Friday, December 28, 2012

No joke, Batmobile will be up for grabs

The original Batmobile did not seem to want to come out of its temporary Bat Cave.

The crime-fighting car stalled a half-dozen times until Craig Jackson of Barrett-Jackson squeezed into the cockpit, revved up the Lincoln V-8 engine and backed it off a truck that delivered it from Hollywood to Scottsdale on Wednesday morning.

Read more: No joke, Batmobile will be up for grabs

Zig Ziglar left legacy of wisdom, optimism

When I was cutting my teeth in the sales game right after college, I made sure to read or listen to everything I could get my hands on from several sales and motivational legends -- Napoleon Hill, Earl Nightingale, Dale Carnegie, Norman Vincent Peale, Jim Rohn and Zig Ziglar.

I, like many people around the world, was saddened to hear about the recent death of my friend Zig. He was one of a kind. I was fortunate to share the stage with him several times, and I will be forever grateful for those opportunities.

His inimitable style was contagious. If you were lucky enough to ever hear him speak, you understand how he stayed at the top of his game for more than 40 years. As he was fond of saying, "People often say motivation doesn't last. Neither does bathing -- that's why we recommend it daily."

Read more: Zig Ziglar left legacy of wisdom, optimism

Dealing with Micro-Negotiators | Expert Negotiator

“I can’t believe they want to negotiate every single point,” my client said. “It makes no sense. These are standard terms, and many of their changes represent no functional difference.”

What can you do when facing someone who wants to negotiate everything – even seemingly incontrovertible issues?

Start by exploring the rationale underlying your counterpart’s “fight everything” strategy. Then design a counterstrategy to address it.

Here are some reasons why a “fight everything” approach may seem sensible, plus some ways to counter them.

One, some negotiators believe that fighting over everything will wear down their counterparts and will thus result in more favorable concessions to their side.

Sometimes, of course, this is true. Many don’t like to fight, especially over minor issues, and will be more likely to concede than to aggressively engage.

But here’s the problem – the more you give in, the more these “fighters” become emboldened and double down. After all, their strategy is working. Plus, even though the issues may appear inconsequential, they may collectively add up to a significant difference.

Many years ago I litigated a case against a law firm with a reputation for aggressively litigating over everything. They made the litigation so unpleasant for opposing counsel, and for opposing clients, that no one wanted to deal with them.

With such a reputation, they theorized, opposing counsel and clients would either be more likely to settle early and favorably for their clients (to avoid the pain of dealing with them), or at least concede more than they might otherwise.

Two, parties being paid based on their time have a financial self-interest in dragging out the negotiation. You can rack up a lot of time if you dispute everything in a deal.

Three, agents on behalf of principals might fight over everything in an effort to show their clients how they aggressively represent them.

Finally, some parties evaluate how well they do by how far and how often they get their counterparts to concede. Have you ever heard someone say “we got a great deal as we got the other side to move more than us”? Those who fight over everything will rack up seemingly more concessions than others, even if the volume of concessions may make little substantive difference to the parties.

So what can you do?

First, don’t just cave again and again. While this appeasement may provide some short-term peace, it will be long-term counterproductive. On the other hand, it’s also not preferable to get caught in a downward spiral with everyone fighting everything. That could be disastrous for everyone.

Second, reach out to folks who have previously negotiated with your counterpart and find out what has worked in the past for them. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel.

Here are some responses you might hear:

A shot across the bow might be required so they know you will fight, if necessary. But also note you don’t think such fighting would be good for anyone. If it’s an agent utilizing this strategy (like a lawyer), directly engage their bosses or clients on this. Then illustrate how a different strategy would be more efficient and effective for everyone. Explicitly recognize their strategy, thus effectively undermining it, by saying “You know, just last week my counterpart in another deal tried the same thing, negotiating over everything. But as soon as he learned we were more than willing to fight, he backed right off. Hopefully we won’t have to go through that exercise again here – it wasn’t good for anyone.” Of course, if you have a good alternative to doing a deal with them (a good Plan B), you might just refuse to negotiate with your counterpart until they come ready to deal in good faith.

Dealing with Micro-Negotiators | Expert Negotiator

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Visualize goals to succeed

The old saying goes: "If you can dream it, you can do it."

I think that's more than just an axiom. I believe that visualization is one of the most powerful means of achieving personal goals. To have an idea or dream, and then to see how you can make it happen, helps shape your plans and defines your goals more clearly.

Many people, especially athletes and celebrities, have discovered the amazing power of visualization and have used it to enhance their careers and achieve their goals and dreams.

Actor Jim Carrey wrote a check to himself in 1987 in the sum of $10 million. He dated it Thanksgiving 1995 and added the notation, "For acting services rendered." He visualized it for years, and in 1994, he received $10 million for his role in "Dumb and Dumber."

Oprah Winfrey has openly used visualization techniques on her talk show. She often talked about the power of the subconscious mind and goal-focusing techniques. Winfrey said, "The biggest adventure you can take is to live the life of your dreams."

Nobel laureate Jonas Salk was asked how he went about inventing the polio vaccine. His reply: "I pictured myself as a virus or a cancer cell and tried to sense what it would be like."

When I was 13, I dreamed about owning a factory. Then, when I actually owned the factory, I visualized selling the largest and most prestigious account in town -- General Mills. And I finally did it.

One of the most well-known studies on creative visualization in sports occurred when Russian scientists compared four groups of Olympic athletes in terms of their physical and mental training ratios:

Group 1 received 100 percent physical training.

Group 2 received 75 percent physical training and 25 percent mental training.

Group 3 received 50 percent mental training and 50 percent physical training.

- Group 4 received 75 percent mental training with 25 percent physical training.

Group 4 had the best performance results, indicating that mental training or visualization can have significant measurable effects on biological performance.

Similarly, for many years Russian gymnasts dominated the Olympics. The Americans trained hard, but they couldn't compete with the nearly flawless Russians. It wasn't until many years later that the Americans and others discovered the Russians used sports psychologists to help with mental-training techniques.

They spent a few hours each day visualizing their routines with perfect landings, twists and jumps. Today, most top athletes use the power of visualization.

People who soar refuse to sit back and wait for things to change. They visualize that they are not quitters. They will not allow circumstances to keep them down.

History teems with tales of experts who were convinced that the ideas, plans and projects of others could never be achieved. But then someone else came along and accomplished those dreams with a can-do attitude.

The Italian sculptor Agostino d'Antonio worked diligently on a large piece of marble. Unable to produce his desired masterpiece, he lamented, "I can do nothing with it." Other sculptors also worked this piece of marble, but to no avail.

Michelangelo discovered the stone and visualized the possibilities in it. His I-can-make-it-happen attitude resulted in one of the world's masterpieces -- his statue of David.

Are you reading these stories with the aid of an electric light? Consider the plight of Benjamin Franklin. He was admonished to stop his foolish experiments with lighting. What a waste of time! It was absurd to think anything could outdo the fabulous oil lamp. Thank goodness Franklin "saw the light" -- and made it happen.

Mackay's Moral: If seeing is believing, visualizing is achieving.

Visualize goals to succeed

Thursday, November 29, 2012

These lessons will boost success

Education is a stepping stone to success, but some of the most important lessons aren't taught in class. There are plenty of life lessons that we need to know, and the textbooks often do not have chapters on them. Here are some lessons you should learn in order to grow both in your career and in your personal life.

You can't do everything yourself. Control freaks make the job harder and foster resentment among the troops. Learn your limits so you can concentrate on what you do best, and delegate the rest to people (or tools) capable of doing as good a job, or better.

You need to understand finance. No matter what field you're in, a basic understanding of how money flows in and out of your organization will help you stand out from your peers and enable you to make better professional and personal decisions.

You don't always get a second chance. Failure isn't necessarily fatal, but that doesn't mean you'll get unlimited opportunities to try, try again. Learn to distinguish between foolhardy gambles and reasonable risks. Do your best -- but be ready to move on if things don't work out. Failure is not falling down, but staying down.

Your attitude is paramount. Stay upbeat no matter what happens. Employers and co-workers respond to your positive energy and outlook. You'll be more motivated and productive if you approach your work with optimism and a can-do spirit. Your attitude and your aptitude will determine your altitude.

Take your work seriously but don't take yourself too seriously. Starting your day with a good laugh is as beneficial to your health as it is to your mood. There is no place that needs humor more than the workplace. Human resources directors will tell you that employees with a sense of humor are more creative -- and much more fun to be around.

Everyone smiles in the same language. I learned years ago that one of the most powerful things you can do to have influence over others is to smile at them. A smile comes as standard equipment for everyone!

Your boss doesn't have all the answers. Listen to your managers, but remember that they're human, too. They don't always have the best answers, so be prepared to offer solutions. Your job is to help them get things done, not dump problems in their laps. Offer solutions and support wherever and whenever you can.

You never really know it all. Arrogance is one of the deadliest of all human failings and can destroy a business. It is the easiest to rationalize and the hardest to recognize in ourselves. Don't confuse arrogance with confidence, which allows you to perform up to the level of your capabilities. As I like to say about arrogance, I know that you don't know, but you don't know that you don't know.

You have to market yourself. You're responsible for your own success. Most of your managers and colleagues are too busy with their own issues to look out for your career. Look for opportunities to shine. Let people know what you're capable of. And be ready to prove yourself.

