Execute or Die

Posted May 10th, 2010 by admin with No Comments

Execution is a huge hurdle for aspiring entrepreneurs. Will you get the job done for your boss but not for yourself? It’s the few who push themselves into action and through to completion that get ahead in business. The rest of us pick a company and fight on its behalf. We may have dreams and plans but we never execute. If working for a boss works for you, that’s wonderful. I mean no disrespect to the hard working rank and file employees in today’s workplace. I do, however, want to pick on those with dreams that are never fulfilled. You’re better than that.

How’s Your Grammar

Posted May 8th, 2010 by admin with No Comments

Strunk and White did it best – concise and accurate. So why are we so bad at grammar? We live in an age of information. There’s no reason whatsoever for us to misunderstand their versus they’re. We have free web access to some of the world’s greatest books and resources. Just about every question is answered online.

But for some reason, greater access to the tools we need to learn grammar hasn’t helped us improve.

I know one student that carries an old fashioned pocket dictionary in her bag. I’ll tell you why she’s a good example for us. It doesn’t matter if you use a mobile app or a paper reference book. But use something for goodness’ sake.

Forget spell check and grammar check. Sometimes the computer is wrong and we end up looking like morons. Not to mention, our verbal communication doesn’t go through an error filter. So one way or another the truth about our inability will come out. And, again, we end up looking like morons.

Grammar really isn’t too hard to master. But the consequences of getting it wrong can have big consequences. I know I lose a bit of respect for people who rely on red and green underlines all the time. We have no excuse to get the basics wrong.

If you’re counting on your computer to make you appear grammatically competent, you’re fooling no one.

What Derails Your Strategy Most?

Posted March 23rd, 2010 by admin with No Comments

When you’re fighting for a cause, negotiating a deal, or debating an issue, staying focused on the details that matter can be a challenge. Watch any episode of Judge Judy for an example of people getting distracted from the issues. Successful strategic communicators stay on topic in order to win ground where it counts most – the outcome. You can spend a lot of time on the wrong details. But picking your battles is one key element that can make an impact on the outcomes that really matter. Distractions can take up valuable time and derail your strategy. Keep on topic to fight the battles that help you win the war.

Managing Your Mess and Feeling Good About It

Posted February 25th, 2010 by admin with No Comments

Yesterday I had a very productive day. This is my first week of maternity leave and baby hasn’t made its entrance so I’ve been keeping busy with my own “stuff.” Even though I’m a full time writer, I don’t get the chance to work on my own projects as much as I’d like. So, yesterday my “stuff” was an ebook I’ve been working on slowly for a while.

Really I want to write to you today about time management but since I brought up the ebook I might as well give you an idea of what I’m planning. This site focuses on two main skills for helping you become your best self: strategic communications and self-awareness. Well, the first ebook at jtcina.com will be on self-awareness.

I’ll be leaking out tidbits of information on the book as I go but for now I’d like to say it’s turning out to be enlightening and provocative – I’m excited particularly about the provocative part since keeping it exciting will make it so much more interesting to read. Stay tuned.

On to the time management portion of this blog entry…. Yesterday I punched out 2700 words or so in less than half a day of work. The volume alone isn’t as important as the fact that those 2700 words have been edited as well and are actually good. I love that I was productive, effective, and had time to spare. The trick was I focused and allowed no distractions. I can go into a diatribe of my time management beliefs and tactics but I’d like to share the experience of another guru instead. This guy makes most of us look like jokes when it comes to productivity. And, I always say, don’t aim for mediocrity. Find the person or company who’s doing the best job and go after them. So, here is the story of Cal Newport – MIT post-doc and Study Hacks mastermind.

A lengthy but worthwhile read that might change your life!!

Would You Make It If You Were Lost At Sea?

Posted February 23rd, 2010 by admin with No Comments

I was surfing through a quotations app on my iPhone and I came across this gem from Saint Augustine.

“People travel to wonder at the height of the mountains, at the huge waves of the seas, at the long course of the rivers, at the vast compass of the ocean, at the circular motion of the stars, and yet they pass by themselves without wondering.”

Our goal here at jtcina.com is to help you become your best self through strategic communications. However, central to your success is a high degree of self awareness. You can’t be strategic without a strong understanding of who you are and what you want.

This is clearly a timeless issue if Saint Augustine was writing about it in the first century. Perhaps the key here iswonder. Can you investigate yourself if you aren’t curious?

