Wednesday, May 31, 2006

A Woolly Day

Today was a Woolly day as I met with the managing director for Woolly Mammoth Theatre in Washington, DC. I love the tagline… Defy Convention! Very fitting for this progressive stage, one of the best production companies in the area. My wife and I are season ticket subscribers, and couldn’t be happier. If you haven’t experienced Woolly yet, check out “The Faculty Room” starting on June 5th.

So, as part of my activities I always work with two non-profits per year on a reduced cost or pro bono basis. Why? Because, it’s important to invest in the community. This is good corporate citizenship, doing the right thing.

There are by-products of good corporate citizenship. Doing the right thing also enables a company to develop a halo effect, which benefits its brand. Here is an Al Ries (co-authored the classic marketing book, “Positioning” with Jack Trout) article on Halo Effect marketing.

This year one of my recipients is Woolly Mammoth. One of the activities I will be promoting is the 2006-7 launch of Club Woolly, a special patron group, primarily in their twenties and thirties. Benefits include special events, discounts, backstage activities news and tidbits, and more. Sounds like a good deal to me.

On the promotion front, I am speaking at the Washington Independent Writer’s Conference on Saturday, June 10th. The topic is making money and developing personal wealth from writing. Save This Page

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Top Feature on DC Blogs

Diary of an Ad Man is the top featured blog on DC Blogs today! Save This Page

Monday, May 29, 2006

Strategic Glimpses

Things have been very successful to date, partly because of experience, part strategy, part extraordinary effort working both ends of the metaphorical candle, and perhaps the largest part goodwill and relationships developed over the years (thank you to everyone who has helped me). The results have been phenomenal, creating a good beginning. Start-ups are a marathon, not a race.

While I am reticent to reveal full strategy, here are some glimpses. If you are willing to do the work and read these materials referenced, apply years of learning and effort, then you deserve the knowledge.

Experience: Dating back to my days at CommunicationsNOW, this is my 5th start-up, albeit the first-one at the helm. There have been a lot of examples of what to do, and what not to do, and the resulting blend of knowledge allows me to execute tactics with confidence. Now rather than offering suggestions on how to grow a business, I can simply apply and execute my methods.

Strategy: For a long time I thought my MA degree from Georgetown University’s Communications, Culture and Technology program had yielded a nice feather in the cap, and some application to the business world. Now I am seeing a full application to business, particularly with my Masters thesis, which centered around Diffusion of Innovation theory as applied to wireless Internet technologies.

Applied to my agency, Diffusion theory recognizes that initial clients are in the innovator and early adoption phase. I am systematically reducing their risks by dramatically undercutting my competition’s pricing (see Chinese telecom equipment manufacturer Huawei for a great example of this strategy), and by offering trial periods. With strong fulfillment, they are converting to long-term clients.

Hard work is self evident, and relationships go back through time. Of the five clients, the youngest relationship for the referring party is two and a half years. Today’s existing strong leads are referral and reputation-based with the exception of one, which came through one of my outreach mechanisms.

For most, this will be Tuesday, but it’s still the first day of the week. Here are some positive quotes to get you going.

“Dignity consists not in possessing honors, but in the consciousness that we deserve them.”

“One’s dignity may be assaulted, vandalized and cruelly mocked, but cannot be taken away unless it is surrendered.”
- Michael J. Fox, in “Saving Milly” by Morgan Kondrake

“Daring ideas are like chessmen moved forward. They may be beaten, but they may start a winning game.”
-Goethe Save This Page

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Networking, an Essential Business Tool

I had the pleasure of having lunch with the first person to get me involved in networking organizations, beginning with the Northern Virginia Technology Council. It was 1999, seven years ago, and man, how much has my life changed. So has my friend Ann’s. What a big heart and good soul this person has, and I only now realize the great favor she paid me by getting my clueless late-twenties self involved in networking. It was a pleasure to thank her for that.

Networking remains a critical business activity for me. I have four organizations that my company has become associated with. From networking, the entire business reputation, relationships and development occurs.

