Monthly Archives: October 2015

How to be on vacation six months a year & still run your business

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It’s a popular blog topic to discuss being on vacation all year round or part of the year and still being able to run a profitable business. The reality is that you can do it. However, there is some technique involved.

Many of us crave a change in scenery.
We love where we live, but we get bored of it. It’s the same old people every day. Even if you love the same old people, it’s fun to meat some different new (or young) people. When we go on vacation, we are normally in a huge rush. We have limited time to be away because we have to be back at work and clock in. Some of us only get two weeks of time off for a vacation per year. Should it be France or Spain this year you might ask.

I take a vacation every month
How can I afford it you ponder? I travel off-season for one. I often visit Arizona when it’s hot and get to stay at five star hotels for $150 a night. Or I might visit San Diego in the Winter when it’s not that popular. I lived in India for some time while I was there on spiritual business. I basically am away from home a lot, yet I keep things running.

Off-season travel & deals
It is common for people who like to work away from home to be good at getting deals. There are credit cards that will give you hotel and airfare points. There are other ways travelers can travel the world for pennies as well. Some do couch serving, others do Air B&B. A few teach English overseas to make an income.

How does one get anything done?
I notice that there are certain locations where I get a lot of work done. I have a few spots in Arizona where I feel like working all the time. I have a spot in Northern California where I can’t stop working. There are other places such as Santa Cruz, CA where I feel like meditating and reading the entire day — and I do. The main point is that while away, I need to make sure I do my emails, call lists, and whatever other responsibilities I have decided to take with me. If I am in a lazy location, nothing will get done — I won’t even crack open my laptop. But, if I am in a place that is affordable enough to stay for a few days and has a vibe that gives me mojo — I get a ton done.

Others do what I do, but travel the world.
There are shared offices in Thailand, Bali and other popular locations that hobo entrepreneurs use to run their show. Berlin is a popular destination with very low costs as well. Others stick to their hotel rooms. You can live like a king for pennies in Southeast Asia. Hotels are cheap, food is amazing and cheap, you can even afford a massage twice a week for a few dollars a shot. All you need is a phone-line or internet phone and good internet, and you can run your business. You need to do your research, but mostly it is about habits.

When I was in India, I used internet cafes.
I was in them daily for hours getting my work done. Unfortunately it was very uncomfortable in those stacking chairs. Indians are built smaller than I am so it is less cumbersome for them. I also had an international phone plan. It wasn’t cheap, but I was able to make calls for more critical deals whenever I needed to. I called America from time to time to talk to my assistant and to purchase photos from web development.

For deep thought, nothing beats home.
I know that others love to write blogs about how they saved $2000 a month on rent by being in Laos half the year and how they loved it. I get a lot done on the road. But, I go for my health to be in the forests and deserts of America or to go to spiritual events. I feel that my best work happens at home. But, for emails and repetitive phone calls, I can often get more done away from home if the environment suits me. I go away and generally mix up my activities. I’ll hike for a few hours, meditate, eat at a new restaurant and then do a few hours of work. It’s not like home where I have already seen all of the attractions. When I’m home, I work, and then have a late dinner. When I’m on the road, my life takes on a new variety of alternative directions.

Sample your new location before committing
Yes, it’s fun to work away from home. But, you need to be acquainted with the location. If you go to China, you might not be able to use Google which would stop me dead in my tracks. If your email gets hacked, you need a plan for how to recover when your incoming phone calls (that will contain the rescue text) will still come through. You need to know if it is safe and if you can stand being there day after day. I am used to travel and can stand long periods of loneliness. Others can’t handle it for more than half a day. So, do your research and you can engineer the lifestyle of your dreams — and enjoy it while you are awake!

Project Management Software can save your outsourcing deal

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Do you outsource programming tasks? Many of us do. However, problems frequently arise in outsourced programming. The people you select or the company you select might not be strong enough to handle the most difficult parts of the job. Even if only 10% of the job is tough, if they can’t do that 10%, then your job is sunk. Failing to meet deadlines is another common problem. It is often the case that an outsoruced company will just quit in the middle of a project that is too hard and keep you waiting month after month. I call this, “The never ending job” and that situation has happened to me many times.

