What’s Your ROI?

ROI, return on investment.  It’s a common business term to explain what one gets in return for their investment whether it’s time, money or resources.  Ultimately the desired return is something greater than the investment: profits, incremental sales, increased market share….etc.

Now look at yourself, your life, your job.  Let’s say that you invest 8 hours at a desk or office, another few hours driving to your job and home.  That’s a significant investment of time and resources (car, mind, body) but now the important question: what’s the return?  What did you get?  Riches, stature, respect?

Or when you look in the mirror do you see some extra pounds in the mid section, high blood pressure, road rage?

Wherever, you may be in your life or career, just think if you had to cash out today would you be happy with your return?

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Quick Take #3

If you consider yourself a “perfectionist” then why wake up and get out of bed in the morning?
I’m no perfectionist. I get up every morning, strap some shoes on my feet and get to work because there’s always some way to make things just a little better.

Quick Take #2

As long as you’re moving forward you’re making progress. Even if you sometimes stumble and fall, by falling forward you can still chalk it up to progress.

Quick Take #1

If you’re afraid to live then die and if you’re afraid to die then live.

“You can’t see me!”…May work for John Cena but…

WWE wrestling superstar John Cena is an electrifying athlete.  He can power slam and jump off the ring ropes like a super charged Incredible Hulk.  With that in mind it’s interesting to note that the catch phrase he is most known for (and is sold on t-shirts with his face on them) is, “You can’t see me.”  John uses this catch phrase as a way to taunt his opponents and rile the crowd.

“You can’t see me.”  Saying that works for superstar John Cena but guess what?  You’re not John Cena.

To have an impact at anything you do: career, college classes, sports be seen.  To make an impact or impression you have to be noticed.  To be noticed you have to work, get your hands dirty and get what’s yours.

My catch phrase would be the antithesis to John’s.  I would say, “You CAN see me!”  Make that catch phrase yours (unless you’re John Cena).

Have you run a marathon? And I’m not talking running

I work out quite regularly and there have been some occasions when people have asked me, “are you training for marathon?” Or “have you run a marathon?”  I have actually never “run” a marathon and probably never will (running that far ain’t my bag) but that does not mean I will never accomplish a “marathon”.

Looking up the definition of a marathon one would find the following: “An event or activity that requires prolonged effort or endurance.”  A marathon takes discipline, will, desire and endurance to complete.  So what is your marathon?

Sometimes my “marathon” is taking on the task of changing a historical corporate process or culture that has become outdated.  It takes many meetings, emails, discussions, but I keep focused and envision crossing the finish line in my head – change; a new direction and I can finally breathe a sigh relief.

Lace up your shoes, get warmed up and make your move.

Silver bullets do more than kill werewolves (they kill sales)

Even though I primarily classify myself as a “marketing professional” I have also had my share of sales experience as well.  My time spent in sales was enjoyable but ultimately not the best fit for me.  Don’t get me wrong; even though sales may not have worked for me it has helped me greatly in my marketing career.  It helped me to understand not only the end consumer but also how products are brought into the marketplace: store owners, business owners…etc.

Currently working in product marketing I often hear comments from sales asking for one more new item, one more item that will help them make their numbers and as I hear these comments I understand where they are coming from but looking at these requests from an overall market strategy standpoint I cannot accommodate such requests.

When I get these requests from sales they are always looking for that one item or product that will be their savior, it will be their silver bullet.  To me silver bullets only live in Lone Ranger or werewolf tales, there are no silver bullets – especially in sales.

I always envisioned sales as an oil pipeline.  As long as I always had oil flowing in that pipeline times were good but when that pipeline began to run dry it was time to pound the pavement, and like oil, sales sources are a limited resource.  As soon as you find a new source of sales you better be looking for what’s next for when that one dries up.

So I say keep watching those scary werewolf flicks just don’t take their tales of silver bullet solutions from the silver screen to reality.

Life is a lot like a day with the horses

I recently saw highlights on ESPN of the Preakness horse race.  It was a great race with many different story angles giving it a cinematic sense of drama all the way up to the shocking victory by an underdog.

Taking a step back from the sport itself I began to think – A horse race is a lot like life.

So how could this be true?  Here are a couple of ways I see it….

  • To get ahead and be prepared takes a lot of work and practice, nothing comes easy.
  • When a big day comes you want to look your best:  Nicely groomed hair, clean nails and eye-catching accessories.
  • Even the most trained, the strongest, those with exceptional breeding and backgrounds sometimes get beat by someone not as talented or trained.
  • If you want to win big you have to take a chance.
  • When you think you’ve got it bad there is always someone else close by who is in a bigger hole than you are.
  • Victory is only momentary.  Winning today means the pressure to repeat is on for tomorrow.
  • Sometimes you step in sh#%t and well….that just happens.

Is your company set to drive like a poorly pimped out ride?

Have you ever been driving on the road and in your rear view mirror or driving next to you is an old, beat up, Dodge Neon?  But this isn’t just any old Dodge Neon; it’s Dodge Neon that has been pimped out.  It has a rear spoiler the size of a whale’s tail, it has more lights on it then an airport landing strip and it’s tire rims put a disco ball to shame.

The car that I have described and I’m sure everyone has seen at some point may look “cool” or interesting at best but when it comes down to it’s core, it’s engine, it will never be something that is fast, strong or intimidating on road – it’s always going to be a little Dodge Neon.

The same goes with companies, maybe your company.  I work with sales people and they always say if we only has one more product, just made a product bigger, a different color we would be beating our sales goals.

I realize where these requests from sales are coming from but when I steps back and look at the whole business model, sales strategy and market status it becomes clear that another product is not the answer.

If you stand back and see cracks in the models or strategies you could introduce thousands of products but none will go anywhere because they fall through the cracks.  You need to fix those cracks, strengthen the overall system and doing that will ensure any amount or type of product introductions will be a success.

Just like that poorly pimped out Dodge Neon, don’t pimp out your company with needless product introductions that rest atop weak structure.  Invest in a strong engine; a sound strategy and that will turn more heads as you blaze down the road.

Tend to innovation like a garden

I am sure that at one point or another in one’s corporate career you will or have experienced some type of planning or strategizing “retreat”.

These retreats are usually off-site from the corporate walls so people can get away from all distractions and just focus on the company’s future and moving ahead (I have had the “pleasure” of experiencing many of these first hand).  At these retreats top management and executives will spout rhetoric of the future like a fire and brimstone preacher, people fill up white boards with brainstorming sessions and at the end the result is usually some plans or next steps that everyone in the group believes will be innovative and move the company ahead of the competition (it’s almost like a cult brainwashing).

The problem I often see and have experienced with these retreats is that they do momentarily get everyone away from all the distractions of the office but when the retreat ends and everyone returns to the office they also unfortunately return those distractions as well.  Time passes, the enthusiasm of the retreat wears off and all those well thought out plans begin to fade into the background of the corporate walls.

The best way I have ever been told envision innovation is not to think about it in terms of  a processes or machine but a garden; Innovation like a garden should be continuous, year round and sometimes a real choir.

Don’t get me wrong I am not saying these corporate retreats are bad or worthless but the retreat should be thought of as having a start and finish but rather a start – you plant the seed and no finish in site.  Once the seed of innovation is planted it is now  a daily choir or responsibility.  You have to keep it alive and tend to it’s every need.  You may toil daily, long and hard but the fruits of your labor are all yours to enjoy.

Here’s to innovating with a green thumb.