Sponsored Post- Fellowes 79Ci Paper Shredder

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Fellowes for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.

So, I’m not the type of person who thinks about a paper shredder. I’m not even really all that into worrying about my data. But, I actually do have a lot of documents that would be better served if they were shredded to bits. The folks at Fellowes sent me their latest Fellowes 79Ci shredder to check out, plus there’s a contest. (Want the rules and stuff for the contest? That’s here, but essentially, you have to leave a comment on this post. More on that in a moment.)

What I do know about shredders is that jamming is annoying. The Fellowes 79Ci had labels and stickers and box art that said 100% unjammable or something like that. From what I can tell, that’s pretty accurate. This thing can eat DVDs, stacks of paper, plastic bags, and whatever you stick in there. (I’m not going to tell you that I put food in it to see what would happen, but it wasn’t all that remarkable, nor was the diet Coke can that I didn’t put in there.) That part was easy.

In fact, there wasn’t anything I wanted to do with this shredder (legal or otherwise) that it couldn’t handle. If you are in the market for a shredder, and really, who isn’t? This is the device.

I couldn’t make the thing jam when I put a bunch of unwanted business cards in it. When I thought I really had the machine on the back ropes, it just reversed direction and spat things back out and asked me to put them back in nicely. Curse you, powerful Jam Proof machine.

Stuff They Said I Might Mention

I’m supposed to also talk about how quiet it is. It’s quiet. I haven’t owned a shredder in a while, but the last one was loud like a chainsaw. It’s got some kind of cross-shredding technology, which basically just means your brother can’t glue things back together once you put them in. It says something about being safe (SafeSense), but I didn’t test that feature because my show isn’t Jackass, so I didn’t want to push my tongue in there and check it out. I’ll take Fellowes’ word on that one.

A Video I Made

Honestly, I shot this video and this is the best thing. Watch this. Then buy one of these shredders. Really.

Can’t see the video? Click Here

The Contest

The contest rules are here, and then, just leave a comment letting us know what you’d be shredding if we (and by “we,” I mean other people who mail things) sent you the new Fellowes 79Ci shredder. This thing is boss. I’m not just saying that because they mailed me a shredder to cut up DVDs and soda cans. I’m saying this because you have a chance of shredding things up with your own 79Ci. I promise you this: if you get one, you’re going to totally love shredding things that need shredding, and then shredding things that shouldn’t be shredded. Again, Fellowes probably isn’t down with shredding weird things, but it’s like those old Ginsu knife commercials, or Will It Blend. Why not show off how badass your shredder is.

So, jump on this. Get some. It’s definitely worth it. Swing by Fellowes and look at their stuff, too.

You in?


Setting Your Plate

Harold Eating Scrambled Eggs

When you wake up, what are the first actions you take? If you’re like most people who read this blog, you probably reach for your phone or iPad and check your email, texts, tweets, and other notifications. You might do this before most anything else. It’s probably habit by now.

But consider it: what you’re doing is letting other people’s thoughts and opinions into your head before you’ve had a moment to consider your own. You’re letting the world set your plate for you, and pick your breakfast thoughts. You’re setting yourself up to have to react to whatever you encounter.

Abundance and Your Plate

I’m learning about abundance and spiritual wealth by reading The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success: A Pocketbook Guide to Fulfilling Your Dreams (One Hour of Wisdom) (amazon affiliate link). It’s by Deepak Chopra, and is one of those “law of attraction” kinds of books. But when I look through my bookmarks, the advice I follow makes for a great “breakfast” for my mind. Here’s just a quick sketch of notes that I read upon waking.

“Success in life can be defined as the continued expansion of happiness and the progressive realization of worthy goals.”

“In spiritual terms, success is measured by how efficiently, how effortlessly, we co-create with the universe.”

“Whenever you meet someone, silently send that person a blessing. This kind of silent giving is very powerful. Give wherever you go, and as you give, you will receive.”

How has this affected me? It has most definitely put my head in a completely different place before starting in on my day’s efforts. It has let me relax my worries about people who don’t like me for one reason or another. It removes a lot of my frustration with how other people do what they do. It lets me think more about my own goals and plans instead of letting the world’s ideas flood into me and over me.

We pre-program ourselves with a whole lot of negative thoughts, and the requirements of others. Maybe it’s time to rethink that.

