December 18, 2014

Are You Ready for The Second Boom in 2015?

This is the time of year when we reflect on what we’ve accomplished the past year, and what we’d like to accomplish in the coming year. So for those of you who have been considering finally starting your own business, I’d like you to ask yourself if you’re ready for The Second Boom.

In a self-study program that was 2 years in the making, I teach my 16 Action Steps of The Second Boom, for figuring out what fits, what’s feasible, and how to start and grow it.

When I created this program, I addressed my fellow members of the Baby Boom generation. But in reality, it’s useful for anyone who has lots of work experience, 20 years or more. (That means you too, Generation X’ers!) It’s all about figuring out how to apply your experience to create a business with potential.

To see if you’re ready, I created a 3-part complimentary video training series here. Click on the link to hear my brief message.

And for those of you who invest the time in yourselves to see all three parts of the training, I’ve got a very special offer for you at the end.

Happy Holidays, and cheers to success in 2015! Think about investing in your own goals, and what that might mean to you.

December 15, 2014

Keeping the Faith

I happened to be watching the 1947 movie Miracle on 34th Street the other night on cable. Lawyer Fred Gailey (played by John Payne), had just told his girlfriend Doris Walker (played by Maureen O’Hara) that he had quit his law firm to defend Kris Kringle. Despite everyone telling him to drop the case, Fred said that if Kris had faith in him, he wouldn’t want to abandon him.

When Doris appeared dismayed at Fred’s decision, his face clouded over as he asked “Don’t you have faith in me?” To which Doris replied, “It’s not a matter of faith, it’s just common sense.”

Naysayers have been with us for generations, in film and in real life. Fred is intent on achieving something no one else thinks can be done. Even those closest to him, like Doris, express negativity, masking it as a comment that’s supposedly “common sense” or as a plea to “listen to reason.”

If you’ve done your homework and have faith in what you’re trying to achieve, feel free to ignore the naysayers in your life, no matter how close they are.

Oh, and Happy Holidays!

November 26, 2014

Giving Thanks

On this eve of Thanksgiving Day, I just wanted to give “thanks” again for the joys and rewards of working with all of you. To know that I’ve made a difference in your work or lives, even if it’s just a small difference, is a reward that I cherish.

Whether you spend your holiday with family, friends, or both, I hope you have a very Happy Thanksgiving!

October 12, 2014

Is Passion the Answer?

Last week, I delivered a short keynote at a breakfast event called “Too Young to Retire”, held in Syracuse, New York. The event was sponsored by community group FOCUS Greater Syracuse, and was held to attract Baby Boomers who are thinking of starting their own businesses. About 80 folks, overwhelmingly most of them Boomers, were in attendance for this early morning event.

During my keynote, I answered the 2 main questions I hear through my work on my program The Second Boom, which are “Is it too late?” (to start a business), and “Have I failed too many times?” (I’ll give you one guess on my answer to both.)

After my short segment, a panel of 3 local entrepreneurs answered questions by a moderator, and took questions from the audience. One of the themes that emerged from the panelists was something along the lines of “if you have a lot of passion for what you want to do, good things will happen.”

This was mentioned several times, and each time it was mentioned, I had trouble sitting still. Finally, I had to make a comment, and raised my hand, even though by then I was merely a member of the audience.

I said that I felt passion is an important component to reaching for success, but it’s not the only answer. There’s a lot of motivational talk about “thinking positively” and “being passionate”, but as I reminded everyone, that’s not the only thing. You still have to have a realistic plan for the business, one that provides a product or service that solves some kind of problem that enough people are willing to pay money for.

And that is because when you start a business, your goal is to make money. If you don’t make money, you’re just starting a hobby. Businesses make you money, but hobbies cost you money.

Be sure the thing you’re passionate about becomes a business, not just a hobby.

September 2, 2014

If Peyton Can Do It, Why Can’t You?

