turning your business around

Honesty as a Competitive Advantage, Upcoming Necessity

Extreme Trust Honesty as a Competitive AdvantageEvery Thursday, I will republish my best articles from Technorati.com. Since Technorati redesigned its website and is under new managements, tens of thousands of articles that were previously published on the site are no longer available. I have been given explicit permission to republish my work on my own website. Trust is an increasingly valuable commodity when it comes to doing business, one that some try to take advantage of with fake social media reviews and other strategies (old and new) that are meant to fool customers; however, Don Peppers and Martha Rogers Ph.D argue in their latest book it won't be long before the only successful businesses are the ones that are extremely trustworthy.

Their book, Extreme Trust: Honesty as a Competitive Advantage, says that the rising levels of transparency in society will mean that businesses will have to protect customer interests proactively. By investing in ways to preserve reputation and to build customer relationships, businesses will develop the extreme trust necessary to survive a world where the social domain and the commercial domains are constantly colliding.

"In the future, companies will have to do this because of competitive pressure," Peppers said. "If they don't do it, someone else will."

Peppers also said that the book is fundamentally about how business will change because of technology-driven innovation, and described extreme trust as the "inevitable evolution of business over the next generation or so.

We can probably think of many examples of how different companies and industries treat their customers as transactions, how they try to make money off of people instead of working with them to earn their profits. Below are some of the book's most noticeable examples:

  • Banks will soon have to stop relying on overdraft charges, because so many of them are based on simple customer error.
  • Credit card companies will have to coach customers on avoiding excessive borrowing.
  • Cell phone providers will have to help customers find the cheapest calling plans for their usage patterns.
  • Retailers will have to remind customers when a gift card or rebate card has gone unused or may be lost.

"[It's up to] companies to decide whether they understand that they have two goals now: make money this quarter, and figuring out how what they do and what they say is going to affect the long-term value of a customer," Rogers said. "Long-term value is determined today."

What makes a trustable company, versus one that will simply do what it says and follow the law? Peppers and Rogers say that a trustable company will do three things:

  1. Do Things Right
  2. Do the Right Thing
  3. Do the First Two Proactively

Customers would be willing to pay $11 more a month for a mobile phone company they actually trust," Rogers said. "[A trustable company will] keep you posted on what’s good for you about the business, and offer things that are valuable to you instead of making you search for everything from scratch."

Therefore, current tactics used to develop trust, such as fake social media reviews and black hat SEO techniques, only tarnishes a company's long-term ability to gain trust for a small-term (if any) financial gain. Even though falsehoods can happen (like someone spreading misinformation or even leaving a bad, yet real, negative review), doing things so well that loyal customers come to your defense is a much better way to go.

"Social media takes care of [a falsehood or negative review] by burying it with more accurate data," Rogers said. "There are simply not enough lawyers to take everything off the Internet."

"Customers want to be treated the way their friends treat them," Peppers said. "The real solution is social credibility. As long as you have cultivated a reputation in advanced for being trustable, people will value your business and mourn if you go out of business."

The book may be considered a must-read for anyone leading an organization, but it is also a must-read for any consumer who wants to be a consumer of trustable brands, and not just another transaction. The only way for extreme trust to be the way we do business in the future is for people to demand it now, and to take it away from those who make their money by taking advantage of their customers.

"There have been radical changes in the last five years. This is not a fad," Rogers said. "There will always be more interconnectedness and never less. This is the way we will have to compete."

Can I Just Be a News Expert?

news expertIs there such a thing as a news expert? I ask because that's what I want to be. If it already does exist, then that's what I want to be and I want to know what it takes to become a news expert. If it doesn't yet exist, then I'll figure out what it means to be a news expert, do that, and then call myself a news expert. Perhaps expert isn't the best word, especially if I have to create this position or persona. I looked in the thesaurus (cause that's what I do), and I like the sound of "news specialist" and "news master". I think "news artist" also has a nice ring to it, but I do have a little trouble envisioning what the news artist does on a day-to-day basis.

