Do you have a “to-do” list that you update throughout the day every day?
And are you managing it online or the old fashioned way with an appointment book?
Like most people, I manage my schedule and tasks online. I use Google calendar and an iPhone app to log my appointments and a Web platform called Highrise to manage follow-ups.
But it always felt like something was missing. Electronic lists are fine for many people, but I’ve struggled with them. Managing my schedule online doesn’t force me to fill it up. Whatever I put down is what gets done. But I’m not working to fill up a page…so I wasn’t managing my output to the full potential.
Then I had an a-ha moment during the Christmas break. Cleaning out the back room of our house, I ran across 12 years of old American Express appointment books I used to manage my schedule in the ‘80s.
Back then my job involved 140 clients. So every day was full of “to-dos” that listed what was needed to keep them engaged and happy. Reviewing the appointment books, that era came roaring back.
I was massively productive and had a lot of fun. When I left that job, I stopped using the appointment books.
Well…they’re back. I ordered a 2013 American Express appointment book and now I’m filling it up. The volume of work I’m doing has doubled. I have to fill up that column every day!
So do you have a to-do list? And are you an online person or an appointment book person? Now’s the time to get it in gear!
You know it: if your company doesn’t innovate, it’ll die. You never cross the finish line and spike the ball. Just when you think you’re ahead of the curve, the marketplace changes. The focus on “latest and greatest” may seem like a recent phenomenon, but it’s been around as long as commerce.
GM was once so big, the government attempted to break it up. GM’s fall — due in part to complacency and lack of innovation — took 50 years because of its size, but most other companies are smaller so their rise or fall takes place much faster. Microsoft, the former king of tech, had fallen behind for a time because it failed to innovate. It focused on the business market it had always dominated and missed fundamental changes in the marketplace.
Brutal innovation consumes more than car companies and is on display this holiday at electronics stores. I think it’s fair to say we’ve never seen a time when companies were forced to innovate more than today. Consumers demand it. They’re no longer easily impressed and are quick to look for whatever the next big thing is.
Beginning a decade ago, Apple delivered a remarkable string of tech innovations that changed the way we live even for those who don’t use Apple products. Apple’s influence on design and functionality stretches to packaging, car dashboards, thermostats, appliances, magazines, web sites and on and on.
After spending years ridiculing Apple, Microsoft’s CEO Steve Ballmer only began to pay serious attention when Apple products were adopted by Microsoft’s business clients, many of whom would never have considered an Apple product before.
So here we are. This holiday, Apple’s innovation is centered around the iPad Mini, which is essentially a smaller version of its flagship tablet. Microsoft, meantime, brought out its own tablet and rather than copying, its engineers started from scratch. And now suddenly Microsoft is cool because its products are now going beyond “we have a version of that, too.”
Strolling through Atlanta’s Perimeter Mall right after Thanksgiving, I came across Microsoft’s beachfront real estate on the ground floor right in the middle of the mall where the escalators converge. After viewing some of the $1 billion in advertising Microsoft is reportedly spending this holiday season, I was curious enough to check out Microsoft.
Keep in mind I’m an Apple guy. I founded my company in 1989 on a Mac and never left. I’ve never owned anything Microsoft except Office.
Approaching the Microsoft kiosk felt odd: sort of like being behind enemy lines. Microsoft’s knowledgeable sales guy in the kiosk took time to show me around the Surface tablet, Microsoft’s answer to the iPad. He was great — able to answer technical questions and be genuinely enthusiastic because the product was good enough to be enthusiastic about.
The Surface’s interface wasn’t intuitive to me until I’d spent some time with it, but I have to say it felt solid and credible. So much so that this is the first Microsoft product I’ve ever considered buying.
Unlike the Microsoft’s Zune, which was simply an inferior copy of the iPod, the Microsoft Surface feels like well-executed technology. It has features that the iPad tablet does not: a memory slot, a USB port, the ability to multitask and a nifty add-on keyboard. It’s fast and responsive with a nice interface that integrates deeply with all the Microsoft stuff businesses use.
And I’m the perfect customer: someone who has never used Windows and isn’t put off by the new interface.
So check out their mall kiosk. The Surface is worth a look. Microsoft is spending a billion dollars to get you to check them out — why not do it? See what innovation looks like in late 2012.
Now in fairness, this holiday Microsoft is getting extra points by offering features Apple has chosen to ignore. I like that. Maybe it will force Apple to innovate faster.
