Monday, June 27, 2005

Is That Blackberry Your New Sex-less Toy?

Husband and Wi-Fi /Wireless gadgets short-circuit sex drives
By Miriam Kreinin Souccar Crain's New York

Meghan Berger never imagined that her sex life would be affected when her boyfriend got a BlackBerry from his employer. But it didn't take long before she began to resent the device--almost as much as if it were another woman.

Ms. Berger's investment banker boyfriend of five years brings the personal digital assistant on vacations, hides it under the table at restaurants, and even takes it into the bathroom. As if that addiction wasn't bad enough, the boyfriend recently got Wi-Fi for his laptop, and now Ms. Berger can barely get near him at all.

"It's always on his lap, even when we're going to bed," complains Ms. Berger, a 25-year-old public relations executive. "He tells me it's for work, but really he's checking sports scores or talking to his friends. If I start kissing him, he's like, `Not now, I'm playing poker.' "

Ms. Berger isn't the only one twiddling her thumbs late at night in the Naked City. Experts say that recreational sex between monogamous couples was already on the decline in New York because of the high stress of living here. The wireless revolution may be responsible for ruining people's sex lives completely.

"It used to be a choice between Johnny Carson or sex," says Edward Hallowell, a psychiatrist who specializes in how technology affects attention span. "But at least with TV, you could cuddle and one thing could lead to another. BlackBerries and laptops require undivided attention."

Peter Fraenkel, director of the Center for Time, Work and the Family at the Ackerman Institute, says he's seen a 50% increase in the number of couples seeking counseling for this problem in the last two years. Other therapists report similar upswings. The problem usually starts when a company begins to expect that its employees will be available 24/7.

"With all that beeping and buzzing and `getting back to you in five minutes,' " says Mr. Fraenkel, "people come home very stressed out and don't have an opportunity to cool out enough to be able to have sex."

The situation is most prevalent in New York, because everything here is more competitive as people are typically more ambitious. As a result, married New Yorkers in their 30s and 40s tend to have sex even less than the once-a-week average of their counterparts around the country, experts say. "Everything you do in New York is a struggle," says Barbara Bartlik, a psychiatrist and sex therapist at the Weil Medical College of Cornell University. "All this additional stress cuts into your private time together."

But what's really wreaking havoc on relationships is that most of the new wireless adopters aren't using the devices predominately for work anymore. These addicts keep their machines within reach at all times for a quick check on an air fare or a game of Dungeons & Dragons. It's easier to take rejection when it's work-related, but when a grown man starts choosing online video games over his wife, it's a big blow to the ego. Even more egregious is the fact that many of these addicts don't seem to miss the sex.

Scott Testa, chief operating officer of Mindbridge Software, estimates that he has sex at least one-third less than before he got a wireless connection. "I'm about to buy a BlackBerry, and once that happens, I guess I'll go to the monastery," he jokes. Though the predicament is funny to many, therapists say there is a deeper issue at play. "You can't cuddle with a laptop in between you," says Ken Neumann, director of the Center for Family & Divorce Mediation. "The person who is using it is trying to avoid being intimate." Ironically, it's often the men now who are claiming the electronic equivalent of a headache.

Who's horny now?

"It used to be that men were the horny ones. Now it's the women," says Dr. Hallowell, who recently treated a patient whose husband kept his BlackBerry in bed with them while they were having sex, stopping to check it every time it beeped. Mr. Testa says his wife periodically hides his laptop, but he bribes their 5-year-old twins to tell him where it is.

"It's not unusual for me to wake up in the morning with the TV on and my laptop on, still on my lap," says Mr. Testa, who spends his nights in bed e-mailing clients in Europe and Asia and surfing the Web for fun. "My wife gives me dirty looks in the morning, but to sit in bed and surf the Web is my idea of utopia."

