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Posts Tagged ‘revenue’

The Power of “WE” vs. “I”

May 12, 2010 6 comments

In a conversation with fellow blogger, consultant, thinker, coach, and innovator, Josh Allan Dykstra, he brought to my attention an article written by Pixar’s CEO called, “How Pixar Fosters Collective Creativity”. Our original discussion was surrounding a blog post I did months ago as well as a TED video talking about how schools and corporations kill creativity and Josh sent me the article as he thought I would enjoy Pixar’s creative process. I not only enjoyed the article, but picked out something that we all ‘say’ we understand, but don’t. This article made me realize the difference in a good company versus a great company as well as a good manager versus a great manager. The difference is only 2 letters: WE.

While working at the Kaplan Inc conglomerate for about six years, creativity was not only appreciated but welcomed; and a team approach was sought to build out ideas into actions. When I was 23 years old, a woman named Wendi gave me one of the best pieces of advice that I’ve received to this day. She said, “Don’t ever use the word ‘I’. Always say ‘we’ when you’re talking about a success story, a new idea, anything; whether it be to a partner, colleague, or manager”. At the time, it made sense – but I thought it was kind of a ‘sales’ tactic. It doesn’t take a psychologist to figure out if you say, “we”, others are going to subconsciously feel a part of what you’re doing; especially if it’s a success story or an idea that will be successful.

It’s taken the last few years to realize the importance of that “we”. It is not merely a ‘sales’ tactic, but it defines a culture. The culture of companies like Pixar or Google. I didn’t “love” the last company I worked for and could never put my finger on the reason why; great vision, smart people, etc. but it hit me this morning…in meetings, it was always, “MY marketing campaign is driving $1 million in revenue” or “I will have the highest conversion rate”. It was a bunch of egoists. Now, I don’t have a problem with egoists as I believe most of us can be one some of the time. The reason I started blogging was so I could be an egoist…write about what I think and about what I want…but I did not bring and work hard to leave the “ego” at the door while doing business.

What I’ve learned is that Pixar’s philosophy is not brain surgery; it’s the basics of any team oriented business model. The difference is that everyone, including the CEO, buys into it. They live it, breathe it, and it has become their culture. Hats off to Pixar and hats off to anyone else who works at a company where “we” beats the “I”.

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10 Days in Europe: No “Work”, But Much To Learn – Any Suggestions?

April 29, 2010 7 comments

I leave today for Europe for 10 days. No sales, no marketing, no business. Ok, who am I kidding? I will definitely be on the computer a couple times the first few days I’m in Barcelona and on the 11 hour flight, but WILL NOT be on during the Mediterranean cruise.

I’ve realized over the past several months that it’s not only “work” or “driving revenue” that I love, but more so, it’s learning. Learning different ways to work with people, different ways to make money, creative / outside of the box / innovative ways to market on the internet that has not been done before.

I take this zest for learning and bring it with me to Europe. I’m certainly interested in the history, the sites, and the cultures. While I’ve been before, that was 8 years ago and I’m guessing my view will be a bit different now.

I look forward to immersing myself in the culture to really ‘see’ how the global marketplace responds to different types of online advertising. I’m interested to hear how many folks in different areas are using social networks. I’m looking forward to bringing back new / different ideas that I pick up that have not yet been executed on in the United States.

I’ll be in Madrid, Barcelona, Sorrento / Naples, Rome, FLorence, Nice, Cannes, and Monte Carlo.

If anyone has suggestions for sights, I’m all ears…if anyone has suggestions for areas I can learn about the culture and possibly the global economy, I’m all ears. Please feel free to comment or shoot me an email.

Consultants; Why Some Make it…and some CRASH

April 19, 2010 10 comments

When I stopped working FT a few months ago, I wasn’t sure what direction I was going. Three schools of thought: 1) Start my own company. 2) Be a consultant 3) Get another job.

I knew I didn’t want another FT job (at least not right away) as I’m a ‘start up ‘ junkie. I like to build businesses, departments, strategies, and ideas…and then take from conception to “LIVE”; and make them profitable. So that left me with either my own business or consulting. I realized, the two did not need be mutually exclusive. So, while building a business plan, I’ve been consulting and contracting. As higher education, specifically online higher education, is an incestuous industry; as soon as word got out, the phone calls and requests came in. It seemed that this would be easier than I thought – at first.

