What does it mean when a fraternity brother unsubscribes?

A love supremeSo yeah, a low point….

;-) [wink]

A fraternity brother of mine just unsubscribed from my mailing list…

This is a dude who knew me at my most raw, most innocent, and the most stupid point in my life. He saw me do things that I don’t really want to (and cannot) repeat here.

Jointly, we shared very personal secrets.

Together, we witnessed our brethren do some of the most silly, most ridiculous, most insane feats humans could attempt to achieve.

I could tell you stories about this fellow.

And he could tell you stories about me.

Jointly, we share very secret, and very personal fraternal rituals that even if you held a gun to my head, I (and he) would NOT share.

And despite that…

…he unsubscribed from my mailing list.

Why do I tell you this?

Simple…

If a fellow who would probably take a bullet for me, and many of our brethren, would unsubscribe from my mailing list….

Why are you surprised that someone you DON’T EVEN KNOW unsubscribes from your mailing list?

Virtually every day, I talk to clients who get so stressed that people leave their mailing list.

Here’s the thing:

If I saw my fraternity brother who left my list tomorrow, I’d smile, I’d probably yell and do our chapter chant at full throttle, and I would hug and embrace him…

…but what I wouldn’t do is be angry that he unsubscribed from my mailing list.

I have a certain style. I have a certain approach. I am a little edgy (as Dan would say), I push some buttons. And I rant (as Emile would say)…

Point is, my approach to things isn’t for everyone…as it clearly wasn’t for this fellow.

But the whole point of this post is that this is ok. This is normal. This should be anticipated. This is the real world way of things.

Problem is, too many of you get upset by this. Let something like this distract you from whom you really are. Too many of you get tripped up from stumbles like this.

You can’t let setbacks from losing people whom you’d think would (and will) fall on the sword for you distract you from your message.

The true secret to success is to stick to your guns, knowing there is a very niche audience THAT DOES care what you say, THAT DOES care how you say it, THAT DOES care about your approach to things.

Sticking to your guns is where the rubber hits the road, and where success happens.

Be strong. I know it ain’t easy, but winners don’t get distracted by what seem like losses.

Winners stay true to who and what they are!

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We may not share fraternal ritual, but if you dig where we jointly stand on things, join my mailing list!

Drawing by Hugh.

Attention to detail matters

Screen Shot 2014-07-14 at 10.06.35 PMI am co-founder of a media company.

And through my work to date, I’ve learned that with a media company, a serious focus on detail matters.

You don’t see folks at ESPN, or the New Yorker, or Atlantic magazine, or any serious media company, schlepping on the details of look and feel.

You aren’t taken seriously if you half-ass design.

And yeah, you know where I am going with this: This isn’t just about how your website looks. This isn’t just about how amateur your email newsletter looks…

…This has everything to do with how EVERY element of your physical presence looks…the pride you take how EVERY element of your physical AND digital presence comes across.

Sorry, but you cannot punt and say that “Well, I don’t have an artistic eye, so, I have a pass…”

No, frankly, you don’t.

And I am not suggesting that you have to overthink and overproduce your design. Sometimes simple and clean makes a significant difference.

And no, generic, boring, default templates are very different than simple, minimalist, and simple, clean design.

On one hand people are suggesting that we live in a very noisy, media-driven world…

True that.

No doubt.

But in that vein, people are going to make decisions on where they invest their limited time and attention.

And frankly, one of the ways they will make these decisions is based on design….

…whether you like it or not.

So, my simple appeal here is that you must give this idea some focus. And whether or not you have the aptitude to manage this, the focus on it is mission critical. And you must outsource this if necessary.

At the end of the day, you don’t even want people to comment on this. You don’t want people to even notice it.

What you really want, is someone to feel at home, to feel inspired by your design…

…in such a way that they just want to spend time there, and refer others to do the same.

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If you think design matters — in ALL things — you should probably join this mailing list….

Why you should podcast, reason #367

Todd SchnickEvery day, I get asked about why you should host a podcast, or any type of media show for that matter. Allow me to share this story.

Just this morning, I received this email [name changed to protect the innocent]:

Hello, I would like to find out how we could have our CEO, John Smith, appear on your Healthcare Insider radio show. Can you tell me how I might go about this? Thanks.

