Month: January 2011

When Things You May Need…becomes…The Clutter You Keep

Unless you’re a devout follower of the minimalist lifestyle, I’ll bet…you’ve got some.

Let me be the first to put my hand up… Hello, my name is Mark…and I have a hard time getting rid of anything I believe can come in handy, ever! All joking aside, there comes a time when the move from being thrifty or prepared moves to the realm of hording junk. Trust me, I can look at the twist tie that came on my loaf of bread and think, hmm I might need that to hold some cables together. Yep, just being thrifty…not!

I’m one who takes pride in being prepared. I enjoy the feeling that if I need something in an emergency that I have something  I can work with till I’m able to get what I really need. (My wife calls me Boy Scout) But at some point it can become counter productive, here’s an example…

Years back I had a conversation with a coworker who said “I bet you’re one of those guys who has cans of saved nuts and bolts.” I replied..yes I do. In which he returned with “I bet I can go to the hardware store and get the exact one I need in less time than it takes you to sift through all your saved ones, and mine will be brand new.” I had to admit it’s a good point. However I said to myself, what happens when the stores are closed, and you need it now? I chalked one up for me, but when I returned home his words were still ringing in my head. Just how “right” was he I asked myself. My conclusion, 90/10 because what I did was discard 90% of the saved items and kept 10% for the “just in case” day. In reality that was all I really needed. It cleared valuable shelf space, allowed me to quantify what I truly had on hand, and also made the space look a lot more spiffy, and I was still prepared for an emergency. Not too shabby I thought to myself.

Many of us keep clutter around that makes us less productive than we notice. We purchase another file drawer to hold papers that we will never need. We hold onto older laptops because “you never know.” We have desk drawers full of things that one has to rummage through like a prospector mining for gold. Last but not least, how many useless email addresses, computer files, discontinued or broken bookmark links and alike are sitting on your machine right now at this moment?

Clean up the clutter, give away the older mp3 players that you’ve stuck in the drawer, give away the 2 laptops that are sitting in the other room unused. Donate the books you’ve read that you know you’ll never read again. There’s nothing more freeing than getting clutter out of your life, but you only realize the benefit after you’ve cleaned house.

So what are you waiting for?

Mark

Thinking Aloud… Episode 4 “Customer Service”

Thinking Aloud is a new addition that features spontaneous insights (or rants) hosted by Mark on current events. They’ll be posted here once or twice a week. Maybe more…maybe less, but for those who’ve asked, “I wonder what Mark thinks?” well..here’s the place to find out. These are short, poignant off the cuff podcasts, or vidcasts that are delivered in typical Mark fashion. No holds barred, no retakes, just … “Mr. Engineer….Please Hit Record!”

https://markstcyr.files.wordpress.com/2011/01/thinking-aloud-customer-service-01_24_2011.m4a

Free Today…Gone Tomorrow?

When I’m speaking with someone either at a conference, or strategy session, I’m always stunned on how business plans are thrown out in willy-nilly type fashion. Most businesses don’t plan 3 months in advance never mind a longer view, but what really catches my attention is when they state the foundation of their business model is using what is now “free” on the web, or what is the newest “fad.” Then an assertion will come that not only will the “free” aspect become even better because of increasing usage from the market place, but will always be assessable for their use. From my perspective, all this leads to pie in the sky pricing where fixed costs, revenue generation, and functionality becomes not a “business plan” but a fairy tale.

At the time that I’m writing this the newest craze of course Facebook. Everyone is running, and dashing to build their new business based on it. It’s quite possible that some will build great business models, however, what happens if it goes away tomorrow, what then? Crazy you say? It’s a fair point so I’ll offer the example of MySpace. I know..MyWho? And that’s my point. Remember when MySpace was the “Facebook” at its inception. It was revolutionizing that segment of the web, but now it’s rumored to be on the verge of shutting down. It’s as relevant as that other great never to be toppled  juggernaut AOL. There were many businesses, and entrepreneurs that based their whole structure on using these platforms as their foundation. As they withered away, so too did most of them.

What many fail to remember is what they now take for granted as “free” is all based on speculation that at some point it can become profitable on its own. All the hoopla one hears across the media is more akin to tabloid reporting. MySpace was backed with billions in resources via Rupert Murdoch’s vast holdings. Time Warner and AOL joined forces to become one of the largest media deals ever. Both are now unprofitable, and irrelevant. MySpace never became profitable, Facebook is still in the “we’ll see” category. If at some point investors become disillusioned, or don’t see the “big payday” coming soon, they’ll take their investment capital and move on. At that point most adjunct business models are left along the side with a pile of AOL spam cd’s that are also worthless.

Using these platforms to enhance your real business model is well worth the effort. There are new, and ever-changing things going on right now that can be leveraged in ways that were inconceivable just a few years ago. The trick is, if it’s an enhancement then you are in control, or at least to the highest degree one can be, but if these models are the very basis of your business foundation, then not planning for possible disruptions or alternatives just might leave you out of business.

Music stores never saw iTunes, classifies ads never saw Ebay, AOL never saw Yahoo, Microsoft never saw Google, book stores never saw Amazon, and none of them saw Facebook,or Groupon. Who knows what we could see next.

Most of the above happened in less time than it takes a landlord to terminate your stores lease to rent out to a higher bidder, but you at least thought about that in your business plan…didn’t you?

Mark

What?……..Me Worry?

There are times I just can’t help myself. I feel that I am once again dealing with groundhog day. So in the spirit of this time-tested pseudo holiday. I would just like to place on the record once more a little something that everyone (and I mean Everyone!) seems to have forgotten. It’s an oldie from the past. It was a real bell-ringer when it first aired, but now it seems it can’t get the listener line to ring anymore.

