Sunday, December 21, 2008

The Guru was Interviewed

The GURU was briefly interviewed about Telecom.

A telco survival guide


The interview took place in the early summer, so some of my viewpoints have since shifted and I'll discuss them on a later post.

~the GURU

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Would You Bet On It?

Avoiding These Dangers Can Save Your Business

"Seven Ways To Fail Big"

http://www.hbsp.harvard.edu/flatmm/hbrextras/200809/failbig/index.html

Adapted from "Seven Ways to Fail Big," the September 2008 Harvard Business Review article by Paul B. Carroll and Chunka Mui

As the economy continues to keep us guessing, it is even more critical that each move you make, makes sense! Watch the 10 minute seminar to get a brief overview.


~the GURU

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Product Review: BlackBerry 8820

My New "Engagement Ring"

I reviewed the BlackBerry Curve (Verizon) a couple months ago and this month I reviewed the BlackBerry 8820 (AT&T).

Why a BlackBerry 8820?

Initial Needs: Send/receive emails, ease of use when it came to typing emails, ability for clients to reach me out of the office, easy to use/view calendar to schedule work. This BlackBerry is provided for work, not personal use.

I could bore you with all the specific specifications about the phone, but most users just want a phone that works. (There is a link at the bottom for all the nitty-gritty details) As a result, I am detailing my experiences with the phone through out my work day.



Here Is My Review:

Ease-of-Use:

Buttons: Typing on the 882o is amazing! Compared to my BB Curve, where the buttons have small spaces between them and are smaller, the buttons on the 8820 are full, rectangular, and easy to hit. When it comes to dialing phone numbers, it is slightly more difficult (compared to a regular cell phone) as there are many more keys and the numbers are on the left side. Nevertheless, despite my bigger hands, I have no real problem punching in the numbers.

Call Quality: The voice on the other end is pretty clear. The phone does have an "airy" sound during the call, which is somewhat distracting and makes it at times a little hard to hear. However, I do not have my ear piece volume all the way up. It can go to a very loud setting. For me, I have it set at the second softest level. The main issue with the call quality is when I am speaking, the phone seems to have "bounce back". I feel my voice is bouncing off the phone.

Scroll Ball: The scroll ball is the main way the user maneuvers between applications. It is utilized by either moving it up, down, left, or right. The user can also press it to make selections instead of the arrow enter key on the keyboard (see image below). I have no problems scrolling in either direction. (On the Curve, it does not scroll as well to the left)

Battery Life: It does a good job. I will say I have not been using it non-stop yet, just emails and a couple calls, so I do not feel ready to give input on battery life. I will update this portion later.

Navigation: The user explores the phone through the 5 top bar buttons. Predominately, I use the scroll ball, the multi-dot button, and the half-circled arrow button. The multi-dot button allows me to bring up prompts for more detailed windows and to access the full list of applications. The half-arrow button allows me to go-back a screen. Then of course, is the scroll ball which the user uses to select and click the desired applications.

The phone comes with loads of applications, which clutters the navigation fields. As a result, I have hidden most of them as they are entertainment based applications. This is a work-phone, it's supposed to be bland. Haha! It is very easy to customize the phone. I can move my more frequently used applications to my main screen. I can select one option to associate with the side button on the phone for rapid selection. I have the ringer control on the left quick button. One issue I have with customizing the screen is that I cannot have the "L" shaped icon set-up compared to my Curve. I am not sure if this is a Verizon vs. AT&T phone thing or not.

Access: This phone is Wi-Fi capable and I used it the other day. It is nice to be able to access the internet faster when in a hot spot. It moves pretty quickly. I have not tried the GPS nor any of the additional applications. I've been on the EDGE network, no 3G cities yet, but I have no complaints. I cannot wait to try it on the 3G network.

Screen: It is pretty sweet. No complaints on the resolution. The colors are very rich. Compared to the Curve, the screen colors are brighter and not as dull/fuzzy. They are also slightly sharper. I do clean it often as the oils from my skin transfer onto the screen.

Camera: n/a. This is for WORK!!

Accessories: My boss ordered a hip holster case. (I'm that cool now). Unless I lock the phone, buttons are hit when I slide it into the case. It almost deleted a contact once. The phone also comes with a ear piece. It can go in both ears which is cool as it's a phone conversation in "surround sound".

Software: The BB 8820 comes with software to sync/manage with your computer. It works well if your computer's hardware can process it smoothly.

Overall:

Pros:
*Easy to use
*Great screen resolution / colorful
*Light
*Compact for a full QWERTY keyboard
*Internet Access
*Wi-FI
*Full Keys -- easy to type
*Scroll Ball is very fluid
*Slimmer than the Curve


Cons:
*Voice "bounce back" when user speaks
*"Airy" sound when making and having a call
*Wider and longer than the Curve (but for reading emails, t
*Ringer is very loud even on the medium setting


In closing:

I find this phone very useful. The typing easy of use and ability to send/receive emails is great. The screen is bright and crisp. Just like the Curve, you rely on the scroll ball, if something were to go wrong, you're in trouble. For a business professional, this is a great phone. The bigger keys allow you to write emails well and avoid a lot of typos/misspellings. It has certainly improved my productivity outside of the office when in the field.

8.9/10

Here is the Link to BlackBerry's Official Page

~ the GURU

Monday, September 15, 2008

BlackBerry 8820 Review Coming soon

Review will be posted soon.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

When To Stop Your IT Investments?

IT Success is All in the Approach

Long time, no post everyone! Sorry I have been MIA. Life has been hectic (brother off to college, promoted at work, knee issues with cycling, and building a restaurant reviews website/blog), but I'm starting to find a routine again.

As you all know, I am pro-IT. I think the opportunities Information Technology can bring a business and society as a whole are amazing and still an untapped resource that many businesses do not take advantage of because energies are focused elsewhere. But, in this post, we're talking about control IT costs because they can lose focus on the ultimate goal.

I was reading an article from Harvard Business Publishing that gave a very brief and succinct overview of IT costs and how to manage them. The article is by Susan Cramm, link here. We all have budgets that we need to try to stay in and sometimes when the goals are not clearly laid out, budgets are "bent". This is not good. IT investments are rarely cheap, but if your IT team and your vendors work well together uncovering how a solution will bring BENEFITS and RESULTS, the investment will be worthwhile.

However, I do disagree with Ms. Cramm's statement below:
The key to further, smart, cost reductions is to recognize the fact that, in general, companies spend too much on IT because they are unwilling to say "no" to IT-related requests. The path of least resistance seems to rule the day: Too many projects are funded, too many die a slow death, too much technology is procured, too many quality defects are tolerated, and users require too much hand holding.
Through my experience to date, a lot of businesses shut down IT projects/management without looking at what the project's goals are. A great example, your stressed out and over-stretched IT guy manages everything from email/spam management, security processes, phone systems, routers, network management, bandwidth allocation, data management, and puts out all the fires your fellow employees create. Now, any IT guru will say the problems they deal with the most is the nagging processes... email/spam. This results in the IT guy not being able to focus his efforts elsewhere. Imagine if you could pay your service provider to MANAGE your email/spam filters for you?! Your IT guy would thank you and he could focus on solving and creating solutions your business is facing. This project would not suffer a slow death. But, too many businesses are scared to let go of these projects because they are stuck on the idea they have to manage everything for it to work. Take off one of the hats you wear and give it to someone else.

Moving back to the main point of the article, sorry about the little tangent that isn't really applicable to the article. Having clearly defined goals are critical for project success. I recently took a Project Management course and having a PM can really help keep projects on course. Just something to think about.