Elsewhere in the marketplace, Android, Amazon, Barnes & Noble and others are innovating by offering less-expensive and less capable choices, some priced at a loss just to get you to buy them. There will always be a market for low end innovation, but neither Microsoft nor Apple wants to focus on it.
What’s next? Our demand for brutal innovation isn’t going away. As soon as we get used to a new phone or tablet, we start looking for something new and shiny. Take a look at the sales curve for smartphones, where great new models capture market share within a month or two and you’ll see why the brutal innovation curve for tablets and phones will be even more interesting in 2013.
Apple, with its 50+% market share for tablets and significant share of the smartphone market, has the most to lose simply because it innovated first and is so successful.
Apple and Microsoft’s tablets next Christmas will undoubtedly deliver even more innovation. Perhaps you’ll be able to control your TV set using your voice (“Siri, record all the new episodes of The Daily Show”).
Next Christmas’s tablets and phones will be faster with sharper screens, more storage capacity and maybe improved text input. There’s been speculation that new glass keyboards will generate a gentle pulse so you feel like you’re actually pressing keys. And look for tight integration of secure payment technology where you pay for things by waving your phone at a store’s checkout terminal.
Brutal innovation is on display in the mall today where the Microsoft guy is hoping I won’t visit Apple afterwards. Your business has its own version going on right now. Are you listening? Are you focused on what made you successful in 2012 or paranoid about what the marketplace will want a year from now that you’re not providing?
By the way, my stop after the Microsoft kiosk was the Apple store where I bought a $20 connector cable that probably cost 20¢ to make. The store was packed. Let’s see how well Apple keeps innovating so it can keep charging those prices.
Jerry Seinfeld has this routine about how the #1 fear for most people is public speaking. Which means most of us would rather be in the casket than doing the eulogy.
For some reason, I’ve never been nervous talking in front of a group, whether in person or in front of a camera. My heart rate doesn’t increase much except when I’m about to address a particularly large crowd.
Since so many people are so afraid of speaking to an audience, I thought it might be worthwhile to share why getting up in front of a crowd doesn’t spook me. I suppose frequency is one reason. I speak to groups so often, I’m used to it.
Another reason is that I’ve made enough mistakes on stage or on camera that I realize it’s not fatal if you mess up. Your best bet is to make light of it. Make the audience a part of the whole thing. (“Oh man…the pages of my script stuck together. Hang on.”)
How about a few other tips and tricks to make your time in front of an audience less terrifying.
Of course, read and re-read your script beforehand so you know what you’re going to say. I like my scripts to be printed in large type (it’s an age thing) and marked up so I know what words or phrases to emphasize. I keep my sentences and my paragraphs short.
Another trick is to take a moment before you go on to ask how you should exit when you’re done. Should you call someone else up to the stage? Which direction do you exit? Take a moment to jot that down that information on the last page of your script.
Write down something like, “Ask Bob to return to the stage.” And draw an arrow on the script reminding yourself which direction to exit.
OK, now you’re set. You’ve just been introduced, the audience is applauding and you’re starting to walk across the stage to the podium. You’re probably thinking, “What am I DOING here?!” You’re heart is beating fast, your mouth is as dry as the Sahara, you’re forcing a smile and thinking to yourself, “I haaaate this!”
It may feel like you’re walking toward certain doom, but you’re not. All these responses you’re feeling are normal. Your body is on high alert which is actually the first step toward being successful.
Now that you’re at the podium and pulled the microphone toward you, the thought of talking to 200 people is probably starting to freak you out. But don’t think of the audience as one giant blob of people. You’re talking to one person at a time.
Each one wants to hear what you have to say because you’re interesting. You’ve accomplished things they haven’t. You’re going to teach them something memorable.
This is often a surprise: you may not even be able to see the audience at all because the lights on you are so bright. No worries. That’s all part of the experience.
As the applause dies down and before it ends, say “Thank you! I appreciate it.” You’ve taken control. You’re feeling just a little more comfortable. And the audience is already comfortable.
Maybe this thought will ease some pressure. Unless you’re Jerry Seinfeld, your opening remarks don’t have to be funny, just interesting! Don’t try to be funny unless it comes naturally.
Begin your remarks with something personal; a brief story about something that happened to you or some facts you found on the web that relate to your topic.
You may have to refer to your script to make sure factoids are correct, but look out from the podium and tell a story as if you were talking to someone. Don’t read it word for word off the script. Use the word “you” a lot.
The only thing I can add here that applies to everybody is that it’s better to run short than run long. It’s surprising how many people are blissfully unaware that the audience has become bored. Except for the president’s state of the union speech or a detailed presentation about how wonderful I am, I have never heard a memorable presentation that lasted longer than 15 minutes.