The Mothership is Calling Me Home

The mothership called when I was checking on my application status with About.com. I applied to be the guide for the US Liberal Politics section months and months ago. It's so long ago I don't even remember when I applied. I checked on my status, only to find out once again that they haven't gotten around to may application yet. While browsing their list of available topics, I discovered that About.com was also accepting applications for their World News section! It's as if the Internet knows I'm in need of my mothership! I applied right away. I really don't know if I could handle both sections, but I'd love to do the World News section if I had a choice between the two. I'll be happy if I get one or the other.

I'm so glad to be doing news again. That was why I started my business. That was why I stopped freelancing. I didn't want to be stuck covering what someone else wanted me to cover or what other people thought was important. I wanted to cover what I thought was important and what I felt needed covering. I strayed from all that chasing marketing clients and using my marketing training to build an agency, even though I didn't really want an agency and had no intention of going into the marketing industry. I don't think I was really doing that work for the right reasons, and I don't think I ever had the confidence in myself to do marketing like I do to do the news. The news is just absolutely amazing! Each day you learn something new, and you never know what's going to happen next! It's truly a career path where every day is different. No two days on the job are exactly the same.

I'm Wondering How to Turn this Into a Business or Really Good Side Gig

I have two great news gigs right now, one with News Headquarters and another with a news app that's launching in January (when it launches, I can reveal the name of this app). I'm really enjoying the work I'm doing for both of them, and both of them also have room for advancement and additional work. If those opportunities come up, then I plan to take them and to drop some of my other clients if I have to. I'm absolutely happy to be reading and writing the news again. I'm thinking that what I might have to do is slug it out for the next year or two, working in the industry and figuring out where I can fill in what's missing. I'd like to use this blog and/or Stirring Media to do that, but I'm really not sure how without duplicating what's already being done. I don't want to just duplicate. I want to shake up the news industry with an innovative approach to reporting, delivering, and interpreting the news. I'm just not sure what that innovative approach is yet.

The Value of an Accountability Buddy

accountability buddyIn case you haven't yet noticed on this blog, Hacking Your Education: Ditch the Lectures, Save Tens of Thousands, and Learn More than Your Peers Ever, is a great book. It's worth checking out if you're interested in ways to continue learning, to get an education without spending a ton of money on college, or to do things that help you figure out your passions and what you want to do with your life, The idea of an accountability buddy also came from this book, where you have someone (or maybe a small group of people) hold your feet to the fire in regards to your goals and/or your to-do lists.

Losing Your Accountability Buddy is Tough

About six months ago, the coaching program with my business coach ended, and I think things went downhill since then. The most valuable thing that my business coach provided me was accountability, which is difficult to have by yourself when you're an entrepreneur or self-employed. You can't rely on your clients and customers to do this, and you may not necessarily have a boss or business partner to hold you accountable if you're an entrepreneur or self-employed. Without an accountability buddy, all you have is yourself and when you only have yourself, it gets easy to put off a task, to make an excuse, or to say that you're going to do something else that's equally productive instead.

I loved having a business coach to hold me accountable because I know that she cared about me, and I cared about her. When it came to my goals and to-do lists, I was much more motivated to get things done because I was left with two choices when I didn't do something. I could either tell my business coach I didn't do it, or lie to her about doing it. Since I never liked either of those choices, the best option was always to do what I needed to do and what I set out to do. After all, there's nothing to it but to do it! I lost much of this motivation when my coaching program ended, as I no longer had someone who was going to ask questions and to check up on these things.

I Have an Accountability Buddy Again

Starting in January 2014, I'm restarting my business coaching with my business coaching (I'm only putting it off because I need to save money for my end-of-the-year expenses, such as the holidays and my coworking membership). Even through I'm not officially under her tutelage for another two months, just knowing that I'm going to have to talk about these next two months in January and show something for myself is enough to keep me productive and pushing forward. I haven't been this motivated in a long time, and it's great to be energized with visions of accomplishment. What I really need is a trusted adviser who can keep me on track without micromanaging and who can who can ask the tough questions without being condescending or placing blame. My business coach fits the bill, and is also wonderful because she's shared with me several great resources that have helped me improve my business and business knowledge.

