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Annoyances Are Like Allergies

I interrupt.

I interrupt everyone including myself.

It’s a lifelong characteristic and I would love to blame my mother because she’s an interrupter too.  Unfortunately I’m a grown up so I can’t do that.

“Oh, it’s just one of my character flaws”, I tell myself.  A minor imperfection that I recognize just as soon as I’ve done it but it’s already too late.  I have worked on it but it doesn’t seem to get better.

Until today.

I really did understand intellectually that interrupting sends the “I’m not listening” message.  Even when I’m being supportive it has to be annoying to the person speaking.  What I didn’t understand was small annoyances are like allergies.  Over time they build up until there is a reaction.  Sometimes a big one.

Has this happened to you – on either side of the minor imperfection?  How do you handle it?  Is this something HR needs to get involved in from the beginning?  Is it an issue for management or simply an open honest conversation between workers when it first starts?  Or is it best ignored until it creates a productivity problem.

Share your perspective. I’m going to need all the help I can get!


If You Lie About One Thing I Won’t Believe Anything Else

I was introduced today to a man by a friend who told me he did data information systems.  That’s neat and boy is there a need for it.  I agreed we should talk sometime.  They left my office and almost immediately the man came back in.  He had not understood that I had my own company.  He thought I was my friend’s employee.  We laughed and I explained I spend most of my time optimizing online activities to drive traffic to client websites.

Then the most amazing thing happened. He gave me his card.  Not only did he do information systems he developed ecommerce websites, provided SEO, developed PPC campaigns, was a social media expert, SQL databases, etc.  There had to be ten to fifteen things on the back of that card.

“Oh, you do SEO, too?” I said.  “Not really” he replied with a small smile.   We chatted a few more minutes and he insisted we meet – there were opportunities to work together.

I’m not going to hold my breath.  He already proved he doesn’t tell the truth.

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Crowdsourcing Is Not For Sissies!

Crowdsourcing is like venture capital.  You have to turn over control of the brilliant idea you have in order to make it successful.  Most entrepreneurs would rather poke their eye out with a stick.

Of course there are success stories: Wikipedia, Google Translate, Urban Dictionary.  Who wouldn’t want to have started those?

But take it down a notch.  Can you come up with a product or service you offer that could be made better by asking lots of people you don’t know?  Could you take the comments and criticisms?  What if you discovered that once a group helped design it they would all have to have it?

Maybe crowdsourcing is really the online version of the Pygmalian effect.

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It’s What They’re Thinking That Matters

Ever find yourself at party talking to someone who appeared to be a Stepford Wife?

Ever worked with someone who didn’t have the skill set to really do the job they were hired for and you had to manage them or maybe worse be on his “team”?

Ever tried to convince someone of your product’s or service’s value and simply got a blank stare?

These situations rarely end well.

One of the hardest things we have to do is step outside ourselves and try to think like the other person in the conversation. The great thing about parties is you can excuse yourself and simply move on.  An employee or customer is an entirely different story.

Most of us believe if we simply keep talking the light bulb will go on and we will get exactly what we want from others.  That only works if we are speaking the same language as the other person.

It’s a difficult lesson.  Keep at it.  Your entire world will change if you do.

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Distractions – Another Justification For Failure

I hate magic shows.  I always have since I realized that many tricks only work because the magician creates a distraction.  So on the rare occasion I stop the remote on a magic show I spend the whole time trying to watch for the smoke and mirrors.

(Yes, I know it’s probably more enjoyable to suspend disbelief but I have had to reserve that for motherhood.)

Over the last two weeks I have been astonished at the number of times the topic of women’s choices in the business world has come up and in a variety of situations.  One person questioned my choice of a liberal arts degree instead of a business degree.  One person recommended a book that posits women need to reconsider the decision to “give our children to other people to raise”.  One person had to be disabused of the notion that my business partner was my husband.  Another suggested that Tiger’s sexual partners should write letters to Elin Woods and apologize for their part in his indiscretion.

The first question came from someone I really like and respect.  It took a week for me to give him a complete answer because I didn’t really  have the answer.  It was the context of the times.  An Army recruiter told me there were very narrow choices for me if I really wanted them to pay for college.  The newspaper divided up its help wanted ads into “men only” and “women only”.  Many of my friends went to Bowling Green State University because it was the best place to get an education degree – perfect for a woman.  I opted for University of Toledo for that reason.  But business? No, that wasn’t really open to me.  I bought into the distractions of the media.