Beat rejection before it beats you. Rejection is -- and always will be -- part of business. For example, if it were easy to succeed in sales, everyone would want in. Rejection helps knock out the weak. You can't take it personally. People don't realize that in order to get the yeses, you must hear the nos.

Honesty is the best policy. If truth stands in your way, you're headed in the wrong direction. As the father of three children, one of my rules -- especially when they became teenagers -- was to tell me the truth immediately. That philosophy seemed to work for me, and quite frankly, I've always believed that telling the truth is the best policy. In business, it's the only policy.

You don't always get a trophy. Don't let ups and downs leave you down and out. Handling disappointment is one of life's challenges, and often an indication of how you deal with adversity at work as well. Achievers focus on the road, rather than the bumps in it, to reach their destination. Rough spots sharpen our performance. And more often than not, the obstacles can be turned into advantages. You just can't let your disappointment get in the way.

Mackay's Moral: You learn something new every day -- if you are paying attention.

by Harvey Mackay Nov 25, 2012

These lessons will boost success

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Mackay: Let employees know they matter

According to various surveys, seven of eight people go home every night with a feeling that they work for an organization that doesn't care about them. That equates to 130 million people in the United States who go home feeling somewhat used and abused and with a sense that they don't matter.

Enter Robert Chapman, CEO of Barry-Wehmiller, a leading provider of manufacturing technology, engineering and consulting solutions. He is a disciple of Truly Human Leadership, a leadership model that is all about people, purpose and performance. His vision is to send people home every night feeling fulfilled. Barry-Wehmiller has 7,000 team members through 58 acquisitions with $1.6 billion in sales.

Chapman is focused on allowing employees to discover, develop, share and be appreciated for their gifts. Employees are routinely solicited for their ideas.

In the company's leadership model, it attempts to shine a light in every corner of its business and look for the goodness in people.

To help, it has created several award programs. One award is the Guiding Principles of Leadership SSR Award. Chapman is a car enthusiast and had a Chevrolet SSR truck that he offered to one of his plants. The winner gets to drive it for a week. The program worked and expanded, so the company now has 17 SSR trucks.

"Everybody is nominating people," Chapman said. "In a plant of 450 people, we had 120 to 180 nominees. Think of this: People took the time to talk about the goodness in other people."

For every nominee, the company sends a letter to the employee's home, saying, "Your husband/daughter/son/brother/mother was nominated for their goodness. And let me tell you what people said about him or her."

Then, it's a secret when the winner is picked. The family is invited to the ceremony as a surprise.

Chapman said he's interviewed about 300 people who have won this award around the country. They tell him it's so significant because it's from their peers.

Award winners are often asked about their SSR truck by friends, and they describe the leadership award they won. And every time, people say, "I wish I worked for a company like that."

Chapman was visiting one of the company's recent plant acquisitions in Green Bay, Wis. He asked an employee what he thought about the new leadership model.

He said, "I'm now talking to my wife more."

Chapman said, "I don't understand."

The employee explained, "Do you know what it feels like to work in a place where you walk in in the morning and you punch a card to verify that you came in on time? You walk to your workstation, and people tell you what to do. They never ask you what you think. You do 10 things right, and you never hear a word. But you get one thing wrong, and you never hear the end of it. You go home and you don't feel very good about yourself. And when you don't feel very good about yourself, you're not really there for your family."

When the recession hit Barry-Wehmiller hard in 2008-09, Chapman had a tough decision to make. Orders dropped 35 percent. Employees were concerned about layoffs.

So the company and employee leaders came up with a plan where all employees would take off four weeks without pay. The company also suspended its 401(k) match.

"Employees didn't feel they did it to make the company more profitable," Chapman said. "They felt they did it to save somebody else's job. It was a gift. It was not a sacrifice."

True to form, when the company rebounded more quickly than anticipated, the company not only reinstated the 401(k) match but paid back the missed company match.

Just another way to reward employees.

Mackay's Moral: People are judged by the company they keep. Companies are judged by the people they keep.

by Harvey Mackay Nov 18, 2012

Mackay: Let employees know they matter

Archduke Joseph Diamond Sells For $21.5 Million, Setting Record

GENEVA — Christie's auctioned off the Archduke Joseph Diamond for nearly $21.5 million Tuesday night, a world auction record price per carat for a colorless diamond.

The Archduke Joseph Diamond was the first of two out-of-this world diamonds being auctioned off this week in Geneva. Sotheby's on Wednesday will auction what it calls an exceptionally rare fancy deep blue briolette diamond of 10.48 carats expected to get up to $4.5 million.

Christie's kicked off Geneva's jewelry auctions, held in five-star hotels along the Swiss city's elegant lakefront, that seem a continent if not a world away from the grim austerity gripping much of Europe.

The Archduke Joseph Diamond went for $21,474,525 including commission at Christie's auction. That was well above the expected $15 million and more than triple the price paid for it at auction almost two decades ago. The 76.02-carat diamond, with perfect color and internally flawless clarity, came from the ancient Golconda mines in India.

The seller, Alfredo J. Molina, chairman of California-based jeweler Black, Starr & Frost, said immediately afterward that there were two main bidders and that he was delighted with the result. Molina said the winning bidder, who wished to remain anonymous, is going to donate the diamond for display at a museum.

"It's a great price for a stone of this quality," Molina told The Associated Press. "It's one of a kind, so it's like saying `Are you pleased when you sell the Mona Lisa?' Or `Are you pleased when you sell the Hope Diamond?' It's all what the market will bear, and the stone sold for a very serious price."

Named for Archduke Joseph August of Austria, the great-grandson of both a Holy Roman emperor and a French king, the diamond passed to his son, Archduke Joseph Francis, who put it in a bank vault, then to an anonymous buyer who kept it in a safe during World War II. From there it surfaced at a London auction in 1961, then at a Geneva auction in 1993, when Christie's sold it for $6.5 million.

It wasn't the only mega-diamond to go under the hammer at Tuesday's auction in the hotel room packed with well-heeled bidders. Beneath a row of three enormous chandeliers that cast panther-like shadows on the ceiling, the participants eagerly pounced at the jewels while competing with bidders from around the world calling in to Christie's employees seated in rows on both sides of the room.

But perhaps the buyers weren't entirely immune to the harsh financial climate in Europe – or at least some Geneva version of it. Two plus-sized diamonds did not sell Tuesday night. A yellow diamond with 70.19 carats failed to sell because the final bid was 2.8 million Swiss francs, just slightly below the reserve price. A 12.16 carat pink diamond didn't sell because the final bid was 1.8 million francs, well under the reserve price.

On Wednesday, in addition to the blue briolette diamond, Sotheby's also is putting on the block a conch pearl, enamel and diamond Cartier bracelet that formerly belonged to Queen Victoria Eugenia of Spain that's expected to sell for up to $1.4 million.

The Archduke Joseph Diamond joins a long list of other fabulous jewels, watches and other luxury goods sold in Geneva. Here's a look at the city's most eye-popping diamonds put up for auction in recent years:


In May 2012, Sotheby's sold the 34.98 carat Beau Sancy diamond to an anonymous bidder for $9.7 million. Marie de Medici had worn it at her coronation as Queen Consort of Henry IV in France in 1610. Then the diamond passed among the royal families in France, England, the Netherlands and Prussia. It was sold by the Royal House of Prussia.

Sotheby's also sold for $3.87 million the Murat Tiara, a pearl-and-diamond tiara created for the marriage of a prince whose ancestors included the husband of Caroline Bonaparte, Napoleon's sister. Christie's auctioned off a 32.08-carat Burmese ruby and diamond ring that sold for $6.7 million, a world record price for a ruby sold at auction.


In November 2011, the Sun-Drop Diamond of South Africa, a giant pear-shaped yellow gem weighing 110.3 carats, sold for more than $10.9 million at auction, beating previous records for a jewel of its type. Including commission, the unidentified telephone bidder paid almost $12.4 million for the gem. Other lots at the $70 million sale included a white cushion-shaped diamond weighing 38.88 carats that sold for almost $7 million, including commission.


In May 2011, Christie's fetched $10.9 million for a 56-carat heart-shaped diamond that was internally flawless and $7.1 million for a 130-carat Burmese sapphire. Sotheby's got $12.7 million for a rare emerald-and-diamond tiara that a fabulously wealthy German prince, Guido Henckel von Donnersmarck, commissioned for his second, Russian-born wife around 1900. An intensely pink 11-carat diamond from the mines of India sold for $10.8 million.


In November 2010, a rare pink diamond smashed the world record for a jewel at auction, selling for more than $46 million to well-known London jeweler Laurence Graff. Four bidders competed for the pink diamond, which was last sold 60 years earlier by New York jeweler Harry Winston. The seller chose to remain anonymous. The 24.78-carat "fancy intense pink" diamond immediately became known as "The Graff Pink."

By John Helprin Associated Press Nove 13, 2011

Archduke Joseph Diamond Sells For $21.5 Million, Setting Record

Street smarts pave road to success

You learn how to be book smart in school, but you'd better not forget that you also need to be street-smart. There's an old saying about how the "A" students in school end up working for the "B" and "C" students in life. I've always been amused by that notion.

I succeeded because I have street smarts. Here are some street-smart ideas that have worked for me over the years. If one or two of them work for you, that's terrific.

