Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Sugata Mitra: The Child-Driven Education - AWEsome Talk!

Education scientist Sugata Mitra tackles one of the greatest problems of education -- the best teachers and schools don't exist where they're needed most. In a series of real-life experiments from New Delhi to South Africa to Italy, he gave kids self-supervised access to the web and saw results that could revolutionize how we think about teaching.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Steven Johnson: Where Good Ideas Come From

People often credit their ideas to individual "Eureka!" moments. But Steven Johnson shows how history tells a different story. His fascinating tour takes us from the "liquid networks" of London's coffee houses to Charles Darwin's long, slow hunch to today's high-velocity web.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Sheena Lyengar On The Art Of Choosing

Sheena Iyengar studies how we make choices -- and how we feel about the choices we make. At TEDGlobal, she talks about both trivial choices (Coke v. Pepsi) and profound ones, and shares her groundbreaking research that has uncovered some surprising attitudes about our decisions.

Excellent talk.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

What is Zappos? We think our ten core values give you a good indication of who we are!

Get to know this company for what you can learn to make your business rock! Get the book Delivering Happiness - A Path To Profits, Passion, and Purpose by Tony Hsieh, CEO,, Inc.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Video from Jeff Bezos: The Short List To Success!

This is a wonderful short video with insights to a successful enterprise from Jeff Bezos, founder of

Sunday, September 19, 2010

When A Customer Enters Our Store . . .

"When a customer enters my store, forget me.
He is king."

-- John Wanamaker

"The golden rule for every business man is this:
"Put yourself in your customer's place.""

-- Orison Swett Marden

Having been a consumer for a very long time now, and in addition being a business owner, and having managed businesses in the past, I've had a lot of input about customers and how they relate to business. It's almost as if we think we can separate the two. I don't see how that is possible. Without the customer, there can be no business for very long.

Then I have seen businesses who weigh their customer based on the value they bring to the business. You know, the good customers and the bad customers and the in between. That very judgment could be a self-fulfilling prophecy.

I've seen the most lethargic responses--and even no responses when I have entered as a customer or potential customer. Some businesses I have just left, feeling that they must not desire my business.

Then, I have also been treated well and with enthusiasm and care. They are rarer and stand out as a result, and that seems to be true from other writers and other consumers I've talked with.

Why in the world would we open a business and then either ignore, or mistreat our customers?

So, I could go on with a long list of reasons, but you know what? It doesn't matter!

Here's the deal: If you want to improve your business without spending a single additional cent, and if you want to do some of the best advertising in the world without spending a single additional cent, then treat your customer--each and every one of them--as if they were royalty showing up at your house. Ratchet up your service to the nines. Better service doesn't cost money, it makes money. Raising the level of service consistently raises the profits consistently. The best service wins every time.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Standing On Tradition Or Wiping My Feet On It

"I'm content to stand on tradition.
I'm even more content to wipe my feet on it."

-- Aaron Allston
How does one create a tradition? Do something many times on a regular basis. Regular can mean any time frame, like per year, per month, and so on. Just do a thing over and over for a while and it is then a tradition. If we do it long enough, it becomes our heritage.
Many things we do in business become traditions. Take an event for example. You think of an event, promote it and it works, so you make it an "annual" event or some such. Maybe a certain sale, teaming with a charity, tying an event to another local event.
What happens next? It gets old and drags on people. It becomes an obligation. People try to take time off during that event, or vacation, or some other excuse to miss it. It's dead, but we are wary of burying it and being done with it.
This train of thought had me remembering an annual event that we used to have where I worked. I was there for the first one. The wonderful man I worked for was very good at making the event special, had plenty to see and do, live music, small shows for entertainment, food, and so on. He promoted the heck out of it. Made a big deal of it. And, it was a huge success. I watched and learned from a master.
He left us all too soon, and another manager took his place. He decided to keep the event and so we did it again and again each year and each year it lost more of its pizazz. It was boring and people didn't want to participate as they did. It wasn't promoted, there wasn't anything special happening, no shows, cheesy music, lousy food.
Now move ahead and over 25 seasons later, I see the event is still going. . . poorly. No one wants to participate, it is a pain the the behind to almost everyone involved. It is not promoted at all, so the traffic is almost non-existent. Why in the world do we keep doing it? Tradition. It's the 26th year, and we had one year repeated 25 times, but certainly not done the same way. It has become an anchor.
Continuing like this gives pain to all involved. So there are two clear choices to me: One, kill it and be done with it. And, two, GET EXCITED ABOUT IT! Change it up. Promote the heck out of it. Blog about it, Twit it, facebook it, tumblr it and generally get the word out. Next, create some draws. Why would people want to come? Why should they? What will they miss if they don't come? Make it exciting and interesting and change it up year by year. Create a bit of suspense. Add to the event. Create more going on. Get more people excited and involved. Make it a happening! In other words, take it away from tradition and the resultant obligation, and turn it into a brand new event every year.
An event is what we make it after all.

