Monthly Archives: January 2015

Is working for someone else a nightmare where you aren’t in control?

Categories: Of Interest | Leave a comment

I am an entrepreneur or self-employed person. The terminology is not important, but the reasoning as to why I am self-employed does matter. When I worked for others, I felt completely out of control. I worked for people who were mean, abusive, and who gave me no instruction as to how to do my job. If I did something they didn’t like I found out loud and clear after the fact, but not before.

Then, there were other jobs where I was expected to underperform. The employers were city governments in California where my teaching was supposed to be “dumbed down” so that nobody would learn. The minute I started actually trying to teach people English as a Second Language in a more intense way where students got more engaged I got called into the head office and was given a lecture. “Use the book we gave you.” Yes, that was the book where the students fell asleep and so did I. Snore…

There were other jobs where I did a good job but was bussed around like a slave, and was paid slave wages. How can anyone be satisfied in life when you make almost no money, get no work satisfaction and are treated like a slave? There must be a solution. It is called being self-employed.

As a self-employed person, the nightmare of slavery is replaced by a new nightmare. The nightmare of having steady clientele. It is really not that hard after you have mastered the art of getting clients, understanding how long they will stick around, and knowing why they like or dislike your service. The trick is to always have more clients than you know how to deal with. That way you’ll have enough cash coming in at all times which means the end of the cash crunch nightmare. You might have a new nightmare though — the not having enough time for yourself nightmare.

Time management is something which I am continuously trying to master, and with limited success. The problem is that once I find an efficient way to do one task, I use the free time to do something else, and am once again “too busy.” Prioritizing and creating routines helps, but in the long run, I feel I don’t have my life refined yet. But, on a brighter note, my feelings of helplessness have been diminished due to the fact that I am in control of most of my life. And whatever I’m not in control of, I’m sure Donald Trump, Bernie ior Hillary will figure something out that will help. That way if something goes wrong, I can blame it on politics.

However, there is a final point I want to make which will get you to really think. If you work for someone else, but have mastered your skills to a point that few others will ever attain, you have control over your boss. Your boss cannot easily fire you without a huge risk and probably a huge loss in long term business. You can use your superior skills to have leverage over your boss. I am in this position — in reverse which is why I understand the situation. It is the old scenario of the brewery owner vs. the brewmaster. The brewmaster has more power, because only he has mastered the art of creating the product. Additionally, these days especially, sticking to the same job year after year gives you tremendous leverage. Few employees these days last more than eighteen months. If you are steady, skilled and reliable, the boss can’t easily fire you. You can use that to have leverage.

To sum it up, whether you work for someone else or yourself, it is your superior skills, reliability, and collection of multiple skills that give you power. If you are one of these people who say, “I only like doing such and such” you might have trouble getting ahead. Those who get ahead do what needs to be done masterfully whether they like it or not!

Does wearing the leather jacket help?

Categories: Of Interest | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Are you projecting your company image correctly?
Maybe yes, maybe no. The way you portray yourself, affects how people see your company. But, let’s take a personal example about how I project myself when I’m out shopping or getting a bite to eat and correlate the two.

Is it me, or the jacket I always ask?
Recently, the weather here in Los Angeles got a little chilly. My regular worn out light sports jacket just isn’t warm enough and it looks like hell. So, I have been wearing my old leather jacket. Old leather looks cool, but old sports jackets look unappealing. Since I have been wearing my older jacket, women have been starting conversations with me left and right. I have come to the conclusion that several things help to attract women:

(1) Being Italian (or looking like a Paisano) If you’re Indian, then looking like Sanjay Dutt or Sharukh Khan will be the equivalent.
(2) Working out a lot
(3) Talking about foodie topics
(4) Acting like you are too cool to care
(5) Wearing a leather jacket

If you don’t believe me, ask the Brooklyn born comedian Andrew Dice Clay — he swears by his leather jacket. It turned him from a dribbling wimp into a chauvinistic over-confidant cool guy in a matter of weeks.

I understand that my readers are half in India or other countries where a leather jacket is simply and article of clothing. But, in America, a leather jacket makes you cool. A leather jacket makes you tough. A leather jacket attracts the chicks (girls.)

Projecting confidence in your business
Are you doing something in your business that projects the image of an awkward under-confident guy that nobody wants to hire? I always am aware of how “dribbly” a lot of Indians sound on the phone. But, people in other countries don’t sound that great either. Americans are by far the best on the phone, but are usually seriously lacking in any technical skills which is a huge problems. The key here is to avoid sounding weak and incompetent like many people at BPO companies do. You need to work on your speaking skills, conversation skills, interaction skills, and confidence. How to gain confidence is something you have to figure out for yourself, but more interacting will probably help — a LOT more, and with coaching.

