Posts

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6 Ways You Can Use Game Mechanics To Mesmerize A Crowd

Steve Shenbaum from “game on” shares some time tested tips for how to mesmerize a crowd and take control of a live audience.

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7 Simple Steps To Help Grow Your Blog Traffic

This post is part of my 30 day creative writing challenge. Click here to learn more about the challenge or here to explore the other posts in this series.

So, you’ve been writing for a while now, maybe even started your own blog, but no one is reading what you write…

This article is going to help you fix that!

Highlight any text in this article to share it directly.

You’ve tweeted your post, Facebooked it, hash-tagged it, and even spammed your friends and family with emails linking to your work. You know the world would love what you have written, if only you could get them to read it. But how the heck do you get people to notice your work online?

First, it helps to put yourself in the readers shoes. Think about how you browse the net. Think about how you skim articles, scroll through social feeds, and engage with the content you enjoy.

Once you do that, you can see how easy it is to have people skip right over your work. People are impatient online so it’s up to you to snatch their attention whenever you get a chance.

Don’t take it personal if your writing doesn’t go gangbusters as soon as you hit publish. Writing and articulating your thoughts is an important part of the process, but it’s just the beginning. If you want to get people to consistently read what you write then you have to promote your work and give it the best chance to get noticed online.

There are specific ways to do this right, and blasting your Facebook feed with the same link 10 times a day is not the way to do it. If you’re serious about getting people to read what you write, then here are a few tips to help you attract those eyeballs on a consistent basis.

1. Writing compelling titles

You should spend as much time on the title as you do on the article itself as this sets the expectation for the reader. Everyone online judges book by their cover. 80% of people decide whether to click on a link based on the title alone.

Most of my articles actually start out as an idea for a compelling title. I have a blog concepts folder in my Evernote that is full of ideas and titles for articles that I would like to write. Usually it’s just a concept for the article, some ideas on the title, and a sentence or two about what I would like to delver with that particular post. Then whenever I want to write something, I can just go into that folder and go from there.

Want to read more about how to write compelling titles? Click here

2. Formatting. Formatting. Formatting.

Seriously, if your post is just one long paragraph, I’m gonna click the back button before I read the first sentence.

Short paragraphs work best online and using headings to split up the post is always a good idea. You can also use things like block quotes, call outs and images to break up your content and make it easier to read.

Want to read more about formatting the perfect post? Click here

3. Always deliver value

If you want people to read your words, then you have to give them a reason to do so. To do that, each article should have a specific take away. This also gives the reader a reason to click on your link the next time they see it in their news feed.

Writing personal posts can be empowering, but most people don’t want to read your frivolous rants about life.

However, people love a good story. So if your writing skills are strong enough, then you can definitely deliver a compelling personal story that people will love to read.

Just make sure you write it in a way that allows the reader to place themselves inside of your story. Let the reader connect with you emotionally and you will quickly find yourself in front of a growing audience.

Want to read more about delivering value and blowing your readers minds? Click here

4. Connecting with influencers

Influencers are people who have large online audiences. People who can share a link to your work and help you gain exposure.

All traffic on the internet comes from links. Whether it is a link on a Google search result page, another blog, or social media, the only way to get people to your site is by having other people to link to it.

You can do this by connecting with influencers in your industry and sharing your post with them directly.

How do you do that? Find out where they are and start engaging with them. They are more likely to notice you if you notice them first. Quid pro quo is a perfectly acceptable strategy when it comes to sharing content online and growing your audience.

Want to read more about how to get influencers to share your work? Click here

5. Asking for the share

I always ask for a share at the end of my posts. It usually goes something like this

“If you enjoyed this post, I would appreciate you sharing it with a friend. It’s the biggest compliment you could ever give me! Thanks.”

Adding something like this to the end of your posts is not spammy and is a great way to build your social shares.

Think about it, they just read your entire article. And presumably, we only read things we like, so asking someone to share something that they just read and liked is a pretty logical progression.

Not everyone will share your work, but every extra share means extra eye balls on your post and that is the overall goal.

Want to read more about how to ask people to share your posts? Click here

6. Posting at the right times

Knowing when your audience is most likely to engage with your work takes time but it is something you should think about when publishing on your website or on social media.

