Tag Archives: entrepreneur

Mar 4, 2010

Link Roundup on Rizzo Tees – What I’m Reading 3/4/10

Playing the part of Internet DJ, here’s a sampling of what I’ve been reading the past few days.

1.) Tim Ferriss and the 4-Hour Work Week – I have not read this book, and had no plans to. There is no shortcut to success, and the whole premise of his book sounded flawed to me.  However, I am reconsidering the book, and may even buy the new updated version of it, after reading this post on the 9 habits to stop now.  Included on the list is something I’ve been giving great consideration – somehow getting a better handle on email. I need to turn it back into a productivity tool instead of a business ball and chain.  Why did voicemail never turned into the time suck that email has?

2.) Mark Hayward is a new blogger I’ve stumbled upon.  His recent post, “It’s OK to BE Different” is just what the young, nascent entrepreneur needs to hear.  The psychology of the entrepreneur is one of risk-taking, but not all entrepreneurs are balls-out crazy.  Therefore, it sometimes helps to have people rooting for you. And those people would hopefully be friends and loved ones.  When they are the ones telling you that you are crazy, it’s good to have a.) thick skin, and b.) a solid, bullet-resistant business plan.

3.) Jason at A Smart Bear talks about “sunk costs” and explains that throwing good money after bad is quite obviously a terrible idea. And yet, businesses do it all the time.  This is a must-read post for not only entrepreneurs, but anyone in a decision-making position in business.  Kudos to A Smart Bear on this post – it rocks.

4.) Philip at UrbanBacon interviews one of my favorite people on earth, Arlene Maminta Browne of Robust Wine Bar. I have had some rough (read: awesome) nights at Robust, and I especially appreciate their embrace of Social Media.  Plus, it’s hard to forget that I met Gary Vaynerchuk there and got to drink wine with him.  If you can feel a certain enthusiasm coming from Arlene in this interview, that’s no mistake – she and Stanley love what they do.  Restaurants, take note – Social Media can help your business!

Mar 1, 2010

The Stubbornness To Keep Showing Up

I hope I never run out of creative fuel, because Rizzo Tees would be screwed!  Sometimes, tee ideas flow through me like a ghost, or blow me over like a hurricane … so I can relate to what author Elizabeth Gilbert is saying in this TED Talk.  And she’s very funny! (I listen more when humor is involved.)

Rizzo Tees has been in operation since October 2008, and I have seen countless other tee companies go either dormant or out of business.  If you have the stubbornness to keep showing up, that’s really half the battle.  As we speak, we’re in the doldrums of winter. Rizzo World HQ (my basement) is freezing.  Sales are slow.  Now is the time to dig deep and keep on showing up!

Feb 25, 2010

You Own a Business – Time To Pick a Management Style?

Being a leader carries with it much responsibility.  It takes on even a bit more weight if you’re leading a company of your own creation.  You can’t fail!  What a bloody bummer that would be!  You may start a business on your own, or you may start up with several employees.  Either way, you may eventually have employees that you’re leading into business battle.

What’s the best management style?  That is a most ridiculous question.  Do different situations require different management styles?  Certainly. But can you step out of your shoes and manage in a style that’s decidedly un-you?  I don’t think it’s a good idea.

Nevertheless, I am always reading and listening to interviews with other leaders, because I certainly have room to grow and much to learn.  This interview with George Cloutier, the 63-year-old founder and chief executive of American Management Services, paints the picture of a man that puts profit above all else and doesn’t suffer fools lightly.

I often discuss the future of LeBron James with my cousin Joe.  I love LeBron and watch almost every game the Cavs play.  However, I often think that LeBron will never win a championship. Yes I know he’s young, and yes, he’s younger now than Michael Jordan was when he won the first of his six championships.  But LeBron is just such a nice guy. He wants to be liked. Michael Jordan was famously competitive. So is Kobe Bryant. So is Tiger Woods (insert joke here?).  LeBron is not a cutthroat, step on your own mom’s neck, win at all costs type of a guy.  I hope he can still win one.  What should LeBron do? Should he just try to become a killer on the court? Should he start berating teammates, using fear to motivate? Should he stop doing his choreographed pregame handshakes with all of his teammates? Should he try to be something he’s not?

