Month: November 2011

Some Points To Ponder (Part 2)

Back in February the thought of a protest resembling anything like that happening overseas was inconceivable for many. At the time I was a lone voice on the subject and I wrote if you were in business or you were an entrepreneurial employee, that your company or firm should look into how one would handle such a disruption to business or customers. You can read the original article here.

At the time people expressed to me that the events were (or seemed) too far removed for them to even consider. Then more disruption came about in a host of different countries. I felt so strongly on the subject I ran the article again when the first signs of Occupy Wall Street at Zuccotti Park materialized. Again people expressed they either didn’t want to hear it or they felt it wouldn’t apply to them. Then the movement ramped up shutting down businesses, smashing, looting or making it so customers would not or could not patronize them in the very epicenters I warned about. Businesses in New York, Los Angeles, Oakland, Miami, Atalanta, Lexington, Philadelphia, and many more throughout the country all of a sudden found themselves as I warned in the article trying to cross a bridge that might no longer be there.

Whether you’re a business or you’re just doing business with someone located in what is often referred to as ” A prime downtown location.” I would read or even re-read my article once again. Even I was taken back on how prescient my timing was on this subject. But then again, that’s what I get paid for.

Mark

© 2011 Mark St.Cyr   All Rights Reserved

Some Points to Ponder…

Now that we’re officially into the holiday season, I thought I’d throw out a few points to ponder for reflection. With changes and other projects coming up for the site along with many being in “holiday mode” here are some follow-ups on thoughts that I have expressed over the year.

Back in May of this year I wrote some of my views on the current “Social Media” fanfare. The media were a buzz with excitement. You can read my thoughts here.

It all was to kick off with LinkedIn®. I at one time had a public profile on this site because others said I needed to, or that I was missing out on valuable contacts. Although I was bombarded with linking requests and would get reports that I was linked to the equivalent of the population of Earth and the estimated habitats of the cosmos I never found any value in it personally. Then when Mr. Hoffman decided to express just how utterly foolish people like myself are about privacy concerns with his statement of “Privacy concerns are for old people.” well I just cancelled and cleared anything I had to do with LinkedIn. By the looks of it, I’m not the only one who has concerns.

All I heard was “This time it’s different!” Well, all I can say now is, “You be the judge.”

Then Came Pandora.. The FREE Internet Radio phenom:

Then of course came Groupon who told Google $6 Billion Dollars won’t buy a coupon here:

But have no fear is what I’m hearing said by the same “smart crowd.”
Facebook® is going to save everything!

Mark

© 2011 Mark St.Cyr   All Rights Reserved

Super Hero Costumes Won’t Clothe Naked Emperors

Today it will be announced that the “Super Committee” that was brought together as a panacea for the woes of the U.S. budgetary debacle will end with no resolutions and with enough finger-pointing to make a Kinder Gardener blush. So I ask honestly. Did you think it would end differently? I mean really, did you? Now before you think this is some political piece let me assure you it’s not so hold those emails. This same silliness happens across the business landscape more often than anyone dares say. But if you listen closely, it’s whispered everywhere. “They’ve hired a consultant.”

It doesn’t matter in business, politics, or any other venture. The moment the person at the helm seems incapacitated or incapable of resolving major issues in strategy or survival the knee jerk response is to bring in someone else while possibly deflecting criticism for their own ineptitude. Hiring advisers or consultants can be a prudent business measure at times. There are also some great minds that work in the profession and some are worth far more than they charge, but there is also a flip side. There are those that add no value or serve no other purpose than to give credence to the illusion that the problems are so complex that not even so-called “experts” can reach a solution. The latter is usually hired by some H.R. department because they were lulled into some methodology or worse, they went with the cheapest that had just enough monikers, tag lines, or alphabet soup after the name to cover both theirs and the bosses backsides should it not work out. And I can assure you, it never does.

Managing in times of crisis is not for the faint of heart. It takes dogged determination, a fair amount of self-confidence, an ability to articulate you might not know the answers but are determined to find them, and to act. You also need to have a willingness to scuttle anything that doesn’t move the entity away from distress regardless of whose budget or ego it wounds. These insights are from personal experience. I’ve been there and have been successful, but with that success there were prices to be paid. I lost friendships, was scorned as tough decisions were implemented. Made alliances with people and firms that previously I wouldn’t accept a phone call from and vice versa. But when you’re at the helm, that’s what is not only expected, it’s demanded. Leaders lead. They may need help at times, but they don’t relinquish their leadership, they subjugate it. And people follow leaders. They don’t fall into line to fight the great battle behind the auspices of some committee regardless of the super powers it claims to hold.

So in the spirit of Bob Dylan:

“You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.”

And a Super Hero doesn’t kick a can. They kick ass!