What else can you do you might ask?
There are many things you could consider. But, what I recommend is to wear a leather jacket, and try to be cool like the Fonz in Happy Days or some other cool character in the movies who wears a leather jacket. This might help your outsourcing business more than you think. After all, if you were hiring a software company, do you want a bunch of dribbly nerds, or someone who is solid and can get the job done?

Boulder is an amazing startup hub

Categories: Startups | Tagged | Leave a comment

If you want me to identify the coolest little city in the United States, it would be Boulder, CO. Boulder is filled with young, hip, energetic, and healthy people filled with ideas and a desire to make things happen. Boulder is a University town, but is also a vibrant startup hub and IT mini-hub in the United States. Venture capitalists have their eye on Boulder for opportunities, but I have my eye on Boulder because I think it’s a cool place. I actually spent a night in Boulder on two occasions. It is so healthy there and I slept like a baby and enjoyed coffee in a jam jar the next day!

Boulder is a small and vibrant community that’s enthusiastic about technology. It combines small town warmth with fast paced industries normally found in the Silicon Valley or Boston. You’re right there forty-five minutes from Denver which is one of the biggest cities in the Western half of the U.S. But, you’re also only minute from hiking trails in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. In Boulder, you can enjoy the hip University town culture of eclectic restaurants from around the globe, but then enter the culture of skiing and hippy culture up in the mountains while having lunch at a Nepali restaurant.

It is always interesting to me how Swiss and Nepali immigrants to the United States often prefer Colorado. I guess the air is too thick for them down at sea level.

Boulder also has a much lower cost of living than other IT hubs. However, since more people want to live in Boulder than there are jobs, costs are not cheap by any measure in this city of 100,000 residents.

TechStars co-founder Brad Feld feels that Boulder has an incredibly open collaborative startup community. It makes me want to hop on over there and get to know these folks if they’re not too busy working. It’s fun when you can feel excitement in the air. Others have noted that Boulder has the “give before you get” mentality where the locals are very willing to help anyone without expectation of getting anything back. That is exactly the type of attitude you need to succeed, because success is all about being the best giver!

Some of the interesting startups of the area include:
Epic Playground which tracks video stats across different websites
FlixMaster which makes entreprise-focused videos and editing easier.
Gnip focuses on social analytics
Mocavo tracks your ancestors and genealogy in a similar way to
Precog lets people ask very sophisticated questions from their data

There are many other startup enterprises in Boulder. I hope I have given you a taste of what Boulder is like. If I were you, I would just drive on over. It would take me two and a half days of driving to get there, but it is worth it just to soak in the energy that the locals have about entrepreneurship. I am an entrepreneur and feel lonely in Los Angeles. I won’t be lonely in Boulder though.

On a final note. What did they call Boulder before it grew up… Pebble?

A businessman with an exit strategy lacks commitment

Categories: Management | Leave a comment

Do you talk with other business people? Do you interview people? Most people these days lack commitment. Either they don’t want to be at the same job for long, or they don’t completely care about what they are doing. Mark Cuban warns about people who have exit strategies. If you are fully committed to your work or business, you shouldn’t have an exit strategy. Perhaps if you become deathly ill, you might have to sell the business. But, under normal circumstances (because normal people never die) you should focus on keeping your business.

If you truly love your business, why would you want to sell it? If you get married to a woman, do you have an exit strategy? Starting a business is like getting married. To be successful, you should ideally do the same business most or all of your life. People who get ahead do so by being the best at what you do. If you switch jobs every six months, you’ll be good at interviewing and that’s about it.

Looking for a business partner or outsourcing relationship? If they talk about exit strategy, you might not get the best service. That means they are thinking about money, not commitment. You can even trick them by asking them what their exit strategy. If the answer doesn’t involve a graveyard, you might have the wrong prospective partner! Warren Buffet only buys stocks that he is willing to keep for the rest of his life. I encourage you to choose businesses that you would like to be in for the rest of your life!

Prioritizing: What should you be doing less of?

Categories: Management | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Men, we need a plan! What do we need to do more of?
Forget about doing more. Let’s do less!
Less? Yes less!

Too many things!
In business, you can’t really focus on what is important if you are doing too much or too many things. I have read hundreds of blog articles on this topic, and I have found this to be true in my life. So, I created a pecking order of all the tasks I do, how valuable I estimate them to be on an hourly basis and which ones are time sensitive. Whichever is either not time sensitive, or not that critical goes at the bottom of the list or gets outsourced. But, how do you create such a priority list.