At the end of the day, businesses need to look at the project's progress and see if the BENEFITS are becoming apparent. If they are not, cancel the project. If there are some delays, but the benefits are being seen, continue a little longer.



Finally, a lot of projects become out-of-hand because the full support from everyone is not there. A problem I see a lot of businesses facing is that only a few people see the benefit of the project and the rest could care less. As a result, people are not depending and routing on its success. It is more of a "status quo" mindset. If you're going to set strict deadlines, you better give the project your best effort. No half-bassing it.

What are your thoughts on this? How have you approached your projects in the past? How are you approaching them currently?

Like the article says how do you manage the "truth" when it comes to your projects?

~the GURU

Thursday, August 28, 2008

The GURU is still alive

To my readers, I have been recently promoted at work. As a result, I have been ramping myself up for my new position and that is why my posts have stopped.

I'll be back soon!

~the GURU

Saturday, August 9, 2008

How Mobile is Your Business?

THE BUSINESS “OFFICE” IS NOW MORE MOBILE THAN EVER —
Business owners include a “no Strings attached” communications solution

Let's be honest.... Receiving information in real time creates a lean, agile, always in the loop work-force

The Wireless Revolution (WR) is upon us and it allowing businesses to do more than ever. Workers are no longer constrained to conducting business in the office or at their client’s locale. Wireless technology allows business owners to always be “in the office.”

The benefits are infinite and the we’re on the cusp of the tremendous changes in the telecommunications industry. While there will still be critical land line based services, the more basic services are going wireless because the “office” is going mobile.

Whether you Need:
*track where truck fleets are going (especially with gas prices, “side stops” are even more costly)
*need air cards for internet anytime anywhere
*Push to Talk Phones,

Wireless providers will have a solution for you. Have you discussed recently with your wireless contacts/account managers about how you currently utilize mobility and if you do not have a solution, thought about developing one?
Business Owners are always running around, mobility is a person’s RSS Feed to their business.

There are awesome ways to craft a solution that creates an even more effective business model and reduce costs.

I will say AT&T has a great website that explains some of the applications available. For the curious business owners, AT&T’s site, http://www.wireless.att.com/home/. Mosey on over and get a taste of all the things that can be provided your business.

Special Points of Interest:
*Wireless Capabilities
*Wireless Lap-Top Solutions
*Wireless Connectivity
*Email / Messaging
*Push to Talk Technology
*Real Time Inventories to Sales People in the field
*Access corporate & ISP email, calendar, & address book
*Certified enterprise solutions
*Custom business applications
*Flexibility & Time Savings
*Built for 3G network
*Robust network & security
*Blackberries, “Push to Talk”
*Lap Top Air cards

~the GURU

Monday, August 4, 2008

Travel Expenses: Hit Smart Businesses HARD

Tele & Video Conferencing: Very Productive for B2B Communications

The days of cheap travel are pretty much in the past. While businesses still need mobile workforces, controlling costs when it comes to travel is an exponentially growing concern for companies. As the cost increases, finding alternatives may well differentiate a good business from a great business.

Enter tele & video conferencing solutions.

We have meetings all day, everyday, and ease-of-use and accessibility are key.

Why Video-conferencing?
*Want “Face to Face” meetings — business is personal
*Show presentations aside from Power Point
*Safer than travel
*Geography is irrelevant
*Impromptu meetings — no delay
*Record meetings and save for later uses
*Ease of Use
*Major cost reduction
*Less “windshield” time
*Save space: No need for classrooms.
*Distance is NEVER an excuse now.

“If fuel goes any higher, nobody will be flying -- it really and truly is scary. We're just going to have to come up with something else."
--Colleen Barrett, president of Southwest Airlines


Who said business cannot be face to face? Video Conference is almost as personal as F2F

Key Points
Reduce Travel Expenses
Geography is irrelevant
Save Space Save Time
Flexibility & Time Savings
Have a ‘War Room”
Conferences on PC or Meeting Rooms
Safer alternative than typical transportation

~the GURU

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Product Review: BlackBerry Curve 8330

Is this Device Superb or just a Blurb

While this phone has been out for quite some time now, I purchased one a few weeks ago and wanted to share my thoughts.

Why a BlackBerry?

Initial Needs: Send/receive email capability, ease of use when it came to typing text-messages/emails, easy to use/view calendar to schedule life, and a fairly high resolution screen.

Now that I have surpassed the poor service at the store when I purchased the phone I have been able to focus on the phone itself.

I could bore you with all the specific specifications about the phone, but most users just want a phone that works. (There is a link at the bottom for all the nitty-gritty details) As a result, I am detailing my experiences with the phone through out daily life.

Here Is My Review:

Ease-of-Use:

Buttons: I needed to rid myself of the multiple clicking of each button to type out messages, so I knew it would take me some time to adapt to the QWERTY keyboard. I now love it! Typing is much easier and fluid. However, when it comes to dialing phone numbers, it is slightly more difficult as the buttons are somewhat small (I do have big hands). Nevertheless, it is simply the learning curve I am going through and I guess I need to be more nimble with my fingers. I guess all my years of playing the saxophone haven't helped...

Call Quality: The voice on the other end is very crisp and clear. My old phone muttled the speaker's dialogue and I was always asking, "say again?" With this phone, that is not a problem. The volume is great as well. It can go to a very loud setting. For me, I have it set at the second softest level.

Scroll Ball: The scroll ball is the main way the user maneuvers between applications. It is utilized by either moving it up, down, left, or right. The user can also press it to make selections instead of the arrow enter key on the keyboard (see image below). It works great when I am scrolling down to scrolling to the right. I find that it is not as responsive when I scroll up or to the left.






Battery Life: It does a fairly good job. I usually charge it every two days out of habit from my old phone. I do not have a landline phone so this is my main device. I would say I talk about 1.5-2 hours a day on the phone. Then, there is the email/text usage that goes on as well.

Navigation: The user explores the phone through the 5 top bar buttons. Predominately, I use the scroll ball, the multi-dot button, and the half-circled arrow button. The multi-dot button allows me to bring up prompts for more detailed windows and to access the full list of applications. The half-arrow button allows me to go-back a screen. Then of course, is the scroll ball which the user uses to select and click the desired applications.

On a whole, I find the navigation pretty easy to use. I am still learning what each icon/application does, but for the most part, it's fool proof. It is very easy to customize the phone. I can move my more frequently used applications to my main screen. I can also select two applications to associate with the side buttons on the phone for rapid selection. I have the ringer control on the left quick button and the alarm on the right quick button.

Access: I can access the Internet and Google maps which is awesome!! While the download and upload speed are not 3G, I did not have that functionality before so I have no complaints. Users who have had BlackBerries in the past and want faster speeds should invest in a BlackBerry 3G phone. I love the ability to send/receive/read word documents as well.

Screen: It is pretty sweet. I love the resolution compared to my old phone. The colors are very rich. I would say they are more blue-based. I do clean it often as the oils from my skin transfer onto the screen.

Camera: I realized I use the camera more than I thought. It saved me once when Jiffy Lube ran my bike into their garage and I had to take pictures. Also, as my digital camera is on its last leg, it's nice to have a decent camera to take pictures.

Accessories: It comes with a leather holster. One would think it would have a belt loop on it (if you want to be that cool), but it does not. I decided to purchase a rubber protector to put my phone in. As a cyclist, I would hate to have my phone slip out of my sweaty hands when I'm stopped for a break checking messages. Also, we all drop our phones and I want to keep it safe. The phone also comes with a ear piece. It can go in both ears which is cool as it's a phone conversation in "surround sound".

