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Tuesday, June 29th, 2010

7 Easy Steps On How To Set Up A Blog Using WordPress


My non-profit friend Emily asked me for advice on setting up a blog.

Clever WordPress Logo In Van Gogh's Starry Night

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Sunday, June 27th, 2010

How To Select The Best Domain Name To Attract Search Engines


Did you know that one domain name could easily get you 5-times as much search engine traffic as another similar-sounding domain name!?

Picking the best domain name for your business is an important decision…especially given that search engines will examine your domain name to determine how much traffic to send it.

To pick the best domain name for a search engine, you’re gonna have to consider:

  • What words or phrases are your prospective customers typing into search engines?
  • Should a search engine know about your location?
  • How many domain names should you own to maximize your traffic from a search engine?
  • What’s the importance of “Micro-Sites” or “Campaign-Sites”?
  • And more!
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Monday, June 21st, 2010

3 Easy Steps To Using Google Analytics


I got asked today how you track links on your blog or Web site.

The simplest way to track your Web site/blog usage is to use Google Analytics.

I like it because it’s free and it gives you massive amounts of data in fairly easy to use interface.

3 Easy Steps To Tracking Web Site Usage Through Google Analytics

Step 1: Sign Up For Gmail

You’ll need a Gmail email address to get started. This is free and you can create one from here:

Step 2: Install Google Analytics Code On Your Web Site/Blog

Next, you want to install Google Analytics. Again, this is free and here’s a great tutorial on setting up Google Analytics.

You will have to wait about 24 hours for Google Analytics to start working (to show you stats).

3) How To Use Google Analytics

Twenty-four hours after you’ve installed Google Analytics, you can start seeing your data come in.

There’s a lot of data that will help you track such things as:

  • Number of visitors
  • Number of page views
  • The keywords that people search Google on to end up on your site
  • Which articles on your site are most popular
  • Which countries/cities your visitors come from
  • Which browsers they use
  • How many of your users are visiting you from mobile devices
  • And much more

Here’s a good tutorial on how to use Google Analytics:

If you want a more complex look at analytics, you might try reading my How To Use Marketing Analytics posting.

I hope you found this useful!

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Sunday, June 20th, 2010

How To Give Feedback: The Simple 3-Step Sandwich Method


If you lead a person or team, have peers you work with or even are managed by someone else (with no team that you’re managing), the Sandwich Method of Feedback is an effective communication tool.

I was reminded about the Sandwich Method in my Toastmasters public speaking class the other day.

Every speech in Toastmasters is evaluated and the delivery of criticism needs to be done delicately — I and others use the Sandwich Technique on a regular basis.

The Sandwich Method (or Sandwich Technique or Hamburger Method) is so named because the pieces of bread represent positive feedback/compliments while the meat of the sandwich (or innards if you’re vegetarian) represents constructive criticism.

I find this method of sandwiching the constructive criticism between two compliments to be an effective/disarming way to help improve/correct behavior.

The Sandwich Method

1) Slice of Bread 1: Start off with positive feedback (authentic praise of something they did recently)


“By the way, John, I have to hand it to you on that deal you closed yesterday…that goes a long way towards helping us reach our goal.”

“Anne, I really appreciate you chipping in for Nicole this week while she was out of the office — that type of teamwork exemplifies the values I’m trying to instill at our company.”

2) The “Meat of the Matter”: Provide your constructive criticism

Be brief (yet clear and thorough) in your delivery of the meat of the matter — the criticism you want to share.

Ideally you are giving them constructive criticism on just one thing (at most two things)…I find criticism of 3 or more items is too much for a person to handle at one time.

Additionally, try to give them the criticism in the context of how it can help THEM reach their goals.


“Jon, you’re so good at what you do that it’s hard to ever find suggestions on how you can improve. That said, I know you really want that promotion to Director of Sales. One skill you’re going to need in that position is analytics, and your weekly reports are currently pretty light on analytics. For you to earn that Director of Marketing spot, I recommend that you gain some mastery over analytics.”