Every day, a busy manager might do twenty different types of things.
There are emails, interviews, meetings, sales calls, order processing, accounting, other paperwork or more. You basically need to make a list of absolutely everything you do. Additionally, there might be certain tasks that can be broken down into smaller sub-categories.

Let’s say you do a lot of interviews.
You might be able to have an assistant do a pre-interview, right down the dialogue, and forward it to you. That way you will know exactly what happened, maybe even see a video of it, but scan it at your leisure. That way you can conserve your time for those that make it to the second interview. You could also reduce the time of first interviews from forty minutes down to ten. Ask a few quick questions and then on to the next interviewee, and make the lucky ones come back for round two. It sounds a bit like speed dating. But, honestly, most people are not good fits for your company and there is no point in talking to them for more than a few minutes. For me, I can size a person up in less than two minutes which is why I crafted what I call, “The 2 minute rule.”

How about emails?
No two emails are alike. Can you break down your emails into several categories? Some might be general inquiries, others might be thought providing, while others might be unusual. Perhaps you should just not answer the less important emails in your box. And perhaps an assistant should do the routine ones leaving you to do the tough stuff. You’ll never have a well managed schedule unless you have slightly more time than you have tasks.

Phone calls?
I am in the process of breaking my phone calls into groups. The calls to important clients will be one group, the call list of customers who didn’t answer my introductory call will be yet another group. I’ll out source the third group which is intro calls to low-level clients. This way I can save 15 hours a month in my schedule and write more blogs about saving time!

Make your list
Make a list of all of the tasks you do. Then, break them down into subtasks. Experienced managers are very saavy about itemization of tasks and breaking things down. Sometimes you might need six different people to do a task that can be broken down, and you might get the optimal person for each stage in the process. How you do it is up to you, but without breaking things down, you will never figure out what needs to be done. Then, figure out what is least important and either outsource it, or do it at the end of the month if you are sitting around with nothing to do. But, do the less important stuff last — if at all. That way you can focus on priorities.

I learned from an analysis that my newsletter and my Facebook account are my priorities. So, I started putting a lot more emphasis on both, and the results have been amazing. My Facebook clicks are up twenty fold, my SEO optimization has broken all time records, and my newsletter is growing steadily as well giving us countless clicks and increased business. I have figured out my priorities. I will continue to improve my skills at prioritizing. I wish you the best of luck too. Oh, and put reading my blog at the top of your priorities list. You will learn to think in new and exciting ways if you read my work!

The correct process to hiring a call center

Categories: Call Center | Leave a comment

Have you ever tried dealing with call centers? Most of them are not so easy. Many don’t answer their phones. Others answer the phone unprofessionally saying, “Hullo?” with a bad phone line. Are you hiring professionals here or what? I found a nice group of managers from a particular call center in the Philippines. They wanted to hook me onto a contract. Everything I asked for by email, they let me know the price of, but never told me the actual process of attaining what I was looking for.

I wanted a call center agent who could do sales, and also do Twitter. I learned that it would cost $250 to put in an ad to find someone who could do Twitter. But, the person would be unknown to the company and unknown to me, and probably not even any good at Twitter. I was asked to sign a year long contract when I hadn’t even interviewed the workers. I am not comfortable signing any type of contract until I’m sure about who I am working with.

Interview multiple agents
Don’t just sign a contract. Before you even give a test job, you need to talk to several call center reps. You need to see if they are up to your standards. Have them go over some scripts with you over the phone to see if they are any good. You might give them some training before going a step further. If you are pressured into signing a contract before training, explain that you are investing your time which is worth $100 per hour in their worker. So, if they think you are just spinning their wheels, you are losing a lot more than they are losing each minute that is spent.

Start with a single easy task
My idea is to have a call center work on a particular task. I might give them a simple but repetitive task to see if they get anything done. I want to interview a few agents first, pick one who I feel comfortable with and see what type of a ride I get. Did the call center solve problems the minute they came up, or did they just take my money? Did I get a nice rep, or someone I was not happy with?

Be careful of contracts
Contracts guarantee that I will pay a certain amount each month. However, contracts don’t guarantee the quality of the person I get or the quality of their work. I would prefer a contract that guarantees a particular standard of work, and if the standard isn’t made, then I’ll give a lower quality $1000 per month which might equal $500.

Multiple tasks are hard
My work consists of multiple tasks. One rep cannot learn to do all of these tasks unless his manager is involved in training everyone. If the manager doesn’t get back to you when he is supposed to then the deal is over.

Try them out in a limited way
Many call centers will allow you to purchase (8) hours of service. That is a great way to try a rep out. If you like him/her, you could hire them full time. If your tasks is harder, or if you need the rep to have a better learning curve, going to a place that specializes in executive assistants might be a better bet. Regular call center agents are not loyal to their work, they quit after 90 days on average (rough estimate) and generally need to be employed at least a particular number of hours per month according to Filipino labor laws. The rules are complicated, but is the quality of service worth the headache?