My personal philosophy with networking is that you go to help other people out, and with that attitude you make some good contacts. When I fail to have that attitude, and pursue new biz contacts solely, it’s usually not a productive use of my time. For another point of view, check out this PR firm owner’s thoughts on networking.

Note this fellow is an entrepreneur, too. One thing I’ve noticed about being an entrepreneur is that you become fascinated with other successful entrepreneurs and how they did it. Here is a great Business 2.0 article on how five entrepreneurs moved from the cubicle to their own corner office.

Two of my three initial projects are converting into larger, long-term deals and my fifth client has told me to make suggestions on expanding scope of work. There is more hovering. Passed my 1000th unique visit from more than 280 hosts on my website this past week, and I'm averaging 700 blog visits a month. Pretty good for the new launch of a company, and it’s obvious to me that there’s much to be thankful for this weekend.

It’s wedding season! I have friends’ whose daughter is getting married this weekend, plus my cousin’s wedding is coming in a few weeks. A big congratulations to All who have recently or are about to engage in nuptials. It’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made, and I hope your marriages are outstanding, too. Save This Page

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Twelve Rules for Building My Business

It’s funny how some people will try to build a business. They may or may not have a vision, and they can want it so bad that they will do anything to get there, including engaging in unscrupulous activities.

For me, it’s important to have the rules of engagement clearly defined. Here are the twelve rules that I am using to guide my new business’s activities:

1) Go home everyday and look my family, friends, and other that I respect in the eyes with a clear conscience. The well-being of my soul comes before building my business.

2) Do not represent companies that engage in unethical activities. That is why I started my company, and why it has a very specific mission statement centered on principles.

3) Try every day to give more than I get. The reality is no one is coming to my grave because of financial windfalls or the company I am developing. They will come because I made a difference in their lives. A measure of a man is not how big his bank account is, but how many people show up at his funeral.

4) Culture: My culture will support people and promotions for merit-based, honest hard work. In every agency I’ve worked in, there has always been a political player(s) who seeks power by climbing over others, brown-nosing or worse, taking credit for someone else’s work, or twisting facts to their favor. Such people will not be welcome in my company. Period.

5) Be the best, not the biggest. This is where customer value is created. Team training, education and a corporate commitment to learning the latest trends and best practices are the foundation of success. The vision is to be the very best practitioners possible, not the biggest agency on the block. If that means capping out at 15-20 people, so be it.

6) Understand that others won’t play by the rules: My rules are not the market’s rules, as there are black characters (see April entry on Scarpias and Iagos, that simply defy ethics and logic. They will even fabricate lies to tear down their so called friends and competitors. However, these players should not affect the way business is conducted, even if they try to directly and negatively impact my efforts. To paraphrase Marcus Aurelieus in his Meditations: “The best vengeance is to not become like the man who offends.” How true. But at the same time, I will not knowingly enable these characters by giving them my business or support.

7) Lucky number seven: Have fun. Play hooky one afternoon a month no matter what.

8) Make mistakes, get up the next day and try again. With honest assessments, mistakes are the cornerstone of growth and development, and all people make them.

9) Don’t look to others for approval. New ventures are new for a reason, and success is in the eyes of the beholder. What people say or think about me is none of my business, except those that I am directly serving in some capacity. Also, that means when people are trying to give me grief, I’m not taking.

10) Never win a battle to lose the war. Don’t let greed or ego drive business decisions. Fast, rash decisions based on unscrupulous desires often lead to the corruption of more than just a singular business transaction. There are always ramifications to taking the short road. I once knew someone who said it was OK to lie to people so long as the parties heard what they wanted. Are you kidding me? In my book, it’s simply easier and better to do the right thing, even if it means walking away from a deal that most would take. If compromising ethics is the price of winning, then the battle is not worth the fight. Financial rewards can always be found elsewhere.

11) Pass it on. Find people to give your knowledge to… In fact, this is one of the reasons I write this blog. I can’t keep what was so freely given to me.

