Sunday, February 18, 2007

Drucker on Leadership

I read a recent story from Peter Drucker on key elements of leadership. One of the five components he said was absolutely necessary for success was a system of performance reviews, "Performance review must be honest, exacting, and integral part of the job."

This is a common theme in the Dale Carnegie reading, and class. Accountability is the key element that must be instilled upon employees. Unfortunately, this is not something I am very acquainted with. I can't remember a company I worked at that really had serious performance reviews. And I abhor red tape.

But now I really realize the importance of establishing these accountability measures, and so the company must create mechanisms for successful development, for the progress of all. So we will have clear job performance measures, monthly team meetings where we meet to discuss what the company is doing right and what we want to do better, and semi-annual check-ins on progress. Nothing in these check-ins should be a surprise.

Also, we're implementing our time sheet program in the next month (ah yes, the dreaded agency time-sheets). This is to measure billable hours. Usage rate should be in the 80-85 percent range.

I don't have to have those rates when I do my sheets, but that's because I work a lot of extra hours. But I also have an equity stake. It's different for partners. A straight employee with no equity stake will not work more than a 40-45 hour week unless there's extra incentive. And so you want to make them effective hours.

Ton of work on the plate today and tomorrow. So much for a long holiday weekend. It will be good when we're back up to speed. We wrap up round 1 of interviews tomorrow, and move to round 2. Per the Carnegie class, the interview process has gotten much deeper to ensure the right candidate is found.

Since Peter Drucker was such a well respected business leader, Monday's quotes are all from him:

"Effective leadership is not about making speeches or being liked; leadership is defined by results not attributes."

“No institution can possibly survive if it needs geniuses or supermen to manage it. It must be organized in such a way as to be able to get along under a leadership composed of average human beings.”

“Leadership is not magnetic personality/that can just as well be a glib tongue. It is not making friends and influencing people /that is flattery. Leadership is lifting a person's vision to higher sights, the raising of a person's performance to a higher standard, the building of a personality beyond its normal limitations.” Save This Page

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Client Relations

As I am writing and codifying suggestions for client relations, I figured it's be a good thing to throw out on the blog. After all, if my competitors steal it, who benefits? The profession as a whole. Plus, I may get some good feedback.

Here are some of the concepts I am playing with:

Client Relations

One definition of service according to Webster’s is a) an act giving assistance or advantage to another is the b) the result of this benefit... an advantage. This is an ideal that we are striving to achieve as a company. Though we may not always meet these suggestions, they are a worthy goal. As such, when we cannot meet them, we will get up and try again. Here are some suggestions for execution of customer service:

* Be as friendly as possible. If external circumstances make us less than friendly, be cognizant of it, and be as professional as possible.
* Communicate. Check in calls and emails are a great way to maintain a strong relationship. Call once in a while just to say hi.
* Status reports once a week are optimal for large clients, and reports for implementations such as blogs are also necessary. Coverage reports after each public relations campaign are important, too.
* Go the extra mile to make things self explanatory. A client should not receive deliverables that require extensive explanations in order to comprehend them.
* If the client is going in a different direction than we’d like, make a suggestion with full reasoning behind it. Don’t just say yes, we’re paid for our professional opinion.
* If the client still prefers their direction, agree and execute to our fullest capability and do so with enthusiasm. It’s their business. Our job is to help them, not be right.
* Own mistakes, take measures to correct them and make prompt amends wherever necessary. A client needs to know about mistakes that can hurt their business.
* If deadlines are tight, go out of your way to inform the client. Try to give them 48 hours to approve something wherever possible.
* Don’t sell the client something that won’t benefit them. It’s better to acknowledge a good idea, but inform them the results may not be that great and their money would be better spent elsewhere.
* If a client needs something we cannot deliver, or if we are not the right company for them, let them know and find another service provider that can help them. Try to connect them to an answer.

There are more, but these represent the foundation of my thoughts. Save This Page

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Mobile Social Networks

I'm sitting in Barnes and Noble, waiting out the rain storm before a 4 p.m. meeting. Between the funeral and the weather, today was pretty much a shot day.

First night of Dale Carneie was great. I loved it, lot's on creating processes, and guidelines so that there are roadmaps to success. It was also interesting to see that the approach is to create clear rules of engagement, then build relationships with employees. At the same time it was very GEesque, measuring people's performance in several ways, and cutting people that don't work out.

