensive seats which are higher and further away from the action which is a very funny and interesting crowd dynamic.
  • Teams’ and leagues’ patience for athletes getting in trouble is over. Team and league penalties for first time offenders will be more strict and repeat offenders will not be tolerated. One of the main reasons is that fans are beyond tired of this kind of stuff and feel if they are going to be paying big prices and going to games they want athletes to stay out of trouble.
  • Flying commercial! Yes, I said it. I think struggling sports teams will be forced to make drastic cuts and I believe that some of them will go back to flying commercial. I remember flying in 1988 back from NY with the Boston Celtics. It was really cool.

Maybe some of those points are obvious and maybe some you haven’t thought of.

  • What do think of my thoughts?
  • What else do you think will happen?

I look forward to your comments.

Do You Love Your Industry As Much As I Do?

Friday, April 24th, 2009

As the month of May quickly approaches, it reminds me that I graduated college 25 years ago! Wow a long time ago. During that time a lot has happened with many changes. I have gotten married, have three kids and moved a number of times. No matter what changes have happened, one thing has always been constant. I have always worked in the Marketing Research Industry. Like most, my arrival to the industry came by surprise–frankly a pleasant surprise. You always dream (or at least I did) about working in the same industry for your entire career (have you done the same thing?) and to be able to do that for twenty-five years is something very special and something I am very proud of. Here is why I love the Marketing Research Industry:

  • It is always changing. In the morning you could be working with clients in the financial services industry and then two hours later, with clients from the travel industry.
  • We are ahead of the market. I like knowing what products and services are coming out on the market prior to their arrival.
  • The people! To have met people along this journey like Ed Sugar, Jeffrey Lorber, Sandy Schwartz, Dan Krason, Janet Savoie and Steve Schlesinger (and way too many others to list all of them) and be able to call them friends is something that is so important to me!
  • I love the size of the industry. The fact is that the US research industry is less than 9 billion dollars makes it very appealing to me. This great industry is very small and allows you the opportunity to know so many people in so many different and types of companies.

Now your turn.

  • How long have you been in your industry?
  • What has made you stay in the industry?
  • Do you love your industry as much as I do?

I look forward to reading your comments.

No Matter What, Don’t Stop Giving!

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2009

I realize the economy has forced people to change a lot of things about their behavior. In the past many people I know have given lots of money and time to charities, schools, religious affiliations, sports teams and industry associations. With what is going on in the world people may have to cut back their financial donations. But I hope they still have some time to give to charities.

It is SO important to continue to give to charities and associations. They may not say it, but they need your help more than ever. A number of our staff are doing good things. JH has been our lead and working with a team to adopt an elementary school. Our intent is to help with reading to the kids and clean up some of the areas around the school. In addition we have also participated in a food and clothing drive.

When I was at the MRA CEO Summit a few months ago, there were a number of contacts who were engaging in some really exciting activities. It seemed to be a topic of conversation and companies are more compelled to help out others during this challenging economy. Good for them! That is the right attitude and spirit! My friend KT did something really cool. He had all his friends and some corporations donate old and new shoes/sneakers and then he drove around on his bike handing them out to homeless people in Dallas. Way to go KT!

  • What are you doing to give something back?
  • Are you giving more time than you have in the past?
  • Are you doing things on your own or as a family?
  • Does your company have a program to give something back?

I look forward to reading your comments.

Yes I Love My Pet, But How Far Am I Willing To Go?

Monday, April 20th, 2009

BostonFor as far back as I can remember we have had a pet. Always a dog and always loved the dog. Played with the dog for hours when I was growing up and still have a dog named Boston right now. I think if I come back as a dog I want to be her. She goes to the groomer every week to play with her friends and take a bath. Gets her haircut every two weeks, gets her teeth cleaned every other month (she has bad breath) and most recently had to have a small operation to remove a cyst. She was put under but came through like a champ and is doing great.

The kids love her and we think of her as part of the family although we don’t take her on vacation.

I was in NY last week and was thinking about what would we do if she needed a major operation? How much money would we be willing to spend? I started to have this discussion with others at the MRA Board Meeting (okay, the secret is out of the bag–now you know what we talk about). Larry Brownell and Michael Mermelstein gave their two cents and others started to get emotional and chime in.

Easy questions like, "Would I spend $300?" Yes. "What about $800?" Yes. "What about $1500?" I think we would say yes. But I don’t know.

For me it would depend on recovery time. It would depend on will she be comfortable and yes probably also on money. I don’t think the current economy would play into it, but it could. It would also depend on how long we have had the pet. I believe we would do more for a pet that we had for nine years than one that has been with us for four years.

  • Have you been faced with this decision?
  • What did you do?
  • How far would you be willing to go?
  • Do you have pet insurance?

I look forward to reading your comments.

Okay. It Is Now Mom’s Turn. What Five Words Would You Use To Describe Your Mom?

Friday, April 17th, 2009

In less than thirty days it will be Mother’s Day. What better way to start to get into the mood than to talk about your mom?

Describe your mom in 5 words!

For me this was really interesting and challenging. My mom is very unique in so many ways. I love her sense of humor, the way she loves to give me advice. I love to eat, no really! If you haven’t had a meal with me, I have a big appetite and I got that from my mom. My mom also has a high metabolism so the calories tend to burn off pretty quickly. She also has a lot of energy, works out and plays tennis still 3-4 days a week and she is over 70. Wow! I hope I can walk at 70, let alone do anything active. I also got her crazy sense of humor.

