Month: July 2011

Lessons I Learned From Running

As some of you know I’m an avid runner. I’ve been running on a consistent basis for decades now. (I just had to put that decades thing in) I was thinking the other day on how dealing with the act of running relates to life in general. Here are few things I was pondering:

  • The hardest part I’ve found about running was putting on my shoes. After that, the rest just followed.
  • Not being able to have that extra slice of pizza was harder than running.
  • Run outdoors whenever possible. Given a choice hamsters would not choose the treadmill. Keep yourself away from a cage when ever possible.
  • Run in all-weather conditions. If you wait for only perfect days, you’ll rarely ever run. Don’t wait for perfection.
  • If caught in the rain don’t get mad, you’re giving everyone else something to laugh at. Don’t take yourself too seriously.
  • If you notice you’re the only one running, is it because you’re that disciplined, or maybe you haven’t seen the crowd that runs while you’re in the shower. Don’t just assume it’s only you doing something.
  • Sometimes running too slow will give you more aches, and pains than running faster. Discomfort might be happening because your holding back.
  • Running uphill can be easier on the joints than running downhill because you are more in control going up. Beware allowing gravity to do your work for you. It can be a double-edged sword.
  • Get hydrated before you start a run as well as after. If you try while you’re running it’ll be too late. Preparation helps avoid pain.
  • If your going to be a dedicated runner, forget trying to buy shoes on the cheap. There are times when you have to bite bullets, and buy the best regardless of how much it goes against your wallet.
  • Ask questions of people who run, and are dedicated just like you. Chances are you’ll both learn something you didn’t know before because both of you want to become even better.
  • Always carry protection. You may know every dog in the neighborhood, but you might not know his new friend. You never know who’ll meet.
  • Not all aches, and pains need to be treated the same. Don’t use them as an excuse as to not do something you know you can.
  • One pass time can give way to another, and at the same time. I never liked reading fiction, but I now have listened to more fiction audiobooks than I have read Non-Fiction in the past year. You can always mix things up, and open new doors.
  • The people who beep at you are not saying hi, they’re trying to see if they can startle you and make you trip. Stupid is, as stupid does.

© 2011 Mark St.Cyr   All Rights Reserved

Sorry Mr. Immelt, But You are No, and You Don’t Know Jack

Sometimes I read things that make me shake my head. Sometimes I want to scream, and other times I just stand dumbfounded at the sheer stupidity displayed by some CEO’s.

I remember in 2008 when Bank of America CEO Ken Lewis was giving interviews, and speeches during the financial crisis. He displayed over, and over again sheer arrogance on his summations of why BofA under his leadership was the smartest bank ever known to mankind. Within 12 months he was shown the door with a boot mark clearly visible on the back of his pants. The mess left is still so toxic it might rival the cleanup efforts needed at the crippled nuclear plant in Japan.

General Electric has been a fixture of American business as long as anyone can remember. For much of that time it has been a shining star of American capitalism, and innovation. For many the CEO job at GE was the equivalent if not even more coveted a goal than becoming President of the USA. That is saying something. Period.

One of the reasons why GE enjoys some of the success it has today was because of the leadership, and tutelage of Jack Welch. Mr. Welch was all about business. He had an uncanny ability to move a multi-national conglomerate powerhouse of a company with ideas, and business plans that many were written on the back of a napkin, or a discussed over coffee, and a handshake. He understood how to “cut the crap” out of all the “BS” in most business plans, make people accountable, get it implemented, and if it didn’t work jettison the project, and move on. Mr. Immelt seems more akin to the Ken Lewis model than the Welch model, and here’s why….

