Archive for the ‘opportunity’ Category

Think of every idea or suggestion you receive for your business as a person handing you cash.

Every suggestion that you receive has some worth. Maybe your spouse suggested you wear a different tie or necklace for a meeting instead of the one you chose, and it was a better suggestion. That’s a quick $1.

The barista at the coffee shop suggested you take a different route to get to a meeting downtown because you said you were worried about the traffic. Take it as $5 in your pocket if it saves you time, $20 if your competition ends up shows late. Think of it as a loss of money if the new route actually makes you late.

And everyday that million dollar idea for your company is just waiting to be born from a spark of creativity from any one of your employees, co-workers or partners. In the meantime, you’ll settle for a $100 idea here, and a $50 idea there, especially if you are a small business.

So if ideas and suggestions amount to ‘free money’ being handed to you, would there ever be a case where you would turn it down? If the person giving you the idea had some strings attached that made the money not only ‘not free,’ but put you in a situation where you were uncomfortable or at a serious disadvantage, you’d would politely take the idea ‘in consideration’ and do your best to distance yourself from the person and their idea.

Now that you’ve gotten a good grasp of ideas as dollars, take a day to observe how much free cash you are tossing in the dumpster instead of using to make into actual capital. Also keep an eye on how much political capital you are floundering throughout the workplace in the process.

When that quiet guy from IT came to you with an idea early in a process for you to consider. When a new secretary pointed out an issue she has with her new job that was fixed at an old job with a simple and easy solution. When that intern asked, ‘Why would anybody want to buy that,’ and was honestly confused by what seemed like batches of outdated processes. These are example of investors in your company, people with money already in the game, who want nothing more than to see even more success from you, scrapping together real money to put into your product, not shrugging off some pocket change and hoping for the best.

If an investor came to you with $1,000 with no strings attached, other than to use the money for something benefiting the company, could you use it for something? Would you find a way to accept it?

It might not be that million dollar idea being offered up to you, but every suggestions is worth something. Remember that, and make sure you are getting your money’s worth from each and every idea that comes your way.


If you think you’re not getting enough opportunities, take a look at how many opportunities you are offering to others. Sometimes, a completely random idea that will do absolutely nothing for you could mean the absolute world to a friend or co-worker if you offered it and you help with it up to them does. Gestures like this will help you immensely gain more opportunities by:

Telling The Universe ‘I Wants Mine Back…’: Jump starting opportunistic karma is a very good thing, as you tend to get back as much or more of whatever you give, for good or for ill. So think of every idea you get that will help out a friend or coworker more than it will help you as a seed planted that will reap a harvest of greater opportunities for yourself in a few seasons.

Helping You See & Appreciate Opportunities As They Appear: Guess what? You’re probably wasting great opportunities daily. You’ll really grasp just how often an opportunity actually passes right by you as you see the people you offer up opportunities to pass you right by. Just like solid advice, most people are oblivious to when to jump on a general good thing because it didn’t descend from the heavens in the form of stone tablets and bonk them on the head…and even that might not be obvious enough for some. If people take you up on your offers a quarter of the time, you’re rocking Major League Baseball MVP numbers.

Making Your Our Opportunities: If luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity, you are more than entitled to increase your own luck and the luck of others at anytime you please. Offering up chances to help other advance is the perfect way for other to gain chances to help you in return. Just don’t take on the job of ‘opportunity maker’ with the mindset of ‘mafia boss enforcer.’ It’s not a straight up one-for-one deal.


“Second place is the first loser.” Ricky Bobby (aka Will Ferrell) from Talladega Nights

Today we’ll have a little bonus ‘Quote & Question,’ as my wandering mind came across using a foot race as another metaphor for life. You can throw plenty of old clichés and adages to it: “The race is not to the swift,” “Slow and steady wins the race,” “Life is a marathon and not a sprint”…but then that line for Talladega Nights popped into my head, and my mind was off to the races (pun intended).