For me, I have the most success when I post articles in the mornings, around 8:00 am to be precise. Additionally, Mail Chimp tells me that the best to send my emails is around 10:00 am. But that is all based on my particular audience.

The best times to post for your particular audience may vary, and probably will for most of you. If you want to give your content the best chance at being read, then knowing when to post it is pretty important.

Want to read more about proper post timing? Click here

7. Publishing Consistently

I don’t mean to tell you that you need to publish your posts at the same time each week, or even that you need to publish something new every day. What I mean when I say consistency, is that you have to constantly produce high quality content in order to build credibility with your audience.

Publishing on the same day each week and having a consistent schedule is not going to hurt, but regularly producing great content is more important than posting each article at a particular time.

But remember, frequency is nowhere near as important as quality. Regularly posting crap content is a sure fire way to train people to ignore your work.

Set a standard for the quality of your posts and do not publish anything until you think it meets those standards. It’s hard to gain credibility online but it’s really easy to lose it.

Want to read more about how to publish consistently and not get burned out? Click here

In Closing

These are just some basic guidelines to follow. There are a ton of other things you can do to get your work in front of a larger audience, but the tips in this article are a great place to start out as a beginner. You won’t be held back by a bunch of technical hurdles, and it’s the easiest way to quickly grow your online audience.

Got any tips for growing an online audience or getting people to read what you write? Leave them in the comments below!

And of course, if you enjoyed this article, please share it with a friend. It’s the best compliment you could ever give me!

RayDO #33: On Starting A Startup. #HomelessInParadise.

In this episode of RayDO, Raymmar is joined by Bryan Saxon and Joel Fenton, co-founders of FeedMe app for iPhone which is currently in early development.

In this Episode:

We discuss the decision to become your own boss and the process of going out and starting your own company. We try to decide what defines a startup,  and then break into our individual stories and events that lead us to do what we are doing. We also dive into the concept of design thinking, simplifying your value proposition and debate whether or not the process of “selling” has become obsolete.

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5 Stupid Questions Sales People Should Stop Asking Immediately

Brian Geery explains why the structure of your question is as important as the question itself. Whether you are in sales or not, I think we can agree, sales professionals should stop asking these 5 questions immediately.

Asking questions is an important part of the sales process.

And contrary to the popular saying, when it comes to being a sales professional, there is such a thing as a stupid question.

As a sales consultant, I interview salespeople and observe them on sales calls in order to write sales playbooks. For the “sales questions” section of the playbook, I prioritize and categorize the best sales questions for that specific sales process.

Along the way, I have identified these five questions as some of the stupidest, and surprisingly, most common. So without further adue here is a list of five stupid sales questions you should never ask again.

1. What will it take to earn your business today?

First of all, it will take you not asking this question because it automatically makes you sound “salesy.” You are a sales professional; it is your job to do the selling. If the prospect were going to tell you what it took to earn their business then they wouldn’t need you, would they?

Besides, you should know: to earn a prospect’s business your product or service has to be a cost-justified solution to a problem the prospect is currently facing. Oh, and it has to solve that problem better than the competition.

Instead, you should ask questions that elicit information regarding their problems and the consequences of the status quo. For example: explore the problem’s impact on time, money, personal aggravation, or the growth of the business. Then ask about the decision making criteria, cost justification data, and the competitive landscape.

2. What do you guys do? How long have you worked there?

First of all, have you met my friends Google and Social Media? You can easily answer these and other questions with proper pre-sale research. You are doing pre-sale research on your prospects aren’t you? While these are two different questions, they are both in the same category of stupid.

I often take inbound sales calls because it gives me an opportunity to do some reverse prospecting. I listen to the salesperson’s approach, take notes, and then reach out to the company’s VP of Sales with some ideas for enhancement.

I am continually amazed at how many sales calls I receive where it’s obvious the salesperson hasn’t even glanced at my firm’s website, LinkedIn profile, Facebook page, etc. Even before impromptu sales meetings, a quick search can give you insight on the person or company you are about to meet with.

3. Who else is involved in the decision making process?

Maybe I’m splitting hairs here, but a prospect may hear this question as, “Since you’re just an underling, who should I really be talking to?”

