A Tempting Technology from a Wine Taster and Connoisseur

Susan Ellsworth

Susan Ellsworth

You never know where the next great idea might come from. I sometimes get ideas for this blog from comments by friends in various social media. But who would have ever thought that the idea for today’s blog about a new idea for technology would come from my alltime favorite wine connoisseur and longtime friend Heidi McLain? Heidi is the CEO and founder of the To Your Taste!®Wine Party Kit, an educational kit of tools to help those who may not feel confident about buying wine, ordering it in a restaurant, or just talking about it.

So I was surprised to see a video post from Heidi about Phonebloks.com, a company pointing out an obvious aspect of cell phones. Not built to last, thousands of cell phones are being thrown away daily simply because one component of the phone does not work. Or that it is out of date. The idea behind Phonebloks is that phones should be modular, and enable users to easily upgrade or modify a phone built on an open platform. Basically, the idea is for companies working together to build the best phone in the world. Personally, I had never once thought about what happened to the components of my previous cell phones. That’s a little strange for me, because I have thought of myself as a great believer in a greener earth and as someone who likes to put things together to make them work.

Recognizing that getting phone manufacturers to work together will not be an easy task, Phonebloks takes full advantage of social media. The plan is that on October 29 at 10:00 AM Eastern Daylight Time, all who like that idea send out eMail blasts through Thunderclap.  Messages will go to our FaceBook friends and Twitter followers saying that this modular type phone is a phone worth keeping. (and developing, since the phone has not yet been developed!) Presumably these messages will reach manufacturers such as Apple and Samsung. As of the date of this blog, Thunderclap lists some 856,800 supporters of a goal of 900,000 supporters and a social reach of 331,641,218.

For a team of perhaps three people, this is a ginormous goal. On his help-out FAQ page Developer Dave Hakkens says

>How can you help out and make Phonebloks become something more than just a concept? Do not send money! At least not yet. Dave writes on his facebook page

>“Just to be sure #Phonebloks doesn’t ask for any donation or money. Every site that does is a scam. Please forward this! “ I’m inclined to sign up to participate in his adventure. https://www.thunderclap.it/projects/2931-phonebloks

So if this whole thing actually comes to pass, I think I’ll wander over to Heidi’s place for a nice glass of wine.

To your health!

Susan Ellsworth

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Which comes first: the Word or the Attitude?

Recently I saw Michael Hyatt’s blog about how our words impact others. How true that is. When I was a young adolescent, my mother told me in a rather condescending tone that I would have a very hard time in school with math and sciences. Dutifully, I had a hard time with math and sciences. Except for geometry—-which, thankfully,neither my mother nor my father had mentioned. Fortunately, I married someone who had and still has different words that also impact me. With his words, I learned how to build and manage a computer. With his words, I studied for and passed systems management exams that would have blown my parents away. With the words of friends, I plunged into technical platforms I had never visited before. It was all because they believed in me…and said so.

Continuing along, I read another Hyatt blog. That one had everything to do with how a shift in one’s vocabulary could change one’s attitude.

Wait a minute! I thought. Isn’t that a bit backwards? Change in attitude is what changes one’s vocabulary, right? Not exactly. Consider the number of social media posts that simply copy what someone else has already said. Consider the number of posts that make you say “Hmm..when is the last time I heard that person use that word before?”

I’m inclined to think that associating with positive-thinking people who are open to ideas not necessarily their own and spending just a few minutes a day checking an online dictionary or thesaurus can grow the language we need to express a change in attitude. The two things—-attitude shift and change in vocabulary—work together. And that taken together, these two elements can make a huge difference in all aspects of our lives.

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Teamwork and Leadership are great…and how are they Rewarded?

 Linda Finkle’s newsletter from the Incedo Group is the exception to my general practice of hardly ever reading every newsletter I receive. Her November 8 “Generate the Power” about corporate team-building landed in my inbox just about the same time as a lead from NIMBLE did. In a strange quirk of coincidence, I’ve been in an online discussion about teamwork and leadership.  And recently I’ve been working with two small and delightful Toastmasters teams.

One of Finkle’s key points about corporate team-building is that “teams can’t function well if everyone is the same personality type or of like mind on everything. You need a mix of the right technical skills and the right interpersonal skills for a team to jell and work together successfully. ”  She’s absolutely right. Furthermore, she points out that “”When individuals on a team enjoy working together, corporate team-building is the natural outcome. It isn’t something you have to create. As in all relationships, the members will have little spats, disagreements and challenges, and that’s healthy. They will also most often work through these problems without intervention on the part of management. That’s what makes a strong team.” And she’s right about that, too.

What does that have to do with NIMBLE, the simple, affordable Social Relationship manager? One of NIMBLE’s core values relates directly to working with teams. Last month, an iconic note to partners opened with the sentence “Nimble is a lot more fun and productive when you invite more team members to nurture and grow business relationships as a team. ”  There is a congenial shared LinkedIn Nimble Partners group to which even the founders of Nimble contribute answers to questions posed by partners.