Now, I hope you ponder the wonder of that short email. In fact, allow me to help you ponder:

1. Someone found me because I host a show, and sought me out to connect with me.

2. A potential business opportunity fell into my lap, just like that.

3. This person wants me to spend at least 30 minutes with the CEO of her company.

4. Did you get that? The CEO. And I didn’t have to do ANYTHING to connect with this gentlemen.

5. They already view me as serious and credible. I don’t have to prove anything. They want to spend time with me.

6. I didn’t have to spend one penny on marketing to make this valuable connection happen.

Now, I’ve responded with the appropriate means to get him scheduled on the show, which includes asking about some potential discussion topics they want me to cover on the air.

7. To translate, they will provide me with a list of things important to this fellow. Can you say, market intelligence?

8. Seeing any evidence of the infamous gatekeeper problem here?

[The correct answer is no.]

So, to recap, this is the magic of hosting several radio shows on the Dreamland Radio Network. I receive emails like this frequently, in fact, this is a large part of how I develop business opportunities.

And it can become your strategy too (Let me know if you need help)!

I am hoping this little story helps you answer the question: “Why should I podcast?”

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I don’t understand people who take the elevator one level

Why stairs are the key to understanding business success!

Why stairs are the key to understanding business success!

Since March of 2014, I’ve lived on the seventh floor of a mid-rise. And living in an building of this size, we’ve no doubt seen all kinds of unique behavior.

But nothing puzzles me more than the person who takes the elevator just one level.

Especially one level DOWN…

WTH?

[Look...if you are disabled and thus otherwise unable to take the stairs, this post isn't targeted at you. Obviously...]

But I just don’t understand it.

I’ve written about this before, but I see this same phenomenon in the parking garage of the building that houses my radio studio as well:

In a seven-floor parking garage, 94% of the cars parking there compete for the few limited spots on the first two floors. Making people stacked up behind them wait ten minutes for a coveted spot on the prized first level corridor to come open.

Never mind that on the third level, most of the parking spaces are wide open. Are people just that lazy that they don’t want to deal with taking an extra thirty seconds to go up an extra level?

Honestly, if I was in recruiting, this is how I’d make my hiring decisions.

I’d monitor all my prospects arriving for their job interview, and those that went to the upper levels to get claim the wide open parking spaces and take the stairs down a COUPLE OF FLOORS, would get the gig…

…Over the candidates who sat, waited, stressed, and cursed the fierce competition for the one or two spots that might come open on the first level.

I wouldn’t even make them come inside and interview. I’d say, “Hey you, you are five minutes late for your interview already because you were waiting for that one spot. Turn around. Go home. Don’t waste my time.”

I’d be thinking:

“If you do that, I can’t imagine how that attitude translates to other ways you’d interact with my company…”

As in:

These are the people who stare at the clock until it hits 5PM.
These are the people who wait for permission to take even the slightest of initiative.
These are the people who follow the sales call script.
These are the people who cut and paste.
These are the people who don’t take the time to be original.
These are the people who complain in staff meetings.
These are the people who do the bare minimum with regards to sales prospects.
These are the people who bitch when the sales manager is wondering why they are short of quota.
These are the people who hoard the office supplies.
These are the people who are walking to lunch at 11:59AM.
These are the people who ask about raises, rather than earning them.
These are the people who max out their sick leave.
These are the people who follow the job description to the letter.
These are the people who actually read the office manual, not to be a good employee, but to learn how to take advantage of the system.
These are the people who grab the free perk of the office smart phone, not to communicate with customers, but to brag at happy hour. At 5:02PM, btw…

No, I can tell a lot about the people who take the elevator one level. These are not the kinds of people I want in my world.

No, I want the gal walking down six flights of stairs. Smiling. And whistling. With that mischievous look that she knows something the schmucks on levels one and two don’t know.

Those are the free spirits that I want in my world…

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Why I meditate, and why you should too

Todd SchnickIt’s funny, but there are certain people that when I tell them I meditate, they do in fact look at me strangely. Surprises me every time.

They honestly think I am weird.

Funny thing is, my newest company is having the best year of its existence, and I am on a path to exceed my entire 2014 sales goals by the end of this month.

Do you want to know why?

Meditation.

I kid you not.

Meditation makes me a better person, calms me, brings me peace, clears my mind when overwhelmed, and really brings down the stress level.

As a result, I am better at sales, at writing, at conducting my radio interviews, and doing all the other creative work my media company requires.