Idea 1: Take time to think about important situations that arise before taking any action. Unexpected problems come up in life. No matter what you are hit with, memorize these six words: "I want to think about it." All my life, I've seen people react instantly to events that took them by surprise, and they opened their mouths and hurt themselves. So practice: "I want to sleep on it. I want to think about it." You won't be sorry.

Idea 2: Agreements prevent disagreements. Whenever you have a meeting of real importance, summarize your understanding with a brief note back to the other party. I guarantee this will save you from a lot of "he said /she said" ... "I thought you meant" ... or "We never talked about that."

Idea 3: Leaks don't just come from faucets. Just remember that the walls have ears, or as I now say, the world has ears. Don't discuss private important business or personal matters where it can be overheard by other parties. Many deals have gone down in elevators. Smartphones and recording devices are everywhere.

Idea 4: Always let someone else set the table for you. Let other people talk you up. The sound carries farther when someone else blows your horn.

Idea 5: Dial up your telephone skills. Never, never just leave your name when you call someone. Always leave the exact time frame you can be reached to avoid playing telephone tag.

Also, whenever you do reach a customer, client, VIP or key person in your network, immediately ask them, "Is this a good time to talk?" Don't blow a deal just because of inconsideration.

If you have an assistant who takes your calls, you will always make a solid impression if your assistant says you are expecting their call.

Lastly, and this is a tough one, but try to only take phone calls at a specific time of day. This is a huge time-saver. Of course, there will always be VIP exceptions.

Idea 6: Don't be boring. Don't be predictable. Don't be dull. Put some creativity into your life and business. For example, I have various types of letters that I use on a regular basis. I have unique and creative letters of "congratulations" and "thank you," and then I always add a personal message to them. I do a report-card letter where I list 10 or so items and rank each item A+, assuming they deserve it. I'm a big proponent of putting a smile on people's faces, whether it's with creative gifts or personal notes.

Idea 7: Check out who is attending events to which you're invited. I often call the person in charge of an event to try and get a list of attendees and where they will be seated. The cocktail hour is usually not long enough to greet more than 25 percent of the crowd. However, if you have the seating chart, you know the exact table number, plus who's attending. Then you can zero in on the contacts you want to make. If you can't get a list in advance, arrive early and check the name tags to see who will be there.

Idea 8: Many times in life when you are faced with a difficult situation, you should try to apply this philosophy: If you can afford to buy your way out of a problem, you don't have a problem.

Idea 9: Call people who have experienced a setback, demotion or personal tragedy. Everyone calls people on the way up, but not so often on the way down. You will always be remembered for your kindness.

Mackay's Moral: A student of life considers the world a classroom.

Street smarts pave road to success

Friday, November 9, 2012

Mackay: Each employee has a part to play

A sea captain and his chief engineer got into an argument about which one was more important to the ship. Finally, they decided to trade places for a day. After a few hours, the captain suddenly appeared on deck, covered with oil and soot.

"Chief!" he yelled wildly, waving aloft a monkey wrench. "You'll have to come down here! I can't make the ship go!"

"Of course not!" replied the chief engineer. "We're aground!"

This story demonstrates that everyone is important. As I like to say, "The boat won't go if we all don't row." You must be committed to each other.

This concept is not new, but it is more important than ever in these challenging business times. Even as some businesses start to rebound, many of them have come to realize that their departments look radically different than they did prerecession. They understand that workers who have worn several hats have demonstrated better workflow and streamlined operations. As those businesses slowly expand, they see that the old practices and procedures probably needed changing long before.

Jack Welch, the former CEO of General Electric, coined the phrase "the boundaryless organization." He believed that GE would be much more effective if the cultural, geographical and organizational barriers that separated the employees became more open. He put an emphasis on the boundary's ability to enable business to function, rather than to get in its way. In other words, everyone is important and must be included. Once every plant understood this, employees began talking to everyone across the aisle -- shipping to sales, manufacturing to research and development, and so on down the line.

We have employed this thinking at MackayMitchell Envelope Co. since we opened our doors more than 50 years ago. For example, I am often asked how many salespeople we have. My answer is always the same: "500." "Wow!" is the usual response, followed by, "How many employees do you have?" My answer is the same: "500."

Perhaps that's why they are also amazed when I tell them our company motto: "To be in business forever."

You see, we believe everyone is responsible for selling our company, if not a specific product. We are committed to the notion that the sales force may bring in the orders, but the factory must produce the quality product that our sales force promised. Our customer-service department needs to be in constant communication with the folks who bring in the business and those who work on the factory floor.

And the officers of the company are charged with making sure their departments understand the challenges and strengths of each of the other departments.

It all sounds so simple, but as a company grows, it takes a commitment at every level of the organization.

Howard Schultz, the entrepreneur who bought the original four-store Starbucks chain and turned it into a company that serves 50 million customers a week, wanted to establish a company where employees were respected. What was his inspiration? Memories of his father's life of working one low-paying job after another and going without decent compensation or insurance. Schultz wanted to create "the kind of company that my father never got a chance to work for, in which people were respected."

Schultz was selling coffee machines for a company when he noticed how many Starbucks was buying. He made the move to Starbucks and began to market the growing coffee company. Inspired by the "coffee culture" in Italy, he wanted to make that type of culture available in the Starbucks shops. Eventually, Schultz bought the company.

Starbucks' principles demonstrate exactly how the company views each of its employees:

Provide a great work environment and treat each other with respect and dignity.

Embrace diversity as an essential component in the way we do business.

Apply the highest standards of excellence to the purchasing, roasting and delivery of our coffee.

Develop enthusiastically satisfied customers all of the time.

Contribute positively to our communities and our environment.

Recognize that profitability is key to future success.

Those principles include and embrace every worker in the company. The employees know from the start what is expected of them and what they can expect from their employer.

You don't have to be a coffee drinker to appreciate that attitude.

Mackay's Moral: No one is as important as all of us.

by Harvey Mackay Nov 1 2012 Read more: Mackay: Each employee has a part to play

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Can Bigger Be Faster?

In nature, there's a tradeoff between size and speed. Whales are slow. Birds are fast. But organizations today need to be big and fast. Is it possible? Can organizations be both agile and scalable?

There's some good news. Science is revealing that biology doesn't have to rule the marketplace. And new models of leadership are emerging from some unlikely places.

Read more: Can Bigger Be Faster?

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Mastering Press Releases For Small Business Owners

Online press releases are an increasingly popular tool for small business owners, thanks mostly to their affordability. The same process that used to cost thousands of dollars to the average business owner, is now less than $100 and the speed at which news is now internationally distributed has broken down a host of traditional barriers to entry.

Read more:  Mastering Press Releases For Small Business Owners

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Schaefer Marketing Solutions: We Help Businesses {grow} » 8 ways blog writing is unique

There are many great writers who have unsuccessful blogs. Here’s why. They may be great writers, but they are not great bloggers. There’s a big difference. Here are eight ways that blog writing differs from how you might write in school or at work.

1) Headlines matter. A lot.

Nobody is going to sit by the fireplace with a glass of wine and relax with a good blog post. Blog readers are SKIMMERS. More than likely they are scanning their inbox or blog reader to figure out what posts are worthy. So a headline that says “My views on soap” or “Thinking back” are not going to cut it. You have to GRAB ‘em and make them read. Here are characteristics of great headlines:

Contains keyword
Tweetable (short)

Also, any headline that indicates a numbered list is going to attract more eyeballs. Busy readers like lists.

2) Write upside down

In school, we are taught to write linearly. A beginning, a middle, an end. That does not work on blogs. You have to tell the ending first. I call that writing upside down. Busy readers are going to be bored and frustrated if you don’t tell them exactly why they are there and what the pay-off is. So start with the end … and then explain it.

3) Keep it short.

This graph illustrates the amount attention given to a blog post versus its word-count:

There is no science behind this. I totally made this up. But I have also written about 2,000 posts so I have some sense about these things! You have to EARN the right to go long. If you are Malcolm Gladwell, you have earned the right to go long. If you are just starting to build your audience, don’t challenge them with long posts unless it is something extraordinary. Somewhere between 500 and 1,000 words is golden.

4) Use sub headings

A sub-heading is like a mini headline – like what you see above this sentence. Subheads draw attention down the length of the blog post and breaks up the block of gray. This is especially important in a challenging reading environment like a smartphone.

5) Use your original voice

In journalism school I was taught to keep my “voice” OUT of my writing. Just stick to the facts. The best blog writing weaves your personal narrative into the discussion and lets your personality shine. When somebody wants to write a guest post for {grow} I challenge them to write a post that ONLY they could write. Dig deep. Be you. That is the heart of originality and that is the source of blogging success!

6) Keep it RITE

This is easy to remember. Try to make every blog post R- relevant, I – interesting, T – timely and E – entertaining. If you can do that consistently, you will be creating share-able blog content.

7) Be conversational.

Throw the rules out the door. Write like you speak. Even. If. It’s. Choppy. After you have written your blog post, read it out loud. If it doesn’t sound like you simply talking to your audience, lighten it up. Just tell them the story.

8) End with a question

If you want to encourage comments and engagement, you don’t have to have all the answers. You just have to ask the right questions. Although you wouldn’t normally end a whitepaper or news article with a question, it makes perfect sense for a blog. Right?

Monday, October 29, 2012

Vote like your future depends on it

As I was driving down a busy street in St. Paul, Minn., recently, I noticed among the preponderance of political yard signs that one stood out. In large letters, it simply said, "JUST VOTE."

I wish to echo that sentiment.