One of the few things I know for sure is that in life, you are always either in the lead or playing catch up. Whether you’re in the middle of the pack or far, far out the race, if you’re not in the first place, you are not in first place.

That was exactly what I have been dealing with in all aspects of my life, as the current economic conditions here is the US has found a way to stymie just about every well laid plan I had conceived in the past few years, and is doing to same to many of my friends and associates. Not only are more people finding themselves out of first place, they are finding themselves getting lapped. It doesn’t matter how far behind you happen to be in the race, if you’re not in the lead, you only register if you’re a threat to take the lead, and you only seriously matter if you actually take the lead.

With so many people unlucky enough to have lost a job recently, the people who are lucky enough to have jobs look like winners well ahead of the pack. In reality, most are just unlucky enough to be stuck where they are because of the lack of jobs out there. They are stuck in jobs they don’t like or jobs with no forward motion for the foreseeable future because of the overall lack of jobs. People are being given new and extra duties on their jobs that are not only insisting that they come out of there comfort zones at work, but some people flat out don’t want to do. It’s becoming a workplace reality for more employees to be overloaded with additional duties that need to get done, but have completely gotten in the way of their career pursuits.

And now, everyone seems to be behind, and all fighting just to place or show, not even targeting the person who is truly in the lead.

And that guy in first place is wondering why there are no threats to his top spot, and why he’s even running so fast anymore…

In a land where everyone loves a long shot, and the leader of the pack will often embrace the role of the villain, we have seemed to have lost it. No one wants to be on top for fear of having to defend their spot, and many racers are too far behind in laps to even make the race interesting anymore. We seem to all be fighting hard for the right to claim first loser than to be the actual winner.

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I’ve been writing and rewriting a potential blog post for months on dealing with the frustration of people who do not have the capability to follow orders. I have been stymied by frustration with the subject, frustration with the true object I am pointing out in the subject (I don’t give any company names, but if you know my history its pretty easy to figure out which company), and frustration in the tone that it apparently wants to take despite the number of rewrites it gets.

The point of the post that will probably never see the light of day is that you can’t become overly frustrated with people you give orders to if they are incapable of following them. After you’ve checked to make sure your style of delivery isn’t the problem, and that you are sending an effective message, it doesn’t matter if your receivers are incapable of interpreting the message or just incompetent in carrying out the orders. And it might not be completely their fault that they can’t get the job done, but since you’re still responsible, you either have to replace your workers or replace yourself and get another job where the people you lead can get the job done.

But today, I had a epiphany over the term orders. I used the term as a formal throwback to my days in the Air Force, which was explained in the beginning of the post that will never see the light of day. It seemed like a self-explanatory word. I don’t use the term orders now, and rarely gave ‘orders’ to those that fell under my leadership when I was in command. I gave, and still give, instruction, directions, guidance, suggestions, unwanted-but-needed feedback, and on occasion, an overly extended cursing tirade that often involves projectiles being aimed at one’s head (that did occur frequently at the job in question in the post that shall never see the light of day).

So what’s in a word? While I realized I was having a problem with a word that was affecting the tone of writing–orders–I was still getting the point across. But just like your selection of words can take a conversation for light and lively to heavy and full of fisticuffs, you’ve got to be careful with the words you use. Apparently, I needed that reminder more than I needed that blog post.

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I was looking to challenge myself today in my writing, and found myself surprisingly fixated on wrestler Ric Flair’s Space Mountain quote for most of the morning. Not sure exactly way the aging wrestler was in my thoughts, but somehow, inspiration struck because of it.

What you have below is the wisdom gleaned from words of the Nature Boy, one of the greatest athletic and theatrical performers I have ever witnessed. Give it a quick read, and see how much knowledge you can gain for use in your business or personal life.

“This ain’t no garden party, brother. This is wrestling, where only the strongest survive.”