Radical Housekeeping is the book making the rounds about how to get back to the basics in raising a family.  I’m sorry. When I ever hear about the good old days I get faint. (See preceding paragraph.)  But the notion that I enrolled my daughter in the finest preschool in this area so that someone else could raise her? Them’s fightin’ words! These books always come out when women take the lead in college enrollment, a very public figure makes a personal decision to devote more of her time to her family, there are more wives with jobs than husbands.  The distracting message?  You’re going to be judged on how your family works and let’s face it. You can’t have it all so maybe this book can make you feel better about your (crazy) decisions.

Not all women work with their husbands.  Stop making that stupid assumption.  I won’t work with someone who speaks only to my business partner in a meeting.  Corollary to that: Women make 80% of all household decisions so to the person who told me that women rely on their husbands for all the financial planning – you’re in for an extreme lack of women in your practice.  The distraction? The soft bigotry of low expectations.

I do not suggest women choose a life that includes trading sex for anything.  That’s why God gave us brains and put them at the top of our bodies.  On the other hand I really get that it can be very lucrative and there is an unending demand for it.  (I am not talking here about the women who have been forced into this business through childhood sexual abuse, drugs, etc.  This is an entirely different set of circumstances and I would never compare their horrible situations to women who choose it.)  But seriously.  Tiger Wood’s call girls and financially supported girlfriends should be held responsible for Tiger’s actions?

You have to be kidding.

This is the biggest distraction I have seen in foreverTiger Woods, his entourage, the PGA community desperate to keep the big money coming in and members of the press who wanted access created the environment that kept this ridiculous behavior undercover for years.  I’d bet my bottom dollar many of them helped procure women.  But the easier thing to do? Distract their wives and girlfriends and mothers by blaming the women who caused Tiger’s downfall.  Because if what’s good for Tiger is good for golf is good for them…well, you get where I’m going.

Why this extra long rant?

Distractions hurt businesses.  Are you so focused on what’s urgent that you run out of time to do what’s important?  Do you avoid feeling foolish by pretending you know how to read your P&L or balance sheet or just let the accountant tell you what it says once a year?  Have you opted out of an entire customer segment because you don’t “get” Twitter, LinkedIn, blogging, search optimization? Worst of all have you refused to consider, out of hand, potential clients because of old thinking?

Distractions are the justification for failure.  Here’s the problem with that: The failure still feels mighty bad.

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Time Flies Even When You’re Not Having Fun

Wow.  I can’t believe it’s been 3 weeks since I posted here. I have another blog I contribute to and a website that I update like a blog.  Not an excuse, just an explanation.

There has been a lot going on in the internet marketing world.  Google Buzz has come out before most have caught on to Google Wave and it has changed every day as privacy issues were discussed everywhere – literally.

Facebook users have set up a group that claims its members will quit if there’s a fee associated.

Traditional news media source New York Times had an article on an entirely different way Google is helping SBOs use paid advertising on maps.

NBC was all a twitter (pun intended) because it didn’t know how to balance the delay of Olympics contests for prime time with the social media quickness of noting who won.

Kevin Smith made sure everyone knew he and Southwest Airlines were not a good fit.  SWA responded with an apology and $100 but it wasn’t a big enough effort. (Yeah, another pun. I’m on a roll.)

You’ll only find 15% of journalists admit SoMe is important but 89% use it to source stories.

So much has happened in the last three weeks.  Try to keep up with it. It’s amusing, interesting and, truth be told, a welcome respite from the sometimes not so fun real world.

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Accountability – It’s Not Just For Finance Experts

We seem to be moving into a new era: Accountability for everyone in the business world.  No longer are we allowing advertising and marketing to take our dollars in exchange for hope.

I love internet marketing, search and social media optimization.  I take the greatest pleasure in helping business owners increase their exposure →their business→their sales→their profits.  If I can’t do that I am just another consultant, another person who took money in exchange for nothing.

I can’t work like that.  I have a pay for performance philosophy now.  I am going to start demanding it of the vendors and suppliers who work for me.

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