Why not flip the question like this, “Who, including yourself, should be involved in the decision making process?” This way you still get the information you need without potentially offending your prospect.

The structure of your sales questions is very important and underestimating the value of a properly placed question can cost you dearly in a sales setting.

4. Are you familiar with _________?

There are a couple problems with this question. First of all it is a closed-ended question. This means you are making it easy for the buyer to give you a yes or no answer. But, is that question giving you any new information or is it even necessary for you to make the sale?

This question can also put someone on the spot unnecessarily.

For example: someone recently asked me if I’m familiar with Drupal. I happen to have a basic understanding that Drupal is software used in website development, but that’s pretty much it. If I answer “yes,” I’m overstating my knowledge of the technology, and if I answer “no,” I feel like a dummy.

I suppose I could say “a little,” but why would you leave it up to me to answer your question in the exact way you want it. This is a perfect way to lose all of your sales momentum if you get the wrong answer.

Asking questions during the sales process is important but sometimes it is more important to skip a question and just explain what you are referencing as opposed to placing a hurdle or possible objection in your path.

5. What’s your budget?

First of all, what should their budget have to do with your pricing. By asking this question, you instantly make the buyer feel like your pricing is dependent on their answer. You also have to remember that buyers are often liars. They feel you are trying to game them when you ask this question so they will often use it as an opportunity to game you.

They may feel that answering the question puts them at a disadvantage when negotiating. What if they have not yet set a budget and then you force them to give you a ceiling? Again, be careful about when and where your questions come up. Asking a question like this at the wrong time of the sales process can be a sure fire way to end up with a dead lead.

Instead, when the time is right, ask how they intend on paying for your services. Phrasing your question this way assumes the sale, puts the ball in their court to ask you about your pricing or financing options and otherwise leads you closer to the close.

It also opens the door to start talking about their overall budget and what part of it they might be willing to allocate towards your services.

Executive summary

Questions are an important part of the sales process, but stupid questions are a sure fire way to trip yourself up on that path to making that sale. Think about the way you structure and format your questions before your next meeting so that they are second nature to you when sitting in front of your next prospect.

What do you think? Did we miss any stupid sales questions? Got one that really bothers you? Leave it in the comments below!

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Struggling With The Sales Process?

In this episode of RayDO: Brian and I talk about the sales process, discuss the benefits of LinkedIn and how to make sales personal again.

I am trying a new format to publishing the podcasts. The first number is a time stamp followed by a headline of what we are discussing at this point in the podcast and then the text is a further discription or explination of what is happening in the podcast.

1:40 – Leveraging Linked In

I hate LinkedIn and Brian tells me he has had some recent success with it. What do you think about LinkedIn as a social tool?

2:40 – Internet Marketing Is Secondary

Raymmar.com is really just a passion project. It is really just a playground for me to explore my ideas and test my theories about life and sales online.

It is less about selling anything in particular and more about exploring the ideas behind sales and how it interacts with the world around you. However, as we dins out later in this podcast, there is a bigger strategy at play here and eventually you will see the whole picture of what I am trying to do.

3:30 – Are Corporations Evil

Is evil exclusive to corporations? Or are they just groups of people making decision on your behalf?

Why the games being played in the media and elsewhere are just disingenuous and focused on manipulating people to fit an agenda. Whatever the agenda may be, we all have one and we all walk around trying to force it on the people around us. Whether we like to admit it or not.

5:20 – Change Something

Not happy with where life is headed? Then do something about it. Pretty simple really.

7:00 – Selling Business to Consumer (B2C)

We start talking about my experience in sales and how I ended up in Florida and how I came to be who I am and my quest to find enlightenment.

Car sales can be dirty so we talk about and dive into how some people might be taken advantage of in that type of buying situation. I also reveal a little bit about my evil side with relations to sales and why it is important to be an informed buyer.

11:40 – Is There A Road Map To Making Sales?

Breaking down a bit of sales theory and dissecting the myth that you can follow a certain number of steps and somehow arrive at a sale.

The truth is there is no magical number of steps to a sale but there are certain things that must happen in each situation before a sale can be made. Learn about creating a closed loop sales strategy as opposed to living inside of an up-then-down sales cycle.

