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Preview: The Small Biz. Guru / Smart Business Guru

The Small Biz. Guru / Smart Business Guru

Updated: 2018-03-05T18:31:55.287-05:00


Ironman Miami.. Whoops! Ironman Access Whoops!


Company Does What A Lot Will Not... Take ResponsibilityRefreshing. That is as simple as I can put it. I feel like I bit into a York Peppermint Patty . We live in a world where businesses may preach transparency, but typically they try to blame others for issues, and/or deny ownership. Consumers often feel that they are powerless and are never heard. Brands and images take a huge hit and unless a company is really listening, it may never know, and I believe that many do not care. Social media may provide an opportunity for instant feedback, but many companies are too slow to move or do not move. However, what I saw from the World Triathlon Corporation (WTC), who owns the Ironman Triathlon brand and its CEO, Ben Fertic, in response to Ironman Miami 70.3 and Ironman Access shows one thing: this company understands that its brand is precious and "image is everything".While some of you have not experienced the sweet nectar that is Triathlon, the Ironman Brand puts on events that are extremely organized, prepared, and well-run (and, oh so hard). Having put on bicycle races in the past, I know most participants do not even know how much of a logistical nightmare these races are and they should not care since they are investing so much. The entry fees alone may cost anywhere from $200-$1000 and this does not include their travel, equipment, and lodging. Participants have invested money and more importantly hundreds of hours in training for an event. When things go wrong, they are going to voice their opinions. Enter Ironman Miami 70.3 and the licensee, Paramount Productions.The short and sweet of what happened was that the WTC licensed its name/brand "Ironman" to another company to host an event in South Florida. Little did they know, there would be major issues that would reflect on them. The consensus was that the event was poorly organized. We're talking participants did not have enough access to water or porta-potties, street conditions were hazardous, etc. Can you imagine racing (for non-pros) four to eight hours in this? If you want more information, the story is here. One participant was quoted saying,“Ironman, you should be embarrassed.”Yikes. Not good. Word of mouth alone could destroy this location's event (the inaugural one at that) and would reflect on Ironman as a whole. A brand relies on the trust and relationships between the company and consumer. It is what personifies them. This is a company that understands its customers and the extreme need to protect its image and brand. Hello, Johnson & Johnson and the Tylenol Nightmare. Ironman came out with a press release saying they are taking over the race for 2011 and are waiving their entry fee to their next event. AWESOME.Here is why this press release and action should be a template for all businesses.Briefly explained the situation and apologizedAcknowledged the dissatisfactionPut in writing the steps they are taking to resolve the situationOffered a pass for another eventHow can a participant be mad with that response? That is how one keeps their brand safe. Acknowledge the issues, apologizes, and works to resolve. I am not saying that a poorly managed athletic event compares to people dying, but the marketing lessons are similar. WTC seems to have followed the J&J example. I dug up an article from 1986 about the J&J Tylenol issue and the way it was handled left this image in the minds of its consumers.Johnson & Johnson seems to have built up considerable public confidence. ''Nobody blamed Tylenol, nobody blamed J.& J.,'' said Judith Langer, the president of Langer Associates, a market research concern. If Ironman either ignored this or simply apologized, the event next year would certainly suffer.The reaction to the WTC’s actions was pretty positive. Fred Mehrer posted “Way to step up WTC”, while Miami resident Andreai Nana said “Admitting fault and offering a clear plan to correct the mistake was the right thing to do.”WTC was trying something new (Ironman Access) to try to expand and enhance the [...]