“Anne, I know this is tough for you to hear, but you are perceived by some on the team as cocky. And I know that you mentioned that you wanted a transfer to Customer Service — well, we certainly don’t want them hearing that you have a reputation for cockiness. I recommend that you and I work together on making sure you’re not perceived as cocky.”

Caution About “Feelers”

Be especially careful about giving criticism to sensitive people or”feelers” as many of us call them in Carl Jung personality type speak (e.g. they would have the following personality types: INFP, ENFP, ISFP, ESFP, INFJ, ENFJ, ESFJ, ESFJ in the 16 Carl Jung Personality Types.

If you’re dealing with a sensitive/feeling type, I recommend you put in extra time on the Sandwich Method.

3) The 2nd Slice of Bread: End on a positive note

Ideas on how to end with positivity include

  • You can simply reiterate the initial positive feedback/compliment you had given them.
  • You can speak in general terms about how much progress they are making (read this article on How To Motivate Your Team Through Progresss).
  • You can compliment them on their receptiveness to receiving constructive criticism.


“Jon, that deal you closed was really important and I’m thrilled with the fact that you and I can have an open conversation about working harder on analytics.”

“Jon, I really admire your enthusiasm about developing yourself. You were already making headway and this analytics thing can be icing on the cake. I think it’s a huge benefit in you progressing towards the Director of Sales position you covet.”

“Anne, you’re really on the right track here. This cockiness thing is just a bump in the road and I’m looking forward to working on it with you.”

It should go without saying that all of your criticism (positive or negative) should be authentic and well thought out.

That’s the sandwich method…good luck with it!

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Thursday, June 17th, 2010

How To Recharge Yourself To Make It Through Life (Happy)


I was discussing ‘recharging’ with some friends over pizza in the Italian North Beach neighborhood of San Franciso the other night.

The concept of recharging caught my eye when I read the amazing book: The Power Of Full  Engagement by Tony Schwartz & Jim Loehr.

I was captivated by the stories that Tony & Jim told of how they studied professional tennis players.

I must have lent my copy of the book out so I’m going by memory here…as I recall, Tony & Jim studied two groups of tennis pros:

  • Group A: The Top 10 Tennis Pros (e.g. 1 to 10) (who make millions per year) and
  • Group B: The Lower-Ranked Tennis Pros (e.g. ranked 100 to 500) (who just scratch their way by career-wise)

When they studied videos of the two groups of tennis pros, they noticed something odd: there was no real difference in the talent of the two groups (a guy ranked 200 had essentially the same quality serve, forehand, backhand, etc. of a guy ranked #1).

Amazing, right?

So, what WAS the difference between the two groups

Answer: careful analysis showed that the main difference was the way the two different groups “recharged.”

Examples of recharging were:

What the players did between points

Group A had a a nice steady breath and a casual glance at their racket (perhaps adjusting a string or two) or looking up at place in the crowd or sky

Group B, on the other hand, spent time in between points getting angry with themselves or an umpire (e.g. about the last point they may have lost), distracted by someone in the crowd, or were otherwise fidgety.

A look at what the players did in between games and sets was similar: Group A player was relaxed and regrouping while Group B player was talking to himself or a fan or the umpire.

I recall that the authors may have also mentioned that they observed differences between how the two groups acted (or recharged) between matches too.

So, how does this relate to you?

Well, Tony & Jim pointed out that business-folks need recharging even more than athletes (because we typically don’t have coaches to help us out, structured training or dedicated time off (such as Spring/Summer for most professional basketball players or Winter for baseball players).

Reading Power Of Full Engagement inspired me to be more conscious of how I recharge my batteries.

So, I set up a new recharging strategy…it’s been a couple of years now and I thought I’d lay out my schedule of recharging.