I quickly realized that to be successful in consulting, to be referred, and to work with numerous clients, it would take a lot more than a great past track record. It would take patience (something I don’t have much of), discipline to NOT take every job offered, and more so, this was yet another great experience where I was learning to ‘check my ego at the door’. In return, and the reason I love consulting, I was learning just as much from clients as they were learning from me. I quickly took the revenue driving sales and marketing strategies I had employed in higher ed and took them across numerous verticals.

So, why do some consultants make it? Why are there some of us that get repeat business while others may spend weeks or months marketing themselves and get nothing? Very simple answer: PAY PER PERFORMANCE CONSULTING.

So how does that work? Well, it depends on what you’re consulting on. However – there is one thing we can agree on: companies would rather YOU take the risk than them. We can also agree that if a consultant came to me and said, “I’m so confident in the strategy I lay out for you that you only have to pay me if I execute on it and execute well enough to hit the revenue goals you have set forth”. Why would a company EVER say NO? I know I wouldn’t. There are, however, many of us, that do need that “month to month” paycheck. You can look at this in 2 ways: 1) You can map out your beginning projects as if you are in a start up company. So, you map out your consulting KNOWING you will be “in the red” for 3 months; or until your projects start ‘making you money’. Who better to make an investment in than yourself? 2) You can charge a ‘small’ up front fee…maybe “min. wage” per hour…and get most of your money on the back end while still having money to live on the front end. Every project or consulting assignment is different, however by being paid on performance, you are not only showing your confidence, you are also ensuring yourself you will not take on anything you cannot handle OR if you do choose to take on something you cannot handle, you will make certain that you partner up with one of the best in the industry to learn.

It’s very simple in sales / marketing to set goals and only be paid if the goals are obtained, but what about other industries that have a large number of consultants or companies vying for the same business. Broken down below are 5 areas where I see a lot of consulting and how you can structure your pay on a performance basis.

1. Web Design / Development
– May be held accountable for a) web stats b) number of sales on site c) stickiness of site

2. Free lance copyrighting
– May be held accountable for a) Amount of time user spends on page b) Drop off rate c) CTR

3. Career Coaching
– May be held accountable to getting someone the job they can succeed and prosper in

4. SEO mapping / content development
– May be held accountable to page rank in “x” amount of time

I know there are many more, but these are ones I see the most often on the networks that I am on. As with anything else; if you need work, you need to take some risk. If you’re good, you’ll be rewarded. Consulting models such as this are good ol’ capitalism at its finest.

Why START UP companies are KEY to Work For!

April 13, 2010 8 comments

Two things I look for in every company I work with:

1. Do they executives believe in continuous learning as well as personal / professional growth AND will they aide you in your journey…
2. Is their business model, or product, something new, innovative, and / or something that the market has not seen before.

If the answer to these two questions is not “YES”, than I know this start up business is not for me. However, if the answer IS “yes”, I know that I will do anything in my power to work with, and learn from, these individuals. Even if it means working for free for a while; just to prove myself.

When I was 22 yrs old, I began working at Kaplan University, online higher education giant. However when I entered the working world, Kaplan University was called “Kaplan College”; they only offered 4 degree programs (now offer over 100 if we include specializations); and more importantly, only had 60 admissions advisors or ‘sales reps’. While it wasn’t a “pure” start up in the sense of the word, it did grow immensely over the next two years and when I moved to a ‘real’ start up, had over 1500 admissions advisors, and had grown the student base over 1000%. It was a rush to be a part of. We purchased new buildings, there was a lot of room for advancement and learning. We had access to the C level business executives, ideas were listened to; and while sure – there were bumps along the road, it was still fun to come to work everyday. Not only were we doing jobs we believed in, but there was always something “new” and “innovative” to look forward to.