I do have a few goals set for the next two months, so it's not as if I'm wasting this down time. I do need to refine these goals and actually get them down on paper, but I at least have an idea of what I'd like to achieve in these last two months of 2013. I can't believe the year is almost over! I've come a long way, so I need to do what I can now so I can go further in 2014. An accountability buddy can help me with this.

5 Top Priorities in Life Right Now

top life priorities For today's SuperBetter quest, I am to list the three to five top priorities in my life right now. There are things that, today, are the most important to me in the world. So, I'm doing that, and here are my top five life priorities right now, in no particular order.

My Business

This is a top priority (and the top time suck) in my life right now, if not the number one priority. Every day, I am doing one thing to continue moving Stirring Media into the direction of a digital media company. I finally ordered a few roasts from my affiliate partners yesterday, so once those come in and are reviewed, I can finally open up that avenue for income. My goal is to be ready for August 22. There's an amazing networking event happening that night, and I've already bought my ticket, so my plan is to make that the first night that I network and present Stirring Media in person as a digital media company.

Eating Healthy

Naturally, this is a huge priority right now since I am doing my daily quests to get better at eating healthier and to knock two things off of my life goals/bucket list. I am currently focusing on abstaining from eating out for an entire month (eating out includes restaurants and fast food as well as frozen dinners. It does not include buying a coffee). I am a week into that one and still going strong. I have tons of food ready to be made into meals, and it's going to be delicious and exciting. Once this month is over, I'm going to then focus on going vegan for an entire year. Part of the reason why I didn't commit to both at the same time is that I needed to eat all sorts of meat and dairy products that were already in the house. Since they will be gone by the time the month is over, going vegan will be easier and I won't have to waste food to do it.

Human Rights Activism

Twice a month, I meet with the St. Louis Amnesty International chapter to plan events, to write letters on issues, and to build awareness for human rights issues. Three times a week, I write a blog post for the chapter's blog covering chapter activities, the latest human rights news, and tips and tricks on how other human rights activists can be more effective activists. I am also currently reading the book Pathologies of Power: Health, Human Rights, and the New War on the Poor (It's a good read, but not an easy one). My human rights activism is my way of helping others and giving back to the community. It also can be very marginalized and stigmatized work, which means that it's work that needs to be done but that few people want to take the initiative to do.


Poker is a definite life priority, as once I finish my current goals in SuperBetter I'm going to set a few quests, bad guys, and power ups to help me get better at poker and to commit to building my bankroll. Once I finish the healthy eating bucket list goals, I'm going to work on the poker ones on the list. I think these goals will take the longest and the most work to accomplish, as no one gets to play in Bobby's Room or win a World Series of Poker bracelet over night. That level of skill takes a lot of time and discipline.

Reading Books

I'm making it a point to finish my summer reading list and to continue reading books on topics that interest me. It's been a LONG time since I've read for fun regularly. I am pushing myself to finish Pathologies of Power, since it is a long book that's very dense and somewhat long-winded. The content is interesting, but the book is designed to be a college textbook and not a good old non-fiction book that you can get through in a few days. I have tons of books waiting for me, and I'm pushing myself to get through this book so I can read all my other books. There are so many things I need to learn!

Bonus Priority: Playing Rogue Legacy!

As I've been saying this whole week, I finally purchased Rogue Legacy today! I redeemed my points and was able to get it, as well as The Cave and the Grand Theft Auto pack. I was able to get three games instead of two (well seven games instead of five since the pack came with five games) because the pack had an additional discount today on Steam. This made enough room in the budget for one more game. I have enough gaming to last me the rest of the year. So, I'm going to get to work on that gaming and play more Rogue Legacy!

My Empowering Beliefs About Money

"You say it long enough and it starts to be a part of you." - Rita Pierson It's not that I thought this idea was "a bunch of hooey", it's just that I've never seen it in action. I've never seen it, or heard about it taking place, or experienced it taking place. I just wasn't sure about the viability of simply saying something out loud Until now.

