Easter Sunday I had dinner with my 67-year-old mother and her 71-year-old boyfriend (officially making us a modern family).  While standing in line, the subject of Facebook came up.  In 2009, Facebook users in the U.S. grew from 42 million and change to 103 million and change!  That’s 145% growth in one year!  The fastest growing demographic, women over the age of 55!  Source  Social media is a mainstream phenomenon now, it’s a part of our society.  While discussing, Mallory (mom’s boo) innocently turned to me and asked why he would get a Facebook profile when he enjoys spending time with my mom?  Upon further discussion I realized that he literally thought that if he were to become friends with mom on Facebook, he would no longer be able to meet her for dinner, spend afternoons at the movies or see her socially outside of Facebook!  

She doesn't look 67!!

 I’m constantly amazed by how often I meet people who are proudly resisting the digital revolution.  I have friends who refuse to get a home computer, smart phone or GPS.  They’re passionate about the purpose of phones: “They’re used to talk to people and make phone calls, not for texting!”  These same people are also the ones who latch onto the evils of technology.  When I launched our Fan page for our company, I had one of our senior execs look at my with horrible disbelief.  He thought Facebook and MySpace were for pedophiles to meet victims and nothing more!  

The reason, of course, is because it helps bolster their desire to avoid technology.  All of this, ultimately, is fear.  Afraid of looking or feeling stupid, afraid of losing control and afraid of the unknown.  But, who can argue that the advancement of technology has benefited society?  (The Amish and ultra-conservatives are dismissed for this viewpoint)  GPS has saved many arguments with the women in my life.  It has introduced one new argument.  It seems a lot of those same women who would get angry because I wouldn’t pull over to ask directions now have an intense desire to prove the GPS wrong.  Whaddayado? 

The world is changing and we must adapt!

Computers, the iPhone, the microprocessor, all these things have made the world we live in better!  Your coffee pot will turn on and make a pot without your help.  Your brakes know when you’re going to lose traction, so your car automatically pumps them thousands of times a second so you don’t lose control of your vehicle.  The movies I watch on my Blue-Ray DVD player are far better than those I watched on  VHS as a kid.  Even communication has increased due to technology.  I can communicate with hundreds of people at one time with Twitter.  I can find friends and know where they are with 4square.  I can locate restaurants with yelp and have first-hand knowledge of what the place is like before I ever set foot in the door!  

The schooner Appledore under full sail.

A couple of weeks ago I was in Key West and I took a sunset cruise on the schooner Appledore.  Now this is a real, full-fledged wooden-hull sailing ship.  It is designed to ferry passengers around Key West and Camden, Maine.  Built in 1978, and as part of any legitimate ocean ship, a binnacle was built just in front of the helm that housed the compass. 
 
 
 
 
Here I am on a ship that was built from technology that hasn’t changed in hundreds of years, intentionally built to be an authentic vessel.  And there, on the binnacle, just below the compass was a GPS unit.  Now I have friends who would argue that they prefer a captain who can navigate with nothing more than a compass.  Not me.  I want a captain who will take advantage of every modern aid made available to him!  I want my doctor, airline pilot, police officer, fireman, and lawyer to do the same!
 
Technology is wonderful!  It is a part of our lives and should be embraced by all!  So, if you know someone who is fighting technology, here are some tips on how to get them through the learning curve.
 

 1.) Give them facts, not opinions

You must educate first.  We all need to know why we should choose something and most of us are leery of adopting something just because everyone else is doing it.  We eventually do, but no in the beginning. Teaching someone about the purpose and uses of the technology has to come first.  

2.) Don’t make them feel stupid

You have to approach technology as though it’s wonderful and magical.  There’s a temptation to feel superior or smarter because you have already conquered the curve.  Avoid this.  Be humble when teaching someone about technology.  

3.) Be patient and let them see you using it

Don’t get frustrated.  Pull out your cell phone and slowly send a text message so they can see you do it. If you go fast, it’s going to scare them off.  Then, use their phone to send one.  Show them that it can be done and they don’t need a new gizmo to do it.  Log in to your Facebook account so they see all the things you see.  Then, help them set up their page.  

4.) Offer praise and use it with them

Send texts and leave messages on their wall.  Include them in the loop, because they’re not outsiders anymore.  encouragement works just as well for your wife, boyfriend, boss and grandparents.  We all love to be praised!  

5.) Introduce them to more new stuff!

