Pull a Weed When You See It

It’s that time of year when April showers should be bringing us May flowers by now. Those spring rains bring weeds too.

And, those weeds can quickly take over the most beautiful garden. As any gardener will tell you: “Pull a weed when you see it.” In other words, when you’re outside admiring your colorful blooms, take a minute to quickly tug out any weeds you see before they have a chance to establish strong roots. Don’t wait for some afternoon that you set aside specifically for “gardening” to take care of those hearty, invasive plants.

The same is true for your business. Be diligent about pulling a weed when you see it. Don’t give problems a chance to fester and take root just because you’re too busy to do something about it. A lot of problems start small and seem like minor annoyances, but with time and lack of attention, they can grow and spread very quickly, becoming major trouble.
Occasionally, problems may even be difficult to recognize for what they are. Remember, even some weeds produce beautiful flowers. That business opportunity that’s so alluring may just be a weed that’s distracting you from your core purpose.

So, just as you would pull the weeds that deprive your coveted plants of nutrients and sunshine, and eventually rob your garden of its beauty, be sure to “pull the weeds” that will rob your business of its potential and profits.

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3 Things I Learned Last Week 5.17.15

This week: Employers and Student Loan Debt, Wetware Security Threat, Disappearing IP Addresses

Some Small Businesses Could Be on the Hook for Employees’ Student Loan Debt
We’ve heard a lot about the mounting student loan debt that college graduates face. But did you know that you could be held liable for student loan debt as a business owner?
Many business owners don’t realize that their companies can become liable for their employees’ debt if they do not receive or comply with garnishment orders.
Under Federal and some state laws, employers who do not comply with garnishment orders can be sued for the amount owed. Employers may also have to pay interest, attorney fees, and be subject to other penalties.

Wetware: A Major Security Threat That’s Probably Not on Your Radar
Hackers use the word “wetware” to describe a non-firmware, hardware or software approach to getting information they want; in other words, people. You’ll understand that the term is appropriate if you remember that our bodies are made up of more than 60 percent water.
How do wetware infringements occur? We’re not talking about typical human error. Usually they occur when a hacker is able to exploit employee trust, predictable behavior or failure to follow security procedures. Find out how to protect your business from wetware intrusions.

Going, Going, Gone!
We’re running out of Internet Protocol addresses. The 4.3 billion IP addresses engineers created back in 1981 will likely be gone by summer, and major corporations like Microsoft and Amazon have been scooping them up in response. What’s next for the rest of us?

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3 Things I Learned Last Week 5.10.15

Mother’s Day Founder Later Tried to Abolish the Holiday
After spending years successfully advocating for a day to honor mothers, Anna Jarvis spent the rest of her life trying to have the day abolished. She was upset that it had become too commercial.

October 2015 — A Deadline All Small Businesses Should Know About
Any small business that accepts electronic payments needs to know about EMV technology and the implications of not being prepared for it beginning in October.

New and Improved Bluetooth Controls Dozens of Smart Systems in the Home
The Internet of Things is getting more interesting with the introduction of an all-in-one Bluetooth controller for homes. Actually, it’s an updated version for a product introduced on crowdfunding site Indiegogo about a year ago,

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Three Things I Learned Last Week 5.3.15

Your Life in Search
I’m not sure why anyone would want to do this, but in case you’re dying to know what you googled three years ago, or even three minutes ago, here are the steps to download your entire Web search history to your desktop.

New Changes in Real Estate
New rules regarding the Truth in Lending, settlement statement, Good Faith Estimate forms and closing procedures take effect August 1. Get the details here.

Progress with the Women-Owned Small Business Procurement Program
The WOSB procurement program was officially launched in 2011. Two big changes were needed, however, for the program to achieve parity with other small business contracting programs. Find out the current status of these two critical pieces.

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3 Things I Learned Last Week 4.26.15

Give Yourself a Ring
At last . . . an easy way to find your phone when you know it’s nearby, but you just can’t seem to locate it. If you have access to your computer, you can have Google ring it for you or show it to you on a map. Too bad for iPhone users like me though – this only works for Android phones.
Learn how to use the new feature.