Try a second task
Rather than going from a single task to ten tasks overnight, see how someone does on two tasks after they have done one. Remember, that outsourcing companies are trying to impress you the first two months. See how they function on the fourth month after they are just being themselves and no longer trying to impress. The wooing process should be slow if you want to get someone good. If you are too fast to dive into a relationship prematurely, you fall into a contract that is in the interests of the call center and does nothing for you other than locking you into place!

Hiring for social media?
Most companies that do social media are not that great. See what they did for other clients. See how well they can communicate social media marketing strategies. Talk to the workers directly and see how competent they are.

Is a woman’s productivity less than a man’s in the workforce?

Categories: Hiring & Firing | Leave a comment

I have a friend who is slightly biased. I grew up with very feminist and “liberal” people who didn’t believe in traditional notions. However, as I am growing older, I realize that women’s behavior in the work world is not like men at all. What are the differences?

Feminists say that women can do anything that a man can do just as well or better. This is partly true, but what makes it not true?

1. Pregnancy
If a woman becomes pregnant and has a child, she will not be able to work her job the same way a man will. Additionally, after the child is born, it will need its mommy, and if mommy is working forty hours a week and commuting, who will be raising the child? You can’t be both — you can’t compete in the work world and be a mommy at the same time. You either need to choose one or the other, or divide your time equitably by working part-time or preferably part-time from home.

2. Mid-life burnout
Men have a mid-life crisis sometimes in their late forties or fifties. They want to get the sports car, leather pants, travel, have affairs, try new things. They grow tired of work sometimes. Perhaps this is temporary. I have my mid-life crisis every several months and then I snap out of it and get focused. Women often have a crisis in their thirties where they lose their drive to be a good worker and long for meaning in their lives. They often want to slow down and be at home. This is because women are genetically programmed to nest, not hunt — something feminists can’t get through their heads!

3. Menopause
Women do not work as effectively in their late fifties. They get more cranky, and slow down. It is hard to do well in the work world if you are upset all the time and have less energy.

4. High Turnover
As far as people I have interacted with, I have seen that the businesses I am familiar with have a 100% turnover rate with female employees. A local social media company assists me with Facebook. Only one of their female employees lasted longer than three years. At our local massage place, five years later the two guys who manage it are still there. But, not one of their ladies has lasted more than three years.

5. Overtime
Are women as willing to do overtime as men? I have heard mixed reviews on this. But, if you have a family and kids, it becomes almost impossible to do this without sacrificing in a devastating way.

6. Drama
When men lose their temper at work you have a flare up. But, my experience working with men is that they are there to work. Women like to complain more and create dramas much more than men.

7. Patience
This is one area where women in their twenties do much better than men. Men are judged by their accomplishments and are in a huge hurry to get ahead, but sometimes want to cut corners or get out of doing the work necessary to achieve this. Women are more willing to put up with unflattering work year after year. Additionally, women who get ahead almost always do so by sticking with the same job for fifteen or more years and learning to be good at all of the facets of the job.

8. Trauma
I have noticed that women tend to excel in the field of medicine and education. These are industries that combine intelligence, patience, and nurturing — traits that come naturally to the average woman. However, jobs requiring being involved in hostile situations such as the police force, the military, or even the legal field bring out over-aggressiveness in women and also lead to mental trauma in women. Men suffer from PTSD after military tours, but women who I have experienced first hand go much more off their rocker after having military and/or police experience. They feel they have to overcompensate for being a woman by being extra harsh and brutal, not to mention the trauma which seems to affect them much more strongly than it affects men. How many decades will it take for the military to realize that men are biologically programmed to be able to handle stressful combat situations a lot better than women are.

The reason why women are not equivalents to men in the workplace has nothing to do with intelligence. It has everything to do with biological programming, emotional stability, and family obligations. Putting aside the fact that many women are excellent workers, they were programmed to nest, not hunt. How many more centuries will it take until society figure this out? After being raised and strong-armed by feminists my entire childhood, it is hard to get reality into my head and forced notions of gender equality out of my head. It has taken me 28 years, and I still see the world through colored feminist glasses, but I’m beginning to come to my senses.

If you don’t change direction, you might end up where you’re heading — Lao Tzu

Categories: Of Interest | Leave a comment

As a child, I enjoyed reading the Tao Te Ching by the ancient Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu. How many of us think about where we are going? Do we even have a clue? I do twenty different tasks to run my business. But, I have to constantly reassess where these tasks are getting me and where I am going. I have no idea where I’m going.