Once they’ve conquered texting or Facebook, get them on twitter or TiVo.  Success is the right time to introduce more pieces to the puzzle.  

Finally, if all else fails, give up.  Realize that not everyone is going to be tech savvy.  There are those folks who prefer outhouses and hors-drawn carriages.  Just don’t make the mistake of putting someone in that category until after you’ve tried to get them to adapt. 

 

While heading to my favorite breakfast spot on a lazy Sunday morning, I ran into this snapshot of life.   

Marketing 101

Two things immediately made an impression on me.   

No. 1 – A business must be in tune with society.

No. 2 – A business must know their audience.

The first one has to do with the guy in the yellow vest.   He’s there to try to sell newspapers.  Why?  Because newspaper subscriptions across the country (not just in Lubbock) have plummeted.  In just the past six months, the largest 814 newspapers have declined 1.9%!  That’s staggering!  Imagine your business falling off that much in a six month period!  That number continues a twenty year decline that shows newspaper circulation is currently at the same level it was in 1945!  I had hard time finding  data on this phenomenon, probably because newspapers are an online distributor of news and who would want to show their recent decline?  I did, however, find the website for the Newspaper Association of America and did find circulation numbers through 2008 and was able to build my own graph.  

 
 

  

 

Newspaper Circulation 1940-2008

   

Newspaper circulation in the US peaked in 1984 with more than 63 Million in circulation.  As of 2008, that number had declined by 23%.  And as you can see, the speed at which people are cancelling their subscriptions is increasing.  Newspaper companies across the country are panicking, trying to find new revenue streams.   

When an industry is dying due to social change, the worst thing a company can do is to try to generate revenue the same way it always has.

Kodak changed the world once.

Take, for example, Kodak.  I’m certain that at some point in the mid-1990s, one of the big wigs at Eastman Kodak assured his board members that everything would be just fine.  I’m certain that he told them that film would always be king and that these new-fangled digital cameras were just a passing fad.  Try to buy a new camera that uses film today.  That’s why Kodak went from more than 136,000 employees at its peak to just 20,000 today. Society changed and Kodak failed to change with it.   

Kodak stuck to what had worked for more than 100 years.  They hired a management staff that was well-educated and paid them handsomely.  They had an elite corps of executives who had no common sense.  They were well versed in spreadsheets and angry when their spouses and friends bought a digital camera because it was easier to use.   

How do you attract customers?

And that brings me to my second point.  You have to know your audience.  You must know who your customer is and more importantly, GET TO KNOW THEM!  Take a closer look at that photo.  Pay attention to the sandwich board the other gentleman is wearing.  What is his selling point?  FREE BEER   

I will most likely never step foot in that flea market.  It may surprise many of my friends to know that I am not a loyal patron.  However, there are people who go there every day, and guess what entices those folks?  If they had free iTunes downloads, I’m there.  But, they don’t want me because they know I won’t buy anything there.  They want the guy who’s thinking, “Free beer, sure why not?”  When his wife says, “Hey, let’s go to the flea market.”  He’ll think to himself, “That’s the place with free beer.  Ok, I’m in.”   

If you are in leadership at a company, make sure that you are staying relevant.  Society is changing faster than ever.  Not only are the slices of the pie getting smaller, there are more pies out there now.  IF you work for a company that is not keeping up with the times, find a new job.  You may not have one in a few years. 

I’m stunned with the lack of character in today’s society.  There was a time when men were taught what it meant to be a man.  When lying was worse than cheating and a man’s word was his bond.  When a woman was taught to respect herself and uphold her own dignity.  When modesty and humiliation were more important than success and greed.  These days are gone.  It is time they return.

  

The Bar Has Been Lowered

For far too long we have based our actions and our decisions on the lowest common denominator.  We do not see ourselves as bad people because we can always find someone else who is more evil.  We justify our adultery because we’re not child molesters.  We soothe our conscience when we engage in unsafe or emotionally unhealthy sex because we’ve seen grotesque things on the Internet.  It is time for change.

The 60′s ushered in a counter-culture society that uprooted the outdated social law, but threw the basic human code of right vs. wrong out with the bath water in so doing.  The 70′s mixed social norms with free will and birthed an empty and somber generation that still has no identity, Gen X.  The 80′s spawned the ME Generation that turned into helicopter parents who shield their children from the responsibility of their actions.  And so time marches on.