BlackBerry Bold 9700 Review


My Renewed "Engagement Ring"While this review is rather delayed, better late than never. Especially since this phone is now free with promos.Why upgrade to the BlackBerry Bold 9700?Initial Needs: 3G phone FINALLY! Send/receive emails and talk on the phone at the same time (thank you AT&T network!), and a sleeker /more compact size.The link for all the nitty-gritty details is at the bottom.Here Is My Review:Ease-of-Use:Buttons: Moving from the 8820 to the Bold was a welcomed change. The QWERTY keyboard is smaller and more compact. At first, it is a little difficult, but I quickly adapted to the change. The buttons on the Bold are precise even with no spaces between them, but are easy to hit. My larger hands do not have problems with the keys.Call Quality: Much better than my 8820. No complaints. The occasional dropped call, but no different than any other network.Scroll Track Ball Pad: The TRACK pad is awesome. This is probably my favorite upgrade on the phone. No more ball! It occasionally doesn't respond immediately (less than the scroll ball), but it is very fluid most of the time.Battery Life: It does a great job. On my three to four day trips, I was never worried. But, I do not talk all day on the phone.Extra Features: The phone has a stop watch, timer, and many more games. It also has applications to work with Microsoft Excel (read, edit, etc) and Word. The back of the phone is leather which helps prevent it from sliding around too much. The trim is metal, which continues to make the phone look sleek.Access: 3G is amazing. Being on the AT&T network allows me to talk and text at the same time. I rarely have issues with dropped calls. This is vital when on a conference call and I need to reply to emails during. This phone is Wi-Fi capable. It is nice to be able to access the internet faster when in a hot spot.Screen: It is pretty sweet. No complaints on the resolution. The colors are very rich and sharp.Camera: Pretty good camera for a camera phone. However, I never really use it. If you want to shoot video, you need to buy a memory card.Accessories: The two ear phone head set is great. It is weird listening to a phone call with 'surround' sound.A Couple Notes:-The phone would occasionally load while on.... meaning that a pesky hour glass would show itself and not let me use my phone for a few minutes. I do not know why it did it, but it was frustrating at times.-While using the track pad, sometimes when I scroll up, my fingers go off the pad and rub the screen, slowing my scroll. It could just be me, but it happened every so often.-The phone may feel cheaper to some people, but I assure you, it is not. It is just a lot lighter than other phones.-The 9700 is on AT&T's network.Overall:Pros:*Easy to use*AMAZING screen resolution / colorful*Visual voice mail*Light*Compact for a full QWERTY keyboard*3G Internet Access*Wi-FI*Email / Voice simultaneously*Track Pad*Small and compactCons:*Phone has to load -- annoying hour glass*Track Pad is slightly too close to screenIn closing:Upgrading to this phone was great. The aesthetics on the phone are superior to my previous phones. The track pad and 3G service is fantastic . The amazing screen resolution allows you to see documents and websites clearly. Despite the occasional need for the phone to load while on is not a deal breaker. I would highly recommend this smart phone.9.3/10Here is the Link to BlackBerry's Official Page~ the GURU[...]

Blackberry Bold 9700 Review


A review of the Blackberry Bold 9700 is in the works!!

Ask and You Shall Receive


I pulled this from July 2008 blurb from BusinessWeek (sorry no link). Wow. Long time. However, it remains relevant as things have been turn up-side in the world.Driving Sustainable Innovation in Tough TimesPosted by: on July 09While many companies are hunkering down during the current economic storm, smart companies understand that it is critical to drive the market, instead of being driven down by it. CEOs have to be committed to sustainable innovation, and management must make its commitment to innovation palpable. Here are several ways for management to drive the innovation culture at your company:•Invest in people. Develop innovation capabilities by providing innovation best-practices training.•Reward wanted behavior. Publicly reward those who distinguish themselves as innovators. Two examples: Create annual innovators awards. Build a wall of innovation. •Invest in infrastructure to support sustainable innovation.•Visibility to corporate objectives. Often investment is wasted on ideas that are doomed from the start because they are not aligned with the needs of the company. Knowledge-workers must be able to integrate corporate strategy into their innovation paths. •Practice innovation. Workers must practice innovation in everything they do. Managers must support innovation workers and not push employees to short-circuit the solution process. Managers who avoid taking responsibility for driving an innovation culture by using the crutch of "adoption must be a grassroots thing" will always be met with failure and left wondering why they can't achieve their repeatable innovation goals. James TodhunterChief Technology OfficerInvention MachineBostonInvesting in people.... a hard concept to believe in currently, given the extremely high levels of unemployment. People are always the first to go due to the knee-jerk reaction of "cutting costs." It is one thing if it is a lazy or extremely under performing employee, but if you wipe-out the heart of your business, the people, it is harder to innovate and adapt. Businesses cannot expect their computers to change their business for them. It takes the insight of your employees on what needs to be changed to move forward.Everyone is worried about costs. Sales drop off and revenue is not coming in, so survival is, of course, one's goal. However, survival will not come from ridding the people. How are sales supposed to come in? How are new markets supposed to be tapped? How can the business model change? How can anything be changed for the better without people?Innovation is a scary word for some. I think a lot of people believe it strictly involves some expensive computer system or technology that is thrown into the business and expected to do all the work. Or that it is for the "big guys".Let's take a restaurant for example. Margins are typically very slim for some establishments, so wherever they can save costs and increase revenues/traffic is a major plus. I think simply signing up for Twitter or Facebook is innovating. The business is increasing its exposure to a internet-socially networked obsessed demographic. Using Twitter to spread information about meal specials to those 'select few' who follow is free! FREE! For instance, a teenager is checking Facebook/Twitter and sees the specials. When the parents ask about where they should go for dinner, the teenager can suggest the restaurant and the specials. It eliminates the guess work. To me, this is innovation. You are changing a portion of your business model to lower costs, but increase traffic..... all for free. Before all the business magazines and media stations talked about Twitter, I bet if you asked the sixteen year old server, he would have told you about this... oh, but wait, you let him go.If you lose people, how will ideas like this surface? Open the lines of communication in your business before letting people go. You will be amazed at how people will come up with ideas to help save costs and[...]

