Sunday, June 30, 2013

My Job is to find a Job!

There are many reasons to get an education. It gives you perspective on the world, makes you a complete person and most importantly, helps you build a career. Unfortunately, there is a major mismatch between our current educational system and the job skills employers need.

The paradox of high unemployment and a war for talent continues. We don’t have a jobs crisis; we have a skills crisis:
• 45 percent of U.S. employers say lack of skills is the main reason for entry-level vacancies.
• Only 42 percent of worldwide employers believe new graduates are adequately prepared for work.
Employers in the US understand this and they have increased their investment in training. Spending on corporate training grew 12 percent in 2012, the highest increase in nine years.
Skills gaps are costing companies money. Employers stated they would be willing to pay new workers higher salaries if they had entry-level skills the employers wanted — often basic reading, writing, math and problem solving skills.

Educational institutions are out of sync with employer needs. While 72 percent of educational leaders think newly educated workers are ready for work, only 42 percent of employers do. This is a big mismatch. Primary and secondary educational institutions are not in touch with employers needs.

Research at validates this. Most of our members are investing heavily in new online and virtual corporate universities, on-boarding programs and continuous learning programs.
Students agree that traditional education methods don’t drive skills development. Asked to rank the educational methods that drive their greatest improvement in skills, students cited on-the-job training as their No. 1 need. Lectures, the primary mode of education in schools, was rated 12th. USDLA research shows 72 percent of business managers say the same thing.

Corporate learning managers regularly blend lectures with a variety of informal learning techniques. Today corporations spend less than 60 percent of training budgets on instructor-led training.

Vocational training has less perceived value than academic degrees. Students in every country value traditional education over vocational education except for Germany, where 49 percent of respondents say academic education is more valuable. Germany is filled with apprentice-based programs - and has an unemployment rate among the lowest in Europe.

Students have weak understanding of the skills and degrees that will best help them find a job. This is another gap in the system. Most students are not sure what educational program will help them find a good job. Even when colleges and universities have great job-related programs, students are not coached on what these programs will actually mean for their career.

There are many lessons here:
1. Educational institutions need and want closer relationships with business to drive their own transformation. Employers should meet with local universities and schools, and help them understand workforce needs.
2. Massive open online courses will transform education. You can access these courses at little to no cost.
3. We can’t wait for schools and universities to build the skills we need. Learning investments are more important than ever, and this means a strong focus on talent-driven learning programs, talent management, assessment and developing a total corporate learning culture.
4. Skill development expertise is the new arsenal for business success. If you don’t take the time, spend the money or learn how to build world-class development programs, you will not be able to compete. There is no real war for talent; there is a war for skills, and there’s no better way to win the war than to build your arsenal internally.

The mission of the is to serve the distance learning community by providing advocacy, information, networking and opportunity. We will help you stay connected and ahead of trends in learning — distance learning , e-learning, mobile learning, computer-based training (CBT), web-based training (WBT), instructor-led training (ILT), online training, online learning, blended learning, classroom training, webinars... Email me: to learn more.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Oxytocin is for Closers!

How did we ever sell anything before the Internet?

In traditional face-to-face sales there is an “it factor.” Why is it that one sales rep is always number one or number two in sales results for the region? What have they got? How did they get “it”? How can we train other reps so they develop “it”? How can we hire new reps who have “it”?

And - does this logic hold up when applied to eCommerce websites, viral videos, tweets and blogs?

When I was just starting out I had the benefit of working with two of the best sales people I’ve ever known. One was a young guy from Texas who had a comfortable way of talking with people. He made them relax and the barriers came down. His boss was a guy in his mid-thirties who had grown up in the Plains states. His expertise in computers had taken him from college to the CIA to private business. Somewhere along the way he had learned to talk to business owners so they could immediately see the real benefits of what he was proposing. To the casual observer, these were a couple of ordinary businessmen who drove nice cars. But in the technology industry, these guys were superstars.

Oxytocin Level = It Factor

They had the “it factor” in sales. I can only imagine how much money they would have made, if they had the power of today’s online sales and marketing tools at their disposal. It’s like asking how many home runs Babe Ruth would have hit, if he played with today’s lively baseball in hitter friendly ballparks.

Those guys taught me how to sell. And one of the most important things they got me to understand is that selling is not primarily about exteriors – website looks, viral videos and the ability to tweet a catchy line of dialogue. Selling is all about connecting with a person and moving them to a decision – hopefully a decision that involves signing an order. Cool websites and trending videos might get you in the door but that is all it gets you. Once you get down to business, you better know how to relate to the owner’s world and offer some great improvements in how they will save and make money. You cannot do everything with an online survey; at some point you actually need to connect with people. You need to get the Oxytocin flowing.

