BNI Star Lund

I have heard of BNI (Business Network International), “the World’s Largest Business Networking, Referrals and Word of Mouth Marketing Organization”, before but today I attended my first meeting.

BNI is the largest business networking organization in the world. We offer members the opportunity to share ideas, contacts and most importantly, business referrals.

I was invited as guest and it was really interesting to take part. It was a highly structured meeting. Each team member got one minute for an introduction and a search (such as a person they want to get in touch with). The guests also get their one minute each after all team members have done their minutes. Then there was a ten minutes presentation by one of the team members followed by everyone reporting what they had done during the week that was BNI-related. The meeting was held over breakfast and took 1.5 hour, very effective use of time.

Always Be Closing

Today I attended a sales seminar called “Always Be Closing” with Steve Schiffman.

Stephan Schiffman has been a leader in motivational and sales training since 1979. He is a Certified Management Consultant, and has trained and consulted to a wide range of corporations including IBM, AT&T, Motorola, Sprint, CIGNA, and a host of other organizations throughout the world. He has trained over 500,000 professionals in over 9,000 companies.

Millions more have read his best selling books internationally. Schiffman’s accomplishments include the development of highly pragmatic sales training and management programs that adapt effectively into a broad range of sales environments and industries. All of his training is based upon actual sales experiences and are proven successful. He has been rated as the number one sales expert in prospecting by Personal Selling Power magazine.

I really liked Steve’s presentation style, involving the audience through questions so that what he said related to us. It was an afternoon well spent. I’m not primarily a sales person but when you’re running your own company you have to sell too.

Creative Business Valuation

37Signals posts a press release stating that 37SIGNALS VALUATION TOPS $100 BILLION AFTER BOLD VC INVESTMENT. The press release starts like this:

37signals is now a $100 billion dollar company, according to a group of investors who have agreed to purchase 0.000000001% of the company in exchange for $1.

Founder Jason Fried describes one way – quite commonly used by startups – to increase the value of a company:

In order to increase the value of the company, 37signals has decided to stop generating revenues. “When it comes to valuation, making money is a real obstacle. Our profitability has been a real drag on our valuation,” said Mr. Fried. “Once you have profits, it’s impossible to just make stuff up. That’s why we’re switching to a ‘freeconomics’ model. We’ll give away everything for free and let the market speculate about how much money we could make if we wanted to make money. That way, the sky’s the limit!”

I love this post, creative and inspiring. First comment says ‘shoulda waited to post this on April 1st’ but the impact is higher now.

To see what 37Signals really stand for, go to Simple small business software, collaboration, CRM: 37signals. They have interesting software solutions that I intend to look at.

Marketing with an attitude

I came across this on Twitter, shit creek consulting. Hugh MacLeod writes that ‘The name of their company implies they have a lot of attitude. They wanted a cartoon that conveyed this.’ And they got it, check the link above.

Shitcreek Consulting has a nice looking homepage that explains their business concept. They sum it up as:

This is Shitcreek Consulting… the guys you call when you find yourself up Shitcreek without… well, a paddle.

The Tao of Coaching

The Tao of Coaching by Max Landsberg is an excellent book about coaching as a leader. The tagline on the book says Boost your effectiveness at work by inspiring and developing those around you which sums up coaching from the leaders perspective.

The books is described like this:

This book offers information on how to unlock the potential of people by applying the techniques of coaching. Coaching is the key to realising the potential of your employees, your organisation and yourself.

This book provides the techniques and tools of coaching that are vital for those who want to develop a team of people who will perform effectively and who will relish working with them.

The techniques and tools of coaching are integrated in the story about Alex and his career as manager. That makes it easier since you see them used in context.

The book lists these reasons why a manager shall use coaching:
• Create more time for yourself
• Achieve better results
• Build your interpersonal skills

If you want a great introduction to coaching as a leader, and a book you later can use as manual, I suggest that you buy The Tao of Coaching.

The Starfish and the Spider

The Starfish and the Spider: The Unstoppable Power of Leaderless Organizations is written by Ori Brafman and Rod Beckström. It is a very interesting book that compare two different kind of organizations but also mentions a hybrid or combo version, best of both.

Spiders are centralized, command and control, organizations. Historical examples are the Spanish army, the Aztecs and the Incas. Today most companies and organizations still work like this.

Starfish are decentralized with no hierarchy and no headquarters, an open system with no designated leader. An historical example listed in the book are the Apache indians. Modern examples are Craigslist, Wikipedia, Burning Man, AA, Skype, Kazaa and open source software like the Apache server.

An interesting part of the book is when they give examples of the spiders problems when they have to compete or combat against starfish. The Apache indians (starfish) managed to stand up against the Spanish army (spider) but the Incas and Azteks were spiders too and could be beaten. Todays music industry (spiders) fight against filesharing (starfish) and will most likely not win.

A hybrid approach means companies gain from both world, spider as well as starfish. There are examples of companies like eBay and Amazon that decentralize customer experience. And there are centralized companies like GE that decentralizes internal parts of the business.

