Harvest Is Over – Better Get the Ladder

When business is good and customers are eager to buy, it sure is a great time. Business seems bountiful and everlasting. You’re hot. The phone is ringing, orders come through a cornucopia of the internet, customers stand in line… easy pickings… like harvest time in an orchard and all you have to do is just walk over to a tree and pluck another apple… one customer after another… you feel that you are a business genius. Here’s some advice from someone who has been there: better enjoy it while it lasts.

Because, after a while, the orchard is picked over. Sometimes there is a drought. Insects or disease or a frost attacks the crop. Customers now are standing in line somewhere else for the next shiny thing. The market swings in other directions away from you. The easy pickings are long gone. Customers have dwindled. You are no longer a genius, what oh what to do? Wringing your hands doesn’t help.

In the orchard, some starve because they can’t get to the harder-to-reach fruit, even standing on your tippy-toes, sigh, and give up; survivors build ladders to climb higher. In business, some give up and close shop. Those who have the resources and the gumption to survive evolve by changing product, marketing harder and smarter, perhaps even changing their business model. They change their offerings and bring out new, improved colors or sizes or capacities or groupings. They take groups of products or services into and put them into different combinations or bundles with new pricing.

Survivors have a way of going after an increasingly more elusive harvest. They have larger crops in good times when the picking is easy and can sustain themselves when there is a drought or other calamities. Whether the tool of survival is a ladder, a marketing plan, a customer retention plan, customer service training, sowing, fertilizing, weeding, pruning, and harvesting… it all needs to get done year after year.

Increase your reach now, plan your evolution when business is good, before the drought, before customers defect for the latest fashion, before the next shiny thing comes and replaces you in the marketplace, before something else gains favor. Always be aware of events that arise and affect your market and circumstances beyond your control. Keep your eyes and ears tuned to the changes happening around you and your business. Do that and you will survive and prosper in good times and bad.

Broadway In Chicago’s The Pirate Queen

There is a new production by Broadway in Chicago called “The Pirate Queen”. This musical is a must see for everyone. The book is by Alain Doublil and Claude-Michel Schonberg. The music is by Claude-Michel Schonberg and the lyrics are by Alain Boublil & John Dempsey.

Nothing was spared in producing the lavish new production. Everything about the play was excellent: Music, lighting, choreography, staging, sound, costumes, sets, and story line.

The entire production was a success and the audience expressed their satisfaction with standing ovations. Not only was the production excellent but the acting was superior at all levels. The actors really make you feel as though you were part of the action.

Briefly the story is set in Elizabethan England where friction is set between the Irish and the English. Captain Dubhdara is the head of a clan that is set upon keeping the English off of their land. A pirate that has a daughter, Grania, who he dearly loves and who eventually becomes in charge of the fleet of pirates to defend Ireland from England. The story goes on with Grania’s personal affairs leading to a final meeting with Queen Elizabeth I.

The action is ever present and the dancing outstanding. In particular the bar scene in the First Act was very lively and the dancing was outstanding. At times the audience felt like they wanted to go on stage and join in the dance. It was all very moving and exciting. It was a pleasure to be there.

Fixing Personal Branding Errors

When it comes to personal branding, there really is no right or wrong answer. So much of it is subjective. However, that doesn’t mean that you are incapable of making mistakes or of wishing that you could have done something better/differently. If you had the chance to do it over again, of course, you would probably do those things differently. Well, even if you did make mistakes, all hope is not lost. You can still fix what needs to be fixed and move on from there.

Make fixes in a sensible manner
When it comes to fixing the errors that you made in your personal branding, you will want to approach it sensibly and methodically. There are several aspects of your personal brand that you will want to examine and, hopefully, you will be able to identify whatever needs to be corrected.

