Summer’s Setting Sun

Hefner_sunset

While it may be hard to believe, Summer 2015 is drawing to a close. Family vacations have been checked off the list, the kids are heading back to school (watch those school zones!) and football season is about to kick-off. It’s time to sit back and coast into the holidays… right?

Not so fast there, Santa. We are only half-way through the 3rd Quarter! There’s lots of year left for your business. Now is the time to dust off your business goals and marketing plans for 2015 and make something happen! From contacting clients with whom you lost touch during the summer hiatus to addressing your most important goals for 2015 to determining which projects should be pushed to next year, this is the prime time for action.

The smart folks at Inc. magazine identified 4 ways to dominate the 4th quarter (well, they didn’t call it that… but they should have!). I found these to be incredibly useful and think you will, too!

If you thought this summer went by fast, just wait and see how quickly the rest of the year goes! Get started today so you don’t find yourself “under the gun” during the festive holiday season.

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Just Keep Going

We’re just days away from the annual Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon. Now, I’m not a great runner (I could never run 26.2 miles in a row!), but I do my best to do a 10K leg in the marathon relay. This year, however, I’m behind on my training… big time.

You see, my company isn’t sponsoring a team this year and no one I asked was too interested in doing it, so I kind of wrote it off. Not this year, I thought. No biggie. Then, my daughter’s teacher from when she was in preschool asked on Facebook if anyone was interested in filling in on her team. Done. I’m now an official member of team Liquid Courage. I couldn’t be happier (or more scared!).

As I was running this morning, the fear started creeping up on me… I’m not ready… I can’t do this… My body is hurting at two miles, how on earth can I do six?! All this was going through my head when I passed my favorite spot on my morning run… the pond.

Image“Just Keep Going”

That’s what I heard as I saw this beautiful sight. Just as the sun creeps up from below the horizon, burning off the morning clouds and the mist on the pond, just keep going. Through the nagging pain in the left knee and the heaviness of each breath… keep going.

It got me to thinking (which is a great way I distract myself from noticing the aches and pains of running!)… This is a good metaphor for life, too. Sometimes it hurts: unresolved issues at home, business concerns, disagreements with friends, financial problems… Whatever it is, just keep going.

Somehow, almost magically, things do get better… if you don’t give up. Sure, you might have to make adjustments to make it work. When I’m running, sometimes I have to stop and catch my breath… or tie my shoe… or change the tune in my headphones. These little tweaks and improvements get me through my run. And, after a hot shower, I always feel better about the day ahead because of the morning run.

It’s the same way in life. The adjustments you make, whether it’s working on being more thoughtful, saving for the future or reading more about an emerging industry, these are the things that help you to get through the immediate struggles. And, once you’ve cleared these hurdles, it’s refreshing to look back and see what you have accomplished.

Just keep going.

Why Are You Here?

Sunrise in Oklahoma

I was going for a jog the other morning. It’s July in Oklahoma, which means getting out really early, before the blistering sun begins to bake everything it can touch. This year, however, Okies have been blessed with a rather mild summer… and it’s awesome.

Anyway, as I was running my standard two-mile route, I passed the pond on the main road. This day, however, it was different. It was absolutely drop-dead gorgeous. So much so, in fact, that I stopped to take the photo above. Nice, huh? Seven minutes later, when I passed this same spot on my return trip, it had changed completely. Sure, the sun was still rising and the water was still silent, but the pink hues, the perfect reflection the silhouette of the houses and trees… they were different. That magical moment I captured was gone.

This got me to thinking… “Why am I here?”. Sure, that’s a big ol’ heavy topic, but I wasn’t thinking in a metaphysical sense (at 6 am, with sweat gushing from every pore of my body, I’m not in ‘deep thought’ mode!). I was thinking more along the lines of the immediate space around me. Why am I here?

Sometimes, things click so well, you know without a doubt why you are in this space at this time. Sometimes, it’s not so clear. You’re going through the same motions you did a week ago, but it’s different now. Not necessarily better or worse. Just different. So, why are you here?

Last month, my wife and I took our 7-year-old daughter to see Despicable Me 2 (don’t judge me!). It was a matinee and there were lots of kids there. At the climax of the movie, the woman in front of us (who had several kids of various ages) jumped up and started screaming, “Help me! Help me! Help me!”

I quickly ran to where she was and noticed two little legs sticking up from one of the chairs that was folded shut. She screamed, “My baby is in there! Don’t let him die!”

