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Archive for the ‘Ramblings’ Category

If you’re an information junkie like me who subscribes to numerous professional, trade and special interest e-newsletters, then you’re probably just as overwhelmed as I am when it comes to managing the email inbox.

Yes, you’ve set up rules for Outlook (or similar program) to automatically route emails to appropriate folders.

Yes, it’s easy to glance at those folders for new emails.

But it’s also so very easy to get caught up in either taking “only a minute” to read a snippet here or there.

Before you know it, you’ve spent an hour on “educating” yourself on the latest news on the effect of Google’s most recent algorithm update, the reasons why you should attend the next best-ever conference, or how to improve your swim stroke for faster race times.

The key term here is “educating” because, otherwise, how can you justify that last hour that didn’t make a dent in the piles of work on your desk or on your project list?

Here’s a suggestion I’m going to try myself: switch to using a free email service like Gmail to handle all those incoming e-newsletters and notices that aren’t pertinent to my day-to-day work activities.

While I imagine it’s going to take some time to update all those e-newsletter accounts, I’m hoping that in the long run this will help me be more productive in the office.

Have another idea? Share your experience with me. Thanks!

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I’m faced with a very difficult decision today regarding my memberships with two professional organizations and the desire to join another.

The challenge comes down to what every business owner is facing today: stretching the budget to achieve maximum results.

It doesn’t matter that last fall I prepared what I believe is a realistic 2011 budget. It also doesn’t matter that I do have the money squirreled away to pay for the memberships.

It has everything to do with what’s happening in today’s business climate, planning for my firm’s current and future technology needs, and weighing these considerations with the value I get from my memberships.Logos for IABC, PRSA & SEMPO

Everyday the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) and the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) send me emails usually full of informative and insightful content that feeds my brain, my creativity, or my business self. The local chapter events provide ample time to connect with colleagues and meet potential project partners while enjoying a bit of camaraderie.

The challenge I’ve had the last year is that my schedule hasn’t been in sync with my local IABC and PRSA chapters’ events (and it doesn’t look any better for 2011 either).

For me, the value of membership with a professional organization is based on information/education and social connections. I strongly advise colleagues and students to join at least one organization within their chosen field that offer these kinds of important benefits.

Adding to this conundrum is the Search Engine Marketing Professionals Organization. SEMPO has been on my radar screen for the last few years and is in the forefront because more of my business includes SEO-oriented work and SEO copywriting. Plus I teach this stuff called SEO and online marketing at UNLV Continuing Education.

What am I gonna decide?

I don’t know…I have until tomorrow to decide.

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Toeing the Race Line

Photo credit: USATF.org

“When you put yourself on the line in a race and expose yourself to the unknown, you learn things about yourself that are very exciting.”  Doris Brown Heritage, five-time World Cross-Country Champion


If you want to be good at something, you gotta have passion and a willingness to get out there and challenge yourself. In Doris’ case, she broke new ground for women in the sport of distance running.

Yes, talent plays an important part but then why can gifted athletes lose a race, game or competition to someone else? In many cases, it just came down how the athlete’s passion and determination pulled a bit more effort from someplace deep inside.

Photo credit: Image from TravelAffialiates.com

Every time you show up to your office, store or simply for work, know that you’ve just put yourself into a race. Let your passion loose and see what you’re made of.

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Corporations and other businesses spend billions of marketing dollars each year to entice consumers to buy their products or services. Bottom line to all the messaging: “we want your business.”

But what happens when the reality doesn’t match the marketing promise? Could you be doing the same thing in your business?

Community Bank of Nevada and Wells Fargo Bank are two excellent examples of how reality is vastly stronger than a marketing message.

I mourn the passing of Community Bank of Nevada because, as one of its many non-business customers, I appreciated being appreciated. The staff at the Sunset branch always greeted me by name, something that always surprised me since I wasn’t a daily or even weekly customer. I enjoyed being able to talk with a teller in a normal voice level without the nearly sound-proof security Plexiglas in the way. Best thing of all – again for me as a customer – was the lack of long lines even on Fridays. I could walk right in the front door, get my business done, and be on my way – in and out – perfect for the busy professional like myself.

So you can imagine my confusion and disillusionment when I stopped at the Wells Fargo branch on Eastern, north of Tropicana, to handle some business for a vacationing client.

The door I tried entering through was “Exit Only” and it took me a few moments to comprehend the signage. In effect it said that access to the bank was limited to the other side of the building.

With no sidewalk or safe walkway around to the other side of the building, I got back in my car and drove to the back. Good thing I did. Another customer nearly got flatten by a speeding motorist wanting to use the ATM.

At the entrance, I was then faced with figuring out how get inside. A disembodied voice told me to wait for the green light. That’s when I realized this was a double-entry security entry with a metal detector. The voice told only one person could enter at a time. Okay, but what about the elderly woman leaning heavily on her cane? Could she make it through on her own?

After a process of green light-red light, I made it inside, feeling as I had entered the inner sanctum of a most holy temple. The exit process looked a little easier but I could help but wonder if its security setup would encourage hostage situations.