We are in the thick of the "silly season," as the pre-election weeks are often called. The candidates and their surrogates are pounding home their messages, frequently to the point that we tune them out. Political posturing and name-calling surround us. We sift through the claims and counterclaims and hope we have the truth.

And then, sadly, some just give up. The confusion is too overwhelming. Or they get lazy. Or they don't care. Or, most tragically, they feel like their vote is meaningless.

They couldn't be more wrong.

Even if you vote for just one candidate or one issue, your vote is your voice.

I don't care whom or what you vote for; please don't pass up this opportunity to be heard. Our American system affords us a unique opportunity to shape our future.

Of course, I have favorite candidates on each slate. I rarely vote a straight ticket, finding personal qualities and reasonable positions on issues I really care about throughout the ballot.

In addition, I have a certain respect for individuals who enter the race knowing they are exposing themselves to all kinds of criticism and vitriol. Elections in the Internet age are a whole different ballgame. Given the potential for anonymous character assassination, I often wonder who would be willing to place his or her name in nomination.

But the ballot is rife with capable candidates and compelling issues. The choices are pretty clear-cut. Even though our choices may not be the ultimate winners, we have a duty to exercise our right to vote.

I have a theory that a large voter turnout screams to those who are elected: "We all cared enough to vote. We will be watching you to make sure you don't let us down."

But a small turnout sends the message that people just don't care. That is when representatives start to think no one is watching. Our government is based on majority rules, but passing on voting means the minority wins out.

The ancient city of Athens, Greece, may well have been the birthplace of what we call civic spirit. When he reached voting age, every Athenian was obligated to stand in the public square -- before his family and neighbors -- and take this oath: "We will strive unceasingly to quicken the public sense of duty -- so that we will make this city greater, better and more beautiful than it was when we took this oath."

What a tremendous example! There are few opportunities to express your opinion with such impact. Voting gives you a voice in your government, from the people who represent you to the issues that affect the way you live.

In other words, if you don't exercise your right to vote, you might as well forfeit your right to complain.

To put it more eloquently, I'll borrow the words of American statesman Daniel Webster: "Impress upon children the truth that the elective franchise is a social duty of as solemn a nature as man can be called to perform; that a man may not incorrectly trifle with his vote; that every elector is a trustee as well for others as himself and that every measure he supports has an important bearing in the interests of others as well as on his own."

We have a duty to another very special group of patriots: our veterans. Do we really understand the sacrifices they have made, that they fight for our right to be free? Voting is a fundamental demonstration of gratitude to those who have risked and even given their lives for us. It is perhaps fitting that we celebrate Election Day and Veterans Day so close together.

Your vote is sacred, it is secret and it is important. It is much more powerful than you might suppose. It may seem like nothing at the start, but it carries tremendous and widespread aftereffects -- like the future of our country.

Mackay's Moral: To me, VOTE stands for "Voice of the Electorate." Be heard.

Read more: Vote like your future depends on it

Monday, October 22, 2012

Leaders different from managers

It's election season, and one of the greatest privileges we have in America is selecting our own leaders. While we might have varied opinions of who should win, the fundamental characteristics of good leadership remain constant.

A sociology professor from one of the country's major universities spent his life studying leadership by tracing the careers of 5,000 former students. Asked how you spot a leader, he said, "I have come to the conclusion that the only way one can determine a leader is to look at the person and see if anybody is following."

Leadership is a difficult skill to measure, but it is certainly easy to determine when leadership is not present in an organization. Click here to find out more!

In four years of executive seminars conducted by Santa Clara University and the Tom Peters Group/Learning Systems, more than 5,200 senior managers were asked to describe the characteristics they most admire in a leader. Here are the top 10 characteristics, as reported in Management Review magazine: honest, competent, forward-looking, inspiring, intelligent, fair-minded, broad-minded, courageous, straightforward and imaginative.

Three of these characteristics are particularly significant in my opinion: forward-looking, inspiring and courageous. The others are also necessary ingredients for an effective leader and for every employee.

Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu said, "Fail to honor people, they fail to honor you. But of a good leader, who talks little, when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will all say, 'We did this ourselves.' " He made that observation more than 2,000 years ago. Some things never change.

Good leaders listen to the people who work for them. They pay attention to what people are telling them and take it very seriously.

Good leaders use their power to implement ideas that workers bring forth; they are quick to give credit to the person who had the idea. Then comes the action that really sets good leaders apart: They are willing to accept the blame and criticism when mistakes are made. They don't abandon their employees.

Warren Bennis spent much of his life researching leadership and has written several books on the subject of what makes leaders.

Bennis is a distinguished professor of business administration and the founding chairman of the Leadership Institute at the University of Southern California. In 2007, Businessweek called him one of the 10 business-school professors who have had the greatest influence on business thinking.

Bennis traveled around the country spending time with 90 of the most effective and successful leaders in the nation -- 60 from corporations and 30 from the public sector. His goal was to find these leaders' common traits. At first, he had trouble pinpointing any common traits, as the leaders were more diverse than he had expected.

But he later wrote: "I was finally able to come to conclusions, of which perhaps the most important is the distinction between leaders and managers. Leaders are people who do the right thing; managers are people who do things right.

"Both roles are crucial, but they differ profoundly. I often observe people in top positions doing the wrong thing well," he wrote in his book "Why Leaders Can't Lead."

I tend to think of the difference between leaders and managers as the difference between those who master the context within which they operate and those who surrender to it.

There are other differences, as well, and they are enormous and crucial. Bennis details them in his book "On Becoming A Leader," and they include:

The manager administers; the leader innovates.

The manager is a copy; the leader is an original.

The manager maintains; the leader develops.

The manager focuses on systems and structure; the leader focuses on people.

Mackay's Moral: Good leaders develop more than good employees; they develop more good leaders.

Read more: Leaders different from managers

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Put wishes in writing to help survivors

Where there's a will, there's probably a contented soul.

One of the greatest gifts someone can make to his or her family is to detail final instructions on financial and medical matters for legal purposes, say experts on aging and the law.

Pay a few hundred or a few thousand dollars now to create a will, trust, living will or advance directive, and you can ease the burden that your death would create for your loved ones.

That's something Glendale resident Bob Dionisio did about 26 years ago, after the birth of his son. The goal is to have "wishes acknowledged" and priorities understood, he said.

Getting his papers in order has helped him feel more settled, said Dionisio, 57.

"When it's completed, it's like a check off your to-do list. You feel like you did the right thing for your family," he said. "You have the opportunity to plan for the unexpected."

He first wrote a will and a few years later created a trust, a legal arrangement in which you choose someone to manage your assets. A trust, which can cost from $1,500 to tens of thousands of dollars for a complicated estate, can help your heirs avoid dealing with the court process of probate, which works to distribute assets and handle debts.

A will, which can cost a few hundred dollars, does not keep your estate from probate. In many cases, probate simply requires filling out paperwork with the court to proceed with administering your wishes.

Die without a will or trust in Arizona and your estate is considered "intestate."

Before survivors go to court, saying their loved one didn't leave behind a will, families should "try and make a sufficient investigation,'' advised Lindsey Jackson, associate attorney with Gammage & Burnham in Phoenix. Search the house and go through personal papers.

While you're doing that, gather records of the deceased person's assets. Arizona allows you to stay out of probate court if the estate is small -- that is, if the personal property (art, jewelry, vehicles) is worth less than $50,000 and the real estate owned by the deceased is worth less than $75,000.

"In Arizona, there's a lot of people where probate is not required because so many people are underwater on their homes," Jackson said.

Arizona has rules for the distribution of assets if there is no will.

"A lot of people think, 'I don't have an estate plan, I don't have that much,' but if you don't have a will or trust, the state of Arizona gets to decide for you,'' Jackson said.

If there is a surviving spouse with no children outside of the marriage, the estate goes to the spouse.

If there is a surviving spouse and the deceased has living children from another relationship, half goes to the surviving spouse and the other half is divided among the children.

"We warn people all the time to have at least some sort of basic will, or these things will happen," Jackson said. "We tell people when doing estate planning, you're not doing it to benefit yourself; it's for the benefit of your family. It can be a very emotional time after a death."

If there is no surviving spouse and no children, the property will go to the deceased's parents. If they are not alive, it goes to siblings.

And if no close, living relative is found, the search continues along the family tree. Finally, if no living relative at all is found, the estate goes to the state of Arizona.

Generally, the search will continue for two years, long enough for any creditor's claims on debts allegedly owed by the deceased to expire.

With a will, administration fees for probate are generally about $300. If a will is not specific, someone might challenge it. A contested will can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, Jackson said.

For Baby Boomers, the issue of getting legal documents in place is a subject to consider not only for their heirs but their parents. Boomers may want to help their parents as they decide on financial or medical directives.

David Harowitz, an estate-planning attorney with Nussbaum Gillis & Dinner in Phoenix, estimates that 60 percent to 70 percent of people have no estate planning completed at the time of their death.

"People just don't get around to it," he said.

There are three times in life when people often feel the need to complete a will: when their children are very young, when they are empty nesters and the children are gone, and when they have had a parent die and they've been beneficiaries and gone through probate.

Although people can handle their own wills through online programs or kits bought in stores, Harowitz said there's a risk that your wishes could be misinterpreted. And many attorneys in private practice have standard will form books or software that may not be able to be tailored to meet your needs. He suggests finding someone who specializes in estate planning, which can be helpful when an estate is complicated or you own a business.

