Monthly Archives: December 2013

Developing the CEO within — a spiritual guide!

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Developing the CEO within!

It all sounds so spiritual. Look within young one! But, what if you don’t have a CEO within? If you run a small business, you are a CEO. You have to make executive decisions, but you might not make them like a professional. Sometimes it is good to ask, “If I were a real CEO, what would I do now?” You might ignore the problem entirely because it was small instead of getting all worked up about it. Or you might find a long range plan of solving the problem in a way that enhances your business model. Just finding quick fix solutions to problems is not very CEO-ish if you ask me!

How to develop your CEO consciousness
First, meditate on the Buddha for four hours a day, fast for a month, and then ask me. Just kidding! If you give yourself simulated business problems, or interact with other people who have business problems, you begin to train your mind how to think three dimensionally about business issues. The more you think and hear how other people handle problems, the smarter you will be.

Reading books and magazines?
In my opinion, books and magazines are often very general about how they handle business issues. Media is concerned with huge acquisitions, and text books are concerned with theoretical issues that professors like to think about. A PhD in Microeconomics might not help you as much as hanging around on the street and seeing real business being done. I’m not discouraging you from reading books and magazines, but they rarely touch upon real life issues which are pertinent to you. It is better to experience problems first hand and talk to others who are a few steps up the evolutionary ladder than you are to learn how they would handle it.

Who would you learn better from?
If you could give me a choice of two business mentors, who would I choose? One has a double PhD from Yale, the other is a Mafia Boss. That’s a no-brainer (or a no-knee-capper). Mafia bosses not only understand a lot about business, but they understand human nature too. They know how to make people loyal to them, and need them. They have close knit extended families which gives them a wide net of connections. They know how to make relationships and develop them over Italian coffee and Tuscany white wine. They know how to assert their dominance better than most professors (but, I really shouldn’t generalize). They also know how to break relationships (and legs). They know how to pay people enough so they are not hated, but not so much, that those people no longer need them. They know a lot about competitive analysis (and making the competition leave town) as well. Proper grammar might not be their forte, but “You’s guys don’t need no grammar anyways”

Blogs can sometimes be the best business education
I love to read Harvard Business Review and Marketingprofs blogs. Sure, the content matter is not always applicable to my business, but I can learn some quick management and marketing facts that can change my business in five minutes or less. Reading a blog cannot get you into business, but it might be able to teach you a few tips how to do better if you are already afloat.

If you had a lemonade stand or lawn mowing business as a kid, your journey to CEO-hood has been sprouting for years now. There is hope for you. For your kids, ask them business questions and make them think. They might evolve into the next super-mogul all because of your help.

Anyway, “You’s guys have a nice night — capiche?”

(capiche is Sicilian for — “understand?”)

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Optimizing your Twitter PPC Campaign

Categories: Of Interest, Social Media | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Optimizing your Twitter PPC Campaign

Many of us use Twitter, but how many of us use the pay-per-click program? It is a different animal. You have to be careful not to overspend, but also be careful about how your structure your adgroups. Twitter PPC has adgroups. You might put a bunch of different tweets in the same adgroup, or you could divide them. You can bid a different amount of cents for each adgroup. You can also bid for getting new followers. It is complicated.

My recommendations

(1) Keep separate adgroups for each tweet.
This might take more time. But, you need to see which tweets are getting clicked on, and at what price. If they are all bunched together, your google analytics will tell you which one is getting traffic — that is all you will know. If you raise the bid, then maybe the other ones will get traffic. It is complicated. If you keep your campaigns separate, then you can see the price breakdown for each tweet and see if it is worth it. You might get very cheap clicks on certain tweets which might do miracles for whatever those tweets link to. If a particular tweet doesn’t get many clicks, you can abandon promoting that particular tweet. My experience is that you should choose your tweets carefully before submitting them. Of the ones you think might do well, only 20% will actually do well. But, 20% is enough. As time goes on you can continue testing new tweets to see how they do.

(2) Paying for followers
It is hard to know what a follower is really worth. For each 1000-4000 followers, you might get a single click for each link you put in a tweet. That is not a good average. This is why you need huge volume to do well on Twitter. You also need really interesting content. Most Twitter followers are extremely dormant and are following so many people that they are not paying attention to any of them! You can start bidding low for followers and see how many you get. If you don’t get too many, then experiment bidding higher. Keep records of how you did at various levels. Stay at each price break for a week before going to the next level and keep very careful records with dates and times of price changes. Once you find your ideal price range that gives you good output without destroying your bank account, then stay there for a while.

