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Sunday, October 31, 2010

May I Have Your Attention Please! Part Two

Apex NC

With constant stimulus all around us, add in the voluminous amount of instant information we have access to 24-7, we can get overloaded very quickly. Remember that ADD thing I talked about in Part One, ALL DATA DUMPED. We just have too much to pay attention to, to pay attention.

If you are like the majority of us, you need to get your business message out there and have it heard and hopefully remembered. I firmly believe we must get noticed to be successful today. I also believe that it is NOT who you know. It is NOT what you know; it is who knows you!

Everything is relationship. It is all things. Everything human starts with relationship. To steal and change a phrase, all success is local. Look at Inside919. We are family in here, not with DNA, but with commonality.

Look at Twitter. It is also a friendly, helpful place. If you are friendly and helpful on Twitter, you get followers. If you are friendly, helpful, and funny, you pick up friends on Facebook.

So use these three sites as social tools to get the message out. You will not stand out until you get out (there).

Blogspot. Word Press. Slingshot. Merchant Circle. There are numerous other places to get noticed as well. The more people who know you, your product and services, the better they know your message. Cut a video with Alex Ferguson of Inside 919 and get your human message out. Use your smile, voice, and actions. People love to see who they might work with. Join LinkedIn. Most importantly, be active in the sites you belong in. Ask Pat Howlett of Inside 919 to consider you as a sponsor. Join the Chamber of Commerce. Join a community service group like the Kiwanis. Join networking groups. Meet someone who you really would like to meet for breakfast once a month.

Know you are "googled" before you are met... I think that's a good thing. Success is a numbers' game.

There is an African Proverb that goes something like this: no one is truly a person until he or she is with other people.

So go to bed tonight having smiled, helped, and supported just one other person. Do it again tomorrow. Over time, this action creates reaction. And one day, you will not only be successful, but you will be relationship rich.

And you will own a powerful message of service.

And you will have our attention!

Monday, October 25, 2010

May I Have Your Attention Please!

Apex, NC 10-25-10

We recently attended the always spectacular North Carolina State Fair. It was the last day of this huge event and the weather was absolutely perfect. Naturally, thousands poured into the gates from every parking lot and every direction in the early afternoon. The Midway was packed completely full with people as we inched along. On both sides of this main walkway, the barkers were shouting their various services and wares. With each step, there was a different message with a continually changing volume stuffed with the background of music and non-intelligible noise. From a stimulus perspective, it was as humanly saturating as it was overwhelming to assess the reality of all of the things going on. Focusing was simply impossible; all we could do was forge ahead.

In this ever changing world of 24-7-365 information immediacy , our minds are continually at the State Fair of instant messages. I call it ADD. Everyone has this type of ADD today. It stands for “all data dumped”. We are so stimulated by everything from voice mail, to internet, to gadgetry, to satellite radio, that we miss truly important information; or we forget it passed our eyes and ears. Many of us get 50 phone calls or more a day, and we review hundreds of e-mails. Add in texts and chat, blended with the numerous face-to-faces, and it is a wonder we do not simply implode from all this daily toxic mass information.

I am still hunting for an e-mail from two weeks ago I simply just missed it from the flood of them that I get from five different accounts. I now only read a couple of lines of a long-winded e-mail before I blow it away mentally; too much information please. Just the facts Jack!

Looking back just a few decades ago, when our lives had no cell phones and computers and television had only three channels, we could tolerate the stimulus. If stress was a term back then, it wasn’t used in my family, even at Christmas. Overload back than came from the Sunday sermon, an overused party-line or from kids on the porch and in the backyard. Things were simple then. You could drive to the store and back with both hands on the wheel and without the distraction of anything more than an AM radio on the dash.

Since you probably stopped reading awhile back, I will continue this discussion very soon as a two- part article.

In the second part of “May I Have Your Attention Please”, I will discuss how to stand out as a business professional on the Midway of Stimulus Overload…Don't make the mistakes I did. Until then, take two aspirins; quit looking at your device at the light and stop texting! :)

Friday, October 22, 2010

When There is a Will, There is a Way!

I am really surprised at how many of my friends and clients are without life insurance and are without a will. I did an unofficial poll recently by asking that question... do you have a will and a life policy? Most people I talked to are without one or the other.

I recommend term life. It gives the consumer the best value. The policy owner chooses the term (number of years) and the financial limit. This policy pays when the owner passes away. It is again, very cost effective. Most importantly, as responsible people, we need to make sure our loved ones are taken care of if we do die.

Wills and trusts are the road maps to asset management. They do not need to be expensive or complicated. But without a will there is no way to manage your material things and make sure your loved ones are treated fairly. Families do strange things without proper instruction. In July, when my Aunt died up in Detroit, in-fighting took over at the saddest time. I was amazed what the lack of planning can do to relationships.