Most of all, he recommends that people talk to family members about their wishes, especially if they don't plan to distribute assets equally among children.

"It's best to address it ahead of time and help them understand," he said. "Perhaps a child is on drugs and it may be foolish to leave your assets outright."

Talk with your heirs about who might want certain items of personal property. After a death, some people don't react as well as they normally would, Harowitz said. "It's not an uncommon situation. Say, the mom dies and one of (the) adult children gets in town first. Suddenly, there's no jewelry. There can be distrust."

Once you've created the documents, where's the best place to store them?

"The safest place is in a safety deposit box, but many clients don't like having to pay for the box forever," Harowitz said. "Plus, it's inconvenient."

A second option is to buy a good fireproof box. "I stress fireproof," he said.

Or have someone else hold the original documents, in case your house burns down and you're killed in the fire.

From 100-year-old dishes to photos and guns from the Civil War, "you never can imagine the personal property that needs to be protected," said Lynn Keeling of the Keeling Law Offices in Phoenix. "Say your mom was a nurse, and she has her RN pin; who is that going to be important to?"

Talking about personal property can be difficult because it makes the prospect of dying real, Keeling said.

"Ask family members, whether children, grandchildren or siblings, to write you a letter and tell you what property they're interested in," he said. "It can save hurt feelings."

by Connie Cone Sexton - Oct. 12, 2012 The Republic |

Put wishes in writing to help survivors

Monday, October 8, 2012

A business requires trust in order to succeed

"Trust flows from individuals, not organizations." That's the best summary I can provide of David Horsager's book "The Trust Edge: How Top Leaders Gain Faster Results, Deeper Relationships and a Stronger Bottom Line."

Why is this book so valuable? The topic couldn't be timelier. In my opinion, the most important five-letter word in the English language is spelled T-R-U-S-T. It's so critical, publisher Simon & Schuster's Free Press has made "The Trust Edge" its leading business book this fall, with a publication date of Oct. 9.

I know Dave Horsager, and I trust him. He is the perfect author for a book on this topic. He has been studying the topic for 10 years, and we can all benefit from his research.

Let me give you a sample of his wisdom: "Trust defined: Trust is the confident belief in an entity:

To do what is right.

To deliver what is promised.

To be the same every time, regardless of circumstances."

I can't imagine a person staying in business very long without trust from every angle. Your customers have to be able to trust you. Your employees must trust you. Your vendors must trust you. Even your competitors must trust you. It's that simple. If any of those relationships breaks down, close your doors and find another way to make a living.

Horsager says, "Without trust, the transactions cannot occur. Without trust, influence is destroyed. Without trust, leaders lose teams. Without trust, organizations lose productivity, relationships, reputation, talent retention, customer loyalty, creativity, morale, revenue and results."

As he was studying top organizations and leaders, Horsager found that some had a clear advantage over others.

"Those leaders or organizations that could weather storms, charge higher prices, maintain respect with customers and clients, and foster long-term growth were special," Horsager writes. "The greatest leaders and organizations of all time have had the same competitive edge. They were trusted."

He confirms what I have learned over my decades in business: Trust doesn't happen overnight.

"While it may appear to be static, trust is more like a forest -- a long time growing, but easily burned down with a touch of carelessness," he says.

Several years back, I wrote about a study by Forum Corp., which Horsager also cites as evidence of the importance of trust. Using hundreds of salespeople from 11 companies in five different industries, the researchers found that the unique trait of top producers was honesty -- not charisma, ability or knowledge.

For as long as I have been in business, I have believed that the most charming, most educated, most technically astute sales- and businesspeople will be abject failures unless all those traits are wrapped in honesty.

When we trust people, we are optimistic not only that they are competent to do what we trust them to do, but also that they are committed to doing it. They will be totally honest with a customer even when it is difficult or potentially costly. Their reputations are more important than any deal.

In that spirit, Horsager has identified the eight pillars of trust that are key attributes of successful leaders: clarity, compassion, character, competency, commitment, connection, contribution and consistency. He includes terrific advice and even study questions to drive home every point. In other words, as Horsager says, "'The Trust Edge' is the competitive advantage gained when others confidently believe in you."

"The Trust Edge" is extremely well organized, with terrific and easily relatable examples, providing convincing support for his points. Useful features like tabbed pages lead you to specific chapters and sections and also remind you on every page of the eight pillars of trust.

This book is arriving not a moment too soon for the trust crisis we are facing in the world. Developing and cultivating trust is fundamental to a successful business, personal relationship or even a functional government. Trust me, if you follow David Horsager's advice, you'll have an unbeatable edge.

Mackay's Moral: Doing the right thing is never the wrong thing to do.

Read more: A business requires trust in order to succeed

Clark Gable's '55 coupe going on Barrett-Jackson auction block in Scottsdale

The Barrett-Jackson Auction Co. has announced it will sell Clark Gable's 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing Coupe at its Scottsdale auction in January.
The vintage car, one of 1,400 that Mercedes built from 1954-57, will be part of the auction's Salon Collection, which includes the rarest and most expensive automobiles.
"Gable's 300SL is a stunning vehicle on its own, but it's the pedigree that comes with it that really makes this Mercedes one-of-a-kind," said Steve Davis, Barrett-Jackson president.
Read more: Clark Gable's '55 coupe going on Barrett-Jackson auction block in Scottsdale

Be a servant leader, not a self-serving leader

Ken Blanchard believes corporate America is in desperate need of a different leadership role model. And I couldn't agree more.

Ken is a walking management encyclopedia: He's written 50 books with more than 90 contributing authors. His blockbuster book, "The One-Minute Manager," has sold 13 million copies around the world. He has a practical, no-nonsense style that I love.

Ken has been a good friend for years. In fact, I owe a lot of my book-writing success to Ken because he's the one who asked me to write a book with him before I decided to author "Swim With the Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive" back in 1988.

While most leaders think leadership is in your head, Ken thinks effective leadership starts in the heart. Your heart controls your motivation, your intent and your leadership character.

I invited Ken to speak to my round-table group of 30 CEOs. His memorable message was that the No. 1 leadership style around the world today is "seagull management." He explained: "Managers might set goals and then disappear until you screw up. Then they fly in, make a lot of noise, dump on everybody and fly out. They think that's great leadership."

He compared what he calls self-serving leaders with servant leaders and mentioned three main differences.

The first difference is feedback. If you've ever tried to give negative feedback up the hierarchy of a self-serving leadership team, you know the difference. You get destroyed.

Self-serving leaders thrive in critical environments, whereas servant leaders prefer supportive environments.

Ken said: "I travel around the world, and I'll say to people, 'How do you know whether you're doing a good job?' The Number 1 response I still get is 'Nobody's yelled at me lately.' "

He went on to say that if he could teach only one thing, it would be to develop great relationships. He advised that to develop great organizations, you have to wander around and catch people doing the right things and then praise them in front of everyone.

The second major difference is that self-serving leaders don't want anyone else to look really good, while servant leaders want to build leadership in their group. They have no problem with someone rising up. They don't mind sharing leadership.

My philosophy is you'd be amazed at how much you can accomplish if you don't care who gets the credit.

The third difference is ego. "Self-serving leaders are caught in the trap that they think their self-worth is a function of their performance plus the opinion of others," Ken said. "They have this scorekeeping system. The only way they can keep going is they've got to get more. Their scorekeeping centers around three things: accumulation of wealth, recognition/power and status."

Ken advises that there is nothing wrong with accumulating money, getting recognized or having some power and status. "What's wrong is if that's who you think you are, because then your self-worth is tied up there, and you're going to have to keep on performing," he said. "That's why people have to keep on accumulating more and more and take huge bonuses when that money could be spent in other ways."

Servant leaders define self-worth differently. They are comfortable in their skin. Ken cautions that this doesn't mean they don't have some weaknesses. They know that their positions are not a given. Their job and possessions are on loan and can be taken away at a moment's notice.

Our egos can interfere in two ways, Ken cautions. One is false pride, when you think more of yourself than you should. The other is self-doubt or fear, when you think less of yourself than you should.

The antidote for fear and self-doubt is self-pride and self-esteem, whereas the antidote for false pride is humility, which Ken believes is another important characteristic of a leader.

"A lot of people have this image that people who are humble are weak," Ken said. "People with humility don't think less of themselves, they just think about themselves less. That's really a powerful thing."

Mackay's Moral: None of us is as smart as all of us.

Read more: Be a servant leader, not a self-serving leader

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Let competition inspire you to work harder

I hate to lose.

That said, I am proud to admit that competition has made me a better businessman, a better golfer and a better person. And when there isn't another company or business to compete with, I try to outdo myself. If that sounds simple, well, it is. I always want to be at my best and show my best side.

People can exceed expectations when motivated properly. This story, told by Andrew S. Grove, former CEO of the Intel Corp., a California manufacturer of semiconductors, is a perfect illustration.

For years, the performance of the Intel facilities-maintenance group, which is responsible for keeping the buildings clean and in good shape, was substandard. No amount of pressure or inducement seemed to do any good.

Then, Intel initiated a program in which each building's upkeep was periodically given a score by a resident senior manager. The score was then compared with those given the other buildings. Result: The condition of all of the buildings improved dramatically -- almost immediately. Nothing else had been done. People did not get more money or other rewards. What they did get was the stimulus of competition.

