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Archive for October, 2011

College football and business value?

I look for value in college football.   The Air Force Academy is one of three NCAA Division I-A programs in Colorado – the others being University of Colorado (CU) and Colorado State University (CSU).  Although Air Force is not well covered (nor seemingly even respected) by the Denver sports media, they are my favorite.  

Of course, value extends way beyond football; it is a key element in our businesses, yes?  So when someone spends money to attend a college football game, or buy a product from our company, they value value. 

Can your business relate to these 10 values I received at a recent game where Air Force played Tennessee State (a Division I-AA opponent)? 

10.  Value can vary by party

The Air Force academy provides Cadets more value than just an undergraduate degree and a chance to play football.   The value for the Tennessee State program?  Well after getting stomped 63-24; their value received was likely the $270,000 revenue share for traveling to Colorado Springs.

  9.  Clients can value fair play:

At Air Force, you never hear of recruiting violations such as the frequent headlines about USC, Ohio State, Miami, and other Division I-A schools who feel they need to cheat to win.  

  8.  Clients can value the superficial:

The beauty of a cloudless, Colorado sky, next to the Rocky Mountain foothills, on a sunny, September day – ‘nuff said!

  7.  Clients can value appearance and rituals:

Just watching the Air Force pre-game, pomp and circumstance; the Cadets marching on to the field; paratroopers dropping into the stadium; and the traditional fly over are worth the price of admission.

  6.  Clients can value more than dollars and cents:

Based on the number of youth football teams attending as guests, Air Force obviously caters to the interests of their local community vs. merely focusing on maximizing ticket sales.

  5.  Clients can value teamwork:

With height and weight recruiting restrictions (not to mention the post-graduate service commitment), Air Force can’t simply field superior athletes like an Alabama, Oklahoma, or LSU can.  Nope, the Cadets must leverage better teamwork to compete.

  4.  Clients can value all of the little things:

Because of their physical limitations, when teamwork alone isn’t enough, Air Force has to play smarter; be better prepared; stay a step ahead of their competition to win.

  3.  A Client’s value can be personal:

Air Force is typically underdogs to the top programs; something I can relate to in my own collegiate basketball playing days.  Making the most from the least to succeed is what I call that – and I really like it when I see it!

  2.  Clients usually include price in their value equation:

After parking for free, I walked up to the ticket window 90 minutes before kick-off and bought a seat on the 25 yard line, 6 rows from the field!  The price?  $20.  The ticket price for the recent CU-CSU game at Mile High Field in Denver?  $55 for the nose-bleed section; plus $30 for parking.

  1.  Almost everyone values a winner:

In the past 10 seasons, Air Force football is 68-55 along with being 2-2 in post season bowl games.  CU?  They are 60-65, going 2-3 in bowl games; CSU? They are 54-69 and 2-3 in bowl games.  

A $20 ticket; free parking; a 63-24 win; on a beautiful September day; with an entertaining, family-friendly environment; by the best team in the state – I call that value! 

GAP 

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Higher Education

Strangely, I find myself spending quite a bit of time on college campuses these days.  This endeavor, next to hanging around with teenagers, has become one of my favorite trips when I want to leave the real world for a bit.  You would think Bill was speaking to my teenage grandkids: 

Excerpts from Bill Gates’ speech to Mount Whitney High School, Visalia, California: 

Rule  1 – Life is not fair; get used to it…

Rule  4 – If you think your teacher is tough; wait ’til you get a boss…

Rule  7 – Before you were born, your parents weren’t as boring as they are now.  They got that way from paying your bills, cleaning your clothes and listening to you talk about how cool you thought you were.  So before you save the rain forest from the parasites of your parents’ generation, try delousing the closet in your own room.

Rule  8 – Your school may have done away with winners and losers, but life has not. In some schools they have abolished failing grades and they’ll give you as many times as you want to get the right answer.  This doesn’t bear the slightest resemblance to anything in real life…

Rule 11 – Be nice to nerds.  Chances are you’ll end up working for one.   

Ah yes, nerds.  We find lots of them on campuses – have for years.  They have made technology advances I could not even have dreamed of.  Of course, they are highly educated; just ask Daniel Joseph Boorstin: 

Education is learning what you didn’t even know you didn’t know. 