But, communication or the lack of it is what can kill many IT outsourcing deals. You need to make sure that all team players have access to the same files and the same version of files otherwise you will not be on the same page in any sense of the word. You also need to have a system for keeping track of who is doing what, how far along they are, what commentary they would like to give, and when they finished various pieces of the puzzle. If you are managing multiple programmers on a task, and they just don’t get back to you, (which is typical for programmers) put in the contract that you will deduct a certain amount from their pay every time they “just don’t get back to you.”

Many software companies will rant and rave about how much better their software for job tracking is, and then not even use it. Or they will not tell you how to login. The sophistication of the system being used for project management tracking is not as important as making sure all of the team uses it in a punctual manner. If they are supposed to login twice a day for a progress report and just don’t login, then the system is a waste.

There are various types of software out there. Procore is a provider of construction project management software. There are others like smartsheet which uses a spreadsheet format, Clarizon, Asana, Jira, Genius Project and more. Agile is quite famous in the software crowd.

Here is a link to some reviews of various IT project management systems

My suggestion is that you could come up with your own customized project management system. That way you could tweak the system to meet your own company’s needs. It might cost ten thousand to create your own system and more to customize it after the fact, but a good system will keep your projects running smoothly.

Jeremy’s tips for a software PM system
(1) Have a timing system that has windows of time when a programmer is supposed to login. If they are late, or just don’t login and report, then create a “late log” where the boss can deduct from his pay. Programmers are notorious for not getting back to people, so you have to have a system where they get crucified if they don’t.

(2) Have fields (data entry) for the various components of a job, or particular tasks. Then have fields for the various individuals who are working on the various tasks. You might need fields for “subtasks” as many jobs can be broken into parts. There can be an assigned date for each task, a deadline, and room for commentary about each task and subtask which the programmer could add. You can also have quality ratings that the management could add at various stages of the project with information ranging from the quality of the coding, to the quality of the commenting to punctuality.

(3) Data Queries could be to see all jobs, jobs that have not been assigned, jobs that have been assigned, but are not done, as well as jobs that have been assigned, but were not commented on time (which is a red flag and indicates where management might need to focus.) You can also show the done jobs. In real life, this type of job tracking can also be done on paper if you have a good form and are neat in your handwriting. But, having a computer system makes it so much easier to keep track of everything, especially if there are reminders to tell you what you need to be checking up on.

(4) Late info & quality queries
If you use the system for multiple programmers, you could come up with very detailed information for how punctual various programmers are, and how good the quality of their work is. You can decide who gets hired, fired, demoted, promoted, etc. partly based on that data.

Why email sales promotions don’t work as well as cold calling

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As a marketer, I try all different ways of having promotions. I have tried cold calling, email newsletter marketing, auto-calling, having assistants call for me, and more. Each method of contacting people has its benefits. However, certain types of contacts are best made on particular mediums.

In August 2015, I called a few thousand people about upgrade specials on our directory. We were basically selling advertising. Roughly 5% of the people I talked to upgraded. I felt so happy that I was able to make more than seven dozen sales. Then, I decided to take advantage of the automated technology that I am paying for. After I sent out my newsletter blast which reached about 4500 people, I got a few dozen inquiries for quotes. I spent an hour giving quotes, but only three bought something. My automated system actually cost me a lot of time doing quotes, but without a result.

Cold calling got me 4x the new sales per lead compared to emailing quotes…

I also recall that a month ago, my assistant called a bunch of people for me. They wanted quotes too. I gave ten quotes by email to people who claimed they were interested and only one of them bought something. The lesson I am learning is that when a client actually talks to a salesperson who knows the product well, they are more likely to buy. When I talked to clients personally by phone I was able to sell to about 40% of them. However, the purchase rate of clients who got an email quote from us was only 10%.

So, what is the moral to this story? The best system I had for sales was to have my assistant sit in the same room with me and filter through the list of prospects. Every time she got one who was interested, she would have me call them immediately. I closed a lot of sales very efficiently this way and made a lot of money. The personal touch is critical in marketing. These days it is so hard to actually get to talk to someone knowledgeable by phone. People often appreciate being able to talk to a critical higher level person at a company. So, leverage that time that you spend with people and use it the right way.

Many higher level business people want a lower level assistant to do all of their busy-work for them. This is a mistake. The lower level people are good for filtering and busy-work, not for handling the critical aspects of a business conversation. Even if they know the right answers, they don’t have the special energy or mojo to give the client the satisfaction that they crave — the satisfaction of talking to a high energy higher level manager or executive for about ten minutes. Make each minute count and use it the most efficient way!