Make sure what you are getting to is exactly what you want to get into, because chances are, you’re going to find the path it takes to get there has plenty of surprises waiting for you just past your line of site. And by surprises, I mean obstacles to your progress and problems that will take you off course. Just know they will appear, and prepare yourself for the journey. Just make sure it is a journey worth taking.

“Girls, you can’t be the first, but you can be next.”

The world is full of pioneers. You don’t necessarily have to be one to be successful and prosperous. In fact, you will probably be doing yourself a favor by following in the footsteps of someone who took the time to blaze a trail ahead of you.

“Space Mountain may be the oldest ride in the park, but it has the longest line.”

Once you’ve established yourself as the bonafide leader, everyone will want a piece of you. And you might be as great as you’ve convinced people that you are, but you are still only one person. Forget the myth of multitasking, you can only handle one request at a time, leading to a slow and plodding process of people constantly trying to work their way to get a little closer to you a little faster then you can handle. Let them wait.

“I’m a limousine ridin’, jet flyin’, kiss stealin’, wheelin’ dealin’ son of a gun. WOOOO!!”

You’ve got little choice in your life but to sell yourself, your ideas, or you actual product to the world. If you’re going to sell yourself, you might as well be bold about it as possible. As long as you’re not lying about it, sing your own praises to your hearts content.

“To be the man, you’ve gotta beat the man.”

This has to be Flair’s most famous quote, and my second favorite of his (edged out just slightly by the Space Mountain quote). Put plain and simply, if you want something so badly, step up and try to take it. Talk is talk, but only those brave enough to put forward the action needed to make it happen will ever make it happen.

“Whenever they feel like it, the door’s wide open.”

Oh, and by the way, once you’ve scratched and clawed your way to the top, your role changes. You are no longer striving to get there. You are there. Now is the time to start striving to stay there, with plenty of up-and-comers looking to take you out, and has-beens looking to take back the spot they used to own. They’re coming for you, like it or not. Might as well make them fight for it.

“As long as he understands this is Flair country, it is.”

As long as you’re at the top of the mountain, it’s your world. As long as someone else is at the top of the mountain, it’s their world. Pouting and complaining won’t get you anywhere. Hard work, determination, a little or a lot of time (most likely a lot) will get you somewhere. With a little luck, you’ll actually make it to the top of the mountain. But until you get there, make sure you give plenty of respect to the current king. They’ve earned it.

“My God, thank you. Thank you very much. I’m almost embarrassed by the response, but when I see this, I know that the twenty five years that I’ve spent trying to make you happy every night of your life was worth every damn minute of it.”

This comes from Ric Flair’s retirement speech to his fans, and the message here is simple. Be courteous to those who offer you support along the way of your journey in business and in life, and be sincere to everyone. Yes, EVERYONE! You can never give to many ‘Thank you’s.’

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AIG used government bailout money that was supposed to help shore out the struggling insurance/investment giant to pay executive bonuses and avoid contract lawsuits, which could have but the company out of business for good. The right thing to do legally, but the American public, and its new President, are not happy.

NBC Universal finally found a new way to brand the Sci Fi Channel, and in few months it will just be SyFy. Seriously. With a new tag line of “Imagine Greater.” If you thought fan boy hate was reserved of geeks and comic book movies, search for some of the comments online about this one. The hate is coming on strong, and from plenty of people who were barely holding on the channel as it was.

Sometimes your company has to deal with bad timing. Sometimes your company has to deal with a serious gamble of a decision. As the economy continues to suffer, expect a lot more chances to test your crisis management skills while you have to explain your actions.

And make sure you are prepared for the backlash. Because its going to come.

Americans are losing money, jobs, and patience. American businesses are trying their best to adapt to the new economic world. It’s a frightful existence, and some very old companies with long standing reputations will not make it out of this.

So what happens when hard times come? People panic, leaders jump to a conclusion that they hope will get the best results with the least amount of effort and pain, and decisions are made that are meant to push the greater good, but looks more like the digging of their own graves.