I often wonder if people think you have to be some Tibetan monk to meditate. I don’t shave my head, sit on some special pillow, cross my legs, or do that funky little holding my fingers together thing. See, I don’t even know what that move is called…

Nine times out of ten, I meditate sitting in my office chair. Or, sitting on the floor with a dog asleep and snuggled into me.

And I don’t do it for hours on end.

Most days I do it for five minutes. Fifteen minutes on some days. Several days a week, I do it when I need it, which means I meditate for five minutes a few times a day.

When I have task overwhelm and I can’t decide what project to start next, I get so stressed I can’t think clearly enough to make a decision on where to start.

This is usually when I find value in shutting down for five minutes, and meditating.

Most of the time, when done meditating, my mind is calm and clear and the decision on what to do next becomes easy.

This has been the biggest breakthrough for me with meditation. And it has changed my business.

How does it work? This is my simple process:

1. Close my eyes.

2. Be still.

3. And do nothing but focus on my breathing. In and out, in and out, in and out. When I exhale, I like to think it is all my demons and stresses exiting my body.

4. Do that for five minutes (Heck, for the first year I just did two minutes. Even that has impact).

Still, some people think this is hard. They’ll tell me: “Well, I get weird random thoughts, or I yawn a lot (so do I), or I get an itch on my nose, or the dogs bark, or I suddenly think of something I have to do…”

Guess what? You are doing it right!

Your mind isn’t shutting down when you meditate. All you are really doing is finally listening to your thoughts. This is the whole point. Getting some quiet so your mind can process what it needs to.

When you do get distracted, simply acknowledge the distraction, and then very consciously go back to focusing on your breathing.

When you start, you will get distracted a lot. This is ok. This is just how it works. I think you’ll find that the more you do it, the less you will get distracted. My mind still races while I meditate, but that no longer stresses me, and I calmly refocus on my breathing.

It’s that simple.

The great thing about this is that positive vibe I feel when I am done, similar to the elation I feel when I complete a run or a workout.

This simple daily reset has changed how I go through my CRAZY business days building my media company. And has enabled me to do better quality work.

This has obvious implications on the success and growth of my business.

Don’t look at me, or others who meditate, and think we are strange birds following some fru-fru Zen religion.

Instead, think of us as people achieving a little more control over their mind and thoughts. Think of us as smart and savvy businesspeople. ;-)

Now, I still get stressed, and still have my bad days. And my journey with meditation is still early. But I am excited to see how much more this will do for me.

I urge you to give it a try. Be patient though, it will feel strange at first. Soon however, you’ll embrace those very feelings…

And that’s when things are starting to get good!

[You are welcome to EMAIL ME should you have any questions!]

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Photo from unsplash.

Why aren’t you operating with a sense of urgency?

Hugh MacLeodMan oh man, this is a tricky post to write. Because for every ten people who read it, there will be ten different perspectives on the concept. But here goes anyway:

I don’t understand people in business who ARE NOT operating with a high sense of urgency.

There, I said it.

People say to me all the time, “Wow, I can’t believe the hours you put in…”

Or…

“Dude, I know for a fact you didn’t chill this past weekend.”

Or…

“I can’t believe I received an email from you at 1045PM last night. Take a chill pill pal…”

A couple of comments here:

1. Yeah, I put in long hours, because I don’t see what I am building as work. It is my art, it is my life’s work. And it thrills me to no end.

2. My life is short. I don’t have time to mess around. I need to build my thing now, while I am still breathing, while the world around me can still benefit from what I am building.

3. I am all about quality time with loved ones, but I surround myself with loved ones who are also jacked up building THEIR thing, and we relish spending time in each other’s company building our respective art and our respective contribution. In my world, my partner isn’t complaining that I am knee deep doing my work, because she is knee deep doing HER work…

4. Yo, it ain’t gonna build itself. This thing requires work. Sweat. Time. Hours. Labor. Late nights. Passion. Frustration. It you aren’t gonna put that time in with me, then I don’t want you distracting me.

5. And I can’t do it myself. I don’t have time to do YOUR work, I am swamped doing MY work, I will help you when and where I can, but I cannot, and WILL NOT, do it all by myself. If you saw value in partnering with me, than I expect you to dive into the mud with me…

6. And yet, there is complete joy. When my work, when my efforts are recognized, and when people benefit from it, there is NO GREATER JOY. I am sincerely hoping you see that vision too. If not, this will be a hard slog….

[By the way, this is what I am busting my ass to build each and every day...]