I definitely need to build-out more processes, and the employee handbook. I have already written ethics, as well as guidelines for client relations. Next up, suggestions for PR. Also, I am going to get much more rigorous on the front-end side with some interviewing techniques. It's all about finding the right people.

elance is an interesting tool that I've been tapping into as of late. Very useful. It just go to show you how powerful these social networks really are. We are on the cusp of many changes in marketing, with only the tip of the iceberg currently visible. One must think that mobile social networks will be even more important globally as most folks lack the computing power that we in the U.S. take for granted... I did my graduate thesis at Georgetown on mobile Internet technologies, and am fascinated by the topic.

In that vein, today's round up of blogs includes social networking booming in the mobile phone world. This week's 3GSM show featured mobile social networks galore. Of particular note is Cerkle, a new network that does not require software downloads, says Techsape.

Open Gardens has an interesting dialogue on .mobi and Darwinism in the mobile social networking world.

PrairieLaw highlights the inevitable appearance of dreaded lawyer blogs. God, now you know corporate blogging has gone mainstream. Save This Page

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Refocusing on Strengths

A very refreshing weekend. Ready to put my A game back on.

One thing about being in biz for a little while, you learn what you're good at, and what you're not so good at. Events over the past couple of weeks have made me decide to pull the plug on our design and advertising business. Two bad implementations -- and our only two bad implementations -- have convinced me that 1) we're not good enough, and 2) getting good enough is not worth investing in.

We want a strong reputation for excellence. This is what being in business, or at least why I went into business is all about. Mediocrity doesn't cut it. Do what you're good at, and leave the rest. Therefore, we'll be focusing strictly on marketing strategy, PR and social networking. We can be comfortably successful here.

The positioning on our web site as been moving towards this anyway, but now we'll pursue without trepidation. Our staff will be built towards a PR, blogging and writing orientation. Additionally, we'll be rolling out new positioning and a new web site at some point in 2Q.

I've got some design partners working on what's left on the table to ensure the right results. From here on in, I expect that we'll just refer folks in or bring them into the deal. Regardless, we won't get too close to the design & advertising part of the business.

Lot's of meetings to re-up for the next round of work are coming. Plus a funeral on Tuesday a.m. My Uncle Bernie Passman passed away, which is a bummer. He touched many, many people in his personal life, and through his stores throughout the world. It'll be interesting to see what our supposed snow event will do to the work week.

Here are Monday's quotes:

* "You got to know when to hold em, know when to fold em," Kenny Rogers.
* "To solve the problems of today, we must focus on tomorrow," Erik Nupponen.
* "Focus on remedies, not faults," Jack Nicklaus. Save This Page

Friday, February 09, 2007

Limo Blog + R&R

No work this weekend. It's time for some serious R&R and battery re-charging. Next week will be crazy.

A client of mine OK'd blog discussion by name, so look out for the Reston Limo blog coming soon. We agreed on content, mission, and format. I think this will be pretty hot, a new type of DC blog (perhaps Greater Washington blog is the right terminology) that will look at an issue that touches every single one of us every day.

Looking at PHP template, which will be pretty robust. More to be revealed later. Onward to a weekend of relaxation. Save This Page

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Hard Lessons

Very hard lesson today. Can't speak about it, can only say that it hurt physically, spiritually, emotionally. My stomach had so much acid I thought I was going to see a hole appear in my gut.

All I can say is my lesson is not put people in places where they cannot succeed. Capability and ego are often two different things, but rarely can a person see their own shortcomings. Instead it is much easier to blame someone else entirely. A very basic Dale Carnegie lesson I learned a long time ago. And now I have received an unwanted refresher. I guess that's as good a place as any to begin my Dale Carnegie leadership training next week.

Here are the customary links for you from the blogosphere:

Mommy Life discusses the Snickers ad departure (thanks to gay rights groups) from a different perspective. Regardless, one must assume Snickers got a ton of buzz from ths, and is now an edgy chocolate bar... Yeah.

A local ad agency, White and Partners just launched their blog, the Blah Blah Blah blog. The name is supposed to be a tongue in cheek swipe at talking heads blogs. Note my picture to the right. Whoops. This blog is very good, and has some flavor to it. I like how the whole agency is team blogging, giving you a wide variety of perspectives.

Escape from Cubicle Nation talks about needing to have a beginner's mindset when it comes to starting your own business. Forget the past, start again. Save This Page

Sunday, February 04, 2007

The Best Super Bowl Ads

If you are looking for the usual Monday quotes, click here. It had a write up of the new 94.7, the Globe's positioning. Here's a summary of what my favorite Super Bowl Ads, which can all be found at CBS Sportsline.