Even a recent study on laptops and infertility by the State University of New York at Stonybrook has done little to combat the allure of Wi-Fi. Ms. Berger, the PR executive, told her boyfriend about the study, which found that the heat from laptops can result in decreased sperm production. "Now, he just puts a pillow on his lap with the computer on top of it," Ms. Berger says.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Manage Sales Leads - Boost Sales lists 10 ways to do just that. Then they give us a bonus one. I think the bonus is so critical it should come first. So here's your dessert before enjoying the main course.

Bonus Tip: Preload your database with the right prospects. Your customers are the first step in prospecting sales leads. Most people think they already know who their customers are, but many companies tell us they find a few surprises when they do an analysis of their customer base. So confirm what you know about your customers. Then, once you know who your customers are, define a few key attributes about them. This could be external attributes such as geography, SIC code, company size (employee count and revenue), or internal attributes such as products, territory, credit type and contract type. Now you can use the profile of your best customers to better define and acquire new prospects.

1. Develop a concrete definition of a lead and make sure all employees understand it. One of the biggest disconnects between sales and the rest of the company is the definition of a lead. When does a prospect become a lead that a salesperson will actually work on? It's estimated that 90 percent of the leads that are sent to sales staff are never acted upon. And there are generally two primary reasons for that. First, the lead is routed to the wrong person and never gets passed along to the correct person or at least not in a timely fashion. Second, the lead isn't ready to engage with a salesperson yet. So the sales person will make one, maybe two contacts with that prospect and then move on to "lower hanging fruit." For better sales effectiveness, your sales staff and the rest of the company need a more granular definition of when a prospect becomes an actual lead that should be forwarded to sales.

2. Install an effective customer relationship management (CRM) tool. For optimal sales effectiveness, you need to provide employees with a tool that captures information about each and every interaction with your prospects and customers. This includes integrating your different channels, such as your website.

3. Track the source. People most often hear about your company and products and services through ads, referrals, online banner ads or some other form of advertising. You need to keep track of what actually caused these suspects to raise their hands so you can better determine what works and what doesn't. In addition, it's important to capture the source of each intervening event so you can determine such things as how many times you need to touch a customer or what order of touches work best. If you don't capture the source, you have no way of figuring out what's working.

4. Distribute your leads quickly. Studies have shown that if you respond within 48 hours of a prospect contacting you, your sales closing rate goes up dramatically. Think about your own experiences. How many times have you tried to contact a company to request information and they never get back to you? By responding quickly, you set yourself apart from your competitors.

5. Nurture your leads. Depending on the products and services you offer, most people are probably not ready to buy based on their first interaction with you. Best practices call for nurturing your leads over time. You need to develop campaigns that allow you to touch your prospects multiple times so you can move them through the sales cycle until they're ready to think about actually purchasing from you.

6. Excite your sales staff about each prospect. The best salespeople focus on detailed qualifying, and so should the rest of your staff. The more information you have about a prospect, the more excited your salespeople will be about the lead. Whoever's collecting prospect information needs to extract additional information from every prospect with each interaction, including such things as "what interested you about our products" and "why is it important to you." They should also try to may the organization so your salespeople are getting in touch with the decision-makers in each company.

7. "Tag, you're it." How do you save those interesting bits of information about customers and prospects? If you tag your records with the names of your competitors on deals, what their objections are, whether they'll be a referral or not, which products they already own and so on, you can then find those detail fast in the future. This allows you to leverage what you learn in order to be more successful.

8. Treat your prospects like customers. By capturing the source I mentioned above in #2 about each prospect, anyone at your company can answer a call from that prospect and more effectively answer their questions. This will have a significant impact on your prospects and will cause them to want to engage with your team further.

9. Measure everything you do. But in order to measure your results, you need to decide what you want to measure and why. Then you can capture the correct information upfront. And once you have the right information, you can determine the return on investment of your campaigns and focus on the campaigns and prospects that will increase your sales pipeline.