Take a moment right now and put yourself into an unlikely hypothetical situation. For example, how might you react if you find yourself lost at sea? Would you surprise yourself?

Perhaps you need a reason to be curious. But I challenge you to imagine an unlikely scenario and how you might handle it. It’s no wonder you aren’t amazed with your life when your life feels like it belongs on a production line, with tomorrow cut from the same cloth as today. Imagine tomorrow to be completely different and rediscover a you that’s worth discovering.

Strategy Leads to Control

Posted December 18th, 2009 by admin with No Comments

A lot of words are said and written every day in the business world. If you did the math, what percentage of your daily communications output would actually be strategic? How often do you actually think before you speak?

Becoming intentional about your actions and words is not just a productive business choice. It can be a way of life where you have ultimate control. Strategy requires having an intention or goal in mind. With a goal as your foundation you can make intentional choices about your course of action, inaction, language, etc. When you don’t have a goal in mind and speak without forethought you have no control and you’ll be at the whim of fate.

Are You Ready to Recover Along With The Recovering Economy?

Posted December 4th, 2009 by admin with No Comments

For businesses, recovery after the recession is a time for growth. The economic collapse of the past year or so has closed a lot of the mediocre businesses that were surviving on the wings of a ballooning economy. Now that the weaker competition is out of the picture, those businesses that survived are well positioned to claim more market share as businesses and consumers start spending again.

Positioning your company for the economic upturn is what you need to be doing right now if you haven’t already started. What steps have you taken so far?

Have you streamlined your processes?
Have you organized your sales process?
Have you eliminated inefficiencies in your accounting?
Have you built a marketing strategy?

No matter your business size, you need a marketing plan and you need to focus on your customers’ needs. If you don’t make this a priority, the economy will squeeze you out.

If only the best have survived the recession, are you ready to compete?

Critical Event Invitation Elements

Posted November 10th, 2009 by admin with No Comments

We’ve seen many events flop from the moment they hit the market. Many times failure comes from the event’s invitation. Your event invitation is the prospect’s first impression and you don’t want that impression to be – DELETE ME.

We cover a number of event best practices in this blog. We discuss design and copy. We make recommendations on what elements to include in your messaging. We discuss design rules and options. Today let’s go back to the basics.

Here is a list of elements every invitation should include. If you run a lot of events, you might want to print off this checklist to avoid missing important pieces in the future.

  1. View online option
  2. Forward to a friend link
  3. Unsubscribe option
  4. Name of host individual or organization
  5. Header image
  6. Headline
  7. Sub-headline
  8. Personalization tag (Dear recipient name,)
  9. Body copy (with reasons to attend)
  10. Call to action
  11. Register button
  12. Save the Date calender file (to save locally to recipient’s calendar)
  13. For businesses, host’s logo
  14. Event details (date & location)
  15. Agenda breakdown
  16. Contact information (email and/or phone number)
  17. Reference information (so those answering the phone have relevant event information)
  18. Legal copy (privacy statement is a must)

Originally posted on Starshot.com

Why Are Demanding Clients Great For Business?

Posted November 4th, 2009 by admin with No Comments

In business it can be comforting to have a laid back client that trusts you to make the tough decisions. Sometimes it’s nice not to have to justify or explain your choices.

While there are cases where a trusting client is great, they can also be a liability. Customers that let you do your thing aren’t challenging you. You aren’t pushing the envelope to please them regularly. Instead, you can rest on yesterday’s laurels.

Problem is, slowly your work won’t keep up with the evolving competition and you will eventually lose the business to someone who does it better.

The other issue with clients you don’t hear from frequently is that they may be giving you a clear sign that they don’t really care what you do. The downside is that if clients aren’t aware of what you’re doing for them, you won’t get credit when you get results. Ever have a client take credit for a victory you know your work helped win? Next thing you know your client is convinced they don’t need you. And, again, gone is the business.

Delivering good customer service can be a challenge, but the sometimes the more painful it is the better your chances at customer retention.

Hosting an event offers a case in point.

When you’re running an event and you know way too much about attendee John Doe, count your blessings. Have you had Mr. Doe call you three times to chat about the agenda? Did he even mention the typo in paragraph two of your reminder email? Do you know his dietary needs by heart? Does he stick around after the presentation to talk to your sales representative?

Guess what? You may just have a hot lead on your hands.

Don’t worry about too many interactions with customers or event attendees. Worry about the under-the-radar guests that slip out immediately before your Q&A session. Less conversation is usually the sign of a lost opportunity.