Review Update: Blackberry Curve (Verizon) & 8820 (AT&T)


A Few More Months of Testing

Blackberry 8820

*This phone is AWFUL in the wind. The input microphone is right below the keypad on the right, so the wind easily rushes right past it.

*The keyboard is nice to type on. I wish the buttons were slightly more crisp in responsiveness, but all in all, I like them.

*Why does the input language keep switching?!!! Even when I have the phone locked, it changes my language preset. It bothers me that when I try to write an email sometimes, it comes out in a different language.

*The microphone may be too close to the speaker's mouth so the person on the other end hears your voice as slightly muddled.

*AT&T's Edge Network: FASTER than Verizon's 1xEV. (Non-3G phones) Don't believe anything else.

Blackberry Curve

*This phone is much better in the wind than the 8820. I believe the reason is because the microphone is on the bottom edge of the phone.

*The keypad buttons are too spaced out, so I have to "peck" more at the buttons. The buttons could be bigger.

*Input language does not change ever.

*Verizon's Network: SLOWER than AT&T's. (Non-3G phones)

~the GURU

Brief Response to the Article


Things Change So QuicklyI was very fortunate to be contacted by Rachel Brown, a free lance writer, who was writing about rural telecommunications, businesses, and the potential effects of the economy. I was contacted in the early Summer (before things, well, got stirred up..)The excerpt pertinent to my section: Focusing on the business side of the shop, another analyst said small telcos may actually benefit from a recession as businesses turn to them for a competitive edge. "Most small businesses realize that you get what you pay for," explained Zane Schweer, a small business telecommunications specialist. "If they skimp on telecommunications, it's not a good business move. You need telecommunications to survive. It's how you pull in clients, it's how you place orders, it's how you communicate." For most companies, telecommunications is only 3% to 5% of the budget, Schweer said, adding that in a recession, many will look to additional telecommunications services to improve their bottom line. "Telecommunications is what drives businesses forward," he said. "It's not just a budget cost; it's an investment and revenue generator. A lot of businesses are looking to grow. They're not scared of an economic downturn." Schweer also questioned whether the economy is truly in terrible shape. "If you turn on the news, it's all negative and there's too much emphasis on the economy," he said. "They don't focus on the positives." Even the high cost of gas can be viewed positively, Schweer said. "Gas prices are pinching people, but it spurs innovation," he said, adding that telecommunications solutions can lower gas consumption. "Say that you have a fleet of trucks. With wireless and tracking technology, you can ensure that no one's getting lost or taking extra trips. If a driver comes in and has a 30-minute detour, you can ask, 'What's this about?"' Higher gas prices also will spur video conferencing, Schweer said. "It's not as personal [as face-to-face meetings], but after 9/11, it's much cheaper and safer," he said. "And with cameras that move in the room and offer three-dimensional pictures, it almost feels as if you're there." RTFC's Buchanan agreed that the green movement is growing. "In a world with increased energy costs, telecommunications assumes an even greater importance," he said, speculating that high gas prices will spur more telecommuting. "If people work from home, they'll need high-speed access to get into their company's virtual private network, so that means more broadband installations." King and West said they haven't seen a huge shift toward telecommuting yet, but King agreed it's still a positive trend for rural carriers. "More people working from home translates into increased usage in residential landlines and increased demand for broadband," he said. As another gas-saving example, Schweer cited a salesman who drives to client A and then back to headquarters to check e-mail and voice mail and then drives to client B. "With a BlackBerry, he can log in remotely and drive directly to client B," Schweer said. "In rural areas especially, this can translate into big distances--it's not uncommon to have 50 to 75 miles between clients. You want to be as efficient as possible, and telecommunications is what allows that."I wanted to comment quickly on a couple of my remarks. I am sure some of you laughed when I said business' telecom. budgets are 3-5% of their expenses. It certainly depends on the industry and the type of customer. For example to look at the far extremes, an ISP provider's telecom expense is going to be fairly high (ie investing in a huge pipe of bandwidth and redundancy) while a Quickie shop would barely have any (ie couple lines and a DSL).The blurring of the telecommunications[...]