A good PPC campaign on Twitter can give you a huge account in a year or two. Niche accounts might get 10,000 followers in that time while more general interest accounts could get a million. To get ahead in business, networking on Twitter is a powerful source of SEO power. The actual new visits to your site you get from Twitter is only the tip of the iceberg of what it is worth. The SEO value of having a big Twitter account tweeting links to critical pages on your site and blog is huge! Whether it is price effective or not is up to you to find out, but don’t underestimate the power of Twitter.

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How to optimize your Twitter campaign

Categories: Of Interest, Social Media | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

How to optimize your Twitter campaign

Twitter is an interesting beast. It is hard to tame, and hard to harness. But, some people have figured out how to use it optimally and almost effortlessly with great results.

SEO benefits of Twitter
I have learned that the actual new traffic we get from Twitter is negligible. However, the SEO benefits we get on Google derived from our use of Twitter is unbelievably good. Twitter as a tool should be used to link to your important pages on your site and blog. My experience that a link to each important page every four months is perfect. You basically get points with Google every time you post a link on Twitter, and then get even more points each time the link gets clicked on by someone other than you (they know if it’s you). If your Twitter account is large, you get points for having a link from a larger account. Twitter is powerful in optimization, so don’t underestimate its strength.

How to grow your Twitter the easy way
Twitter requires daily care just like a plant, or a pet. You have to water a plant regularly, otherwise it withers. You have to feed your pet and scratch its back and talk to it, otherwise your pet gets lonely. Twitter is just like this! The secret is to use the suggested other Twitter accounts on the left, and follow a few of them every day. Pick the more interesting and relevant ones.

(1) Follow new accounts every day, but don’t go overboard or the Twitter gods get mad. If you like over 1000 people in the same day you will get into trouble.
(2) Find all of the new people who followed you and say, “Thanks for following”. This is important because it engages not only the person who followed you, but is visible to those who frequent that person’s account — and those people might follow you too after they see your icon.

(3) Make thoughtful, interesting, and unique comments on the tweets of people who you follow. Those comments are visible to anyone visiting their page, and those visitors will retweet you and follow you if you are intelligent enough. This is a skill that requires daily refinement, so start today!
(4) Study what types of tweets other people respond to, and make more of them. Learn to do “profiling” or “segmenting” of types of tweets. Avoid downers and give relevant information, shockers, and entertaining information in your tweets.

(5) Retweet others, but don’t retweet the same account more than once in two weeks unless it is 200% relevant to your material. The purpose of retweeting is that it is a great way to get your icon seen. Retweeting general news issues, or things of general interest is a good idea.

(6) Your tweets should be a mixture of industry specific, social media, and current events / news. This is what the professional marketing managers use as a mixture. The exact percentage of the mix might vary from account to account. By social media, we mean interesting commentary that one of your Facebook friends might have made on Facebook or Twitter, etc. Don’t tweet boring stuff, but people love a cool quote — this is what the experts do. I tried this approach and got results from it.

(7) Filter your tweets. I might write 200 tweets and pick the best 80 if you want to keep your fans happy. It is about quality if you want to get retweeted and followed.

(8) Pay-per-click is not for everyone, but that is a fast way to get followers. We get 500 new followers per month on our notary twitter and that is a very tiny niche market. It took us four years to get 3500 people, now we can get double that in around one year — now that is speed. PPC is time efficient. Instead of spending lots of time following others and commenting on their posts, PPC gets you 10x the results in 10% of the time! If you have more money than time, use PPC.

It takes time!
Expect to spend 15 minutes a day on Twitter. Don’t waste time on it. Go through steps 1-7 daily. It should become a fast routine. If you are bored, then you can read through your entire inbox for three hours and make responses to 100 tweets that other people wrote. If you spend 15 minutes a day, you can realistically expect to get about 60 new followers per month if your tweets are any good. In a little over a year, you might have 1000. If you want to have results faster than that, you need to either spend an hour a day on Twitter, or use the PPC program.