12) Remain humble: There is always someone sharper and better than me. If I know most everything there is to know about a profession or running a business, then it’s time to hang ’em up. I’ve successfully self-selected myself as past my prime, and should retire.

This blog entry marks the beginning of my second month of business. Month two begins with a healthy first month’s profit, five clients, a growing new business pipe, and several 1099 players that can evolve into bigger relationships.

Life is good, but it is not a time to rest on my laurels. The next month’s activities are critical, as June tends to be a hyperactive business month going into the summer.

This holiday weekend will see some R&R. It’s a brief respite, a time to have some fun. Have a great memorial day weekend! Save This Page

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Which Car Are You?

How many times have I been in branding meetings and inevitably people start to use cars in an effort to convey the brand assets. The idea is to select a car that the company is most aligned to from a messaging perspective.

Note: No ever says, "You know, my company is the PT Cruiser of telecom equipment," or "We're the Pontiac Bonneville of government integrators." Right. No, it's always, "BMW" or "Mercedes." Well marketing fans, finally you no longer have to go through this excercise, instead you can refer your bosses and clients to the "Which Sports Car Are You?" test site.

To practice what I preach, I decided to try out my company. Check this out:

I'm a Lamborghini Murcielago!

"You're not subtle, but you don't want to be. Fast, loud, and dramatic, you want people to notice you, and then get out of the way. In a world full of sheep, you're a raging bull."

Caitlin, the sales manager says, "Yeah, that's you alright." Now that I know my true Lamborghini self, I can raise my rates!

Go ahead and take the Which Sports Car Are You? quiz. Save This Page

Knowledge Yields the Best Returns

Here’s the Monday morning blog, posted a little early due to an a.m. meeting tomorrow in DC. Recently, I had the opportunity to learn a little about Ben Franklin, one of the country’s most well-liked, important men, an industrious fellow who is considered by many people to be America’s foremost contributor to the world’s philosophic community.

What does Ben Franklin have to do with starting a communications agency? Well, first of all he was a great communicator, and understood how to compel people to concur with his line of thinking. But more importantly, Ben Franklin was a serial entrepreneur (postal system, Poor Richard's, firehouse, electricity, United States of America, etc.) who understood the true benefits of working for one’s self. Consider the following Ben Franklin quote:

To be thrown upon one's own resources, is to be cast into the very lap of fortune; for our faculties then undergo a development and display an energy of which they were previously unsusceptible.

Ben Franklin got it. That’s why he still continues to be at the forefront of the American mind. Just visit Google and type in Ben Franklin. If you have not read his autobiography (, you are missing a treat.

This week will be interesting. On the agenda, a couple of new projects to begin working on, plus a couple of new business meetings, and of course shuttling through existing projects for clients 1-3. I suspect things will slow down greatly come Friday, due to the Memorial Day weekend, often a four-day affair for many folks.

Another infrastructure update, tomorrow I will sign a contract for a virtual office program. The office is right across from the King Street metro with an incredible view of the Masonic temple in Alexandria. The virtual program enables me to use the conference room, as well as the offices on an as needed basis. Things are progressing so fast that this allows me an interim solution until I sort out long-term revenues and when to move into permanent offices.

As promised, here are a couple of positive thoughts going into the week, from today’s primary source of discussion, Ben Franklin:

Write injuries in dust, benefits in marble.

An investment in knowledge still yields the best returns. Save This Page

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Caitlin, the Sales Manager

Took a break last night from the weekly activities to have dinner with my wife, Caitlin. Of all the interests and hobbies that the start-up has required me to put on pause, my relationship with her is the one that I refuse to sacrifice. Simply put, she comes first.

If you don’t have your spouse on board and you are thinking about starting a company, stop! Get spousal support immediately, or don’t do it. I can’t imagine not having Caitlin’s support. As we have moved forward over the past two months from my March 18th epiphany and commitment to now, she has been an integral pillar in the whole affair.