10. Hold regular meetings with your sales staff and anyone else involved in the sales process. You should meet with appropriate staff members on a regular basis to review lead quality, win/loss records, and tracking CRM systems so you can continue to improve your sales effectiveness.

Submitted by Greg Anderson, the director of product development for GoldMine software for FrontRange Solutions.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Training - Money Out the Window?

In June's issue of the Harvard Business Review there's an ironically sad yet funny cartoon - the kind your might see in The New Yorker Magazine. As several men and women leave a company meeting, a nicely dressed midlevel manager reports to his colleague, "Some of the ideas in the staff development meeting on innovation seemed interesting but they've never been tried, so I think I'll hold off for now." Ouch! Money out the window!

When I develop proposals for trainings to be delivered to corporations of all shapes and sizes, I typically recommend a follow-up session at the very least or, ideally, periodic coaching to help managers reinforce their learning. This is not shameless self-promotion. This is reality! Individuals are reluctant to make changes on their own. Why? Fear. Comfortability with the status quo. Not buying into it. Or - too much to do to personally carve out the time to learn and implement something new. Then, why is management reluctant to support valuable training dollars with coaching? Budgets, scheduling, indecisiveness. Comfortability with the status quo? Fearful of trying something new?

I'm sorry to say this but training without coaching is entertainment.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

A Cosmetic Cover-up?

Do we live in a litigious society or what? In today's Miami Herald, a 62 year old woman argues that cosmetic giant, Estee Lauder, falsely advertised "anti-aging" claims. Now in the process of establishing a class action suit, the 11-page lawsuit is preceded in December by a similar action against Estee Lauder and about 25 other cosmetic companies and retailers.

I am totally sympathetic towards anyone concerned about the signs of aging, being a baby boomer myself. Our society values youth and beauty but let's face it - it ain't so easy. Particularly for women. You gotta love the man who may appreciate beauty but actually values the more enduring qualities in his women. After all, in the end, a good conversation may be all you've got left.

But this lawsuit is sure to create more winkles for this misguided woman than she had to begin with. In reality, youth can be an inside job - an attitude, a point of view. Instead, I recommend she think youthful thoughts by keeping an open mind; live a youthful lifestyle by trying new activities; act youthfully by being delighted by life's surprises.

Let's learn to radiate youthful confidence by expressing, enjoying, and honoring ourselves - very attractive.

Thanks for the reminder, ma'am.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Time Management: Time To Make the Donuts?

Is it time to make the donuts or time to sell them? Is it time to develop a low-fat donut or time to learn about franchising?

Whatever kind of business you're in, how you divide your time between these immediate, short, and long term goals can determine how effectively you grow your business. This requires three different lists. Like our donut maker, to get started create a list of what must be done immediately. For him it might be repairing an oven thermostat and training the new cashier. Then, create a second list. This list will be short-term goals like ordering new employee uniforms or approving the ingredients of a recipe change. Now create a third list. These may be ideas or projects you are developing like evaluating your distribution system before taking on more business or learning about franchising as a way to grow your business.

Which is the trickiest list to fulfill? If you picked the third one, you are right. These goals are not sceaming for immediate attention so they become "back-burnered." Then one day you turn around and your business is in a rut. Make time for this important category by plugging them into your calendar - now. If need be, break them up into smaller tasks and schedule those too.

It's too easy to get caught up in what lies right in front of you and forget about long range planning. To move you and your business forward, you can't just be making the donuts; you have to order flour and sugar, keep up with your staff, meet new prospects, plan for expansion. The list is only endless (like donut flavors) if you don't write it down. Try it!