Set Your Own Plate

In the morning, when you wake, leave the outside world out until you’re ready. Close your eyes. (Did you know your optical functions take up 1/3 of your brain’s energy?) Take a moment and ask yourself how you want to face the day. Ask yourself what you want to focus your energies on, what matters the most to you, how you’ll communicate with the people you interact with, and more.

And if something sets you off, try to get back to your own side quickly. If you’re thrown off balance, do something about it. Start again. Reset. Just set your own plate. Remember what matters to you. And do it over and over again.

If you start your days off like this, I can promise they will work a lot better than when you let the world in to interfere with your thoughts ahead of time. You’ll enjoy this a bunch more.

How will you set your plate?

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Infographic: Google+ for Business

The swell folks at BlueGlass made me a nifty infographic about Google+ for business, replete with all kinds of factoids and thoughts to consider. I’m not always a super fan of infographics, but there are clearly some advantages to them, it would appear.

So, take a look at what Google+ can do for you. This infographic has a bunch of marketing points scattered throughout it. You’ll see why Google+ might help you take your business goals to the next level.

Google+ for Business Infographic

Google+ For Business InfoGraphic by BlueGlass Media

Still with me? Great! If you think it’s worth it, please share liberally. And thanks!


The Opportunity Engine

Melissa and AJ Leon

In previous years, and including this year, I tend to talk negatively about South By Southwest Interactive (also known as SXSWi). It’s an annual event in Austin, Texas, that has turned in recent years into lots of frail attempts at brand outreach and countless parties. Heck, I co-hosted a party this year, too, so I’m throwing stones at myself for putting it that way, but that’s what it’s become, if you let it. (Hint: “if you let it.”)

What I almost forgot was that every event is what we make of it. Every event is a chance to make an opportunity happen. The trick, however, is that we have to be diligent and open to such opportunities, and we have to have a sense of what we’d like to see happen.

The Opportunity Engine

It’s your duty to create an opportunity engine for yourself. This is essentially a mix of the following elements:

  • Your goals and mission (and the will to advance your own ideas or causes).
  • Your drive to take the initiative to make something happen.
  • Your ability to find the people or resources you need.
  • Your capabilities in serving or helping other people.
  • Your ability to communicate.
  • Your ability to collaborate.

I’ll give you an example.

I ran into Gary Vaynerchuk on the street outside my hotel at SXSW, and we talked for a few minutes about this and that. Because I hadn’t really been ready, I didn’t talk about what I might have wanted to cover. Instead, I went down a weird road that didn’t really help either of us. It was nice to see Gary, but I should have spent the time talking to him about his own world more. I didn’t need or want anything.

In another example, I did what I should have. I ran into Brian McKinney and Glen Stansberry from Gentlemint and I was able to quickly express my goals/desires for their service, could clearly explain my ideas, and made some recommendations and an offer that I felt might be helpful to the gents. It was nearly the opportunity engine should have worked (no matter what happens next), though I probably should have asked more clearly what I could do to be helpful to them, instead of simply prescribing my thoughts on what I could do to help them.

Notice That It’s a Two-Way Experience

In explaining the opportunity engine, it’s your obligation to lead with your goals in mind, and it’s you who must take the initiative, but it’s a two-party experience, where you should attempt to be just as helpful and serving of others as you are interested in seeking ways to advance your own ideas or causes. It’s your obligation to collaborate in some way, which means to give back as much as (or more than) you ask for from another person. (This is where it often fails, by the way, because people are greedy, either intentionally or accidentally.)

Create and Facilitate Opportunity

Next year, Jacq and I plan to attend SXSW Interactive, and we intend to play during SXSW music. For my time during Interactive, I promise not to gripe about all the parties and the silly drunkenness. Instead, I will go with my mind set on helping others with their opportunities, and I will go with a few of my own plans in mind as well. I will seek out meetings with others who might make good collaborators, and I’ll listen and be ready to help when talking with someone from whom I don’t need anything in particular.

Create and facilitate opportunities. You and I both miss many chances to do this every week. Let’s make this week the first of many celebrations of our fortune: the richness of the friends and colleagues we’ve met over the last while, and let’s reach out to see how we can better operate our opportunity engines to help others, and maybe to advance our own causes, too.

Remember the Engine

Remember to:

  1. Think with your goals and mission in mind (and the will to advance your own ideas or causes).
  2. Take the initiative to make something happen.
  3. Find the people or resources you need.
  4. Serve or help other people.
  5. Communicate your ideas and stories clearly.
  6. Collaborate where it makes sense.

And I’ll see you at the next big event.