Moral and Ethical code is deeper than our flesh.  We should not base our decisions on our desires.  Rather, we should base them on what is right vs. what is wrong.  We, as human beings, need to be more responsible to our fellow human beings.  It is time we look at ourselves from the outside in.  Would you like you?  Would you want to be friends with you?

It is time for each of us to instill within ourselves a basic belief system.  We are all vast and different, and that is a beautiful and wonderful thing.  Yet, as humans, we should all build our unique differences on the same foundation principles.

Do not fear humiliation, fear the lack of Humility. 

The Beginnings of a New Code…

  1. Know right from wrong and choose to do right
  2. Treat yourself and others with respect and dignity
  3. Be honest
  4. Be responsible
  5. Live your life serving a greater good

1)  We all know right from wrong.  We have become masters of arguing the point in order to get what we want.  Do not go after what you want, listen to your inner truth.  What you know to be true should outweigh your desires.

2) You can not love others until you first love yourself.  Be kind to yourself, do not beat yourself up.  Then, look around you.  Stop seeing people through lenses clouded with judgement and jealousy.  See each person as the treasure that they are and treat them as such.

3) The foundation of Integrity is Honesty.  Do not lie.  It’s very simple.  Communicate openly, without fear.  There is no reason to lie when you are operating a life that is selfless.

4) Many people are not adults.  They are grown up children.  Live your life responsibly.  Do not hide from bills, show up late or blame others.  Walk upright, the way a human being was created to do.

5) Live your life serving a greater good.  At the end of 70+ years, do you wish to die among the things you have gathered for yourself?  I wish to die surrounded by people whose lives I’ve impacted.  If I can make other lives better, then I have lived a successful life.

If we lived our lives this way, there would be no housing crisis.  The banks would not have given money to those who couldn’t pay them back and the borrower would not have asked for it.  There would be no need for government-backed healthcare because we would help our neighbors and the medical community would develop medication to help people first and turn a profit would be farther down on the priority list.

Let us start with us.  Right now.  Today.  Live your life with a moral code.

“Fate chooses our relatives, we choose our friends.”

Jacques Delille, Malheur at Pitié (Canto I), 1803

 

I have a rule that I live by.

If you make my life better, you get to stay.

If you make it worse, you get to go.

True friendship is a great treasure. It is difficult to find, in fact some spend their entire life searching.  When you do, however, you understand why you worked so hard and waited so long.  Often times we make the mistake of substituting family members for friends.  There is something much more powerful about a relationship with someone who WANTS to be with you than someone who HAS to be with you.

It’s getting harder to find good friends in today’s society.  We have become judgemental, shallow and selfish.  We pursue our own dreams, leaving all others in our wake.  It’s the sad, cold truth, but it is also what makes true friends so special.  I’ve often said:

“95% of all people are not worth your time.  It’s the 5% that make life worth living”

Relationships, of all types, are one of the most valuable and important things in our lives.  They will affect us, transform us, sustain us and destroy us.  We should treat them with greater importance, move them up the priority list and give them the proper attention they deserve. Because we try to make everything “good” and “perfect”, we dislike believing that we care for some friends more than others.  That is a false way to live.  It’s ok to have differing levels of friends, love and relationship.  I believe the pattern of a healthy human’s social network can be found in the bible, the way Jesus structured his friends.  The seventy, the twelve, the three and the one.

First there is the 70.  For some it’s the party crowd, others call them “acquaintances”.  In the bible, they’re found in Luke, and are called the 70 disciples.  These are people you know on a first-name basis.  They may be co-workers, friends of friends, or people you used to be closer to in the past.  They don’t get to hear your deeper thoughts, but they’re fun to be around and you can tolerate them in most settings.

Then there are the Twelve.  The twelve apostles.   These are the inner circle folks.  They usually come from the 70, but not always.  They are usually acquainted with one another, through you or shared friendships.  They know most of your life and are always just a phone call away.  They are loyal, trustworthy and on the same path in life.  They are your friends.

Then there are the three.  I often times find that I’m one of the three.  I have two close friends, we’re tight, like a three-fold-cord.  With Jesus, this group consisted of Peter, James and John. These three disciples were closer to Him than the others. This group is the beginning of intimacy.  It is who you can call at 3am when you need someone.  They will be by your side.  They share with you and you share with them.  It is this group that you can give all of yourself to and they will hold your innermost with reverence and respect.

