Self-Marketing for Woman

It may not be politically correct to say, but it is nevertheless true:  Women face two obstacles when making presentations, regardless of the context: male prejudice and female jealousy.

It’s human nature.  Literally.  We can’t help ourselves.  The scientists tell us that instantly we decide, based on looks alone, if we like someone.  Our brains can sense microscope face movements.  Subconsciously we reach a decision.

Truth be told, I now a few employers, recruiters and career counselors who all say that they can tell within a couple of seconds if they are going to consider someone for a position.  Looks matter.

But “looks” does not just mean what you are wearing.  It also means body language and tone of voice.  If you look perfect but sound awful, regardless of your words, you will be sending contradictory messages to your audience.  The same is true if your body language, tone of voice and words are on target but you look like something the cat dragged in.

And just to further complicate things, the thing that impacts listeners the least are the actual words a person says.

So if a piece of jewelry, makeup, a poor stance, or an inopportune vocal inflection can defeat a message, how in the world can someone successfully maneuver through the linguistic labyrinth be it for a presentation to a prospective client, a job interview, or a press interview?

To learn the answers, join me and Certified Makeup Artist Ewelina Krupinska, for our joint presentation, Self-Marketing for Women: Effective Presentations from Content to Appearance.  Part of the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce’s MarketingWeekNYC,TM the workshop will take place Friday, July 19, from 3:00 to 4:00 PM at Grace Corporate Park, 255 West 36th Street, 8th Floor, New York, NY.  Pre-registration is required:  http://www.hsstaffing.com/Career_Counseling.html.  Limited space.  Women only!

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Getting Press Coverage on a Zero Budget

One thing that every businessperson shares is their belief that what they are doing is important.  And they believe that the world should know!  Yet only a small fraction actually make it to television, radio, newspapers or magazines.  Why?

Because producers and editors are inundated with requests and, as the editor of Inc. magazine once admitted in print, they throw them away unread.  Here’s the secret: producers and editors want stories on subjects that they are interested in not what you’re interested in.

Lord knows nobody cared that I started an executive recruiting firm to promote the hiring of veterans.  That was back in 2009.  And there was not a single media outlet interested when I sent out a press release when a US Government agency refused to work with because I promote the hiring of veterans!  Yes, you read that correctly.  I thought I had the perfect story.  No one was interested – and I provided the proof in writing, a signed letter from a Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army – that’s the US Army, not the Chinese Army!

So how in the world have I been able, without spending a dime, to get quoted in over 450 articles appearing in over 250 newspapers and websites, nationally and internationally, from AM New York and AOL to the US News & World Report and Yahoo?  And how did I turn that attention into a career counseling service?

To learn the answers, join me for my presentation, Getting Press Coverage on a Zero Budget.  Part of the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce’s MarketingWeekNYC,TM the workshop will take place Thursday, July 18, from 10:00 to 11:00 AM at Grace Corporate Park, 255 West 36th Street, 8th Floor, New York, NY.  Pre-registration is required:  http:// www.hsstaffing.com/Media_PR.html.

No One Ever Throws Away a Book

When you own a business you are blessed, on a daily basis, by salespeople trying to sell you every conceivable good and services.   High on the list are promotional items: pens, pads of paper, magnets, calendars.  In other words, junk.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s good junk.  And if you have a booth at a trade show, it’s the only way to attract people to your table – unless, of course, you have hired an attractive woman!  Sad, but true…

In any event, I guarantee you that no one has ever gotten a client because of a pen!  True, the client may have found the pen and so had no difficulty locating the phone number.  But placing a call, or sending an e-mail, is an opening, not a close.  You want the close!

The best way to get the close is to give a prospect something that screams, “I AM AN EXPERT!” and what screams the loudest in a book.

Of course, today, thanks to marvelous technology, anyone can self-publish.  But “self-publishing” is just a fancy term for printing.  There’s nothing wrong with that.  Historically many people have been highly successful self-publishing.  But it’s rare and the truth is, when you self-publish a book you are really just printing a very large brochure.  Again, nothing wrong with that.  It’s not immoral, unethical or deceitful.  But since no one approved the book, it’s also not a source of credibility.

There’s a way around that, other than the traditional publishing route which can literally take years – and you can forget about earning any money from royalties!

To learn how, join me and marketing consultant Gil Effron, from The Growth Team, for our joint presentation, How to Write a Book, Publish a Book, and Make it the Focal Point of Your Marketing Activities.  Part of the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce’s MarketingWeekNYC,TM the workshop will take place Tuesday, July 16, from 10:00 to 11:00 AM at Grace Corporate Park, 255 West 36th Street, 8th Floor, New York, NY.  Pre-registration is required:  http://www.hsstaffing.com/Career_Counseling.html.  Limited space.  Register early!