Are you working your way up the totem pole at a job? Many young people today think they should jump from job to job seeking more comfortable environments and better opportunities. Unfortunately, this is not a long-term way to attain success. People who get ahead stick to the same tasks and companies for decades until they rise very high in the totem pole. Think from the perspective of a boss. Will he promote someone who has been at the company for three months and will probably leave in another three? Or will he promote someone smart and loyal who he trusts whose been there for six years? Of course, the quality of your work has to be there, but loyalty breeds trust — even if your boss doesn’t like you!

I look at Indian cities, filled with people all scurrying around in a maze of polluted streets. Where is this going? These cities have limited capacities, and your lungs cannot take this much longer, not to mention the stress. Humans are not designed to live like this, yet society seems to be going on a crash course. Does India know where it is going? Prosperity is coming, but at what price?

America meanwhile is heading for the brink of financial disaster with endless debt, and few are even that concerned. It spells the end of America and Donald Trump is the only politician who gets it.

China seems to have slowed down, and hopefully they will master the art of reducing pollution. But, where are they going? Will they ever value the quality of life?

What about me, you ask? I’m so busy, I will have to sit down and meditate for an hour on where I’m going. I want to work on new business ideas and go to China. I’m studying Chinese again by the way! Wish me luck. I’m going to Shanghai!

Handling complaints in a call center

Categories: Call Center | Leave a comment

Don’t make your attitude about handling complaints lead them to launch into more complaints down the line.

The art of acknowledging a customer’s complaint is is half the battle. The art of doing something without painting yourselves at totally at fault.

I don’t even deserve to live…
So shoot me.

CLIENT: I can’t believe my bill had a $20 extra charge for cat sitting and the mouse channel? And I don’t even own a cat. I don’t even own a self-cleaning oven. Although, if I did have a cat who wanted a self-cleaning oven, the oven would probably lick itself clean.

SUJATA: Oh, I’m so so so sorry! How could we begin to even dream that you would even have a cat? We should be sentenced to sit in our own litterbox forall of eternity — the bad kind, without the chlorophyll!

CLIENT: Well, hold on there. I mean, it’s not like I hate cats, and it’s not like you made a life altering error, except for the cat’s life which never existed to begin with.

SUJATA: Now I am guilty of killing off your imaginary cat. The imagination is the most wonderful thing in the universe. I will personally take 100% of the blame for this grievous error on your bill… and also my boss, and my co-worker Rahul, oh, and also the Samosa guy. You see, your bill was created on the 11th, and that was the day that Sanjit the samosa guy was two hours late. After all, we can’t think clearly on an empty stomach, so he should share the blame.

CLIENT: I can’t believe you are blaming 25% of your errors on the samosa guy, that is so catty of you! I’m reporting you to your boss!

Curb your attitude!

SANGEETA: Hello this is Sangeeta.

CLIENT: Hi, my name is Carol, and I can’t believe that I was billed an additional $20 for cat sitting and the mouse channel when I have never owned a cat and never signed up for that service. How can your company do that to me? And also, I’ve been a loyal customer of this company for eight years and have never had anything like this happen before. Can you imagine how I feel.

SANGEETA: Actually maam, I am the wrong person to talk to as I am not in complaints, I am in billing.

CLIENT: But, this IS a billing compl…

(on hold music for three minutes…. announcer’s voice: Now you can get the mouse channel for a free trial with NO obligation for two months. Just talk to the next representative who you speak to and get $5 off your next bill just for mentioning it. Also, you’ll just love our new cat sitting service. Your cat deserves…)

RAHUL: Hello, this is Rajul, may I help you?

CLIENT: Oh my God, I just explained my entire situation to the last girl who answered the phone in billing. She didn’t want to talk to me because my issue is a complaint, but it is also a billing compalint.

RAHUL: Oh, you’re right let me transfer you.

CLIENT: Hold on….

(on hold music for another three minutes… announcer’s voice. Your cat deserves the finest in cat sitting services. Our skilled caretakers will give your little furry friend nine life-time memberships in our program. Try our new chicken kabobs — tastes like mouse! And your cat will just love our….

SANGEETA: Hello, this is Sangeeta.

CLIENT: Hi Sangeeta, I have a billing issue to talk about. Please note, that it is NOT a billing complaint, but a billing issue.

SANGEETA: Oh sorry, I don’t deal with billing issues, I only deal with billing, please hold.

CLIENT: DON’T PUT ME ON HOLD, or I’ll come to India and break your neck. I’ll find out where you live, and the address of your office. And then I’ll give you the address of where you’re going to die.

SANGEETA: So, what do you want?

