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Thursday, June 16th, 2011

The Wall Street Journal Outlines 5 Secrets Of The Success Of Apple Stores

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Great piece in the WSJ yesterday about the secrets of Apple stores.

I found these 5 “secrets” that the WSJ uncovered most interesting:

Sales Associatates “Don’t Sell”

…sales associates are taught an unusual sales philosophy: not to sell, but rather to help customers solve problems. “Your job is to understand all of your customers’ needs—some of which they may not even realize they have,” one training manual says. To that end, employees receive no sales commissions and have no sales quotas.

Soft/Comforting Language Used

The store’s confidential training manual tells in-store technicians exactly what to say to customers it describes as emotional: “Listen and limit your responses to simple reassurances that you are doing so. ‘Uh-huh’ ‘I understand,’ etc.”

Former Geniuses say they were told to say “as it turns out” rather than “unfortunately” to sound less negative when they are unable to solve a tech problem.

Strict Rules On Performance

Apple employees who are six minutes late in their shifts three times in six months may be let go. While there are no sales quotas, employees must sell service packages with devices, according to former employees. Those who don’t sell enough are re-trained or moved to another position, depending on the store.

Extensive Training Before New Hires Get To Speak To Customers

Back on the sales floor, new hires must shadow more experienced colleagues and aren’t allowed to interact with customers on their own until they’re deemed ready. That can be a couple of weeks or even longer.

No Correcting Customers

Keith Bruce, 23, who worked at an Apple store in Virginia for three-and-a-half years until December 2009, says he was told the sales floor was a stage where he should focus on things he can do, rather than things he can’t. If a customer mispronounced an item name, he was forbidden from correcting them because that would make them feel patronized.

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Wednesday, June 15th, 2011

The 10 Reasons Mark Zuckerberg Has A Tougher Job Than Lebron James

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I love basketball.

I shoot hoops a few times a week; play in a fantasy basketball league and watch local NBA game on any night of the 8 month season.

As I watched the NBA playoffs this season, I realized that as tough as it is to be a pro in the NBA, it’s tougher to be a pro in business.

Mark Zuckerberg (at G8 Summit 2011) has it tougher than Lebron James (pictured dunking the ball below)

Top 10 Reasons Why Business Is Harder Than A Pro Sport Like Basketball

1) It’s Way Harder To Keep Score (In Business)

In basketball (and most sports), there’s a score that everyone can look at it…you know exactly where you stand versus your opponent.

In business, the score is much tougher. It may be a revenue goal (which most businesses don’t keep in real-time).

And in terms of how you compare to your opponent (i.e. competitor), you have to figure out how to determine your competitor’s score (which is very difficult in many businesses).

Tip: Chunk down your goals to smaller increments so that you know where you stand without waiting too long (like I illustrate in The 10 Maniacal Steps I Take For Setting Goals.

2) Business Has Many Clocks To Look At; Sports Has Just One

In basketball, there’s always a clock ticking. You know that there’s 10:05 left in the half or 1:07 left in the game.

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Saturday, June 11th, 2011

Don’t Screw Up Prioritizing Your Customers Like Hearst’s San Francisco Chronicle Did To Me Yesterday

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I was preparing my Dino kale salad with hard-boiled egg yesterday morning, and did a quick scan of the cover story in the San Francisco Chronicle (owned by the mighty Hearst Corp.).

The headline read:

“Bakery boss”

The Wrong Way: The San Francisco Chronicle prioritized their advertiser J.C. Penney over their reader when they placed a sticker ad that covered up the front-page headline

I didn’t get it: why would the Chronicle run a headline that simply said “Bakery boss”?

It had a picture below it of two people hugging…I was still confused.

Did a local baker get promoted to “boss” and that somehow was newsorthy?

I’m a former journalist and the first rule of headlines is that it should be compelling enough to make the reader want to read on.

Then I noticed that there was a sticker on the paper and maybe that was hiding something.

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Saturday, June 4th, 2011

4 Simple Tips To Help You Make Tough (“50-50″) Decisions

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I wrote about the Win-Win Exercise earlier today and it reminded me that I have three other decision-making tips I use on a regular basis.

These are techniques I use when there’s a real close call (“50-50″ so to speak) to make; they are often the most important decisions you’ll make.

So I’m putting all four decision-making tips here for easy access…plus I also remembered that I have this really cool illustration (below) that my nephew did for the topic!

My nephew drew this awesome image of a person having a tough time making a decision. I think it might be a combination of me and my dad!

4 Tips To Help You Make Tough Decisions

1) Decide Based On The Tougher Choice

If it’s a really tough decision on whether to take action or not take action, it is often the tougher decision that turns out to be the right one.

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Saturday, June 4th, 2011

How To Get A “Win-Win” Result From A Tough “50/50″ Decision

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A family friend asked for career advice the other day — he was trying to make a decision between finding a new job or staying put at his current job.

