Tag Archives: Twitter

Do You Reward Results Only, or Also Effort?

The exchange started with this:

Don’t confuse effort with results.

When I read that — looks like it started with Jason Fields, the interface expert for Huffington Post — I liked it. It reminded me of my first real boss, who taught that a reason why not isn’t good enough. It wasn’t my absolute favorite lesson in life, but it stuck. And so I passed it on.

My quote of Jason’s quote generated a challenging follow-up question, from Sajid Husain, who describes himself as a techno-geek entrepreneur in India:

As a leader, do you look only for results, or appreciate the effort even in failure?

I said case by case; no general rules apply. Sajid agreed, adding:

Just appreciating the effort in failures can bring complacency and decrease the hunger to be successful.

This is a great example of  real management, live people, and real problems. You can’t always follow certain rules. Sajid’s obviously right about danger of complacency. But when you’ve put real effort into something that didn’t work out, how would you feel about a dose of “don’t confuse effort with results?”

Real management isn’t always following the rules. You need to be able to get off the path and deal with things case by case. In my opinion.

5 Good Posts for Friday July 1

I need your help: Can you suggest a way to give a theme and a title to a series of Friday posts listing good posts and recommended links I’ve seen from the last week? My title here is too dull. I’m not nearly good enough at titles.

I don’t want to do this every Friday, but this is the fifth time since April 1, so I’m thinking maybe I should make it a repeated theme, with a cool title. Except I don’t have the title.

  • My absolute favorite this week is Megan Berry’s post on Mashable called 7 Tips for Better Twitter Chats. It’s a very good short piece on the step-by-step details of doing a twitter chat. Megan’s marketing manager at Klout (and yes, one of my daughters).
  • Shashi Bellamkonda of Network Solutions, alias the swami of social media, posted 6 Ways to Improve Your Online Content on the Amex OPEN Forum. Shashi knows. He practices what he preaches.
  • The SBA (U.S. Small Business Administration) has an excellent short piece explaining why you need a business plan on SBA.gov. It’s not a blog post published this week, but SBA.gov tweeted it this week, which caught my attention.
  • Fred Cavazza, Why a Facebook Page is Not Enough forbes.com. I caught this one thanks to Becky McRay mentioning it on twitter.
  • The TED blog posted The 20 most-watched TED Talks (so far). How can you resist this best-of-the-best list from the amazing collection at TED.Com. Trivia question answer: TED stands for technology, education, and design.
  • (Aside: yes, I know, this is the sixth, but I can’t resist) Steve King had some fascinating demographics in his Comparing Small Business Owners and High-Growth Entrepreneurs on Small Biz Labs. 

True Story: Twitter, Business, An Introvert Looking Out

The other day I read Can Twitter Rescue Introverted Students? in the Education section of www.good.is. It reminded me of what Twitter has done for me in business. This is a true story.

I believe in the essential truth the Jungian personality types and I’ve tested myself several times. I always test close to the border between introvert and extrovert, but I keep switching. It seems like if I test myself during a time that I’m doing a lot of workshops and speaking, I come out slightly extrovert. If I test myself during a time that I’m doing mostly writing, alone, I come out introvert.

This wavering explains how I can be a loser at a cocktail party and a ham when I’ve got a microphone and an audience. It explains how I can be clumsy at networking when it means asking favors of people I’ve failed to keep up with, but not so bad when networking is about doing favors and keeping up with friends. And it explains how I could start and grow my own business business, but like the writing and programming part of it way more than the meetings and management part of it.

And then I discovered Twitter. If it really were a giant cocktail party with strangers, I’d hate it. But no; from the outside in, it’s a giant window to a world of people offering information, advice, opinions, and good links. And from the inside out, it’s a microphone for information, advice, opinions and good links. And I love it. In the illustration, you see a random shot of my Tweetdeck view of Twitter, which sits on one of my two monitors, always, when I’m in my office.

Now I meet people not as strangers but as fellow authors and publishers, because Twitter is publishing, not talking. And I get to know them easily through what they offer in 140-character pieces to the rest of the world. And the special reward is now I often get to meet them in person, or on the phone first and then in person, but it’s no longer like a cocktail party meeting strangers; it’s meeting a friend who is already a friend.

It’s fascinating. It’s fun. And it’s great for business, at least for my business, which is a lot about business planning, small business management, and entrepreneurship. My Twitter self has been recommended by the New York Times, Business Week, Business Insider, and others. And if you’re reading this (thanks for that, by the way) then the odds are the networking effects of social media helped you find it.

Fun, interesting, and good for business? That’s a good combination.

If You Should Have Done it Then, Do It Now

I really like this:

The best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago. The second best time is now.

