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5 Tips to Create Superstar Interns

Posted: 2015-06-11

I have had personable and driven interns to work for my company. You would expect the best thing about interns to be the cheap labor. However, to make the experience rewarding for both of us, there is a fair amount of effort I must expend even before they arrive.

In the movies, interns pick up dry cleaning, get coffee and deliver donuts. Small companies need interns to deliver products and services to clients from the beginning. We need “mini-me” employees. Here’s how to develop those SuperStar interns:

  1. Give them a Role - Everyone has a title; I assign interns a role. The role describes what they are to do. “Create a Magical Customer Experience (Client Success)”, “Design Error Free Code” (programmer), “Make Our Presence Known in the Community (Marketing).” The roles are fun and different than what they have had in the past. For more creativity, let the intern choose his or her own role.
  2. Give them Strategies - At the beginning of every semester or term, I gave each intern a list of ten objectives. Having an objective gives them something to work for. As a person running a marathon, each strategy represents a finish line. When both of you have agreed on that completion point, they can always keep their eyes on the prize. Examples include: Complete a social media webinar for financial advisors; Organize intern special outing; Design a Mobile Tech training for teacher.
  3. Give them Tactics – Tactics are the building blocks to complete a strategy. Most of my interns love working on them. The leadership in an organization focuses on the strategy. Assign your interns weekly tactics which are easier to measure and quantify. Similarly, they give the intern and their supervisors a feeling of accomplishment when complete. Examples include: Email 3 new schools re: mobile technology event, write weekly blog post, or repost 3 new articles daily on social marketing in finance industry.
  4. Get Them Involved - When approved by your client, prospect or partner, involve your interns in meetings. You might be surprised at the level to which they can and will contribute. I even ask my interns if they are interested in presenting material during my workshops. When they are directly involved in the success of the company, they are more likely to care about the work completed. Given the age of my interns, people are especially interested in their opinion on social media topics. Examples include: designing the promotional items (pens, shirts and mugs) for clients
  5. Give them Motivation - The book Drive (Daniel Pink) describes people’s true motivation for success (hint: it’s not money). This fact is true for standard employees and interns. Provide a fun and desirable work environment. I started by giving my interns a flexible work schedule. As long as they accomplish their weekly and daily tasks (which leads to a completed strategy), they don’t have to be at the office. We go to lunch sometimes – my treat. I expose them to interviews and mentorships from community leaders. Examples include: open co-working space, casual dress code and flexible hours.

The goal of an internship is two fold: a benefit for the company and the intern. The intern needs experiences they can put on their resume and discuss in job interviews. The company needs sales, marketing, design and production deliverables. Superstar interns are never born. Those skills are the result of hard work and commitment from the intern and planning and organization on the part of the supervisor. In the end, it pays off for both parties.

Scientifically Speaking, of course.

3 Signs CDs Are Dead

Posted: 2015-06-03

All of the signs seemed to show themselves to me at the same time. Just yesterday my boss and I were discussing ideas for a new blog post and stumbled on the topic of compact discs. We started reminiscing on our old CD collections and talked about what music genres we typically had for our CDs. Then we really stopped to think about it, “when was the last time we bought a CD?” In my case, the last CD I bought was somewhere around six or seven years ago. I got a Zune when I was in eighth grade, and once I got into digital music, I never looked back. That was toward the beginning of the digital music era and yet people were already ditching their once loved compact discs. It was obvious that the age of the MP3 player, mostly the iPod, was up and coming. Surely, I am not the only one who has abandoned the CD. Here are three signs that prove the demise of the CD is here.

1) LAPTOPS ARE DITCHING THE CD ROM

The MacBook Air has never had a CD / DVD player, however the MacBook Pro line always has – until now. I went to buy a new Macbook Pro recently and the first thing I noticed was that there was no CD / DVD drive. Of course, Apple is renowned for their simplicity in design, but I couldn’t help but take this as a sign that CDs have become a thing of the past. Apple is known for being innovators and maybe they are just trying to fuel the process of getting rid of CDs. These two indicators made it that CDs and DVDs were gone.  clear to me and as I was plugging my phone into my car to listen to music, another thought popped in my head.

