Google Announces +1

I wrote last time about Google Offers and today they have finally released it to the public. Floyd’s Coffee Shop in Portland is the first official Google offers location.  As I was writing this the number of remaining went down from 425 to 395 in about 20 minutes…so congratulations to both of you.

Now I wanted to give you a few more updates from the big brains at Google that happened in May 2011. On the heels of Google Offers, Google has just announced another service called Google Wallet.  This is their take on the next generation of smart phones with contactless smart card technology (sort of like the old Mobil gas station speed pass) that will make.

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Locella – Frank Kern, Jordan Belfort – What Happened Here?

Did the marketing brilliance of Frank Kern and the sales mastery of Jordan Belfort strike out with their joint venture

One of the best parts of living in San Diego other than the weather which goes without saying is the HUGE and very viable Internet marketing community that thrives in the Southern California climate. For those of you who are not familiar with the ranks of the Internet marketing elite in San Diego we have Mike Koenig (personal hero) from Traffic Geyser and his new social media marketing machine , Frank Kern, Trey Smith, and not sure where Jason Moffatt is these days but San Diego was his home. These and others understand that the San Diego lifestyle works perfectly for our Internet marketing business – the benefit of living close to these guys is the ability to go to the events and to network with other people who are are at the top of their game….that was a long ramble but anyways living in SD also gave me the opportunity to walk by the Locella building on my way to the bank.

Full disclosure here – I’ve been a big fan of Frank Kern for a number of years I went through his Mass Control, Mass Control 2.0, and List Control with my Four Hour Work Week Meetup group. My girlfriend thinks that given the chance I would name my first born child male or female to – “Frank Kern”.

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Standing Desk Experiment

Using a standing desk to supercharge your life.   You may not be familiar with the concept of a standing desk, but they have been around for hundreds of years.  Some of the greatest thinkers of our time have expounded their benefits.  After hearing Eben Pagan talk about his standing desk I had to give it a try.

My standing desk design is a modification of the door desk concept but with longer legs!  Attached is a video outlining the benefits of a standing desk and some pictures of the construction, ergonomics and the configuration of a standing desk.

We now use these exclusively at the office and they have been a huge boost to productivity and to mental clarity.


I hope you find this helpful.

Linkedin – It’s Like a Network in the Dessert…

A while ago I posted about linkedin, and I just saw this video today.

It pretty much sums up how most people feel about the site.  It has gotten to be a wasteland of connections with almost everyone looking for a free handout or recommendation.

Microsoft Store Video Front Page on Engadget

I woke up this morning and my cell phone was vibrating, I thought that it was a server that had gone down and these were the inbound emails…but alas it was just the deluge of emails from Youtube about my Microsoft Store video.


Link back to the Engadget posting –

Well back to the grind, feel free to poke around.
I just hope that Microsoft has a sense of humor. Some of those comments are scathing.

Initial Meeting Confirmation Email

    Whenever we set an appointment with our client over the phone, it is a good idea to follow up your conversation with an email outlining your objectives. The folks at The Whetstone Group, sales training San Diego have created this template to ensure that the message is clear and your goals and purpose are outlined.


    Thank you for your time on the phone today.

    To confirm, we are meeting on (day of week), (day) at (time) for (minutes).

    The purpose of the meeting it (state concisely the purpose of the meeting).

    I would like to accomplish the following objectives:

  1. (   )
  2. (   )
  3. (   )
    I understand that also attending the meeting from your company will be (name and title). Accompanying me will be (name and title).

    At the end of the meeting we should have exchanged enough information to be able to determine if it makes sense for us to continue our dialogue, and, if so, to decide what are next step should be. If it is apparent that there is not a fit, we can close the file.

    If these objectives are not consistent with your expectations, please let me know.

    I look forward to seeing you on (date and time)

This simple format for writing a followup email for a meeting will go along way in establishing trust and credibility with your clients.

Local Bank Win Out Over Mega Banks in San Diego

The Background Story – My Quest for a local bank in San Diego

About a year ago I opened an additional business account at Regents Bank in San Diego after checking with the bigger national banks in town.  I spent about two weeks talking to a number of reps at the big box banks and they all had amazing features, online everything, account access anywhere, free this, free that and for a while I was tempted to just move my business to them.  There was a guy at Wells Fargo that had me convinced that joining their institution would be the perfect fit for my business and that if I ever needed anything, a car loan, a business loan, a credit card, a merchant account, heck even a toaster…that Wells would take care of me.