Competition drives performance. It drives people to work harder and dig deeper to deliver more than they ever thought they could.

Among the many benefits of increased market competition, according to the tutor2u website:

Lower prices for consumers.

A greater discipline on producers/suppliers to keep their costs down.

Improvements in technology with positive effects on production methods and costs.

A greater variety of products from which to choose.

A faster pace of invention and innovation.

Improvements to the quality of service for consumers.

Better information for consumers, allowing people to make more informed choices.

There's nothing like a little competition to boost productivity. Look at industry studies and you will consistently see that competition helped improve results.

I am and have always been very competitive. I understand that some people don't like competition, but you have to accept that competition is unavoidable in life. That's the way our society works. It's my belief that our society improves with competition.

Some parents don't want to engage their young children in competition. I understand their reluctance in situations where unrealistic expectations are set, but friendly competition is good.

It is critical to prepare children and teenagers to compete in the real world. As they grow older, they will face competition in schools, in the workforce, even in the housing market.

A University of Florida study found that participating in sports is a healthy way to teach kids about the positive aspects of competition. Playing sports helps kids understand how competition works in a friendly environment and that if you try your hardest, you have a better chance at succeeding, not to mention improving your health and self-esteem.

When I was in London at the Olympics, I heard an interviewer ask an athlete to predict the outcome of his race.

The athlete said, "I'll come in fifth."

Sure enough, that's exactly where he finished, even though he could easily have placed third, or even second, because two other major competitors fared poorly.

Contrast this with Manteo Mitchell, who broke his leg midway through the 4x400-meter relay but kept running to allow the U.S. team to reach the final.

I cannot emphasize enough that all my business life, I have faced competition, and I believe it has made both my company and me better. When competitors improve their products, we improve ours more. When a sales prospect mentions service, I ask what the other company promised them and then exceed it. We know our customers better here at MackayMitchell Envelope Co. It's our real leg up on the competition. We hate to lose a customer. We take tremendous pride in beating the competition, because that means we are serving our customers better.

There is an old saying in Africa that goes like this: Every morning, a gazelle gets up and knows that it must outrun the fastest lion or it will get eaten. And every morning, a lion gets up and knows that it must outrun the slowest gazelle or it will starve to death.

So, whether you are a gazelle or a lion, every morning when you get up, you'd better be running.

Mackay's Moral: If you go the extra mile, you will almost always beat the competition.

by Harvey Mackay Sep 23, 2012

Let competition inspire you to work harder

Monday, September 17, 2012

To be successful, stand out by reaching out

There's an old saying that you can't judge a book by its cover. Otherwise, you might wonder what on earth Brandon Steiner is writing about in his terrific new book, "You Gotta Have Balls."

Yes, you read that correctly. Catchy title, to be sure, but a completely accurate description for the story of the guy who runs the largest sports memorabilia business in the country, Steiner Sports Marketing. The subtitle explains: "How a Kid From Brooklyn Started From Scratch, Bought Yankee Stadium and Created a Sports Empire."

Brandon's rags-to-riches story is inspirational, fascinating and, best of all, replicable. He started his life in a very poor apartment with a single mother who was often sick. He escaped to Yankee Stadium whenever he could scrape enough money together, just to have a break from his less-than-idyllic life.

A born salesman, he shares the story of his early endeavors delivering newspapers. When he was having trouble signing up customers, his mother challenged him to find other services to offer to prospective customers. What else could he do for them?

So Brandon, who lived near a bagel shop, told customers he could deliver bagels or milk in addition to the newspaper. Before long, he was delivering 100 daily papers, 150 Sunday papers, 100 gallons of milk every week and more than 100 bagels every Sunday. He found his passion at a very young age and parlayed it into what eventually became a multimillion-dollar business.

His success is summed up in one of his favorite sayings: "If you want more money, don't pay attention to the money. Pay attention to the thing that makes the money."

Brandon is the master of "what else?" -- the attitude that has helped him develop the winning formula for his success. This book is a game plan for any aspiring entrepreneur or anyone in business.

One of his childhood passions led to his blockbuster deal to buy the old Yankee Stadium contents for $11.5 million.

"I wanted to buy the priceless remains, from the foul poles to the lockers to the bullpen bench. I wanted every seat, and every sign -- and of course, every patch of dirt and grass," Brandon said. "In preserving these totems from the wrecking ball, we'd also be preserving a very substantial part of people's lives. We had to treat it like your grandmother's home -- respectfully, delicately. Every little piece had a meaning and a story."

His attitude stems from years of customer service, from his paper route to hotel jobs to building his own company. He reminds readers to focus on relationships, not transactions.

"Do as much as you can, for as many people as you can, as often as you can, without expecting anything in return," he says.

"Don't worry about what you're getting back from someone you're giving something to. Don't worry about how many dollars that person is going to equal for you. It's counterintuitive, but there's definitely more joy in giving than receiving. ... Most people can't do that. They're too concerned with what they're getting back from the other person. They keep score."

He continues, "Being generous with what you have without keeping score is the only way to live. It strengthens your spirit, it keeps you focused on the people who make your business what it is, and it helps breed success."

Brandon's best advice for people trying to make it big is this: Differentiate yourself.

"It's in our nature not to be satisfied, but I'm a big believer in chasing dreams instead of being consumed by nightmares," he says. "If you have a big success, try and figure out how to have another one.

"If you're trying to satisfy a client, or make a deal, figure out how you can reach or help this person in some special, unique way. Really, it's this all-encompassing ideal that can help you realize your personal potential, which can help you grow your business, or even maintain and nurture a relationship."

Steiner Sports Marketing is a remarkable business. . Why? Because of "what else?" And, really, what else could be more important?

"You Gotta Have Balls" reads like a great novel and teaches like a great textbook. Brandon Steiner's story inspires, amuses and motivates all at the same time. Read it, study it and get your game plan together.

Mackay's Moral: What else could you be doing for your customer?

by Harvey Mackay Sep 16, 2012

To be successful, stand out by reaching out

3 productivity secrets to be a superachiever

Because I do a lot of public speaking, I have developed a deep appreciation for top-notch speakers. So when I was brainstorming and looking for a real showstopper to address a group of businesspeople I am mentoring, I asked Darren Hardy, publisher of SUCCESS magazine, to be one of our presenters.

Darren is in the rare position to interview the most celebrated achievers on the planet to discover how they have created their extraordinary success. Astute SUCCESS readers use the advice to achieve more and lead more fulfilling lives. Darren's message, three productivity secrets of superachievers, was a real eye-opener.

No. 1 might surprise you because so many people want to know what successful individuals do to create great results, but the answer is just the opposite. It's not what they do at all -- it's what they don't do, according to Darren. Saying "yes" is easy, he said. The master skill, however, is saying "no." That is hard because it can cause conflict in relationships. When Darren got a chance to interview Warren Buffett, he asked the question that everyone wants answered: "What would you attribute your grand success to?" The key to Buffett's great success was this: "For every 100 great opportunities that are brought to me, I say 'no' 99 times."

Darren asked Steve Jobs, "Of all the things that you have built and created that have changed the world, what are you and Apple most proud of? His answer was, "I'm as proud of what we don't do as I am of what we do."

Distinction No. 2 of superachievers is to learn to focus on the vital few.

"A lot of us try to become master of many things," Darren said. "We try to be great at a lot of things, and as a result, we don't ever become world-class at a few things. Look at Olympic athletes, entertainers, Nobel laureates or Albert Einstein. They were all world-class at just a few things. The rest of their lives they were pretty mediocre."

Darren makes the point that long hours are very different from hard work. "A great confusion for a lot of us is that we think there are all of these functions we need to be involved in and we need to be great at," he said. "Really, like anything in life, there's about a half-dozen vital functions that you need to become excellent or brilliant at in order to create gargantuan success."

The final distinction of superachievers, according to Darren, is that they've developed unconscious habits of success. As Aristotle said, "We are what we repeatedly do."

Darren said, "When you repeat an activity over and over, the reason it becomes an unconscious habit is it develops what's called a neurosignature. It actually burns a brain groove. Every time you do something, it continues to reinforce this brain groove, and we become what we practice the most."

Bottom line: You have to develop a daily routine that will lead you to success.

Mackay's Moral: Lots of people start, but few people finish.

by Harvey Mackay Aug 13, 2012

3 productivity secrets to be a superachiever

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Confidence starts with your thought process

When I am interviewing potential employees, one of the traits that I look for is confidence. I'm not referring to hubris or arrogance, but someone who understands his or her ability and is not afraid to use it.

With the college-football season just starting, it reminds me of a revealing story my good friend Lou Holtz told me when I helped bring him in to coach the University of Minnesota football team back in 1984.

"I was at a convention just after taking the job at North Carolina State," Lou said, "and I was talking to Wayne Hardin, who was coach at Temple."

Hardin asked, "Lou, do you think you're the best coach in the country?"

Lou answered, "No way. I'm not even in the top 10."

"Well," Hardin said, "North Carolina State hired you because they think you are. If you don't act like you are, you shouldn't even be coaching."

According to First Draft by Ragan Communications: "Confidence doesn't come naturally to most people. Even the most successful people have struggled with it in their careers."

The good news is that you can develop it, just like any muscle or character trait, if you're willing to work hard at it. The better news: These tips can help you strengthen your confidence. Here's what to try:

Don't compare yourself with others. Focus on your own achievements and ambitions, not anyone else's. Other people will always be more successful than you at different stages of your life and career, and obsessing about them will only send your confidence plunging. Concentrate on identifying and improving your own strengths and skills.