There are also differences. She isn’t happy if she isn’t cleaning or doing the laundry. When I was younger, I remember taking clean clothes and getting them dirty just so we had a little more laundry for her to do. She loved it!

Ok here goes with my 5 words to describe my mom:

  • Funny
  • Caring
  • Family-oriented
  • Energetic
  • All-knowing

I must admit this was a fun exercise but found it hard to narrow it down to five words. For me harder than describing my Dad.

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

I look forward to reading your comments.

Don’t We All Want To Be Like Tiger Woods?

Wednesday, April 15th, 2009

Over the past month I have presented at a number of conferences. Most of the slides are customized, but one that I always use is about Tiger Woods. I pull out the Dallas Morning News Sports section from June 10th, 2008.

I realize that some of you are probably saying,"He actually still has the sports section from 10 months ago – he has to be nuts." Well that statement is probably true, but this section had a huge impact on me. The picture has Tiger Woods putting while Hank Haney his swing coach is sitting on the ground watching him. Actually coaching and critiquing him.

Think about this for 30 seconds. You have arguably the greatest golfer in the world, perhaps ever! Taking a lesson, getting better! Trying to improve his game! Actually listening to someone! Are you kidding me?

Of course I want to be like Tiger Woods but for different reasons than you might think. Sure the fame and money is probably awesome. But I want his desire and thirst to always be the best! To always get better! To always improve myself.

  • Everyone talks about "I want to get better", but do they really?
  • Do they know how?
  • Are they willing to put in the time?

I have tried to base my entire career on getting better and still have a long way to go. Some of the ways I try to get better are:

  • Listening to people I respect
  • Reading
  • Trying to accomplish new things
  • Evaluating why I didn’t have success

Now it’s your turn:

  • How do you get better at something?
  • What lessons do you take away when you aren’t successful?
  • Do you have mentors who help you along the way?

I look forward to reading your comments.

Ok, Today’s Subject Is One Hit Wonders!

Monday, April 13th, 2009

Here today gone tomorrow! Worked your way all the way to the top only to get there and come crashing down real fast. Who makes the list of one hit wonders? Is it Mark Fidrych the phenom pitcher from Massachusetts who played for Detroit and had an amazing 1976 – was 19-9 and almost won the Cy Young Award? He would dance on the mound, talk to the ball and then get people out. He was amazing. After that year, we never really heard from him that much. In fact he won 19 games in 1976 and only 10 more during his career. Another baseball player was Joe Charboneau. He was the rookie of the year in 1980 and never did much after that.

What about Toni Basil with her 1982 hit "Mickey?" And of course there was My Sharona by the Knack, which was the number one hit during my senior year of high school. It seemed like they were on top for months! What ever happened to them?

Does Bo Derek qualify as a one hit wonder? She was the girl in "10" with Dudley Moore. I know she did a number of other films and shows but did she peak really early?

Over time there are probably a ton of one hit wonders!

  • Who makes your sports list?
  • What about movie stars who were on top for that one hit?
  • What about singers or bands who were only on top for a cup of coffee?

I look forward to reading your comments.

Attention Researchers: How Are Your Accounts Receivable? Not As Good As Usual?

Wednesday, April 8th, 2009

I am sure that title got your attention! Usually when I go to conferences or talk to industry contacts, the conversation is about, sales, strategy and motivating the team. Recently there is an additional topic that seems to make it into the mix: Accounts Receivable. Questions are being asked like:

  • What is the average time that a client pays?
  • How is your bad debt?
  • How is your cash flow?

Clearly the economy has made a lot of things challenging and accounts receivable is one of those things. Clients that typically pay 35 days now pay 50 days. Clients that used to pay up front are taking another week to pay and I have heard some stories that companies have ended up in court over some bad debt. Thankfully that hasn’t happened to us.

One of the things that we have changed and it has helped a little bit is we now take credit cards. This strategy has worked for a few accounts which were smaller research companies who wanted to pay but just needed a little flexibility and by paying by credit card it allowed them to pay faster.

  • Have you noticed the same thing in your business?
  • What are you doing about it?
  • Have your payment terms changed since the economy has taken a dip?
  • What do you do for new clients?

I look forward to your comments.

Two Funny Stories and One Cute Kid!

Monday, April 6th, 2009

So there I am on a Saturday. The sun is shining, the weather is beautiful and the kids are out on the baseball field playing catch. It is opening day of T-Ball and my 5 1/2 year old is out on the field with a huge smile, baggy pants and a glove in his hand.

In the first inning of the three inning T-Ball game, my son is playing pitcher. He has all the extra protection on that the pitcher is supposed to wear and he is in baseball ready since most of the action comes to the pitcher. Well sure enough the first play is hit to him. He actually stops the ball with his hand (who needs a glove Dad) and now has to figure out where and how to throw the ball. Did I mention Riley has his glove on the wrong hand? I guess we should have noticed that earlier and didn’t because since he is a righty and the ball is in his left hand he proceeds to throw his glove to first base as opposed to tossing the ball! Yes it was funny — a classic — one of the funniest things he has ever done until he decided to top that one inning later.

He is now in the outfield and the ball is hit to him. Yes he has his glove on the correct hand, but instead of using his glove to stop the ball he actually takes off his hat and stops the rolling ball with his hat! Yes with his hat! He had a huge grin on his face from ear to ear and finally the coach went over to Riley and patted him on the head and took the ball from his hat.

Thanks Riley for two hysterical and funny memories!

  • What are some of the funniest kids stories that you can share?

Kids are the best!

I look forward to reading your stories.