I signed the paperwork and then called Jeffrey Wilber at Regents bank. I have known Jeff for about 5 years now, he sees me when I come into the bank every few weeks and we have had lunch a few times.  I only had one question for him, really I was about to switch banks and I asked him, why I should stay with their small local bank.

His answer, the commitment that Regents Bank has not only to their customers but also to their employees.  The people at the bank had been there a long time, they know the business and more importantly they know their customers. I thought about the glitz and glamour at Wells and I called the rep and asked him how long has been with the bank and what is goals were.  He said about 11 months and he hoped to move to their private banking side, he told me that there would always be someone to take care of my account and not to worry there would be someone to take his place.

I called Jeff, and opened my additional account at Regents Bank and have been really happy ever since.

Fast Forward to 8:23am today. I get a phone call from the Regents Bank Fraud department to tell me that there was suspected fraudulent transactions on the account.  A number of gasoline purchases were made in the past few hours in Iowa.  I said, that the card was in my wallet and that these were not my charges.  He said that he would close the account and I should go to the local Regents Bank office in La Jolla and get a new card.

Bank opened and I was in the door within just a few minutes.  Behind the desk was a woman that I had never met before but I said “I am here because the fraud department called!” and her response was “Oh, you must be Brad from WebHEAT.  Someone else is dealing with this but we all communicate and we were expecting you.”  WOW.  Did you hear that!?  I am not the person responsible, but we all communicate and I will get you taken care of!  I had NEVER met her.  AMAZING.

They handled the issue is just a few minutes.  And I was back to my day.

So to my FRIENDS at Regents Bank, Dan Yates, Jessica, Ryan, Cecilia, Ken, Jeff and the rest of the team that I have never even met. Thank you for operating a real community bank that really cares about each member!

Dan Kennedy Information Marketing

Just got off of conference call with Dan Kennedy where he discussed his A to Z marketing strategy and his info summit.  Just like most info marketers he gave some real information, held back some of the finer points and then introduced his product.

For those of you who missed the call here is the Dan Kennedy formula for creating a successful info product.

ap + ql + mf + rr + ci + wn = Big $

Seems simple right?

Well this is what it means

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The Tough Enonomy is Invading the Schools

Lisa gave me the most amazing birthday present ever she enrolled me in  Machine Shop Basics for some personal development.  I have always wanted to learn how to run a lathe and a mill, I love the feel of metal, the clean lines and the glimmer of stainless steel.

SO I get there today and there are 90 people crowding around a small classroom listening to the instructor talk about the vocational training that City College offers.  She spoke about Electronics Assembly, Electronic Testing and Machine Shop.  She mentioned that this was the largest group that she had ever seen in her years of working for the district and that spaces were limited.

She asked for a show of hands on how many people were planning on the machine shop class and about 30 people put their hands up.  Now this was really the most motley crew you have ever seen, people of ever age and every walk of like united by the one reality – that they needed a skill to get a job.  Man, there were people there with some hard luck stories, people who needed bus tokens to get to school and subsidized textbooks.

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Is Hummingbird the Twitter automation tool worth the money?

Hummingbird claims to be the software that the “Twitter Elite” don’t want you to know about. The developers claim that by using Hummingbird software you can automate to the building of a huge twitter following in a matter of weeks rather than months or years. I am a skeptic, I have always been the person that wants’ know “what’s the catch” or if something is to good to be true it probably is. Skeptical not cynical 🙂

So I plunked down some hard earned cash on April 20th of 2009 and decided to give it three weeks. Today is March 8 and I feel that I am in a pretty good position to be able to give this review. So that’s 19 days of owning the software, probably 15 days of using it, and I am SHOCKED at how well it works.

Here is the background information:

1. I created a brand new twitter account on the 20th of April. I added a picture to the account and I had ZERO followers at that point. Here is a copy of the email receipt to show when I got the software.


2. I searched the Internet for some relevant links in the niche that I was interested in and then copied the URLs into a text file on my desktop making some notes to what the web page was about.

It looked like this:

Short Sales:
My tweet, and then the url that I found:

How to do a short sale –

Snag a great deal on a short sale

How to exit your property with a short sales

I created about 40 links like this by searching google for “short sale 2009”

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Facebook Worm In Action..