Caitlin has as much at stake as me, and failure to recognize that would be extremely self-centered. There are serious life repercussions resulting from starting a company. Here’s a quote from Phaedra Hise’s Confessions of an Entrepreneur’s Wife (

“When I think about those start-up days, I realize I've given up far more than I had planned. Years of writing, of books and magazine articles I could have published. I lost a friendship, an airplane, a lot of money. I sacrificed years of socializing that could have sparked new friendships. I lament the toll on Bill's health, and Lily had no choice in giving up precious years with her father.”

Believe me when I say that 2006 sacrifices like this are no problem, but eventually the pendulum must swing back. That’s why growing enough to bring another senior team member on board is critical… This company must become more than me.

My research yields that part of being a successful entrepreneur is being accountable to someone. I do have a an entrepreneur buddy that I have three calls a week with to make sure weekly activities are progressing, but ultimately we have agreed that until things get further along Caitlin is in the sales manager role. On Saturday’s she gets the pipeline report. And, oh yeah, we do have a couple of major purchases in mind for when the company is firmly established. The first one is Caitlin’s choice, a reward for her patience and support, which she has given so freely. Thank you for believing in me, Caitlin.

OK, back to business. We have an accountant, and that is good! Everything else seems to be status quo, new business is progressing (client/project #5 in today), though summer is coming, and Washington tends to shut down during the dog days…

Confession: My favorite part of marketing this new entity is writing the blog entries. One of my hobbies is writing short stories and novels, and this activity has been a satisfying replacement. Save This Page

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Some Hire Public Relations Officers

We are close to landing a cover story in BusinessWeek for a client. Proof’s in the pudding, but if that happens… Wow, one for the framer! I did not pitch the reporter directly, though I did write the pitch. It would be the second major cover story in nine months for which I wrote the publicist’s angle. The secret? Easy, write a trend pitch, then customize the pitch specifically to the publication’s mission.

Mailed an invoice to customer #4 today. Who would have thought this was possible in the first month?

QuickBooks is not my friend. I cannot wait to get an accountant on board. It should happen this week. Whew, thank god, I can go back to being marketing executive again. One thing you must grasp as a start-up entrepreneur is what you can and cannot do without the help of others.

A couple of quotes that advocate communications, starting with a play on the Shakespeare quote from yesterday:

“Some people are born great, some achieve greatness, some hire public relations officers.”
- Daniel Boorstin, Historian (

“Many a small thing has been made large by the right kind of advertising.”
Mark Twain, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court

Saw another great B2B blog today: Susan Harrow’s Publicity Blog ( It’s consumer PR-focused and a very interesting approach to building subject matter expertise. Save This Page

Monday, May 15, 2006

Thank You for Smoking, Machiavelli

If you are a marketing or PR professional and you have not seen “Thank You for Smoking (, then buy your tickets ASAP. This movie is to marketing what Glenngary Glen Ross is to sales professionals, minus the pan-ultimate Alec Baldwin scene.

Really, Smoking has many tips, strategies and tactics to glean from its script, and I definitely plan on buying it on DVD. I loved the chocolate versus vanilla ice cream scene, which reminded me of one of my clients’ activities, as well as the way I view competing with some agencies out there.

What the movie did not necessarily take on was the ethical use of PR and marketing powers. Promoting tobacco, one of the big ugly three (the others being alcohol and firearms), is written off as a way to pay the mortgage. This seems like an easy way out of the moral dilemma caused by representing the big three members, and even some other companies like Wal-Mart, McDonalds, Exxon-Mobile (and other big oil cos) or Haliburton. As none of them are pounding down my door throwing money at me, this is only a hypothetical issue, but I’d still have to say that my answer would be no thank you.

I ran into a member of the old guard last week, someone who seemed resistant to the launch of my new agency. It reminded me of an old Machiavelli ( quote that someone recently shared with me:

There is nothing more difficult to carry out, nor more doubtful of success nor dangerous to handle, than to initiate a new order of things. For the reformer has enemies in all those who profit by the old order, and only lukewarm defenders in all those who would profit by the new order, this lukewarmness arising partly from fear of their adversaries, who have the laws in their favor, and partly from the incredulity of mankind, who does not truly believe in anything new until they have had actual experience of it.”