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Outsourcing: Build it and they will return

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One of the reason so many American companies outsource their work overseas is that America simply doesn’t have reliable companies doing the work on American soil at any price! If you need custom programming done, there is not a single large company who does .net programming on American soil. There are many in Belarus and India, but not here! What if someone created a huge company on American soil that could get custom programming done for smaller clients? What if they had a location with lower office costs and lower labor costs because they were in Arkansas or Oklahoma. Such a company might actually do well if they were well managed.

Build it and they will come!
OR — Build it and they will return!

All of the companies who are offshoring your tasks to India, Philippines and Russia will be whistling a different tune if they can hire a friendly company on American soil! That different tune is likely to be Dixie if my dream comes true! California and the Northeast are expensive places to do business — they cannot compete for costs with overseas companies. But, land in Texas is cheaper than land in any metro in India. Transportation, cyber infrastructure, and phone lines are also more dependable. Locations in the American Midwest and South have a real chance to compete in outsourcing in the long run. Imagine if someone builds a huge outsourcing mega-center in Arkansas, companies that are outsourcing overseas will turn right around and hire the local company if they are any good!

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The outsourcing equivalent of fast food?

Categories: Of Interest, Semi-Popular | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Have you ever hired a BPO outsourcing company to do anything for you? You are always kept waiting and waiting. You never get any feedback unless you pester them to just let you know — “What is going on?” This is not friendly behavior, and certainly doesn’t help their business grow. Larger companies are rarely interested in providing outsourcing services to smaller companies, and larger companies are the only ones who have a chance to figure out how to be efficient.

But, what if there were a company that could deliver convenient outsourced services like web design, custom programming, call center, and other tasks — without all of the headache. I would pay a lot more for the convenience, wouldn’t you? Imagine a company that has no service contract. You just tell them what you want — and they do it. What if you wanted a website, you talked to the rep, you went over specifications, they sent you an email, you okayed it, and 20 minutes later, you got a layout. In the real world this is not possible, but in the world of “drive-through” outsourcing, it is! Let’s keep an open mind. Let’s be creative. If someone wants an idea to happen, it happens. The only reason it doesn’t happen is because people don’t care enough about it.

Let’s say you need an assistant to help you when you need it. Let’s say you send specifications over for 20 hours of call center work. You send the script, and instructions. Imagine that the next day it was done. Imagine that you get a confirmation email explaining who the project manager is, who the callers are, and when they will be doing the call. Three ladies were assigned the work and got it done in less than one day. Unbelievable. If a company wants to have streamlined outsourcing services, it is possible. It is all about having the dream!

Having a very well organized outsourcing company structure and a very flexible labor force would make it possible to attain this type of fast results. You might have to charge a bit more too, since there would be down time when there weren’t any last minute projects. Or perhaps there could be some non-time-sensitive projects mixed in with the last minute work being billed at different rates! Create your own billing structure — be creative.

I like living a dream. My lifestyle is something I created. I work from home (and work too much). I travel on a whim. I provide fast service to my clients (usually), and work with cool writers and psychics. Pretty cool, huh? This lifestyle is possible because I:
(1) Thought it was possible
(2) Worked to attain my goal
(3) Was creative and innovative, plus flexible
(4) Work far too much.

Time to go to sleep!

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The snake train revisited: a solution to India’s transport nightmare

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The snake train idea revisited
I had an idea called the snake train idea which I wrote about in another blog entry. It would be a really wide and long train on which you could do activities like web browsing, reading, shopping, drinking coffee, and more. Multi-tasking is the concept behind this snake train, and its interior would be very roomy and comfortable. The snake train would be over a mile long and would never stop. You just jump on and jump off wherever you need to get on or off. The problem is that you would have to dig up the entire metro to build a train like this. But, India is a unique country that is growing much faster than the rest of the world. Their existing metros are suffocating in overpopulation. India could decide to build some new metros with innovative transportation systems. Planned cities! It is much easier to build on virgin territory than to tear up existing structures while disabling local traffic patterns.

A planned city with a unique train system
There are various ways to build innovative transportation systems in a city. The most important thing to remember is that you need to leave a lot of space for innovation. If you plan a city, have arteries that are far wider than you need. That way you can experiment, and adjust to fluctuating populations. You can also tear up an older idea and build a new idea more easily since you have space. Most urban planners do not think that far ahead, but thinking ahead can save you billions!