Over the summer I read a story on the ESPN website about Peyton Manning and his offseason preparations. Though he’s a sure-fire Hall of Famer and has a ton of accomplishments including one Super Bowl championship, no one apparently works harder than he does. The sting of the last Super Bowl loss is just too great to ignore.

At an age and level of accomplishment that could cause anyone to start dialing back, Peyton is doing anything but. He arrives early, stays late to work with young receivers, and is constantly self-evaluating. He’s not bashing himself or others, he’s not being unfair, he’s just assessing where he can improve and do even better. That’s all just plain hard work.

Sometimes in our careers, businesses, or lives we might think we’ve come far and can dial back or even coast a bit, and that’s human nature. But if Peyton can continue to work hard, why can’t you?

June 20, 2014

Life’s Good, Once Again

A couple of weeks ago (see my last post), I was struggling mightily trying to communicate with @LGUS, LG USA. As you might have read, the owners of the tag line “Life’s Good” were making my life so very NOT good. Caught between a communication conflict between LG’s customer support arm and a third-party authorized service center, my frustration was reaching astronomical heights, because my 1-year old LG refrigerator had been dead for almost 2 weeks and there was no clear end in sight.

Well, I’m happier to report that @LGUS did finally come through, after I was able to speak to the right people. They resolved the situation to my satisfaction, allowing me to go out and buy a new refrigerator to replace the LG that died. On a Friday after lunch my wife and I went out to shop, and by 4pm on Saturday a new refrigerator was humming away, cooling itself down. The next day I happily pulled a frosty cold beverage out, and fired up the BBQ to celebrate.

Was the new one an LG, you ask? I’ll give you one guess. But I do appreciate the quick resolution by the folks at LG, once I was able to get connected to the right people. I think I’ll just continue to stick with LG for my consumer electronics, and leave it at that.

I hope life’s good for all of you!

June 3, 2014

Life’s Good? We’ll Have to See…

I’m undergoing a customer experience with LG Electronics, which you might know has as their advertising slogan “Life’s Good”. At the moment, I can definitely say life is NOT good (as it relates to LG), but the final word has not yet been heard.

This surrounds an LG refrigerator I purchased last year. Further disclosure, I have bought other LG products like digital TVs and smartphones, and have been happy with those devices. Until last year, however, I had never thought of trying LG for refrigeration. But the product we bought had the features we wanted without the features we didn’t want, and it fit into the space we were working with.

Almost 13 months from the purchase date, the LG fridge died just before the Memorial Day weekend. The warranty was for 12 months, so you can imagine my first reaction when it happened. Fortunately, LG Customer Service was good enough to extend my warranty for an additional 30 days to cover the repair. And that’s when the ride got bumpy.

Because of the holiday weekend, we couldn’t get anyone in until 3 days later, when the repair guy from the “LG authorized service center” said the compressor was bad. They would have to order it, and it’ll take 3 or 4 days to come in, he said, but they’d try to put a rush on it. We groaned; it was looking like we would be 10 days without a fridge. But, what can you do. Little did we know that 10 days would have been great.

A week later, I called the service center, a local 3rd party company, to check the status of our part. The parts lady told me that it was backordered, and would not be available for shipment until June 17. My reaction to that was much more than a groan, and will not be repeated here. With that schedule, we’d be out of a fridge for almost one month!

But she suggested I call LG directly to try to expedite the part, and that’s when the fun really started.

Yesterday, I collectively spent almost 2 hours on the phone talking to several different LG customer service reps, talking to the parts lady at the local service company, and being on hold for interminable periods of time. The first time, I found myself in the middle of an argument between the LG rep and the parts lady at the service company. The parts lady said she was told by LG the part is backordered and won’t ship until June 17. The LG rep said she was told by LG that the part is in stock and ready to ship.

Both were convinced they were right. Where did that leave me? Extremely frustrated, and still without the prospect of restoring my refrigeration.