Software: The BB Curve comes with software to sync it up to your computer. Users can transfer files, pictures, etc either to the the phone or to the computer. My computer is three years old and the software brings it to its knees.

Overall:

Pros:
*Easy to use
*Great screen resolution / colorful
*Customizable
*Light
*Compact for a full QWERTY keyboard
*Internet Access


Cons:
*Software brings older computers to knees
*Battery life may be a problem
*Keys do feel a little cheap -- wear and tear may affect visibility of letters/numbers
*Scroll Ball is not as responsive going certain directions
*Vibrate feature is not as apparent


In closing:

I find this phone very useful. The typing functionality and ability to send/receive emails is great. The screen is bright and crisp. However, I hate the reliability on the scroll ball. If something were to go wrong, you're in trouble. I would recommend this phone to a new BlackBerry user.

8.7/10

Here is the Link to BlackBerry's Official Page

~ the GURU

Monday, July 14, 2008

Book Review: Customer Approved Small Business


Does this book give hope to young businesses?


Schell, Michael. The Customer Approved Small Business.

Approved Publications Inc. Vancouver, British Columbia 2005.

By The Small Biz. Guru, Zane Schweer

It is 3:11am. He just downed his seventh cup of coffee. The dog is speaking French and the significant other is threatening to walk out… again. Yet, the ever-persistent entrepreneur and/or business owner is awake, plotting, and creating a business to make his/her dream a reality. However, these late night sessions could be just a waste of time unless this visionary develops a sound design and plan to make his idea a reality. This is where Michael Schell, CEO and President of the Approved Group of Companies comes to rescue the bleary eyed business hopeful. Having twenty-plus years in business-to-business sales, Michael Schell and his team surveyed 228 buyers, conducted 330 interviews, and recorded the answers to 4,327 questions with the hopes of developing an easy-to-understand, basic platform to build one’s business. This book is different from others in that it is written from the perspective of the customer.

An emerging businessman can develop a service or product that solves all the problems plaguing a particular market, but if the proper foundation is not established, appropriate clients not targeted, and proper business professionalism not exhibited, the venture is destined to perish. The Customer Approved Small Business is based on numerous business secrets that revolve around the foundation of solid business practices, development of new business, and how to tie it all together.

The forward focuses on the fact that clients in today’s markets are less likely to show loyalty to one business. People go where the overall experience and service meets and exceeds expectations. Therefore, the importance of listening to the customer and curtailing the business model to embrace that premise is critical. Let us not forget that there is a sixty percent rate of failure for a business in its first five years. So, Schell stresses the idea of “measure twice, cut once” and “plan, plan, then execute”. Thus, I decided to refer to this book as a manual/handbook because it gives great instructions and helpful tools to begin to build a well-functioning business that evolves to the volatile market-place.

This manual plunges into building a business foundation. The foundation is built upon ensuring operational efficiency and effectiveness. Schell believes this is achieved by developing manuals (processes, job descriptions, missions). Well written handbooks help to avoid confusion as a business grows and, inevitably, becomes more complex. Thus, it helps to avoid the development of the “micro manager”. We have all had them and the strain they impose in the workplace environment is detrimental to overall goals. Mr. Schell gives tips on how to standardize each process and effectively eliminate the guess work. However, I do feel that a smaller business at the onset should not have as strict predefined roles. Most of the time, smaller businesses have employees that deal with numerous areas in the business and restricting them to specific roles may do more harm than good. While Mr. Schell believes (and rightly so) the ultimate goal of developing manuals is to withstand turn over and, thereby, maintaining stability in business practices.

As the book progresses, Schell examines the development of new business. Whether it is building the prospect database (industries, contacts, locations, etc), cultivating strategies to influence the decision makers, creating ISPS (industry specific positing statements), or telling us, the readers, what not to do during that initial sales call, he provides useful tips that every businessman/woman should know.

A serious pitfall for eager salespeople is to try to make a sale on the first call. I strongly agree. For a business to be “customer approved” according to this book, it is all about developing relationships and showing respect for a potential client’s time. Concentrate on providing a solution that meets the needs of the potential new purchaser. Sales will follow.

Understanding that the first 30 seconds of a call or meeting can make or break one’s success / clinching business, Schell provides tips on ways to The Customer Approved Small Business gives great examples of ways to write opening statements, primary reason statements, and key point statements because those initial thirty-seconds of a call or meeting make or break any hopes of success. As a business continues to grow and hire more employees, having this book as a resource gives the “newbies” a great way to draft their own statements instead of some cookie-cutter elongated paragraph. Getting a new-hire up to speed as quickly as possible increases the opportunity for profitability. I wish I was given this book when I started my job.

The most important sections in this book are the chapters honed in on planning and organizing meetings, developing an overall organization’s structure, and the “What the Buyers Say” sections. The “What the Buyers Say” is spread throughout the book. These tid-bits are notes and comments from business owners themselves regarding how they like to be approached and how they ultimately decide who earns their business. In addition, there are survey percentages given in regards to how many businesses put into practice certain ideas and the average rating of importance. For example, “I prefer to be asked for a moment of my time, but only about 20% of representatives do it” (Schell, pg 33). This was in reference to sales calls. These tid-bits scattered throughout the book are to re-enforce the theme of respecting client’s time and showing the ideal ways to conduct business.

As organization is one of the lifelines to a successful business, Schell gives concrete advice on how to create structure within the business, increase effectiveness of meetings, phone calls, mission statements, and ways to position oneself as an expert in the respective industry. In particular, the sections on developing an agenda before meetings to maximize time and guidelines for conducting follow up phone calls/meetings are excellent templates for anyone starting out or a seasoned veteran looking to fine tune.

Overall, The Customer Approved Small Business does a great job providing advice on laying a sound foundation through the use of manuals, processes, people, and plans. Then, Schell leads the business owner on how to take those plans and ideas and organize them, develop strong mission statements, and adapt to the ever changing business environment. Receiving tips from professionals who actually interact and make decisions based on what they have experienced gives this book an added bonus. The commentary and survey results help guide any start-up business in the right direction. At the end of the day, 60% of all entrepreneurs who set out to fulfill their dreams fail within in the first five years. This book will not save the business owner, but it does harness key knowledge that will ignite the spark that will hopefully burst into full-fledge flames.




~the GURU


Saturday, July 5, 2008

Customer Service... Or Lack There of at Verizon

Verizon should be glad their (cell) service is good

As my previous post stated, I finally took the plunge and purchased a BlackBerry Curve. Thus far, I love the phone; however, my experience at the store was not satisfactory at all.

The play-by-play of how sales should not go:

I walked into the store with the goal that I would not be leaving with out a new phone. I went over to the BlackBerry section and began to tinker with the phones to begin to familiarize myself with them and ensure I was selecting the proper thumb-clicking device. I believe I spent 10-15 minutes of standing there reviewing the phones before I was approached by a sales person. I mean, did I smell? Did my beard intimidate them? Am I too good-looking?

Finally, some man with a clip-board and a supposed suit walked up to me and asked if I needed any help. My response, "I was wondering when someone was going to approach me." Now, of course, I could have be pro-active in seeking advice, but, the fact of the matter is, since I was never even asked initially if I needed help, I wanted to test the waters. I've been in sales for a year now and I'm starting to toy with other sales people to see how good their skills are and see if they really want my business.

Moving along, once I was approached by the clip-board bearing, blue-tooth wielding, sales-person, as I asked my questions, he actually made me feel like an idiot. While I cannot precisely pin-point the exact causes, there were instances in his tone and inflections that really angered me. If I had not been adamant on purchasing a phone I would have left.

