Sunday, October 21, 2012

I want to MEET meet you

I am going to meet someone really cool this week.

It is someone famous. It is someone that I admire, someone that I wish to emulate. It is someone that I first met via Facebook. And now, I will get to meet them - live and in person.

And then it hit me today. For the rest of my life (or at least until Facebook collapses) I will have only two kinds of friends. The kind that I first meet in real life (and then “friend-ed them” online) or the kind that I first meet online, and then met them in person.  

That’s it.

Virtual friends that become real, or real friends that become virtual.

There will always be Skype, and VoIP and even HD Video Conferencing. There will always be emails, and tweets and online posts. But I don’t think anything will replace the power of true face to face interaction.

I sell technology for a living. I am convinced that distance learning is future of education as well as business, and that technology based learning systems will continue to change the way the world learns, works and plays.

But nothing will make me feel the way that I am feeling as I write this blog post. I don’t think I will ever feel this excited to get a tweet, or read a post, or do a Skype video call with anyone. This is going to be real. I am meeting someone that I really admire - live. Nothing beats this feeling of anticipation and excitement.  

Distance learning is the future of education. The college experience will never be the same for all future generations. But no amount of 3D high definition “anything” will replace that visceral feeling when you meet that special person live. It will not matter if it is your teacher or your client. Communication while within your personal space (handshake distance) will become the gold standard for personal interaction. In the future people will turn in expense reports to cover such “handshake” meetings. “But boss, an HD video conference was just not enough, I needed to MEET meet this person!”

Now on your own Facebook account: are they your virtual friend that you actually met, or are they your real friend that you chat with online?

“Yeah, they are your friend alright, but did you ever MEET meet them?  

Huh, did you???”

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Listen to me!

 I'm a fan (and a long-time student) of Body Language. In a world where technology has made global communication easy and immediate, there remains numerous situations where good old-fashioned, face-to-face communication is paramount to creating the most beneficial outcomes. Regardless of which mode of communication is most appropriate for the situation, there are several barriers that can derail even the best intended communication.

Perceptual Barriers
How you approach a conversation can easily determine the difference between engaging and persuading the other person or subconsciously sabotaging your efforts from the start. Example: A salesman had heard that the new buyer was already sold on a competitor and would listen politely to other vendors, but - had already made up his mind. Armed with this rumor, the salesman chose not to spend much time making his proposal and just happened to "make a comment" that garnered an unexpected response from the buyer—a response that quickly indicated that he actually was open to seriously entertaining the salesman’s proposal. By approaching the situation with a preconceived idea, this salesman nearly sabotaged his own sales efforts.

Physical Barriers
Closed doors, walls that separate and distance people, even staying seated behind a large desk can place a barrier between two communicators. The more open the environment, the more the potential for strong communications.

Language Barriers
Language issues can arise from two areas—cultural language differences and industry jargon. It’s all too common for people to use industry jargon, forgetting that clients, while familiar with your industry, may not fully comprehend the jargon shortcuts. To avoid potential conflict, use words and terms that anyone could understand and leave the jargon for industry colleagues.

Cultural Barriers
While language from differing cultures can be a natural barrier to overcome, don’t ignore other cultural practices that may be mistaken for rudeness or lack of professionalism. Take time to understand potential differences and find a common ground from which to communicate.

Emotional Barriers
This can be one of the most difficult barriers to overcome. When the emotional issue is yours, it is critical to set your emotions aside in order to have productive communication. When you sense another’s emotion is the issue, be sensitive and respond accordingly. Most importantly, never let your emotions alter the ability to build, rather than detract, rapport.

Stress Barriers
People respond differently when they are under stress. Learn to identify stressful situations and modify your tone and approach so as not to be misunderstood.

Gender Barriers
Although this barrier has decreased through the years, the reality is that it still exists to some extent. Research has shown that men and women tend to form their thoughts differently. Take this into consideration and use clarifying statements to ensure that clear understanding is achieved.

Certainly the use of technology (such as HD Videoconferencing) can be a great asset when it is used appropriately. Yet it is extremely important to remember that nothing nurtures relationships like face-to-face. When face-to-face, individuals develop more confidence. When customers know that you take the time to show that you have their best interest in mind, that’s a winning customer relationship.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

I will match your energy

The Maine Solar House website: Harvest the sun's energy for power and heat. Located along the Maine coast, it keeps the owners warm in the winter and cool in the summer.

“We have been 'harvesting' the sun since 1995 and we feel fortunate to have made the decision then to lead a solar life. The benefits have been personal, spiritual and financial. Our investment has been paid back and our lives are more than comfortable in the ever-changing weather of coastal Maine. Debbi was a music major at the University of Maryland and then received her masters degree from Boston University. I was a communications major at Boston University and went on to receive my masters degree from the University of Pennsylvania. Each morning we wake up looking for the sun. We are 'solar groundhogs' but in our case we are pleased to see our shadows because it means free energy to power and heat our home.”  ~The Maine Solar House


I own  I have been in the “Energy Business” since the 90’s. The deregulation of the Energy industry is very similar to what I lived with the deregulation of the Telecommunication industry.

The Telecommunications Act of 1996 was the first significant overhaul of the United States telecommunications law in more than sixty years. The Act, signed by President Bill Clinton, represented a major change in American telecommunication law, since it was the first time that the Internet was included in broadcasting and spectrum allotment. According to the FCC, the goal of the law was to "let anyone enter any communications business -- to let any communications business compete in any market against any other."

Cool! Anyone (even the little guy) can be in the telecom business. Today, anyone (even the little guy) can be in the energy business.

Is there anyone reading this who does not use the telephone, or use a cell phone or use the Internet? Is there anyone reading this who does not use energy every single day?

Ask yourself this question: if you were IN the business, who would be your first customer for said business?  (hint: look in the mirror).

I bought my first cellular phone in 1983 because I wanted to be cool. Having a car phone was my James Bond 007 moment. I did not have a job (still in school) but had a phone in my car! Since I could not afford the $1 per minute calls, I figured out a way to BE IN the business.  My motivation?  Free cellular phone service. Ah yes, driving with the top down, talking on the phone. I have not paid (out of pocket) for cellular phones or service since 1983. Thousands of clients later, I owe it all to my love of James Bond movies.  Check this out.  Watch the video. Tell me why you would not buy this immediately? Tell me why you would not stop what you are doing and do this - buy this - right now?  Guess what: MTP gives this amazing tool to our energy clients for free - as a thank you for being a client. Guess what else: we can tell if they activate and install it - and not everyone does!  FREE money - FREE energy. Ah, no thanks, I like paying more.

I guess sometimes people don’t have enough “energy” to do what it takes - to save energy.  

Anyone who is still paying full price for telephone, cellular or Internet service has no one to blame but themselves. Anyone paying full price for gas or electricity, has no one to blame but themselves. Anyone with a still in the box, not even installed (takes around 15 minutes) has no one to blame but themselves.

I am an extreme case (some would say nut case) so your own results may vary. You do not have to build a but you could easily do so. You don’t have to sell “yourself” your telephone service, your Internet service, and even your electricity, but you could easily do so. The government made it easy for you to save money (and make money) by using and promoting the exact same services that you use (and pay for) every single day.

But before you do anything, ask yourself this question:  If you were given (for free) a would you have enough “energy” to install it? Remember, you can lead a horse to water, but you cannot make 'em turn down the thermostat.  

Want to learn more?  Email me at  I can’t do it all for you, but I will match your energy.