Today I received a strange email from a friend on facebook. She is not the type to send random spammy emails so when I got this I was a little suspicious.

Knowing a little about how this virus was going around I felt pretty sure that I could track it down, without getting infected. So I decided to follow the link in the email – which by the way she sent to all of her friends. (Lets hope they did not get the virus)

Once I followed clicked the link – I was redirected from a geocities link…. to a site that calls itself YuoTube – Broadcast Yourself. Notice this is Yuo, not YouTube… Clever. It also has a reference to Teresa in the header and her picture in the profile to convince an unsuspecting viewer that this is a legit message.

And the profile picture that matches the facebook profile picture.

To make the page look even more believable that they have also included a user review section.

The culmination of the deception is possible because the video window looks like you are missing a plugin in order to watch. They report that you need a new version of Adobe Flash and then the download auto-starts.

This is the popup with the URL and port number for the setup.exe download that is a virus.

I then traced this IP down to the “Korean Education Network” and filed an abuse complaint. Who knows how many people will get hit before they respond.

Suggestions on how to get these guys shut down would be appreciated.

Insuring your E-Business Success

I have a number of clients who have equipment colocated all over the country, these sites range from individual and corporate blogs, e-commerce websites and even a customer that does 50 million in product revenue from house hold items. On the surface it may not seem like these sites have anything in common, except that all demand that they websites are always availible.

As a technology consultant I have to plan for the unlikely or the unreasonable while balancing this against the possible and probable. A consultant needs to balance what is likely to happen but plan for the unlikely. Here is a perfect example from this weekend.

There is a HUGE colocation provider located in Texas called The Planet that has near 100% historical uptime. They are located in a part of the country that is not prone to flooding, fire, tornadoes, hurricanes or even earthquakes – they seem like an excellent choice for a safe, reliable and cost effective service provider. They have all of the industry standard redundancies for Internet, environmental controls and security. They also stated that they had best of breed power systems, well this weekend – this failed.

Their data center literally had an explosion! According to The Planet website a piece of electrical gear shorted out and created an explosion that knocked down three walls of their electrical equipment room.

No injuries were reported and no servers were damaged or lost. But about 9000 servers were powered down and inaccessible from Internet. This means that tens of thousands of businesses were affected.

With a down server you could be offline for hours or even days. I still trust the planet Sometimes bad things just happen I bet that more than 99% of you have no idea when your website goes down.

Here is a quick tip: I monitor all of my clients critical servers with an online service called Pingdom, there a a few of these services out there but this seems to be the most reliable that I have found. On Saturday I received about 60 SMS messages to my Blackberry – I got in touch with technical support and then notified the affected clients. From my standpoint, it is better to be informed proactively than reactively.

The lesson here is, make sure that you or a member of your team gets proactively notified every time there is an issue with your website AND your mail server!

  • Make sure this goes to email and to SMS
  • Have the contact information about the service provider
  • Have your contract or account number
  • Your IT company and Staff should not be the only people getting these alerts
  • Do you have current online backups of your critical business data.

If you have suggestions for other monitoring systems, colocation providers or ways that smaller businesses can handle these situations let me know.

Lifelock – Who To Trust? The Lawyers or the Company

It really makes it difficult to find a product that performs as advertised, when you do you hang on and advocate it whenever possible. As a happy subscriber for a few years now, I have felt protected, not only when I get the confirmations from the credit companies but also when I try to apply for new accounts and I get a call from a Lifelock representative that they are doing what they promised they would do.

Basically I am 100% satisfied with the service that they are providing to me.

The press, the attorneys and Lifelock corporate have been caught in a bit of a scandal. Some are claiming that the service does not perform as advertised and then there is the response.

From the Lawyers

Todd Davis has dared criminals for two years to try stealing his identity: Ads for his fraud-prevention company, LifeLock, even offer his Social Security number next to his smiling mug.

Now, Lifelock customers in Maryland, New Jersey and West Virginia are suing Davis, claiming his service didn’t work as promised and he knew it wouldn’t, because the service had failed even him.

Attorney David Paris said he found records of other people applying for or receiving driver’s licenses at least 20 times using Davis’ Social Security number, though some of the applications may have been rejected because data in them didn’t match what the Social Security Administration had on file.

Davis acknowledged in an interview with The Associated Press that his stunt has led to at least 87 instances in which people have tried to steal his identity, and one succeeded: a guy in Texas who duped an online payday loan operation last year into giving him $500 using Davis’ Social Security number.