CLIENT: I was billed $20 for cat sitting when I don’t have a cat.

SANGEETA: Oh, I can fix that. Carol Smith? Of 29 Partridge Lane in Boise, Idaho?

CLIENT: That’s where I am, assuming you don’t put me on hold again in which case I’ll have a Mumbai address on MG Road.

SANGEETA: Okay, no need to get upset ma’am. I have removed the charge. The refund will reflect in your next statement. Is there anything else you can help me with?

CLIENT: Yes, there is one more thing. There is one important thing I need to tell you that will turn your career around, and give you a chance to immigrate to America and work at a call center here that pays twenty times the salary that your current job pays.

SANGEETA: Oh really, and what’s that?

CLIENT: Okay, but please hold…

(Announcer says, “Now, you can enjoy the best in call center agent relaxation products. Enjoy the sound of seagulls and oceanwaves in the privacy of your own home in Mumbai, assuming your electricity doesn’t get cut every two hours like the rest of India. Or, use a battery operated tape recorder. Or, enjoy the relaxing sound of Himalayan singing bowls to get into a spiritual frame of mind. Yes, these products can all be yours for a mere….

CLIENT: Sorry, I just wanted to put you on hold to see how you liked it.

What does Donald Trump say about balancing work & pleasure?

Categories: Innovation | Leave a comment

“If you’re interested in ‘balancing’ work and pleasure, stop trying to balance them. Instead make your work more pleasurable.” — Donald Trump

I agree with Donald here. When I was younger, I wanted to enjoy life. I had very little money because I had a very little work ethic. As I grew older, I learned that success was not possible with spurts of hard work. Hard work needed to be all the time — and I needed to get used to that fact. As an older person who has been slogging away for decades, I am used to the idea of hard work. The key is how to get enough refreshment in your life to keep going, and how to enjoy work. You might as well enjoy work, because as a successful person — that’s what you’re going to be doing.

My friend once told me that your career is more important than your marriage. I asked why. He explained that you spend far more time at work than you spend with your spouse. If something happens with your relationship, you can always split up. But, what is something goes wrong with your career? I began to see his point. He was generally very smart about all of life’s bigger issues.

So, the question is, how can you make work enjoyable?

Take a workcation
Many entrepreneurs these days take workcations. I thought I had coined this phrase a few years ago, but many others have been using the term long before I “invented” it. You can take your work and do it in Bali or Berlin and get a change of scenery. Hear a different language and experience a different culture while you do your work. Personally, I love trying new foods. Being stuck in Los Angeles there are many eclectic neighborhoods to explore. But, nothing beats being in a completely different country where everything is brand new. Even their McDonalds will have a completely different menu.

Hire fun people
Do you work in an office? Many bosses hire beautiful secretaries to their wife’s dismay. Others hire interesting people who are fun to work with. I hire very interesting people who are a pleasure to work with and a source of inspiration. Additionally, I purchase outsourced services from companies that are fun to work with and go out wine tasting with the boss of one of those companies and went ice cream tasting in India with another. Your work can take on an entirely new meaning if you work with engaging and meaningful people

Do meaningful projects
Instead of only looking at how much money you anticipate making from a particular project, why not throw a fun project into the mix. Sometimes success comes to those who are passionate about what they do. Your fun project might turn into something bigger because you put your entire heart into it. And even if it didn’t, it might make you feel more enthusiastic or awaken some dormant brain cells that will help you with your other not so fun projects.

Create unusual routines
I sometimes take my work to the desert. I’ll do my phone calls from the beach, desert or somewhere else. Yes, it is a micro-workcation, and it can be very pleasant. The beach is a soothing place and is ideal for stressful phone calls. The peace of the beach cancels out most of the stress of the calls. I also change my routine around from time to time putting new social media tasks in the beginning of my day which spice things up a lot sometimes. I also innovate and change the way I do various tasks just to make it more interesting and efficient.

Try a different lunch everyday
Do you eat the same thing every day? No wonder your life is a drag. Make a list of all of the different lunch places you are going to try. Spicing up your lunch routine is yet another way to make work fun.

What about real pleasure?
Yes, have fun in moderation. Go for a walk, see a movie, travel, and visit with friends and family. However, to be successful, you need to put your focus on work regardless of how many hours you actually work. Even if you mastered the principles of the four hour workweek, you still need to be paying acute attention otherwise the people you hired might start slacking off and you’ll be sorry. So, learn to enjoy work, and come up with your own techniques above and beyond my words of wisdom.

How will outsourcing be affected if Donald Trump is elected President?

