22 posts categorized "June 2009"

June 30, 2009

Tuesday Twitter thoughts (volume 2)

Here's my latest installment of Twitter thoughts. 

With each passing week, I'm learning more about social media and what it can mean to our biz/personal lives.  Here's four thoughts from last week: 

1.  Follow everyone back (except spammers).  Initially, I resisted this, but thanks to @fayfeeney, I've learned its considered common courtesy.  To follow one back is a sign of respect and acceptance.  My stream is much more interesting and diverse now that I'm following more people.  Also, I follow back everyone who RT's me or talks about me. I use Tweetdeck to monitor "Tim Sanders" mentions or mentions of my books. (Also, when you follow someone back, then can send you a DM and engage w/ you)

2. Unfollow aggressively.  I'm starting, as of this post, #unfollowmonday.  We should publicly unfollow the spammers, over-tweeters, hatefuls and useless.  It's OK to follow back, but if you don't keep your stream reasonably clean, it can get very disturbing.  Case in point: last week, many hateful things were said about Michael Jackson -- hours after his death.  I don't need/want to see that!  I've unfollowed everyone of those folks.  

3. Twitter is NOT about having followers, it is about having influence OR making a difference.  Years ago, people thought that websites were only about traffic, and you see how that worked out.  I will not obsess everyday about how many followers I have.  I'm much better off to spend that energy delivering hi value tweets and serving my followers. 

4. Twitter (much like the internet) is a daytime network.  Twitter via TMZ, broke the Michael Jackson story before Yahoo, CNN and MSN.  By hours in some cases.  That's where I heard about it.  However, if MJ had his cardiac arrest at 9pm, you would have found out via newspapers+TV+Internet+Twitter.  As many of you know, 80% of Twitter traffic occurs during business hours.  This is 1999 all over again! 

Newspapers and TV aren't dead -- they are nighttime!  The internet rules the day.  The absence of afternoon editions or TVs in the workplace fuel that reality.

When I was working at broadcast.com, we learned that 80% of streaming happened during the day when people were at work.  At Yahoo, years later we learned that 80% of all searches happen in the same window.  This hasn't changed.  TAKEAWAY: Tweet during the day, especially your important stuff. Sure, some will look at your older tweets later, but you want to make sure and hit it during 'daypart prime time', which is appx 12noonET to 6pmET.  

Please contribute ideas in comments and RT this post and I'll keep sharing.  Thanks to @karimkanji @mjcarter @JobingSoFlo @audaciousgloop @thatpassionguy and @timbursch for RT'ing last week's Twitter thoughts!  

June 29, 2009

Lifting the experience (still) counts!

Last week I gave a speech for a few hundred franchise owners of the nation's leading home restoration brand.  I connected with the brand's guiding philosophy that the customer wants more than service, they want/need a great experience. 

You can imagine that having your home restored after a disaster can either be a terrible experience, a long drawn out experience or a wow experience that helps put your life back together.  If it is the latter, you tell your friends and maybe even your insurance company.  

I focused my remarks on how, through business design, the customer experience can be continually improved.  Here are a few of my pointers: 

1.  Segment the experience and improve each part. The customer doesn't have a single experience with your company -- he or she has several of them that add up to an overall impression.  Here's the rule of thumb: the more experiences you identify and examine, the more you will be able to improve the overall impression.  Read a case study on Sharp Healthcare's Colonoscopy experience. 

2. Give your customer access to the big cheese.  

3. Go Yelp yourself.  To understand the customer experience, you need to read what customers write about you when you aren't looking. Often, they will tell you on your customer surveys that everything is OK, then go online and say your service was awful. So look on Yelp, use Google search and follow your brand (and key search terms) on Twitter.  (Use Tweetdeck for multiple searches). 

4. When the customer is upset or angry, just say "I'm sorry." When you reply, "You shouldn't feel that way" or "I can relate, that happened to me," it is a disconnect and makes the customer feel like their feelings don't count.  Feelings are facts. Watch this video for more.

For more: The Experience Economy by Pine and Gilmore 

June 28, 2009

Best of the week

On Sunday, I am grateful for many things. 

As a rule I spent at least 80% of gratefulness time focusing on people.  The remaining time is spent appreciating experiences and acquisitions. My best of lists will always highlight things or experiences you can have too!