* Chevy HHR college generated as was outstanding
* Coke: Grand Theft Auto, Old man gets a tattoo
* Doritos User generated ads were all good, but Cheesy was the best.
* Emerald haunted by Robert Goulet
* Bud Light’s Fist Bumps are dead, Face Slapping is in
* Snickers Love Boat
* Orange County Choppers ad from HP

Clearly some big agency ads worked, but the user generated You Tube-esque ads were all very good, too. It just goes to show you, per the Blah, Blah, Blah blog, if you take the committee out of creative, you get something interested. Maybe this will take the conservative, boring nature out of advertising, maybe just a little. All in all, a fun experience watching. See Ad Rants for additional write ups. Save This Page

The Best Super Bowl Ads

If you are looking for the usual Monday quotes, click here. It had a write up of the new 94.7, the Globe's positioning. Here's a summary of what my favorite Super Bowl Ads, which can all be found at CBS Sportsline.

Chevy HHR college generated as was outstanding

Coke: Grand Theft Auto, Old man gets a tattoo

Doritos User generated ads were all good, but Cheesy was the best.

Emerald haunted by Robert Goulet

Bud Light’s Fist Bumps are dead, Face Slapping is in

Snickers Love Boat

Orange County Choppers ad from HP

Clearly some big agency ads worked, but the user generated You Tube-esque ads were all very good, too. It just goes to show you, per the Blah, Blah, Blah blog, if you take the committee out of creative, you get something interested. Maybe this will take the conservative, boring nature out of advertising, maybe just a little. All in all, a fun experience watching. Save This Page

12, the Last Round: NFL Gets It

Hannibal Rising was lame. Make it go away. CareerBuilder's parody of hell at work was still metza metza. Still the point was well taken.

The green Honda ad was uninspiring. Go Daddy rerun was worse round II. EGCG anti-oxidant green tea was pretty funny. The winner of the make your own ad for the NFL was an end of the year number, pretty good. Save This Page

Rnd. 11: Orange County Choppers

Rex Grossman will be the goat of the game after those two interceptions. Wow, Indianapolis's defense. And would you want to be Rex Grossman living in Chicago? Shades of Bartman?

Orange County choppers by HP was actually pretty good. Izod recycled the sporting goods ad, which was pretty food. Budweiser Black with the Never Say Never Again hand video game was OK, but not great.

Flomax prostate ad was a laugher, but not in a good way. e-Trade was pretty funny, tell your stock broker where to go. But definitely OC Choppers for this round. Save This Page

Rnd. 10: Crabby

FedEx Ground was amusing. K-Fed ad as short fry chef was demeaning. The Bud Light axe man ad was crazy, and good.

A round of local ads doesn't count.

The Bud Crabs hail the King ad was outstanding. Prudential was rocky (very unimaginative). And the Honda CR-V ad stunk to high heavan. Another agency that should be canned. Save This Page

Rnd .9 Belongs to Robert Goulet

CareerBuilder modern gladiators was decent. Lions Taco Bell ad kind of missed. I just didn't see it. Van Heusen was terrible, and uninspiring.

Toyota Tundra: Feel the testosterone. Robert Goulet in the Emerald Nuts ad was hilarious as was Charles Barkely in T-Mobile as a non wanna be Dad. Save This Page

Rnd 8+: Prince + Bud Light Apes

Pre and post Prince ads were blah, since some were local or network driven I’m passing on comment. My buddy Carrie says Purple Rain was very Austin Powers with the shadow play on the guitar. Was that a Viagra ad? That was one of the better Super Bowl half time shows I’ve seen.

Disney’s promo for Meet the Robinson’s was a little blah. The e-Trade bank robbery ad, eh. Coke CGI ad II was a little weird, but pretty creative. Both CGI ads have viewed in movie theaters before.

Bud Light apes ad was hilarious. Sheryl Crow was bad. Revlon, are you kidding, me? Uh no. Save This Page

Lucky # 7: Hog Wild Trailer

Hog Wild was a hilarious movie trailer. Sprint mobile was forgettable.

The Old Man Coke ad was also pretty good, but not the best. Tostitos black pride ad was a halp effect play, but obvious, and it calls out an issue that shouldn’t be an issue. This should have happened a long time ago. Save This Page

Rnd 6: Fist Bumps are Out

Bud Light: Fist bumping is out, face slapping is in. That was great! American Heart Association and King Pharmaceuticals mugging ad was not good. A little too heavy handed.

GM robot ad loses his job, was pretty creative. I like the obsessed with quality, but not as good as the face slapping ad. Save This Page

Rnd. 5: Amateurs Win Again!

Another site with Super Bowl Ads, The ugly dog Bud didn't really do it for me. New York is cool then. Heavy metal Garmin personal navigation was pretty good.

The NFL/CBS public service ad was well, a public service.