Friday, September 10, 2010

More Problems, Please. . . Running Low Over Here! Please Hurry!

"Each problem has hidden in it an opportunity so powerful that it literally dwarfs the problem. The greatest success stories were created by people who recognized a problems and turned it into an opportunity."

-- Joseph Sugarman

Having experience many thousands of problems, I have come to a better conclusion: they aren't problems. They're opportunities. Where I used to say, "Oh shoot, what will we do now?" I usually say now, "this is great. Here is a grand opportunity." Or something like that. Maybe it's not quite that cool sounding yet, but I do now see opportunities, not only in every problem, but everywhere. I can tell you that this is such a great place to get to and it only took me most of my life.

When a team player doesn't work out, don't worry, fret, fuss, or cajole because a far better team player is just outside the door waiting to waltz in and dazzle you with their brilliance. When a customer is upset, angry, unhappy, complaining, and the like, don't join them in their emotional journey, praise the situation because the solution that will make them not only a lifetime customer, but a lifetime fan is right there ready to connect.

Or not. It could be a trauma, with extended grief, disoriented team players, jealous office staff, disinterested clients, cash flow nightmares, and a hundred variations on these themes. Maybe.

Of course, the choice is always yours. Why? Because it is your individual outlook that drives the outcome. It's not what happens to us, but how we think about what happens to us. We get to choose--always. Begin choosing to see a different reality--see opportunities, see solutions. The problem is a good thing.

What a difference this will make in your business.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Upward Trend Welcomes The Vacaville Total Home & Garden Show As A New Trend Setter Package Client

Upward Trend is pleased to announce that JN Productions, Inc., owners of the Vacaville Total Home & Garden Show have become our newest Trend Setter Package clients.

The Vacaville Total Home & Garden Show was a huge success last year and was combined back to back with the Solano Wine & Food Jubilee. They will be back to back in the same location for the new show on April 15, 16 and 17th, 2011. This is a big show and there is a great deal to prepare for. Upward Trend will be building a website, blog, email newsletter campaigns, Facebook, Twitter and other social media, and SEO seach engine optimization as well. The Facebook page is already up and running: Facebook Page. The website should be online by the 15th of September along with the blog and other social media points.

Welcome JN Productions, Inc and the Vacaville Total Home & Garden Show! It is a pleasure to have you as our valued clients.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Doesn't Anyone Around Here Have Some Initiative?

"Initiative is a rare skill, and thus a valuable one."

-- Seth Godin

Having worked in many different jobs and many capacities from ditch digger to general manager to business owner, I have seen so many ways that manager's and business owners kill initiative. The most common method is micro-management. The second most common way is by excessive rules, regulations and standardized procedures. Yet, at the same time, I have heard so many managers and owners complain that they can't find people who just go do the job without having to constantly guide them. They say they want initiative, but they kill it at the same time. It sounds strange and is a dichotomy in action, but if you've been in the business world for very long, you know exactly what I'm talking about.

Isn't that just the way it is sometimes: we see it happening, we want something different, but we don't do anything different, and we expect a different result. Or, is that like growing up hearing, "don't do as I do, do as I say?" So, what can be done?

If you're a manager or owner, my first recommendation is to start looking for what works instead of what is not working. So, go find sincere ways to compliment your staff and catch them doing things well. Praise each and every indication of initiative no matter how small. You will find that there is absolutely nothing so powerful and encouraging as praise. If you feel a strong need to correct a behavior, or action, do it in private after you have pointed out several positive aspects of what they do and then do it matter-of-factly and explain your reasoning so they start to see the plan rather than just the "way we do things."

In other words, encourage initiative! There's no better way to get more of this than through praise and encouragement. You will be amazed what this will do for your team and it will do it in a very short time.