Here’s a typical day for Rob Kelly:

  • 6:00am to 7:15am:  I wake up and focus on creative works (I read about concepts or play guitar or map out ideas on giant post-it notes) (Check out my article on 5 Easy Steps On How To Be An Early Riser.
  • 7:30am to 8:30am: I work out (yoga or basketball) (RECHARGING)
  • 9:15am to 11:30am: I work my job (and I get up at least once during this time to stretch my legs, drink water, etc.)
  • 11:30am to 12noon: I drink a caffeinated beverage and read the San Francisco Chronicle (RECHARGING)
  • 12noon to 2:30pm: I work more on my job
  • 230pm to 3pm: I take a 30 minute break for food and read the Wall Street Journal (RECHARGING)
  • 3pm to 5:15pm: I work my job
  • 515pm to 6pm: I pick up groceries for dinner (RECHARGING)
  • 6pm to 7:45pm: I work more on my job and do some light other work (perhaps write a blog posting)
  • 7:45pm to 8:15pm: I cook dinner
  • 8:15pm to 9:15pm: I watch quality TV (RECHARGING)
  • 9:30pm to 10pm: I read low-intensity books (usually fiction…so as to ease my way into sleep)
  • By 10:15pm, it’s usually light’s out (7 to 8 hours of sleep — RECHARGING)

I’m also trying to apply consistent recharging to longer time periods such as:

  • Weekends — I recharge through at least one visit to nature
  • Every Quarter — I try to take a long weekend at least once a quarter
  • Summers — I try to spend two weeks each summer with my family
  • Annual — I try to do one off-site family vacation per year
  • Bi-Annual — I try to leave the United States once every two years (that’s something I learned from How To Innovate: 5 Tips From Leading Innovators.

I’m really happy with the results so far. A consistent recharging has made me feel healthier and more balanced.

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Tuesday, June 15th, 2010

4 Easy Ways To Approach An Employer Who Has A Job You Want


You may periodically see or hear about a job you’d love to have — so what do you do next?

I believe that the best way to approach a job you want is to get the senior most person at the target-employer to refer you so that you get on the fast track for the interview process (with the hiring manager).

If you’re interested in that, here’s some advice I gave a colleague recently on how to do that through LinkedIn:

1) Identify The Employer’s Senior Most Person (Who Is Also On LinkedIn)

First, go to LinkedIn and search for the senior most person at the target-employer (I recommend you go for the CEO).

Note: If you’re not familiar with LinkedIn, read this LinkedIn For Beginners Article.

When I search on LinkedIn I use the “advanced search” and enter in the name of the target-employer  in the “Company” field (I start with “Current” in the drop-down) and then “CEO” in the title field.

Click Search.

Hopefully, up pops the CEO of the target-employer. If the CEO doesn’t pop up, then re-do the search by trying out other senior titles such as  “founder” or “president” or “vice president.”

Click Search.

Now you should have at least one senior person at the target-employer.

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Thursday, June 3rd, 2010

Questions To Ask Employers (When You’re Interviewing For A Job)


A friend of mine asked for my career advice the other day as he was preparing to interview for a job — I told him: turn the tables on your employer and ask THEM all the questions.

You may recall from A Simple 4-Step Approach on How To Sell Better (SPIN Selling), that I agree with the SPIN Selling approach in which you ask lots of questions to close a deal.

And this applies to a job interview in which you’re interviewing THEM as much as they are interviewing you.

Note: “Closing” the deal can include you closing it “out” (as in you don’t want to pursue the position)).

So, I rattled off these questions below. I suggest you immediately take control of the interview by saying something like: “Thank you for investing some time in me — would you mind if I began by asking a few questions about you and your business.

*Note: If any of these answers are available through research (e.g. on Web pages), you should research them ahead of time and skip asking them.

Questions To Ask Employers

Questions that Relate to the Person Interviewing You

  • How do you get hooked up with the business?
  • What are the top priorities for you right now?
  • What are some key things I can take off your plate?

Big-Picture Questions To Ask Employers

  • What are the top priorities for the entire business right now?
  • How is the company structure organized (e.g. is it by department or by brand (with each brand having its own departments) and how does your team fit in?*
  • What’s the “secret sauce” to how you make money (or create value)?
  • Who are the shareholders/owners of the company? (Do any of them work at the company?)*
  • Does the company have a purpose statement or mission statement?*
  • Does the company have a set of company values — if yes, may I see a list of them?*

Performance, Compensation & Benefits Questions To Ask Employers

  • How are priorities set? (e.g. within your group)
  • How will you measure my performance?
  • How does compensation work — is it just salary? Is there potential to earn bonuses or equity?
  • What’s the company’s approach to work versus personal/family time ?