Categories: Outsourcing Articles | Leave a comment

A 35% outsourcing tariff?
Donald Trump wishes to impose a 35% tariff if multinational companies engage in outsourcing. He wishes to bring jobs back to America which is a noble cause. Donald claims that China engages in currency manipulation. Additionally, for years, China has been dumping cheap products into the United States which creates brutal competition which local companies can’t normally survive.

3.2 million American jobs were lost during the trade deficit with China betwen 2001 and 2013 mostly coming from the manufacturing sector. Trump’s policy could reverse thirty years of U.S. trade policy. Having an outsourcing tariff could stop the outflow of American jobs overseas. But, the reason American jobs go overseas is because there is such a shortage of quality labor here, that it stops being cost effective to do business here. If the cost of labor would be lower and the quality higher, jobs would be flowing to the United States from other countries. In fact for those of you who wish that labor would flow to the United States — the only way that would happen is if America turned into a semi 3rd world country with shanti-towns and slums everywhere. In that consdition, we could accommodate the cheap labor that would make us the industrial king of the world. But, don’t despair, because America is already halfway through the conversion to 3rd world. Just take a drive through Central California. You will see less than 5% of the population is American and half of the population doesn’t even speak English or have a High School Degree.

I personally feel that outsourcing is good because it makes it easier for American businesses to have choices for who they hire. Although there is unemployment in the United States, it is very hard to find qualified and talented individuals to work for you as employees, or outsourced help. It is also hard to find quality people in foreign countries to help. Taxing outsourcing would put many overseas service providers out of business. The result would be that local companies would have less competition and be even more overloaded than they already are making it even more difficult, expensive, or in many cases impossible to find quality help anywhere in the world.

I feel that Mr. Trump understands many things about economic theory and currency manipulation. However, I don’t think that he sees the situation from the point of view of American companies who are forced to outsource because they can’t find reliable help on the home front. It is almost impossible to find a decent programmer anywhere in the world these days. If anything, creating artificial taxes and boundaries disrupt the nature of the economic ecosystem. What would help the world is to create more supply in the United States of critical jobs so that companies would not need to outsource in the first place. Proactive solutions make more sense to me as they make the United States strong in the long run.

Imagine if our government helped programming companies and call centers in the United States become more competitive? I propose huge outsourcing centers to be built in Arkansas and Oklahoma where land is ultra-cheap. Labor and other resources are also very affordable based on international standards in that area as well. By creating ultra-efficient systems and companies there offering the highest quality of service at really low prices, the United States could put foreign outsourcing companies out of business and possibly even import many of their staff members to the United States. I favor winning the competition by fighting smart and not by imposing artificial dampers to the flexibility that American corporations deserve!

What makes viral content spread?

Categories: Social Media | Tagged , | Leave a comment

There are many factors that can make viral content spread. Unique, catchy posts published at the right time to the right audience in the right way seem to do well on the net. You cannot predict if a post will go viral just by looking at it even if you are an expert. But, there are some factors to learn about.

(1) Keywords
Please understand that each audience on social media is a different animal. There are different ages, genders, socioeconomical types, interests, and other differences that could categorize audiences. Your audience also reflects you in certain ways as you are the one who built your audience. There are several types of keywords taht might do well on social media.

Positive: Keywords like success, love, win, adapt, grow or millionaire do well on my network.

Interesting: Then, there are interesting keywords such as personalities, comedian, comparative keywords such as good vs. evil, women’s issues, and more.

Relatable: Next, there are relatable themes such as dealing with insane coworkers, demanding bosses, diaries, training, school, stress, etc.

Shockers: But, what always fascinated me on Twitter was the use of what I call “shockers.” Being negative or giving nagging advice for how not to get in small trouble in the world seems to not be popular with my audience. But, if you give advice for how to not end up in jail, the entire feeling is different. You just crossed the line from being annoying to catching their attention! I’m reading someone else’s blog on the science of viral posts and he wrote a title: “30 things to start doing for yourself.” They wrote a sequel entitled: “30 things to stop doing yourself.” The author of this blog thought the post did well because of the negativity in the title. I politely disagree. I feel that it is more of a shocker. People feel that they need to do more and more and more. While the management experts are telling people they need to do less so they can focus on what is critical. Telling people what to stop doing that they think they should do more of is throwing a curve ball and grabs their emotional interest which is what makes the concept so attractive and potentially viral.

(2) Is your content easy to read?
Having pretty photos or graphics that draw your attention makes so much difference. People who are online for too many hours in a row get mentally frazzled. They cannot concentrate well unless they take a long walk. Pictures are easy to mentally absorb, but the photos that make your jaw drop are the ones that will get you real traffic. The text of your article should be easy to skim too with easy to navigate sections, headers, subheaders, etc. Many authors make the grammatical structures and verbiage from the subheaders consistent to make it easier to read.