If you want a quick look at some of what’s inside the book, see Lessons from a Starfish World.

There is a booksite at The Starfish and the Spider. Wikipedia also has a page about The Starfish And the Spider.

This was originally posted at another (now extinct) blog of mine.

You are Being Lied To and Other Truths

Larry Winget has written a manifesto called You are Being Lied To and Other Truths over at ChangeThis. It is time well spent to read the dozen pages. Larry writes this about himself:

All I am really an expert at is being stupid and learning from it….I have become an expert at not making the same mistake twice, and learning from every stupid thing I have ever done.

I have read many bestseller business books over the years and I do agree with Larry:

There are simply no secrets. When you see the word “secret” you should run! And when you hear that someone has a brand new concept for how to be successful, beware. You don’t need anything brand new; you need to go back to the old and simple stuff that makes sense.

Instead of 500 books about the secrets of customer service, try this: Be nice. Say thank you. A secret? I hope not. Isn’t that all you are looking for in a transaction?

Instead of 600 books on the secrets of selling, try this: Ask. Just ask people to buy. Ask, ask, ask, ask, and ask. Become a master asker.

Instead of 700 books about the secrets of leadership, try this: lead. Get out in front of people and give them something to follow.

Larry ends his manifesto with Larry´s Truths about Business
+ Attitude doesn’t matter.
+ Who cares if your employees are happy?
+ You don’t have to love your job—but it helps.
+ Not firing people is a cancer on your business.
+ Do the right thing no matter what.

When it comes to knowing if something is the right or wrong thing, simply trust your instinct. Larry puts it like this: “If you have to ask, it’s the wrong thing”.

The Canoe Race

A Japanese Company and a California Company decided to have a canoe race on the Columbia River. Both teams practiced hard and long to reach their peak performance before the race.

On the big day, the Japanese won by a mile. Afterwards, the California team became very discouraged and depressed. The management of the California company decided that the reason for the crushing defeat had to be found. A “Measurement Team” made up of senior management was formed to investigate and recommend appropriate action.

Their conclusion was that the Japanese had 8 people rowing and 1 person steering, while the Californians had 1 person rowing and 8 people steering. The Management of the California company hired a consulting company and paid them incredible amounts of money. They advised that too many people were steering the boat and not enough people were rowing. To prevent losing to the Japanese again next year, the rowing team’s management structure was totally reorganized to 4 steering supervisors, 3 area steering superintendents and 1 assistant superintendent steering manager.

They also implemented a new performance system that would give the 1 person rowing the boat greater incentive to work harder. It was called the “Rowing Team Quality First Program”, with meetings, dinners and free pens for the rower. “We must give the rower empowerment and enrichment through this quality program.”

The next year the Japanese won by 2 miles. Humiliated, the management of the California company laid off the rower for poor performance, halted development of a new canoe, sold the paddles and canceled all capital investments for new equipment.

Then they used the money saved by giving a High Performance Award to the steering managers and distributed the rest of the money as bonuses to the senior executives.

Marketing explained

You see a handsome guy at a party. You go up to him and say, “I’m fantastic in bed.”
— That’s Direct Marketing.

You’re at a party with a bunch of friends and see a handsome guy. One of your friends goes up to him and pointing at you says, “She’s fantastic in bed.”
— That’s Advertising.

You see a handsome guy at a party. You go up to him and get his telephone number. The next day you call and say, “Hi, I’m fantastic in bed.”
— That’s Telemarketing.

You’re at a party and see a handsome guy. You get up and to straighten your dress. You walk up to him and pour him a drink. You say, “May I,” and reach up to straighten his tie brushing your breast lightly against his arm, and then say, “By the way, I’m fantastic in bed.”
— That’s Public Relations.

You’re at a party and see a handsome guy. He walks up to you and says, “I hear you’re fantastic in bed.”
— That’s Brand Recognition.

You’re at a party and see a handsome guy. You talk him into going home with your friend.
— That’s a Sales Rep.

Your friend can’t satisfy him so she calls you.
— That’s Tech Support.

You’re on your way to a party when you realize that there could be handsome men in all these houses you’re passing. So you climb onto the roof of one situated toward the center and shout at the top of your lungs, “I’m fantastic in bed!”
— That’s Spam.

Lessons from a Starfish World

I found a very interesting document over at ChangeThis, Lessons from a Starfish World written by Ori Brafman and Rod Beckstrom.

Summary:
Such seemingly dissimilar groups as the Apache Indians, music swapping programs, Wikipedia, Alcoholics Anonymous and Al Queda have one thing in common: they are all starfish. According to Brafman and Beckstrom, each of these resilient groups succeeds because they are absent any hierarchy (head) and conventional organizations (spiders) best watch their backs.

I like this phrase in their text: Size matters. There is power in being small.

Lesson to learn: small and agile organizations can beat the big guys.

Update May 1, 2007.
Jason Alba has posted Book Review: The Starfish and the Spider.

Update April 7, 2008.
I have written a book review at The Starfish and the Spider.

This was originally posted at another (now extinct) blog of mine.

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