Local Will Matter More and More

Rooftops 1

Depending on who you ask, people would say that I’m an “Internet guy.” I’ll own that. I make my living on the Internet. I work primarily in the world of explaining to people how the digital world will change their lives. I’ll accept that to be true. But I must be really clear with you: understanding how the Internet makes Local work better is probably the most important part of what I’m studying and learning, and what I hope to help companies understand better.

This morning, I have a strange conundrum. I lost my car key at an airport a week ago. The thing is, I bought my car over the Internet, which was a great experience. Only, I have zero local support. I have no local relationship with any dealership or garage. It turns out that I need this, desperately, to solve this particular problem.

So, today, I called Anthony at a dealership local to the car. Anthony, not General Motors. I called one guy who is skillful, friendly, and able to help me solve my problem. On one side, I have the ease of use of buying my car off the net without the typical hassle. On the other side, I have a local guy who is going to fix my issue.

The Blend of Online and Local

In 2009, Julien Smith and I wrote Trust Agents to talk about the need for someone online to help build relationships. To be honest, back then, I’d say we were defining something akin to a WalMart greeter. In 2012, I believe that the trust agent is more like a high powered concierge. These people are still very vital for growth and business success. (Never read the book? Get it here.)

Today, however, I think it’s important for us to know both the online trust agent as well as the local hero. I think that’s a missing piece of many companies’ puzzles. But then, what will that entail?

Simply, a database is a good start. If I were to contact Scott Monty of Ford, and ask him who the trusted person for Ford would be in my neighborhood, he’d point me to Regan Ford, not far from my house. But there’s more to this, right? Scott might know where a dealership is, and that’s a good start, but then, how will he know who’s the real “trust agent” of that place or area? There’s a difference. You know the difference, right? There are people who have a job and people who live to serve. We want to connect with B, especially when we’re a bit frantic.

This is an Unfinished Thought

This post is more of a proto-post, a thought in action, the start of some thinking. I’m putting it out here because I invite you to think about it too. To consider it with me, if you would.

How will we blend the online and offline even more? How will we help people understand what you offer?

What will this all mean?

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Don’t Take a Bad Deal

Deals Last Longer Than You Think

Several months back, times were feeling tough for me and my business. I had made lots of decisions that didn’t play out the way I wanted them to go. I bit off more than I could chew. As a way to start digging back out, I accepted some deals and offers that weren’t my typical arrangement, because I needed to do something to fix the problem I was in, and that required finding revenue – any revenue – to be able to fight another day.

The problem was this: I said yes while deep in the hurt, but the deals weren’t very good for me. Because of this, I affixed a kind of mental “chip on my shoulder” to the experience. I pretended with some part of my mind like this wasn’t going to happen at all. And then barring that, I just felt I could move through it quickly to the other side. Of course, that’s not how it went down. Suffice to say, no one was all that pleased with the results, least of all me.

Don’t Take a Bad Deal

Barring impending homelessness or a rush to get a kid an operation paid for, there’s probably no great time to take a deal that you don’t want. Regret is a really tricky emotion. It breeds all kinds of other emotions that aren’t very useful. It brings up contempt and generally doesn’t put you in a good state.

What I Learned

What I took away from that experience was something much larger than the sting of realizing my mistake. I learned that I would rather not compromise my business for any short term benefit, because it never translates into a better product in the longer term. I learned that I must stick to my plan, lest I deliver a less-than-quality experience to my buyer. I learned that I have much more work to do in the coming months to make sure I never take a bad deal again.

Look for The Right Fit

The key word is “settling.” Never settle. Compromise is a term that is often used by mistake when one means that they are going to take something less than wonderful. There’s a bit of thinking that has to go into that.

Will you take the new job, even if there’s a pay cut? Yes, if the new job positions you for a better chance at success in the longer term. Should you sit by and let someone else take that job you tried out for but didn’t get? I’d say it depends on what was said to you, whether you can jump ship and go somewhere else, and whether you really felt ready for the job.

Should you let your prospective buyer haggle on price? Oh, that’s a whole other story, my friend. One that I’m going to share with people who subscribe to my free newsletter. That information goes out in a few days. Want it? (Won’t be available after March 3rd, 2012.)

What do you think? How are you with bad deals? Taken any lately?

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Happy Birthday to Love

Tim Sanders @sanderssays rocking it at @sobcon11

Ten years ago today, Tim Sanders launched his book, Love is the Killer App. It is a book I love written by a person I love. I’m not just saying this. Tim is lovable. He’s smart. He’s ultra passionate, and he’s been preaching a secret that people just refuse to accept is as important as it is.

