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When Your Job’s On the Line, Do you Fight or Flee?

If you’ve been working for ~10 years, you’ve probably been part of a workforce reduction or downsizing. These episodes are never easy for anyone – your colleagues, boss, friends, family.

One day, you are putting everything on the line to optimize a campaign, launch a product, sell a solution, and the next you are out of a job.

Sometimes you get a sense that your job is at risk. Your project gets little attention or funding; your job responsibilities get smaller and smaller. When this ‘news’ is announced, or you read between the lines, I see people fall into 2 camps: Fighters and Flighters.

Fighters roll up their sleeves, sensing opportunity amidst the eminent change. They do everything they can to make sure their name is NOT on the short list. If it is, they are prepped and poised for whatever’s next.

Like many of my peers, I was involved in downsizing very recently. A buyer of my company told all employees that many would be losing their jobs. The Fighters and Flighters readied their personas when they digested this unfortunate news.

The Fighters ‘heard’ this news, yet it didn’t affect their productivity. Fighters continued to deliver even when the future appeared to be uncertain. Honestly, when is the future NOT uncertain?

Flighters, on the other hand, mentally checked out. Productivity dropped like a rock in the heart of a flighter. And work produced by a flighter centers on his/her resume. When the ax finally fell, eliminating many positions in an office, the flighters were usually the first to feel the brunt of the reduction. They’ve done nothing to impress a new boss or owner, or very little to keep skills fresh.

While fighters recommend new ways to approach a problem, or novel ways to do business, flighters run for the hills.

Yes, there are some situations where it makes perfect sense to freshen up the resume. In fact, you should make it a practice to review and update your dossier and profile once a quarter.

Be a fighter when you really don’t want to be. It’s easier to just mentally check out, but don’t fall for the hollow allure of laziness. If you take the challenging road and fight, you might be rewarded with a new job, a promotion, a dream opportunity.

Until next time,

Dan Naden

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Start Today at Becoming the Master of your Craft

“I’ll never get better, so why should I start?

Before MJ could soar, he had to learn to dribble.

Before MJ could soar, he had to learn to dribble.

Michael Jordan may have once entertained this thought before picking up a basketball for the first time. JK Rowling fancied this notion before she picked up a pen to craft her very first sentence. Jimi Hendrix danced with this concept before understanding the difference between his guitar’s E string and A string.

The bottom line: you’ll never become a master of your craft (swimming, coding, writing, singing, building) unless you put in the time. Forget your fears and start today in becoming more than you could ever dream.

It excites me to know that the next Rembrandt, Einstein, Dylan, Gates, Jobs or Lincoln might be next to me at work, or living in the house next door in my neighborhood. No one gave the giants of our age a free pass to excellence – they worked at it tirelessly. Now’s your time – go!

Until next time,

Dan Naden

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Product Managers: Get Used To Good Enough

I’ve been a Product Manager (by role or by title) off and on for the last 20 years.

In all my roles, I’ve always thought deeply about how much data is ‘good enough’. Like most things in life – choosing a plan for your smartphone, selecting an item off the menu at a restaurant, taking the quickest route home from work – you are never guaranteed success.

As a product manager, waiting for everything (customer insight, competitive data, pricing modeling, market analysis) to line up perfectly is a futile exercise. Get used to it, Product Managers: you are dealing with a world of ‘good enough.’

Don’t get me wrong. I am not prescribing that you can’t aim for perfect. Always strive to collect as much data/insight as you can within the boundaries of your project or product. Realize, however, that you’ll never get to perfect.

You may want to validate use cases for a new product with 10 customers, but only 5 are available. You may want to analyze competitors and read research reports until you understand the complete picture, but your development team is eager and ready to start building a prototype. You may desire to conduct a few more usability sessions, but that key trade show, where you plan on releasing ‘The Best Product Ever’, is looming just down the road.

Product Managers: get used to being informed and enlightened about your customers, segments, markets, opportunities, but don’t get anxious if you don’t get every ‘t crossed and i dotted’.

Go with what you have; it’s good enough.

Until next time,

Dan Naden

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Technology Companies: Don’t Neglect the Senior Market

It’s true that Amazon, Apple, and Google have introduced products over the past 5 years that are simple, intuitive, elegant, beautiful, or even fun. Some of these products are not only brilliantly designed, but they are also easy to use.

When I think about my parents, however, struggling with new (or relatively new) technologies, I sense a wide disconnect.

On their smartphones, they struggle to find addresses, emails, and a way to look up something on the Internet. Everything’s too small, too confusing, too vague. I try to empathize, but some things just are second nature for me having worked with technology over the last two decades.

Seniors crave the closeness and connection that comes through technology.

Seniors crave the closeness and connection that comes through technology.

On the computer, they lose files, get infected with viruses by clicking on seemingly innocent and helpful banner ads, and wrestle with file types, extensions, and plug-ins.

Despite my consistent teachings (thanks GoToMyPC), my parents still swim against the tide, continually learning and relearning some computer, smartphone, technology basics.

I peer into the future a bit as I see the golden generation struggle. Years from now, my children will guide me through some crazy technology advancement that I just don’t get. I’ll connect with someone much younger than I for wise counsel to remove my frustration.

There’s an opportunity here for some enterprising company. The senior market will continue to use technology to connect with children and grandchildren, manage finances, pursue hobbies, learn new skills and techniques.

Most of the products you and I use though are built and catered to the coveted 18-34 market. This demographic craves things small, portable, sleek, technologically advanced; often the characteristics that are the exact opposite from the senior set.

I know it may not be as lucrative as some other demographics, but can’t technology hardware and software be available that caters to seniors? Think bigger buttons, simpler UI, streamlined file systems, less clutter. These developments might make for happier, more productive seniors on their laptops, tablets and phones. Seniors could be reenergized by technology versus being intimidated by it. They could pursue hobbies, connect with loved ones and feel empowered by tech’s freedoms and opportunities.

Until next time,

Dan Naden

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5 Things to NOT do at your company’s next trade show – Part 3

In our first part and second part of this three-part series, we introduced the first two crucial mistakes that companies routinely make at trade shows.

Let’s close out this series with our final faux-pas about lead quality vs. lead quantity.

  1. Focus on quality not quantity
    I know – events are expensive. The expenses add up quickly – travel to the venue, hotel, food, booth fees, registration costs. As you tally up the totals, you can easily deduce, “Wow, we’re making a huge investment to go the ‘StarJumboBig’ show'; we must find a way to collect many leads” Your mind then goes into overdrive, developing strategies and tactics to capture ‘lead’ information from every human that walks within 100 yards of your booth. The result: you have many leads, but very few people are actually interested in what you have to offer. You have a bunch of names, but very few ‘opportunities’. You’ve polluted your database with contacts that could (if lightning strikes twice in the same spot) become your customer one day.

A better solution: set up your booth for strategic consultations. Try to listen more than you talk. Take thorough notesand understand why a visitor has decided to spend his/her time with you. Once you completely understand your prospect’s situation, repeat it back to him or her, and then position how your product or solution might be able to help. Don’t try to fit a square peg into a round hole; if your product/service isn’t a match, recommend someone or somebody who might be. A goodwill gesture of that sort will pay dividends down the road.

Stay away from these 5 common conference/trade show mistakes and you’re on your way to make your company’s investment a positive one. Do you have a few tactics that have worked wonders for your company at a trade show? Please share.

Until next time,

Dan Naden

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