He was torn — almost manic — about which way to go…so I busted out the “Win-Win” exercise inspired by Yogi/Life Coach Terry.

I like using the “Win-Win Exercise” for making tough decisions — when the choice seems to be close to 50/50 —  because you can literally get the best of both worlds…a true “win-win.”

Here we go!

The 5 Steps Of The “50-50″/”Win-Win” Exercise

This Decision-Making exercise is easy: list off the pros and cons of your two choices (e.g. my friend is deciding between leaving his job or staying at his job.). And then there's a cool twist below!

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Saturday, May 28th, 2011

The 3 Ways To Self-Publish Or Sell A Book On Amazon

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I self-published a book for family and friends and have been wondering how to get it on Amazon – for wider distribution and so that folks can give feedback through Amazon’s reviews.

I Self-Published This Book And Am Considering Selling It On Amazon

So I asked San Francisco freelance writer Angela Privin (Wall Street Journal, Yoga Business Times) to research self-publishing/selling on Amazon and write an article on it. Here’s her summary:

Amazon has three programs for self-publishers to choose from:

  1. Create Space
  2. Kindle Direct Publishing and
  3. Advantage.

1) “Create Space:” Create Your Print- Or E-Book On Amazon

Amazon’s first option is Create Space. This online subsidiary company and self-publishing arm of Amazon.com allows the user to create and format a book for either print or digital distribution on demand.

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Tuesday, May 24th, 2011

Wow, Here’s An Excellent Thank-You Letter 16 Of Us Just Received

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A crafty college student named Brian Kerr networked his way into a phone meeting with me back in March — I was impressed by his chutzpah (I welcome cold-calls from ambitious folks!).

However, what really impressed me was the “thank you” letter he just emailed sixteen of us — that’s right, he talked to 16 people in his job searched and thanked us all.

This thoughtful thank you letter (full text below) made my day!

I’m blown away by the tenacity and professionalism of this young man: He even included details about why each of us were valuable to him in his job search.

I’ve included the email below (with his permission)…we have a lot to learn from this man.

His email is more thoughtful than ones I receive from most “professionals” with decades of experience!

From: Brian Kerr

Subject: Thanks to you, I got a job!

This email is a thank you to everyone who played a part in helping me in my career search.  I graduated from SFSU 5/21 with a major in Business Administration: Marketing.

5/22, I was hired by Firetide as WLAN Business Development. (How perfect, I know) Firetide is a Wireless technology startup that is located in Los Gatos, CA.

They specialize in Wireless Mesh infrastructures.  As part of WLAN Business Development, I will be working with two other individuals to ramp up and scale Firetide’s WLAN division.

Ultimately, the people at firetide truly won me over… (the CEO is hilarious, the Sr. Product Manager always has me smiling, and my team is made of Swedish tennis players….what more could I ask for?)

Mentions:

Kostas, Navid, James: Thanks for all the help on my resume, with your feedback, you helped me build one hell of a resume.  (The final version is attached to this email)

Rob, Gady, Greg, and Dana: It was from speaking with you that helped me get a clear understanding of what I truly wanted from my first professional job.  I learned that I wanted to be a social connector, someone who can do sales, marketing, pr, and management.

I realized that I needed a small entrepreneurial environment where I can wear many hats and take on lots of responsibility, so I can feed my desire for variety while still allowing me to take ownership/responsibility.

Ultimately, the most important thing was that I realized I wanted a place where I could make connections and build lasting professional relationships, internally and externally.

Jon, Kerry, Skip: Thanks for such a great time at TKG, you guys showed me that no matter what, I have to love the people I am working with.

Nancy: I can’t thank you enough for creating the environment at SFSU where I could learn inside the classroom, but also really truly learn by connecting with the faculty, orgs, and administration so that I could learn whatever fueled my interests.

Don, Anne, Foo, Mike, Jan: Your classes were by far my favorite.  It was because of you that school was a pleasure.  Please continue being amazing teachers, students need more teachers like you.

Everyone:

Thank you for helping me reach the next step in my career, one day I will be sure to return the favor.

-Brian Kerr

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Thursday, May 19th, 2011

The 10 Steps To Hiring An “A-Player”

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I was thrilled when I saw that Geoff Smart and Randy Street of ghSMART came out with the book Who: The A Method For Hiring on how to improve hiring. If you are involved in any hiring, I suggest you acquire this book right now!

You may recall that I had an incredible experience studying under Topgrading guru Brad Smart (Geoff’s father) in Chicago a few years ago with Eben Pagan and some of the Hot Topic Media gang — that meeting inspired this post: A Mis-Hire Costs You 13X That Person’s Salary: Why You Must Topgrade.

It’s good to see that the Smart family has the additional hiring horsepower

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