I just turned 45 years old. I’ve jokingly told myself I am half way done. Which means, I still have 45 years to go.

I have a lot to accomplish. I have a lot to learn. I have a lot of building still to do. And to do it, I have to BUST MY ASS. And well, that’s what I plan to do.

So yeah, I refuse to not charge forward full throttle on this business, on this mission of ours. I am working under a severe sense of urgency: we have a lot to do, and not much time to do it.

I apologize if I seem impatient, for we have too short a life to accomplish what I believe we BOTH want to accomplish.

We must be on our way. Let’s get on it…

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Drawing by Hugh.

15 reasons you need to consider Trade Show Radio

WEF croppedSo, the other day, I published a rant about twenty(+) things people and organizations do that I personally believe negatively impact their trade show spend. You can find that essay here.

So, naturally, a few people on Twitter asked what I would recommend instead. The answer? My company has developed an offering that we call trade show radio, and it is a booming business. I wanted to explain why, thus this post.

Understanding what trade show radio is, the offering, is simple: An organization hires us (sponsors us) to broadcast LIVE radio from their trade show booth. Over the course of a day, we conduct up to 20-25 interviews. Our client gets the privilege of inviting and scheduling the actual interview guests themselves. As a result, these guest come to my client’s booth, and get interviewed by us. And as a further result, these guests get to spend quality time with my client’s crew. This, obviously, expedites the relationship building process.

This accomplishes three things: One, this moves the ball on the business development front, in that my client significantly advances the ball on the opportunity relationships front. Two, this is great as a vehicle to create content for market educational content, to integrate into the sales and marketing process. And three, is a great networking strategy, to connect with high-powered influencers in your market space.

Not convinced? Fine. Read my notes below. And see how one of my recent clients achieve ALL OF THE ABOVE. For purposes of this conversation, I am going to showcase one of our longest-serving trade show clients, Water Online, and discuss a recent show we just wrapped in Boston, MA:

1. Very few organizations (if any) are broadcasting live radio from their booth. Talk about a way to do something a little different. Some of you try to be memorable with beer or tchotchke’s. There is a better way.

2. As a recent colleague of mine said, what we are doing with Trade Show Radio? “We are creating buzz. Nothing else.”

Isn’t generating buzz at a trade show really one of the reasons you are there?

“You don’t know how important you guys are to us.” Remember this quote. It will make sense later…

3. At many shows, you can see people leaving early, and some organizations start taking down their booth before the official show clock hits 0:00. With trade show radio, your booth is buzzing until the final hour. Last two shows, we were still conducting interviews after the final bell rang, and people, and cranes, and forklifts were already scurrying about tearing the place apart.

…while we were still conducting interviews.

4. You can create landing pages such as this, and invite people to share in the show experience who aren’t even on site.

5. Don’t forget all the content that we create over the duration of the show. A typical show last three days, which means, on average, we create 60 pieces of content. When you think about it, that’s at least three months (or more) of content to distribute to a blog and/or mailing list. We all know how important content is to the modern sales and marketing campaigns.

6. One of the best parts of this program? Giving your EXISTING customers some great content to use to educate their own market. Check out the video below. This is a Water Online customer taking our 2013 interview, and turning it into a piece of marketing content.

And trust me, we just recorded a fresh interview two weeks ago that will be used the same way…

7. One of the best utilizations of Trade Show Radio is building positive relationships with targeted prospects. Have a CEO you want to connect with? Invite him or her to appear on your show. It’s that simple. They are appreciative of the opportunity to gain exposure, appreciate the platform to tell their company story, and best of all, it cements a newfound, trusting relationships between you and the prospect.

And did I mention that they COME TO YOU? Yeah, they walk across a giant convention center to spend QUALITY time at your booth.

My clients at this show? There are a handful of sales guys, who we rarely see. They are too busy running around making things happen. However, sure enough, when one of their prospects appears on the show, my client’s sales team is there, and uses the opportunity to connect, congratulate them on a great show appearance, and then boom, usually sits them down and talks business opportunity, and they do this when the prospect is still buzzing from their radio experience.

Trust me, this works. And this alone is why Trade Show Radio is money…

8. Our client, for this recent show, had a large batch of 6X20 printed cards printed promoting the show. We have out stacks and stacks of these cards. They served merely one purpose, promoting my client, Water Online. I sat in my interview chair for three solid days, and watched people I didn’t know, stop, grab a card off our sound system, and walk away with a little more knowledge of my client, Water Online.