About five years ago, original owner and SVP of Sales and Marketing for Kaplan University, Richard Capezzali, developed a business concept with a young man named Todd Zipper. They wanted to prove that they could execute on numerous strategies that had never been ‘done’ before. The two innovators founded Education Connection, which was at first a lead generation company, and became the first lead generation company to 1) Be agnostic 2) Develop commercials – not school specific, for themselves, 3) Develop a lead that converts at over 10% 4) Build out an advising call center. I basically stalked Richard and Todd until they brought me on as their ‘first’ employee. I was in heaven. I was working with two men; one – an expert in education sales and marketing and the other – an Ivy league MBA who taught me operations, finance, etc. and both believed that it was POSSIBLE to make the impossible possible. I learned more over the four years with these men than I could have in any MBA program.

After four years with Education Connection, my husband and I were recruited to another start up higher education company out in Dallas. While the answers to the questions above were “Yes” and the interviews were fantastic, there was a difference in this company, yet I couldn’t put my finger on it. As soon as I came aboard, I was back in the “start up” mode; building and executing quickly, driving revenue, and having fun doing what I love to do: build businesses. What I realized while I was working for this company was that although they were a ‘start up’ company in that the idea was new, we were just reaching profitability, etc. all of the C level executives or business partners had worked together for 15 years. And in that 15 years, they had already developed a culture; one that was unlike a “typical” start up business; it was more like a 10 year old corporation. Not for me. That being said, because I believed (and still do) strongly believe in the mission, I stayed onboard and did what I do best: drive revenue and cut costs…

Until a few months ago.

For the past few months, I’ve been consulting with numerous marketing and education companies. Some are start ups, some are trying to devise new revenue streams, some I’m working with to build out new products…but here is what I know. I love consulting. Every ‘project’ is basically a small start up company AND I get to choose who I work with. If I don’t like a project, I “just say no” and move to the next. I’m only working with companies I believe in, working with people who are innovators and allow me to be innovative, and I’m building my skill set with every project I take on.

The first three companies I worked for, while only over a seven year time span, all played integral parts in allowing me to do what I’m doing now.

So, for those of you who are going to be out of college soon, looking for internships, a career path, a job, etc. my advice to you is to look for a start up company. You will learn and blossom quickly and it will give you the skills you need to go anywhere. You will be adaptable, wear many different hats, and know what a true “team” environment is. There are several solid sites you can check out, a great one being Start Up Digest, that will send you jobs from all over the world with start ups.

Be innovative. Work for a start up.

Over the Edge

April 8, 2010 1 comment

I woke up this morning to read a great blog post that hit home for me.

Ty Unglebower, a writer, actor, radio host, movie lover, and recent ‘connection’ blogs about the difference in Passion and Obsession.

This leads to me ask the question, “how does one know they’ve gone over the edge?”. I ask that because I was there and I hope this posting helps others to STOP before they become obsessed. Being a natural extremist, working in a booming industry like higher education, and working in a revenue driving sales and marketing position sounds like a dream to anyone in sales who would like to make money. But, when does that ‘dream’ become your life?

People talk about addictions; drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, gambiling, sex…but i’ve never heard of a group called “workers anonymous”. I contend that people can become as addicted to their career as anything else. The science behind addiction says the reason people become addicted is because they feel a “high”; just as anyone in sales and marketing knows – right after closing a deal, you feel a “high” as well. We know that drugs and alcohol elicit 2-10 times more dopamine in the brain than normal (dopamine makes you happy); hence people getting addicted…gamblers, for example, have the same reaction when they win a bet; the dopamine takes over and they feel a ‘high’; working, especially in sales, can elicit the same response.

5 things I should have recognized but didn’t…and went over the edge.

1. Waking up in the middle of the night and immediately getting on the computer.
2. Refusing to take vacation time
3. Forgetting to eat or only eating at the office
4. Mood is always dependent on how work day went
5. Prioritizing work before family and friends

If you experience any of this, pull back now. I don’t regret my decisions in that I love the life I lead now, but I do wish I had been more aware at the time so I could have made a conscious decision how I wanted to live my life versus letting the business dictate how I would live my life.

Personal Branding – Real or Fake?

April 6, 2010 21 comments

When I first watched Gary Vaynerchuk video on TED, I thought to myself, “hell yea – there’s a guy that keeps it real”.