Wow! That was unexpected. I was just enjoying an animated film and now this?!

I pulled out my phone and used the light to see where the little guy’s head was. Yep. It was stuck. A second later, another man was there to help… and this guy actually had a flashlight! While I held the light and pushed on the chair, he tried to get the baby free. Another guy joined us in the effort and within two minutes, we had the baby out.

After the movie, I shook hands with the first guy and said, “Great job, man.” To which he responded, “I guess we know why we were here today, don’t we?”

Double wow!

I think he was right. That was the reason I was there. Sure, the movie was great, but I can watch it on Netflix next year. I was in that theater for a bigger reason, just like I was running down that road for more than just a morning jog. I was there to catch a moment of perfection… A beautiful sunrise that I may never see again.

We may not always know the why of our situations, but we can be certain that it is there… even if it’s to play a part in someone else’s story.

So… Why are you here?

 

The Reason

Every morning, the first thing I do when I get out of bed is to hobble into the living room and do some stretches. Yeah, part of it is the ‘old guy’ in me who took playing shortstop a little too seriously and has dues to pay for game time acrobatics from years past. The other part of it, though, is that I truly enjoy waking up with the feeling of gently pulling my muscles in different directions. And, when I’m done, I like to lie quietly for a few minutes and listen. There are some great things that come down the pike sometimes. Like today, for instance.

Today, I heard these words… Crystal clear… And unprovoked:

“Money is a reason. It isn’t the reason.”

Yeah. That.

There are two other posts I’ve been meaning to write for some time now, but this one just seems more appropriate right now.

Why do you do what you do? Whatever ‘it’ is… What is The Reason? Why do you get up in the morning? Why do you race around in a mad dash to get ready for work, fight the traffic on the commute and hustle to get your backside in your chair before 8am?

I’m not going to pretend here… I don’t have the answers. But I’m going to be doing a lot of thinking to try to find some of them. I hope you do, too.

Turn It Up To 11

Turn It Up To 11... With B2design 

For those of you who know me in real life or as president of the Oklahoma City chapter of the American Marketing Association, you know this is my new motto… My creed… It’s what I want to do. But, perhaps, there is a slight disconnect about what this really means. Let me give you some back story and then I want to introduce someone who is LIVING this message.

 

 

So… My position is that in whatever it is you’re doing, why not push it just a little bit up to the next level? Why not “Turn It Up To 11”? No matter what you are doing, it can be done just a little better. Imagine if we all did this… Every day. How much different would things be?

Several years ago, my brother-in-law introduced me to a musician who goes by the name G Love and Special Sauce. Well, he’s G Love, his band is Special Sauce. Anyway, this is one talented cat and I was instantly hooked. He’s created his own style of music that he calls “The Hip Hop Blues.” Catchy, isn’t it? Now, I’m not a big hip hop fan, but I am definitely a connoisseur of the blues and this man knows how to make his guitar sing.

Over time, I have come to own virtually every album Mr. Love has put out. Heck, even my four-year-old daughter can sing a handful of his songs and she recognizes his harmonica playing on other people’s tunes. Cool, huh? Anyway, one day I decided to check to see if he was on Twitter. He was. I followed him.

I was pleased to see what he was up to… The occasional picture… Tour dates… Set lists from the previous night. This is all good stuff. Then, G Love decided to ‘Turn It Up To 11’.

Broadcasting to his fans was no longer enough. He wanted to interact with them. He wanted them to promote his ‘brand’ to their networks. And, really, isn’t that what all of us marketers want to do when we use social media. Here’s where Mr. Love was smart, though… He didn’t say “I’m coming to Tulsa… Please RT (re-tweet) this!” Instead, he started offering a free pair of tickets to an upcoming show by Tweeting:

“Tweet ‘I wanna see @Glove in Tulsa tonight!’ One lucky person will get a free pair of tickets!”

Now, how easy is that? Yeah, It’s That Easy. Can you imagine how much free word-of-mouth promotion he gets by doing this? Every day? In every city he visits? You can’t buy this kind of promotion. This is social media at its finest. It’s grass roots… And it works!

And what do the winners think? Well, let me tell you… I won those tickets to the Tulsa show to see G Love & Special Sauce… And… I won a pair to see G Love open up for Jack Johnson in Dallas last week. Not only did it solidify Garrett’s position in my ‘Book of Cool’, but it also made me realize what a great marketer he is. He is all about The Hustle. He is willing to take a few minutes out of his day to interact with his fans… And give them a reason to help promote him. Now, that is how you ‘Turn It Up To 11’.