I smiled every time.

photo (1)9. Here is the funny thing about those cards: For a few of our guests that had been repeats on the show over the years, Todd and I autographed them as a goofy lark, a totally non-serious joke to make them laugh.

Funny thing was, they were a big hit. We ended up giving away dozens and dozens of the signed cards. The experience was memorable enough for many, that we are sure most will thumb tack the card to their office wall. And yeah, no one took this seriously.

But…

They’ll still do it. Why? Because, it will be a conversation starter when other people walk into their office, see the autographed cards on their wall, and they’ll ask about it…

…and our guest will love to tell the story.

photo10. At this recent show in Boston, my client unveiled a whole new, brilliant strategy.

For each guest scheduled to be on the show, they had a placard printed announcing their participation on the show. And then, placed the placard in their very own booth.

Since there were about 60 to 70 guests scheduled, there were 60 to 70 signs PLACED ALL OVER the trade show floor promoting…what?

My client.

Not us, but my client. This accomplished three things:

A. Promotion for my client. At over 60 booths across the trade show floor.
B. A little juice to make our guests look like rock stars. As in, we are so cool, we are being interviewed on a live radio show.
C. And finally, and perhaps most importantly in my opinion, made our actual guests rock stars within their own teams. I mean, can you imagine the ribbing they got from their own colleagues.

And damn son, you know they secretly loved the attention… ;-)

11. It is true, but with Trade Show Radio you cannot interview one thousand people. But if walking out the show with 60 VIP business relationships enhanced isn’t worth it to you, then you probably shouldn’t be attending the show in the first place.

12. Months of content. For the next four to five months, my client will publish one of these interviews per week. Providing content, an interview with a leading market space practitioner, telling their story, sharing market trends, and unveiling a product launch invaluable to the industry.

13. What is more memorable? The cup of beer? The ball point pen? The logoed key chain?

Or the radio interview that will reside on their website and social channels forever? Or the guest who appeared on Water Online Radio a few years ago, who said, “Finally, a reason to attend this frickin’ show, appearing on this show…”

We’ve never been more inspired to do what we do….

David LaFrance

David LaFrance, CEO of the AWWA

14. Remember I said at the top of this essay, that networking with influencers was an important part of the strategy? Well, Water Online, my client, three years ago invited the CEO of the association to appear on the show. Now, I remember this original interview: We were all nervous, this was an important fellow, and very influential fellow. Well, at the end of the day, we had a good time, he had a good time, and the interview was a big hit.

Flash forward to this recent show in Boston, and this interview was one of the highlights of the whole show: For Todd and I, for our client, and for the CEO of the show. His participation on the show is a big part of his regular show routine now: a great chance to showcase the highlights of the show, push the big themes, and promote the big events going on at the show.

But wait ’til you hear what happens next…

Prepping for our chat with Ambassador Wager...

Prepping for our chat with Ambassador Wager…

15. A week before the event, we get a note from our client that we were going to have the honor of interviewing the U.S. Ambassador to Singapore on the show.

Well, that’s cool. But when you are about to sit down for three days and interview 70 people, you are more focused on that big task ahead. But come, Wednesday morning, when this critical interview is approaching, you begin to realize the importance of this conversion:

Not only to you, but to your client. And then, well, to everyone else. By the time Kirk Wager sat down down at our studio, and twenty people were standing around our studio to listen in, you realize how important this interview was to many people.

But here’s the magic of what Trade Show Radio is all about.

Remember David Lafrance, the AWWA CEO mentioned in the last note? He actually came back, walked across his GIANT trade show floor to come back to MY CLIENT’s booth to listen HIMSELF to this interview…to see what this guy had to say.

Following the interview with the Ambassador, LaFrance walked over to my client, and said: “You don’t know how important you guys are to us.”

So…

I ask you…what did this mean to MY client?

So, to recap: I’ve said we do Trade Show Radio to help our clients achieve three things: (1) Expedite relationships with business prospects, (2) Network with influencers in their market space, and (3) provide content to help all with market education.

I hope this long-form essay helps you understand how Trade Show Radio achieves all three of these.

Trade Show Radio…disrupting how organizations connect with customers and prospects…

Final note: If you want to talk with Travis or Pat, both of Water Online, and explore with them how they use and benefit from Trade Show Radio, I am happy to make those arrangements. In fact, you can CLICK HERE to listen to the two of them discuss.