Now is the time to make smart decisions that take advantage of the disadvantages of the current reality. Now is the time to continue advertising, so negotiate for new rates with your outlets that have taken good care of you so that you can continue to take good care of them. Now is the time to reach out to new, nontraditional customers to make up for the regulars you are bound to lose, but not alienate your current customer base that has gotten you this far. Now is the time to make sure the tough decisions you make are the right decisions, not just legally binding.

Now is definitely not the time for perplexing moves for the soul propose of generating buzz. There really is such a thing as bad press.

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Rush Limbaugh makes a lot of money to talk to people everyday. But he talks to A LOT of people. And they listen intently—whether they really want to or not.

Say what you want about his politics, opinions, and sometimes flat out non-truths. If Rush were still just a radio DJ, and could take his following with him to any local metro, someone would figure out how to pay him even more money.

As the apparent voice of ‘The True Conservative,’ Rush had the chance to speak at this year’s Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC 2009), and based mostly on people’s idea of the talk show host coming in, he gave either an amazing or pathetic speech.

But as far as I can tell, he was the only speaker covered live by Fox News Channel and CNN last night, with plenty of other Republican superstars set to step up to the podium. And he was definitely the most analyzed (I think over analyzed) speaker of the weekend.

It has taken him twenty years on the radio in the talk format to truly develop his powerbase, a dozen years before that to get him into talk radio, and although his detractors will quickly point out the missteps and failures he’s made up to this point, they will quickly use his message as the best way to shore up their opposing message. That is power, and truly ironic, as Rush is using President Barack Obama’s messages and policy decision to produce the opposing view so popular to his listeners, whether he is truly right 99% of the time or not.

If you like him, Rush Limbaugh is an effective communicator and great for rallying his troops. If you don’t like him, Rush Limbaugh is an outstanding communicator with the ability to spin webs of words that draw in masses of people to follow in lock step with his paranoid ideology.

Ether way, you can not deny Rush’s ability to get a message across effectively.

As a person whose business is about getting the message across effectively, its easy to see the tools and techniques used by Rush Limbaugh and to attempt to emulate and teach the ones that are most effective to the others…even is the end user is far from a fan and thinks that Limbaugh’s tactics are over the top and used unfairly. They are not. They are used in the medium in which they are most effective, and they work, even when they don’t get the expected response.

What seems like an army of blowtorches and bazookas in Limbaugh’s arsenal hide the ultra effective sniper riffle. The ability to shotgun blast the mainstream message while simultaneously pinpoint target the right people to perform the desired action, sometimes in his favor, sometimes against him, is where Rush has truly mastered the medium. No other media figure gets so much coverage on other media outlets than Limbaugh, a man who effectively only has a three hour syndicated talks show, a newsletter, and a website.

Rush Limbaugh is a classic case of the messenger with guns pointed at him by his opponents and his supposed allies because of the message he has chosen to deliver. But the message gets delivered every time. It’s what the masses do with the message that gets a little weird.

When Rush talks, people hear him speaking. They may then cheer or complain, they may misinterpret unintentionally or intentionally, or the may just hear him talking and do their best to drown out the noise and not listen, but a message gets sent.

Think about what lengths you go through to ensure your message gets sent, and what the receivers do with the message from that point on. If your method isn’t working, you might consider using a few tools from the Limbaugh tool box. It’s not about liking his message, it’s about knowing that his methods work.


It’s a little bit of a gimmick when you see senior executives pulling espresso shots behind the counter at Starbucks or having Michael Dell taking customer service calls from a cubicle at the Dell help center. But it does give a boost to morale to see the upper echelon at least have some working knowledge of what it takes to slug it out in the trenches every day.

Now here’s a question to think about: do your senior leaders need to have a mastery of the jobs that those that report to them perform every day? The obvious answer to that question is no. But the snarky and the smart answers to that question is, “Isn’t that why they have you there in the first place?”