A term life insurance policy and a clear will lets all family members know that you care about their the most important and valuable ingredients of being here on this Earth, them...

Most of you reading this know me. You know I care about your well being. The coolest thing is the fact that my quotes to you are FREE! Gosh, I love free too!

Honestly, look at all your policies like you do your check book or balance sheet and get the right coverage at the best value. Have a great weekend!

I am at Jim.vogel@woomerinsurance.com 919 244 6989 www.woomerinsurance.com

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Getting Pumped Up

Apex, NC 10-21-10

The economy is still stuck in neutral with not much growth. The good thing is that it is not getting worse. Since 2008, the American consumer has changed behavior. We are still in debt in many cases but we do not like it at all. And we are really watching our pennies and using credit less.

With the price of gas again at two dollars and silly, we are really noticing it at the pump and in our wallet. For a number of reasons, none I understand, gas is crawling up and slowly eating more and more of our pocket. When just having a decent paying job in today’s environment is a blessing we just cannot boycott gas stations and stop driving to work.

In the news this morning was yet another discussion of E85 fuel. E85 is not a bad thing; we just need to understand it better. Here is the scoop. You are running 10% ethanol in your tank a majority of the time anyway. A lot of stations add it to increase octane levels. When you pump gas and smell a little sweetness as it goes in, you have corn-blended fuel heading into the tank. That is okay! We can run on it all day long regardless of the engine or the year of car.

If gas gets to 15% ethanol, you should only pump that into a flex fuel vehicle. With about 2000 E85 stations across the United States, there are a lot of good Detroit sheet metal out there that can run flex fuel and these vehicles state it on the back of the vehicle and on the gas cap. E85 is indeed cheaper. But you get less mileage. It is also higher octane, about 95, rather than the 87 we usually pump.

It is important to remember to only put the correct fuel in your vehicle at all times.

To be on the safe side, just use 87 octane gasoline. You do NOT need 89 or 92 octane unless you have to run premium fuel. Running higher octane gas in a vehicle engineered and built to run on 87 is just a waste of money.

You will actually save money by not rabbit accelerating from the light, not tailgating, and keeping the right PSI in your tires. Rotate them with your REGULAR oil changes. And replace your air filter. You will see performance and mileage increases that pay for themselves over time.

Yes, gas is creeping to three bucks. No one likes that. Saving money at the pump is possible by blatant common sense, both in how you drive and how you maintain your vehicle.

Remember ALSO, that I sell car insurance through a number of A rated companies. Hopefully a free quote from Woomer Insurance can bring value to other areas of your budget. Call me at 919 533 9069 in you live in North Carolina.

Meanwhile, drive slower in your well maintained vehicle you will visit the gas station less!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Get Your Business P's In Order

Regardless of whether the recession is over or not, these past two years or so have been quite the professional experience for most of us. If you have been in business for these past twenty-four plus months and have not had a negative change in revenue or an increase in challenge or responsibility, you are the last one standing.

But contrary to many experts’ opinions, applying positive economic change in the Triangle or the country is not rocket science. We just need to take a look at the Business P’s. In core business models, there are certain critical ingredients that always start with the letter P. Organizations today just need to arrange them in their proper order. Some of us might even have them mixed up just a little bit; but even a little out of order is a recipe for failure.

All of us remember what happened in the third quarter of 2008 very well. Lehman Brothers and Wall Street dominated the financial bad news. These out of order P’s were the only reason why our business world changed as we knew it into complete financial collapse.

Here are the Business P’s in the order that they were in back in September, 2008.
Profits, Problems, Payroll, Processes, Priorities, Principles, People.

Note that profits come up first. Now, profits are just fine by themselves. In fact, profits are quite simple to get and quite exciting to manage in ANY economy if our P’s are in the right order. But profits should never be the main focus of any organization. Too much profit attention can create greed and internal conflict.
Greed was the driver of this recession and it kick started the mess we are still in regardless of any recovery headlines we see on the web and in print. Greed affects all the Business P’s and twists them one by one into disorder.

Here is the sequence the Business P’s should be in:
People, Principles, Priorities, Processes, Payroll, Problems, and Profits.

What? Profits cannot be last. Jim are you crazy? Yes, I guess I am. But I am crazy about wanting organizations successful. You see, profits are the BYPRODUCT of all the other P’s. We seldom think of profits in this secondary way. It is not our normal business nature. But the thought is immediately common sense if we look at profits from our human nature with a complete focus on people.

People are and still remain the straightest line to all profitability.
We must take care of our employees and our customers in positive ways (Human Relations Theory) and we must involve them in processes that truly let them contribute to the bottom line (Group Dynamics Theory). If we succeed at these two proven theories we become the leaders within our business orbit. The discussion of these two theories for this article’s purpose is not necessary. But I want you to Google or Bing them and read why they are so essential to the mindset of business. Both theories give us empirically proven strategies for success.