Putting the snake train above or below ground?
I wrote a separate article about the snake train, but there are more ways to explore the idea. A wide and long train like the snake train would need to be either below ground so that traffic could pass above it, on ground with bridges for the cars and trucks to pass over it, or on an elevated rail. Such a heavy train would make it expensive to build an elevated rail for. But, we can consider all of the possibilities. For a train to be comfortable to eat, sleep, browse the web, and drink coffee, it would have to be very level, and not too fast.

Boarding considerations for the snake train…

Boarding the train by jumping on
The point of the snake train is that you can jump on or off anywhere. But, to jump on, the train would have to move relatively slowly. A train moving 5 KM/hour would be easy for a young person to jump on and off of. People in Mumbai jump off trains going much faster than that without too many serious injuries. But, to get where you are going, the train would either have to go faster than that and then slow down from time to time for loading and unloading passengers (remember that the snake doesn’t stop).

Boarding the train with a circular device
Or, you could create a huge circular device that is 400 feet wide that the snake would hug around. You could enter the circle from the center, where it would be moving inches per minute and then move outwards in the circle to board the train. Innovative, but very bizarre. That way the train could move around 15 KM/hour without having boarding issues.

Boarding shuttles
Another way to facilitate boarding which is much more interesting is like how people join spacecraft in orbit. You would have a shuttle bring passengers from stations and while in motion, the shuttle would attach to the long snake train. There are various ways to attach that make sense. You could attach from behind and become yet another car in the huge snake train. You could attach to the front of the snake as well. Since the snake is so long, you might have to wait for a very long time to get to the end of it. A more fun idea is to attach to the side of the train to dedicated boarding portal cars. Passengers in the shuttle could be in a sort of container with chairs. The container could be slowly shifted from the shuttle to the train on rollers. Then the shuttle could disconnect and reconnected to another portal for departing passengers and roll on their pre-filled container filled with human traffic.

The predetermined system
A very interesting way to handle snake train traffic is for each car of the train to detach and go to a particular stop. Imagine that you are going to Gandhi-Nagar in the new city of Thirdrabad in Karnataka (sorry, A.P. already used Secundrabad). Let’s say the snake train is weaving through the city and when it gets near Gandhi-Nagar, the first car detaches and exits from the main rail to stop at its destination. At the next destination JP-Nagar, the next car would detach from the train and go where it was going to go. Meanwhile, another car waiting in JP-Nagar would be waiting to attach to the back of the snake train with fresh human cargo. Interesting system! If you are having coffee on a particular car, you might have to walk through car after car after car to get to the one that detaches to go to your station. Lots of walking, but an interesting system.

The stopping system.
Snake trains aren’t supposed to stop, but they could slow down to a near stop. The problem is that the train is so long, that if it stopped, your part of the train could be a mile from the actual escalator to a ground level exit where you actually want to get off. One solution is similar to the predetermined system. You would see a map of the train, and where each car would be at the various stops along the way. The idea is to keep the train going and not stop much or for long. You could walk through the train for up to a mile to be in exactly the right spot for when it stops. Imagine that you wanted to stop at the mall in the Jangli-Maharaj section of town. Each car would have a map of were they would be at the various stops. You would keep walking through the cars until you got to one that stopped near the mall. Imagine how many calories you could burn just getting around.

Advantages of the snake train
India is so populated, that in places like Mumbai, trains come every several minutes. The trains are overly packed. The only solution to this suffocating problem is to have longer trains, double decker trains, or to build more train lines. It is cheaper to have longer trains, except then you would need longer stations as well. Mumbai didn’t think about that long ago when they build their stations. They didn’t anticipate having 25 million humans crammed into overcrowded slums and apartment buildings. If India plans a new planned city like my fictional Thirdrabad, they should plan for overcrowding and have some good solutions for it. Overcrowding might not happen if good planning happens on a national level, but it is good to prepare for it just in case! If Thirdrabad gets too crowded, my recommendation is to start drilling to build Fourthdrabad. Just a thought! India has plenty of available land in the countryside. Instead of cramming people in coastal cities with no available land, using interior land resources makes sense.

Roomy and smooth
Another advantage of the snake train is that regular trains are crowded and jerky. The snake would have endless interior room. Buses are jerky too with rude drivers. The snake would be smooth and comfortable. The idea behind the snake train is that it would be so wonderful that you would take it even when you didn’t need to go anywhere! Food for thought!