Below is the speech where the line came from, in case you were curious. It's actually a great speech that's worth watching.

[ted id=1728]

The Challenge

During one of our sessions, my business coach asked me about the energy of money. I still don't quite understand the "energy of money", but what she wanted me to do was to examined what I believed about money and where I stood with money. She wanted me to create a value system for money, something that outlined what it meant to me personally, what value money had in my life, and why I want money.

My ultimate homework was to come up with my empowering beliefs about money and to say them daily. I took the time to create that value system. I wrote them down and repeated them daily, although instead of saying it out loud I wrote them down. I learn better through reading and writing. I really wasn't sure if this would work, or how, but my business coach said to do it so I did it. I knew she was going to ask about it in our next session, and I didn't want to lie to her. I also figured that this couldn't possibly hurt or ruin my life, so there wasn't any harm in trying it.

My Empowering Beliefs about Money

This is what I've been writing down and repeating for almost three months now (new research shows that it takes 66 days to form a new habit, more than twice as long as the 21 days in conventional thinking). The smiley faces are the most crucial part of the whole thing.

  • I, hereby, delete these negative beliefs from my system at the source. Now, I can replace them with empowering beliefs about money. :)
  • As long as I am in a positive state of mind and am grateful for what I have, there will always be enough money and there will always be sources of money.
  • I buy things that I enjoy and I am confident in the things that I purchase.
  • I respect and value my money and I spend and invest it wisely! :)
  • My money, and how I earn it, will merit respect. It will be used to accomplish good things, to tell the truth, and to inspire others to tell the truth.
  • I like money. Money can’t buy happiness, but it can make me very happy.

Empowering Beliefs about Myself

My empowering beliefs about money are very much a part of me. Those thoughts go me through the past few months when money was tight, when my business wasn't making as much and I needed to make some changes. Even though my coach doesn't ask about them anymore, I still do them because I think they are important to do and to reinforce. Now, I think the next step is to come up with some empowering beliefs about myself. I remember the process for coming up for the money beliefs, so doing these beliefs shouldn't be much of a problem.

I suppose the only hiccup is that nearly everyone else has come up with these "empowering beliefs", or those "victory declarations" or those inspirational sayings about what to think when others are being haters and stuff. I suppose the big difference is cementing your own empowering beliefs about yourself and doing more than just applying someone else's to yourself or borrowing someone else's. It's certainly much easier to agree or to find something that supports your own beliefs. But, what makes this exercise really cool is that you're starting from scratch with yourself.

Passing the Time, Waiting for My Beets to Grow

i am bored I am bored. I haven't been bored in a long time. I really shouldn't be bored, as there are plenty of things that I need to do, or that I could do, but I don't want to do any of them right now. Actually, the one thing that I want to do is play Plants vs. Zombies Adventures on Facebook, but I have to wait another two hours for my beets to grow. Beets are awesome because they headbutt the zombies and kill them really quickly. They are cool, and I do hope they show up in the Plants vs. Zombies sequel coming out next month.

In the Meantime...

I'm blogging because it's something that I can do and that I need do. Perhaps it could get my mind going enough to do something else, like read or work on my business or look for freelancing work. I've already done my chores: washing dishes, doing the laundry, cooking rice, and cleaning the bathroom. I'll vacuum tomorrow. After all, I don't want to be this way tomorrow too. I need to leave myself a few things to do. Actually, putting all this into words make me feel like kind of a loser. I can do so much better than writing about being bored, and being bored of course.

Writing Down the Bones

I've begun reading Writing Down the Bones again, for the third or fourth time actually. I think I need to get back into "writing from my bones", especially since I've spent so much time over the past two years or so writing for other people and writing for reasons other than the personal ones. Also, with content marketing and writing for other people, you often have to take yourself out of it. You're not writing for yourself. You're writing for an audience or what the client thinks is needed for their audience or their purposes. Sure, these things can have personality, but how personal can topics like 'blog article headlines' and 'nitrogen tire inflation myths' and 'military identity theft' get? Even if I did have a personal anecdote to go with these things, you can't always inject that into the white paper or blog post or whatever it is you're writing.