Since that time, I have studied many of the ‘personal brand’ gurus, most of whom you know: Dan Schawbel, Mashable, Chris Brogan, and then another 30 or 40 you probably don’t.

The 3 above, I’m impressed with – they are clearly marketers, learners, and connectors; but with many people now, I’ve thought to myself, “Seriously? There is no way you really believe and act on that”.

So I’ve started to question whether the ‘personal brand trend’ is people being real or people cashing in on being something they think others WANT them to be; in a sense, people have become actors. Many of these individuals promote themselves, but I want to look at them and ask for the “old fashioned” resume. This is business. I’m glad you can sell yourself; you’re obviously creative, you know about social media, connecting, and can certainly be a good ‘sales person’….but what else have you done? How many billions in revenue have you brought to a company? How many people have you managed? Moreso, does it take a business minded person to excel in the social media world and vice versa – because someone excels in social media, does this mean they’ll excel at business? Or does it just take a lot of hard work? connecting? content development?

My number one question is; how do you know what these people are saying is ‘real’?

How do we know what our personal “brand” is?

April 5, 2010 Leave a comment

I stopped blogging as I realized I was unsure what I was blogging about. Sure, I’m similar to all of the other ‘gen y’, “i have something to say and I want people to listen”, ego driven marketers, but what do I have to offer people that’s interesting to read about?

After a couple of months deliberation, this is what I’ve come to; I’m 29 years old and have driven billions (not millions, billions) in revenue; I’ve successfully worked in 3 start up ventures; and I love people. So, what can I offer?

Experience. Tips on how to move up quickly. Lists of mistakes, what I’ve learned from them. And “net/net”, I can offer it all honestly.

Categories: All About ME Tags: , ,

Transaction vs. relationship

January 21, 2010 1 comment

A transaction can be defined as an ‘exchange’. In business, many times it’s thought of as a “one time deal”…There are more one time deals than relatioships, unfortunately – but think of the TIME and energy that would be saved if you had 4 or 5 stong business relationships that could produce the same amount of business or revenue as 70 transactional deals. Let’s take an example from the ‘real business world’…AND what industry is better or easier for me to use than higher education? So…let’s take one of the MAJOR universities like University of Pheonix or Kaplan, etc. They have numerous marketing and business strategies in place, BUT most are transactional. So, each month, these schools pay millions of dollars for leads that have been purchased from one of any 100 lead aggregators. These lead aggregators have purchased their leads from one of any other lead aggregators, publishers, affiliates, etc. Now – how can any of these leads convert? AND how can any of them even be thought of as exclusive? They CANT and they arent. Hence, the conversion rate on these leads is about 1-2%, which has become industry standard. Now let’s take a different approach. Let’s approach our business (or school in this case) and say “we are only allowed to use relationships to drive our business”. How would I go about that? First, I would take my products (degree programs, in this case) and see what types of businesses I can partner with. So, if we are looking at distributing business degrees, I would want to partner with major companies OR small organizations that can endorse my product. You always want to test different types of relationships because while there may be a larger ausince with a bigger company…there may also be a more personal feel and more attention given to you from a smaller organization or business. Both partnerships can be profitable, drive revenue, and increase your brand awareness. Once I have my ‘list’ of potential partners to prospect, I would review the long term business relationships I have had in the past. Am I still connected with these businessmen? What are they doing now? Are there any synergies between our two businesses? How can we help one another? Does this businessman have any possible connections or other relationships that can help me? It always helps to start with a previously nurtured relationship for a few reasons: 1) the trust factor is there 2) A recommendation from a company will always be responded to more quickly than a ‘cold call’. 3) Implied credibility. So to go back to our example at hand; you are selling BS in Business degrees and want to partner with 2 businesses for testing purposes. You find that from prior connections, you have potential recommendations to American Airlines and the Miami Business Association. American Airlines has over 100K employees / potential revenue generators and the Miami Business Association has 5K members. You then GOOGLE these companies to find out what types of propoerties (websites) they own, what the mission of their company is, HOW YOU can help achieve this company’s objectives, and equally important; how can they meet yours? So, with American Airlines you find that they have thousands of websites, including an intranet for employees. You find that they have an employee assistance program and a page for employee benefits. TBC….

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