Nevertheless, I selected the Curve and then was taken to the counter. This "sales consultant" was even worse. Talk about being so bored and not wanting to show the customer he wanted the business as well. We began the phone upgrade process as I supplied all of my pertinent information. At this point, I thought (sarcastically), I really must be taking up this valuable person's time by me wanting to spending a couple hundred dollars with this company. Not only that, but the ever-annoying "Can You Hear Me Now" Guy was plastered right in front of me and I wanted to break his glasses.

I understand my phone upgrade was pretty much a transactional sale, but how did they know that? Should that matter? At least show the customer you value their business.

As I continue to evolve my sales skills and analyze others, I really paid attention during this "experience." Like I said before, if I had not been so focused to buy my new phone that day (or wanted to waste another trip and gasoline), I would have walked out.

My experience at Verizon was awful. The "sales consultants" made me feel stupid at times, all the employees showed poor customer service, and they made it seem that me wanting to spend money with them was deplorable. Verizon is lucky its cell-coverage is very good where I reside, or I'd be gone.

~the GURU

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

I've Sold My Soul

Will I Resist Morphing into a "CrackBerry" Guy?

Ladies and gentlemen, I have gone beyond the point of return, I purchased a BlackBerry Curve over the weekend.

I must say, she is a beauty. I will be doing a product review on my website, http://www.thesmallbizguru.com/reviews after a couple weeks.

However, I have sworn to myself, I will never be the person who "thumbs" through the device while I am having a conversation with someone else...


My experience at the wireless store is another story...


~the GURU

Friday, June 27, 2008

I Have Toner All Over My Pants!

Will this Ink Rub Off During A Presentation?

Managing cost is a vital skill in the business world. Office supplies are a huge culprit in sucking the life out of budgets and in particular, ink cartridges.

I stumbled upon this article and thought you all would find this of interest; comparing brand-name ink to third-party ink.



If you're a busy individual, I have quoted the conclusion:

The Bottom Line on Printer Inks

Depending on your printer, you may be able to find cheaper, third-party inks that perform as well as or better than the brand-name stuff. In our study we found that third-party ink cartridges usually cost less and often yielded more prints than their manufacturer-made rivals. On the other hand, in most cases, we confirmed the printer manufacturers' claims that their own inks produce better-looking images.

Deciding between brand-name and third-party alternatives depends in part on how you plan to use your prints. If you want high-quality color photos that future generations will be able to enjoy, then OEM inks are usually a better choice.

Many of us, however, don't need the best ink supplies that money can buy. If your prints tend to be for one-time-only office presentations, text documents for school, or temporary color images (such as plain-paper photos), inks from third-party supplies may be a reasonable cost-saving option. And over the lifetime of your printer, cost savings from buying third-party inks can be considerable.




~the GURU

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Blogroll *Updated*

Hello everyone,

As I like to support fellow bloggers, I have been following a couple business-based blogs for the past couple months and have decided to add them to my blog roll as they provide great information. I believe business owners will find what they have to contribute very helpful.

They are:

Rescue Marketing

Weakest Link Consulting

Both provide insights, advice, and raise awareness about happenings in the business world.

~the GURU

Monday, June 16, 2008

No IT Clowns Here Part II - Stephen King's "IT"

Companies to need Savvy up their IT

I wrote an article back in December 07, titled "This Isn't Stephen King's "IT"" and as I was reading the Wall Street and Technology web site today, I stumbled across this article about IT. Once again, it addresses the fact that people are so opposed to something they do not understand and refuse to embrace technology. To make matters worse, this author provides no real backing of his assumptions in regards to IT, which, in the end, makes him one of the main reasons IT gets such a bad rap.

Right off the bat, the tone is set incorrectly in this article about how IT should be viewed.

"In good times, the challenge is how to spend the money wisely; and in bad times, the challenge also is how to spend the money wisely."



IT cannot be viewed as simply managing costs associated with developing a business' infrastructure. I'll be one of the first to tell you that IT projects can and are expensive, but if the big picture vision is there and well thought out, success awaits you. Businesses that irresponsibly throw money around will suffer the fate of having a shoddy IT department,
but companies that utilize IT to attack and resolve business inefficiencies have more than just "15 minutes of IT fame."
A sand trap many businesses fall into are getting caught up with "buzz words" and not really seeing how the applications can benefit their business. They buy the product, not the solution. We can thank the salespeople that strive for the quick sale and not the long-term success.

The Author mentions that IT Departments "fail to build a sustainable practical environment" (Habbal, Mayiz 6/11/08). I challenge that remark and to ask how often a business agrees to an IT Project and then quickly disregards it before the solution is implemented!! As the list of insults are thrown at IT, words such as "appalling", "staggering", and my favorite, "exceptionally frightening" are mixed together, it is no wonder people think IT is from Stephen King's novel.

Mayiz Habbal has strong words towards IT, yet no evidence backing up his claims. I understand IT undertakings have failed, but also a lot of flourished. Apple fans love IT. iPhone software is the result of IT investments.

IT helps companies attack inefficiencies. Businesses that have multiple departments and have issues of the "silo effect", by bringing in an ERP solution and allow all those businesses to communicate seamlessly does wonders for breaking down barriers. Walmart owes all of it's inventory success to Information Technology. Its inventory systems allow both the supplier and Walmart to "talk" between intranets with ease.

Imagine if Walmart had to call each one of its suppliers for every store?! YIKES!

Overall, I am not saying IT is perfect. It is not and that is because businesses can be very loose when it comes to investing properly. Then, when a project fails, they blame the IT department when, in the first place, the other departments in the business did not fully harness the solution being presented.

There is no cookie-cutter answer for a business when it comes to IT. Every solution is customized to the business. Forcing a product on a business never leads to success. The product has to provide that solution that answers the issue posing a problem to the business. Once the corporate world realizes this, IT will be basking in the high life.....

~the GURU

A little video of Stephen King's "IT". Your IT guy is not the Clown.


Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Do You Like Being "Always Home"?

Home Landlines Becoming Obsolete? At What Cost?

In a May article in BusinessWeek, studies are showing that home landlines are slowly being replaced by wireless devices (cell phones). Consumers either keep landlines for internet connections or simply have them because they always have. Recent trends to absolve the use of landlines are due to cost and the demand for being able to be contacted "anytime"and "anyplace".

However, while wireless technology is the wave of the future, there is a point I want to raise and it should be duly noted, but before I divulge my point and issue, let's go over the pros and cons of the growing way to communicate.

The pros of ridding our lives of landlines are the following:

1) One less number to worry about. If we did not have our personal contact lists with numbers programmed in, our lives would be chaotic. I remember when I used to have so many numbers memorized it wasn't even funny. Now, I can simply look them up in two seconds and begin my call. Also, instead of "guessing" where the to-be-called-party is (are they home? are they out?), we can call one number and be done with it all.

2) "Always Home." By having one number that travels with individuals everywhere, it is like one is always home and will never miss a beat. If someone walked out the door and the phone rang three minutes later with a new meeting spot, a cell phone allows the travelling to be contacted about the location change.

3) It's less expensive. Why pay for both a home number and cell number? Just consolidate.

4) No Solicitors!!!!! Dinner will be peaceful and there will not be 32 issues of Vogue on the door step in a couple weeks.




Now that you're ancy to cancel your land line service, wait just a moment for the cons:

1) Emergency Service Providers have a more difficult time tracking people down. Now, in time this will get better (GPS etc etc), but when calling from a land line phone, location is almost exact. While with cell phones, tower distance/signal strength play a key role.