CareerBuilder pencil shooter ad was outrageous. Doritos #2, in the store, also very good. User generated ads are working! Now the college ad for Chevy HHR was the best so far! Save This Page

Rnd. 4: Coke Grand Theft Video.

You can see these ads in a conglomerate site, Super Bowl

Go Daddy's chick in a T-Shirt in year 3: it's starting to get tired. The Grand Theft Auto Coke video was a bad spoof on the San Andreas video game. That's about being a criminal, you can't become a nice guy all of the sudden. Still very creative. Save This Page

Rnd 3: Snickers Gets Some Sugar In Its Pot

Snickers feels the love. Brokeback mountain, rip your hair out. Memorable, hilarious, and silly. See to vote for a different ending.

Schick Quattro, movie ad, Survivor... blah.

The Chevy ad was awful. NASCAR rapper. Yeah, no thanks. Bud Light makes fun of foreigners, and it was embarassingly funny. Letterman and Oprah together? Are you kidding me? Cool. Save This Page

Round 2 Goes to the Final Countdown

Toyota Tundra a heavy hand, but acceptable. FedEx losing the toupe, the Final Countdown, now that cracked me up. The auctioneering wedding with Bud Light was also amusing. FedEx was the winner for round 2. It was clearly the most memorable.
How about that 53 yard toss from Peyton Manning? Sweet. Save This Page

Doritos User Generated Ad Works

Crunchy Doritas ad was hilarious. Count the user generated ad a win. Crunchy. Certainly the best one so far.

Budweiser was hurting. The second Sierra Mist as was bad, though the first one with the comb-over cracked me up. Sales Genie. Oh my, please fire your agency. Save This Page

94.7 Repositions Itself as the Globe

OK, got the laptop up and running for blogging capability. Need to watch the Super Bowl from a client's house due to a last second project/assignment. Hopefully they have Wi-Fi so I can live blog it, but if not, I will post a late night summary of Super Bowl advertising impressions.

The GlobeLocal Washingtonian's may have gotten the news on Friday about Classic Rock 94.7, The Arrow's repositioning to the Globe, World Class Rock. The radio station wants to be Green, and a little hipper and trendier, and have gone so far as to write up a new mission statement. The Washington Post wrote up the Green repositioning on Friday.

Personally, I listened to the station this weekend for a couple of hours. It's marketing is hip, trendy, appealing. But the actual programming still sounds like Classic Rock to me. Yeah, there's some hipper stuff like Devo and a Nirvana tune or two, but it's still too safe. It's a nice thing to listen to when you're tired, but don't want Jazz or Classical. Hmmm. Refresh the brand, new mission, but same product usually equals same results. Currently they are ranked #17 in the region, so we'll see what happens over the ensuing months.

The CBS-owned Globe says they will evolve their music a little based on user feedback. Let's hope they do, and add some flavor. Some Depeche Mode, The Smiths, Jane's Addiction and Green Day would be nice.

I am taking inventory of our approach and methods. The product's great, but as we've gotten busier, it's important to keep a watchful eye on client service needs. Service has come to mean a lot of things in today's business world, but the first definition on is, "An act of helpful activity; help; aid: to do someone a service." This is the ideal I'd like the company to strive towards. In an ideal world, I'd like all of my clients to walk from each engagement feeling this way. As such, I may work on a series of principle or guidance to achieve this ideal. Continuing progress is a noble goal. And by striving to do the best we can, I am sure we will achieve success.

In addition to the Dictionary quotation, here are two more to get your Monday going:

* "Great services are not canceled by one act or by one single error," Benjamin Disraeli.
* "Sow good services; sweet remembrances will grow them," Madame de Stael. Save This Page

Friday, February 02, 2007

M&A, Live Blogging the Super Bowl

I had a merger and acquisition offer, or perhaps the best way to phrase it is an offer to discuss M&A earlier this week. And another partner told me if I get into that kind of discussion, they better get first shot.

This is cool stuff. But I really need to be responsible here and determine my motives for these chats. Am I serious, or am I stroking my ego? What would my role be? Can I really take working for someone again? Would I be a good “junior” partner or employee? Am I willing to play team ball?

That little voice inside of me says, no, that I’d be selling myself short. It’s too soon, and I should probably stay independent for at least a couple of years if not 5 or 10. But I will seriously think about it. These are critical internal gut checks that need to be addressed before I actually sit down with anyone. It’s a motive check responsibility. Otherwise, I’d be wasting everyone’s time.

I’m going to try and find a place to watch the Super Bowl with wifi and live blog my thoughts on the ads. We don’t have cable at home (an intentional choice) so this will require a little work, but it would be fun. So tune in on Sunday. Save This Page