Though I am not the biggest fan of Machiavellian pursuits, this quote seems very true to me. Whether it’s my company or a product that a client is launching, the market is always skeptical of “newness” until credibility and results are achieved. That’s why success requires good, strong products, and courage to weather the initial launch of such efforts.

In the end, the marketplace is always the great equalizer of such debates. Given what I’ve seen already in the three weeks since I launched (especially after building my first pipeline report on Saturday), things look very positive indeed.

The results to date on my three accounts are strong, so fulfillment is exceeding promise. Also consider that I have a fourth very small project this week. The key is focusing on helping these people meet their business objectives, and the rest will take care of itself.

As Mondays are tough going for many folks, I’ve decided to make a regular Monday morning blog feature of a positive, departing thought. So here is the first one, a Shakespeare quote (

"Be not afraid of greatness: some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon 'em."

--From Twelfth Night (II, v, 156-159) Save This Page

Friday, May 12, 2006

Dale Carnegie's Paradox

A quick thanks to a couple of media outlets that mentioned the blog this week:

The Amtower Report, May 8 edition:, for a candid view of all that is B2G

DC Blogs:, a great central repository for all blogs DC

Took last night off and rested for the most part. Felt like the rest was needed in order to focus on the people I am meeting with, their needs, etc., and see what can be done to help them in their various situations.

This week I’ve been listening to the first half of Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People, It’s the basis of my sales training five years ago and a cornerstone of the company’s mission, and listening to it reminds me of many little nuances to human relationships that I let slip. Staying in a learning environment, whether it’s reading, listening to other people, or taking training courses is so important. If I had to summarize: Get out of yourself and your self-based wants, and get into others' needs.

The funny thing about Dale Carnegie is that practicing the principles makes me happier. By helping and thinking of others, I feel better… a divine paradox. So in theory it’s really simple, just be as useful to others as possible without any self-based motives.

Quick growth and infrastructure updates: One of the two leads I had verbally closed decided to pull out for PR, but wants my help for BD, which is something that extends beyond the scope and mission of the company. I will try to help this entity out and provide them some leads, but from a work standpoint, this has to be passed on... Focus, focus, focus. Also on the BD front, a couple of new leads this week, and the RFP looks like it is in great shape. The agency that referred the lead to me will layout the RFP on Wednesday next week, and it goes out to the Fortune 100 next Friday. We should definitely be invited to the next round.

My very wise board of advisors has recommended I don’t hire until a major deal comes in, something I wholeheartedly agree with. 1099s will do until that point. Ditto for any other major purchase. Got to keep the burn rate low. Lastly, finally getting somewhere with the accountant activities. Next week I am interviewing three vendors.

I won't blog again until Monday, so have a great weekend. Save This Page

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Midnight Oil

Midnight is upon us, and I am still at the work station kicking out deliverables. The RFP is in good shape, and the PPT got turned around in time for a 9 a.m. investor meeting. I feel like I can breathe again.

Start-up trend: Funny how people will say to you, “Man, that’s a big risk,” and then wish you luck, and hope you succeed. The polite thing to say is thank you, and I do just that. But the implication is that you may fail, and I just don’t get it. To me, success is not questionable, it’s definite. I feel it in my gut, a spiritual surety. So when I hear these things, I almost stare blankly at them, like a computer that’s fed an algorithm that's broken and jams the machine.

I just believe. If I didn’t believe, I could not take the leap of faith. I had been stewing on starting-up for more than a year, but finally events after a two week vacation this winter just spurred me on. It became obvious to me that this was the path. The morning of March 18th I became sure, and there was no uncertainty, only conviction and dedication.

Religion is not my thing. All religions are right; it seems that they say the same things in different words, but the strife they are involved in leaves me without taste for it. Because I have faith in this Zen like order of things, success is a result of executing life effectively and diligently. For you Westerners, “Faith without Works is Dead.” Well I work, and I believe, and I am focused. So in my mind and in my heart, success will follow. And because I believe, I am able to do this at midnight, and be happy about it.