For more tips on time management, check out
82 Tips.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Bowled Over with Her New Business

Marian's Bowls from dbO Home

My client, Dana Brandwein, went from being a marketing director at Elektra Records for rock and alternative notables to the director of everything (for now!) at her new company, dbO Home, the site for beautiful one-of-a kind home furnishing accessories. "Homey elegance" is the phase I like to use to describe her collection of fine ceramics because her designs are both sophisticated and down-to-earth.Just like her. Prior to marketing cool products for the home, she was out there marketing cool sounds for your groove for the likes of Metallica, AC/DC, Bjork, Natalie Merchant, Ziggy Marley, Jet, Stereolab, Linda Ronstadt and Pantera.

In her own words "dbO Home was founded March 31, 2005, one year to the date of the umpteenth giant record label merger of my nearly 20 year career in the music business. Yes, I was working for the man (albeit the rock 'n roll man) for almost two decades. And I loved almost every minute of it. But when the business forgot about the music, which was my passion, it was time to follow another. So I packed up my gold plaques and photos and I went home."

And created her new home. dbO Home.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

What the #$BLEEP*! Do We Know?

Seen the film What the #$BLEEP*!Do We Know? This weekend I attended a "What the Bleep" conference at the Marriot Hotel overlooking Biscayne Bay in downtown Miami, diving into a course of quantum mechanics. The film addresses these intellectual concepts in language suitable for the general public with Marlee Matlin in the starring role.

It seems we have the power to change the way we see things by doing some brain rewiring. It's a three step process requiring knowledge, personalizing experiences to ground the knowledge, and learning to pay attention -- all of which begin to open new pathways in the brain. Dr.Joe Dispenza, the most frequently requested contributor to the film and conference, offered a simple guide to manifesting possibilities in his popular segment, “Creating Your Day”, taking you beyond the realm of habits, emotions, and assumptions.

In creating my day, I'm instructed not to ask or visualize specifics like "I want to be happy today" for example. Instead I'm told to begin to see myself in a way that creates the experience of “knowing” happiness to begin the process of repatterning in the brain. You would ask yourself the following questions:

What do I have to do to be happy? Who am I when I'm that person? When did I make a decision this is who I am? What would it be like to be a happy person? Who in history do I admire for this behavior?

It's simple but not easy because it takes repetition to start reprograming the brain chemicals that habitual thoughts trigger. We are just in too much of a hurry.

I will think about which ones I want to change. I know I have a few...

More Negotiating Tips

While my 82Tips already includes 10 tips on negotiating for what you want, Roger Dawson, creator of The Secrets of Power Negotiating, highlights these excellent tips.

Don't let the other side know that you can make a decision in the negotiation. Tell them that you have a higher authority that has to approve the final deal. You can put a lot of pressure on the other side without creating confrontation by blaming your higher authority. "I can never sell this to my people at this price. You'll have to give me a better price."
Danger Point: Don't make your higher authority an individual, because the other side will want to go around you to deal directly with the decision maker.Solution: Make your higher authority a vague entity such as a committee or board of directors. That makes the higher authority appear unapproachable.

Assume that you will end up midway between the two opening negotiating positions. It's not always true that you'll end up at the midpoint, but it's a very good assumption to make.
Danger Point: You have made the first offer. They bracket your proposal, and when you end up in the middle, they get what they want.Solution: Get them to go first. Any suggestion that you should make them a better offer should be met with: "If you'll make a proposal to us, I'd be happy to take it to my people and see what I can do for you with them."

This principle underlies all power in a negotiation. The side that has the most options has the most power. Work to let the other side know that you have options. Limit their perception of options by positioning yourself as different from your competitors.
Danger Point: You have fallen in love with the car, house, or job opportunity for which you are negotiating. The other side can sense that you have few or no options.Solution: Work to develop options before you go into the negotiation.

Listen carefully to the seller's proposal and then say, "I'm sorry, you'll have to do better than that." Then be quiet! The next person to talk, loses. The next person to open his or her mouth will make a concession.
Danger Point: Buyers may use this on you.Solution: Reply with the counter-tactic "Exactly how much better than that do I have to do?" Pin them down to a specific.