Track your success. Keep a log of your accomplishments, large and small. Recording victories on a daily basis will make you feel more successful, and looking over your progress will boost your self-esteem.

Practice being assertive. Take an active role in pursuing success, no matter how anxious you feel. Start by visualizing situations where you feel nervous, and picture yourself being assertive. Check your body language in a mirror, and practice good posture and a self-assured expression. Then go out and take a few chances, starting with low-risk situations. Once you've survived those, you can move on to bigger personal challenges. You may be surprised by how well practice makes perfect.

Accept that failure is not the end of the world. Learn from your mistakes. Many great achievements have been far from perfect but were more than good enough to be proud of.

Step out of your comfort zone. Push yourself beyond your known limits, and see how successful you can be. When you realize what you can accomplish, your confidence soars. Your potential is unlimited. You are the only one who can limit it.

Set goals. Decide what you want to accomplish in your career and personal life. Reaching goals is a tremendous confidence-builder. It also spurs you to set higher goals.

Prepare to succeed. Keep improving your skills and you will build confidence. Knowing that you are capable is central to a positive self-image. Take care of both your body and your mind.

One of the greatest violinists of all time was Niccolo Paganini. One day, as Paganini was about to perform before a packed opera house, he realized he had walked out on the stage with a strange violin in his hands, not his own treasured instrument. Panic-stricken, he began to play with all the skill he possessed. Everyone agreed that he gave the performance of his life.

In his dressing room, when he was praised for his superlative performance, Paganini replied, "Today, I learned the most important lesson of my entire career. Before today, I thought the music was in the violin. Today, I learned that the music is in me."

Mackay's Moral: Your mind is your most powerful ally in developing confidence.

by Harvey Mackay Sep 9, 2012

Confidence starts with your thought process

Latz: Late negotiating expert still has much to teach us

Harvard Law professor Roger Fisher, a giant in the negotiation field who co-wrote the best-seller Getting to Yes: Negotiating To Get What You Want, passed away last week. As someone who studied under him and who still teaches his core concepts, I believe it's worth reiterating them.

Separate the people from the problem.

Fisher taught that negotiations fundamentally represent an opportunity for parties to sit down side-by-side to resolve their problems mutually. And a critical component of this revolved around parties' ability to establish productive working relationships with one another and separate the people involved from the problems they faced.

At a base level, Fisher recognized that parties often get distracted by assumptions and miscommunications involving the people and personalities at the table. By doing so, they end up going down counterproductive paths and never fully exploring how to address their mutual problems.

Fisher's advice? Separately address these two critical elements.

An example of this occurred in connection with the 1985 summit between President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev. Prior to the summit, Fisher helped convince Reagan's staff that setting a specific agenda for the summit was less important than activities like joint brainstorming, which was focused on building the parties' relationships.

Focus on interests, not positions.

Fisher and his co-authors Bill Ury and Bruce Patton in Getting to Yes tell of two men in a library arguing about whether to close a nearby window. One wants it open, the other wants it closed. They seem like irreconcilable positions -- until the librarian asks each why he wants it open or closed. One answers that he wants fresh air, and the other answers that he dislikes the draft.

The librarian then closes the window, walks into the next room and opens that window -- providing fresh air and eliminating the draft.

This classic example illustrates the power of exploring interests (why you want something) versus positions (what you want). Arguing over positions will often lead to deadlock and frustration. But if you can elicit the true interests underlying a party's position, it often leads to creative options satisfying all the parties' interests. That's a real win-win.

Insist on objective criteria.

Of course, important interests do conflict in many negotiations. And you can't always find ways to satisfy everyone and expand the proverbial pie. Sometimes you just must find a way to cut up the pie in a way that everyone finds acceptable. Fisher here recommends you "insist on objective criteria" that provide an independent, credible principle underlying your solution.

Instead of simply saying "I want this or else," say "I want this because it's market value based on this appraisal," or "because it would be unprecedented to provide an employee at your level with stock options," or "because it is only 5 percent above our cost, and we need to make some profit," etc.

Develop your BATNA (Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement).

I used to think traditional notions of power -- like wealth, market share, military might, etc. -- automatically translated into negotiation power.

Fisher taught me this is not true. Instead, Fisher taught that negotiation power primarily derives from having a really good alternative to doing a deal with the other side. The better your alternative, the stronger your leverage. And vice versa.

The world's biggest company might have weak leverage if it really needs you and can't get your product or service anywhere else (thus it has a really bad BATNA, or best alternative to doing a deal with you).

Likewise, a large financial institution on the edge of bankruptcy might have strong leverage with the government if the government's alternative to bailing it out (its BATNA) is a crash in our economy.

Fisher will be hugely missed. But his contributions to the field live on through the millions who put these ideas into practice.

by Marty Latz Sep 6, 2012

Latz: Late negotiating expert still has much to teach us

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Campbell channels Andy Warhol for new soup cans –

CAMDEN, N.J. (AP) – Campbell Soup is tapping Andy Warhol for another 15 minutes of fame.

New limited edition Campbell's tomato soup cans with art and sayings by artist Andy Warhol will be sold at Target stores Sept. 2, 2012.

Mel Evans, AP

New limited edition Campbell's tomato soup cans with art and sayings by artist Andy Warhol will be sold at Target stores Sept. 2, 2012.

New limited edition Campbell's tomato soup cans with art and sayings by artist Andy Warhol will be sold at Target stores Sept. 2, 2012.
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The world's biggest soup maker plans to introduce special edition cans of its condensed tomato soup bearing labels reminiscent of the pop artist's paintings at Target stores starting Sunday. The 1.2 million cans will cost 75 cents each.

The promotion comes as Campbell looks to turn around its struggling soup business after years of declining sales. The company plans to introduce dozens of new products this year.

The cans to be sold at Target will come in four color schemes, with famed Warhol quotes, such as "In the future, everybody will be world-famous for 15 minutes."

Campbell Soup's embrace of Warhol's iconic imagery is a switch from its initial reaction to Warhol's use of the cans in a painting, when the company considered taking legal action before deciding to see how the paintings were received by the public.

"There's some evidence to show there was a little bit of concern," said Jonathon Thorn, an archivist for Campbell Soup. "But they decided to take a wait-and-see approach."

By 1964, however, the company realized the paintings were becoming a phenomenon and embraced the depictions. Campbell's marketing manager even sent Warhol a letter expressing admiration for his work.

"I have since learned that you like tomato soup," William MacFarland wrote in the letter. "I am taking the liberty of having a couple cases of our tomato soup delivered to you."

Later that same year, Campbell commissioned Warhol to do a painting of a can of Campbell's tomato soup as a gift for its retiring board chairman, Oliver G. Willits; Warhol was paid $2,000 for the work. Campbell also invited the artist to visit its headquarters in Camden, N.J., although Thorn said there's no indication a visit ever took place.

The red-and-white Campbell label made its debut in 1898. Significant changes to the front of the can have been made only a handful of times since then.

After Warhol completed the Campbell boardroom painting, the company had no further contact with him until 1985, when the company commissioned the famed artist to paint packages of its new dry soup mixes for advertisements. Warhol died about two years later.

In 1993, the company bought a Warhol painting of one of its tomato soup cans to hang in the boardroom of its headquarters. The company also has a licensing agreement with the Warhol estate to sell clothing, magnets and other gear, mostly overseas, bearing the artist's renditions.

Campbell has sold Warhol-inspired cans on two other occasions, although on much smaller scales. In 2004, the company sold 75,000 four-packs of Warhol-inspired cans at Giant Eagle, a Pittsburgh-based supermarket operator. During the holiday season in 2006, the company sold 12,000 units at Barney's, a high-end department store, in New York.

by Associated Press Aug 29, 2012

Campbell channels Andy Warhol for new soup cans –

Happiness is a way of life that's up to you -

"What makes me happy?" It's a question we all should ask ourselves periodically, because all of our actions should, in some way, be directed toward achieving happiness. Initially, thoughts of riches beyond imagination may fill your mind. Or your thoughts may center on the car/house/job of your dreams. If you are honest, you will probably find it to be a more difficult question than you would expect.
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Abraham Lincoln is purported to have once said, "Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be." Abe knew what he was talking about, and in the final analysis, I think you will find that the only thing that can make you happy is you.

Happiness is just a state of mind -- so are anger, sorrow, disappointment and loneliness. The mind is the most powerful tool in the universe, but you are the one who controls it. Like your car, if you see your mind heading in the wrong direction, you can steer it the other way. You need to recognize when you have negative feelings and go a different direction. You don't want to be dwelling on the situation that brought you to that emotional state.

Of course, it is easier to steer your mental car toward happiness if you have directions. That brings us back to the question, "What makes me happy?" By answering this question, you will be drawing the map. Try an easier question if you are stuck: "What has made me happy in the past?" My guess is that it was not something material.

My definition of happiness is not the fleeting, live-in-the-moment feeling that accompanies a birthday present. Rather, I think of happiness as a way of life.

Truly happy people may have difficult times, but they know how to bounce back because they know better times are possible -- and probable. They are content to have more positive thoughts than negative ones. They also understand that their happiness depends largely on how much happiness they share with the people around them.