As you can tell from the illustration here, that’s an African proverb, and I got it from Jim Connolly on twitter, and he got it from Paul Sherwen, also on Twitter.

(Aside: this is another illustration of why I like Twitter and how I use it – as a window to what some people I respect are saying, writing, and suggesting.)

There’s a clear business lesson here. How often do you not do something today because you should have done it long ago? I do that more often than I want to admit. I think most of us do.

A smart young former student of my entrepreneurship class, looking for a new job, didn’t take up social media a year ago because he didn’t want to look like a beginner. But that was a year ago and he still hasn’t. But if he’d started then, he wouldn’t look like a beginner now.

I did the same damn thing with blogging. When I first really thought about blogging it was already 2005 and I kicked myself for not having started in about 2001. So net result was I didn’t start blogging. On the other hand, at least I finally did start in 2007, which means I now have four years of it, and 1,232 posts published (counting this one).

Don’t not do it now because you should have done it sooner. Right?

Want to Really Win Big? Blow Up a Market

People ask me often what kind of business to start. Usually I say something like “look in the mirror,” continuing with how the best business for you has to reflect who you are and how you’re different. But here’s a new thought for you: choose the market you’re going to disrupt.

This isn’t for the sandwich shop, graphic arts business, dry cleaner, or new restaurant. It’s for the rarified air of the big bang startup. What market doesn’t work? What market can you radically change?

If your new business blows up an old market, then you really matter. Think of Netflix, amazon.com, Google, Hulu.com, and other big winners. ZipCar. Expedia. Twitter. Facebook.

In every one of those cases, somebody applied a new way of thinking to an annoying old way of doing something.

I heard it yesterday from one of the smartest and most successful people I know, my son Paul, CTO of Huffington Media Group:

“I’ve seen the way smart investors work. If it’s a team they believe in, and they focus on a market to disrupt, it’s going to work. They’re going to get going, change it often, and make it work.”

Want to really win big? Blow up a market.

OK Maybe I Communicate with Logos … But Are They Friends?

Social media seems inherently about people, to me, not companies. It’s like a conversation, sort of, but one that has publishing mixed in, so it’s an amplified, recorded conversation. Do you agree? Isn’t this what’s happening on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn?

But there are companies there too. Do we engage in conversation with companies? Perhaps, but not in the same way. I’ve used social media methods to contact companies looking for solutions, or information. So I’m glad they’ve made themselves available to me for that. I’ve tweeted with hosting providers, airlines, and restaurants. It’s nice, but it’s not conversation.  The tweet here from Infusionsoft, for example … I like the company, but is this good use of social media? I’m glad they’re there when I need them, but it’s not conversation.

I engage happily with people at companies. Shashi Bellamkonda., for example, who works with Network Solutions, or Richard Duffy, with SAP. These are people. I’ve met them on Twitter, and then in one case in person and the other by phone. This is actually social, amplified by technology. It’s cool.

I don’t care to converse with the Infusionsoft logo, or the Pillsbury Doughboy or the Michelin tire creature. But I’m glad they’re there too, when I want to communicate with them about business.

How do you feel about this?

My Recommendation About Your Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn

A couple of weeks ago I was in a classroom full of entrepreneurial MBA students, as a guest speaker, answering their questions about me and Palo Alto Software and bplans.com, this blog, and so forth.

When they asked me how I managed my online self in social media, my response went something like this:

I don’t do social media clutter. I think of social media as publishing and I try to offer nothing that isn’t useful to a reader. When I’m on Twitter I tweet only what interests me and might interest somebody else. I highlight blog posts I wrote and posts I read that seem worthwhile. I ask questions. I sometimes share something useful about business planning, or small business. I use TweetDeck to manage my Twitter self, and I set TweetDeck up to share that with my Facebook and LinkedIn pages.

Several of the students seemed troubled. One of them asked: “So you never post anything personal? What about who you really are?”

And I realized, with that question, that maybe I was lucky. I got into social media late in life. The topics I care about are business related, and my friends are business related. I was already a published author and business owner. I wasn’t ever tempted to post the kind of personal stuff that gets younger generations in trouble. I was always aware of it as publishing, not just gossip. Most of the students, on the other hand, started on Facebook as high-school or university students. Facebook was fun first, business, if at all, only as an afterthought, later.

So here’s my advice: your social media presence is public. It’s publishing. Never clutter it up with personal trivia, much less drinking parties, embarrassing pictures, inappropriate comments, or anything your adult self might not be proud of. Use phone, sms, and instant messages for playing around with friends. Build a social media presence you’ll be proud of when your next prospective employer, boss, or client looks into it.

Oh, and by the way: you don’t have to call it personal branding. You can just call it taking care of your reputation.