And lastly, there is the one.  With Jesus, John was the disciple that he loved more than the others.  The one is often times a “soul mate”.  Sometimes you marry the one, but not always.  The one is the first person you call at 3AM.  It is the one who has seen all of your dark spots and still chooses to love you.  They encourage you, they speak truth to you.  They make you laugh, they make you cry.  You see things differently thanks to them.  They broaden your horizons and keep out the evil.  They are the people who make you want to be a better person.

We will not always have these slots filled.  It’s what brings about loneliness and sometimes putting up with bad friends because there is no one to take their place.  We need friends.  We, as human beings, must have relationships.  There will be dry spells.  Some who we are close to will fall away.  It is important to identify good friends and draw them near.  It is important that we let them earn our trust, not just give it to them.  Do not bring people close quickly, only after you have seen how they live their life and know that they posses the same character and share similar beliefs as you.  Managing your relationships is one of the best keep secrets to a successful and happy life.

The Post Office – Modern Day Relic

Ah, memories of The Pony Express. I like horses.

I haven’t purchased a stamp since the mid 90s.  I haven’t needed to.  I pay bills electronically.  I communicate electronically.  I live in a modern world with modern conveniences, dare I say necessities!  Yesterday, John Potter, Postmaster General, said that the U.S.P.S. is projected to lose more than $238,000,000,000 over the next ten years.  Why do we (taxpayers) continue to support a system that is no longer viable?  Nostalgia?  Fear of change? 

Bob Adelmann makes an extremely strong case towards one of the largest problems facing the USPS, unionization. 

The great seal of the AFL-CIO. Brings a tear.

Part of the problem is the AFL-CIO — National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC) — which has successfully pressured the service into providing direct and indirect compensation to its workers to the point where the average postal worker now makes $83,000 a year. This is reflected in the fact that such compensation and benefits “constitute close to 80 percent of USPS’s costs … despite major advances in technology and the automation of postal operations.” A USPS worker blogged at the Wall Street Journal

Cutting out delivery one day a week and raising some rates is a stopgap measure, and two years hence, there would be another increase and a four-day week proposal. The reason why is that USPS cannot fire anyone and cannot make employees work faster or smarter because of the death grip the postal union has on the postal service. The employees at my substation deliberately create a long line by employing the work slowdown, giving every customer at least 8 minutes of face time, chatting up grandkids and cruise trips. They are immune to reprimand and to any incentive to improve service. It is what the union wants, what Progressives want and what Democrats want. John Potter is not on the side of the postal service consumer; he is pro-union and is doing their work for them. If he were not pro-union, he would not be in his position. 

Times, they are a changin’

The USPS is becoming irrelevant in the modern world.  In 2006, they moved 213 billion pieces of mail.  In 2009, 177 billion.  That’s a 17% drop in just three years!  At the same time, there are nearly 37,000 post offices in the U.S.  That’s more buildings than McDonald’s, Burger King and Wendy’s combined!  We, the American people, continue to fund an entity that is not profitable.  WHY?!?!?!  E-mail, social media and other forms of electronic communication have overtaken the letter.  Electronic payment and invoicing options have drastically reduced billing by mail, and will only increase.  It is time to allow delivery of any post or package to a private address to be handled by UPS, FedEx, DHL, etc.  They turn a profit! 

The only thing left for the USPS is direct mail, that’s right junk mail.  I, through my marketing efforts at the company I work for, send out 27,000 pieces of direct mail every six weeks.  It’s VERY effective and VERY affordable.  I, me, yo soy mercado, will be greatly affected by the dissolution of the US Post Office.  It’s ok.  I will find other ways to reach potential customers.  I will adapt.  The greater good is more important. 

Simma Down Now!  The Reality.

The reality is that the USPS will never go away.  The unions are too strong.  The USPS employees more than 685,000 blue-blooded, card-carrying members.  We, the American people, will continue to put money in those pockets.  To the tune of $83,000 a year.  We aren’t yet angry enough to demand its closure.  But, we should be.  The USPS is here to stay, so open up those wallets folks, we have some hungry mouths to feed.

The Problem

I deal with sales people all the time and have for many years.  It has become quite a hassle in recent years.  There’s an old school mentality of yuckin’ up the presentation and greasing the client with fase compliments and feigning concern.  Then there are the new school guys who understand it’s more about listening and meeting a need than buying gifts and providing entertainment. 

Cheesy Sales Guy

Cheesy Sales Guy

 

    

There are two types of sales people in the world. 