Maybe this blog will be "Blogging Down the Bones"? I like the alliteration, but I feel like that title doesn't make as much sense as the original. I also get the impression that skeletal remains are going to appear within my posts. I don't want that.

Random Facts about Me?

One of the things that I do need to work on for my blogging and my business is to come up with facts about myself and turn those facts into interesting relevant bios. This blog needs a unique bio (it also needs a new tagline, a new blog goal, and maybe a more defined niche) and my coffee blog needs a unique bio too. I've been using the same bio that I wrote a few years ago, one that was needed for the online publications to which I was contributing. I either don't contribute to them anymore, or the bio is probably outdated. If anything, this list would be a lot of fun to do and would also be beneficial toward working on my brand and CEO identities, which I need to do as part of my business breakthrough stuff. I wonder if my business coach expects all that do be done by Thursday? Probably.

Well, since I made rice, my dinner is just about ready. Rice and lots of veggies with a sesame seed dressing. Yum yum! I do think Sean ate the rest of the ice cream though. That's sad. We do need to go to the grocery store anyway.

Pivoting Your Business 180 Degrees is Crazy

turning a business 180 degrees Quite frankly, I don't really know how to pivot my business 180 degrees, but that's essentially what I'm doing right now with my business. I love blogging and creating content. I just don't like doing it for other people anymore. I'm over it, and I really went into business to create more of my own content, instead of creating content for others, and a year-and-a-half into this I'm still spending most of my time creating content for others. So, I'm pivoting myself and Stirring Media, and we're going to create our own content. I need to revise the business model, and the website, and our social media presences. I also need to once again drop clients and figure everything out. Oh, and I should probably tell my business consultants about this.

Or, Maybe Not, We'll See

However, I did receive a call from a lead just now, a lead that would be really awesome to work with and would save my company from going broke. The company has a software that allows corporations and interest groups track relevant legislation, which sounds fantastic. Do blog posts about the importance of following legislation, how to respond, how to contact the relevant people to get your say involved, how to encourage action (perhaps this is something I should write about on the Amnesty blog?). It's great stuff, although I admit, my sales pitch on the phone was horrible. I don't know if I sold them on anything that they already don't have the manpower to do, because the lead said they have someone on board to do this.

Man, I got all excited about the YouTube and the blogging and creating my own content. Maybe we could slowly transition, instead of suddenly transition. It would mean I'd have to worry less about becoming proprietary so quickly. But, it's also more creating content for other people, which is what we need to get away from right now. So, we might pivot, we might not pivot, we might pivot very slowly. Don't know yet. Ask again tomorrow.

We're Still Making a Video Though

Yes! We are still totally making a video and I am going to do that tonight! I am going to record me playing Oblivion for about 30 minutes because I need to take action and to create a video. I also need to test my 30-day trial of the recording software I downloaded, so I can see how good it is and see what kind of outcome I get with it. I still want to do the talk show, which has a tentative name of "Real Chats by the Fake Fireside", but I don't want to waste an interview because there was shoddy audio or I mess it up trying to use the software or something. I don't want to have to do an interview again, but I can totally just do another 30 minutes of Oblivion. It's more fun, and much easier to do if something goes wrong.

Another Cool YouTube Show Idea

Since my background is in marketing and business blogging, I could always do videos on that, offering quick tips or answering questions or doing some how-to's. Content creation is only getting more and more popular, and writing and blogging still remain two very tough spots for marketers and businesses creating content. That's a niche I could fill. In my initial research, it looked like that there weren't too many videos on this topic. I think also the challenge here is presenting something like business blogging, which isn't all that visual, in a very visual way. I could couple it with a powerpoint presentation, but we'll see.

Okay! We have a business to pivot and a video to make, so we're going to do that. Yay!