To wrap up the various contact methods, email marketing is good for general reminders and links to new articles in your blog, but not for sales (at least not in my business). Auto-calling is also good for more critical reminders as many people have emails that filter out critical messages. Cold Calling (or warm calling if your clients know you) is much better if you need to actually change a business relationship. In advertising it is common to renew your existing level of advertising. Contacting people for a renewal can be done through auto-call or email marketing. However, contacting them to change or upgrade their plan should ideally be done using a very specialized and targetted list and done by hand.

A programming company that charges $25,000 per week? They should charge by the minute!

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$8.33 per minute!
And you thought a cab ride was expensive! I did a meditation to help me find the best software company in the United States. I tuned into the cosmos for half an hour and got my answer. The company would be in Florida near Tampa. Sure enough when I queried .Net programming companies in Florida, this excellent company came up. They even had a cool name that starts with a number, just like my site! In addition, they have the coolest looking website I have ever seen a programming company have. With the type of revenue they are making, they can afford a nice site! The salesperson explained how the company worked and how they finished huge projects in just days using a business model of having four person teams. After they finished projects, they could also assign an independent programmer to touch up code that needed tweaking if you could commit to eight hours per session.

But, what if the team experienced problems?
I would be out $4000 per day during any snags in the process, or would I be? Hmmm. And what if they needed me in the middle of the project and couldn’t reach me at the critical junction? Then what? If I had some experience with this company, I would hire them in a flash. But, it was just too much. They were in the fast lane and I like to proceed at a more cautious speed. I think they would be perfect for larger companies. I think they would be perfect for me too — if only they could give me half a programmer rather than a gang of four! 20 hours a week is half a programmer and that is perfect for me providing he is the right guy.

Finding the right geek for the job!
When I hire programmers, I like to interview each one by hand. I like to see if they have the right thinking skills, communication abilities and personality for the job. Working with an unknown team of four would make it impossible to verify if things would go well. Too scary for me, but perfect for large companies who know this company well.

Wouldn’t it be possible to work on a smaller scale?
I like the idea of structured teams, but what about those of us who need a smaller team? Instead of gang of four, what about two man crew, perhaps with an additional project manager who is on call? A part time team of two partners, or two people for an undefined quantity of days would be perfect for banging out coding projects of the size that I often am involved with. But, $25,000 per week? Even if it is a huge project, to afford that kind of an outlay, it better be a huge project!

Teamwork eliminates cooperation problems
Programmers who work as a team are more aware of how critical cooperation and meeting deadlines are. Programmers who work alone, fail to realize that as long as they have a client, they are not completely alone — if they want to get paid that is. Sole programmers typically have no sense of timelines and no consideration for the communication requirements of their client which often ruins entire projects. I met a manager from a hotel in Singapore whose entire site reprogramming got put by the side of the road for years and eventually was completely forgotten about. So, hiring a company that has programmers work as a team is a refreshing solution to problems regarding cooperation during programming work.

A project manager for name’s sake only doesn’t cut it
Many smaller software companies hire untrained people to act as project managers. They are very convincing as a rule and assure you that everything will get done. Not only do they typically not understand the coding process, but they also don’t understand managing humans or the timelines of programming projects. Having a more affluent company with an experienced professional project manager eliminates most of the problems that I have experienced hiring programmers. A serious project manager will have the ability to do realistic scheduling, time management, and meet deadlines without issue, while you can count on almost everyone else to flake on their commitments. This $25,000 per week company by definition must have PM’s that are top notch, otherwise they will lose a thousand dollars for every two hours they lose!

How do you test this company?
I have a policy that I never use anyone for any serious project without testing them. The problem is that this company won’t do anything for less than open week of work with four people. I need to know if these programmers are able to work with me and understand my requirements and directions. The other programmers I worked with got to know me over years. How is this new company supposed to get to know me over nanoseconds? The whole concept is too fast for me to ponder, but it makes for an interesting blog article.

You might also like:

Don’t choose a programmer, choose a team

Hiring programmers? How to spot a reclusive geek

10 mistakes I made hiring programmers that you should avoid

Hiring a programmer is like dating a guy if you are a straight guy

What time of the day do you think better — or are you a night person?

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What time of the day do you think better?

Which time is of your essence?
As Ben Franklin once mused: Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise. But, what time of the day did he think of that great saying? My experience is the opposite. Many great writers, musicians, and Talmudic scholars agree that 2am is the most auspicious time for unleashing untapped parts of your brain. Let me put it this way — hamsters aren’t the only animals that are nocturnal.