Depending on the size of the font on your script and the spacing between paragraphs, that could be as few as 10 pages or as many as 15.
I always try to end forcefully. That doesn’t mean you have to come up with a brilliant conclusion. Just end on a clear, concise sentence — maybe one that refers to another factoid like one you started with.
And then, “thank you!”
If a question and answer session is not part of the format, call the next person up to the stage, smile and walk off in the correct direction, basking in the applause you earned.
Now that wasn’t so bad!
Coming up, I’ll be:
Interesting post in Mediapost online today: that a new chapter will soon begin at local TV stations around the country. A perfect storm of recession and increased competition have cut local TV station revenues as much as 25% in less than a year.
Prime time network shows like ER and CSI used to represent exclusive beachfront property for local stations. But now you can watch those shows anytime with limited interruption on hulu.com, through iTunes for a couple of bucks or on the networks’ own Web sites.
Stations are beginning to fire their own ammunition. A battle is emerging in Boston, where NBC affiliate refuses to carry Jay Leno’s upcoming weeknight 10pm show, because they predict it will fail, and instead run a lucrative new local 10pm newscast.
All this will lead to uncharted territory:
- Eventually, many of the best network shows will migrate to cable networks and away from affiliates
- Local stations will band together to create prime time shows that they own and control
- Stations with strong news departments will expand the time set aside for newscasts and may even program local news around the clock on their digital channels
- Stations without strong news ratings will fold their news presence and run entertainment shows
Change is inevitable, and it’s not realistic to pine for the old days as it applies to anything in our lives.
But in the case of local television, I believe deregulation has been counterproductive. Communities suffer when radio and TV stations are allowed to do whatever they want and use the marketplace’s economic response as their sole guide.
Yes there are many outlets to receive entertainment on radio and TV…more than ever before. Because of scarcity of the airwaves, the FCC should enforce guidelines on community involvement that once existed, and made stations much more involved in the community and responsive to their viewers’ welfare.
Interesting meeting this morning with a client: points out rule #1 of developing an online marketing strategy.
The one common thread that all interactive marketing projects contain should be a focus on the end user.
There is a direct correlation between that…and the success of your site.
So, General Motors’ accounting firm has issued a “letter of going concern,” basically covering their backside in the event GM files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Such a move, which is needed, would allow a judge to toss out expensive agreements with workers and dealers, force a change in management and generally be the only way for GM to survive.
A “letter of going concern” is not new to me. In 2000, we sold our interactive company to a public firm. Over the next 18 months, the internet bubble burst and the value of the stock went from $28.00 to less than a dollar. On the morning our accounting firm came out with a letter of going concern, the stock hit .07. Bankruptcy followed quickly.
That was the day I learned that CNBC was the only live stock ticker, and that you could only refresh it 75 times in one day.
America lost an original over the weekend with the passing of Paul Harvey.
Whether you agree with his conservative politics or not, he was a master at the art of communication. Five words won’t work if you can convey the thought in four. Paul Harvey’s style was about clarity, storytelling and the art of the pause-for-effect.
It was fascinating to talk with him in person. In the mid 1980s, he paid a visit to WGST Newsradio to speak to a local group and deliver his 8:30am and 12:30pm broadcasts. He arrived before dawn and had use of the news director’s office to prepare his shows. As I recall, he wore a smock and had his own formula for gathering wire copy and newspaper clippings…arranging them in columns that related to each section of the broadcast.
Prior to going on the air, he warmed up with a comical series of vocal exercises. Imagine how “teedle-tee-teedle-tee-tee…woof one two three…” and so forth sounded in that rich voice. He sat while he read the newscast that emanated from our cluttered studio (which he called “handsome” on the air), in a voice so strong he almost didn’t need a mic.
Because of the way our engineer had to feed it to New York, Harvey’s voice boomed at full volume through speakers in the studio next door and down the hallways. But that didn’t impact his concentration.
After the 8:30am broadcast, he agreed to carve out 10 minutes for me to interview him for the show I did on WGST’s radio network. He answered in staccato phrases just as he talked on the air. “Where did you get started in broadcasting?” “Richard, I was a young man of 13 years when I first stepped into the offices of KVOO in Tulsa, Oklahoma…”) Wish I still had the tape: it disappeared shortly afterward.
From 1951 to 2009, Paul Harvey gave us a lesson in how to communicate. So straightforward…and yet so difficult.
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