The Wells Fargo staffer at the door greeted me warmly, though I could tell she was bracing herself for another irate tirade from a customer. The tellers behind their Plexiglass shields looked just as uneasy. No one would comment on the new security measures or answer any questions about them. I could only speculate and wonder if this is the wave of the future for banking.

Despite its excellence in customer service, Community Bank of Nevada failed because of being under capitalized and having an increasing amount of bad commercial loans on its books.

But, if these new security measures that shout “I DON’T TRUST YOU” are widely implemented, how will Wells Fargo continue to attract customers based on marketing messages of “Welcome, we want your business”?

Only time will tell.

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Is it just me or are you, too, feeling pessimistic, angry and frustrated?

As a business communicator, I need to keep up on the latest news about the economy, business, world affairs and the like to better serve my clients. But seeing and hearing stories of people losing their homes and savings, corporate executives getting bonuses from their U.S.-taxpayer-bailed-out employers, local gaming institutions filing for bankruptcy, the conflicts along and beyond our border…<sigh> it certainly can be overwhelming.

I can feel the anxiety here in Las Vegas, a city struggling to deal with being on so many “Worst of” lists when it’s been on the “Best of” lists for decades. You can see our residents’ frustration by watching how they are driving – ever faster, zigging in and out of traffic, zooming up behind you, etc.

With all the reports and examples of doom and gloom, who can blame business owners and senior management for cutting back on expenses – including employees and their marketing efforts (a topic for another post) – because they are fearful that the bad luck or hardship befalling their neighbors and competitors will happen to them.

The problem is fear-based thinking only makes those problems worse and makes for a miserable quality of life.

I believe it’s long past due for adopting a new attitude, one that looks for the silver lining in the terrible black clouds everyone keeps talking about.

No, no, no, no. I’m not going “airy-fairy” on you.

I’m not about to say ignore what’s happening around you and go on living like it was 1999 (or some other by-gone era). But I believe what Ventura County reporter Michael Sullivan recently experienced supports my suggestion.

Your attitude colors your world. Think bleak thoughts and your world will be bleak. Think thoughts of possibilities, ideas and beauty, then your world will feel a bit lighter, brighter and bolder.

Physicist Albert Einstein said “We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.” Metaphysicist Ernest Holmes said quite succinctly “Change your thinking, change your life.”

So let’s start today – right this very moment – with thinking differently. Let’s look for the possibilities, solutions, ideas – all those “silver lining” things that will energize our minds and souls. Yeah, it’ll be tough especially when we’re surrounded by all the negative chatter. It’ll be like adopting a new habit. But I believe it’s well worth the effort.

Perhaps this quote from American humorist Will Rogers sums it up the best, “An economist’s guess is liable to be as good as anybody else’s.”

To me, that means we’re in control of our outlooks on business and in life. Let’s make it a positive one.

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Okay, perhaps that’s a bit of an exaggeration but I did experience a lot of exasperation.

Every four years, I’m practically glued to the TV to watch as many competitions as possible during the Summer Olympics – from the obscure like archery, equestrian and rowing to the “biggies” of swimming, gymnastics and volleyball.

I am always moved by the passion, dedication and ability of every competitor – no matter how perfect or imperfect their performance is. They’ve trained for years for their one chance at glory – at that very moment, their dreams teeter on success and failure. No matter the outcome, I know they’ve done their very, very best.

For the first time (in my memory anyway) the presidential candidates ran campaign ads. And not occasionally. It seemed every commercial break contained an ad by candidates Senators John McCain and Barack Obama.

But instead of running different commercials highlighting what they would do if elected, both campaigns replayed their same ad over and over and over and over again to the point that even changing from NBC to MSNBC (or vice versa) didn’t help me escape the onslaught. These ads ran more than the replays of that amazing swimmer Michael Phelps winning his eight Olympic gold medals or the Olympic theme song.

It’s the tactician in me who wants to know what the candidates’ plans are, how they will work to make those plans reality, where they stand on issues, and – perhaps most importantly – how truthful they really are about their records.

It’s the “authentic communications” marketer in me who wants to know these important messages. Instead, I saw “politics as usual” in these two candidates’ ads – only the tones were different. McCain was on the attack and Obama kept to his campaign slogan.

It frustrates me – as a communicator and citizen – to feel that I know more about an Olympic athlete from a 3-minute interview than I do about a presidential candidate after 19+ months of marathon campaigning.

So next time, I want my Summer Olympics free from presidential politics.

I can dream, can’t I?

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When I drove past acres of California almond and citrus groves between Bakersfield and Buttonwillow today, I was struck at how much the area had changed since last September when I came though.

The fields and groves are shrinking, the fields being enveloped by tract houses, gated communities and new shopping centers. Meanwhile, the once-new area of Rosedale Hwy at Hwy 99 had more “For Lease” signs in front of the shopping enclaves.

Is this really “progress”? Plowing under precious farmland at a time when this country is relying more on imported foodstuffs? When we hear the call to “think global, buy local”? Building new neighborhoods that suck the life out of established ones? Making it almost impossible for folks who want to live and work with the land by making the land, seed and equipment too expensive?

Does anyone have any answers?

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