Well, I have to wake up at 6 and go networking. Since I paid $35 for the event and I am on a start-up budget, you better believe that I will be there. So good night. Save This Page

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

He Forgot the M

Sometimes pulling aside in the middle of the day to write a blog entry represents a titanic effort, but at the same time those entries can be the most valuable because they show the mad throes of a start up. Today, I’ve already networked for new business, made an hour plus of media calls for my telecom client. With all of us pushing we have four new appointments to present to them today from past day and a half.

At 12, I will leave and hit the bank and deposit revenue on the way to client number two. There we will review the MAVA PPT draft. I think this will really help the client achieve their objectives at MAVA, and garner some interest, and am excited to meet with these folks. Now it is time to refine the PPT.

After client number two, I go to what I hope is a solidifying meeting for a new business prospect. Client number three is approving the creative brief, and is on pause today.

From the new business meeting, I will go to the gym. The gym is needed for stress relief, and I haven’t been in a while. Finally, home in the evening, answer burning issues, email and spend some time with my wife. Oh yeah, then there is this major RFP for a Fortune 100 pitch that needs to be written. The first draft is due to partnering cos. on Thursday. Break out the midnight oil ladies and gentlemen.

No pressure. Yes, a start-up is madness. But it is also exhilarating. The freedom, the opportunity, and the ability to really help out people that you like are all incredibly empowering aspects of a start-up. At the same time the success is humbling. I look at what I just wrote, and I can’t believe this is really happening. But it is, and I am grateful for the chances I have been given, and the people that have helped me get here. Save This Page

Sunday, May 07, 2006

How to Entice a Venture Capitalist

Today’s a working day, and in the true sense… fulfilling some of my contract work. I spent the early morning hours executing an anonymous bulletin board and comment campaign to generate some positive buzz for my telecom client. Then I bought Act! 2006 and upgraded my system, and performed some other office maintenance activities.

Now its time to work on a PowerPoint for my client that will be speaking at the MAVA conference this May. The MAVA PowerPoint represents a strategic messaging engagement, and in this particular case is a little tricky.

The client’s primary customer base is currently B2G. They want to leverage the research conducted for the government, and sell a revamped service to the commercial marketplace. However, to do that the client needs venture capital. Enter one MAVA conference and the need for a PowerPoint presentation with an 8 minute cap. Oh yes, there will be 40 of these PowerPoints over two days so if yours isn’t engaging and extremely well written, then it’s time to look for some more angel funding.

The trick to this, like any marketing engagement, is to think of the audience and what their needs are. In this case, venture capitalists that range in age from 40-65, are male, conservative (as all financial types are), but with a twist. VC always think they are rebels, the outlaws of the financial industry, so there needs to be a touch of hipness (sort of) to the effort, a la Red Herring magazine.

What a VC Wants, what a VC needs: 1) Opportunity with potential market (this is the hockey stick that all venture-backed companies offer for a sales curve... it makes a bell curve look like a flat line), 2) Road to ROI, 3) Proof points (clients to date, management team, financials, and 4) Reiteration of road to ROI. Eight minutes up, and three to four meetings with new VC prospects.

The key with this particular instance is to focus on the commercial, not the B2G work. VC hate B2G companies. In their mind it’s not profitable, and has very low return on investment. A five percent profit and ROI is terrible in their mind. Again, think hockey stick. So we will focus on a vertical that shows promise, and just mention that we already have some serious B2G monies in house.

I think this PPT will be very successful. We are using some video to provide a visual example of how the product works, with a pretty strong flash programmer. Onward and forward. Save This Page

Friday, May 05, 2006

A Week Ends

So another week has ended, and things continue their bullish trend. Clients four and five are very close, in fact they are already orally asking or committed, so I think within the next five to eight business days things should be solidified.

Starting to interview pretty heavily now. If a couple of these deals turn into long-term opportunities, fulfillment will begin to be an issue. At the same time, revenue is starting to come in, and I’ve got a couple members of my board of advisors helping me out, which is greatly appreciated. Past experience tells me my hiring skills are questionable as I have those very excitable characteristics of a sales person, and I can easily be swayed. This is where relying on others really matters as hiring is a mission critical function in the services business.