Mark

© 2011 Mark St. Cyr   All Rights Reserved

Breaking Through an Entrepreneurs Crisis: “No Time to Sell”

In today’s world of ever-changing economic conditions one thing remains constant, “If you’re in business, you need to sell, period!”

Of course this comes as no shock to anyone. However the excuse of having no time as the owner, founder, chief cook, and bottle washer is irrelevant. If you can’t find time then your only alternative is to now “create” time. This can be done, but by all means forget about reading books on “Time Management.” I can’t think of a larger waste of your resource as a business owner. The frustration for owners or entrepreneurs is they only see the act of “selling” through the traditional salesperson model. If you’re currently bogged down in everyday tasks because you’ve either lightened up on staff, or your business has increased and you’re currently filling voids yourself, you will not only find excuses for not adding anything that resembles an additional task, but the sheer thought of going out and “selling” will be avoided. Trouble happens when the delay of resolving this dilemma gets amplified into a crisis. The more you find ways to allow yourself the alibi of “having no time” (and you know you will) the faster it will take you into crisis. There is another way. Change from Selling to Informing. Become a “Thought Leader” in your business community.

Many have read books or learned much through trial and error. What you may not remember is just like your views and actions changed from employee to owner, you now need to change your tactics on how you sell as compared to someone you would hire. As an owner it’s a daunting task to conceive let alone try going door too door pushing your wares. But as a “Thought Leader” you can reach perspective clients in your respected area of business by offering insights on your business that can or may impact other business people. You could talk with or give a speech at civic events or local chamber meetings, etc. This can multiply your efforts and in turn help in allotting for that most precious of resources, time.

Here’s an example:

You own a small breakfast hot spot. You need to get the word out you’ve changed the menu or added new items. All your current customers already know what you’re doing because you sell them on any changes with your on site interactions. But now it’s about people who don’t know right? So, do you hire a salesperson to hit the streets and tell more? Spend precious resources in failed advertising campaigns? Go knock door to door yourself after you washed the dishes? Of course not, however what you can do is talk to other like-minded individuals as yourself about aspects of your business that is comparable with either troubles or triumphs they too might be experiencing. Speaking at a local Chamber of Commerce meeting about the way gas prices have put pressure on your food suppliers, and the ways you have met these challenges goes a lot further to provide your business with exposure to possible new patrons than “Hello I’m John from John’s Diner. Let me tell you about this weeks menu special.” I also contend this carries far more credibility than if you decided to donate free pastries to the very same event.

John Smith the owner of John’s Diner speaking to other like-minded business people about issues they can relate to is far more effective than trying to sell or tell them this weeks menu. The understated selling feature and time multiplier this exchange offers is you needn’t tell me you even serve food. That fact has already been sold as soon as you are introduced as John from John’s Diner. If they hadn’t heard of your establishment before, they have now. As you can see in this example you’re not trying to sell me John’s Diner but you are selling. This method greatly multiplies your return on that most precious investment called time.

Now whether or not the food is any good is another matter. But you can always hire another cook. What you can’t hire is another salesman like you.
© 2011 Mark St.Cyr   All Rights Reserved

F.T.W.S.I.J.D.G.I.G.T.

(For those who say I just don’t get it… Get this!)

So let me see…

Two years ago I say the Euro Zone will fall apart. Everyone says I have no idea what I’m talking about. Everyone points to the record high Euro Dollar as their touch stone.

Then shock waves reverberate from Greece, Portugal, Italy, and now Spain. Oh and by the way this headline from the Financial Post…

” Merkel’s Party Votes to Allow Countries to Leave Euro Zone “

Call me crazy, but isn’t that something everyone said I was crazy to think?

Mark

© 2011 Mark St.Cyr   All Rights Reserved

Some Insight and Rational for Coming Changes here at MSC

On 11/11/11 I wrote a short post stating I was “ticked off” and a few other things. I also declared that I was going to do something about it. Today I’ll give you some reasoning and background for the post.

Over the years whether it be in a speech, writings, and such, I have been more often than not correct at the time, or later proven right as details unfold into plain sight for everyone else. The problem is when I’m trying to articulate an idea, concept, or strategy that doesn’t fit in with someones views or understandings the discussion no longer transpires in earnest. They’ll just take on the muse of “Yeah, right!” At one time this would infuriated me but now its only an annoyance. It changed years back when I was confronted by one of these very same people but their muse had changed to: “Holy S***! You were right!”  I just smiled.