The Guru was Interviewed


The GURU was briefly interviewed about Telecom.

A telco survival guide

The interview took place in the early summer, so some of my viewpoints have since shifted and I'll discuss them on a later post.

~the GURU

Would You Bet On It?


Avoiding These Dangers Can Save Your Business

"Seven Ways To Fail Big"

Adapted from "Seven Ways to Fail Big," the September 2008 Harvard Business Review article by Paul B. Carroll and Chunka Mui

As the economy continues to keep us guessing, it is even more critical that each move you make, makes sense! Watch the 10 minute seminar to get a brief overview.

~the GURU

Telecom. 101 -- Video Style


My New "Engagement Ring"I reviewed the BlackBerry Curve (Verizon) a couple months ago and this month I reviewed the BlackBerry 8820 (AT&T).Why a BlackBerry 8820?Initial Needs: Send/receive emails, ease of use when it came to typing emails, ability for clients to reach me out of the office, easy to use/view calendar to schedule work. This BlackBerry is provided for work, not personal use.I could bore you with all the specific specifications about the phone, but most users just want a phone that works. (There is a link at the bottom for all the nitty-gritty details) As a result, I am detailing my experiences with the phone through out my work day.Here Is My Review:Ease-of-Use:Buttons: Typing on the 882o is amazing! Compared to my BB Curve, where the buttons have small spaces between them and are smaller, the buttons on the 8820 are full, rectangular, and easy to hit. When it comes to dialing phone numbers, it is slightly more difficult (compared to a regular cell phone) as there are many more keys and the numbers are on the left side. Nevertheless, despite my bigger hands, I have no real problem punching in the numbers.Call Quality: The voice on the other end is pretty clear. The phone does have an "airy" sound during the call, which is somewhat distracting and makes it at times a little hard to hear. However, I do not have my ear piece volume all the way up. It can go to a very loud setting. For me, I have it set at the second softest level. The main issue with the call quality is when I am speaking, the phone seems to have "bounce back". I feel my voice is bouncing off the phone.Scroll Ball: The scroll ball is the main way the user maneuvers between applications. It is utilized by either moving it up, down, left, or right. The user can also press it to make selections instead of the arrow enter key on the keyboard (see image below). I have no problems scrolling in either direction. (On the Curve, it does not scroll as well to the left)Battery Life: It does a good job. I will say I have not been using it non-stop yet, just emails and a couple calls, so I do not feel ready to give input on battery life. I will update this portion later.Navigation: The user explores the phone through the 5 top bar buttons. Predominately, I use the scroll ball, the multi-dot button, and the half-circled arrow button. The multi-dot button allows me to bring up prompts for more detailed windows and to access the full list of applications. The half-arrow button allows me to go-back a screen. Then of course, is the scroll ball which the user uses to select and click the desired applications.The phone comes with loads of applications, which clutters the navigation fields. As a result, I have hidden most of them as they are entertainment based applications. This is a work-phone, it's supposed to be bland. Haha! It is very easy to customize the phone. I can move my more frequently used applications to my main screen. I can select one option to associate with the side button on the phone for rapid selection. I have the ringer control on the left quick button. One issue I have with customizing the screen is that I cannot have the "L" shaped icon set-up compared to my Curve. I am not sure if this is a Verizon vs. AT&T phone thing or not.Access: This phone is Wi-Fi capable and I used it the other day. It is nice to be able to access the internet faster when in a hot spot. It moves pretty quickly. I have not tried the GPS nor any of the additional applications. I've been on the EDGE network, no 3G cities yet, but I have no complaints. I cannot wait to try it on the 3G network.Screen: It is pretty sweet. No complaints on the resolution. The colors are very rich. Compared to the Curve, the screen colors are brighter and not as dull/fuzzy. They are also slightly sharper. I do clean it often as[...]