You want to make sure that your reputation is intact: If you aren’t sure what other people are going to find when they search for you (personally), you should search for yourself. The top items on the search engine should be positive about you. Additionally, those items should have value and they should help to enhance your reputation and boost your credibility. If you see that it is not the case, go back to those items and enhance them until they show you in a more positive light.
Entertainment versus marketing value: It is very important that you understand the balance between good value and the ability to entertain with your personal brand. You don’t want to have more of one than the other. Of course, if you don’t have enough on the entertainment side, other people may not remain interested. On the other hand, if you don’t have enough on the value/marketing side, from a business perspective, people may be entertained/amused but they may walk away feeling that they don’t have much to show for it.
Don’t go overboard: There is definitely value in revisiting the content that is connected to your personal brand so that it reads better. However, overediting is definitely not a good idea in general. The last thing that you want to do is to edit so much that you lose yourself and what you stand for in the process. It is important to show your vulnerable/human side but, at the same time, to demonstrate how valuable you are professionally and how your expertise can help other people.
Marry your personal and professional brands: The truth is that there is a strong connection between your personal and professional brands. They are two parts of you and those parts should have at least a discreet connection for other people to embrace. If you are communicating messages from both brands, they should be synchronized. You really can’t separate the two anyway. The best that you can do is to make sure that they exist in harmony.
Make sure that your social media profiles are current: The profiles are extremely important to your personal brand. They must be kept current. That means that you update your status periodically (at reasonable intervals), change your photo if it isn’t appropriate or is not relatively new, etc. You will want to work on all of your social media profiles. People will definitely notice if you don’t keep them current.
Make sure that your photo is appropriate: First of all, make sure that you have a photo which people can identify with your personal brand. Second, it should be an appropriate photo. That means that it should be a professional headshot. It shouldn’t be you with your cat, your logo instead of your face, you drinking in a bar or at a party, etc. After all, even though you are working on your personal brand, you want people to remember you in the right way because there will definitely be crossover to your professional brand and persona.
Make sure that your bio is what it should be: Your bio should be substantial enough so that other people are able to get a sense of who you are and what you believe in. On the other hand, you don’t want to go on and on to the point where the other person has no patience to keep reading. However, you should definitely highlight your accomplishments because not only are you proud of them but they add value to you and other people will have the understanding that you are someone with whom they should form a relationship and interact.
Always be yourself: Authenticity is an essential part of your personal brand. If you are not authentic, people will know it and they will not want to connect with you. You certainly don’t want that to happen. The reality is that you will not be able to have a successful relationship with everyone but you want your relationships with those people who want to be connected to you to be solid and enduring.

Conclusion
All of the elements listed above are important for your personal brand. Getting your personal brand in the shape that you want it to be will take time and work but it will be well worth it for you. You should keep in mind that your personal brand will take you very far in business. It is really important for you to understand your target audience and to do your best to give them what they want and need. If you give them your best, you will get it back in full.

Michael Cohn is the founder and Chief Technology Officer (CTO) of CompuKol Communications. He has over 25 years of experience in IT and web technologies. Mr. Cohn spent a significant amount of time at a major telecommunications company, where his main focus was on initiating and leading synergy efforts across all business units by dramatically improving efficiency, online collaboration, and the company’s Intranet capabilities, which accelerated gains in business productivity. He also reduced company travel and travel costs by introducing and implementing various collaboration technologies.

His expertise includes business analysis; project management; management of global cross-matrix teams; systems engineering and analysis, architecture, prototyping and integration; technology evaluation and assessment; systems development; performance evaluation; and management of off-shore development.

Mr. Cohn earned a Master’s degree in project management from George Washington University in Washington, DC; and a Master’s degree in computer science and a Bachelor of Science degree in electrical engineering from Fairleigh Dickinson University in Teaneck, NJ.

Artificial Intelligence Is a Must, Not a Need

WHAT DOES ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE MEAN?

Artificial Intelligence refers to the vicinity of science and engineering focusing on developing the machines as intelligent as the humans. They are created to be fitted into place on behaviors that human regard as intelligent i.e. simulation of human behaviors which they consider as intelligent via the use of machines.

It is all concerned with developing the intelligent computer programs. The main objective behind the adoption of AI is to enable a machine to discover, analyze and crack the problems in parallel.

It is not essential that the computer programs developed are as intelligent as humans in all aspects. But in some aspects, the machine fitted with artificial intelligence can be even more intelligent than humans.

The future of artificial intelligence will change everything in our lives.

WHY DO WE NEED ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE?

The integration of artificial intelligence into the computer programs, assists to create more efficient and effective systems. The opportunity in the form of AI is challenging and efficient at the same time.