2) Comfort. Having extended phone calls on a smaller device can cause discomfort and while subject oneself to that if they do not have to? Plus, why drain your batter even more?

3) Memory. I would be curious to see if people had better memorizing skills before the creation of cell phone contact lists. Personally, I do not know as many numbers as I used to. Thus, if I were in a situation where I did not have some one's phone number, I'd be rather bothered.

4) Signal Towers. I am no expert and if any of you readers know, what happens if lightening hits the tower? Lose signal and no other tower can pick up the extra signals or is too far? What type of issue could that cause? If a parent is trying to call his child who is out too late and cannot call?

5) What if solicitors eventually lobby for the ability to call you on your cell phone? Now wouldn't that stink?! I would much rather have those calls go to my land line phone than my cell.

-and now, the main point I want to address in this article-

CALL QUALITY
Sure, we all laugh at the Verizon slogan of "Can You Here Me Now?" But, have you actually thought about that phrase? We say it more than we think. How annoying is this? I want to be able to have a conversation and not have to repeat myself or angle my head just right to receive optimal signal. Plus, voice quality isn't always as crisp as a land line phone. For those of you that are followers of my blog, you know that I praise the motto of "you get what you pay for."

We all know our landlines very rarely go down. They are RELIABLE. Even when the power is out, they work. Most people have their more private conversations in the comfort of their own homes. Imagine when you're speaking to your great grandmother who lives in Europe and it is hard enough to understand her due to her "wise and mature" voice, throw in some cell static and your call is not going to be a good experience. Or, in the midst of a very important conversation, you have been speaking for a few minutes only to realize that the call was dropped two minutes ago?

At this point in time, we, as consumers, need to start to go after quality again, not just cheap. It will come back and bite us. Why settle? I hate having to repeat myself when having a conversation or have to re-call after a call is dropped. In time, the service will be better, but not yet. Notice how I did not touch upon the business side of things, imagine being on a call with a vital client and the call is dropped.... how are you viewed in their eyes?
Don't sacrifice quality..... because who honestly wants to be "always home?"

~the GURU


Le Link to the Article

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Sell It On eBay! Airline Fee Satire

Time For Some Guru Satire

First, I take my blog very seriously as I try to educate my audience, share some opinions, and give advice, but we have to have some fun every now and then, so here we go:

Below are a couple links about all the new airline fees that are popping up and causing chaos, if you have not heard about them, you are living under a rock.

You're Charging Me for What?!

Funny Comic

Packing Light Pays

So, obviously, we have the baggage fees and now some are possibly speculating about the weight of you and your bags being charged as well. Quite simply, airlines need to become more versatile and diversify their portfolios..... my solution; their own eBay Auction sites.

Picture it now, you just enjoyed your flight. You paid $15 for your checked bag, your pants still don't fit quite right after they made you take them off for "security purposes". You had a baby two rows up screaming the entire time, your lap top battery died half-way through the flight, you were frozen the entire flight because you dared not wrap yourself in the disease infested blankets, the stewardess gave you only 1/4 can of Ginger Ale and no pretzels, and if you're really really really lucky, the flight allowed cell phones... Could this trip be any worse?

Yes it could. It turns out after you filed slowly out of the plane (which they shut the air off as you awaited the gate to be opened to save on electricity), you left behind your suit jacket which housed your fountain pen, wallet, sunglasses, but you did not realize this until you passed the security check point.

Now, we would expect the airlines to notify you once they searched the jacket and found your I.D., but not anymore ladies and gentlemen, I introduce the Airlines eBay Store!!



Airlines have a cash cow in their grasps. Tons of people leave belongings behind, so instead of returning them, put them up for auction!

I can see it now, your suit jacket, pen, wallet, and sunglasses all end up on the Auction site, along with the thousands of other items left behind on planes.
If you really think about it, airlines could become a electronics/small articles
of clothing store
To top things off, you can use your Frequent Flyer Miles on the auctions too! Talk about an added bonus for flying with your carrier of choice.


This could help alleviate all the gas issues and drive the airlines into an entirely new industry.

So, the next time you forget a personal belonging, do not even attempt to contact the airline carrier, save yourself the trouble and go to eBay and buy your stuff back...

The be-all will be when on your next flight the gentleman to your right happens to have a pen that looks identical to your "lost" pen and those sunglasses have the same scratch on the frame as yours did......

Oh, what the future could hold.

~the GURU

Monday, May 26, 2008

Selling Off People's Lives

Do You Trust Your Employees?

Whether a business has three or 200,000 employees, data protection and security are of the utmost importance. Now, some may say, well, a three person business does not have much to protect, they are so small. A small company can have lots of information that could be just as confidential as a big business if accessed by hackers. So, if you are a smaller-based business do not think you are immune. You are not my friend. At least you have the luxury of being able to know all of your employees on a much more intimate level then a big business.

Technology vs. Human Will

A business can have all the latest and greatest technologies for security at their finger tips, but that does account for human "error" or in this case, human theft. It can be and is challenging for businesses to have to juggle the two because one cannot be around without the other. In the case of Lending Tree, employees took advantage of the access to information. We have to ask ourselves how this information was so easily abused. I mean, honestly, people's lives are at risk of identity theft and who knows what else and it seems this went on for a couple years. What were the motivating factors? Money? Revenge? As this story continues to unravel, I want to know.

As a business owner, one must have the at the bare minimum security protocols and be pro-active about it or there will be consequences. In terms of monitoring employees, if the release of people's information can reek havoc, you need to set-up security barriers that, for example, monitor emails being sent out (Symantec has a service). Then, have the settings pick up key words that could involve potential threats. Yes, it may be tedious to have to look through all the files, but if it saves the business from bad press and LOTS of law suits, it is well worth the business' time.

The original article was from the Charlotte Observer, but the link has since been taken down, so I found another one dated around the same time. http://www.networkworld.com/news/2008/042208-lendingtree-breach.html

UPDATE: http://www.charlotte.com/business/story/636437.html

So it seems there has been a class-action suit filed. One person has already come forward about the effects of this violation.


Garcia bought a copy of his credit report almost immediately after that and found that his information had been reviewed by nearly a dozen lenders without his permission, severely affecting his credit score, the complaint said.

Yikes! That is not good and is now a serious consequence of the renegade employees. The article mentions that the affected parties do not believe Lending Tree took adequate action to protect their information, which they may not have. I wish more details were given, but I'm going off of what I have access to.


The Ultimate Battle

How, as business owners, are we able to find the line between technological security measures and human security? It is extremely frustrating and scary. Businesses need to invest in security, it is a necessity. We cannot skimp on it because we have to ward off hackers. However, when our own employees poise a threat, it is the worst possible situation. Thus, it makes first off, the hiring process that much more important. It also puts further emphasis of keeping upper management in the trenches with the employees. The more they are involved, the less likely certain events/actions can slip by and heaven forbid they become wrapped up in it as well.

In addition, make it difficult for employees to be able to transfer sensitive information. If an employee has to log into a database to retrieve information, are they able to cut and paste? Can employees bring their lap-tops home? It's one thing to bring work home to get caught up, but if it involves dealing with very sensitive data, do not risk it, do not allow it!

Overall, this issue will always be around, but like I touched upon earlier, what were the motives? Did someone anger the employee? Were they short changed on something? Were they just a bad hire? In efforts to fight this sort of security threat, we need to analyze why it occurred. Only then can we figure out how to curb the threat. As a business owner, protecting your information is one of the most critical skills sets available.