What’s in YOUR time zone?
It’s interesting that I was born at 12:38pm and generally get out of bed at around 12:38pm. So, when the rest of the world is hitting the sack, I’m returning to the womb. Astrology plays a role in when we get our best thinking done. I often have my resident astrologer pick the dates and times for my most important meetings with programmers and other business associates. But, different times of the day are better for different types of thinking. There is a lot of activity during the day, and interacting in a busy way makes sense during daylight. But, deeper more philosophical, esoteric, or contemplative thought is often more conducive during the bewitching hours of the night. Not only are there less distractions then — there are less thoughts in the atmosphere leaving you with clearer reception for your own thoughts and thoughts that come in from the cosmos.

Is there a time of day when you are more productive?
My astrologer and I believe that repetitive work is best done on a Tuesday. While on Wednesday, Mercury is in charge, and it is the best day for intense communication. Thursday is good for long term decisions as Jupiter is in charge. Friday is perfect for love or prayer (or praying that you get a date.) Each day has its own attributes. So, not only is the time of day critical for task optimization, but so is the day of the week.

Should you sleep more?
A formal study was done on junior high students by Finley Edwards of Colby College. Students who started the day an hour later did 3% better at math and reading. You might be able to think more clearly if you sleep more, nap more, or clear your head completely by meditating an hour or more per day. When people say, “Sleep on it,” you should take heed of this advice. It is advisable to get a good night’s sleep before making any large business decision. The sorting activity that your brain does while you are sleeping is analogous to letting the cleaning crew come into your cluttered office to throw out the junk and prepare for the next busy burst of activity.

Walk your cobwebs away
Some of the brightest thinkers of all time had a habit of taking a long walk every day. Studies show that walking in nature or even looking at trees out the window can calm your head and help activate the creative parts of your brain, while those that stare at computer screens for hours tend to get mentally frazzled. So, when it comes to clear thinking, make sure you “do windows.” Some people even hold important two-person meetings during walks since it is easier to think clearly while the brain is oxygenated and fresh. Putting aside what time of the day you think most clearly, try taking a walk before you think and see if that makes a difference. If you’re thinking about the benefits of walking, walk first so you can think about that issue more clearly. Walk first, think later.

Meditation divinizes the soul & mind
Meditation is an age-old tradition that has been perfected by the Hindus and Buddhists over the last few thousand years. Meditation not only clears the brain of its chatter, but clears your soul. Imagine how well you’ll think if your soul has been cleansed. Many feel that meditating for half an hour or so in the morning sets you in good spiritual and mental graces for the rest of the day! Why not start the day on the right foot.

Cleanliness is next to Godliness
It is a common tradition throughout many religions to bathe as an act of physical purification. But, bathing also cleanses your energy flow as well as your mental state. Muslims wash their hands, face and feet before prayer. Jews take a ritual bath in a Mikveh. Hindu Brahmins traditionally take two or more baths a day using a few drops of holy water from the Ganges. In addition to these religious types, my writer (a practicing agnostic) claims that he does his best thinking (and singing) in the shower. Personally, I would not do any serious business thinking without bathing, meditating, and of course getting a good night’s sleep the night before!

Sleepwalk your problems away
If sleeping and walking are both good prerequisites for deep thought, why not combine them? You could sleepwalk! And if you’re sleepwalking on a rainy day — don’t even get me started. But, the reason why I created this section is because many of my best business ideas came to me in dreams. So, don’t underestimate what goes on while you are sleeping.

I think best at the beach after sunset
I do a lot of my best business thinking out of the office. My home office has the vibration of activity. I need a more still environment for deeper thought. Some of my best ideas come while sitting next to the beach at night, or hanging out at my local spaghetti or sushi spots. Ideas just come to me at these places, and I just cannot explain why.

You might also like:

How to create a company culture like Google’s and have fun while doing it

Steve Jobs Principle: The more people you network with outside your field

Why your sitar & tabla lessons are the most important training for business

How do you expand your thinking in business?

When is the best time to do deep business thinking vs. busy work

Managing your attention with energy to gain focus

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Many of us work hard or work a lot of hours. But, we lose attention and start mindlessly doing tasks. For “busy work” this might work, but for work that requires our attention we need a way to gain focus. It is easy to do busy tasks all day long, but we often need to prioritize or make complicated decisions which require deeper though. How can we gain that focus?