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Paul Jarvis: Are YOU a good creative?

Paul JarvisVery much a pleasure to welcome Paul Jarvis to the show today! Paul is an author, web designer, and gentleman of adventure. You can find him here.

He joins me today to discuss his latest book, The Good Creative: 18 ways to make better art.

Discussion guide from today’s show:

1. How do you define a creative?
2. How do you define art?
3. Did we really need another book on this topic?
4. Aren’t we all creatives? Don’t we all create art?
5. Isn’t the mindset shift that comes with accepting this really when the magic really happens?
6. The book is organized around 18 habits. So, why habits? And not rules, laws, or steps?
7. You say that we have to embrace failure. What does this really mean? How do we actually do that?
8. How do you promote yourself without coming across like a used car salesman?

You can find Paul’s book here (affiliate link):
The Good Creative

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This is episode 114.

20 (or more) random observations from a trade show, Circa 2014

As I write this, I am at 34,000 feet on Delta #105 from Boston Logan en route to Atlanta’s Hartsfield airport.

Just came off yet another trade show radio gig, broadcasting Water Online Radio from AWWA’s ACE2014 exposition. As I do at virtually any trade show I broadcast from, I observed some things that any of you who exhibit from a trade show can benefit from. Me included. Let’s begin:

1. Organizations are spending way too much cash on the wrong things. If the goal is to expedite relationships with prospects, trying to outspend your competition most likely won’t do it for you.

Todd Schnick

At Fenway Park this week

2. If you organize events, what’s the true purpose? One company organized an event at Fenway Park. Now, as a Red Sox fan, this was way cool for me. I got to tour all around the historic ballpark, got to see things the general public doesn’t get to see, and capture some memories that will last a lifetime. But I will soon forget who actually hosted the event. I actually spoke to not one representative from the host company at the event itself. What’s the point? We estimate, conservatively, a half a million dollars was spent to put on this gala when you include food, beverage, and access to a Major League ballpark. There are better ways to connect with prospects.

3. One thousand(ish) exhibitors at the trade show. A majority of these exhibits had severals guys standing around doing nothing. Why are you even there?

4. A lot of the larger companies served beer to attendees. As a radio host, this is great. As an attendee, this is great. And as an attendee, all this means is that I will walk to your booth, wait in line, get my beer, and then seek the next big company with enough cash to afford a keg. What’s the point? These dudes waiting in line will not remember you.

5. Why do you still put out bowls of candy? Really? Really? Why?

6. I don’t need another flashlight pen, key chain, or stress ball. I’m not going to spend a quarter of a million dollars on your infrastructure improvement solutions because you gave me a ball point pen…

Todd Schnick

My Boston venue this week

7. Trying to capture email addresses from 2,000 people is meaningless, especially when you compare that to doing something special for 50 or so people who really matter to you…

8. When you exhibit, don’t showcase 100 products. Pick a handful that will actually move the needle for your target market, and shine a light on those. Think about who is actually attending the show…

9. Putt putt golf? Did this company really spend thousands to build a putt putt golf course for their 20X20 booth?

10. Most conferences organize keynotes and dozens of technical sessions. If you, or more likely your company, intends to spend thousands sending staff to the show, and your people don’t bother to attend any of the sessions to learn new things, get ahead of coming trends, hear about new ideas, see innovative demonstrations, they ought to be fired.

10.5. Frankly, all the major thought leaders and influencers of YOUR industry are here, all under one roof. If you don’t seek these people out to learn something, you should be ashamed of yourself.

11. If you tell me the show didn’t go well, then it is your fault. One, you shouldn’t have even been there, and you made a poor decision to even attend. Two, you didn’t bother to strategize and schedule meaningful appointments with customers and/or prospects AHEAD OF TIME. Shame on you. But I talked to several companies who blamed the event itself. What a joke…

11.5. Host your own damn conference then…

12. Anyone new you meet at a trade show is FOUND MONEY. That’s the bonus! No, you go to a show to spend time moving and educating people YOU ALREADY KNOW WILL BE THERE. Use your head…

12.5. If your strategy of going to a show is to RANDOMLY meet new prospects, you will fail. If your strategy is to PRAY cool people stop by your booth, you will fail. The exhibits at your booth are designed to educate and inform the people YOU KNOW WILL BE THERE, AND WHO WANT TO GET A DEMO.