Facebook Changes
The verdict is still out on whether Facebook’s latest changes to the Newsfeed will hurt or help brands. Contrary to popular belief – that the changes will hurt brands – some studies show that the change will be an improvement. Find out why here, and let me know what you think.

Technicolor Liquid Nanolasers
I can’t claim to understand the specifics behind technology, but the advances we’re seeing and the applications of it continue to amaze me. Here’s an interesting innovation that could have amazing implications for medicine and security.

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5 Things for Spring

“Some people try to find things in this game that don’t exist, but football is only two things: blocking and tackling.” ~ Vince Lombardi, Legendary Green Bay Packers football coach

Business leaders would do well to take a lesson from Lombardi as they plot their growth strategies. To win, or grow, you must focus day in and day out on the basics, on the blocking and tackling. This applies at every level of your business, from the front line to the CEO. Big plays are the result of people flawlessly executing the basics over and over again. Some of the tasks associated with blocking and tackling may seem repetitive and boring. But no matter how big a business grows, if the fundamentals become a side show, the business soon will be too.

This spring, do these five things to make sure your business is in a position to go the distance:

  1. Start by making sure you know what the basic activities are that are critical to your company’s success. Believe it or not, some companies never evaluate this and basically wing it. That’s like sending up a Hail Mary pass every day.
  2. Communicate (or remind) your team about these core activities and about performance expectations.
  3. Evaluate whether your team has the tools they need. You can’t expect flawless execution when you don’t offer the proper resources and training.
  4. Examine your processes, systems and procedures. Are they still serving the company well, or do they need to be re-evaluated to improve productivity, quality and profitability?
  5. Take a hard look at how well you are serving customers. Do you take your customers for granted and just assume that because sales are decent that everyone is happy? When was the last time you really made an effort to ensure those customer relationships are as solid as you think they are?

In football, blocking and tackling is about protecting players. When done well, it can create openings for big plays. Make sure your team can consistently block and tackle to put your business in a position to score big.

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3 Things I Learned Last Week 4.19.15

1. How to Fascinate
We hear a lot about how the marketing messages for our companies need to attract attention in order to stand out from the multitude of other information our prospects are inundated with every single day.

But have you ever thought about how YOU stand out? I recently interviewed Sally Hogshead, a Hall of Fame speaker, best-selling author of “How the World Sees You,” and the world’s leading expert on fascination.

Want to find out how YOU “fascinate”? Take the test yourself and discover your Fascination Advantage in just a few minutes. Simply visit http://HowToFascinate.com/YOU and use the access code thinkbigger. Find out what makes you intensely valuable to others, so the world will see you at your best.

2. Lessons from an Everest Climb
Looking for a good read on leadership? Get a copy of “On the Edge” by mountaineer Alison Levine. Last week I attended the annual Go Red for Women luncheon and Levine was the keynote speaker. In spite of her congenital heart defect, Levine has climbed seven of the world’s most imposing summits, including Mount Everest.

One of the things she talked about was the climb itself. Scaling Everest is not, as you might think, a straight and slow climb to the 26,000-foot summit. Instead, from base camp, over a series of many days, the climbers hike to the next camp, and then return to the original camp. Then they go back up to an even higher camp, and then come all the way back down again. They repeat this exercise of ups and downs, getting used to the altitude and environment until they reach the camp from which they will finally finish their journey to the summit. Sound like a business lesson in there somewhere? I, for one, can’t wait to read the entire book.

3. Women in STEM Through History
Women have been making important innovations in science, engineering and technology long before the recent emphasis on getting more women involved in these fields. The Central Exchange sent an announcement recently promoting an event on May 14 that celebrates and discusses women in STEM throughout history.

From the CX email, I learned that a woman invented the computer compiler. A woman developed the first effective childhood leukemia drug. A woman invented Kevlar, and a woman’s efforts led to the banning of DDT. And, a woman developed the algorithms used to evaluate electric utility transmission systems today.

We seem to have forgotten some of these important contributions, so kudos to the CX for hosting this program. You can get more details and register here.

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