By increasing your energy level, your brain will have more food for thought. Increasing your energy level is not rocket science. Here are a few techniques:

Eat an apple per day & go bananas!
Eating more fruit is an easy and cost effective way to raise your energy. You get enzymes, vitamins and other forms of nutrition. Eating an apple can change your entire world in a snap — or a crunch. If you are regular about eating fruit, you too will become more regular in terms of bowel movements which in turn raises your energy level. Additionally, fresh juices that were squeezed within minutes of your consumption are excellent.

Take a shower in an hour…
Your body attracts certain energies. Those energies can get yucky. The best remedy is using healing oils and showering. Most of us shower daily, but if you shower a second time you might feel better. Showing not only physically cleanses you, but cleanses your unclean energies. There is a reason why Hindus have a tradition of bathing twice per day. It is partly due to their balmy weather in India, but partly because of the purifying effect that water has on the human body or anything else. Many people own crystals, but they too attract heavy energies and water is one of the ways of cleansing them not to mention sticking them in dirt or salt to absorb the energies. Many humans put a cup of Epsom salt in their bath to go that extra mile cleansing their bad energies. Showers are good, but baths are even better!

Vitamins & Supplements
Taking vitamins and supplements can help your health. The quality of the vitamins can really vary, so getting most of your nutrients from real food is a good idea so that the supplements can supplement an already healthy diet. Keeping your cholesterol and triglycerides down can increase energy too. I have found that Q10 is great for your heart and blood vessels while Grape Seed Extract is good for eye and capillary circulation which is critical if you stare at a computer all day long with your eyes!

Walking can increase your energy step by step
Many people just don’t get enough exercise. Some of us think we need to go to the gym. The gym is good for building muscles. If we sit too long, we need good back muscles for our posture. But, for the most part we need walking or swimming to stay fit. An hour a day or more of walking is excellent. But, I really feel it if I cut down my walking for a week or two when I’m busy.

If all else fails…
Chocolate is a nice way to get some extra energy later in the day. Caffeine might cause you insomnia even twelve hours after the fact, but chocolate will do the trick and energize you for about five or six hours.

Take Breaks
We wrote many other articles about when to take a break and how often. This is really up to you, so study how you react to breaks and take different types of breaks. You can measure the effects. See if you feel better, and see if a walking break is better than a napping break. You will be able to work more effectively if you take breaks — and listen to your body, it will tell you what you need a lot better than your boss will.

Leadership Quotes from amazing leaders

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“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” — John Quincy Adams

“Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.” — Steve Jobs

“Leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality.” Warren Bennis

“If you do not change dirction, you may end up where you are heading.” — Lao Tzu

“The faster you rise, the faster you fall.” — lyrics from hip hop song

“Nature does not hurry, yet all things are accomplished.” — Lao Tzu

“A great leader must be willing to stand for his cause alone against all odds.” — Myself

“The key to growth is the introduction of higher dimensions of consciousness into our awareness.” — Lao Tzu

“He who does not trust enough, will not be trusted.” — Lao Tzu

“You have to think anyway, so why not think big?” — Donald Trump

“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” — Mahatma Gandhi

“The greatness of a nation can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” — Mahatma Gandhi

Outstanding leaders go out of their way to boost the self-esteem of their personnel. If people believe in themselves, it’s amazing what they can accomplish. — Sam Walton

“The way management treats associates is exactly how the associates will treat the customers.” — Sam Walton

“The key to success is to get out into the store and listen to what the associates have to say.” — Sam Walton

“Nothing gives one person so much advantage over another as to remain cool and unruffled under all circumstances.” — Thomas Jefferson

“Discipline is the soul of an army. It makes small numbers formidable; procures success to the weak, and esteem to all.” — George Washington

“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” — Benjamin Franklin

“When you’re finished changing, you’re finished.” — Benjamin Franklin

“Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.” — Benjamin Franklin

“The first method for estimating the intelligence of a ruler is to look at the men he has around him.” — Niccolo Macchiavelli

“Punctuality is one of the cardinal business virtues: always insist on it in your subordinates.” — Don Marquis

“Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” — Confucius

Silly ideas for tech startups

Categories: Startups | Leave a comment

Startups are the rage these days. Everyone on social media is interested in reading about them. Startups have interesting ideas and even more interesting names. Personally, I feel that you can’t do well in a startup unless you have a goofy sounding name. But, what are some cool and interesting ideas for startups? Here are mind.