My favorite global life-time learning organization Toastmasters International encourages teamwork by promoting annual change of local leadership roles. A lively official LinkedIn Toastmasters Members group with 28,500 politely discusses virtually every aspect of our organization and its programming. That includes building teams.

Yet in the paid day-job world, how is teamwork rewarded? When is the last time you and your team evaluated yourselves *as a team* ? To what extent is your compensation based on how effectively your team works together? Rather scary, wouldn’t you say? The simple truth is most of us succeed at doing those things for which we are rewarded, and it makes sense to reward teams that work well together.  That’s my thought for the day and I’m sticking with it.

Cheers!

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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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We are Moving on…a new Look and Feel

Effective now, you will find this blog at http://blog.pequodsystems.com. We believe this change will make us easier to find. We also decided to give ourselves a new look.  We also changed so that our friends using mobile devices such as an iPad can read this blog while you are on the road. Over the next month or so, you will also see some changes at our website.   Our vision, values and mission will remain the same. Our products and services are evolving. We are still enthusiastic Nimble partners.  As always, you will find us on FaceBook, in LinkedIn, Twitter and even in Google+ .

THIS AND THAT

Word for the Day: (An oldie but goodie) Mashup.
Music,  Slang . a recording that combines vocal and instrumental tracks from two or more recordings. a piece of recorded or live music in which a producer or DJ blends together two or more tracks, often of contrasting genres .
…a hybrid website that collates and displays information taken from various other online sources …

Not to be confused with enabling Nimble to talk with your Google Apps. 
Cheers!

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It’s Official: We are now Solution Partners with Nimble

We are proud to announce our solution partnership with Nimble. Nimble Contact is a social CRM platform that combines relationship management and social engagement into an affordable web-based solution.  It integrates LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Google, email contacts and conversations into one seamless, intuitive environment, empowering small businesses in today’s socially connected world to attract and retain the right customers.

Created by Jon Ferrara, the founder of GoldMine, a pioneering SFA/CRM product, Nimble Contact is the only solution on the market that integrates the “4 Cs” — contacts, calendar, communications and collaboration — to enable professionals to effectively manage the way they see, hear and connect with their company’s most important asset: their business contacts.

“The problem today is our contacts and our communications are in too many places,” said Jon Ferrara, CEO of Nimble. “Between IM, text messaging, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Skype and email, we can’t keep track of it all. Trying to manage all of this in eight different tabs on your browser isn’t the solution. We created Nimble to solve our own needs and we’re bringing it to the world to help small businesses solve theirs.”

We are pleased to offer our customers Nimble Contact which unifies email, calendar and social channels in one application.  This will allow our customers to easily see all of the communications made with their contacts no matter where the conversations took place.

Nimble Contact is the next evolution in relationship management – a social relationship manager that makes it fun and easy to nurture personal and business relationships. Our goal is to build systems for your organization that will analyze your customers and opportunities, and help your company be more efficient by examining your current business, sales, marketing, and customer service processes.

For more information,  please visit our “What We Do” page or our sister Nimble Partner website.

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Technology Past and a Bet on the Future

Susan Ellsworth

We all have rituals in our lives. One of ours is to get together on December 31 or January 1 with a friend of ours from the Eastern shore of Maryland. On December 31, he brought his iPad with him, and our discussion about technology ran something like this.

When Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak first rolled out Apple computer in 1976, their assumption most likely was that if they built a better mousetrap, the world would beat a path to their door. When Bill Gates started Microsoft, Gates believed that if he promoted his operating system widely, included necessary tools  and got it installed on all the new small pc’s being rolled out, the world would create and roll a carpet to his door. Gates was right, and Microsoft was initially more successful than Apple.

So why am I now reading eMail newsletters that talk about the Apple iPad in the corporate workplace?

Consider one of the smarter moves that Apple made in the 1990’s. Almost as if by magic, Apple Macintosh computers started appearing in public schools. The children in those schools became comfortable with the way the Apples worked. Those children grew up and today are the decision-makers in corporations who remember those Apple computers. They are the ones using the iPads and going to “cloud computing.”

Or consider this software scenario. Back on April 11,2009, I was wondering out loud if Front Range Solutions, the manufacturer of GoldMine, had a purely technical focus rather than a marketing focus—and just who [was] being listened to—and who had contributed significantly to FrontRange’s lack of planning so that GoldMine Premium Edition was not working with with social networking applications.  I wondered if this situation were the total lack of awareness of a sea change in marketing strategies. Lack of incentive ? Lack of customer access to the FrontRange movers and shakers that make it happen?

Today GoldMine Premium Edition still is not integrated with social networking, still is not Software as a Service, and still is not in the cloud. Has FrontRange has concluded that the midmarket is ignoring social networking? How long will FrontRange continue along this path before it is abandoned by its midmarket target?