Paris said the fact Davis’ records were compromised at all supports the claim that Tempe, Ariz.-based LifeLock doesn’t provide the comprehensive protection its advertisements say it does.

”It’s further evidence of the ineffectiveness of the services that LifeLock advertises,” said Paris, who is lead attorney on the three new lawsuits, the latest of which was filed this month…..

From the perspective:

“My identity has been completely protected by LifeLock and I am as confident as ever about the LifeLock service”, says Todd Davis, CEO of LifeLock. “It is shocking that completely untrue statements about our company, the protection we provide and my personal identity are being repeated from a lawyer looking to create a case that clearly is not in the best interest of consumers.”

According to the FTC, nearly 3% of Americans are victims of identity theft each year. With over one million LifeLock members, you could expect LifeLock to have 30,000 victims. But as clear evidence LifeLock really works, only 105 individuals have been the victim of identity theft. In fact, among the 105 who have reported an identity theft, every single one has been covered under the LifeLock service guarantee….

Recent claims have suggested that Davis’ social security number has been used at least 20 times to obtain drivers licenses and other credit. Davis explained, “These claims are completely untrue and reflect total inexperience and lack of understanding of how credit files and identities work. While there have been more than 100 attempts to use my identity information, none of these recorded in the credit files resulted in any loss for me. However, a check cashing company failed to properly follow procedures and verify the identity of a thief in 2007, resulting in a person being able to cash a check for $500. Let’s be clear, there is currently no form of identity protection that would prevent this from happening, but this is why LifeLock serves such an important protection for consumers. The LifeLock guarantee served me as it serves all LifeLock members, what identity theft LifeLock can’t prevent, it will fix at LifeLock’s expense up to one million dollars.”

“As of today, there have been only four individuals out of over one million LifeLock members who have alleged they are dissatisfied with LifeLock as part of class action lawsuits. However, none of these individuals appear dissatisfied enough to cancel their service or even ask for a refund. We have done an excellent job of serving all our members and even those four people must agree. In the some of the recent challenges to LifeLock, you have to ask yourself, what is the motivation behind the lawsuits?”

Not sure of which side to listen to? Me either, but I love the service and if you are looking for to try it out here is a Lifelock Coupon that gets you $21 off and the first 60 days free and here is a Lifelock Discount for 90 days free and $110 per year.

I am a user, I love the service. My folks are getting a little older and I got them both accounts, for $10 per month, it really is an extra level of protection.

So you’re LinkedIn – Who Cares!

A client of mine David called me just this week and said “Hey I have just joined, I have about a dozen new connections…now what?” And I had absolutely nothing to say to him. No guidance for his next steps, no reassurance that there are untold fortunes in each of those connections. As I though about my experience with the social networking site for business and realized that I have no idea on how to actually use it! So I went online and found a few tips about LinkedIn that all users should really know.

Guy Kawasaki wrote about giving your profile an extreme makeover read it to give yourself a head start on the process of actually using LinkedIn to build your business.

Mr. Kawasaki also posted his ten ways to use the network. My favorites are number 3 and 5, Improve your Google Pagerank and perform blind, “reverse,” and company reference checks.

Then I stumbled on Jill Konrath and her website She has an amazing free ebook that really hits the heart of the LinkedIn craze called “Can LinkedIn Increase your sales?” In about fifteen minutes my whole outlook on social networking for business changed.

What I was able to distill is that LinkedIn is your online research library for real work connections. You have to take the conversation ‘off-line’ for it to be effective. E.T Phone Home Spot your target, hone your skills, master your approach and then strike. But when you strike, be like E.T. The Extra Terrestrial and phone home. Leverage the information to lessen the time it takes to get your foot in the door.

‘Increase your visibility. Don’t simply add people to your network. Ask or answer questions on LinkedIn. Make sure your public profile is complete. But most of all recommend people in your network and ask them to recommend YOU! Anytime you do any of the above, LinkedIn posts updates online or in weekly updates to everyone in your network.’

I also found the contrary 3 reasons that LinkedIn won’t help you sell What I have learned about life is that for every great idea there are always 3 good reasons why it won’t work.

View Brad Slavin's profile on LinkedIn

Feel free to add me as a connection. Who knows, maybe I know someone that knows someone that you would really like to be introduced to. You never know.