In no particular order: 
1. New iPhone apps. Love this week's additions. TweetMic looks very promising. It allows me to record and Tweet any length of message. Hmmm, maybe I'll Tweetcast future talks!  Taxi Magic is another must-have app, it locates a taxi for you anywhere/anytime. That can be a lifesaver!  Finally, World Cup Ping Pong is fun and easy to learn -- will pass the time in airports. 

2. Date night. This Saturday, Jacqueline and I went to the Santa Monica Promenade.  I had a great time shopping, seeing a movie and having a romantic dinner.  Speaking of movies, I laughed so hard watching Hangover, I thought I was going to fall out of my seat. That is the funniest flick I've seen in a theatre in years.  Don't take your kids, though. It's really edgy, but delivers punch after punch. The acting ensemble is as good as Knocked Up or 40 Year Old Virgin. The movie keeps you laughing straight through the credits too -- so stick around for the bitter end.

3. My new camera. Jacqueline bought me a new Nikon CoolPix pocket camera for Father's Day.  For the last few years, I've been using my iPhone for snaps and most of them turned out awful. The Nikon is fantastic, has a face finder and takes super clear pics. It fits in my back pocket and syncs with my Mac as well (actually, better) than my iPhone.  

What are yours? Share in comments and let's all have more fun! 

June 25, 2009

The total confidence reading plan

During my lectures, I always stress the importance of reading.

"Readers are leaders!" is a popular battle cry during my talks.  Why?  Because reading great books will expand your mind and ultimately give you total confidence.  Personal confidence is to effectiveness what business confidence is to economic growth.  Increase it and you will grow, thrive and attract others into your life. 

When I advocate reading, I'm referring to books that help you understand how the world works.  They could be business, technology, self-help, history, bio, psychology or even spiritual books.  In many cases, these books help you see, visualize and become comfortable with the future.  In many cases, they give you reasons to relax, believe in yourself and find opportunity with change. 

Many of us don't read many books, though.  We read Twitter, the newspaper, magazines, blogs -- all at the expense of reading a book.  Books are much richer, deeper and have an arc that usually leads to insights for the reader.  Also, surfing around reading will often fill your head with negative confidence-killing thoughts.  The social stream and web world is highly unpredictable, and often it will feed you poison when you need a dose of inspiration.

You need to feed your mind good stuff.  You do that with a reading plan. 

Here's the plan:  Read or re-read two books a month. 
Every month, read one book that helps you understand how YOUR world is changing: business to life. You can also read a book that helps those you spend time with understand how the world is changing. This way, you can give the gift of knowledge -- a gift a book to a bizmate.  

For myself, this month's biz read is Twitter Power.  I need to understand more about social media, and its new darling Twitter (follow me).  So far, I'm learning a great deal from it and it relates to my business as a speaker and author. 

Also, read or re-read a book every month that inspires you or nurtures your positive outlook.  This will nourish your point of view, offsetting much of the media dribble you absorb daily.  Often, you'll need to re-read these types of books several times for their messages to sink in.  

This month, I'm re-reading Norman Vincent Peale's classic: The Power Of Positive Thinking.  I'm already getting fresh insight from his chapter on prayer power.  I've read the book three times already, but each take gives me value. 

You might say, "I don't have time for reading, I'm busy!".  Yeah, you are busy reading the wrong material!  If you are a frequent web user, tweeter, blogger or email reader -- you consume the equivalent of an entire book every week, in some cases every few days. Cut out some of that time, and replace it with scheduled reading.  Have one of the two books you are reading near you at all times, especially down times such as travel, waiting room, lunch, etc.   

You found time to work out.  You found time to blog.  You found time to Tweet.  You can find time to read books.  Trust me, the system works.  When I cut back on my book reading plan (projects, writing new book, etc.) I always felt myself shrinking.  If you wan't to add to your personal resume, and be the Phoenix instead of Chicken Little -- be a book worm not a web rat!

My book recommendations are here

June 24, 2009

True urgency starts with a yellow light

Yesterday, a truck almost creamed me in North Hollywood. 

I was turning left and the truck was going forward.  The light was yellow.  He felt so much urgency he gunned it.  Fortunately, I did too - and my BMW 135 had enough beans to get me out of his way.  Whew. 

The whole experience caused me to think about his urgency, and urgency in general.  Taking a page from John Cleese, I slept on the idea. 