When I asked for an LG supervisor, I was given an extension number to ask for help. I tried later in the afternoon, and first had to repeat part of the story (despite LG having notes in my case file), because “I need to tell them why I’m transferring you”. I was transferred, was on hold for 20 minutes listening to the same annoying message, then hung up to try again. Tried again, and when they transferred me, got cut off. Tried again, asked the agent to try getting the extension before transferring me, and she came back and said because no one was answering, she’d “have to let me go”.

What does that mean, she’s firing me as a customer?

Gave it another try, and after a shorter wait, finally got someone in the group I was looking for. This last person, a supervisor, was much nicer and much more responsive, but even she accidentally disconnected me too, leaving me to wonder if this was some kind of conspiracy. (Actually, it just frustrated me all the more.)

Fortunately the supervisor called me back, and we’ve proceeded from there. They’re trying to decide what to do to fix my situation, so I’ll just have to see what they say.

Why am I writing about this? Here’s the main point … throughout all this, I just wanted “to be the customer”. And as an LG customer, I just wanted to know someone cared, to be helped with my problem, and to have my refrigeration restored.

I did not want, or sign up, to learn how LG’s distribution channels communicate, which number their service centers are supposed to call for parts, or what they’re supposed to do before they transfer my call (or cut me off). Nor did I want to listen to the service center tell me that the LG rep “doesn’t know what she’s talking about.” Nor did I sign up to call back repeatedly after being disconnected or left on hold for the black hole. And I certainly did not want almost 2 hours of my day taken up navigating that phone journey. I have enough of my own work to do.

So in your businesses, when you troubleshoot your customers’ problems or issues, just remember that all they want to do is be your customer. They want to know that your products and services bring them satisfaction and even joy, but if they do run into a problem, you’ll be there to help them. And that you won’t bother them will all the details that don’t concern them, and don’t get them any closer to a solution.

As for my situation with LG, I hope there’s a satisfactory ending. At the height of my frustration, I exclaimed to one poor LG rep, “You know what, right now you guys are not LG. You’re LNG — Life’s NOT Good!”

I just want to be the customer … and maybe be able to have a frosty cold beverage waiting for me in the fridge at last.

May 19, 2014

Getting Fired a Favor?

I’ve been fired a couple of times during my past corporate career, and though I say so myself, it wasn’t because I messed up or didn’t do my job. What I could have done better is to see the change of the political tides earlier, and understand how that would affect me independent of how well I was performing. Back then, I just assumed that doing a great job would be all that counted.

Here’s an article from Fast Company that covers 5 people who felt that when they got fired, it was a blessing. I’d have to agree with their general sentiment, because I found afterward that the circumstances I was in wasn’t matching what I considered to be the right situation. So getting shown the door put me on the path to a better destination each time.

It feels lousy to get fired, but if it happens to you, and as long as you didn’t create the reason to fire you, be sure to listen to the signal for a new direction.

April 24, 2014

No Guessing

The other day I called a company that is the support group for an online system I have to use as part of a client project. I was referred to a specific person in one department, and when I asked for that person, found that she was on vacation for the week. The woman who answered the phone, however, wanted to be helpful.

“Perhaps I can help you,” she offered. So I started to outline the question that I had, related to what inputs the system was expecting. I had already used the system for a while; I just had a specific question about one type of operation.

The woman on the phone, though she was trying to help, started stumbling through an answer, and ended up telling me something very elementary that wasn’t even the point of my question. As politely as I could, I observed that perhaps this is something on which I needed to speak directly with the other contact who was on vacation. This person’s reply to that:

“Oh, probably. I haven’t been trained on this system yet, anyway.”

Well, then why didn’t she say so from the get-go? Why take a bunch of guesses, make herself look like she didn’t know anything, and waste my time?

No guessing. If you don’t know something you’re asked, just say so, and refer the questioner to someone else, or get back to them when you do know. No one has a problem with that.

March 27, 2014

Find Your Passion First

I think the thoughts I posted a couple of days ago on my other blog at TheSecondBoom.com are worth repeating. In that post I mentioned the importance of figuring out your passion, or whatever moves you, before you start a business. Check it out, and tell me what you think.

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