With love, I tell you to check out Tim’s post about his groundbreaking work turning 10.

Happy Birthday to love!


Never Fall In Love With the Medium


There’s something sexy about the old way of doing things. In an age where we jot notes on our laptops and phones, we still buy journals. As digital cameras improve, we still get excited about low-tech methods of creating. Just posting this picture of a cassette tape might get someone to feel a bit sentimental about the old days of making tapes (did you ever splice any? So fun!).

Switch this mindset to how you perceive your use of social media. “I’ll never go over to Google+. I’m too into Facebook.” I’m so thrilled with that perspective. “I’ll never send email. This paper and these stamps suit me just fine.” “Cell phone? Pshaw! I’ve got this perfectly serviceable beeper.”

It’s Never the Medium. It’s the People

We seek to connect with people. We want to reach them for whatever our goal might be. It’s our effort to connect with them in a meaningful way that benefits our mutual needs that should be the goal. It’s never about the delivery mechanism.

We want what we want. Can you listen to Dr. Stephen R. Covey on cassettes? Absolutely. But if I leave those cassettes in my car (well, if my car had a tape deck), then I’m out of luck, aren’t I? With, I can download the audio file to whatever device I want, as often as I want. It’s not the medium. It’s the information.

The People Are the Goal

Who follows whom on Twitter isn’t all that interesting. What we do with those connections is why it matters. How we take our access and make something interesting happen-that is the goal.

Again, it’s not whether I follow you or not. It’s whether something I do can improve your business or goals, and it’s whether you can share something or introduce something, or riff on something, or whatever. It’s how we use the network to build a system. It’s how we make our platform shine to help others, to grow our business, and more. That’s the magic.

Is Pinterest The New Amazing Network?

It will be, for those who use it to build a relationship that goes beyond the pins. Any network is serviceable, if you learn how to interact and help people satisfy their needs.

Now, let’s make mix-tapes together, shall we? Let’s make songs of love: a love of doing better business by building stronger human relationships over whatever medium we want.

You in?

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Good Service is Like a Great Steak

Steak and Eggs

I swear I’m not obsessed with food, but I am obsessed with service. In an older post about room service, specifically, I wrote about how Warm Bread is Not Toast. Well, here I am again with a room service post.

In my most recent stay at my favorite hotel in Las Vegas, I needed to order some lunch around 11am Vegas time. I wanted steak and asparagus (or some other suitable green). So, I called room service with Joe Sorge standing by, waiting to do our show.

Me:I was hoping to order steak for lunch, but I don’t see that you serve it until 5pm.
Room Service:Steak and eggs?
Me:No, you know, an entree steak.
Room Service:Right. We don’t serve that til 5pm.
Me:Oh. I was really hoping to order it for lunch.
Room Service:Right, I suppose we COULD do it, but it would take over an hour, because we’re not set up to prepare that yet. We don’t sell that until 5pm.
Me:But you sell steak and eggs?
Room Service:Yes.
Me:Okay. I’ll have that, but… with a bunch of edits. (Note: the picture above isn’t my steak and eggs. Mine came with fruit.)

Did you ever seen this scene with Jack Nicholson? Watch it. It’s short:

Can’t see the video? CLICK HERE

Sound familiar?

Good Service is Great Steak

This place is my favorite hotel in Las Vegas. I love it here. I love every element of the experience. I’ve never ordered something off-timing on the menu before, and to be honest, I presumed that it would just be like everything else I’d experienced: custom, to my tastes, and perfect.

If the kitchen serves “steak and eggs,” they have steak. Yes, I imagine it’s a different cut of steak. But, the room service person could have said this:

We don’t serve our entree steaks until 5pm, but I could take our breakfast steak, which is a different kind of cut, and pair that with something suitable. What were you thinking of for a side?

It would have given me the same satisfaction. It wouldn’t have ruined the process too badly. I probably would have blogged about how clever companies are those that customize service and make it seem like it was the company’s pleasure to serve.

And instead, I’m thinking about how you can improve your service experiences in your own business. So who knows? Maybe it’s a win. And truthfully, the steak and eggs was perfectly fine for a meal. But hopefully, you see where I’m going with all this.

What do you think? Should service be about helping me feel served?