Go Green in the Office for Earth Day

Happy Earth Day 2008 ! Here are some tips on saving energy in the workplace.

The average desktop computer uses about 120 Watts (the monitor uses 75 Watts, and the CPU uses 45 Watts.) Laptops use considerably less, around 30 Watts total.

A common misconception about power saving is the belief that computers and monitors purchased with the Energy Star logo are already energy efficient. What is really means is that they have built in energy conservation features but your computer cannot take full advantage of these built in energy saving mechanisms until the power management features are enabled and configured. energysavingszzz20060420.gif

Here is my list of top computer energy savings tips:

1. Enable the power management of your monitor. Set your computer to power down your monitor after 15 minutes. Instead of setting up the screen saver to come on, have it shut down your monitor.
2. During lunch, shut your monitor off completely. Have a power lunch, without the power.
3. At the end of the night, shut down your computer, monitor, and personal printer or place them in a standby mode.
4. Unplug or power down idle computer peripherals like scanners or printers when they’re not in use.
5. Turn off your computer at night and when you are not using it for several hours.
6. New computer consume less power than machines that are just a few years old.
7. If you buy a new computer, consider a laptop. Laptops use only 1/4 the energy.
8. If you buy a new monitor, consider a flat screen. It uses only 1/3 the energy.

To enable power management for your computer check out

In the Office

  • Turn off the lights in rooms that are not in use. Install occupancy sensors or turn off lights when not needed. Occupancy sensors have been shown to save up to 30 percent on lighting costs during normal working hours.
  • Wherever practical, use a task light instead of the overhead lighting.
  • Make sure the office copier is turned off at night.
  • Reprogram the thermostat. Each degree warmer you leave the thermostat in summer, and each degree cooler you set it in the winter can save 6 to 8 percent in energy costs.
  • Look into telecommuting. Every commute not taken saves on money, time and fossil fuel. Plus, studies have found that telecommuting boosts productivity too.

10 Myths of Offshore Software Development

1. I can save 75% of my project costs by offshoring.

While this may be possible in some rare cases, the savings will be more in the 30 – 50% range. Although the hourly rates may drop from $100 – $25 / hour, there will be some additional overhead and travel expenses associated with the project.

2. Cost savings is the driving factor to go offshore.

Cost is certainly a significant factor but not the only factor. The choice of vendors is astounding and you can get access to very specialized resources that may be in short supply in the US. Offshore resources are more than happy to handle tasks such as maintenance, testing, porting, and data conversion which many US developers do not get too excited about. Finally, time zone difference can work to your advantage especially during testing cycles when issues can be fixed overnight. 24-hour shops can also take advantage of these resources for night and weekend application support and system monitoring.

3. Offshoring doesn’t make sense anymore with the falling dollar.

As painful as it is to fork over $20 for a beer in London, we aren’t exactly at the Peso level yet. The Indian Rupee, for example, has appreciated almost 20% against the dollar in the past 2 years. The 20% currency move has not directly translated into a 20% rate increase because most firms price in dollars (for now at least). While they may have moved their rates up slightly, the have also accepted lower margins due to the intense competition among firms.

4. There is a shortage of offshore resources.

India, China, and Russia alone have close to 10 times the population of the US. And the number of engineering graduates they turn out is well more than 10 times ours. When you consider that their domestic markets are small in comparison, there is plenty talent left over to serve multi-nationals and outsourcers. I was in India a few years ago, and the head of HR of the software company I was visiting realized that they needed 20 extra new hires to support the project. They put up a couple of posters at a regional engineering college intending to give aptitude tests to 1000 people, interview 100, and hire 20. Much to their surprise, 5000 people showed up to take the test! It’s worth mentioning that these 5000 people were all graduates of engineering colleges and had to compete with hundreds of thousands of students just to get a coveted engineering program spot. There may be turnover and competition among the best and the brightest but there is certainly not a shortage of talent.

5. I can successfully offshore any project.

False! There are some projects that just don’t fit the offshore model, and project size is the first consideration. As a rule of thumb, don’t consider offshoring any project that is less than 10 man months. Next, remember that anytime you use outside resources you need to spend a sufficient amount of time explaining and documenting exactly what you want. And then you need to explain it again and have them explain it back to you to make sure it’s well understood. All of this requires some additional overhead. I like to describe it as the ratio of explaining to doing. For example, if you are porting a system from one platform to another and need it work the exact same way, the explaining is minimal because you can just point to the existing system and ask for an exact copy. Testing is another good example because you explain the testing criteria up front and execute the tests dozens of time which is again a favorable ratio of explaining to doing.