Through the years I’ve been schooled in just about every professional sales training program there is: Needs-based selling, professional sales skills, win friends, social style, personality analysis, etc. Name the sales training program and I’ve spent days learning it. The point of these sales training programs is to try to teach you something you should really be learning on your own:

   - How to use all your experience in life to make a connection to another human being

  - How to find out where they are and whether you can help them on their journey and,

  - How to help them make a change and feel comfortable that they’re doing the right thing.

I’ve interviewed and hired hundreds of sales reps over the years. Through the years I’ve developed a list of questions I ask in an interview. But here’s the interesting part – the responses to the questions are as much about “how” as they are about “what”. I look for what their answers will reveal about how they think, how they use their life experience to relate to me, how they listen. I look for the qualities of the great salesperson that I’ve seen in the few real stars I’ve had the opportunity to work with. So here’s my list of what makes a great salesperson:

  - They have confidence.
  - They are street smart.
  - They don’t bluff.
  - They study people and understand human nature.
  - They understand the power of making your life easier and improving your business.
  - They’re good at role-playing but even better with a real prospect.
  - They can tell a story with a beginning, middle and an end.
  - They have a great conversational style.
  - They can talk to you and hold your attention.
  - They can be quiet and listen and when they listen, they hear.
  - They will be “in the moment” during a sales call like a master of “improv.”
  - They can deliver a sales script so that you’d never know it was a script.
  - They will challenge your thinking.
  - They have the strength to disagree and the sense to ask you why they’re wrong.
  - They can make you want to buy from them.
  - They connect with people well enough that even if you don’t buy today, you’ll remember them down
the road.
  - How they sell is in the fabric of their being.

Websites, viral videos and social media tools have changed the way that the world does business. But never confuse marketing and sales with “doing business”. People do business with people, not “the cloud”. People don’t do business with websites, or kiosks or clickable links on iPads or smartphones. You buy online but you don’t do business with the cloud.

Did you ever have a friend or neighbor ask you to “click on a link” or watch a video (or come to a meeting about a business opportunity) as a favor? Does the mere thought of that meeting make your Oxytocin level go up or down? There are no shortcuts to success in business, no matter what your friends say on your Facebook timeline.

All of those leads that you gain from all of those tweets, and blogs and videos - why catch all of these fish if you have no viable plan to cook what you catch?  Your “online” message needs to match your offline business. And that will require the right kind of people. gives good customer service - but it is all virtual. Zappos gives GREAT customer service - via real people who truly care. You can FEEL the customer service flow from the telephone into your ear when you do business with Zappos. It is proven that Oxytocin levels are driven up when you do business with Zappos (they measured it) and you will never meet these Zappos people face to face. 

Unless of course, they invite you to their kid’s high school graduation party.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Father's Daze

If you type in the Google browser bar “how many days” from one date to another, it calculates your answer in an instant.

My oldest son was born on March 2nd, 1990. So that makes it 8507 days with me as a father. I don’t know which is more amazing. The fact that: A) you can get an answer to such a complex question from Google (for free) in a fraction of a second or B) that I have been a father for 8507 days.

It got me to thinking about how time flies, and all of the amazing things that have happened in the world of telecom and IT in the past 8507 days:

#10: The demise of Novell, Banyan, 3Com, DEC, Compaq, Polaroid, Palm, Nortel, Silicon Graphics ... it's a long list. While some of those companies simply died or were swallowed up, others have and continue to just slowly wither away (I'm looking at you, Novell). What's really interesting is how much dumb luck plays a major role in determining success in business.
#9: The rise of the Internet, which changed the world. The sad thing is that the USA, the country that created the Internet, still doesn't completely understand the Internet's importance. And this is why we're ranked 9th or 16th - depending on how you measure these things - worldwide in terms of broadband availability, price and speed.
#8: The rise of ecommerce. Ecommerce, the selling and buying of goods and services online, has changed how we do business. 8507 days ago, the idea that the Internet would become a global commerce platform was unthinkable. Now we're arguing about how to collect taxes on online purchases.
#7: The re-rise of Apple. Perhaps one of the more surprising stories in the last 8507 days has been the phoenix-like success of Apple. The big question is whether Apple can still be Apple without Jobs ... we'll know in the next 8507 days, that’s for sure. I bought my first computer, an Apple IIe 12,705 days ago. I wish I kept it, as today it would be worth a fortune on eBay.
#6: The consumerization of IT. Around 900 to 1,500 days ago the consumer IT equipment market started eating away at the fringes of the enterprise where it was easier and cheaper for branch offices and telecommuters to deploy low end routers and NAS devices purchased at their local Best Buy than go through the cost and complexity of using Big Boy IT gear. This accelerated as corporate users began increasingly bringing their own laptops and cellphones into the enterprise. Is this creating a huge management mess for IT, or is it a huge cost savings? Whichever it is, it's not going away anytime soon.
#5: The end of privacy and security. Along with all the good stuff that the Internet has made possible there is plenty of bad stuff too. The 'Net, the operating systems we use, and the services we rely upon all ensure you're trackable and hackable. How many days ago did we all lose our privacy for good? *See Google, below.
#4: The rise of Linux and open source. Who could have predicted 8507 days ago that Linux and the open source movement would become such powerful market forces?
#3: The rise of social media. Facebook and Twitter and the rest. Need I say more? Whether social media as we know it today will survive the next 8507 days is debatable.
#2: The rise of Google. Google, one of the few companies to ever become a verb, was founded only *5,643 days ago and it's growth and the sheer exuberance of its research and development has been truly astounding.
And finally ...
#1: The death of the PC. Who knew that the PC would so quickly wane in importance to become just one of the end user computing platforms? This year we shall see PC shipments drop by almost 8%!
Yes indeed, 152 days ago, my oldest son received his Bachelors of Science Degree from Quinnipiac University (Computer Information Systems). 27 days ago, we watched Tom Jr. accept his diploma along with thousands of proud parents.
My son a.k.a. "Tommy Baby" (pronounced tah-mee bay-bee by me) has spent a total of 8507 days on the planet - and now 152 of those days - as a (thankfully employed) college graduate. 
Yes, time certainly does fly. Now I know where the expression Father Time comes from.