2) BLUETOOTH CONNECTION IN CARS

Remember the days when every car came equipped with a cassette player? I was born in 1993 and although that makes me a millennial, I still remember the days riding around in my dad’s van blaring his favorite John Denver cassette. This was around the time when cars started to have both a cassette player and a CD player. When the next phase began, cars only came with a CD player. Then the digital music age began and a lot of cars now typically come with a CD player and bluetooth connectivity so that you can listen to music that you have on your phone through the car speakers.

3) MUSIC STREAMING APPS ARE ON THE RISE

Technology in all areas is always advancing rapidly and the digital age of music is upon us. You can now add whatever music you want to your iPod or iPhone through iTunes and listen to it wherever you want. You can even download apps like Spotify and Pandora to listen to songs that you don’t even have to purchase. You can also go to Youtube and look up whatever song to play from your favorite artist or genre of music. The data shows that the convenience and ease of digital music is pushing CDs closer and closer to becoming a thing of the past.

The history of music has transitioned from record to 8 track to cassette to CD to iPod to streaming. A generation of people are growing up without having to wait to go to Wal-Mart to buy the newest “album.” In the 80’s, Generation X wanted their MTV. Now, the millennial generation is tearing down the barriers of when, where and how they access music. Will you join the innovative movement?

Scientifically Speaking, of course.

How Much Should You Charge?

Posted: 2015-05-25

My very first client was a wealthy non-profit that paid me $50 and a Target gift card. I was so excited to finally have revenue.  I thought getting some money, any money, was all that mattered! Like many entrepreneurs, I didn’t like talking about money or pricing. I’ve even heard and experienced conversations with business professionals do not  like discussing money and end up undervaluing their skills and services. Yeah, that was me. It took me the first year of running my business to understand the value of “charging enough.”

Lexus, BMW and Acura charge a premium for their cars. A Chevy Malibu still transports people from Point A to Point B, but consumers pay extra for the experience and the status of these import vehicles. I had to realize the experience Scientifically Speaking provides is similar. My company trainers have knowledge and understanding that most businesses and people do not. We deliver presentations in an engaging, comprehensive and memorable manner. We deliver the Mercedes of technology training, and I decided to value our services accordingly. Here is how to decide what your products and services are worth:

  • Price for Value – People expect to pay for quality. If a service is free or cheap, it is not valued. Let’s call this the Wal-Mart Syndrome (confession: I made that name up). People shop at Wal-Mart because they don’t see extra value in the products. Sugar is sugar is sugar. Beans are beans are beans. Wal-Mart celebrates the fact they are the price leader. Set your price based on value means you are going to lose some prospective clients. However the ones who agree to pay your price, pay because they find value in you. Rule: Understand your value
  • Price for Everything – I first set my price based on an hourly rate. I completely made it up without considering other aspects of running a business – insurance, my time, retirement, savings, equipment, research, etc. You need enough money to fully run a business, not just get by.  Many people only think about payment. Set up a spreadsheet and list ALL of your costs – fixed and variable. Calculate how much your business needs to make per year including all of these expenses. Rule: Understand the BIG picture
  • Price for Pain – I asked one of my top clients what one of his pain points was and he told me a popular speaker charged $10,000 for two one-hour presentations – in the same day! Great for the speaker; bad for the client. They could only use this speaker’s services once every other year. My client and I agreed on a price they could pay consistently. We built a strong enough relationship that he began to refer me to his counterparts across the country. Rule: Understand their pain point
  • Price for You – I eventually realized that after 20 years of successful work experience, I have value. The skills and knowledge I possess are extremely valuable. When you think about all of the conferences you have attended, books you’ve read and knowledge you’ve acquired, you are valuable. You are not charging your clients for the 4 – 5 hours you are speaking. Your clients are paying for the 20 years of reading, studying, meeting, writing, analyzing and listening you have done…adjusted for inflation. Rule: Understand your worth

I started increasing my price from $50/hour to $100/hour to $200/hour. When companies hire me for the day, it’s the cost of quality service, knowledge and training. When prospective clients ask my price, I tell them and I don’t flinch. My advice? When the price is high enough that the client wants to negotiate, you’re in the right ballpark.

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