6. India is the best or only place for offshore development

India comes to the top of the list for many reasons but it’s certainly not the only place. Russia, China, Eastern Europe, Israel, Brazil, and the Philippines all have thriving industries and combine a strong education system with a lower cost of living. There are several factors involved in picking a location including cost, maturity and variety of vendors, time zone, language skills, and the specific needs of the project. The vast majority of business applications move data in and out of a database and, while they require experienced and technical programmers, they do not require a great deal of scientific or mathematical skill. If your project requirements call for heavy use of algorithms, compression, low-level networking protocols, or embedded code, then some of those skills may be more available in Eastern Europe and Israel. In terms of depth and breadth of the market, India certainly comes in first. They have been serving US customers for a very long time; thus the industry and the execution processes are very mature.

7. The language barrier is an issue.

The language barrier is an issue but it can be compensated for. The nature of the project and the communication requirements absolutely should be a factor in selecting a vendor location. For typical business applications, heavier communication is required because the application is automating a business process which will need to be described in detail. In addition, business applications always involve user interfaces and it is difficult to have a conversation about subtle user experience issues with somebody who is not a native speaker. India is actually composed of 28 states and even more languages. When developers from all over the country get together, English is actually their common language. The accent and expressions take getting used to so it is best to have the project manager be accustomed to communication with the vendor personnel. Solid documentation and frequent milestone reviews also help complement the oral communication.

8. All I have to do is write a spec and send it to my developers.

I wish it were that easy. This is the exact reason why most projects fail. While porting and data conversion projects may be exceptions, business application projects require extensive documentation and proactive management. I have personally written specs that I thought were comprehensive enough to speak for themselves. On one of my very first projects I sent my 50 page masterpiece complete with examples, screen shots, logic diagrams, and even a database design and was upset when the development team didn’t start coding the second I sent the email. But when I went overseas and sat down with the team (meaning the developers themselves that would actually be doing the work), I was amazed at how easily two experienced people could interpret the same sentence in radically different ways. A detailed spec is a very necessary first step but it must be followed up by an execution plan that tightly manages progress and ensures that what is being developed matches up well to what the business requires. This is where the real work begins.

9. My data and intellectual property will not be secure.

This fear is not uncommon. The reality, however, is that the biggest threats are internal resources, not vendors. Moreover, a local vendor could just as easily be a security risk. What you have to remember is that a good deal of the firms that are serving US customers are public companies themselves and serve banks, pharmaceutical companies, software development firms, and many others that place a high emphasis on security. Regarding intellectual property concerns, the reality is that customer relationships, goodwill, and stateside business infrastructure represent the true value of a corporation. Even with a fully functioning copy of a piece of software, it would be of little value without the sales, marketing, client services, support, and reputation of the firm behind it. It’s probably hard to find any large software firm that is not doing work offshore. This is not, however, a license to be carefree and to not take the appropriate safeguards; its just that you shouldn’t automatically rule out doing business with a foreign firm for security reasons.

10. Offshore projects have more quality issues.

Since a good number of people attempt the “send the spec over the wall” method, this misperception is not a surprise. But with proper process and controls, there is no reason why offshore developed code should have more quality issues than code developed domestically. In fact, I would argue that the programming discipline is greater in many cases. Coupled with the fact that you can afford more QA resources and the time and effort required to setup automated testing systems, quality may be achieved more easily offshore.

I invited a guest writer Joel Mezistrano from Biltong Global to write a quick list of myths for Offshore Software Development. He is an expert in the field and you can read more about his services at his site.

Chick It Up

As a technologist there is nothing that I hate more than technology when I am having a problem. Specifically I am talking about voice mail and auto-responders from help desk or other impersonal systems. Do you feel that impersonal voice mail and the instant response acknowledging that I have a problem is good enough? Does this really show that you value me as a customer?


Some businesses that I have consulted with feel that the instant gratification of these systems is actually disconnecting you from your customers. It is convenience at the expense of real connection. Bottom line, your bottom line will eventually suffer because your connection to the customer is impersonal and automated. Get back to personal and make sure that your company is Easy To Do Business With or ETDBW.