The Three Cs of Effective Presentations

A few years ago I attended a business fair in Manhattan.  There was a speaker giving a talk titled, “How to Make Effective Presentations.”  She began by saying that she had a bone to pick with men and women.  That was fine.  It appeared to be the introduction to some light-humored banter.  And, as long as you are going to insult everyone in the room, no one will complain.

Things, as you might have guessed, got interesting.  First she took on the men.  Her complaint was that when men stand up to speak, we button are jackets.  This, she claimed, was because we had gained weight since purchasing our jackets and we are trying to hide our bellies.

Every man in the room looked at each other with a puzzled expression on their faces.  First, the reason that we button our jackets is because – and this happened to every one of us – when we got our first “big boy suit,” and stepped on the stool for the tailor to work his magic, he leaned over and buttoned the jacket explaining, “That’s how big boys were their suit jackets.”

Second, if you have put on weight since you purchased your jacket, the last thing you want to do is to button it.  The strain will be apparent – and, worst case scenario, a button could fly off!

Next she turned to the women.  The complaint this time was that when women get up to speak they fix their neck lines; they fidget with their blouses.  Same reaction as with the men.  The women all looked at each other with a sense of bewilderment.  None of us knew what she was talking about, but we all knew that she did not check her facts.

Some people left.  I would have, but I was sitting in the front row and did not want to appear rude.  But with authority I can say, because I was front row center, only two or three people handed her back the form she had distributed if anyone wanted to sign-up for her newsletter.

She had forgotten the first C of effective presentations: credibility.  She had none.

The second C is comedy.  I am not a joke teller.  Every time I have tried to tell a joke in public, I have failed.  I can’t even blame the jokes.  It’s just not what I do.  But I can tell a funny story and an amusing anecdote – usually of the self-deprecating kind.  Getting an audience to laugh is a way of breaking the ice and being engaging.  The problem is that sometimes, forget about jokes, what you consider to be funny someone in the audience might find offensive.  That is why it is so critical to speak with the event planner to get a good idea about your audience.  The worst example was a talk I heard about 9/11 – still an open wound in New York City.  The speaker had made a very good presentation, but he ended with a joke about first responders.  There were no questions.  Everyone immediately started to leave.  No one shook his hand.

And that brings me to the third C, compassion.   You have to bond with your audience.  I always arrive early, speak to the first-arrivals, and get some idea of who they are and why they came.   At the beginning of the talk I take a poll to see what people want me to focus on.  I throw out a couple of options, and I follow their lead.  That way, they have bought into the presentation, so to speak.  To be honest, I used to lose a few people at the start of my presentations, but since I started polling, walk-outs are few and far between.

Credibility, comedy and compassion.  Remember them and your presentations will always be effective.

What Happened at Fast Company?

I have been a reader of Fast Company since 2001.  Some of their articles have been brilliant, such as the expose on China’s involvement in Africa.  Others, not so much.  I always objected when the annual Masters of Design issue didn’t include the designers of processes.  But the March 2012 issue was the first that was so offensive, so disgusting, so unconscionable that I was actually thinking of cancelling my subscription. In their list of “The World’s 50 Most Innovative Companies” they had the unmitigated nerve to list the Occupy Movement in seventh place after Apple, Facebook, Google, Amazon, Square and Twitter!  Unbelievable!

I always tell my clients and students that everyone is entitled to make one mistake.  And did they ever make one!  In fact, they owe an apology to their subscribers, readers, advertisers, the 49 real innovative companies – first and foremost Square to which they compared Occupy, and, perhaps most importantly, to the victims of Occupy Wall Street.

What were you thinking?  Occupy Wall Street is an “innovative company?”  They compare them to Square?  When Square started operations did they articulate a list of goals?  (As is noted in the article, Occupy “notoriously won’t list its demands.”)  Did Square occupy private property?  Did Square damage private and public property?  Did Square have to be removed by court order?  Did Square defecate on their neighbor’s property?  Did Square urinate on their neighbors’ property?  Did Square constantly beat drums  destroying their neighbors’ quality of life?  Did Square attack the police?  Did Square want to get arrested?  Were Square’s facilities the sites of rapes?  Did Square ever refer to their competitors as “enemies”  (which is how Fast Company quotes them as referring to the 1%)?  Did Square hinder, and in some cases, stop people from going to work?  Did Square stop people from patronizing local stores and restaurants?  Did Square get people fired because the drop in customers forced business owners to lay them off?   Really?  Occupy Wall Street?  An “innovative company?”  Praised in Fast Company?  Seriously?

Fast Company, and its sister publication Inc., not only laud companies and entrepreneurs trying to get to be part of the “1 %,” they provide valuable insights to help companies grow.  With the exception of the non-profits, all the  companies listed in the “Most Innovative Companies” feature,are part of the 1% (or want to be!) that  the Occupy Movement considers to be their “enemy.”  Occupy will utilize their technology, but that does not mean that they want to emulate them.  They don’t want to build; they want to destroy.  They don’t want to create; they want to ruin.  That’s an “innovative” company?  Shame on Fast Company!