Principles are extremely important as well. Mission and Guiding Values must be solely focused through people. Employees, Suppliers, and Customers are the only reasons we exist as a business. And principles cannot be just words handed out on orientation day in a 20 word mission statement or stuck on page two of your employee handbook. We must back them up with consistent ACTION and complete transparency. Our people and our customers are not dumb. They know when there is shallowness to organizational values.

Priorities must be a blend of both people and principles. If not sure, just ask the people in the business we want more successful. If there is the right organizational climate where risk and work are appreciated equally, the employees will not hesitate to help with ideas that path the business to increased opportunity.

Processes are derived from Priorities. If the priorities are clear, then the processes are definable, trend-able, measurable, attainable and trainable. They become team driven and more easily team implemented.

Payroll is the reward of good people. Pay your employees for what they really do and have them on the same page when performance is assessed. Have a simple and competitive pay plan and be prepared to explain it at any time. A workforce, paid fairly and honestly, will eliminate many organizational problems. The most successful companies have minimized intra-business issues by providing positive compensation and they have converted problems into opportunities.

Finally, let’s look at profits. Remember that byproduct thing I mentioned earlier? If all your P’s are in order, profits will organically and almost magically come. Employees will grow at the same rate that profits and success do. Customers will be more like a referral fan club than just another dollar. Just as health is the byproduct of good living, profit is the byproduct of solid organizations.

Now, I know I am preaching to many of you in the choir. BUT, there are many managers out there who focus on money and profit first at the expense of everyone else and they have employee and customer concerns galore. Such strong emphasis on profits will only create and sustain greed. And it was greed that took down much of what we had in this once strong economy.

I know of many private and one major public institution today, all bureaucratic in nature, that truly need to be walked and quickly to the proverbial shed. For this great country to grow out of this current recessional cycle we must put our people first and our profits last. Our profits will do just fine if all of our P’s are in order.

It simply starts with our people. Make sure they are all good at what they do. Make sure they put the clients first. And that they really care for them. Give employees the tools and the training they need. Treat them right and watch the profits grow. Just remember that this is a major paradigm shift for many, but I urge you to try these ideas and see if your Business P’s can line up and work for the good of the business and in the best interests of both your people and your customers. Your profit depends on it.

Action is the Word

If you take the words hire, employ, sell, consume, purchase and buy and make a simple adjustment, the economy moves off the dime it has been sitting on. Our economy has not moved. It is not getting worse and it is not getting better. And Washington is taking the heat for good reason.

Here is the simple adjustment but it reflects action: hiring, employing, selling, consuming, purchasing, and buying. If we put some action into these aspects of our economic recipe things get better fast.

No, the recession is not over. I do not agree with certain experts that the recession stopped in June of 2009. I know better. I saw it with my own eyes. I was in Detroit that first week of June 2009; it was UGLY, very ugly. General Motors and Chrysler both fell over hard and unemployment was at unprecedented levels in Michigan and beyond.

Now, I agree that the recession started in December 2007. It hit full-speed with four buck gas in the summer of 2008, and continued right into September with the financial collapse and the demise of Lehman Brothers. The Automotive Industry, already deeply wounded by a confused and jittery public that summer, had SUV’s and trucks galore gathering dust as that aspect of the market went bye-bye at lightening speed. Dealerships could not even give away gas hogs. The business was soon on life support.

But we are a resilient bunch in the car biz. We will come back. We have weathered recessions in the past. 1958, 1962, 1966, 1973-74, 1980-81, and 1991 were tough years. We had a great stretch from 1992 to 2007… record years for gosh sakes. But this newest recession, 2008-2009, was extra special. It knocked us out with a left and right hook and we saw stars as we hit the economic canvas.

Consumer and hiring confidence are the keys to our country getting permanently out of this mess. I know there is cash out there. But people are sitting on it and paying off their charges. Businesses have cut payroll and cut hours. Raises are on the endangered list. Is it a wonder that we are still refusing to buy like in the good ole’ days of zero percent and $1.68 gas?

Detroit, Ford Motor Company in particular, is making great small and medium-sized cars and solidly built larger vehicles right now, but there is less revenue and profit overall. Trucks and SUV’s are selling somewhat better but with much tighter margins. The car business still has the challenge of debt to deal with.

A critical month for the car business and for the American public is the next one. November, 2010 will set records for political change. This change can only help bring an array of positives to this challenging climate. A number of politicians will soon understand what being out of work is all about.

Things should get better fast with new faces in places of political power. I plan on this renewed confidence to steer holiday purchasing. In fact, a friend of mine, much smarter than me, calls 2011 the “Year of the Come Back!”

Let’s get this industry and this economy back to employing and consuming. It is the kind of action we all really need.