Where are YOUR Red Barons?


The late Charles M. Schultz’s PEANUTS characters went viral with an audience of 355 million in 75 countries before he ever passed away over twelve years ago. Yet one of his characters—his version of the Red Baron—never showed up in person. Instead, Snoopy—the beloved beagle who fantisized himself as a World War I ace flying his  Sopwith Camel (actually his doghouse)—would curse his invisible enemy as his plane went down in flames.

Lately, I have been thinking about the Red Barons in my life, and what I have learned to do to outmanuever them.  The Red Barons in my corporate life include the government agencies that periodically send us notices of pending contracts that in less than 24 hours are corrected, withdrawn or updated.  We know those are wired for someone else, and we will never get our arms around the government system that requires an agency to solicit openly for business but that quietly has already decided upon a vendor it wants.  Curse you, Red Baron! Then there are software manufacturers that put the business buck so far ahead of service to customers that those customers become former customers.  Curse you, Red Baron! Is there any way for a Sopwith Camel to emerge victorious?
Curse You Red Baron

There is.

I am reminded of the recent story told by Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group and companies such as Virgin Atlantic, Virgin America and others.  In his May 29 piece on Office Ties and the Company Dress Code , Branson talked about the almost identical school ties worn by a group of erstwhile orderly kids. About half the kids had ties so short that only a few inches hung below the knot. Evidently the kids hated wearing the school-mandated ties. When they realized that the rules did not specify how long the ties had to be, SNIP! and the ties were cut short. Rather than cursing their Red Baron, they found and took advantage of their his vulnerable point.  I love that ingenuity and determination not to be shot down.  These kids really became Joe Cool.
Snoopy as Joe Cool

Where are the Red Barons in your life? Lack of organizational support for a change in marketing? A change in your business model? Fear of revealing a deep secret you have held onto for ever and ever? What would happen if you realized that “the rules” might be equally shot down by a lack of some sort or another?

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Pequod Systems Posts: the Breast Cancer Series 2

Susan Ellsworth

Thank you, Grant, Aref, Jon, Team Nimble, Sally, Andrew, Judy, Steve,Ruth, Steve, Dottie, Attila, Janice  and the rest of the village it has taken to get me up and going again. My radiology is done. Although I still have leftovers from my last chemo on January 10,  I am beginning to agree with my managing partner and our customers—this is almost over.   My fingers are now getting better re-acquainted with my keyboard.

Two final notes on the subject. First, a number of  “race for the cure” events are in progress. It’s time for more research into the discovery of causes of breast cancer and the prevention of it. Second, a far less-advertised but equally determined effort in that direction is being made by the Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation’s Army of Women Program.  Made possible by the Avon Foundation for Women, the AOW had 366,632 volunteers as of 5/21/12.  This Army’s vision is “Breast cancer has been around for decades, but it does not have to be our future. We can be the generation that eliminates breast cancer by identifying what causes this disease and stopping it before it starts.” Volunteers periodically receive brief notices about iniatives focused on  various groups and breast cancer. I am one of those nearly 366, 700 volunteers in that Army, and I invite you to join. Visit http://www.armyofwomen.org/ and sign up.

I am playing catchup with corporate marketing responsibilities and homework.  It’s rather sad when Twitter sends you a notice about missing you. I have an embarrassingly tall stack of Nimble leads to call. I juggle (let’s face it!) home tasks with followup medical appointments and corporate responsibilities. Thankfully, various friends drop by now and then to help with home tasks.  Blessings on them. Now if our two cats would just learn to clean and change their catbox….

In the meantime, good things have happened. One of our favorite long-time customers, a company that makes affordable and decent housing available in Washington DC has recovered somewhat from the bad economy. We have remained in touch with key staff members during a seriously tough time for them, and they recently came back to us for workstations and service.

Another company we met many years ago and have provided service to off and on for many years has suddenly discovered the importance and value of registering software and keeping track of software licenses. I wrote about this matter so long  ago in the Business Monthly that it has rolled off the archive.  Yet, there are still companies such as this one that have not moved all their applications into the cloud and have not figured out corporately that registrations and licenses for local Microsoft applications are not something to be hung onto by a sometime tech support contractor or by an employee who has no idea why that documentation is important. Bottom line? It’s quite expensive and sometimes next to impossible to upgrade or move a system without this critical data.

On the good news side, Todd Martin from Nimble has written an insightful blog about “The Art of Selling Yourself Online: 5 Ways To Introduce Yourself Through Social Media.”  It’s definitely worth a read, so check it out.

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