Monthly Archives: May 2011
I’m The Notes Guy inSeattle. I’m not “Going to the Dark Side.” I’m diversifying. There’s a difference.
OK, I’ll tell you right up front. I now work at Microsoft. No, I’m not throwing away 17 years of experience with Lotus software. I’m just taking on new challenges and developing other skills.
This new challenge will involve BlackBerry, Exchange and much more.
I am following my own mantra: “Eliminate your weaknesses and turn them into strengths.” (Read my recent post on this.)
My Lotus skills are already a strength. While I certainly have room to improve those skills, it wouldn’t make much difference.
Over the past few years I’ve been working on a variety of other skills and turning them into strengths: marketing, public speaking, and web development to name a few.
Not that I was bad at public speaking, but it wasn’t a strength. I joined Toastmasters and my skills have greatly improved. (see my speech at the 140 Characters Conference) I still have much room for improvement, but I have come a long way.
I recognized marketing as a weakness one day when I observed the C-level executives at my company make a decision to switch email from Notes to Exchange. They had no interest in seeing a cost analysis. They had no interest in understanding the impact. They just knew they wanted Microsoft software and they were eager to spend whatever it took to get there. When it was all over, they spent more than $1 million at a time when the company was losing money and they were laying off staff. And what did they have to show for the money and effort?
Actually, it’s worse than that. They now have 2 systems to pay for and maintain instead of one. Watching this seemingly irrational behavior made me wonder: what could possibly influence these leaders to make such a costly and unproductive decision? In the process of finding the answer I did enough research and studying on my own about sales and marketing that I could have earned an MBA. I turned that weakness into a strength.
Yes, I will continue to be The Notes Guy in Seattle. But I am, and have always been, much more than that. The brand “The Notes Guy in Seattle” has proven very effective in marketing that particular skill set and it has created great opportunities for me. Yet it fails to represent all of who I am whether I work at Microsoft or not.
Friends have been describing this new job using phrases like “Know your enemy” or “Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.” I like to think of it more like being a free agent in Major League Baseball. I may have a favorite team, but I’ll hit home runs for whichever team pays me. Let’s keep in mind Microsoft is not “the enemy.” Microsoft is just the competition. And since IBM has chosen not to compete in Seattle, my options are limited here as a Lotus professional. And you certainly can’t say I haven’t done my best to try to change that. That’s too bad too because this is a target-rich environment for potential new customers.
Will I change how I write? Probably not. But just in case you think my perspective has been tainted, you can always go to Mini-Microsoft’s blog for an entertaining perspective from the inside as written by an anonymous author who would probably be fired if they could figure out who it is.
The nice thing about being on the dark side is that you can see the stars.
Check out the banner ad in this screenshot of a youtube video. It was served up to me by Google while I was watching a whitewater video on youtube.com.
Could this be part of a REAL advertising campaign showing a REAL product?! It isn’t exactly obvious what in the ad what the product is or does, but it’s getting the Lotus brand in front of people. Hopefully the ad selector doesn’t just show it to people who already know Lotus.
Don’t get too excited about one ad, It’s like one raindrop. But as we whitewater kayakers know, with enough raindrops, a little creek can be turned into a fun, raging river.
Kudos to those responsible.
Whether his prediction comes true is irrelevant. Harold Camping has done a phenomenal job of marketing the Rapture. For the price of a few minutes worth of Superbowl commercials, he has created a very successful marketing campaign that has drawn the attention of much of the 1st world. What’s more, when it doesn’t happen, HE WILL GAIN EVEN MORE FOLLOWERS!!! Mark my words, this will happen.
So if one man could sell his idea so successfully to the world, why can’t IBM, owner of THE THIRD MOST VALUABLE BRAND, sell Lotus software? Perhaps brand recognition does not equate to sales as much as they would like to think? IBM spends huge sums of money on brand recognition. But in all of their advertising, have you ever seen a PRODUCT? Brand recognition has become the sole objective of their marketing strategy. NOT sales.
Here is a word association challenge. For each of these top 10 brands, (taken from the WPP report) what is the first thing you think of?
Every single one of these brands equates to specific products except IBM. IBM is the only company in this list to have no tangible product or service to identify with unless that would be “mainframe computers” which any IBMer will wince at. Can you find any other business that relies exclusively on brand recognition to sell without actually associating it with a product? IBM is totally focused on brand recognition and is ignoring the rest of the content in the complete report. It takes much more than brand recognition to sell something. Re-branding Lotus software as IBM software may seem smart, but it’s the same thing as killing Lotus. At least the Lotus brand had a product associated with it. The PRODUCT had an identity. As IBM software it will become obfuscated in the amorphous, intangible blob that is IBM. In a manner of speaking, the Rapture has come for Lotus software.