What “Non-Profit” Means

This post originally appeared in 2006 on my blog, Non-Profit Concerns.

Back in 1991, Governor Richard Lamm of Colorado told his state’s Association of Nonprofit Organizations Ethics Conference, “there are a large number of use nationwide who are looking at the reasons why we give tax-exempt status to organizations.  America is filled with nonprofit hospitals that give practically no charity.  Certainly they give far less charity than their tax exemption is worth to them.”

That’s the concern. Here’s the history:

One of the things of which we as Americans can be most proud is our tradition of creating non-profit organizations to help the less fortunate. Alexis de Tocqueville wrote with admiration about the “associations” that our forefathers formed. As eloquently stated by Larry Kennedy in Quality Management in the Nonprofit World, “An organization that attains tax-exempt status is the beneficiary of a profound opportunity to apply entrepreneurship, compassion, and practicality in fulfilling social motivations while remaining exempt from any responsibility to underwrite the nation’s infrastructure through taxes. We are exempt from these burdens because we operate under the public perception that what we do is important to society and that we are managing a business that provides services for reasons other than personal financial gain.”

In 1939 the House Ways and Means Committee noted, “The exemption from taxation of money or property devoted to charitable and other purposes is based upon the theory that the government is compensated for the loss of revenue by its relief from financial burden which would otherwise have to be met by appropriations from public funds, and by the benefits resulting from the promotion of the general welfare.” As stated by the US district court in Washington, DC in the 1972 case of McGlotten v. Connally, by granting tax-exempt status “the Government relieves itself of the burden of meeting public needs which in the absence of charitable activity would fall on the shoulders of the Government.”

Tax exempt status, therefore, is granted to enable a spirit of entrepreneurship to blossom in areas serving the public good, by saving the government the burden of funding programming that charities are able to provide for the benefit of society, and not for the benefit of any one individual. (Not to confuse the issue, there are tax exempt organizations that are not 501(c)(3)s. For present purposes I am only discussing tax exempt non-profits recognized by the IRS as 501(c)(3)s.)

Today, in fact, there are two type of non-profits. The first are the classic non-profits. For example, any disease related organization that provides advocacy and education, and conducts research to rid humanity of the evil of Alzheimer’s, autism, cancer, Parkinson’s or any other true scourge on humanity. Relying on some government funding and charitable donations they offer free services to the community.

Then there are those of a different type, as mentioned by Governor Lamm. Today the government in many cases provides both tax-exempt status and 100% funding for these very organizations. That gives these non-profits an unfair advantage over for-profit competitors which could eventually lead to for-profits lobbying to have their non-profit competitors non-profit status revoked. In fact, these organizations would be better described as government subcontractors.

Far from unique, there is the example of a New York nursing home that received $32,702 in private contributions and $46,866,827 from the government according to its most recently available 990. Their CEO’s compensation totaled $578,524 or 1.2% of the total. All nursing home residents must either have government or private insurance, or be private payers. No services are provided gratis.

This charity provides important services. It pays no taxes. Should it? Its for-profit competitors do. They offer the same services. Why the difference? Does the fact that one employee receives over 1% of all government and charitable revenue bring into question the issue of “personal financial gain?” (To keep things in perspective, taxpayers pay $20,000 less to the above mentioned CEO then they pay the president and vice president of these United States, combined!)

Of equal importance is the prohibition on partisanship. Because non-profits are to serve society as a whole, they cannot support one political movement at the expense of another. That’s why during an election year non-profits refrain from honoring politicians or inviting them to events, as all candidates would have to be invited. Take the infamous case of the former Bronx-based Gloria Wise Boys and Girls Club. While there are usually three sides to every story, it appears that the Club, either with the knowledge or apathy of its Board, transferred some $875,000 to the anti-Bush liberal Air America radio station. Forgetting about everything else – including the improper use of municipal funds – that alone should be enough to have its 501(c)(3) status reviewed and possibly revoked.

Non-profits are tax exempt because it is recognized that there is a tradeoff between the non-profit’s work and the need to support society through the paying of taxes. In exchange for its providing services for the betterment of the community which, in its absence, the government would have to offer, non-profits do not have to pay taxes in support of local, state and national services. It is thus a win-win for everyone but only if all non-profits remember that they are to serve the public by saving the public an expense. If there is no tradeoff, if the non-profits receive government support (tax dollars), pay no taxes, and provide no charitable services, does not society lose? Is not the purpose of the law establishing non-profits defeated? And does this not endanger the status of all non-profits if for-profit competitors protest?