I made up a fable from bits and pieces of stories I have heard over the years about a janitor in a company with the right amount of corporate experience and knowledge that when the executive board stumbles upon his existence, they immediately plug him into their vacant CEO position, only to demote him back to janitor the next day after company wide complaints of the waste paper baskets not getting emptied as quickly as before.

The moral of the story is that sometimes it is easier to find a boss than a worker bee, and the value of either may not be properly weighed. The point of the story, and overall point of this post, is that you can’t have any logical upward movement inside of your organization if you can not fill the lower level positions and responsibilities that are left vacant.

This goes a step beyond the adage that indispensable employees are the last ones to get the promotions and growth opportunities because the company would literally fall apart if they were to leave their positions. This actually is meant to speak to stagnate growth at both end of the spectrum: cushy executives whose fear of innovation and mobility crush any hope of a natural progression and the failure to hire enough talented new prospects willing to go through the attrition process at your company.

I see myself, among other things, as a messenger trying to ensure the message of the moment–some very simple, most not so simple–gets sent intact and received fully. Working in media, you quickly learn that you get a greater response to a particular message when you make it an experience that, to the listener, is truly about them.

We are a ‘me’ society. Just talk to teenage kids and you’ll think we are raising the most self-centered generation in history. That might be true, but my generation was and still is pretty self-involved. And there have been scores of materials written about the downsides of some of the actions of the Baby Boomers.

It doesn’t change the fact that the best way to get someone’s attention it to make the issues as much about them as possible. Even if it isn’t.

And that is the hard part. When it’s not personal, when they don’t have a dog in the fight, when the issue has less significance in one’s life than a coin flip, it hard to sell it to some one that the issue really matters.

It’s even harder when the issue really does matter, and will affect them eventually. Just not today, and there are plenty of other problems in front of them that dealing with a future worry that might not actually come to pass is a nuisance people will chose to ignore.

Remember that whenever you are trying to deliver a message. It has to be personal. It has to have meaning. It has to have an impact on their lives serious enough, good or bad, to make them take a moment to take note.

You still may not get the desired outcome from delivering the message. You will get the satisfaction of knowing the message was received, and received clearly.

It’s now up to them to act or react.

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Today is Thanksgiving in the U.S., and instead of spending time with my family, am stuck at the house alone, with just Puffy the Puppy to meander in the way keep me company for the weekend. And while I’m not to thrilled with the circumstances that are keeping me from enjoying fried turkey and pork spare ribs with my wife stealing food off my plate, I am actually thankful for a couple of days of quiet to get a few things done and to clear my head. Being dubbed a ‘serial starter,’ I have a lot of half-baked schemed floating around that are cluttering my head, my inbox, and my office. A day to clear out some of that mental clutter, and even get started on raking the yard, is actually blessing, despite the sacrifice of alone time on a family weekend.

Not only am I thankful for a crummy weekend leading to a semi-productive weekend, I’m thankful for the crummy year I have had. I pledged that 2008 was going to be my year, and then watched 11 months go by full of false starts, letdowns, and setbacks. But this has been a valuable year for lessons learned, and the price paid for most of those were just frustration and a little time lost. Not a lot of money and definitely no lives or relationships. In fact, some relationships were made stronger do to the strain of a lack of success, and some new ones where created that have the potential to outshine any other.

I am not thankful for the large loss of financial capital I had this year. I am thankful I lost less than most, and that I still have plenty of years to recover, even if my current projects don’t have much time to recover. I am thankful for the opportunities I didn’t get a chance to take, because it has allowed for plenty of opportunities that I am glad I didn’t miss.

And I give thanks to God for lining up all the opportunities and responsibilities that lie ahead that I truly don’t want. Only through them will I get to the opportunities and responsibilities that I actually want. I am especially thankful to have just enough wisdom to know they are all opportunities and responsibilities that I AM SUPPOSED TO HAVE.

I’m thankful to live in a country that gives everybody the day off to eat, and I’ve got to get to cooking. Happy Thanksgiving, America.

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