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7 Habits of successful salespeople

Categories: Marketing, Popular on Twitter, Semi-Popular | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

I talk to great salespeople regularly. It is not rocket science to see the difference between a seasoned pro and a useless flop. Here are some things that I noticed that the really successful salespeople do.

(1) Pay attention to detail.
If you are selling a complicated product or service, such as software outsourcing — you need to be good about details. Lousy second rate salespeople typically give a lot of misinformation and just try to close the sale no matter what. Those are mediocre salespeople, and respectable salespeople do not talk out of their hat. I just got off the phone with one of the best technical salespeople I have ever met. He took copious notes about what we had talked about. He emailed me after our conversation and reiterated every single important point that we had discussed. I was very impressed.

(2) Get back to people.
If you don’t get back to a prospect, no matter how good a talker you are, you will lose them. You would be amazed at how neglegent many salespeople are these days! It pays to get back to people periodically who are “on the fence” about their decision to buy from your company. Just the fact that you are “in their face” by politely contacting them at strategically appointed intervals makes more difference than you can believe! Strategic intervals are part of my company’s marketing campaign, and I make a study out of it.

(3) Be a good listener?
Girls in America always say that they want a guy who listens. Well, prospective clients do too! Think of your prospects as girls. They want tender loving care, and a shoulder to cry on. Listen to them, and understand not only what they NEED, or what you want to sell, but, how they FEEL. If you care about them — they will be much more likely to buy from you. I have a great story about a programming house in Colorado. The boss had been through similar experiences that I had. When I told him about some difficult experiences I had had with programmers — he told me about a similar problem he had had a year ago. He basically identified with how I felt — an amazing psychological button to press! Study the art of psychological button pressing. You won’t regret it.

(4) Identify the prospect’s needs, and issues.
Sometimes, the client might want a product, but doesn’t realize why they need that product, or another similar product. A good salesperson can correctly identify what the prospective client needs. A stupid salesperson just tries to cram his product down the unwilling propect’s throad and convince the client that he needs it no matter what. Once the good salesperson knows what the prospect needs, he can inform the prospect which product best meets his needs.

(5) Use fear to motivate prospects to purchase your product – but, don’t over do it!
A smart salesperson can tell the prospect of the DANGERS of picking the wrong product. Fear sells well, just as long as you don’t over do it. If you pressed the right button in a prospect, you only have to touch upon it lightly to MOTIVATE them to purchase the product you want them to. A dishonest salesperson will use this technique unethically to motivate a client to purchase from them — and this type of move will seem very blatantly phony to clients and can LOSE you a sale! Don’t be a phony — be a pro!

(6) Get to know your propects a little.
In India, business people are so uptight, and want to keep business strictly business and talk about percentages, and formal statistics. Many of them are very impersonal which is why they get mostly low-level work if any work. Smart salespeople know how to be personal. People want to buy from someone who they feel comfortable with, and feel close to a little bit. The more someone knows you, the closer they feel. In America, selling to people who know you is called WARM MARKET SALES which is supposedly five times easier than cold market sales. Your skill as a salesperson is warming the market up by warming the prospective buyers up. Get to know them and chat them up BEFORE you try to talk about sales and money! If you don’t know how to talk to strangers, become an expert at this, because you will NOT make money in sales if you can’t learn to be an expert at conversation.

(7) Know your product inside out
If you know your industry and your product well, people will think that you are trustworthy and knowledgeable. Nothing sells better than credibility. If you always speak the truth, people will trust you more, and you will sell more. Foolish salespeople are often liars, and people can sense that they are liars right away. Do you want to buy anything from a crooked liar? Me neither. Just because so many other salespeople are liars, doesn’t mean you should be. Be honest and smart — impress your prospects, and make the sale. Many salespeople know almost nothing about their company. They do not know much about similar products. You can ask questions, but they will give you shallow answers. This tells you that they didn’t do their homework, and are NOT a good source of knowledge. The more you know — the more you can communicate to others. Being a good salesman is more than just about sales — it is about how well you can INFORM others about the ATTRIBUTES of comparable products and which attributes might be best for them. If you are HELPFUL, people might buy from you even if your product is NOT their absolute favorite. You would be surprised.

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