~the GURU

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Telecom. 101 -- Video Style

My Second Video Installment





Each category will have it's own video or web entry dedicated to it. Like I said in the video, this is a very high overview.

My YouTube Universe

~the GURU

Thursday, May 15, 2008

What is DSL?

Time to Focus on some Telecommunications

Sure, we have all heard the term "DSL" thrown around and know that in some shape or form connects a user to the internet, but what does is stand for? What does it do? How does it work? In this entry, we are going over the very basics of DSL and how it provides businesses (and homes too) with internet connectivity.

Drum Roll please.... DSL stands for "Digital Subscriber Line"

Why Do You Need It?

Well, if you did not have it (or cable for that matter) you could not read this post or navigate anywhere on the internet. Thus, DSL is used to foster:

  • Connectivity for business networks
  • Transferring of files
  • Data gathering / Researching information
  • Connecting with the millions upon millions of other users all logged into the net

How it Works:
DSL is provisioned over the same copper pair (twisted pair) wire your voice line uses and provides continuous connectivity. Copper wire uses analog signaling (ie voice conversations) and initially when the idea was thought up to run data over the lines, a modem was born.

A modem transmits the analog signal from the line into a digital transmission, carries it over the network, and translates it back into an analog signal. As a result, this only allowed bandwidth of up to 56kbps (kilo-bits per second). Now, as we are all well aware, 56kbps in this world is slower than watching a rock move. Cell phones have faster connectivity now. Thus, emerged DSL technology.

With Digital Subscriber Lines, there is no need to convert analog transmissions into digital signals and then back to analog. The information starts off as digital, which boasts a tremendous increase in bandwidth capabilities. In the Southeast, for example, DSL is available up to 6.0Mbps (mega bits per second). That is a HUGE boost!

Also, in the age of 56k modems, either you were on the internet or on the phone. They could not occur simultaneously. With DSL, both voice and internet connectivity occur on the same line, thus reducing costs.

Types of DSL
There is one main type of DSL. I am going to leave the others alone because the majority of users do not use them.

Asymmetrical Digital Subscriber Lines (ADSL) is geared towards homes and small businesses because of the bandwidth breakdowns. Since most users download information from the internet more than upload (i.e. every time you go to a website, you download rich graphics, text, etc etc or download music/movies) you require bandwidth. As a result, engineers were able to design DSL to give you more download speed. This is because typical users upload a lot less (i.e. send emails, upload files etc).

However, if your business demands a lot of upload bandwidth, you would need a symmetrical DSL (SDSL), but if that is the case, an internet T-1 circuit would be the best option and we will discuss T-1s at a later date.

Things to Consider

  • DSL is distance sensitive, so the further away the business is away from the Telecom. Provider's Central Office , the slower the connection. Thus, the users closest to the COs benefit from the fastest speeds.
  • DSL has its own line. A business does not share it with anyone except those on the network. Whereas with cable, everyone in a "neighborhood" shares one big pipe. So, come 3:00pm when the kids come home, the cable network will slow down.


Why DSL may not be for You

  • Like I mentioned above, distance plays a factor. As a result, if a business requires a lot of bandwidth and is not ready for the investment in a T-1, they will be out of luck.
  • It's not available everywhere. Some central offices are not capable or, once again, distance plays a factor
  • Faster receiving than sending of information
  • Copper Line Quality. If the copper wires are really old, quality may suffer.

Why DSL is for You
  • Always On. DSL is always on and always ready to surf. A business never has to log-on or off.
  • Voice calls come in on the same line, so you do not have to buy a line just for internet connectivity.
  • Most of the time, there is no need for additional wiring
  • Service Providers usually supply the modem/router.

Overall, the creation of DSL allowed a lot of business to have internet connectivity and not have to buy all new equipment or wiring. All that really has to occur is the purchase of a router and informing your service provider you need connectivity. While there are some downsides to DSL and of course the great debate of cable vs. DSL (another time, I don't have the strength), DSL is a sound investment that provides businesses with basic reliable internet connectivity.


Side Notes:
I want to leave you with some general terms.
DSLAM: Digital Subscriber Line Access Multiplier - This device inter-connects all the individual DSL lines in an area and transports them into one big pipe to the high speed backbone which provides gigs upon gigs of bandwidth which keeps the network flowing. Whereas cable providers give "sectors" one big pipe and everyone shares it.
Filters: Filters block signals above certain frequencies so the voice and data transmissions are not interfered with and cause problems. So, if you hear static on the lines, sometimes it is because the filter needs to be replaced.

~the GURU

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Where is the GURU?

Hi everyone,

I'm in the midst of moving/looking for a new place to live so it has been a little hectic.

Posting will resume soon I hope.

~the GURU

Monday, April 28, 2008

Smart Business Guru Emerge

Evolving name for an Evolving World

**11:28am 4/28** Full details later.

As you all know, my main URL is The Small Biz Guru [http://www.thesmallbizguru.com]. Yet, I have not connected the blog to the page yet. I have expanded my reach and name to Smart Business Guru (http://www.smartbusinessguru.com).

My reason being, I embrace that some owners do not like to be called "small business." I do not find it as an insult, but image does matter to owners and I want our interactions to allow them to be at ease. Thus, I have adapted the name "Smart Business Guru".

~the GURU

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

"Phantom Telephone Traffic?"

The Phantom of the Opera has gone Telecom.

From BusinessWeek

Ahead of the Bell: Phantom Telephone Traffic

04/22/2008 3:12 PM ETA Senate committee on Wednesday will review concerns among some telephone companies over not being able to bill for traffic over their networks because the calls can't be identified.

The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee on Monday will examine the scope and size of such "phantom traffic."

Telephone companies recover part of their operating costs by charging other carriers a fee for delivering traffic over their networks. But if companies can't identify a call or where it originated from, they can't bill for it. By law, carriers are required to put all calls through in case of an emergency.

It's unclear how widespread phantom traffic is or how much it's costing telephone companies, especially rural ones. Some say the problem will only get worse as more people use software to make calls through their computers.

Among the witnesses scheduled for the hearing include Charles McKee, director of government affairs for Sprint Nextel Corp., and Larry Sarjeant, a vice president at Qwest Communications International Inc.

The hearing is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. EDT.


Wow. I need to find this phone plan.

But it does pose a good question. As communication continues to drive through software based applications (and is only going to increase), how are the telecom. companies going to track and bill?

It will be interesting to see how this proceeds forward.

~the GURU

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Speaking of the 5 o'clock Shadow: Case Study

I find it ironic that a week after I write an entry about companies who believe they have a product that can save the world, yet no one buys it, I come across an article touching upon the issue.

As I was readying Inc. there was a case study on a similar situation. Is the Small Biz. Guru beginning to foresee the future? Anyways, here is the what transpired:

Bill Randle was a bank executive with an entrepreneur waiting to emerge. His software promised, "big savings, while also allowing banks to offer better service. They could give customers one easy place online in which to view all sorts of accounts, from checking to savings to mortgage and auto-loan balances. The product would also give banks a real-time unified view of balances, inflows, and outflows, which could help them make more informed lending and financing decisions throughout a day." (Salkever, Alex Inc. Magazine, pg 70)

The background information was that of a situation where banks were unable to adequately judge cash levels until the close of business. On top of that, it required tremendous labor time.

Mr. Randle left his executive job at the bank, purchased full control of the software, raised millions of dollars, and hired a CEO.

Yet, as the article mentions, the timing could not have been any worse. "Banks feared losing business online to upstarts... and were looking for ways to offer similar online services" As a result, R&D money was limited thanks to the Y2K scare! (Ahhhh, to think, two digits instead of four could have caused world chaos!) Add in the dot-com/Internet bubble choking and welcome economic "gloom."