Brief update: oddly, the very next day, I asked again for a somewhat custom order. The server was VERY friendly and kind and accommodating and I got exactly what I wanted. It was so weird. So day and night different. So who knows? Bad day the day before? A confusion? You’re still my favorite hotel.


Access Is An Asset

Bob Iger and Chris Brogan

I was fortunate to have dinner last night with some brilliant leaders and professionals. I won’t name names, but some were friends from great companies, and others were new friends with amazing ideas. I’ll also divulge that I got to ask a question that interested me to Marc Ragan, CEO of Ragan Communications, that gave me some new perspective. This comes coupled with a line I blathered out in a speech yesterday that suddenly stuck to me like glue. The experience of enjoying dinner conversations about business and pursuits with smart people, plus talking about some of my past opportunities, plus that line in a speech, gave us this post.

Access is an Asset

The definition of asset I found was “A useful or valuable thing, person, or quality.” Your home is sometimes thought to be an asset (though in many people’s mindsets, it’s a liability, because in this climate, it’s not guaranteed to yield more money). People think of their stock investments as assets, but if you’re holding the wrong stocks, that isn’t always true, is it? Your experience can definitely be an asset, but tell that to people who are out of work for 18 months and climbing, but who are told repeatedly that they’re “overqualified,” which is the biggest F-you that any human should ever have to endure professionally.

But access, access to people, ideas, and resources, are an asset. For instance, I had the ability to learn from the CEO of a 41-year-old media company that had to reinvent itself from a print platform to a digital content marketing powerhouse. I was with a man who represents a company built around peer advisory for CEOs, with access to tens of thousands of company leaders (we didn’t get to talk much last night, but we see each other enough that I’m okay with that). I met with a veteran sales professional who straddles one of the harder and more grinding sales channels (radio sales back in the day) and who is now helping companies improve their sales strategies. Plus I was with a legendary PR man, a seller of outdoor advertising who has reinvented herself, someone who learned how to earn her spot in a company via being bold and using social media, and others. Think of all the opportunities I had to learn all at that one dinner, at one table.

Work on Access

Building access is every bit as important as learning or earning. I know from witnessing a friend’s experiences that buying your way into access is often awkward and unrewarding. I know from firsthand experience that earning access can sometimes be as easy as having a different perspective that might be business-yielding for someone who technically shouldn’t have a need to meet you. And at every step of the way, there’s a really simple formula that will help you work on attaining and maintaining access.

  • Offer something helpful. (This isn’t the same as offering to be helpful. Make something helpful happen.)
  • Ask intelligent questions that allow someone to share their experience and wisdom, and listen/learn respectfully.
  • Maintain a somewhat regular conversational/check-in schedule with that person.
  • Introduce that person to someone who can help them step up their game.

I am friends with a very influential writer. He is truly a legend. (And by friends, I like him and I feel he likes me.) What I did with my time with him recently was that I shared what I thought might help him succeed. I then introduced him to people I thought could help him grow. I also had the opportunity to ask him questions about growth and learning. If you look at my bullet points above, the only thing I had better do next is check in somewhat regularly. Notice what I didn’t do?

I didn’t ask him for anything (well, except an interview).

All Assets are Volatile

Cash isn’t worth as much as it used to be 4 years ago. Real estate can certainly go up in value, but the last few years worldwide has shown us that the experience isn’t a foregone conclusion. And personal assets, such as access, are even more fleeting.

Relationships aren’t a check-box. I can’t have this great dinner with smart people and not follow-up. If I miss the chance to carry on the conversations and not build on what momentum happened, by being even more helpful, or finding other ways to collaborate, then things go cold quite quickly. Many of us (especially me) have let relationships fade before we’ve done enough to render them helpful. We get busy. We get tied up in our own problems, and we let those assets fade. Just writing these last three sentences caused my guilt to swell up and crush my chest a bit.


At the end of the day, successful people invest in relationships. Sir Richard Branson told me that he is only successful when he trusts teams of brilliant people to execute on his vision. The first few pages of Business Stripped Bare talk about meeting a very smart person who didn’t yet work for Virgin. Our success, while strongly in our own hands, requires other people’s thoughts and support to develop us fully the way that plants need soil, nutrients, water, and sunlight to see their own fulfilled form.

How does one invest? I’ll give a very simple action plan in tomorrow’s free newsletter, which is not the same as this blog. If you want the rest of the story, simply subscribe for free. Otherwise, just realize that it requires some work.

How have you seen this play out? How does access influence or inform you?

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