(1) ForgiveFind
I think the Pope should create a startup called, ForgiveFind which could be a site used to locate forgiving people. And if the programmers who build the site screw-up (they usually do,) then forgive them. And if the Pope doesn’t like my silly idea, I’ll forgive him too.

(2) You’re Fired!
I think someone should create an app where you can enter in employee information. You can track if they have been late on a project, or gave you an attitude about anything. Three strikes and you’re out. This app could have a database that tracks everything from coming in five minutes late to talking back to the boss just a little bit which could be 25% of a strike. If the employee doesn’t like being fired, they can visit ForgiveFind and try to talk the boss into getting a membership.

(3) InterestLevel
This site will track all of your interests, not to mention how interested you are in your interests. Are you very interested in hiking, but only a little interested in rock climbing? It will compare your data to everyone else’s data not to mention their attitudes about every issue on planet earth and find you some friends. Your friends might be older, younger, or funny looking, but they will have lots in common with you if you found them on InterestLevel.

(4) ParkingBuddy
This app will help you find parking places anywhere. It will be connected to a satellite that can see all parking places in the world (on a non-cloudy day) and see if where you want to park is free. Additionally, ParkingBuddy will be on good terms with the Parking Gods just to be on the safe side. I always pray to the Parking Gods and so far, I have been taken care of.

(5) RateMyTweet
This startup will help rank your tweets. It will take into consideration how the tweet performed the first time it was aired. But, it will also offer graphs to see how it does it tweeted on a regular basis and will help you determine the ideal frequency in which to tweet your various tweets. It will also track tweet variations, so if you worded your tweet in multiple ways, you will quickly learn which variation worked better. If you need help making your tweets a little more fly, try visiting PimpMyTweet which is a fictional tweet writing outsourcing startup in India.

(6) AuraJudge
This startup will come up with a machine that can read people’s auras. If you are walking through a seedy part of town, you will quickly learn who the dangerous people are when your aura-machine’s alarm starts going off. Germans can also use it to verify which innocent Syrian refugee is really an extremist!

(7) ScreenWriterBuddy
If you are a writer, and need to makes sure your schedule stays full, this startup will create an app that will email and text your contacts on a regular basis to see if they need your services. You can have your contacts buzzed once a week, once a month, or whenever you feel necessary.

(8) WineLover
This startup will create an app to track your favorite wines. It will remember which restaurants have wines you love, which regions you liked the most, and which stores have the wines you like at the best price. The wine-lover app will also tell you when you are too intoxicated to be using your i-phone by having Siri say, “Sober up you wino!!! — you’re too intoxicated to be using this app.” Or, “You know you’re too inebriated to be using this act when you spell Merlot — as Mr.Lote!” This app will also let you search your favorite wines by notes — if you want floral notes, raspberry, mocha, or vanilla, this app is for you.

How much do you train a call center worker whose only lasted three months?

Categories: Outsourcing Articles | Leave a comment

Most companies offer lousy service because they don’t train their employees. However, companies that train their workers too much up front may find that their investment goes out the door. Call center workers typically work in a very high stress environment and quit their job within months. According to studies I have read, to get to the top of a company’s food chain, you need to stick to your job for at least fifteen years. How high will you rise in management if you promptly quit every three months?

How much up front training should you give a BPO worker? Or is it better to test people, and make them pay for their own training if they want a chance to work for you? Better yet, maybe the best way to train an employee is a few hours a month on an ongoing course. Perhaps there would be fewer hours of training and more hours of working after an employee has proven themselves over the course of time.

If you put too much training in an employee up front, you lose it when they quit. If you don’t train your employees at all, you lose your customers as they will seek companies with employees that have more than half a brain. There must be a happy medium.

One method is to divide tasks by difficulty. A new employee should only be allowed to do simpler or less critical tasks for the first few months. After they have proven their loyalty, that is when you might train them to do more difficult tasks. On the other hand, what if they are good at simple tasks, but can’t learn well? If you started out by training them in the beginning, you would have data on their learning curve which is a very critical stat to have on an employee.

Maybe the training curve should include some up-front training to establish the employee’s learning curve, but heavy duty training should be left for after the employee has stuck around for 120 days.

The cost of losing an employee seems high as you might lose your clients if you keep offering new employees of questionable abilities. It might make sense to invest in the office experience so that people stick around a lot longer. But, that is another story.