I understand for many whom just started reading here don’t know all that much about me or what I’m referring to so I’ll try to provide a thumbnail sketch. Some people talk or use references they themselves have never experienced or done. However that doesn’t stop them from declaring through some sort of osmosis and alchemy that they are “Experts.” This description can be laid upon 99.9% of the so-called “Self Improvement” crowd. More pointedly is the finger directed at the “Motivational Speaker” genre. Some of you might be saying, “But aren’t you in that business?” The answer is both yes and no. The first part, the yes, is in response to that’s what people like myself are labeled. The second part, the no, is in response to I am not a “rah-rah, jump up and down and find the secret” stylized speaker. These are the snake oil salespeople of the business and I contend they’re doing more harm than good. All they care about is getting people to buy into the concept of: “All you have to do is wish upon a star!” followed by: “And to help you wish better buy my special Wish Upon a Star Motivation Program for just 365 easy payments of blah, blah, blah.” I’m sick of it!

This moment of disgust coincided at the same time I was watching another lame interview by one of these so-called “wicked smart” financial talking heads blather on about absolutely nothing. All he did was pose streams of rationals that covered every base in baseball, cricket, and any other sport analogy that has bases. The only umpire I felt was me because after every other sentence I was screaming to myself “Strike!” I was wishing I had the power to say on camera ” Strike three. You’re outta here!” But then the game changed.

As the interview went on the subject of the occupiers came up. (aka Occupy Wall St.) Once again words, meanings, definitions, feelings, and reasoning were fileted with such precision it would make a Ginsu® knife blush. Then I received an email from my wife. It stated that the building in which she worked where the occupiers in my home town were in front of was under a bomb threat. At first it was taken not to be that credible, a few hours later she called me from outside letting me know that they actually had just been evacuated. She has nothing to do with anything they are protesting, nor does she work for a bank. Just a case of her employer happens to lease office space in a building the occupiers don’t like. She was not fazed by the ordeal at all. I swear she has more guts in her little finger than most men of today. She won’t bow to threats. God I’m lucky she married me. But now my feelings on the occupy movement along with a few other things have changed.

I believe much of today’s consternation is from a lack of fundamentals in both personal, and business success. It has become so bastardized, and adulterated that even well-intentioned people have absolutely no clue or understanding of their own rehearsed diatribes. They’ll recite some personal mantra or some other popularly held viewpoint or philosophy with no true understanding of what they’re actually stating. Somethings has to change and I’m not waiting for anyone else to do it. I’m going to do it myself.

MarkStCyr.com will be changing in both style and delivery. I have had a few projects in the works but I have decided to scrap all including the release of my upcoming book. All speeches, writings, recordings, and other projects have been either halted or postponed for review and or rework. I will use the holiday season for retooling rather than just letting it pass into another photo album of holidays past. Inspired by my wife’s unshakeable dignity I decided I myself will take on the challenge of restoring sanity to the self-improvement and motivational genre. I plan on coming at this from a “no holds barred” mind-set. So trust me when I say “Things are about to change!” because they are.

I will still be posting articles over the holidays, this is just a note that the site will resemble holiday mode as of today.

Thanks to all, and buckle up. This is going to be one heck of another ride!

Mark

© 2011 Mark St.Cyr   All Rights Reserved

The Calender is now Marked! 11-11-11

This post is more of a public declaration for myself more than it is for you my readers, so please forgive the self-directed brevity of the post, but there is a reason for it.

I’m ticked off, and I’m sick and tired of a few things. And because of this I’ve decided to DO something about it. No, it has nothing to do with readers or people I speak to. It has everything to do with some frustration on my own part and things have come to a head. When things get me riled up for a little while it drives me both crazy, and gets me upset. However I have found throughout my life it is at these very places in time when I go through what I like to call “The Breakthrough Period.” I can point back at certain periods in time when this process seemingly comes out of nowhere. It usually gets triggered by some small incident, but then seemingly opens a door for a rush of absolute disgust with certain variables whether in business, personal life, or both. This is one of those moments.

I have posted this for all to see because I want to mark the calendar publicly. Usually this process when it occurs is for my own private measures. However this time it will be more on public display because it will be visible throughout my business dealings, and my writings.

I was storming around muttering to myself contemplating about things that I was going to do and change when I looked into the mirror and said to myself “Mark the Calender!”

Well with a date like 11-11-11. I figured there was no better way to mark it than to do it in public where it can be referenced back because at some point in time I truly think this date in my evolution will be a day to truly remember.

Stay tuned for details because everything is about to change, and for the better I promise you that!

Mark

© 2011 Mark St.Cyr   All Rights Reserved

 

Remembering a Sentimental “KISS” in Business

With the holidays fast approaching I was thinking about holidays past. Then something hit me I had nearly forgotten. It wasn’t past family memories or gatherings, rather it was a realization that one of my personal heroes Gene Simmons of the legendary band KISS has silently been vindicated in his thoughts, ideas, and execution of vision which resulted in a dramatic firing episode on the television show The Celebrity Apprentice back in 2008.

If one truly wants to see the difference between “brand execution” juxtaposed to “a race to the bottom” there isn’t a clearer example to see on television. Only with time passed can the results manifest and be calculated as to vindicate the winning argument. I believed then as I do now that Gene was correct and here’s some proof to ponder as one recalls past memories.