Questions To Ask Employers That Relate to Just You

  • Who would my manager be and who do they report to?
  • What is the company’s room for moving up the corporate latter?
  • Are there any training opportunities I could potentially take advantage of?

I’ll add other questions to ask employers as I think of them…feel free to do the same in the comments section.

If you ask a lot of questions, and listen carefully, you’ll be in better shape to size up the job opportunity.

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Monday, May 24th, 2010

5 Tips On Managing Virtual Teams (From A Virtual CEO)


Virtual team management is not easy.

It sounds great for everyone to wake up in their pajamas and crank out work all day…but the fact is that managing virtual teams has a whole other host of challenges.

But I’ve been through it…so enjoy these first-hand tips to maximize your effective virtual teamwork.

Tips For Managing Virtual Teams

1) Hold Daily Huddles

I recommend that meet with your virtual team daily (every other day at the least).

See my article entitled How The Ritz Carlton & I Run Our Meetings: The Daily Huddle for my approach to such huddles.

These huddles can be via conference call or video-conferencing if you can afford that.

The main reasons for frequent huddles (which can be 15 minutes or less) are:

  • Speed — You will iterate faster
  • Alignment — You and your team will better stay aligned on objectives
  • Accountability — These meetings will hold you and your team accountable (it’s tough to hide poor performance when you meet daily or every other day)

2) Hold Periodic In-Person Meetings

For starters, for effective virtual team management, you’re still going to have to meet in person once in awhile.

If you are all in one country, I recommend you meet in person every other month — if that is not doable, I recommend you meet quarterly.

These in-person meetings are vital for such things as:

  • Setting longer-term goals — E.g. 3 year, 1 year and 3 month goals.
  • Virtual team building — Last I heard you can’t give hugs or high-fives over the Web!
  • Tackling discussion items that require 2 to 8 hours — Doing these virtually (i.e. over the phone) will be very stressful (especially since you and your team are already spending a lot of time on the phone)
  • Zoom-Out brainstorming — When you work virtually you tend to to be “zoomed-in” much of the time — you’ll need to leave your virtual workplace to zoom out on bigger picture/strategy items.

3) Use Document/Screen Sharing Programs — “Get on the same page!”

One of the biggest risks in virtual teamwork is that you and your team fall off the same page.

To help prevent that, I recommend you use such tools as:

  • Google Docs — This allows you to collaborate on word processing, spreadsheet and presentation documents together
  • ScreenShare Programs — These programs are are easy for showing your colleague what’s on your screen (screen-sharing programs I’ve used that I recommend include Mikogo, , the screen-sharing feature within Skype or Microsoft’s Live Meeting (all but Microsoft’s are free).

4) Hold A Regular Company-Wide Telephone Call

If you have multiple virtual teams (or your company is 100% virtual like ours), then I recommend that you hold a “Team Call” once or twice a month.

Topics for the team call can include:

  • An update on financials
  • An update on meeting objectives
  • Training the team on a skillset (perhaps how to use Google Docs, Mikogo or Live Meeting)
  • Praising team members for good work
  • Celebration of birthdays or anniversaries

5) Communicate Through The Appropriate Medium

Virtual team communication can be quite challenging…afterall, you can’t typically see another person’s expression or body language when you’re in a virtual office environment.

My general rule of thumb is that the more sensitive the topic to discuss, the higher the bandwidth communication you should use.

Here are examples of discussion topics and the communication method I recommend you consider:

  • Updates on product sales — Email is ok
  • Updates on a change in a company policy — Telephone preferable/email ok
  • If an employee is under-performing — Telephone is preferable (backed up by email)
  • Bad financial news — Telephone is preferable
  • If an employee needs to be let go or fired — In person is preferable/telephone is next best option (don’t do it via email!)

Leading virtual teams can be fun and rewarding…you just have to realize that it’s going to require some different approaches than working with your team in-person.

You’ll be mastering virtual teams before you know it!

If you liked this article, you may want to check out my article on Virtual Team’s Pros & Cons.

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