When and how you do your training and how much are critical questions to ask. You should ideally experiment on this concept in as many ways as you can think of.

The best tasks to outsource are not critical or time sensitive

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Outsource everything!
Some people say, “Outsource everything!” However, if you want quality work done, you can’t really do that. Keep in mind that if you outsource tasks to companies far away, you might not be in constant touch with the workers and you might not even know who is working on your project. If you have something critical, or that requires carefulness or knowledge, you’re in trouble. Imagine that you hire a software company in India to work on your online database. Let’s say that Rahul knows what he is doing and he is the guy assigned to your task. When Rahul quits (and everyone named Rahul who I’ve ever worked with always seems to quit in the middle of a project) then the next guy might not be as good as Rahul.

Let’s say you have some critical phone work to do. If you search the world for that perfect agent, you will waste a lot of time searching only to have them quit at the critical moment. It has happened to me many times.

Another time I outsourced tasks that needed to get done on time. The tasks dragged on and on endlessly and I had to do the work myself when I was very busy. Once again I had made a mistake. So, what is the secret of outsourcing?

Outsourcing time sensitive work doesn’t work!
You can’t outsource work that is time sensitive unless you are absolutely sure that the company you hired will get the work done correctly and on time. That means that if someone quits, that a replacement of equivalent skills will take over. If Rahul knows your site and Rajesh suddenly takes over, even if Rajesh has a few years experience, he doesn’t know your site — so you are in trouble. If you have phone work which has to get done on time and the girl doing the work is sick that week, then you have to do the work yourself. My suggestion is don’t give time sensitive work to others in the first place. Find a very efficient way to do that work yourself.

You also can’t outsource critical work
Let’s say that something can be done at any time, but there will be consequences if the work is done poorly. If you know your work well, but others don’t, there is no way they will do it as well as you can. If you know someone well, and they perform the work almost as well, as well, or better than you can, then you can use them. But, outsourcing to a stranger for critical work is a recipe for disaster. Whomever the BPO company uses for your job will either do a poor job, or if they do a good job they will by definition quit and be replaced by someone who does a bad job. In the long run, the average quality work from outsourcing companies is rarely good. I make it a policy to only use outsourced workers if I have the opportunity to get to know the worker personally. The minute they quit, the entire company starts their reputation all over from scratch with me as I interview the new workers. If I don’t like the new workers, I just fire the entire BPO on the spot! Otherwise my work will be shoddy and who needs that?

Dividing tasks that you thought were a single task is key
I have a task that I call welcome calls. It is very time consuming as my directory has 300 new members per month and I call them all twice. I call people to introduce myself to them, and to get their information straight as well as to see if they have any behavioral characteristics that I like or dislike including how they answer the phone. If they say, “hullo,” I don’t like that, but I do like it if they introduce their company name like a professional. After some long though and a discussion with a friend who runs a social media company, I decided to break my task into pieces. I’m going to have an auto-caller do the initial call so that I get a reading regarding if they answered their phone or not. The auto-call can also instruct them to email me for their password so they can spruce up the info on their listing. The second call will ask them if they want to be on the newsletter. The third call will be by an assistant to fill in whatever info is not yet there. That way I only have to do the fourth call, and I will remove most of the listings with un-filled out information before I do the fourth call which will reduce the quantity of my calling by 70% at least. So, what does this have to do with outsourcing? I can outsource the third call, and automate the other calls. That is a great way to conserve on my labor time.

So, what should you ideally outsource?
(1) Research on social media. Finding tweets to retweet or articles to share. You might want to double check their work as they don’t know your industry as well as you do.
(2) Additional information calls. If you have to call your clients for backup information which is not life threatening or time sensitive, that is a great thing to outsource.
(3) Article Writing. If you run a blog, you can accumulate a lot of articles long before you publish them. This is a great task to outsource not only to save you time, but also to have multiple writing styles on your blog which will make it more interesting.
(4) Test sites or experimental programming tasks. If you are hiring a new programming company, if they screw up a test project, you have little to lose, but a lot to gain in price savings if they do a good job. If they screw up your main site, you could be out of business or have many technical glitches or messy code which will haunt you in the long run.
(5) H.R. If you find companies who have access to great workers, they might be able to find you people fast when you are too busy to look. Or, if they are not so responsive, they might waste your time when you don’t even have minutes to waste.
(6) Graphic Design. You can hire more than one company to do a single project. That way you can have choices for which artwork to use, and if one company doesn’t finish on time — fire them!
(7) Programming consultants are good to hire to check up on the quality of code of the programmers you hired in India. You need to know if they are writing clean and efficient code. You’ll never know if you don’t hire an expert although you will get hints when everything they build is broken or breaks easily after the fact.
(8) Social media services are good to hire for mundane work. But for strategical work, it is hard to find a good company. Sometimes you have to be a social media expert yourself. But, for posting, either use an auto-posting system or hire a company who will post your stuff at a reasonable rate. You should do the work yourself to see how long it takes so you can see if they are billing you for four hours for every one hour that you would have used.