This morning I realized something:  Urgency is a yellow light, a half block and a fast car.  Action ensues, and sometimes accidents happen.  That's how life really is from personal to professional.  We have limited opportunities, where the light eventually turns red.  Sometimes, we get through life's intersections when the light is green (on schedule).  Others, we get there when the light is yellow, going on red. 

There are two types of urgency: 
*  Limited opportunities -- These are presented to us with a limited window to respond or execute.  Often, by seizing the moment, we are rewarded.  These are actually few and far between.  Most opportunities have ample time to respond to, plan for or work against.  
*  Poking around too much -- We put off, procrastinated and met about this project until it's over deadline.  We've thought more than acted on this opportunity, and now it's fading.  Much of our urgency lies in this area.  

Here's my bigger point:  Urgency requires sudden bursts energy, and much of its is frantic and dangerous.  We should strive, taking a page from Covey, to live in the important-not/urgent quadrant of life.  Today, I'm reviewing the opportunities I'm persuing and giving each one a light:  Red (over or not an opportunity), Yellow (act now or wait for the next one) or Green (There's time to effectively act on it).  

Read: The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People (again!) 

June 23, 2009

Twitter Tuesday thoughts

Starting this week, I'll talk about what I've learned recently about social media and Twitter.  

I've been investing about thirty minutes to an hour a day on Twitter for the last month, and the results so far are very good! I've grown my followership to almost 1200, and am starting to get some business related results (networking, lead generation). 

Here's a few tips I've picked up so far -- they are not necessarily accepted by the Twitter community as "conventional wisdom". 

1. Use a platform such as Tweetdeck or Hoot Suite.  I use the former, and it simplifies my Tweeting.  Both include your social stream (those you follow), Replies (people using your @ in tweets), Searches (your name, company, book, etc.) and TwitScope (what's buzzing).  They include link shortening and picture compression for easy URL/photo tweets.  Both program download to your desktop and give you single click access to all things Twitter.  

2. Spruce up your Twitter profile page as part of your personal branding. Using a Twitter provided background is not enough to help you stand out.  You can use a free design program such as Free Twitter Designer to build a snappy profile (check out @sanderssays).  

3. Tweet a minimum of four times a day, but watch out for over tweeting, as people will unfollow you. The secret is to add value with at least 2/3's of your tweets.  Which brings me to my fourth observation...

4. It's all about your mix of tweets.  By providing a diversity of tweets, you remain interesting to the network and will grow organically.  Here's the mix I've come up with (so far):  25% Ambient (what am I doing), 25% found content (RT's and URLs) and 50% advice (sayings, tips, breaking news, etc.).  

Follow me on Twitter and add your insight to comments! 

June 22, 2009

Going offline

Last night I went offline. 

<Fair disclosure: Jacqueline had a cell phone, purely for security purposes or if we were stranded and needed a ride. It never came out of her purse all night, though, so I was still technically offline.>

It wasn't easy, though. Jacqueline and I went to the Hollywood Bowl to see a concert.  The local Twitterati were there, snapping pics and uploading of-the-moment reviews of each set.  The texters were also in full force, looking up occasionally at the stage at the spectacle.  The amateur-paps were there, taking pics on their cell phones and smuggled in micro cameras.  All of them were only 1/2 in attendance last night. 

Me?  I went empty handed, device free -- the only way to truly be offline.  When the first act, a Motown-soul throwback singer Raphael Saadiq went on stage, I felt around for my iPhone to take a snap and tweet about it.  Ah, that's right, I promised I would be offline tonight.  At first, I felt like my following was going to miss out on a blow-by-blow account of last night.  

By the middle of Santigold's set (mostly vocals sang against a backing tape), I was fully engrossed in the night.  People watching, philosophizing and enjoying myself like a kid -- I was fully offline.  Because I wasn't distracted by any tech, toys or need to be 'working my social circle', I was able to fully immerse myself into a real-world experience.  How rare, how liberating!  

I've decided that from now on, when I'm attending something that deserves 100% of my attention, I'm going to go offline and delay my tweets until later (I call delayed tweets DT's).  I don't need to take the photos, someone else will do that for me.  For example, I saw a young man snapping pics of the headlining act (Femi Kuti, fantastic AfroPop band) on his digital camera.  I gave him my business card and asked him to send me a few pics and I would promote him in exchange.  He loved the deal.  