Mr. Immelt appears more, and more to want to explain or talk, rather than do, and implement. It was noticed early on however it’s now becoming glaringly apparent that he knew the “politics” on how to get the job. Not the politics of “doing” the job. He’s looking, and talking like a politician more, and more, and more. It must be wonderful to be seen on television laughing with the President, and others on some committee that you are chairing while the ideas you’re coming up with have been dismal failures. Another laugh a minute must be the meetings you’re having in the boardroom on how the shares of GE have just been pummeled since you’ve taken over the helm. Is it not out of a SNL skit that you are just silent when everyone within your seemingly new coveted political protegé’s mouths are calling for what will surely decimate one of GE’s most innovative divisions? (remember GE makes Jet engines) How about defending GE’s reputation against the implied “Tax Scandal?” (insert crickets here) Better yet when you do want to speak you’ll go out and do speeches at venues like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and tell everyone that they should basically stop complaining about government, and get out and do more business. Hey Mr. Immelt, want to try to start a new GE from the ground up in today’s economic, and regulatory environment? Think you could do it? I’ll put dollars to doughnuts you couldn’t. So please, enough already.

Jack Welch was a true business leader, and has become an icon with his “Straight from the Gut” approach to doing true business. Every time I see or hear anything that comes from Jeffrey Immelt it seems more, and more like ” A Kick to the N_ts” for business. With CEO’s like Mr. Immelt, who needs politicians.

Mark

© 2011 Mark St.Cyr   All Rights Reserved

Your Business Future on Facebook and Others. Just Look to your Local Mall

People have asked me about my viewpoints for doing business on social media platforms in general. The question starts out something like this…“Where do you think it will be in the next 10 years?”  “Who will be #1 in five or ten years?”  or “Should I integrate my business on one?” I believe the only honest answer is “Who knows?” People are looking for answers to something that is almost unquantifiable. We act as if these juggernauts have been around forever. I have to remind people at times to remember they didn’t even exist just 5 years ago. Based on that alone it’s hard to extrapolate where they will be just 6 months from now. But the more I look at the way they are behaving, and setting up their business practices, the more it’s beginning to look like something many of us have seen before…. “The Mall.”

If you think about it coming from this viewpoint, it’s not as far-fetched as it may seem. What a mall did was create a social environment within a shopping experience. It displaced the stand alone retailer or downtown shopper by creating a destination experience. It also created a closed loop system where the mall operator controlled everything all the way down to even extracting a percentage of your sales in the register. If you wanted to be in the mall you paid dearly for that opportunity. Your customers were no longer truly “your” customers any longer, they were in essence “The Malls.” You were just a business paying for the opportunity to have access to “The Malls” shoppers. Want to change the layout or look of your business? You’ll need approval first. Want access to the data or customers that come into the mall so you can mine it? Forgetaboutit! Are you starting to see the similarities?

So what about some of the others? If one looks like a mall what might others resemble in the future? What if we looked at Google’s® attempt into social media the way we view Walmart®. A giant dominant player with vast resources where you can find anything you need 24/7.  A stand alone building (think network) that doesn’t need to be in some pricey borough so it can offer everything to everybody, and do it cheaply. The trick for you will be to get some form of shelf space, But! (and it’s a big but) Will you just be piled in with millions of others that did the same thing because it was “cheap and easy?” How will you be able to differentiate from the others? Or better yet, can you? If you’re a business looking on how you want to incorporate social media to build your business I believe viewing it from this perspective can give you some clarity. If you want to be a mall based company you wouldn’t waste your time trying to look like or sell to Walmart® would you? If you enjoy or you prefer the independence to be your own stand alone business where your customers are “your” customers rather than being at the mall or in some superstore you would also plan differently wouldn’t you?

Just like the malls certain media outlets will be overrun with teenagers, and alike. And would that help or hinder your business?  Or will they be the very customers you need to attract, or the very customer you need to avoid? How about the superstore? Do you want to be just another vendor on a superstore shelf selling whatever to whoever for whatever? Do you want to be in a strip mall, plaza, or your own building? There are different outlets of social media that resemble these also. I believe if you look at social media through this lens you just might get a little more clarity on where, and how you should be developing your business while at the same time clearing out the clutter that can be overwhelming or unquantifiable.

Mark

© 2011 Mark St.Cyr  All Rights Reserved

Thinking Aloud… Episode 5 “It’s Different This Time?”

Thinking Aloud features spontaneous insights (or rants) hosted by Mark on current events. They’re posted here when the inspiration hits, 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!”

© 2011 Mark St.Cyr  All Rights Reserved