Monthly Archives: March 2013

Pulling weeds (part 2)

On Tuesday I introduced you to my recent weed-pulling activity on a portion of my residential property and suggested that there was a correlation between weed extraction/elimination practices and techniques for approaching potential prospects about a business opportunity. In this blog post I will explain that correlation.


How I pulled the weeds
My manual weed-pulling activity was slow and required methodical skills but it was deeply satisfying. My extraction technique was deliberate and careful to disturb as little of the surrounding dirt as possible. Each weed extraction was performed on a 1:1 basis. My activities also uncovered discarded garbage elements so I took the opportunity to deposit those items in my plastic bag. By the time I decided that I had finished the task I had a bagful of weeds and a strip of property that looked far better than it had earlier.

Spraying the area with a weed killer product would have achieved similar results but at a far higher long-term cost. The drenched weeds would have remained evident for some time as they slowly succumbed to the toxic chemical bath, shriveled, and died. I have no desire to see such a scene each time I pick up my mail and I’m confident that my neighbors would prefer not to either. Ants residing in the dirt would also have been drenched with the toxic rain and any local birds consuming those ants would have further become contaminated.


Weeding potential prospects
Approaching potential prospects about a business opportunity is a little like weeding. Weeding involves identifying a weed and targeting it for attention; approaching potential prospects utilizes similar processes. Depending upon the size and form of the weed it will yield easily or require gloves due its thorny leaves; some potential prospects will be open to the approach and willing to listen while others will require a more delicate approach. Some weeds break away easily but leave their roots embedded deep within the ground; some potential prospects will seem to engage with you on a surface level but in truth are uninterested in the opportunity and difficult to engage with following the initial contact. Fire hosing as many potential prospects as you encounter is just like spraying weed killer – the long-term damage it does is not worth the short-term gain.


Pulling weeds (part 1)

I spent a portion of a recent weekend pulling weeds in what I consider to be a common area of the subdivision where I live but that is considered my property (and my responsibility) by the managing Home Owner Association (HOA). I had pulled weeds from there several weeks ago but after some recent rain and sunshine a small forest of assorted weeds had sprung up practically overnight.


Reasons for weeding
You might be thinking it rather odd that, in this day and age, I’m assorted weeds manually from the dirt and rock area by the mailboxes when any home improvement store would happily sell me a weed-killing liquid in a 1 gallon container with a convenient spray nozzle. I sometimes question my reasons too given that weeding was a childhood activity I loathed with passion. But as an adult I find it enjoyable to strap my iPod to my arm and decimate the weed population squatting on my property while listening to my favorite tunes. Especially as spring has come somewhat early to Central Arizona and Chandler it’s a beautiful time to be outside enjoying the sun while temperatures are still squarely rooted in the two-digit range. Finally, it’s also greener to pull weeds manually; spraying them with some unholy concoction of chemicals that kills them slowly over time and leaves their shriveled remains in place for weeks just doesn’t appeal to me.


Pull versus spray
I will admit that spraying weeds with weed killer requires less time and doesn’t get dirt under one’s nails but it has so many negative effects that are either hidden or not addressed. The obvious is the immediate effect – once I pull the weed out of the ground my weed issue has been resolved but two minutes after spraying said weed with weed killer it’s still very much in residence. On a microscopic level it’s already feeling the effects of the toxic shower but to the naked eye (or sun glassed eye in the case of local residents) the weed problem still exists. Weeds sprayed with weed killer take a period of time to die and dissolve away, which is not something I want to see – the weeds I relocate manually end up in the garbage can within minutes of their removal from the ground. The mailboxes for the surrounding homes are positioned in that strip of property and it would seem that the area is a favorite dog defecation spot, so the potential for a neighborhood animal to gnaw on the now-toxic plant is not a palpable proposition to me. Further, spraying a weed typically involves spraying the immediate area around the weed as well, so the contaminated area is far larger than the weed’s footprint. So, for all those reasons, I prefer to extradite the weeds manually.