Your Domino directory may be filled with the Lotus Notes equivalent of bedbugs and you would never know it. They appear in the form of documents that don’t belong, but don’t appear in any views.
Occasionally, someone with rights to create documents in your directory will accidentally click paste or Ctrl-V when they shouldn’t have. Perhaps they were in the wrong database when they did it or maybe they meant to cut or copy instead of paste and the clipboard happened to have a Notes document in it when they did. Now a new document is in your directory that shouldn’t be. The problem is that unless the document that was pasted fits the selection criteria for a view, you’ll never see it.
The solution is simple. Create a view in the Domino Directory. I like to copy from the people view. Edit the design of the view and change the selection formula to be Select @All. Add a new first column to the view. Make the value the field called ‘Form’. Sort it and categorize it. You may want to put this viewt in your list of custom admin views if you have any. Open the view and collapse all. Look for any form names that don’t seem right for the directory. Below is a screen shot of a directory with most of the documents you should expect to see. If you see any form names like Memo orJournalEntry, you can be sure the document doesn’t belong.
I have come across some directories that have been around for a long time that had hundreds of junk documents. While it isn’t the end of the world, it is much better to have a clean directory.
Here is a work of brilliance. I just received an email announcing an IBM roadshow event in Seattle. While it isn’t specifically about Lotus software, it covers Websphere and cloud computing.
Here it is: http://www-01.ibm.com/software/websphere/events/impact/icty_events.html
The brilliance is that it’s only a week away. Too bad, I already have plans and now it’s too late to change them.
It’s particularly humorous that the website says “Check back often to find an event in your geography and register for an event near you.” Check back often? I don’t think I could even find this URL again once I leave it. Haven’t you heard of subscriptions so I don’t have to “check back often” to get the information I need?
As well-connected as I am, if I’m just now finding out about this from someone connected to IBM marketing and customer support, I expect very few people know about this event. Is this IBM’s way of “proving” they can’t sell in Seattle against Microsoft?
In the end, the purpose of marketing is to sell. Period. The final goal is not brand recognition. It’s not to make customers feel good. The final goal of marketing is to sell. Roadshows are an element of marketing. Whether the method is by showing off products directly or more of an infomercial to help existing customers use the product more effectively, if it doesn’t increase sales, it failed. IBM, once again, you failed. Go read the book “Your Marketing Sucks” by Mark Stevens. While it is not just about IBM, it does reveal the truth about your marketing.
But who am I to think I know marketing better than IBM? If you work for a company with half a million employees, you must already know everything there is to know about marketing. Your ego would demand nothing less. You no longer need to continue professional development. Why waste time reading books on marketing and sales and human behavior? Like GM and the Roman Empire, you’re too big to fail. After all, IBM stock is at an all-time high. You must be doing everything right, yes?
No. What you’re overlooking is where you COULD BE. In sales terms, you’re leaving money on the table. My mantra is “Companies don’t buy software. People do.” And along with that goes “Companies don’t sell software. People do.”
Before you categorically decline to read this book to further your knowledge, consider what you have lose, then consider what you have to gain. For that matter, I recommend this book to all of my readers. I’m sure many of you still read good old-fashioned books. If you read it, I would like to hear from you.
Here are links to presentations from some major players on their vision of the future. What do you think?
To find out about how Social Media plays into this, be sure to watch the live stream of the 140 Characters Conference Northwest in Vancouver, WA at http://nw2011.140conf.com/ on Thursday starting at 8:00 AM PST. Check out the schedule for the list of speakers and topics. Bruce Elgort and Chris Martin will be speaking around 10:15. I will be presenting around 8:55 AM. If you miss the live feed, watch for the rebroadcast posts.
To quote from the conference website:
WHAT IS THIS CONFERENCE ALL ABOUT? The key focus of this conference is on how real time technology (like Twitter and Facebook) is changing business, government, healthcare, social services, media, education, celebrity – and everything.
There will be over 40 different presentations with nearly 70 speakers, all presenting back-to-back and all without the aid of powerpoint. This is Storytelling 101.
For those who cannot attend in person, this conference will be live streamed on the internet.