Thankfully in our world today, some of the brightest technology minds of modern society had “a little extra time” in between classes to come to know what we didn’t know.  And then they established the powerhouse brands we have all come to rely on – Dell PCs; Windows; Facebook; to name a few. 

And how brilliant was Steve Jobs?  Without his ability to combine vision + technology innovation + attention to the most minute detail, who knows how we would be accessing digital music; watching movies with astounding, computer-generated special effects, or even updating Facebook.  How many are reading this post from your iPad?  Wow!  Here’s a salute to one terrific nerd! 

So there I am a few times each month now, attending a MeetUp for Writers that gathers on Regis University’s campus; driving to Colorado Springs to attend an Air Force Academy football game; returning to my alma mater Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois – the birthplace of Carl Sandburg, a three-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize.  In fact, I’ve spent more time in the Knox College library during these annual weekend visits than I spent me entire four years of undergraduate enrollment.  (That’s why I think I’m working for a nerd today!) 

But education, continuing education, is not only important to our professional pursuits; to me, it is personally gratifying.  And, my passion for learning might be catching – I’m proud to say my 35 year old son has decided a college degree is a good idea after all.  He’s finishing his sophomore studies in pursuit of an electrical engineering degree. 

And although this man from my profession is not renowned for his technology skills (nor would you think of him as a nerd) we can all benefit from the words of the master sales teacher and motivator, Zig Ziglar:

 It’s what you learn after you know it all that counts.                              

GAP 

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Leadership dues…

Although I often poke fun at our executives, managers, supervisors, and overseers, it is with the most sincere respect that today I suggest we give our leaders their due. 

I know from personal experience that being a successful leader is something special. Permit me to offer you two examples.

First, just finding a true leader is hard:

An army of a thousand is easy to find; but, oh, how difficult to find a general.                                 

Chinese Proverb

We have all known people that wanted a “promotion”.  You know the office; the title; meetings; memos; the works.  In the sales profession I know lots of sales managers who wanted to be a manager just so they didn’t have to cold-call any more.  Careful what you ask for. 

I knew a guy once who quit a company because they would not promote him from a producer to a sales manager.  At the time, he was killing his number and he felt the company didn’t want to sacrifice his production for a promotion.  It never dawned on him that maybe he just wasn’t ready to lead a team yet.  It was a big mistake to quit but he had a huge ego, so he quit anyway. (See what I mean? – some leadership material.)

Literally one week after he quit he realized what he had done.  But his pride prevented him from trying to undo his mistake.  Years later he returned to that same company and after two more years as an individual producer, he was promoted to a sales manager role.  I think it was during the very first week in his new, managerial role that he could be heard saying to himself, “Oh – so this is what managing is all about.”

He invested the next 11 years learning (mostly through trial and error) how to work with followers. Some would even say he became an expert, as defined by Niels Bohn:

An expert is a man who has made all the mistakes which can be made in a very narrow field. 

Now he enjoys poking fun at leaders; after all, he’s an expert. Of course, his humorous barbs towards managers were self-inflicted first!  Except today – today even he pays his due respect to our leaders.

A second reason why a successful leader is something special is that we followers are a little picky about our leaders:

The secret of managing is to keep the guys who hate you away from the guys who are undecided.

Casey Stengel 

Yes, it is high time we give our leaders their due.  Followers can wait to get the memo; attend a meeting to review the changes; ask questions to clarify the facts; second guess when things go wrong.  

Leaders?  They have to make a decision – often without the benefit of reading the memo, attending the meeting, or confirming all of the facts first.  Leaders have to have the brains, and the balls, to decide and then trust their gut (and their followers) to make their decisions turn out for the best. 

And leaders have to have an excellent manner to get the most from their followers: 

You know what makes leadership?  It is the ability to get men to do what they don’t want to do, and like it.

Harry S. Truman           

I know we need to get back to work now.  But before the day is done, give your manager a few words of encouragement.  They’ve earned it! 

GAP 

Did you like this little ditty?  You might enjoy my book, too:  The Peace & Power of a Positive Perspective©  Please check it out Subscribe.