13. If you go to a show because of the cool parties, happy hour receptions, and to get a steak dinner on the company dime, you are a loser and are taking advantage of your employer.

14. Why do you spend money on trade show signage and displays that have complex images, diagrams, and hundreds of words? Do you honestly think someone is going to stop and spend ten minutes to read all of that? Do you when you are walking around?

15. This is my personal opinion, but having 25 (or more) employees wearing the same logo-wear golf shirt kind of freaks me out…

16. If I got really lucky, and won every iPad that could be won if if I gave you my email address or put my business card in a bowl, I would have left Boston with 1,638 iPads! Do something original people…

17. I broadcast trade show radio gigs from many different industries and sectors, and one thing I’ve observed from all these shows: There is a younger generation coming up ready to do business on mobile platforms. You better get there, and fast.

18. Please please please don’t put QR codes on all your stuff, and have them drive me to your home page. I am not going to hire someone as unoriginal as you. For goodness sakes, send me to a demo video at least, specific to a product or solution I care about.

19. The trade show organizer is making available, for free, a ton of valuable information on their show website and mobile app. Why in heck aren’t you leveraging that information?

19.5. If nothing else, you know the key people who will be attending. Get their attention. That is your main purpose.

20. I think you are cheating your own organization if you leave the event early. Take advantage of your time there. If you leave early because you don’t really want to be there, you should never have gone in the first place. You just wanted to get out of the office…

Note: This was written on an iPad from seat 24C. No, I did NOT win this iPad at a trade show drawing…

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To see more of my sales and marketing rants, click here.

The power behind my weekly maintenance program

Todd SchnickNearly every weekend, I perform a routine set of tasks that clear my head, clear my desk, and knock out some of the “busy” work that plague me from focusing on my real work.

I like doing it on the weekend, as it seems like a good time to reset everything, clear the decks, and set the table for the coming week.

As a minimalist, this process of mine shouldn’t surprise you, but I find it very liberating. We all get distracted by mindless tasks. We all procrastinate, and performing this weekend ritual sort of gives me permission, and a short window, to bang out a bunch of (nearly) meaningless tasks.

I say (nearly) meaningless. This is actually important stuff. I liken it to maintaining your yard work. If you tend to it regularly, your landscaping always looks nice, and is easy to maintain. If you let it fester, your yard becomes unruly, and then it is a massive project to get caught up.

Doing a little weekly maintenance keeps things in order and under control.

The following are part of my process. I keep a checklist maintained in Evernote, print it out (nearly) every Saturday morning, and work through the weekend to check of the list. Sometimes it takes me 30 minutes. Sometimes it takes me a few hours (over both Saturday and Sunday).

Some of these things will make sense to you. Some won’t. And there are things you should add to YOUR list that won’t make any sense for me. So here goes:

[In no particular order]

REVIEW HIGHRISE Highrise is my operating system, and I run my business and manage my activities through this cloud-based system. Most of my activities below ultimately lead to an action item placed in Highrise, which I’ll stipulate below. Thus, each weekend during maintenance, I review my To Dos and do three things: Remove items I took care of, adjust existing items to URGENT, or remove stuff that is no longer important or relevant. This process is where I set my priorities for the week.

CLEAR VOICE MEMOS Using my iPhone voice recorder, over the course of the week, I capture voice notes to myself, reminders, To Dos, and ideas for content. I might record a half-dozen (or more) of these things. I don’t worry about doing anything with them until I process them during maintenance. And to be honest, going several days without thinking about these ideas usually leads me to deleting them, for many aren’t very good ideas at all.

CLEAR GOOGLE VOICE All voicemails and texts cycle through my Google Voice account, and I generally process most of these during the week. But during maintenance, I quickly scan and delete everything, or move calls to return to Highrise.

INBOX ZERO I just published my INBOX ZERO MANIFESTO, which you can read here. This manifesto explains my reasoning about why I strive for INBOX ZERO. And although I do this daily, I include it in my maintenance routine anyways. There’s just something about knowing you are starting the new week with a clean slate.

CLEAR DESKTOP MACBOOK FOLDER
CLEAR SAVED CALLS SKYPE FOLDER
CLEAR MACBOOK DOWNLOADS FOLDER Over the course of a week, I download, consume, and create a lot of digital files, such as recording raw audio for podcasts, capturing screen shots, downloading PDFs, etc. During maintenance, I review all of these folders and process, move to the right place in Dropbox/Evernote, or simply delete. Monday morning, these files are empty…waiting for new stuff.