In an interesting twist of fate, Jon Ferrara —the creator of the product GoldMine and co-founder of the company GoldMine Software— concluded that “most of the vendors that used to serve the small business market have either taken their eye off the ball or have tried to move up-market in price and features. They have abandoned their traditional users and partners and have left a large hole in the space that GoldMine used to fill. “He created a new company and product “to address the needs of the small business CRM community including its end users and Solutions Partners. ” He predicted that “Nimble CRM, a SaaS CRM system for the small business market, will be launched in 2010. It will be lean, mean, affordable and of course Nimble. In addition to all of the features you would expect in a CRM system it will have cutting edge features that leverage the internet including tight social networking integration, web and blog site integration, and great email marketing. “[LinkedIn Nimble group] As with many technical product launches, the beta testers found and reported a few more issues than a responsible company would roll out to the public. Nevertheless, I believe that Ferrara—a guy with a record of success—will succeed with Nimble.

What remains to be seen includes the computing platforms (smart phones and iPads, for example) we see in the schools today that will thrive and be the corporate tools of choice when the students of today are the CIOs of tomorrow.  It also includes  well-developed, flexible softwares easily accessed by the computing public.

Watching 24 x 7 x 365

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Twitter, LinkedIn, FaceBook and S/N Friends in GoldMine?

copy-of-susan_headshot4

Back on April 11, I commented about the responses that my more technically-oriented acquaintances in the FrontRange Community had to the proposal to integrate social networking with GoldMine.  In a word, there had been a distinct lack of enthusiasm for including in GoldMine  a component field as essential as the fields for websites, eMail and multiple telephone numbers.

Sometimes it pays to persevere boldly and advocate  for change. Just when I thought the community discussion was about to die for lack of an official FrontRange champion, an announcement from Matt Fisher, the FrontRange Director of Marketing, appeared. It said,

…..

>As the debate rages on regarding the effectiveness of Social Media in B2B marketing (and indeed, as we watch discussion both here and off-site about the implications for CRM going forward), we at FrontRange are willing to give anything (within reason!) a try!

>So feel free to ‘follow’ FrontRange (user name: FrontRangeSols) on Twitter.  We’ll use it to post details of new product releases, support notices, events, training, blog postings – anything and everything that’s officially FrontRange-related.   And of course, all conveniently delivered direct to your desktop or even cellphone.

>We look forward to ‘tweeting’ with you!
…..

Given the heavy Twitter focus lately, this is a small and important, positive step forward. As I pointed out in the GoldMine community on April 14,

…..

>I belong to the church that encourages integration of everything that has to do with focus on the customer in our *customer relationship* product.

>I want our GoldMine users to open up our product at the beginning of the day and STAY there while doing work that pertains to marketing and selling. I want them to stay within our product rather than minimizing the desktop or totally getting out of GoldMine to use a different application. I see integrating the URLs for FaceBook profiles, LinkedIn profiles, Twitter profiles and the like as a service delivery matter and a FR acknowledgement of the business application of these S/N applications.

>On the implementation side, how much harder than including *old marketing* approach (multiple html-enabled fields for eMail and websites) can it be to bring our product into line with newer marketing concepts? By adding in a few more clickable html fields? Right now the GMPE implementation looks like FR has never thought about SN…  Can you imagine *any* flavor of GM without a field for eMail, website, fax or (Heaven help us!) *phone numbers* ?

>I’m waiting to see SN profiles of those discussing this matter. Somehow I also belong to the church that says if you haven’t even come in the door, it’s hard for me to give credibility to criticism.

…..

A few days later, the silence on the subject came crashing down, and the techs were back doing what they do best—proposing solutions to technical issues and arguing among themselves about the solutions.   I am convinced that once again it will take a major move by those in marketing to wrestle the techs to the ground on this subject.

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Re-shaping your (eMail Business) Dream

copy-of-susan_headshot2John Maxwell, author of  Put your Dream to the Test  recently gave a sermon entitled “How to go from Believer to Buyer. ” In this sermon, he talked about the importance of claiming your own dream (rather than someone else’s), and not letting others talk you out of your dream.

Sometimes you have to re-visit and re-shape your dream. And it happens because of the actions of a lot of other people you never knew, let alone met.

For years, a business friend of ours depended upon bulk eMail sent to thousands  other potential business partners to announce the sale of recycled office goods. One day he discovered that his bulk mail was not being sent out. In fact, it was being blocked. And most likely, it was being blocked by his own eMail services provider.

The eMail service provider had finally decided to close the gateway to our friend’s internal  relay. Every time there was a bounce-back because of a changed eMail address or a “please remove” response, a count had been made and our friend had unwittingly and technically become a spammer.

Now our friend has a serious business problem. The cost of calling each of those thousands of eMail recipients to confirm their eMail addresses and formally get permission to send an eMail announcing product sales available for auction is prohibitive. What’s more, recipients of those eMail announcements–just like other people— can change their eMail addresses without notifying every person who ever sent them an eMail. So of course our friend has a high probability of unwittingly sending eMail to bad addresses.

Sending eMail announcements in small batches at a time will take a very long time—perhaps so long that announcements of the product auctions will arrive just as the auctions are over and done with.

Our friend will be re-visiting and re-shaping that part of his business dream. We are confident that he will find a new way.

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