No.1  -  Those who have a good product that will benefit your company and can show you how. 

No. 2 – Those who try to convince you to spend money. 

   

I’m amazed at how often a sales team will show up with doughnuts, freshly cleaned suits and a new haircut, yet can’t talk about their product any better than I can.  They have a slick folder, colorful logo and a PowerPoint presentation, but no first-hand knowledge of how their product works and why it’s better than their competition’s identical product.  They’ve learned that numbers are a magic trick, so they load said PowerPoint with charts and graphs they do not understand. 

   

The Wrong Guy at the Table

I recently told a sales team that I was on board with purchasing their product until their presentation.  They were scheduled to spend an hour with some very high level executives at my company.  90 minutes into the presentation and I had heard two things that were important to whether or not we chose their product.  They spoke around issues, smiled and danced when asked direct questions and spoke to us as though we were a third grade math class that needed calculators.  He was appalled when I told him this wherein he pointed at the screen and declared, “Didn’t you see the numbers?”  When I asked him, “Which numbers?” He blankly declared, “The numbers in the presentation!”  He had no idea which numbers should have convinced me to buy yet fully believe in them because they “were in the presentation!” 

Josh Bulloc is a blogger who tries to help people sell, among other things.  He only sort of gets it.  In this article, he states: 

“Sales is the art of getting someone to do something earlier than they originally planned.” 

-Josh Bulloc 

This is the old school mentality that I speak of.  Why should you convince someone to do what they do not want or are not ready to do?  That’s not selling, that’s manipulation.  The outcome is for your benefit, not the customer’s.  

 

Selling is more about building a relationship than getting a contract signed.

  

Modern Salesmanship

The best sales folks I know are the ones who have found the fine line between being attentive and annoying.  They know their product and know that it is a good product.  They listen before they speak, pay attention and help you do your business better.  They are worth every penny and I continue to buy more products and services from them. 

If you’re selling something you don’t believe in, stop.  Go somewhere else.  When you go into a meeting, listen to what the customer needs.  IF your company can help meet that need, then proceed to inform them of how you can help.  If you can’t, say so.  Be honest.  It will go farther towards a future relationship then an immediate sale.

The Beginning

I have a rich background in the organized church.  For the first four years of my life, we lived on a street corner.  Across the street was the parish, where the preacher lived.  Caddy-corner from us was the church where I was dedicated when I was two weeks old. 

The church across the street from where I lived when I was born

I was raised in a non-denominational, full gospel, bible-believing small fellowship.  The pastor of our congregation was, to this day, the truest father-figure in my life.  He passed away when I was 15 years old.  It was a time of great heartache and tears and the first time I questioned God and verbally yelled at him.  My father died a year later and I never shed a tear. 

My testimony is not one of great pain wherein I gave my heart to Christ because I was at the end of my rope.  I was baptized when I was nine years old.  I’m not certain of what age I was saved because I grew up loving God and following Christ.  From the youngest of ages, I knew who Elijah and Moses were and never questioned my belief in them.  I was then and still am a Christian. 

The Church Today

 Today, I have not been to church in more than six years.  I am closer to God than ever, and have more satisfaction, personally and spiritually.  I believe that every Christian will out-grow a church.  Churches are no different now than the synagogues of Jesus’ time.  They exist as a reflection of what once was.  They serve their masters, with congregations and pastors alike focused on the bottom line and struggling with power and authority instead of nourishing the believers. 

I love Christ and I love Christians.  I do not, however, believe in the church system.  It is a system that is designed to fail.  A system which may have had a place in the past, but which is simply a relic of religious symbolism today.  When Jesus showed up some 2,000 years ago, He was persecuted by the religious people.  He spent time in Synagogues only to show that He was not foreign to their beliefs. He hovered around His inner circle.  It was his friends and family that received His intimate attention, not the Pharisees or Sadducees

If He returned today, which church, yay which denomination would He visit first.  Surely the Christ would want to dwell in the buildings dedicated to Him?  He would do today as He did then.  He would find those who needed Him.  He would approach those He desired to follow Him.  He would enter the buildings desiring to correct the fallacy, knowing that it could not be done. 

Many Christians today ignore the Pharisees and Sadducees.  They find comfort labeling them with a Jewish tag that separates themselves from those horrible murderers.  Religion belongs equally to the Jew, the Muslim, the Buddhist and the Christian.  It is a system designed to comfort men and women to the degree that they will not serve their Lord because they think they already are.

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