Happy Father’s Day everyone!

Posted Early - Playing Golf Tomorrow!

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Start me up!

  What is a startup?  This is a question that has been asked for years.

Here is my favorite definition of a startup: A startup is a company that is confused about what its product is, who its customers are, and how to make money. As soon as it figures out all of these things, it ceases to be a startup and then it becomes a real business.

Except, most of the time, that does not happen. And that about says it all.

I love technology and I love business. I am in the business of selling, promoting, marketing and nurturing technology. A technologist. A technology ombudsman. All of that sounds so much better than salesman, although I resemble that too, on occasion.

Most startups fail. Good. They were the first generation of a long line of good ideas. “The Facebook” that was invented in a dorm room is not (just) “Facebook” that we all know today.

The Wright Brothers are credited with inventing and building the world's first successful airplane and making the first controlled, powered and sustained heavier-than-air human flight, on December 17, 1903. There were no engines small enough, light enough or powerful enough to fit their plane - so they had to build an engine first, in their bicycle shop.

Few inventions have changed how people live and experience the world as much as the invention of the airplane. During both World Wars, government subsidies and demands for new airplanes vastly improved techniques for their design and construction. Following the World War II, the first commercial airplane routes were set up in Europe. Over time, air travel has become so commonplace that it would be hard to imagine life without it. It has also altered the way in which people live and conduct business by shortening travel time and altering our concept of distance, making it possible for us to visit and conduct business in places once considered remote.

Enter stage right: the Internet. 

When I was growing up, there were several Travel Agents in our town. Now I cannot find a Travel Agent, except online. Can anyone say videoconferencing?

Would there be any car dealerships without Henry Ford? Does anyone (ever) buy a car these days without checking it all out first online?

When a startup becomes a real business, it can change the world. Sometimes a successful startup creates new startups, that kills off the first startup. If they do not kill it off completely, the new startups morph the old startup beyond recognition.

The startup is dead.  Long live the startup!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

I need some Scotch Tape

Saturday Night Live Scotch® BoutiqueDo you have an idea for a new product? A new business? The thing that you keep telling friends, relatives, anyone that will listen? I was touring NBC studios in NYC and on one of the monitors they were playing the SNL sketch “Scotch® Boutique,” the owners of a trendy new store sell nothing but Scotch® Tape. 

The humor of the sketch hit me: a simple product that became so common, so dependable and so necessary that it would find its place in every school, business and household in the modern world. "Where's the Scotch Tape?" is the cry that has been heard millions of times around the world. But was this idea good enough to justify opening a store that sells nothing but Scotch Tape? Funny. 

Fast forward to today. Every day, thousands of new ideas turn into mobile apps. Every day, new businesses are born, stores are opened, patents are filed. Websites are turned up, blogs (like this one) are posted, and videos go viral. 