“Non-profit” does not mean not making a profit. By all means, make one. But that profit must be used for charitable purposes. It certainly cannot go to the aggrandizement of an individual, which may be the case when exorbitant salaries are paid. As Governor Lamm warned, it needs to go, at least at a minimum, to offsetting the nonprofits savings by being exempt from taxation. That’s what “nonprofit” really means.

Quality Assurance and Customer Retention

This post originally appeared in 2006 on my blog, Non-Profit Concerns.

Former GE CEO Jack Welch made many things famous, not least of which is the quality assurance program knows as Six Sigma. As explained by Martin Kihn in the September 2005 issue of Fast Company, “Sigma is the Greek symbol used to denote deviations from the mean. And so Six Sigma is essentially a set of procedures and tools designed to measure and analyze ‘defects’ in a process and help determine what’s causing them. The goal – the ‘six sigma’ part – is 3.4 defects per million, or 99.997% perfection.”

Ever wonder how the Japanese took over TV, stereo, electronics and automobile production from us? In the US manufacturers were willing to accept 5% rejects per million. In other words, for every 1 million anything that was Made in America, 50,000 would be no good. The Japanese lowered that number to 200 and gained industrial leadership. As Jay Levinson notes in Guerilla Marketing, “Every error that could possibly be construed as a mistake was noticed by people actually hired by industry to count mistakes. In the category of mistakes included shoddy workmanship, tardiness, breaks that lasted too long, minor flaws in detail work, low morale, and anything at all that impeded production.”

So how many errors does your organization make? How can you implement a Six Sigma program at your agency?

How often do you send out a mailer that is improperly folded? How many of your employees arrive at work late (begin the day eating breakfast) and leave as the clock strikes five? How often do staff go out shopping on their lunch hour and return, purchases and food in hand, and then take an additional 20 minutes to actually eat lunch? How many typos are there on your publications? How proud are your staff of where they work? How much bureaucracy do you have which stifles creativity?

J. Edgar Hoover had a rule that phones had to be answered by the third ring. If I call your offices, how long is it going to take for the phone to be answered – dare I dream? – by a real person?

How long does it take for a receipt to be sent to a donor? How long does it take for a stock letter to arrive?

Here’s one: How much failure do you encourage? Do you let your staff try new things? Do you celebrate the attempt, regardless of the results? Do you see failure as a learning experience? At IBM a manager was given $10 million to start a new program. After a year the attempt was a total failure. He went to his boss and offered his resignation. His boss refused to accept it on the grounds that they had just spent $10 million educating him!

Of course it does not need to cost anything, let alone millions, to get it right. It is all a matter of recognizing for whom you really work.

When working at a nursing home, a colleague and I made a presentation at the Greater New York Hospital Association. In passing she mentioned something about working closely with hospital discharge planners and I said something about having stories about the home appear regularly in the local newspapers. They were just passing remarks of seemingly no great importance.

After the formal presentation was over, she was asked how long it took her to respond to a request from a discharge planner. She said about 10 minutes. I was asked how often stories about the home appeared in the newspapers. On average it was 15 times a month.

Our colleagues were shocked. And so were we. One hospital discharge planner said that he was happy if he got a response for a request for a bed in two days. One community relations director said that her boss was thrilled if she got them into the paper once a month. They wanted to know the secret:

There is a saying in the Talmud, Know before whom you stand. In other words, know who your clients are.

The nursing home where we worked was a good nursing home. It had been before the new admissions director arrived, and was after she arrived. But her predecessor could only keep the occupancy rate a few points above 90%. The new director had us at 99%. Same nurses, same certified nurse assistants, same doctors, same therapists, same housekeepers, same maintenance staff, same food, same everything. What was the difference? Her predecessor felt that her clients were the potential residents and family members. The new director saw the discharge planners as are her clients. Instead of going to the hospitals to interview patients, family members, doctors and nurses, she stayed at her desk to answer the phone when the discharge planners called.

As for press coverage, colleagues at other facilities told me that their bosses had them sending out long press releases going into great detail about this that or the other thing that was happening at their facilities. For them, their bosses were their clients. Not for me. I explained to the boss that we had little control over what actually happens to our press releases. The longer they are, the more editing will be needed and the more mistakes will be made. So all I would do is send out a 3 to 4 paragraph press release with a photo. Basically, they were fillers – photos with long captions. That is what my clients, the newspaper editors, wanted. And what my boss really wanted was to see the home being recognized in the press.

Remember, your clients are not your bosses and board members. They are only the ones who hire and fire you! Your real clients are the persons who allow you to succeed at your work. They may be donors. They may be hospital discharge planners. They may be newspaper editors. They may be politicians. They may be organization members. They are the ones who utilize your services and the ones whose cooperation you need. Whoever they are, if you keep your clients happy, your bosses will also be happy. And the secret to doing that is quality assurance. There are literally thousands of other nonprofits to where they can turn. Don’t encourage them by being sloppy.