Originally posted on starshot.com

When Are You Done?

Posted October 30th, 2009 by admin with No Comments

If you’re a perfectionist, you may never complete a project because it’s never quite perfect. If there are millions of perfectionists that manage to get things done, what’s their secret?

Learning to let go before you’ve reached your standards is a difficult thing to do. But, it’s a lesson you need to learn.

I like to stop working on a project when I think it’s between 70-75% done. That works for me in the business/professional world. In my academic world, I need to aim a bit higher for my own comfort – between 80-85%.

The “100% Complete” status that most of us seek is elusive because it pushes further and further out as you get closer to it. New arguments come up, new loop-holes are found. I’ve been “updating” a paper on human rights for almost two years now. It’s never been “ready” to send out for publishing.

Don’t be Afraid of Plain Text

Posted October 28th, 2009 by admin with No Comments

At first I loathed what I considered to be boring email invitations – plain text. They make it harder to track response rates and I didn’t consider them as effective as fully designed html invitations. But in the era of Blackberry and other handheld devices, I’m warming up to the idea of plain text emails.

Plain text is e-communications at its most honest. No frills or graphic tricks to draw you in unfairly. You either like the content or you don’t.

Here are some quick tips for your next text-only email:

  1. Since there are no images, it is important to have a single and dominant “Register Now” hyperlink near the top of the invitation.
  2. Email clients tend to break up the lines of text at inconvenient places causing the email to appear broken and disjointed. The solution is to keep lines of text short and add a hard return at the end of each one. A good rule is to restrict the length of each line to 65 characters.
  3. Use ++++++++++++,  ===============, or **************** to improve the visual appeal and break up sections.
  4. Test your campaigns thoroughly over time. You want to understand how plain text and html emails perform in your specific market.

Events in the Cloud

Posted October 19th, 2009 by admin with No Comments

Cloud Computing is taking over the tech world.

Cloud is a metaphor for the Internet, andcomputing is just broad and vague enough to incorporate a growing notion of technical functionality.

According to a Gartner definition sourced in Wikipedia, “Cloud computing is the provision of dynamically scalable and often virtualisedresources as a service over the Internet on autility basis.” In practical application, it means working from software that is not installed on your hardware; it means storing and accessing your files remotely. It means a team of people can work live from the same document regardless of location. It means there will be a team of technical geniuses working on the back end to perfect the tools we use every day. When there’s a glitch, it gets addressed immediately, no waiting for patches or version upgrades. It means I don’t have to waste my time working around imperfect technology. I can actually use the tools as they were intended, rather than putting on my tech support hat to figure out a problem outside of my scope of knowledge.

So, why does this matter to event marketers?

Just about every form of business success depends on a business’s ability to innovate. As events morph into virtual happenings such as webinars and podcamps, we should be thinking of what events might look like in the future.

My imagination sees something like this:

Two keynote speakers (Speaker 1 & Speaker 2) living in different communities (or continents even) can work together on the same presentation file, using Microsoft SharePoint for example.  Each can make changes and see the work of his/her colleague in real time. Speaker 1 will be attending the physical element of the event but doesn’t need to carry a copy of the presentation. In fact, Speaker 2 is adjusting her slides from her home office while Speaker 1 arrives at the venue.

When the presentation begins, Speaker 1 accesses the presentation file online and runs his portion of the event. Speaker 2 begins her portion and references statistics from last year’s Sample Organization Annual Report. (She just added these statistics last minute.) Unbeknownst to Speaker 2, Sample Organization’s CEO is attending this event from his office. He speaks up, elaborates on the study further, and identifies a small margin of error overlooked by Speaker 2. Speaker 2 adds the figure to the event slide and attendees all over the world see the change.

The speakers have planned to end the presentation with a live poll. (Imagine polling a live studio audience without the physical limitations of the studio!) The results are generated instantly from contributions around world.

Create a buzz, spread the word and those who missed the event can re-live the event on demand. And for a dynamic experience, those who watch the recorded event after the fact will be able to respond to the poll which is constantly updating as new respondents add their input.

Some of the most lucrative content in media is perishable content such as sports games and news. In a time where it’s easy to store your favourite movies and tv shows on your PVR or computer, content with a shelf-life attracts an audience in real-time. The live elements and functionality of cloud computing can give events the power of NOW – so your sales event can benefit from the appeal of perishable content.

Originally posted on starshot.com