So, needless to say, Bill laid off most of his work force, at one point he had 120 employees, he emptied all the way down to 10. It was at that point, he realized, maybe it was time to change market segments. Not too mention the over reliance on two main clients. What were to happen if one of these clients were to leave? Eek! Now, imagine 10 people trying to manage current accounts and bring in new business?!

As a result, Synoran (company name) decided to join in on the mess that is health care. Now, I will be the first to say my knowledge in health care is limited. All I know is that it is extremely expensive, no clear vision, and there is probably someone making a lot of money because of this chaos. The article's brief description of health care, "deal with a mass of incompatible computer networks among insurance companies, testing labs, third party plan administrators.." all that interact in a very secure environment.

But, there are 100s of IT companies in the mix as well.

So, the present situation today is:

Randle left with a skeleton crew, limited funds, no r&d resources, nor marketing.


Now let's do a little analyzing here:

Synoran thought they had struck gold. They had a product/service that could reduce costs, streamline processes, and take the load off of employee workload. But, timing is everything and they were off. Not only was timing off, it seems they expected for the product to sell itself. And we all know, you have to put in the sweat and tears to reach success... oh yea, and have a sales force.

A business needs employees knocking on company doors, making calls, building PR, and raising awareness in the communities. Unless a business is very well connected, building a foundation takes a lot of time. I have spent almost 10 months building my foundation and I feel that I am still a ways off and I'm glad. I am doing the grunt work, fortifying my long term success because that is what it all comes down to... long term success and have an invincible foundation. I do not give it to the short-term mumbo-jumbo.

Synoran is down to a skeleton crew, barely a sales force, no resources, and moving into an industry where the competition is so fierce and the time-line is so long a battle of attrition is the main factor. I love under dog stories and stories of businesses that went against all odds, but this may be much bigger than simply David vs. Goliath.

Good luck Synoran, good luck.

~the GURU



Saturday, April 5, 2008

5 o'clock Shadow Part II

Going from Rugged to Clean-Cut

To refresh your memory

From the preceding post, I raised the point of pin-pointing areas where there may be a hole (inefficiency) either slowly or rapidly leaking water (resources) from the bucket (business).

As the talks and reports of the United States economy/recession continues, what were your findings? Aside from the fact that the "U.S. economy lost 80,000 jobs in March, the biggest drop in five years, as weakness in the labor market spread beyond housing and finance to engulf a broad swath of businesses. (EVANS, WSJ.com)" times like these can blow open parts of your business that are bleeding the business dry.

Now we can speculate as to who precisely is being laid off in certain industries, for example, the financial industry is being wiped clean compared to 2007's growth according to Tig Gilliam, chief executive of temporary-employment company Adecco Group North America. (I won't touch the fact that we're laying off thousands of analysts and yet paying and awarding the CEOs with millions of dollars for doing so well... isn't this an oxymoron?)

But, back to the 5 o'clock shadow. Where are bottlenecks occurring in your business?

Let's say your software/ intellectual property is your bread and butter. It can save companies thousands, if not millions of dollars, and it has been available for a couple years now, yet, sales are lacking. These software "Gurus" (SGs) know everything about developing the product and making it work. However, the SGs are not strong in sales. They are awkward around consumers and do not exude confidence. Thus, the expense of having these developers is hurting your business, despire their skills Ladies and gentlemen, the leak in your bucket is weak sales force.

In this day and age, you could have a product that does everything and reduces cost or boosts profitability, but if customers do not know about it, they will not find it nor know what it does. You have to have a sales force / marketing team. That means investing in salesmen to make the cold-calls, developing advertisements, and targeting a market segment to hone-in on. Your programmers are, well, programmers. They build it and fine-tune, they do not sell it. A prime example is this AT&T commercial about a beer brewery. There is the brew-master and then the salesman.

The next example of a potential leak is so simple, it is almost embarrassing that people do not realize the potential savings.... inter-office call transfer or auto-mated attendants. Do you have a receptionist or a couple receptionists who answer the phones all day, update company records, manage appointment books, organize business newsletters, or relay information around to all the divisions. As your business continues to grow, usually, your call volume increases as well. The poor receptionists are already stretched so thin, add in the increased call volume and we may have some cases of insanity approaching.

As the call volume increases, the receptionists jot down the message from the clients and then have to walk / re-dial the proper party and inform them of the message. That takes time. Time away from the million other tasks they have and time is money.

Enter the PHONE SYSTEM! Imagine being able to transfer the calling-party directly to the individual or their voicemail? The receptionist hits two buttons and she's done and back to work, focusing on the other tasks. It is all about efficiency and time-savers. Another way to fill-in the leaky hole. Or, if you choose to have an automated attendant, she only answers the phone when she is requested.

So, I briefly illuminated two potential hindrances. Nothing too in-depth, but something to think about.

Let me know some issues your business faces and see where we can attack them!

At the end of the day, you can either settle for the shadow or you can shave again.


~the GURU
(changed my signature... tell the difference?!)

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Be Prepared for Murder in the Skies

You have got to be kidding me!

My eyes glaze over as I read this article and yearn to smack the jubilant gentleman in the photo. Airlines are one of our last cell-phone-free safe havens and the evil forces have begun to penetrate our holy space.

Of course, we all want to be 24/7 connected to everyone, but there comes a time when is becomes ridiculous. Think about it, it is already chaotic enough to have the crying baby two rows up, behind you you have the kid kicking your seat, and directly to your right the gentleman leaning into your personal space, now slap into the equation a person with a cell phone?! Houston, we have a serious problem.

Let us indulge in the pros of this first:
1) For the business travelers, they will be able to continue to be tied into their jobs. If there is a sudden change in proposals, quotes, news, they will not have a 2-5 hour empty window, so, ideally, productivity is increased.

2) I'm sure cell phone companies will find some way to make even more money off this, I'm not sure how yet (other than usage), but they will.

3).... Um, I do not think there is any, even #2 is a stretch. Please let me know if there are any others?

Let us eyeball the negatives:
1) As we become more and more connected, there has been talks of the law of diminishing returns. We are quickly approaching, if not all ready, the point where we are so connected we are not as efficient as we once were. With all the distractions that bombard us through the work-day, we lose track of what we're trying to do. For example, if you're on the flight and working on a proposal or even sleeping and your phone rings, who knows how long the conversation could go for and afterwards you will probably be side-tracked.

2) It is already bad enough when babies are crying, your neighbor to your left is drooling on you, and now, your neighbor on the right is going to be talking to who-knows-who about who-knows-what. Let's be honest, some of the topics people discuss in public now is stuff I do not want to hear about. What if your neighbor is a loud talker? Eek!

3) You may get assaulted. No more needs to be said.

Overall, on the business side of things, there are some potential benefits. Who knows what kind of events could transpire within those couple hours in the air cut off from the office. Having access to a phone could have huge perks, but when we begin to approach the line of overall respect for everyone and keeping a peace of mind, we have issues. Always being connected is not always a good thing, especially when it is not businessmen next to you, but the 16 year-old girl with boy problems...

Sunday, March 23, 2008

An Essay for a House?

Forget trying to earn the "A", earn the house!

As it seems every article we read, every news anchor's lead story, and every real estate agent's whine, the housing market is awful. People are not buying homes because they cannot sell the one's they currently reside in, it's expensive, or, they do not want to move into a cookie-cutter dwelling.