5 Rules for Kindergarten Friends and Twitter

Not long ago I was driving a five-year-old grandson to kindergarten when he asked me how to make friends. That’s ironic because networking is hardly my strong suit, but he doesn’t know that. And I guess that’s what kids expect grandfathers to know, so I really wanted to help him. grandsonsI tried. It sounded like a lot of clichés to me, but then I’m not five years old.

I think it’s about Empathy. That’s too big a word for a kid, so I called it feeling what the other kids feel. You have to be a friend to have a friend; the golden rule; kindness. etc. My mother would have said “put yourself in the other kid’s place.” My mother-in-law called it “see yourself through the other kids’ eyes.”

Just a few hours later, in a group of mostly-baby-boomer types drawn together by interest in entrepreneurship and possible angel investment, Twitter came up. I like it and I said so. Somebody asked me for supposed secrets of success in Twitter.

Without actually thinking of that  moment with my grandson earlier that day, I gave them these five tips for success with Twitter. And as I did so, it struck me that it’s mostly the same thing: empathy.

  1. Offer something other people want. In Twitter specifically, nobody cares what you’re watching on television or eating for lunch. It’s publishing, not babbling. Use twitter to offer people quotes, humor, ideas, and – my favorite by far – useful links they can follow up on.
  2. When in doubt, treat others like you want them to treat you. Teasing, mocking, insulting, shouting (all caps) are not appreciated.
  3. When you don’t have anything to say, don’t say anything.
  4. When you’re angry, wait. Breathe. Think about it before you do it. Public arguments are ugly. And (when published on Twitter, at least) they live forever. Angry words are not biodegradable.
  5. Return favors. When somebody does you a favor, remember it, and do them a favor back. Thank you is nice but a favor in return is more effective. In twitter at least, too much thanking becomes clutter. Twitter involves a lot of passing other people’s tweets (posts) along, called re-tweeting, so when somebody likes what you’ve published (tweeted) there and passes it to others, find something of theirs to pass along (re-tweet).

The next time I was with my grandson, I gave him almost this same list, revised only slightly, for kindergarten use. And while I’d like to report that he took it to heart and he’s now the life of the proverbial kindergarten party… well, at least we’re both still trying.

(Image: My own photo. All rights reserved. © Timothy J. Berry)

Help With Naming: Am I Green or Not?

I’m not sure of the answer to this one; it’s a good question. A man whose last name is Green saw my post here turning green from overuse and he asks:

I’m starting a small woodworking and furniture building shop and am looking for a name. It seems natural to use Green as it is my last name, however I don’t want to be lumped into just another green company.

My immediate reaction was:

Of course you should use your own name. It’s not just greening it up in your case, it’s authentic; it is your name. And if it resonates because it also implies natural and environmental, all the better. Overuse or not, those are both good qualities.

But then I thought some more about it. What if potential customers see Green in the name and assume greenwashing?What if, as time passes, green acquires negative meaning, becomes a diluted term like the term user-friendly in software?

So I asked some friends in Twitter, and got some good answers very fast. You can see those answers here, and, by the way, that link in one of the tweets goes to Smart Industries, which was founded by Gordon Smart in 1963, and is strong and healthy.

So – and this is what makes this a good question – there is no easy and obvious answer to this one. Like so many things in business, it depends.

By the way, those smart and helpful people who answered in Twitter, should you want to follow them, are @rieva (Rieva Lesonsky), @smallbizlady (Melinda Emerson), @timburks (Tim Burks), and @frankdekker (Frank Dekker). Thanks.

Social Media Business Reality Check

I took a one-hour flight over the weekend and ended up talking to a smart business owner — she has a bakery in a small town in Oregon — who doesn’t have any Web presence. bread

What’s really cool is that her business, as she described it, is doing just fine. She makes a good living, it’s in a small town she loves, she knows all of her customers, and she enjoys her days. She loves the actual work. She enjoys the baking and she enjoys the interaction in the shop.

She is online, but in her own way. She has personal email and uses it often to keep in touch with grown children and grandchildren.

So, what do you think? Does she need to start a blog? Should she be announcing daily specials on Twitter? Should she have a Facebook account? Should she be apologizing to me (sort of) as we talk on the plane because she doesn’t do any of that stuff?

I don’t think so.

Sure, I do see that the online world provides a great leveler, a wonderful opportunity for even the smallest business to share and validate expertise and build a reputation. I’ve known some and read about many businesses that do very well in online reputation and social media. Still, let’s not assume that everybody has to follow the same path. Are there additional opportunities for my bakery friend? Sure. Is she crazy to just do what she’s doing? What do you think?

(Image: DUSAN ZIDAR/Shutterstock)