In 2012:
  • 634 million – Number of websites (December).
  • 51 million – Number of websites added during the year.
  • 43% – Share of the top 1 million websites that are hosted in the U.S.
  • 48% – Share of the the top 100 blogs that run WordPress.
  • 75% – Share of the top 10,000 websites that are served by open source software.
  • 87.8 million – Number of Tumblr blogs.
  • 17.8 billion – Number of page views for Tumblr.
  • 59.4 million – Number of WordPress sites around the world.
  • 3.5 billion – Number of webpages run by WordPress viewed each month.
  • 37 billion –  Number of pageviews for in 2012.
As for Domain Names alone in 2012 alone:
  • 246 million – Number of domain name registrations across all top-level domains.
  • 104.9 million – Number of country code top-level domain name registrations.
  • 329 – Number of top level domains.
  • 100 million – Number of .com domain names at the end of 2012.
  • 14.1 million – Number of .net domain names at the end of 2012.
  • 9.7 million – Number of .org domain names at the end of 2012.
  • 6.7 million – Number of .info domain names at the end of 2012.
  • 2.2 million – Number of .biz domain names at the end of 2012.
I love being in business, and I love helping entrepreneurs who innovate, invent, re-invent, design and create the world around us. Ideas creating new ideas. Ideas that change the way that we live, work and play. Somewhere in those millions of new websites will be the next Amazon, Facebook, or University of Phoenix. And that is very cool indeed. If you like this blog, print it out and Scotch® Tape it to your wall. After all, "Push Pins" will leave a mark. 

Gee, I wonder if is taken?

Tape Innovation Timeline

Richard Drew, a young 3M engineer, invents Scotch® Cellulose Tape. Later to be renamed Cellophane Tape, it is an attractive, moisture-proof way for grocers and bakers to seal packages. The tape helps people “make do” during the Great Depression—they made simple repairs to household items.
Scotch Cellulose Tape
Scotch® Brand introduces the first heavy-duty, countertop tape dispenser. It’s made from cast iron and weighs almost 7 pounds.
Scotch Brand Snail Dispenser
Scotch® Brand welcomes the "snail,"—its iconic, handheld tape dispenser. The first version is made from stamped sheet metal, and a molded plastic model is added one year later.
During World War II, almost all tape production is diverted to the war effort. 3M develops and manufactures more that 100 different types of tape to help solve war production problems such as sealing, identifying parts, holding materials, protecting and insulating. Scotch® Double-Sided Tape, coated with adhesive on both sides, joins the transparent tape family during this time.
The famous plaid design is introduced. The war now over, Scotch® Brand focuses on distributing the clad-in-plaid tape to homes, schools and businesses.
Scotty McTape debuts in TV commercials. By 1955, 67% of American households have television sets, and Scotch® Cellophane Tape is a major advertiser on the new medium. Scotty McTape serves as the brand mascot for over two decades.
Scotch Cellulose Tape
3M invents Scotch® Magic™ Tape. The innovative matte-finish tape is virtually invisible on light-colored paper and envelopes. Unlike glossy tapes, it can be written on with pen, pencil or marker. At about the same time, Scotch® Cellophane Tape is renamed Transparent Tape.
Saturday Night Live Scotch® Boutique
Saturday Night Live pokes fun. In the sketch “Scotch® Boutique,” the owners of a trendy new store sell nothing but Scotch® Tape.
Scotch® Removable Tape joins the Transparent Tape family. This new product features a unique adhesive that holds paper securely, yet is easy to remove or reposition. Later, in 1996, a removable double-sided tape will be launched.
Consumers vote Scotch® Brand Tape the most indispensable household product. In a national Roper opinion poll, 46% of respondents say they’re stuck on Scotch® Transparent Tape. Other top products include no-iron fabrics, aluminum foil, pantyhose and T-shirts. Home computers come in last—only 2% say they couldn't do without one.
Scotch Tape voted most indispensable household product
Scotch Pop-up Tape Dispenser
The Scotch® Pop-Up Tape Dispenser is introduced. Precut, 2-inch pieces of tape "pop up" from the dispenser, which can be worn on the wrist or hand. The invention adds speed and convenience to gift wrapping, crafting and school projects.
Scotch® Transparent Tape is named a "Humble Masterpiece" by the Museum of Modern Art in New York. The exhibit features over a hundred simple items, including Scotch® Transparent Tape, that are used every day. "While modest in size and price,” the curator says, “These objects are indispensable masterpieces of design deserving of our admiration.”
Scotch® Brand celebrates 75 years of transparent tapes. The classic "snail" dispenser receives its first major makeover in 60 years. The new Contour Dispenser is sleek, stylish and comes a variety of shades.
Scotch 75th Aniversary
Scotch® Brand stays on the cutting edge for crafters. Making beautiful scrapbooks is easy with new Scotch® Brand innovations like Tape Runner and Vellum Tape.
Fun Facts
The total amount of Scotch® Transparent Tape sold to homes and offices in the United States each year would go around the Earth 165 times.
There are more than 400 varieties of tapes sold under the Scotch® and 3M™ brands.
How Scotch® Transparent Tape is made
1) Film backing is created
2) Pressure-sensitive adhesive added to film
3) Backing and adhesive combined into a jumbo roll of tape
4) Roll cut into smaller rolls or strips
The first use for Scotch® Transparent Tape was as a moisture-proof seal for cellophane wrap used by bakers, grocers and meat packers.