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5 Keys to a Successful Meeting

Posted: 2015-07-14

Let’s get this on the table: meetings are necessary. I meet with clients. I meet with employees. I meet with non-profits and other organizations to learn more about what they do. Meetings allow us to learn more about people and the companies with whom we interact. With this opportunity for success, why do people hate meetings so much?

My 7-year old daughter told me she likes me having meetings because meetings lead to money. Although this is true most of the time, it is not always the case. How do we know if we are having a successful meeting? Here are some tips:

  1. Taking Notes – I had an unsuccessful meeting once with a lawyer. Five minutes into the meeting he closed his laptop. I immediately took that as an indication the meeting was over (and it was). Clearly he was done listening and no longer needed to remember anything. In all of the productive meetings I’ve had, people are taking notes (me and the other party). Taking notes shows people the information is important and you want to remember it.
  2. Asking Questions – Think of a meeting like a date. If the person at the other end of the table is not asking questions, they are probably not that interested. Also, pay attention to the types of questions being asked. Your questions should not come rapid fire. Have a general direction in mind and then improvise of the fly. Each question should feed off the content of previous questions.
  3. Follow Up Steps –  At the conclusion on a successful meeting, I confirm some next steps: a) I will forward them some information; b) they will forward me some information or c) we will talk again. When I worked for Fortune 100 companies, we never finished a meeting without knowing the next step. Confirm dates and events before people get lost in the hectic pace of life back at their desk.
  4. Business and Personal – I have had meetings that were a lot of fun, and I have had meetings that were all business. Mix it up! Make sure you have the right combination of business and personal. Talk about families, hobbies and interests at first. However, don’t forget why you are there. After the pleasantries, transition into business. Everyone will appreciate the fact you didn’t waste their time.
  5. Call Back – The clearest example of a good date / meeting: the person calls / emails you back. I have had my share of meetings where I left feeling great: e.g. – “Score! They said I have a great idea and they want to schedule 2 – 3 presentations with their top clients.” After three weeks and three emails, I still haven’t heard anything from them. The true measure of success is you are doing business with the person.

I used to walk out of every meeting bragging about how good it was and how I knew I landed the deal. Six weeks later I’d have no call back, no contract and no money in the bank. Everyone has the occasional bad meeting. Do what you can to make those few and far between.

Scientifically Speaking, of course.

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.

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