This is the number one mistake that poor negotiators make. They don't flinch at the other side's proposal. Always react with shock and surprise that they would have the nerve to ask you for a concession.
Danger Point: The other side often makes a proposal to you that they really don't expect you to agree to. When you don't flinch, they start believing that they could get it from you. It makes them tougher negotiators.Solution: Practice your flinches before you go into a negotiation. A concession often follows a flinch.

International negotiators will tell you that when the other side tries to give you what is essentially their problem, you must test for validity right away.
Danger Point: They tell you, "We just don't have that much in the budget."Solution: Test for validity. Ask them, "Who has the authority to exceed the budget?"

Instead, try to get the other side to offer to split the difference. "How far apart on this are we? We're not that far apart. There must be some middle ground on which we can both agree." When the other side offers to split the difference, you can reluctantly agree to their proposal, which services their perception that they won.
Danger Point: If you offer to split the difference, they could get you to split the difference again.Solution: Get the other side to offer to split the difference. You may then be able to get them to split the difference again.
Even if you don't, you still make them feel that they won.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Calling All Campers

Announcing the launch of Beam Camp. Brian Cohen, camp founder, says "Beam Camp’s mission is guiding young people to discover how creativity and adaptive problem solving apply to the challenges of their relationships, work and world... Within the next five years, we would like to begin offering the Beam Camp experience to over two hundred campers every summer... Within the next ten years we would like to take the things we learn at Beam Camp and start a middle or high school. "

Brian, a former record label executive, contacted me with a life-long dream of establishing a "creativity" camp. Since then, he and his partners have evolved this vision into one that will change children's lives and therefore the world, one camper at a time.To find out more about Camp Beam, contact Brian at

Friday, June 03, 2005

Become A Leader At Work

...and in your own life.

"Though you cannot go back and make a brand new start... anyone can start from now and make a brand new end." John C. Maxwell, The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership

Leadership is a huge "buzz" word these days. And why not? With the challenges facing our world, nationally and internationally, we need strong leaders in many facets of life. But that's not all. In the last ten years, there's been a tremendous shift in the way we do business, conduct our relationships and cultivate our own growth. Taking responsibility for our thoughts, actions, and the things we say empowers us to make better choices and get better results at work and in our personal lives. There is much we can do, whether we are in leadership positions or not, to become leader-like in our own lives. To read the rest of the article click here.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Networking? Never Eat Alone

Standing in front of the microwave chewing on a CNN news bite? Don't! According to "Keith Ferrazi," , author of the new book "Never Eat Alone," the key to your success is contributing to the success of others. Step out of the kitchen, start a conversation and listen for how you can contribute to your dining companion's success. Once you've mastered the art of eating and talking at the same time, chew on these four networking tips:

1. You can't get there alone. Invite others into your world.
2. Be generous with your resources.
3. Let your guard down. Be real.

4. Build it before you need it. Don't wait until you need something or someone to network.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Socrates Live

Like minded - or not - curious folks looking for mentally stimulating conversation are gathering at free Socrates Cafe around the world where more questions are raised than answered. An article in today's paper writes that "cafe" creator and author of Six Questions of Socrates, Christopher Phillips, estimates there are about 300 active Socrates Cafes meeting regularly, raising issues of the day. But rather than necessarily tackling the specifics of a current event, a wide angle lens is more the approach. For example, instead of debating the validity of, or the consequences of the Iraqi war, the question gets distilled down to "What is a just war?" As luck would have it, my local Cafe is meeting tonight and we already have dinner plans but I will definitely check it out. In the meantime visit Socrates Cafe to find or start a cafe near you.

82 Tips for Thriving in the Workplace

The 2005 edition of "82 Tips For Thriving in the Workplace" is now available. Packed with practical and inspiring tips for every level of professional experience, this handy 20 page booklet is a valuable resource for the entire staff. To see table of contents and to learn more about purchasing with or without your corporate or business logo, please click here.