Mr. Cloutier seems like the Michael Jordan of business.  Profits and business first, family and people second.  Perhaps that’s oversimplifying, but I didn’t get the warm fuzzies when I read that interview.  And you know what? That’s OK for him – I would not advise him to get in touch with his soft side, to try to treat people in a different manner in order to really unlock their true potential. This guy has a system and it’s apparently working for him.

While I can learn much from reading this interview, I can’t directly incorporate all of Mr. Cloutier’s tactics into my business practices.  It’s just not “me.”  You can read every self-help how-to business book, but you have to be comfortable in your own skin, and you have to be true to yourself and your values.  Trying to manage in a way that’s not “you” will have you expending an inordinate amount of energy, and your chances of success are certainly diminished.

What do y’all think?

Feb 24, 2010

If You Want Someone's Business, Don't Place Unnecessary Demands On Them

Are salesmen the scum of the Earth, or the harbingers of helpfulness and productivity?  Or somewhere in between?  As with everything in life, it depends.  Second question – what’s the best sales approach?  Ahhhh, it depends.  Third question – how should you deal with a persistent salesman?  Saaaaaaaaay it….. …. it depends.

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I’m sitting at my desk, and I receive a call from a very huge, super well-known bank that shall remain nameless (they’re huge, you probably bank there).  The caller is an older sounding woman with a southern drawl.  She asks me if I’d like to meet with an officer from the bank so that they could explain their products and services to me.  At my day job, we have several banking relationships, and we’re always looking to make more banking friends.  We do not have any money at this bank, but for various reasons I won’t go into, it might not be a bad idea to get some money on deposit there.  This is a sales call that I didn’t mind taking!

I asked her if it would be her that was coming out. She made it clear that she just makes these phone calls, and that the local officer in charge is Joey Joe Joe (I changed the name to keep it all anonymous here).

So I asked if it was Joey Joe Joe that was going to be coming out. She said no, probably not, but she couldn’t be sure – it would probably someone that works for JJJ.  I know that it is probably impossible to be personal when you’re a gigantic massive bank, but this is failure number 1.  I like getting to know human beings – I’m relationship-driven. For me, I would have liked to know who I’d be dealing with. Yes, I’d find out the day they arrive, but I felt like a number. I got the idea that I wouldn’t be forging a real relationship with a local banker.  But I’m being a big baby about this; I digress.

She then says, “To make sure we send out the right person, I need to ask you some questions.”  At this point, I always get really paranoid and think to myself, “How do I know she’s really from So-And-So Bank?”  She doublechecks my name, business address, all that. And then she asks for our annual sales.  I’m secretive about stuff like this when I want to be or need to be, so I said, “We can discuss that stuff in person when you guys come out here.”

She sternly says “I am going to need to get this information from you if you wish for the call to continue.”  It is at this point that my eyes cartoonishly popped out of their sockets like horns (think Looney Tunes).  Buh-duh-buh-duh- WHAAAAAAAAA? You called me! You are trying to earn my business.

I said back to her, word for word, “I’d really like to talk about this with a live human being, in person.”  I’m sure I sounded like a real jerk, but it was an honest sentiment. An online bank like Ally.com is not relationship-driven, but my business banking relationships still are.

She persisted, and eventually she was able to get me to reveal a range of numbers that our sales fall within.

This blog post would be useless in the hands of the CEO of this big superbank that I’m going to be meeting with in a few weeks, but if you’re a just-starting-out, tiny, small, or even medium-sized business, this is advice for you: the number one word in customer service is listen. DO NOT FORGET THAT! You will see me blogging about this constantly – I will rap you about the head with it until everyone understands! You have to listen to your customers, pick up on their cues, make them feel comfortable, and provide them the information they need (not the info you want to shove down their throat).