Going offline, I've learned, requires cutting off the mobile-digital tether. Starting out in 2002, I stopped carrying my cell phone on weekends, so long as I had easy access to someone else's or a pay phone for emergencies.  Slowly, but surely, people in my life figured out that I wasn't available over the weekends or at night. They adjusted.  They became accustomed to hearing back from me the next working day.  My life got much better, and my head cleared out.  With blogging, Facebook, tweeting and the like all of that changed (again).  So it's time for work-life-balance 2.0.

Can you go offline?  Really, can you go out this week w/o any digital devices or with a phone as a standby only?  

If you can't, I think you are missing out on life. If you feel like you need to connect with social media all the time, or shoot everything you see, you are working 100% of the time and you'll burn out.  Timothy Ferriss, a modern day philosopher-wunderkind, argues that we should only check our email three or four times a day, taking back our life.  This is a good step, something I've been working on.  

You need to go further.  Carve out two hours a day and one evening this weekend and go offline.  No checking emails.  No sending/receiving texts.  No blogging, photo taking or podcasting.  Be in the present moment, lapping up the experience with no urge to share.  Fill yourself up with analog life.  

You'll find that the experience is recharging and gives you the necessary contrast to live a full life.  It's harder than you think, though.  You'll be tempted to blend offline with online, because content comes around every where you go.  But if you don't unplug it soon, you could be swallowed up in an escalating sense of digital duty that will eventually rob you of your own sense of personal existence.  

If you like this idea, join me in making "Declarations Of Being Offline."  Either Tweet or update status at Facebook to declare: "I'm going offline!"



June 19, 2009

Don't use email to give bad news or criticize

Here's the first of my rules for email etiquette: 

No bad news or criticism over email (You Tube Video)

You'd be surprised how many people break this rule, and fail to effectively communicate. This is why I developed the Dirty Dozen Rules Of Email Etiquette training program -- we need to learn how to use the #1 tool in our biz life to get things done.

Rule 1: No Bad News Over Email from Tim Sanders on Vimeo.

June 18, 2009

Writing like you speak for readability


People often ask me how I write my books. 

"Outloud," I usually reply. After three books, I've found that the freshest prose comes from the lips, not from the fingertips. Think about it: You sit down to type, watching each keystroke grace the screen.  Your mind has to juggle that on top of what you are attempting to write.  When you speak, on the other hand, you are talking without thinking about writing.  

Often, you'll get on a roll, and turn a phrase in a folksy way - unlike the clinical way most of us write on a laptop, etc.  You can use a digital recorder (like my trusty Olympus), your iPhone or even your computer.  PS - for one minute or less record2document, try out the Jott app for he iPhone. 

Here's my system for writing anything longer than a blog post: 
Conceive your writing concept
Outline it 
Record the passage against the outline
If lame, delete then repeat 
Upload the audio file from your computer 
Send to transcriber (like On-Site Media
Receive Word files, then edit
BOOM - you have a conversational document! 

June 17, 2009

Twitterisms are history repeating

It is as if Twitter invented social media.  Wrong. 

Many of the key Twitter-isms are actually adaptations of long standing internet convention.  For example, many people think that hashtags (# followed by a word or letters) was invented by Twitter users to self-organize tweets.  In fact, according to Clay Shirky in his outstanding primer on social media (Here Comes Everybody), hashtags started over fifteen years ago in the IRCs (Internet Relay Channels).  Users would use hashtags to create conference or chat rooms for specific conversations. Obviously an old IRCr used this on Twitter, and now you can use Twitter search to collect tweets on specific issues.  
Check out this website on hashtags on Twitter. 

Contrary to popular belief, neither Facebook or Twitter invented status (what are you doing?).  Status was created by AOL's Instant Messenger (and later Yahoo! Messenger).  Your default status was online, away from my desk, busy and then you could click on it and customize.  It was only a line, but Yahoo's messenger product allowed for HTML, which allowed you to include link coded words (which is better than Twitter's current text only short URL approach).  People have been tweeting for over a decade via instant messengers! 

Finally, people actually think that the current situation with social media and Iran protests marks a "water shed" moment.  Wrong.  Thousands of protestors used texting during the EDSA protests in the Philippines in 2001, leading to the president resigning.  Twitter is the latest in a string of incidents where electronically organized crowds have changed the world.  For more on this, read Howard Rheingold's classic book, Smart Mobs.

What does all of this mean? To find future social media innovations, look to the past.  Many apps, inventions and future social media stars will adapt user breakthroughs from WWW1 (1992-1999).

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