(3) Articles that are too short typically get a lot less attention
As an amateur blogger, I realize that experimenting is key. I write all types of pieces with very different subject matter and topics. What I realized is that the short pieces I write tend to not get clicked on much while the detailed articles that are about a page and a half seem to do best. There is no magic formula for content creation, but people are not likely to share your content if it doesn’t seem “share-worthy.” There should be lots of information people perceive as being valuable for them to share. But, once you get shared bya few people, it could go out of control.

(4) Is it useful, interesting or a shocker?
When I analyze stats, I always notice that the “how to” topics seem to do the best. Personally, I find the articles with surprises and shocks more interesting. Then there are articles that could be perceived as interesting. But, interesting to whom? When I write about topics that I find interesting, my readers don’t spend long on the page. Finding concepts that are more broad in who they might interest while matching your audience’s general theme and preferences seems to make the most sense.

(5) Famous people & companies
Many people who create content try to get a little more traffic by including names of famous people in the title. Since many people know about Donald Trump, President Obama, Mark Zuckerberg and other famous people, they might be more likely to click on your article if you include these names in the title. Names of large companies, people or other big keywords relevant to your industry will on average get you more traffic. However, merely inserting what I call an “anchor” keyword in your Title doesn’t guarantee traffic. You still need a catchy topic and theme.

(6) Simple grammar wins the game
The type of grammatical structure you use in the title makes a huge difference. Something with very simple grammar and then a punch and a twist seems to work the best. A call to action is recommended by the pros as well. My most popular blog article was not that well written, and wasn’t even that interesting. But, the title conformed to “the rules” for what makes a post popular. “Steve Jobs watched his programmers carefully, so should you” was the title. The first word was my anchor keyword — the name of someone famous who is relevant to programming, outsourcing and business which are the general audiences I am writing to. Notice how the structure of the text is: Subject – Verb – Object – Adverb, Call to Action. It is very easy to mentally digest when you are frazzled after using the internet for six hours in a row like many of my readers. Additionally, it touches on a sensitive point. Programmers hate to be watched. They want to be left alone while they “bang out” code. In reality, the minute you leave 99% of programmers alone, they will either work on someone else’s project, slack off, go off on a time wasting tangent, or stop following directions. You cannot leave programmers unsupervised, and Steve Jobs understood this concept well.

(7) Delayed reactions
Sometimes a popular piece might be posted on a blog. A few people might tweet links to the content right away. But, the shares that get the real traffic might not be posted until after the fact. It might be a few days after the content was posted, or in some cases, a social media manager might decide to repost a particular piece a few months after it was created. Sometimes, if the crowd has had enough chance to refresh itself after seeing the content the first time around, the content might be popular a second time around. It is commonplace for large Twitter accounts to post the same content over and over again. However, they won’t just promote any piece again and again. They only post content that did well in the long run. Some posts are popular the first time you post them as many will retweet your content. However, if you post the same piece a second or third time, many of the sharers lose interest. However, there are still a percentage of content pieces that will get regular shares even after you have posted them ten times (not during the same day please.)

(8) 1st generation vs. multiple generation shares
If you have a large social media account with some close followers who visit your page regularly, a good post might get you a lot of shares. These could be defined as first generation shares. If you get 100 shares, your post could be defined as viral, however, if the shares are not multi-generational, it is not “really” viral. On the other hand, you might get something shared seven times that could be defined as viral simply because Joe retweeted your post, and then Sharon retweeted your post from Joe’s account and then Jen retweeted your post from Sharon’s account, etc. The flow of traffic is very hard to define. One of the issues is that people who follow you have the same interests. However, people who folllow your followers are less likely to share your interests. So, unless your post appeals to a more general audience, going viral in a full-blown way seems unlikely.

(9) See what the big guys are doing
If your dream is to one day go viral, the chances of you achieving this goal are slim. However, a more reasonable goal is to have systematically good content that gets noticed by a large audience. See what the professionals are doing with their blogs. See what types of grammar they use in headers. See what types of photos and diagrams they use. See what networks they use to promote their content. What works for them might not work for you, but at least you’ll get some clues.

(10) Grabbing people’s emotions
If your content is funny, heart-warming, political, easy to share, or shocking. The main point of creating popular content is to appeal to the reader’s emotions. Even if you write about dry business topics, the emotionally charged articles will do better than those that read like a textbook. Integrating pupplies, Halloween, dating, desserts, vacation, or kitties into your content is likely to have a positive result.

You might also like:

Top viral images and how they spread

I didn’t get retweeted, but that’s okay

A tale of 4 social media managers