Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Sales Tip Of the Day

Don't Sell Past the Close - In other words, after convincing your customer don't keep pitching the product. If you do you will seem uncertain, making the customer think maybe he missed something.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Only 365 Days...

...until I turn 40.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

I Went to Stonehenge....Sort Of

Ian: Are you telling me that this is it? This is scenery? Have you ever been to Stonehenge?

Artist: No, I haven't been to Stonehenge.

Ian: The triptychs are...the triptychs are twenty feet high. You can stand four men up them!

Artist: Ian, I was...I was...I was supposed to build it eighteen inches high.

Ian: This is insane. This isn't a piece of scenery!

From: This is Spinal Tap

Did you know that there is a Stonehenge in Texas? It's located in the Hill Country, just outside of Hunt, and I swung by to take a picture when I was in the area a few weeks ago:

The only problem is that it is a wee smaller than the original.

It is about 1/3 scale and hollow, not made out of rock. There is also some Easter Island Moai next to it, putting it even more out of place.

Just an example of what those wacky Texans can do every once in a while.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Great New Series: Mad Men

I stumbled across the new AMC series Mad Men last night and was really taken in. Set in a 1960 advertising agency, the series follows the office politics and love life of a small set of ad executives and their secretaries.

The settings are great, really bringing to life the offices, bars and attire of 1960. It is interesting watching how it portrays business back then, when men were men and women were, at best, secretaries looking for husbands. The funny parts are seeing what was acceptable in an Manhattan ad agency back then - everything from chain smoking to pouring yourself a drink at 11am out of your office bar.

The first episode is running a few more times this week and I recommend catching it to see how you like it.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

"Precision" Questioning and Answering

One of my "areas of development" this year is to develop a more concise businesss communication style. There have been complaints that when someone asks me the time I tell them how to make a watch.

So I was interested when someone in the company forwarded me some material on "Precision Questioning and Answering", which the consulting company of course abbreviated to PQ and PA.

Looking through the material (some of it free on their website), a lot of it seems common sense, but does address two issues why concise communication is needed:

  1. Executives are overloaded with information and don't want the thorny details, just the high-level information they need. They hired you, after all, to take care of the fine print.

  2. There simply isn't time to go into the details of every project. "Drilling down" would make meetings take hours and emails last pages. This points are driven home when you start moving out of operational and departmental meetings and start participating in executive and board meetings. The information traded is brief, concise and rapid. There is no "drill down", and you would be amazed on how (seemingly) little information is used to make decisions.

There is nothing earth shattering in the material, but it's nice for a refresher on how to better communicate to senior management.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Quick Potter Phoenix Review

Before I started feeling sick on Saturday, but probably contagious, I took Little Miss Director to a crowded theater to see the latest Potter movie.

Overall I think it is one of the best of the series, but also the darkest. The plot moves quickly and has a lot of suspense. There were a few scenes I felt were "forced" into the plot line, I assume to follow the book (a scene involving a giant comes to mind), but overall the movie came together quite nicely.

(Last month I did try to read the book but was bored to death after 100 pages and put it away. Once authors become successful they acquire power over their editors, refusing cuts and edits, ending up in bloated, boring manuscripts - Steven King and Tom Clancy are perfect examples. I read only the first Potter book years ago, and based on that one data point it would seem that Rowling has joined the club).

An interesting aspect of the movies is seeing the actors grow up. They are now young adults rather than cute kids. The Weasley twins really looked out of place in a high school.

Four out of five stars.

Monday, July 16, 2007

With All My Travel It Was Bound To Happen

There are three stages of advanced sickness:

1. You think you are going to die
2. You hope you are going to die
3. You worry you are not going to die

Fortunately I never even reached stage 1, but I was pretty sick this weekend with all the classical flu symptoms. I broke out my stockpile of Tamiflu and after 48 hours have gotten rid of the major symptoms, but am still pretty fatigued. With an incubation period of 1-3 days, it means I picked this up in Taiwan or more likely on the plane ride back.

The common refrain from friends and family was that it is surprising it took so long for me to finally catch something during all my travels.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Sleeping on an Idea is Sometimes a Bad Idea

When a Brave wanted to have a vision he would go up into the hills and deprive himself of sleep. Putting rocks between his toes and using other methods to induce pain, he would keep himself up for days until the gods would talk to him, showing him images of the future, the paths he should take, and enlightenment.

This modern day warrior experiences sleep-deprived hallucinations on a monthly basis thanks to jetlag and the general inability to sleep on planes. I stay up for 30 or more hours regularly. It is an interesting experience, for at first there is a period of intense sleepiness and fatigue, making the ability to think straight nearly impossible. Then on the other side of that thoughts start arranging themselves again, but in a pattern I am unable to control. Creativity flows on its own as ideas pour forth from my mind. Blog entries, novel outlines, symphony compositions all rush forth at a speed I am unable to write down. I tell myself I will remember them all and write them down later, but I never do.

When sleep finally overtakes me, the ideas leave, the muse goes away, and all I am left with the vague idea that I had some pretty good ideas that I can’t quite remember.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Working in the Rain Forest

Instead of putting me up in Taipei for this trip, my local sales guy put me in a resort hotel in the middle of the country. It is actually a very nice facility, and I was surprised to find that I have one wall made entirely of glass looking out into what is practically a rain forest.

It has cooled down to 90 degrees in the evening and the cicadas are singing, reminding me a lot of my old home town of Houston...

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Good Powerpoint Tips in Comedy Format

This is a pretty good stand-up routine that actually has some good advice on Powerpoint.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

I Almost Spit My Coffee Onto My Computer Screen

Here is an "ad" for Cialis starring Cuba Gooding Junior. It's a good thing I am working out of the house since this is not work-safe, but really funny.

iPhone Review From a Non-Owner

I wandered down to the Mac store on July 4 and played with the iPhone for 15-20 minutes. From my brief fling, here is my overview:

The Good - This is just one awesome portable web browser. Seeing the whole page then zooming in and out with the "pinching" motion is just genius on a portable device like this. Of course the iTunes music and movie modes are also good, and you would expect that.

The Bad - The touch screen keypad is just horrible. Even with its "predictive" software, most of what I typed ended up as garbage. Typing emails was a major effort, and was about the same speed as someone just learning to hunt and peck. Typing in web pages longer then three letters was a major effort; typing in "www.windowmanger.blogspot.com" took forever, even with the ".com" key they thoughtfully provide. They say that this gets better "after a few days", but I seriously doubt it in my case.

My overall recommendation is that if your primary use of a smart phone is web browsing, then run out and buy this thing (if you have a spare $500 lying around). If your primary use is email - and you are used to a Crackberry or Blackjack - then avoid.

The ultimate phone will be when either Apple or an enterprising rip-off marries the touch screen web functionality to a real keyboard.