WHEN & WHERE? Join us May 19, 2011, for the first Pacific Northwest 140 Character Conference at the Hilton Hotel in Vancouver, Washington.
This article is based on a speech I gave at Toastmasters.
A few years ago, I entered a multi-sport race that involved a 25-mile mountain biking leg, a 12-mile kayaking leg, and a 6-mile run. In preparation for the race I biked to work 40 miles round trip, 3 to 5 days/week. I paddled 2 to 3 times/week. I didn’t do any running because I didn’t like to run and I was already cycling which also trains the legs, or so I thought.
For the mountain bike leg of the race, I was the 4th fastest racer, 4 minutes behind the leader.
I was the 3rd fastest kayaker, 15 minutes behind the fastest kayaker.
I don’t know where I placed in in the run, but it wasn’t pretty. I finished the 6 miles in 58 minutes.
Overall I finished in 6th place. A major disappointment. After doing so well in all the other legs, it felt more like last place. If that were a job interview, I wouldn’t get the job.
The next year I was motivated to improve. As I evaluated my training from the previous year, I figured I couldn’t do much to improve my cycling. I was already riding 200 miles a week and in the 1-hour ride I was only a few minutes behind the fastest rider. There wasn’t much room for improvement in the kayak either, except to get a faster boat. That leaves the running leg, my greatest weakness. As much as I disliked it, I decided I would just have to suck it up an do some running. I cut back on my cycling days and started running at lunchtime for 30 minutes a day, 3 days a week. That’s running 15 minutes out and 15 minutes back. I trained this way for 6 months leading up to the race.
Race day comes around. The race starts with a 1/2 mile sprint to the bikes, running out 1/4 mile on a gravel road, around a marker, and back to the bikes before heading down the trail. The purpose is to spread the racers out so there isn’t a huge mob of cyclists going down the trail and crashing into each other.
I lined up in the front row of racers at the starting line. The gun fires and we all start running. I’m at the front of the pack. I happen to be wearing an eye patch over one eye (that’s another story), so I don’t have any peripheral vision. I can’t look around to see the racers beside me. I’m just focused on watching where I’m running so I don’t trip. Gradually the sound of the mob of 200 other runners tromping on the gravel starts to fade.
As I round the marker I can finally see that I’m way ahead of everyone. As we reach the bikes I am in first place. That is, ahead of all of the relay team racers too. This photo was taken just as we were getting back to the bikes. I’m the guy in front with the yellow helmet and eye patch. The guy behind me in the bright red running shoes is the race favorite in the relay team category. He is an elite cyclist and his team was sponsored by runningshoes.com. He still had to change his shoes when he got to his bike. I am running in my mountain bike shoes.
Like the year before, I was the 4th fastest mountain biker and shaved 2 minutes from my previous time which was about how much faster I ran at the start.
In the kayaking leg there was a strong headwind, yet I still cut 5 minutes off my time. That was good enough to be the fastest paddler not racing as a team.
Cutting 2 minutes in a 1-hour bike race and cutting 5 minutes in a 2-hour kayak race are both great improvements in their own right. But the most impressive improvement came in the run.
In the previous year, I averaged 9:30 minutes per mile. This time I ran my first mile in 5:35. I finished the run in 38 minutes, a 20-minute improvement. That was the fastest individual time and only 4 relay teams had a faster runner. I finished the run 3 minutes faster than the next fastest individual runner. That is a full 1/2 mile ahead in a 6 mile race. Keep in mind I only trained for running 30 minutes a day, 3 days a week. I changed running from my weakness into my strength.
Like a multi-sport race, most things we do in life require several skills. If you are the best at one only of them, it won’t set you apart. Being good at most of them won’t put you at the top either.. However, if you focus on your weaknesses and put the effort into eliminating them, you can turn them into a strength. If you do this, you will surely be differentiated from everyone else.
If you apply this philosophy to your professional skills, it can make the difference between a no-thank-you letter and a salary negotiation.
What skills should you focus on? Usually your weaknesses will also be those things that you least enjoy, like running was for me. I hated running. Now I look forward to it. Don’t just focus on variations of skills you already have. Look outside your core roles. Diversify. Generally, the skills that will advance you the most are those that can be applied to any job. If you’re a programmer, don’t just learn a new programming language. Consider skills in system administration, technical writing, project management, or public speaking.
Whatever they are, as you eliminate your weaknesses and turn them into strengths, you will always set yourself apart.