G Love doesn’t stop at Twitter when it comes to social media, though! He also does a short, 30-second video blog every Thursday at 12:07. Everyone on his mailing list gets an email when the new video is posted to his website. Not only that, he lets people download exclusive live tracks… FREE. Talk about creating a community! This is how you do it.

 

Without a doubt, G Love knows how to Turn It Up To 11. What about you?

It’s HOT in OKC!

 

Newsflash!

It’s hot in Oklahoma City.

No, I’m not talking about the 100+ temps we’re experiencing right now. That’s a given. It’s August. In Oklahoma. Duh.

I’m talking about what’s happening in Oklahoma City right now. This is the place to be! Things are happening in OKC. It’s HOT!

Jobs. Yeah, some folks have lost theirs, and I feel their pain (Honestly, I do. I have been there!). But I also know that more jobs are being created every day. For instance, I know that Boeing is bringing 500+ here. CASS Polymers may be bringing a few, too. And, probably the coolest trend I’ve noticed lately is how many folks are stepping out and doing it for themselves. Entrepreneurs! I love it.

Social Media. People here (in general) get it. I think it’s a Midwest thing. We like to talk to people. We like to know who you would recommend to do a particular job. We expect businesses to be engaged with us. It’s normal in these parts. So, it really isn’t very surprising that social media is being embraced here. What’s really exciting about it is that this type of personal interaction over the digital waves is the future of how business will be done. And, the savvy folks in OKC are already doing it!

This extends beyond Twitter and Facebook, of course. Oklahoma boasts a huge number of bloggers (who said we were illiterate?!), too. Want to talk about generational issues, books, new media, market research or local gossip ? We’ve got it. Plus thousands of others covering every topic you can imagine.

Smart Business People. It’s hard to make a blanket statement like that because there are always a couple bad eggs in the group. Overall, though, we have some really smart folks in our fair city. They are busy bringing in new businesses, growing existing ones, creating new opportunities for the people in the area and selling our goods around the globe.

I meet each month with an incredibly sharp group of marketers (Full disclosure – I am the president of the OKC chapter of the American Marketing Association). The industries they represent are all over the spectrum: marketing services, education, manufacturing, retail, banking, utilities, technology, printing, etc. Even during an ‘economic downturn’, these folks are using a mix of traditional marketing tactics and cutting edge technology to make their businesses profitable. This is ‘smart’ in action.

Real Estate. Yeah, yeah, yeah… ‘Housing slump’, ‘Economic downturn’… I know. I hear it, too. But you know what? Property is still selling here. No, it’s not booming like it was 5 years ago, but that’s good. Things were not being done the right way during the ‘Housing Boom’. But I’m not really talking about houses here. I’m talking about Oklahoma!

We are located at the “Crossroads of America”. This is the perfect place to set up a business. Centrally located, access to three major interstates, inexpensive housing… Again, this is the place to be!

So, yeah… It is Hot in OKC! And I like it.

(And so does Billy Idol!)

Spring Planning


I really like spring. The whole idea of rebirth… A fresh start… New beginnings. It appeals to me in many ways.

For instance, this is the time of year that I get back outside to work in our flowerbeds. I used to hate having to do this, but over the years, I have learned to cherish this time. With the warm sun on my back and a cool breeze blowing by (this is Oklahoma, afterall!), a cold beverage sitting in the shade for my next break and some serious blues pouring out of the stereo speakers… This is not only a time to rejuvinate the flower beds. It’s a time to rejuvinate myself.

My thoughts wander while I do the work… Family… Friends… Work… Upcoming events… I am able to actually see these things as my hands work the soil, trim the bushes, plant the flowers. I can visualize what will be happening in my near future. Plans begin to form. Problems are buried in the dirt so that creative solutions can come in full bloom.

This is also a great time for your business to get a fresh start. It’s amazing how therapeutic it can be for you to clean your office, go through old files, get rid of the clutter and in the process, let your mind wander a bit. Before long, thoughts of old contacts, new friends, forgotten action items and endless possibilites begin to float around.

This is the perfect time for you to make a strategic plan – for yourself or for your company. Where are you going? Why do you want to be there? How are you going to get ‘there’?

Planning for success. Just like laying out a garden, your business needs a plan. You have to plant the ideas, nurture them, protect them from the weeds (the critics) and help them grow into the dreams you have.

Now is the time.