Cost Cutting

I have heard the arguments, the complaints that costs are rising for employees and ‘automation really should be able to handle’ the basic needs of routing calls and auto-responding to customer emails. I agree costs are rising, and so is competition. When times get tougher people want to cut back, my feelings mirror those of Former CEO Jack Miller who founded Quill (Worlds largest stationary store – sold to Staples) who said that he would cut costs as long as it did not impact the quality of his product or his customers experience. So the message is do cut so deep that it impacts who you are to your customers. Turn off lights, stop providing free coffee, do anything before you impact your customers.

Frustration Sets In

Call RubyJust think of the last time you send an email, got the auto-responder saying that your issue would be handled and a few days later you had not heard a thing?! You then pick up the phone and wind up in voice mail routing hell, and you never really get to speak to someone that can answer your questions!
YOUR CUSTOMER ARE LOOKING FOR BUSINESSES that are ETDBW and voice mails, impersonal invoices and blind auto-responders are a sure sign that there is trouble looming. Next time try pressing ‘0’ to see if you actually get a live person.

Get Some Curve Appeal

Fix these issues with a trend that I affectionately call chick it up to give your company some curve appeal. Studies have shown that customers relate well to real people or even the perception of a REAL person helping them who can be accountable is a huge booster in confidence and satisfaction. In your business it does not have to really be an individual but it can be a team, but for heavens sake don’t have your trouble tickets, or invoices signed off:

Thank you,
Support Department or Customer Care or Accounting Group

Think of how much more appealing the same auto-responder would be if it were signed:

Customer Advocate
Call me at: 800.555.1212 if you need personal attention.

Looking for Heather

When someone calls looking for Heather, tell them that she is on the other line but you would be HAPPY TO PERSONALLY HELP THEM OUT WITH THE ISSUE. At this point reconnect with the customer and find out how you can HELP! Think Customer focus, customer satisfaction. Oh and by the way, customers are more likely to be respond appropriately when they feel that there is a PERSON on the other end of the email and not just some huge company robot that grinds up their requests. Make it personal, chick it up

It’s the phone. Stupid.

Ruby LogoMy other suggestion for voicemail hell is a real live receptionist. Someone that picks up the phone in one or two rings, says hello and asks the customer who they would like to speak with. I know we have moved away from this and no company really wants the overhead of call routing. Having a live person taking that initial call from a customer is priceless in terms of value and costs less than $2.00 per minute to have it handled professionally. A dynamic company called Ruby Receptionistshandles your incoming call routing professionally and with a script that you provide on how to greet and handle your customers as well as how to route your calls.

Better than Machines

Ruby works with organizations to answer and route their phone calls with a live receptionist that picks up in about two rings. You provide a script and an escalation tree heck even if the call gets routed to your support queue or to voicemail, at lease it was picked up by a real live person, who cares.

I have three clients who could not be happier with Ruby, it gives them an edge on the competitors and MOST importantly it gives their customers a friendly voice and a bit of curve appeal.

Give it to me Baby

Give your customers what they want. Your company provides an excellent product with a good value and NOW you can provide that extra personal attention. Start updating your impersonal and automated emails like billing notices, support requests, product auto-responders to have an individual appeal. Then take a look at your voice mail system and make sure that you are ETDBW.

Your iPhones Sucks

Despite what some clients believe I do not work for Blackberry nor for Microsoft! I do however have some pretty strong opinions about the iPhone and their rapid adoption as the ‘must have CEO’ device. It is a real love / hate relationship; One the one hand they are the most elegant, powerful and purpose build devices that exist in the marketplace. The iPhone is the number one consumer electronic device.

The phone is masterful at web browsing, turning heads and having extensibility for third party applications. It is really the most potent pocket computer and it has changed the expectations that we have of a phone and a rich media device. However it is not ready for Corporate prime time!

If you own one you already know it’s the best browser, not the best business PDA.

Your IT people already know this, but tens of thousands of CEO’s are creating havoc on your mail servers, your corporate security policies and their good nature. The one thing the phone has going for it is that your IT people love Apple so they are willing (but not happy) to put up with it. Oh yea, they also want one when it finally syncs with the corporate mail server.

The technology that the phone is lacking is called direct “Exchange Server Push” this means that your phone gets email pushed to it as soon as it comes in within a few seconds. The way that the phone currently works is that the phone connects every few minutes to the server and then checks to see if there is any new email. Not as efficient nor as fast as the push technology. Apple wants it, and so does everyone else.