Next week is a big RFP week, and I am actually starting on that this weekend. Also, I have to do some Internet PR as well as write a MAVA PowerPoint for one of my clients. So Sunday will be the beginning of next week for me.

I try to take one day off a week – usually Saturday – just for recharging and sanity purposes. But make no question about it, starting a company requires heavy hours. It’s not for the weak of heart. An 11 or 12 hour day is light, and feels like you are cheating yourself of the effort needed to be successful.

Well, I think I am going to cheat myself today. It’s Friday and 11 hours into it at that. Time for some R&R. Save This Page

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Self Selection

There seem to be many temptations as an executive to get involved in things that do not directly correlate with your business. Since the word got out that I started my own company, I’ve turned down two job inquiries, one prospective client who wanted me to perform BD functions on their behalf, and a prospective partner who wanted to limit the scope of my company while they pursued parts of my mission as well as BD.

First, it’s always very kind to be considered for any opportunity. At the same time it comes back to mission and focus. Livingston Communications’ mission is its own, not some other company or person’s vision. We are a full-service communications company serving companies in the B2G and tech/telecom segments as well as select consumer opportunities.

As such, it’s important not please people for the sake of making them happy. Bill Cosby used to say, “I don’t know what the key to happiness is, but I know what it isn’t; trying to please everyone.” If it makes good business sense then it is worth entertaining. Otherwise, it’s best to part ways or work on a more confederate basis. I find myself trusting that little voice in my heart more and more often.

Another thing that’s helpful in these matters is the principle of self selection. I had a meeting with a partner that I am trying to engage with, and my conversation with the lead executive revealed a golden nugget. She said, “People often self select themselves right out of deals.” I love that!!!!! It’s so true.

Watch people, watch their actions -- not their words -- and you can often tell whether or not they are the right client, partner or employer for you. They self select. If there is an issue, do they compromise? If there is a waiter or a bell hop, how do they treat these people; as a superior or as another human being trying to make a living? Do they whisper sweet nothings, then try to seize control of your accounts or fail to produce the results they promise? Are they respectful of deal flow, do they give as well as take? Do they give people credit for their words and ideas or claim them as their own? Do they muscle you for extra work, squeezing your margins so you are unprofitable or that you burn-out? All things I use to decide whether or not to move forward with someone.

It’s amazing how many more decisions like this I have had to make in the past two weeks then ever before. And it has been critical to seek other people’s advice in these matters. But don’t trust anyone, make sure the people you ask advice from are 1) successful and 2) have the kind of ethics you want to emulate.

It’s Thursday at 7:30 a.m. Another day begins.

Author's Note: Blogging in business requires general comments, and I apologize for not citing more specific situations. For legal reasons, as well as the sure knowledge that my competitors read this blog, citing specific clients, partner names and some situations is impossible. Save This Page

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Third's the Charm

Client number three is on board. I am sending the first invoice tonight. This one is a consumer web site, with the lead generated from the launch of my own site. I did the new business call in NYC on Friday with my designer.

What can you say? New York creative works better! Seriously, there are plenty of great designers in DC, but telling people that you outsource to New York because that’s where the best creative minds are located is a really strong selling point. In the past year, my designer has worked on Liz Claiborne, ESPN, Sharp and Corvette. That’s hard to beat.

Now between the three clients, I have a PR account, a marketing strategy account, and a design account. This is the kind of balance I want to achieve with the new business.

The team decided to bail on that large lead I mentioned last week. It became apparent that we were just getting a courtesy call, that it was a no-win situation. As Kenny Rogers sang, you have to know when to hold them, and know when to fold them. That's OK, there are more irons in the fire.

Checking out office space tomorrow. It’s my goal to have offices by Labor Day. Not much else is going on, just keeping the faith, and plugging away, hour after hour, task by task, pitch by pitch. Save This Page