The glaring pitfall to be kept in mind while talking about the efficiencies and the opportunities offered by this hi-tech world is that the amount of data being generated on a daily basis is rapidly increasing and it is becoming impossible to mine and analyze the data fully. The amount of data generation has made it impossible for the humans to deal with i.e. it has exceeded the capabilities of humans that they can extract the valuable information out of it.

The skilled professionals in the field of data science with the expertise and their skill sets try to create correlations between various inputs in order to draw out a specific output. But with the sheer volume of data, it has become relatively impossible to correlate every possible input.

This is where Artificial Intelligence can help. Incorporating AI into the systems lets you purify the raw facts into useful and palatable information.

The driver seat in the field of artificial intelligence is handled by the fresh and innovative codes generally referred to as algorithms.

Let us consider an example to understand how the AI works:

Facebook is a very popular social media platform. Facebook deciphers the user’s likes, the activities etc. and then determine what all content is to be placed on his/her news feed. The longer the time you remain active on Facebook, the more and more data is being generated and stored in the warehouse.

The systems incorporated with AI uses the deep learning to get the incessant feedbacks on its algorithms as the users interact. This way the algorithms generally referred to as coding assist the Facebook to analyze the interactions of the users to determine the content to be mentioned on the news feed.

Not only Facebook, even Twitter uses the concept of AI to position the tweets based on the users’ relevance and interests and also suggest them the tweets as per their interests.

Entrepreneurial Mind Frame

Entrepreneurs make up only about 15% of the working population in the US. Far fewer actually succeed than those who attempt to become self employed business people and venture out on their own. So what makes people decide to take the entrepreneurial path, when so few actually make it a reality?

Is the American dream a possibility for anyone, or, does it take more than most to become a successful entrepreneur?
The success of an entrepreneur does depend on their mindset. A large percentage of business owners will quit in their first five years in business. What is needed is the fortitude and belief that goes with attaining success.

Entrepreneurs are risk takers and dreamers. The difference between the dreamer and the entrepreneur though, is that the entrepreneur takes actions based on their dreams. They persist through the hardships and never give up! Many entrepreneurs start with an idea. Their success is determined by their belief that they can create something greater than simple monetary success. Often, it is about creating something which will benefit the world.

James Dyson, for example, came up with the idea of the bagless vacuum cleaner. Despite multiple set backs, over 5000 prototypes and not being able to get any manufacturers or distributors to accept his idea, he persevered. It was over a decade after his initial idea when his concept came to fruition. Even then, it was after a lot of difficulties and hardship due to the vacuum replacement bag industry, which was worth £100 million in the UK.

In Simon Sinek’s book ‘Start With Why’, he suggests that the biggest companies in the world are so because of their “why?” – their reasons for building a business in the first place. In all cases, it wasn’t just to make money, or make technology better, or some whimsical ideology.

The Wright Brothers, for example, became known as the pioneers of the first manned flight. But their competition was much better funded and well connected – Samuel Pierpont Langley had worked at Harvard, had a number of powerful connections, including Andrew Carnegie and Alexander Graham Bell. The War Department funded his project with a $50k grant, a seemingly massive advantage to the unconnected Wright Brothers who had no money or influence. However, their passion and devotion to change the world with this new technology drove them to attain the first flight in history in 1903.

Desire for material things and monetary wealth can only carry someone so far. Unless you have a goal or passion which is bigger than that, you may lose the momentum and fail to maintain your enthusiasm for any length of time.

The entrepreneurial mindset is one which taps into your purpose. Without a purpose driven goal or aim, it can’t take long before disillusionment kicks in. With a mindset which takes into account a larger purpose, entrepreneurs can build huge businesses because they ‘saw’ a vision of what they wanted to create. If the purpose is greater than the obstacles which lie in the path of attaining it, no amount of setbacks will stop you from achieving your goal.

On the other hand, if you set out to do something and something gets in the way and stops you, your initial reason, (your “why?”), may not have been strong enough to endure all the battles along the way.

Entrepreneurial mind frame (or mindset) therefore, must be aligned with both your vision, your values and your purpose. If your values are not in alignment with your purpose and vision, you’ll come up against road blocks which will stop you from achieving your goal.