You must be wondering why I am making such a big deal about this? Well it because most businesses are needing to adjust their firewall / spam filtering policies to allow access to the iPhone for IMAP and SMTP connections. The iPhone also does not have a sophisticated anti-spam feature like most modern email clients so phone inboxes are getting plagued with spam. Nothing like 1,000 new Viagra and Trouser Snake emails on your phone when you wake up!


Security is also a huge concern, with phones like the Blackberry or Windows Mobile your handset can be remotely erased if it gets lost. Not so with the iPhone. Think about it most desired phone on the market, and with a $500 price point mainly executives are going to own them; and there is a lot of sensitive information on them.

As dedicated and caring IT people we know that the phone is amazing, we know that you just have to have it.. but understand that there are limitations. Using iTunes to sync contacts and calendars is taking a step backwards and it becomes another one off software application that we have to support.

I know of a number of execs that are running iPhones as their personal phones / browsers but still keep Blackberries on their hips to keep in touch with the office. Do I believe that the trend will continue? I know that Apple will be releasing the software in the next major version to support syncing with Microsoft Exchange Server.

My advice if you have to have the have to have phone; go ahead and get it but remember your poor IT staff along the way. For the Enterprise the security issues and the lack of push email would keep me from endorsing it whole-heartedly. The other issue is that the phone is tied only to the ATT network. The phone is not perfect, it is getting there but it is not the best PDA on the market for corporate users.

Wait a few months, get the latest software revision pre-installed and keep an eye on your phone. Or get a Blackberry 🙂

Blackberry 8800

Live at a Ken Blanchard Taping

Yesterday I was invited to be a participant at the video taping of Ken Blanchard speaking about motivation and goals for a new DVD. I was sitting front and center as one of the most dynamic motivational and business transforming speakers captivated the entire audience.

The taping took about 2 hours, and the first part was lead by Don Hutson who has written a new book called the “The One Minute Entrepreneur”.
The One Minute Entrepreneur

I am a big believer in business and personal transformation, I am an avid reader of process books that can be applied to enhance life and the realization of goals. I have read the One Minute Manager but to see Ken Blanchard speaking is an entirely different experience.

Don Hutson seems to be an authentic speaker that has a viable message, he is not quite as polished as Ken but powerful none the less. His speaking style is a little more conversational and perhaps a little more “country”. To me he sounded like a southerner weaving a tale – a compelling story but there was a little bit off in his presentation style. He is good, perhaps a little to polished for my liking.

I took a ton of notes during the session – I will transcribe them an put them up here in a few days. Right now I need to write a couple customer proposals.

50 Muse Ideas for the 4 Hour Work Week

Muse Ideas
1. private label rights
2. 4HWW template
3. website MCAT and LSAT
4. online scuba diving log
5. sell your house DVD
6. yoga for [niche]
7. fitness bootcamp
8. how to buy a motorcycle
9. cancer fighting
10. home valet butler
11. outsource brokerage for virtual assistants
12. hangover helper – hangover water
13. selling supplements
14. chart of weight loss – wireless scale
15. party kits
16. recipes to cell phones at dinner time
17. fridge inventory keeper
18. projects like
19. workout log book
20. 4HWW t-shirts
21. 4HWW travel agency
22. 4HWW concierge – new rich concierge
23. eating healthy DVD
24. affirmation jewelry
25. 4HWW affirmation cards
26. Business Magnets of beautiful art
27. synchronize IE and FF
28. vitamin water
29. cars – anything
30. pets exerciser
31. 4HWW meets New Earth
32. marriage restoration kit
33. 4HWW wiki
34. calorie counter – bar code checker
35. new rich book club
36. 4HWW mashup
37. 4HWW calendar (concept of 4HWW hydra came up)
38. digital birthday reminder for perpetual calendar
39. upload photos
40. 4HWW online survey for your muse
41. digital/physical birthday reminders and ideas
42. digital photo frame with pre-loaded photos/categories
43. interactive coaching sessions
44. SMS digital messages – personal daily horoscopes
45. anti-spam for iphone – software
46. hats – hot pants – yoga wear – babies “made in America” items
47. gas prices SMS to phone for closest cheapest stations
48. 4HWW live the lifestyle weekends
49. yoga for the bedroom
50. 4HWW brainstorming – MUSE makers kit – brainstorming facilitation