Thus, if you're supposed to be moving because of your job, need to escape your current locale, or your kid is so devastated by a school incident (getting pant'ds), you cannot, you are stuck. What are you to do? Your boss needs you on the other side of the country, the air in your area is causing you to choke, and your kid is no longer acknowledging you in public.

Have you considered what J.J. Rodgers has done? Her mindset after three tedious years of trying to sell a home in Colorado is of a "mix-it-up" approach.


"We don't have anything to lose," Rodgers, 45, said. "If we're unsuccessful, at
least we did something different from what we've already tried."


Rodgers strikes a very good point. Now, first off, if things were bad for a couple months, I would not totally agree with this mindset, but after three years of no-such-luck, this is great. "If we're unsuccessful, at least we did something different.." While Rodgers is not in the real estate business, her next move was something successful business owners embrace, making lemonade out of lemons.

I mean, with statistics like these:

The glut has battered sales volume and prices. Sales of existing homes dropped
to the slowest pace on record in January, with the median price sliding to
$201,100. New home sales in January also fell to the slowest rate in nearly 13
years and the median price tumbled to the lowest level in more than three years.

What is someone to do who wants to be successful? Dwell in pity and blame everyone else? Heck no, they do something so crazy that it just might work. I mean, instead of tearing away from a loaf of bread, someone decided to slice it up!

As I would simply love to dive into my opinions of the housing industry. *Quick Glimpse* Basically, building ugly, cheap, waste of resource, cookie-cutter homes is ruining the industry and desensitizing our tastes in homes. I am originally from New England and growing up with colonial inspired homes is amazing. Meanwhile, my current neck of the woods has cheap homes popping up everywhere.


Anyways, sorry for my tangent, back to the main point of my entry; breaking free of the norm when things are not working and taking a different/abstract approach to doing business. Heck, if I were not so busy working right now, I would write an essay myself and win my first summer-home for cycling/fishing/camping.


All in all, it is ideas like these that should inspire business owners in times of trouble or despair to try something new/bring attention to themselves. It may just be crazy enough to work...

~The GURU

(Happy Easter)


Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Thanks for Spewing the Flu...

Don't be "That" Co-worker: Office Respect

I was recently housed up due to the fact I was malled by the flu. This occurred after my entire office was attacked by the winter bug. Now, when most of them got sick, what do you think they did? If you think they stayed home and rested, you are WRONG! They came into work coughing, hacking, and spewing whatever they had. Making those around them very susceptible to getting sick as well. And, this leads me to my topic today: co-worker respect and your health.

One may think he is being a trooper coming into work and trying to accomplish his job, but in reality, big picture wise, he is doing more harm than good. If you are in a team atmosphere, do you feel eager to work with your sick cohort as they cough and spread "the sickness"?

So here are some other side-effects of coming in despite being at Death's Door:

1) Prolonging Sickness
By over-exerting oneself while being sick, it takes much longer for one's body to build up the anti-bodies to fight the virus and recovery quicker. So, ignoring the fact you are not in the office, the more important thing, one's health is at risk. Think about it... by not being healthy and well, doing one's job is a lot harder and being able to come to work down the road might be at risk. In addition, mental stamina plummets too. We've all been physically and mentally tired and it is not fun... Add in being sick and we have problems.

2) Angering Everyone Else in the Office
Trust me, when people are sick and come into the office, I am basically down right insulted. I hate to be blunt, but I am and lots of other people share this same sentiment. Basically, a sick person coming to work non-verbally says, "I don't care about anyone else's health. This is about me and I need to come in."

However, I will say, upper management can have employees so scared about missing work that they feel they must come in to keep their jobs. If that is the case, it is hard to do, but by standing one's ground because of health is critical. I don't know about your health care, but my health care costs bank on me being healthy or I am paying quite the pretty penny on being treated. Don't risk becoming worse because of the boss. I know it's hard to do, but remain strong. You owe it, first of all, to yourself, and second of all, to your co-workers.



3) Quality of Work Suffers
Stuffed sinuses, tight chest, aching joints, disheveled looks, and glazed over eyes... these people expect to be productive? Not being 100% affects: productivity, quality of work, the joy of work, and mental stamina tires ten-fold. The chance of errors increases. The ability to think clearly is affected, which could lead to not-making the proper decisions. Why risk messing up a project because you were too busy chugging Day-Quil?
Who wants a Day-Quil stain on that proposal??!

4) Spreading the Epidemic
Finally, coming into work is a catalyst to spreading the germs to more people and affecting the entire office, which then affects everyone's productivity and grounds to do business. Do you want to be blamed for that? I didn't think so.

So, the next time you come down with something, do your co-workers a favor, stay home, but more importantly, you get better quicker. Sure, you may feel like a trooper if you come in, but in the long run, you are affecting the overall office's workings and opening yourself up to a long-term illness.

~The GURU

Monday, March 10, 2008

Recession Looms and People Spend on Movie Tickets?!

I'm back baby! The Flu kicked me around for a little bit, but I'm almost revived!

Ah, the joys of the movies... A box of popcorn, over-priced candy, if I'm a lucky a lovely female at my side, and hopefully a good flick to immerse my mind into. Now, if I am ever strapped for cash, movies are always the first to go in my budget. Over the past five years, I feel like I can count on two hands the movies I have seen in the theaters (All the Bourne Series have been seen the-day-of..Matt Damon.. the man).

But, let's be frank, the quality of movies has just plummeted miserably. Gigli? Are We Done Yet? Any Halle Berry Movie, etc etc... And people pay to see this stuff? Hollywood's kool aid is only getting stronger and it scares me that these people are making millions of dollars. But, for that, I also have to applaud them... they have found the formula to draw the consumers into their theaters.

Now, bringing myself back into focus on the article and the business relevance. Movies do give a sense of mental relaxation. You can simply sit there, eat some candy, and listen to the annoying teenager whose cell phone goes off every 10 seconds, despite the plethora of signs instructing someone to turn off the phone.

Back in the days of the Depression, movies dominated life. It did in fact give an out for people. Plus, like the article touches upon, there were so few options back then that "4.6 billion" tickets were sold at that time... still clobbering numbers today.

Yet, despite all the years of change, the movie industry has always survived and adapted. (um, hello? Ordering your tickets online! Reclining chairs, oversized cup holders)


"We don't want to wish recession on anyone or hard times on anyone, but we certainly have done very well during recessions," said John Fithian, president of the theater owners group, who planned to touch on Hollywood's recession-proof history in a speech at ShoWest's opening Source

What Mr. Fithian says is good and all, but he runs a business. It would be pretty funny if he just came out and said what he is really thinking. (I'll leave that to your imagination). One of my clients is in Hurricane disaster recovery. It may sound evil, but he needs Hurricanes and damaging storms so he can remain in business. Society may think they are mean and selfish people, but someone has got to do it and survive as they do it.

But, you cannot simply say revenue was high because of higher ticket prices. Attendance is increasing as well. My reasoning: Population increase. Not because Hollywood is produce great art.


In closing, this post is disjointed and I'm not really sure where I wanted to go (see, I can admit where areas can be weak at time), but that is how Hollywood makes me feel. My frustration is more aimed at Hollywood. High prices on the "experience" and then I have cell phone bandits ruining it. Movies may be a way to get away from the "troubles" of the world and give someone an outlet. All I know, this Guru's wallet stays closed for movies unless they actually have some merit. Sorry J. Lo, Ice Cube, and now Will Ferrell (he's overstaying his same comedic welcome), your movies are awful and I will not pay to watch them, no matter how bad the economy may be.

~A Flustered Guru

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/23564934/