It’s a recording from way back in 2010, May 6th I believe was the date, alas I have a hard time remembering. I wrote about it back in the day. It’s quite possible I might be able to get it to play on this post, however I’ll make no promises. I am dealing with much older technology, were talking 8 months ago, I mean c’mon.

For those who like the classics the link is posted below. I’ll also post a link to the original article for those who like working with ancient text. (at least it’s not hieroglyphs) Back then, we heard the same things they’re saying now. “Don’t Worry, be Happy!”

I believe that is from a much earlier time, maybe even pre-GaGarasic or something.

Mark

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1mC4tu1NhUA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Below is the link to my original post….

http://tinyurl.com/62qf7ua


Thinking Aloud… Episode 3 “The Best Laid Plans”

Thinking Aloud is a new addition that features spontaneous insights (or rants) hosted by Mark on current events. They’ll be posted here once or twice a week. Maybe more…maybe less, but for those who’ve asked, “I wonder what Mark thinks?” well..here’s the place to find out. These are short, poignant off the cuff podcasts, or vidcasts that are delivered in typical Mark fashion. No holds barred, no retakes, just …

“Mr. Engineer….Please Hit Record!”https://markstcyr.files.wordpress.com/2011/01/thinking-aloud-01_11_2011.m4a

Making Sense from the Nonsense!

Sometimes you can’t help but shake your head. At other times you just want to scream. Then there are the times you just have to walk away. I feel this is once again one of those times.

As many of you know I have both written, and spoke on the so-called “Smart Crowd.” (for anyone new here’s an archive link) and why I believe it’s  hazardous if you take your cues from them. Television, radio, and print hold some of them at such lofty levels that all should be wearing oxygen masks. Personally, I have now donned a gas mask, because it’s not the lack of air I’m having trouble with.

If you have been following the stock market as of late, all looks just fantastic, but there’s a hidden more sinister side lurking, and none of these talking heads will mention it. It’s reminiscent of a Harry Potter plot. That which can not be spoken. (The numbers just don’t add up!)

Every Financial outlet I read or watch is using stats, reports, numbers, data points, and many other references to bolster their argument why the stock market not only wont go lower, but it can’t because it’s smooth sailing from here on out. That in my delicate way of putting things is just drivel. The market has been going up for many reasons, but I counter, not for the reasons most are citing. Here’s how I respond when I’m speaking with someone who uses the media as their reference material.

“That does sound great, it might be that the worst is behind us, and you would think that by just looking at the stock market today, however. What troubles me is that all are now calling for not only higher gains, but new records to be set, possibly this year. The old records set just 2 years ago were with…

  1. Unemployment under 5%
  2. If you were breathing..you could get a loan. (and that was optional)
  3. Houses had morphed into personal ATM machines with no limit
  4. Overseas growth in emerging markets would never slow.
  5. Europe was turning back into a juggernaut.
  6. America had its financial house somewhat in check. (at least we hoped.)

I could list more, but just those would need to be inline once again to warrant such lofty targets, would it not?” That’s when the blank stare, glazed eyes come back into focus with a response that would rival an elementary schoolyard fight…”Well…that’s what they’re saying on TV, and if they’re on TV they must be smart, right?”

The economy may be on the road to recovery, it also might not. It’s quite possible we could fall right back to where we were back in 2008 in the blink of an eye. It’s also possible that the worst is behind us. Either way for all of you, neither matters because you will prosper no matter what the circumstances because you are the doers…and with that comes the intrinsic value of self-reliance. Look through the data, make decisions, chart new courses, make new goals. Use both good information, and bad information to your advantage.

You are the movers, and shakers. You have no time for nonsense.

Mark

My catch phrase for 2011..Keep Your Head on a Swivel!

Well everyone it’s finally here. The new year is officially on, and there are many new opportunities coming along for anyone who will take the time look. Personally I have many new things in the fire that will be rolled out as the year unfolds. I probably haven’t look forward to a new year with as much anticipation as I have this one. More details on projects will be posted as they get closer to roll out dates so stay tuned.

So what do I mean with “Keep your head on a swivel?” The phrase comes from the military when you need to be on high alert. In other words scan, look at everything, and then look again. Is it a threat, something to be concerned with, or something to ignore. I suggest opportunities are going to be far more plentiful, and far more profitable for those who will be looking, than to those who will be looking…down.

The fantastic technological wonders that brought us the “Smart phone” has now morphed the users of these devices into smart phone users posting, and watching the dumbest of things. They also do this all day, everyday, taking time for only when nature calls, and that now seems to be a place where they call Mother Nature because who else could they possibly be talking to in the restroom?

Just look around. Look around but try to see what’s going on around you. Most people have their heads down, you shouldn’t! Yes these things are wonderful, they are magical in what they can do to help you, but they have a far, far , more brainless, time-wasting side to them that most either don’t notice, or worse, don’t really care.

As everyone is updating their Facebook status, I would hope you are looking for opportunities, because they’re not. As everyone is watching another really stupid YouTube video, I hope you are looking for a new business opportunity to capitalize on because, they’re not. As everyone is texting each other why they can’t get something done because they’re too busy texting each other, you’ll be organizing plans to launch that new idea you’ve been working on because……They are not!

I still believe 2011 is going to be more turbulent in many ways than the last few years, however, that’s where opportunities present themselves. Real opportunities that need real solutions. To these problem solvers the world will be your oyster.

Remember, the true movers, shakers, and wealth creators reside in only the Top 5%, regardless of what others try to tell you. Just remember your competition all have their head down posting why they shouldn’t be in the other 95%

Think I’m exagerating?…Just look around.

Mark