Gene’s argument was as he put it “A Kodak World.” The company Kodak® was pressing hard that the new ink it had created for printers at nearly half the cost of its competitors as the “key” to its business future. Gene was unabashed in his feelings and in his demonstrations that the brand Kodak was the important selling feature. It was what the company as a brand delivered to the customer. The brand delivered emotions. The ink was just a delivery vehicle for this moment in time, not the end all be all for the company. The CEO displayed he would have none of it. On all counts Gene and his team were rebuffed, refuted, and even made fun of because of the unshakeable determination Mr. Simmons gave in defense of his presentation for the  clients products.

As the boardroom drama went on during that episode I kept saying to my wife: “Love his idea or hate it, he’s stating why he did it and unapologetic for it.” My wife shrugged and said: “Only time will tell.” Her salient point is now in full view.

Since then a few major disruptions to the world of pictures has taken place. For one, who carries around pictures any longer since the advent of the iPhone®? Another fact that cannot be understated is the explosion of Facebook®. How many people do you know within your own inner circles post pictures by the bucket load onto their Facebook pages? I bet it’s exponential in comparison to those printing them on their home printer. Ink is absolutely worthless to just these two new platforms in the world of photography. However the brand Kodak is not only applicable to these platforms, its scalable in a way of creating more value to the customer experience. As for the savings of 50% on your ink, it’s what Seth Godin refers to as “the race to the bottom.” Ink is just the commodity side in the business of capturing memories. And if you want to be in the commodity business, there’s always someone who can do it cheaper. Last time I looked, a photo on Facebook or an iPhone is not only free, it’s ink less. Hard to sell something people no longer need or care about. However is it far-fetched to think that Kodak could be producing photo experiences across both these platforms if the “It’s a Kodak World” model had been embraced? Would there be a need for Flickr® if Kodak embraced that model? How much more relevant would the brand Kodak be today if it looked at ink as the commodity part of its business that it clearly was? What if it had embraced the idea that the “Kodak World” branding strategy was far more important and scalable in the new media? A way no commodity could ever match.

Since then a few holidays have gone past. The only memories that Kodak has had of late is to watch its valuation of market share since then dwindle over 90% to the verge of insolvency. The market share of companies that have latched onto the branding and the ink less models have watched their valuation increase exponentially.

This holiday season I raise my drink and cheer Mr. Simmons as I listen to that classic seasonal favorite: “Shout it Out Loud!”

Mark

© 2011 Mark St.Cyr   All Rights Reserved

Is the New “Shiny” way to Market Destined to Become Rusty?

Everyone wants to be part of the next big thing. People, companies, you name it, all want to hop on the new band wagons of marketing. The problem with most of these band wagons is although they maybe shiny and new, they can rust and tarnish just as fast as the older models. Let’s take Twitter® as my latest example:

Twitter® as of this writing is having a meteoric rise in its tweeting. 250 Million tweets per day was just announced. That’s up from 100 Million just months ago. Sounds fantastic right? But if you’re a marketer, or someone selling a product, and you ask my opinion I’ll say “So what. Sounds good if you’re Twitter®, but what does that mean to your bottom line?” In recent times anything I’ve said that makes someone question anything about social media or its metrics has been akin to heresy! However what does an exponential growth in the number of tweets mean? If you had said the increase in tweets was a result of an exponential number of new users, than a case could be made for its importance. If it’s just the same amount of users tweeting more to each other, or more marketers increasing the number of tweets they’re sending out, than all you have is a case for noise nothing more. And as anyone knows in marketing, the more noise you have, the more likely your fellow twits will tune out.

You might tend to think I’m off base. That somehow I just don’t get it. However, even people like Gary Vaynerchuk who are well-respected voices within this new phenom are themselves beginning to openly question the metrics. From my viewpoint as I’ve stated in previous articles or talks, chit chatting is one thing, but business is about selling products through various forms of advertising or word of mouth that before you authorize yourself to spend one nickel there must be metrics that are quantifiable and prove in black or red the R.O.I. Anything less is pie in the sky Unicorn metrics that once the hype is over, so is the bank balance.

Twitter® is currently a free service. But if that model changed tomorrow and you now had to pay for its use would you? And if your knee jerk reaction is “Of course!” then my next question is how much? Of course that’s a trick question for many because they aren’t using quantifiable metrics. As long as the service is free than anything it returns is a plus. Hence lies the quagmire. If you’re not counting your time, energy, or thought capital as part of your metric into your R.O.I. Then you had better not plan on buying that new Beemer with your dreams of riches. Only net profits from checks cashed, and cleared can do that.

I have no idea what a Unicorn costs, but I hear they never rust.

Mark

© 2011 Mark St.Cyr   All Rights Reserved