Business Quotes That Will Inspire You

Categories: Quotes, Semi-Popular, Success | Leave a comment

Here are some business quotes to inspire you into deeper thinking. Enjoy…

“Opportunities don’t happen. You create them.” — Chris Grosser

“Are you living for paper, or living for the dream?” — from the Notorious B.I.G. movie.

“We’re all working together; that’s the secret.” — Sam Walton

“There is only one boss. The customer. And he can fire everybody in the company from the chairman on down, simply by spending his money somewhere else.” — Sam Walton

“The secret of business is to know something that nobody else knows.” — Aristotle Onassis

“Time is the scarcest resource and unless it is managed nothing else can be managed.” — Peter Drucker

“An organization, no matter how well designed, is only as good as the people who live and work in it.” — Dee Hock

“If you want to kill any idea in the world, get a committee working on it.” — Charles Kettering

“Intellectual property has the shelf life of a banana.” — Bill Gates


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“It’s easy to make a buck. It’s a lot tougher to make a difference.” — Tom Brokaw

“All lasting business is built on friendship.” — Alfred Montapert

“A business that makes nothing but money is a poor business.” — Henry Ford

“Success or failure in business is caused more by the mental attitude even than mental capacities.” — Walter Scott

“Which social network is the best to market your business? Facebook, Twitter, or word of mouth?” — Myself

“Meetings are indispensable when you don’t want to do anything.” John Kenneth Galbraith

“Corporations: An ingenious device for obtaining profit without individual responsibility.” Ambrose Bierce

“I buy when other people are selling.” — J. Paul Getty

“My own business bores me to death. I prefer other people’s.” — Oscar Wilde

“Honesty is a very expensive gift, Don’t expect it from cheap people.” — Warren Buffet

“Risk comes from not knowing what you’re doing.” — Warren Buffet

“You never know who’s swimming naked until the tide goes out.” — Warren Buffet

“In the business world, the rearview mirror is always clearer than the windshield.” — Warren Buffet

“Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.” — Albert Einstein.


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Curb Your Attitude – a skit about workplace drama at a Medical Transcription Company

Categories: Medical Transcriptions, Of Interest | Tagged | Leave a comment

RAMESH: Everybody I’m working with seems to have awoken on the wrong side of the bed today!

PRAVEEN: Well, if everybody got out of bed on the wrong side, then maybe it is the right side.

SANKUL: No, it is YOU who got off on the wrong side of the bed.

DILIP: FYI, I sleep on the floor on a thin mat next to a wall. I only have one side to pick from!

PRAVEEN: Oh, no wonder you’re in a lousy mood. Maybe you should sleep in a chair like my sister.

STEVE: (ring ring) Hey, how come my medical transcriptions are never on time?

RAMESH: Why do you always exaggerate?

STEVE: It’s not always. Sometimes I exaggerate! You are exaggerating how often I exaggerate!

RAMESH: Okay, we were one day late on the last assignment only. We’re almost done with the current assignment.

STEVE: If you had a client who enforced deadlines, you’d be fired for being even three seconds late.

RAMESH: Okay, curb your attitude!

STEVE: It’s already curbed, I have it on a tight leash.

RAMESH: Praveen! Get that assignment done for Steve. The transcription for the transfusion.

PRAVEEN: I will transfuse the transcription right away.

SANKUL: I’ll have to diffuse your tranfusion if you don’t curb your attitude!

DILIP: Which one are you talking about?

SANKUL: All of you! I think we all need to go on a walk, inhale some rick-shaw exhaust, and come back to the office feeling refreshed!

DILIP: Yes, let’s reboot our attitude.

RAMESH: Agreed! Just get the work done so I can tell Steve the good news!