How weeding relates to you
So, how does this relate to running a business? I will present my answer to that question in part 2 of this blog post, which will appear on Friday.


I have blogged previously about online degree programs and how I believe that everyone should pursue further education as a way to challenge themselves and to keep learning. So I’m glad to practice what I preach; I sat and passed an exam earlier today to become a Certified Usability Analyst (CUA).

So no formal blog post today because I’m going out to dinner to celebrate!

Defective lamp

I purchased 2 identical lamps from an online retailer last Sunday and both items arrived this evening. Sadly, one is defective and must now be returned for replacement.


In case you are wondering, I did extensive basic troubleshooting to determine that the lamp is defective. I tested the same bulb in both lamps so I know that the bulb is functioning correctly. I also plugged both lamps in turn into the same socket, so I know that the socket is functioning correctly. The only other piece of the equation is the threaded socket into which one screws the bulb, so that has to be the point of failure for the defective lamp.


The threaded socket
In case you are wondering, I investigated the threaded socket and it appears to be a molded piece that is then screwed into the metal part of the lamp structure. There is a label on the socket so any attempts to interfere with it will damage the label, so its positioning was clearly no accident.


Return policy
In case you are wondering, I have already checked the online retailer’s website for their return policy and it’s straightforward-enough. No indication of what the average turnaround time is but at least the process only consists of a few easily-performed steps so it shouldn’t be much of a pain to deal with.


Update: The lamp works!
I decided to return to the scene of the crime and mess with the threaded socket a little more (it’s a guy thing) and it’s now working! Am guessing that a wire was loose or something. ‘Least now I don’t have to go through the hassle of retuning it, but I think I will mess with it a little more tomorrow to determine if I should replace the cord and the threaded socket completely. It is a metal lamp after all…

Third-party tools

If you struggle to remember all of the key points when talking with potential customers or leads about your business, or if you suspect that you are turning off potential customers or leads because you fire hose them with data, then maybe you should rely more on your third-party tools.


Types of third-party tools
There are a lot of different types of third-party tools available to you. If you are an Independent Brand Partner, Independent Representative, Independent Associate, Independent Business Associate etc. of an existing business then you already have access to a myriad of third-party tools, be they human, paper or media-based, or digital in nature. Reliance on one format to the exclusion of all others is not a wise strategy, as each has its own unique advantages and limitations, so you should ensure that you assess each situation and utilize the appropriate tool(s) for the occasion.


Human third-party tools
Human third-party tools are obviously your immediate sponsor and those others in the business structure above you. You typically leverage them through 3-way calling where you and your potential customer or lead listen as your sponsor or other company representative provides an overview of the business, the product(s), and the opportunity. Human third-party tools also come into play during home demonstration activities and presentations. It may initially feel weird to utilize another person as a “tool” but it is merely playing to the human characteristic of giving greater deference and respect to experts that we don’t know versus experts that we do. In other words, “a prophet is never respected in his own country” as the saying goes.


Paper and media-based third-party tools
Paper and media-based third party tools include newspaper or magazine articles about the company, brochures, pamphlets, product catalogs, business cards, refrigerator magnets, product samples, CDs, DVDs etc. The obvious advantages of such tools are that they can be shared between multiple people and result in multiple impressions and they are not time-dependent, meaning that they can lie untouched in a location until the potential customer or lead has an opportunity to interact with the tool. If a potential customer or lead is hesitant about engaging in a 3-way call it may be because they are genuinely in a hurry or otherwise engaged in other tasks, but more likely it is because they are feeling pressured to participate in the call or because their initial inquiry about your business was casual in nature. Many people respond to the “let’s get YOU on a 3-way call with my sponsor right now” approach off-putting but they will happily accept a brochure, pamphlet, CD or other paper or media-based third party tool because it gives them back the implied control.