CLEAR MOLESKINE NOTEBOOK Over the course of the week, I jot down countless notes, doodles, scratches, and diagrams. Days later, half of these random notes are meaningless, and I check them off. But the other half are action items that need attention, and I move them to Highrise.

PROCESS/REVIEW IPHONE/IPAD NOTES Usually at 4AM, when I am wide awake and thinking, I jot down notes and ideas to myself on my iPhone/iPad. At this hour, my wife is sound asleep and my dogs are snoring, this is some quiet time to write down some notes on things I am thinking about in the wee hours. As part of maintenance, I translate these late night scribbles, and if worth pursuing, transfer them to actions items in Highrise.

CLEAR IPHONE/IPAD PHOTOS/VIDEOS Over the course of a week, I take a ton of pictures and videos on both my iPhone and iPad. 90% of them are deleted. Some are of my important guests in my studio or on a trade show floor. But that’s the purpose of maintenance, deleting the crap that seems relevant at the time when I snapped the photo. ;-)

CLEAR THUMB DRIVE Over the week, I record a bunch of interviews at my studio. I put all of those on my thumb drive. During maintenance, I transfer what needs saving.

REVIEW RAW SKYPE FOLDER Similar to the last one, over the week, I record a TON of conversations over Skype. I have software that automatically saves all these conversations. A majority need to be tossed. That’s what maintenance is for. Some are saved, edited, and published.

REVIEW TEXT MESSAGES Like you, I receive one thousand text messages each week. I review that roll, and delete most, moving to Highrise the things that need action.

PROCESS PHYSICAL INBOX Yeah, believe it or not, I still maintain a physical inbox. Yes, with actual paper. I cannot stand it when this thing has even one item in it. But over the course of a busy week, I get behind, and during maintenance, I process (which means shred, file, or take action on) each item in my physical inbox.

PROCESS BACKPACK Over the course of a week, especially if I am traveling on a trade show radio gig, I accumulate a lot of crap in various and sundry pockets of my backpack. As part of maintenance, I routinely clean out and discard all of the crap and junk that accumulates.

CHARGE DESKTOP SPEAKER I have a small, hand-sized Bluetooth speaker on which I listen to music when working (and traveling). As part of maintenance, I charge this device whilst focusing on other tasks.

CHARGE IPAD CHARGERS Same thing. Every weekend, I check to be sure that my auxiliary iPad charging units are fully charged. This is particularly important if I am on the road on a trade show gig.

CHECK TWITTER DIRECT MESSAGES
CHECK FACEVBOOK PRIVATE MESSAGES
CHECK LINKEDIN MESSAGES
Over the course of a week, I get dozens and dozens of private messages sent to me via Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. I generally manage them as I get them, but oftentimes these get lost in the daily shuffle. Reviewing these during maintenance just ensures that I didn’t overlook anything. Most of these actions items get pushed into Highrise.

PROCESS BUSINESS CARDS I don’t get as many business cards as I used to, but I still use Evernote to photograph the cards, sync to LinkedIn, and take any appropriate action. I do this each week during maintenance.

DEDUPE CONTACTS I am a Google guy, and use their platform as my main contact database. But using Gmail, iPhone, iPad, and Evernote to process, each maintenance session I run through and dedupe my lists to be sure things are synced amongst all my devices.

SCAN HIGHRISE (AGAIN) As you now know, I feed a lot of content into HIGHRISE over the course of the week. And over the course of the week, I will complete tasks, add tasks, remove tasks – and sometimes I miss things. So during maintenance, I review my ENTIRE to do list, and make sure I didn’t miss anything. This usually entails multiple steps: delete things I forgot to remove, add tasks I forgot to add, remove duplicative tasks, or delete things that are no longer relevant (this happens a lot).

So that’s it for now. This process continuously evolves, and changes often. This version is as of June 2014. I promise to update this post as my process changes.

But you get the point. Half of what you see here won’t apply to you. But you get the idea. The point? Make a list of things to review EACH weekend, in a serious attempt to keep and maintain UNcreative, yet very important tasks to keep on top of your workflow.

These are the kinds of little things that lead to procrastination. But if you keep on top of it, and focus for a little bit each weekend, your BUSINESS WEEKS can remain free to focus on the IMPORTANT AND CREATIVE WORK your clients expect of you.

Good luck.

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