Happiness is a powerful, addictive narcotic. Step into the bliss often enough, and you'll carry it with you and seek situations that perpetuate it. Build a powerful reserve of positive feelings that will carry you through the tough situations that life throws at you.

Studies have shown that too much stress can inhibit your immune system, causing many of the health problems that plague our society. Heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis, ulcers, migraine headaches and mental illness are just a few of the health issues that have been linked to excessive stress.

So, in addition to improving the quality of your life, reducing your level of stress and increasing your happiness may also help to save your life.

Researchers at the Institute for Aging Research at Albert Einstein College of Medicine questioned 243 people who were 100 or older. According to a blog for pharmacy technicians at, researchers "found that centenarians tend to share certain personality traits (in addition to other factors, like genetics). In general, these long-lived people are:


Positive-minded about other people.

Full of laughter.

Open with their emotions.

Conscientious and disciplined.

Unlikely to obsess about anxieties or guilt.

"The scientists point out that these characteristics don't necessarily represent a cause and effect relationship. They did notice, however, that in many cases the personality traits they observed weren't necessarily lifelong tendencies, but behaviors their subjects learned as they grew older. Focusing on the good and not worrying about the negatives may have a positive impact on overall life expectancy."

So now that you know what finding your bliss could do for your quality of life, why wait? Organize your life so you have time to do the things you love.

I am not advocating that you abandon all responsibility. Life's pressures are going to prevent you from playing golf seven days a week, and even sunsets start to look alike after a while. You may not be able to quit your job to become a professional singer. However, the more attuned you are to what truly makes you happy, the more your life will align itself with the things you value and treasure.

As Albert Schweitzer said, "Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful."

Mackay's Moral: Only you can draw the map of the road to your happiness.

by Harvey Mackay Aug 20, 2012

Happiness is a way of life that's up to you -

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Change attitude to rise above frustrations

You are driving to work when another driver suddenly cuts into your lane and nearly clips you. You immediately get mad, and it sets you off for the morning.

One of your co-workers calls in "sick" -- again -- meaning you will be doing double duty for the third time this month. Your own work is piling up while you try to cover for her.

You have tickets for a ballgame you've been looking forward to attending with your family, but the dark clouds overhead open up and ruin your plans. Your kids are disappointed, and you curse the weather gods for spoiling your day.

Wouldn't it be great if you could control your emotions and shake off these events, along with all the other things that might happen to you on any given day? It's natural to be upset when things don't go according to plan. But all too often, we overreact and start a domino effect that prevents us from seeing the positive side of anything.

George Foreman, former heavyweight boxing champ, makes a great point: "Being angry and resentful of someone is like letting them live rent-free in your head."

Controlling emotions is a challenge for people of all ages, but it can be done. You are the only person directly responsible for your emotions. No one makes you respond in a certain way.

"The greatest discovery of my generation is that human beings, by changing the inner attitudes of their minds, can change the outer aspects of their lives," said American philosopher William James -- in the late 1800s, no less. Clearly, the problem has existed for ages.

Fortunately, there are some very effective strategies for getting a grip on your emotions. It takes practice, but the payoff is unmistakable. Your blood pressure will thank you, too.

Practice good self-care. Take care of your own physical, emotional and mental needs. Someone who does this on an ongoing basis will be able to handle negative emotions better -- and not become a threat to others.

Identify what anger and frustration feel like, both in your head and in your body. If people are cut off from their feelings, there is a much higher chance that they will act rashly.

Get out of the stressful situation and take a walk. Take the time you need to process your feelings and emotions. Perhaps it's enough for you to take a deep breath and count to 10, slowly.

Vent to someone who will listen without judging.

Find a temporary distraction. Engage in an activity that will take your mind off the upsetting subject.

Take action. Think about how the situation could be positively changed and then encourage steps to help solve the problem.

Communicate your desire for change to others who can help make the change a reality.

Think about "what's right" rather than "what's wrong."

According to a story on, "A gardener ran a business that had been in the family for two or three generations. ... For as long as anyone could remember, the current owner and previous generations of owners were extremely positive, happy people. Most folk assumed it was because they ran a successful business. In fact, it was the other way around.

"A tradition in the business was that the owner always wore a big lapel badge, saying 'Business is Great!' even though it went through tough times like any other. What never changed, however, were the owner's attitude and the badge.

"Everyone who saw the badge for the first time invariably asked, 'What's so great about business?' Sometimes people would also comment that their own business was miserable, or even that they personally were miserable or stressed.

"The badge always tended to start a conversation, which typically involved the owner talking about lots of positive aspects of business and work. Even the most miserable would usually end up feeling a lot happier after just a couple minutes of listening to all this infectious enthusiasm and positivity.

"It is tough to measure an attitude like this, but to one extent or another, it's probably a self-fulfilling prophecy. The business owner freely admitted, 'The badge came first. The great business followed.' "

Mackay's Moral: Attitude is the mind's paintbrush -- it can color any situation.

by Harvey Mackay Jul 29, 2012

Change attitude to rise above frustrations

Monday, September 3, 2012

Let your imagination pave way to success

Take a look at the back of a dollar bill. A pyramid with an eye at the top is on the left. Over the pyramid is the Latin inscription "annuit coeptis," which means "providence has favored our undertakings."

In his book, "Wisdom Well Said," Charles Francis takes an in-depth look at what the images mean: "The pyramid symbolizes the strength of the union of the states. The top of the pyramid is unfinished, meaning there is still work to be done to make our system even better. The eye stands for the all-seeing God, Supreme Builder of the Universe. Benjamin Franklin chose this motto because he believed imagination was the singular characteristic of the people he helped to forge into a new nation."

If we want to cultivate creativity and imagination, a good place to start is with children. Children don't recognize limits on possibilities. They look through that different lens -- that is, until we train them to focus on the practical.

A friend shared a story from the NewsOK website about two parents working on Christmas cards with their 6-year-old son. The son's job was to lick the stamps (back before self-adhesive stamps were available). The boy balked because he didn't like the taste of the glue on the stamps. His parents prevailed, and, reluctantly, he went to his room to finish his assignment.

Before long, he emerged with a big smile. Every envelope was stamped. His stunned father said, "But I thought you didn't like the way the stamps tasted when you licked them!"

"Yeah, that was yucky," the son replied. "So I just licked the envelopes and then stuck the stamps on."

Mackay's Moral: The only person who can put limits on your imagination is you.

by Harvey Mackay Jul 23, 2012

Let your imagination pave way to success

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Creative, critical thinking is in high demand

A Midwest university professor complained: "We are now focusing more on how to use the tools of communication than we are on how to effectively communicate. ... As a result, we are turning out computer and Internet gurus who can't write and think creatively."

Is writing and thinking creatively important?

Is substance important?

Is critical thinking important?

You bet they are. Making your points to your boss or anyone else requires more than information. It demands the critical thinking that convinces them of your point of view.

I would venture as far as saying that technology has set us back in the field of thinking, trusting gadgets to do some of our thinking rather than using them to enhance our lives.

Critical thinking has never been more important or more challenging. With so much information bombarding us 24/7, sifting through the content to find factual, legitimate and useful material is no small task. Do you believe everything you read or hear? Do you check sources?

Thomas Edison, the genius of invention, had a way of thinking that was both critical and creative. Fortunately, it isn't only a natural-born talent -- it's a habit you can cultivate. Take some lessons from Edison's thinking processes as outlined by Michael Michalko in "Three Lessons in Creativity From Thomas Edison":

Question all assumptions. Examine and challenge conventional wisdom. It is rumored that Edison, when hiring an employee, would invite the person to join him for soup. The person wouldn't get the job if he or she salted the soup before tasting it.

Generate as many ideas as possible. You're more likely to find an idea that works if you test several. Edison is reported to have conducted more than 50,000 experiments before getting the alkaline storage cell battery just right.

Analyze your failures. If an experiment fails, set aside some time to think about what you learned. You can re-examine your efforts if you keep notes on your progress and failures.

Adapt other ideas. Look for ways to take policies, systems or ideas that are already working somewhere else and turn them into something you can use in your own department.

Record all your ideas. Spend time reviewing the ideas and looking for connections. You might find new ways of thinking about something.

These techniques may not make you into Thomas Edison, but they will help you learn to filter out the garbage that clouds your thinking and decision-making. There is plenty of junk floating around out there. I would also recommend these two rules:

Avoid jumping to conclusions and snap judgments. For example, you might be tempted to dismiss a new acquaintance because he wears tennis shoes with his suit. You later discover that he's a brilliant thinker with bad feet. Be sure to collect additional information before drawing conclusions about what you see.

Don't take a "yes or no" approach to data and decisions. Even the most straightforward questions may contain shades of gray. Make a habit of exploring the edges of a problem and looking beyond the obvious alternatives. Is there a middle path or one that includes both options?

Changing your thinking patterns takes practice, but as it becomes habit, you'll notice that you will not second-guess yourself as often and will spend less time worrying about "what if?"

Critical thinking can also help you with creative solutions to problems.

A man had traveled about 6 miles in a taxi when he realized he had left his wallet at home. Knowing he had a problem, he knew he had to take some kind of action. About a block short of his destination, he leaned forward and told the driver: "Stop at this hardware store. I need to buy a flashlight so I can look for the hundred dollar bill that I dropped back here."

When he came out of the hardware store, the taxi was gone.

Mackay's Moral: Critical thinking is critical to success.

by Harvey Mackay Jul 16, 2012

Creative, critical thinking is in high demand

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