Digital third-party tools
Digital third-party tools are dynamic in nature; web sites and company blogs update continuously with new and interesting information that generate a level of excitement and urgency unmatched by the other tools. Audio commentary can be updated frequently so that it includes timely figures, pricelists reflect current pricing, and email campaigns can be configured to appear directly to the sensibilities of the recipient. However, these aspects are also the primary downside of digital third-party tools – creating and maintaining digital content is time-consuming and the end result often does not reflect the amount of time and effort that was expended to create it. Leverage the capture pages and company-generated blogs and assorted digital media that your company generates for you rather than attempting to reinvent the wheel.


Digital transition

I started planning to purchase a new laptop starting maybe October of last year. I finally completed the process a couple of weeks ago, and both the new laptop and Windows® 8 have been quite the transition.


First the technical specs
The laptop is a Samsung™ touch screen Ultrabook™ running Windows® 8 on an Intel® Core™ I5 microprocessor (the Series 5 Ultra if you want to check it out on the Samsung™ website. I knew I wanted either an Intel® Core™ I5 or Intel® Core™ I7, and I had been drooling over the Ultrabook™ designs but otherwise I was open on whatever met my budget. So I did a lot of searching, in-store evaluations, and finally settled on the machine that I purchased.

I came really close to purchasing an Ultrabook™ running Windows® 7 on an Intel® Core™ I7 microprocessor because it was within my budget but decided that it made sense to go the newer Windows® 8 route rather than stick with the known, but older, operating system. Only time will tell if that was the correct decision.


Digital transitions are tough
While I typically enjoy booting new computers for the first time, this experience has been a little different. The Windows® 8 interface is very different, for one thing, and having a touch screen added to the mix adds an additional level of complexity because I’m trying to leverage the touch screen versus connecting a mouse and keyboard. I’ve used touch screen devices before but never on a laptop so that’s been different too – it feels odd reaching over the keyboard to touch the screen. But it’s a transition and I know that I’ll get used to it all in time. At the very least it’s a huge step up from my old laptop which had become so slow as to be practically painful to use.

As Jeff Olson says, you have to slow down to go fast and I’m understanding what he means. Once I get used to this new configuration my productivity will be higher than it was previously. And that’s the hidden value of any transition; it can be tough initially but over time the benefits far outweigh the pain and inconvenience.

Terminology (part 3)

The other side of the terminology discussion involves using industry standard terms of a particular industry with  those unfamiliar with the industry. Such terms and acronyms may make perfect sense to you and other industry professionals but to the rest of us it sounds like you are speaking some form of shorthand gibberish.


Corporate speak
We make fun of corporate speak all the time, but within the corporate environment those terms, acronyms and abbreviations make perfect sense. Indeed, after a while the acronyms and abbreviations become so inherent to one’s vocabulary that they become normal words, which is why most corporate employees pause for a second when you ask then what a particular acronym or abbreviation actually stands for – they have to recall that information from some dark recess in their mind. So it’s always interesting to see how much of that corporate speak and standard industry terms seep into a company’s advertising and promotional materials. Inclusion within industry-specific periodicals and other publications makes sense – such media shouldn’t dilute their industry-specific content just in case someone unfamiliar with the industry happens upon a copy and chooses to peruse it casually. But for mainstream materials and general publications those terms, acronyms and abbreviations really need to be weeded out and replaced with more common language.


Speaking with customers
That advice on limiting corporate speak in printed and web-based materials also applies equally to talking with potential contacts and existing customers Potential contacts may have zero knowledge of your company and its products and existing customers may not be fully up to speed on the appropriate terms either. You don’t have to dumb it down but you do have to be cautious in how you introduce your product, company, and business opportunity. Even if your product or company is well-established in the marketplace and the need for your product(s) and/or service(s) is obvious, you can still lose your potential audience if you alienate them with your words. That’s one reason I like being an Independent Brand Partner of Nerium™ International; we all have fine lines and wrinkles that we want to reduce and I can just point to my face as an example of what is possible. No confusing terminology needed.

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