14:00 – Making Sales Personal Again

It is ok to let a little personality shine through online. How to get creative as a small business with a small marketing/advertising budget.

15:03 – Is Anyone Actually Listening

Please let me know what you think about the podcasts in the comments below. Be sure to grab us on Stitcher and be sure to leave us a show review.

We are trying to build a community of like minded thinkers so this is all an adventure. I cannot know what you think if you do not share your thoughts so please take a moment to let me know what you think (even if you hate it) so we can keep making it better.

16:10 – What Do I Do With This Website

What do I do with all of this. What do I do with a website that started out as a place for me to share a few ideas to the world and has turned into a viral content engine online? How do I deal with the increase in traffic and the strategy behind that transition.

Correction – During the podcast I said we publish 4-5 articles a day but I meant a week and that obviously varies based on our schedule. 

17:15 – It Really Is just Me Building All Of This

Everything you see on Raymamr.com (for the most part) was built by your truly. I have really just been laying the foundation for what is yet to come. There are many things yet to come and we are really just getting started.

18:40 – An Organic Sales Engine

I give you a taste of my master plan for what is to come on Raymmar.com. You may want to go back to the 17 minute mark here so you can get the context of what I am doing with the website and how you can get involved in the circle of influence.

20:49 – Separating Sales From Serivce

Have we detached people from the buying process? When corporations focus on people instead of products then we might see a change in the way the world thinks about the corporate structure that seems to be getting such a bad reputation right now.

22:08 – An Introduction To SMART Marketing

Sales and Marketing as an ART – Attract new business, Retain existing customers and Transcend the competition. An introduction to the sales model we are working on.

23:40 – Are Some Companies Too Big To Succeed?

Understanding your customers. Why are some companies better at understanding their buyers and how some companies can get it and others don’t.

Why you should understand your buyers persona long before you start selling anything. Take a look at this guide to building a buyer persona and then listen to this podcast to get a deeper look into the personality of the people who buy your products.

28:30 – Creating Influence

A deeper taste of the master plan in world domination. How I plan on leveraging my Circles of Influence concept to drive real change in the world.

The influence of media and the draw of the power that comes with it. We are basically building a media company here that will influence ideas all across the world. People are either watching for two reasons. Either they think I am going to succeed or because they are waiting

32:00 – More about LinkedIn

We wrap up the show by diving deeper into LinkedIn again and I realize mid sentence, that they have just made some major changes to their user interface. I admit that LinkedIn is actually trying some new things and trying to make it better.

34:00 – Stealing Content

The trade off between generating original content and the balancing the relationships I have with some nationally syndicated websites.

Take A Picture Of A Business Card With Evernote To Connect On LinkedIn

How using Evernote and If This Then That can help you automate your contact management

What If: You could take a picture of a business card 
Then: automatically add that contact information to your phone and send them an invitation to connect on LinkedIn?

The purpose of this article:

Is to show you that it is possible to take a picture of a business card and have a series of automated events take place that will invite the person whose business card you just scanned, to connect on LinkedIn.

Disclaimer: I love Evernote!

If you follow my blog then you know I am a premium Evernote user and I have written articles in the past about how I use Evernote to improve both my professional and personal workflows.

I do not work for Evernote, and I do not receive compensation for writing these articles. I really just think it is a great app and I think it is something that can make your life better so now you know.

Optimize your networking

Once you set up this Evernote/IFTTT networking workflow, you can take a picture of a business card and have it sync the contact information to your phone and then automatically send them an invite to connect on LinkedIn.

If you are a sales professional or do a lot of networking, this is something you could be using every day to increase your overall networking efficiency.

There are other solutions to scanning business cards and keeping your contacts and sales leads organized but for the consultant or small business owner, it would be difficult to get this kind of customized workflow and automate the process for less than $50 per user per year.

Take a picture of a business card with #Evernote to connect on #LinkedIn

Highlight any text in this article to tweet it directly.

What you need to get started

  • Evernote Premium: You can use the business card scanning functionality with the standard version of Evernote but I think they limit the number of business cards you can scan unless you upgrade the premium account. You can read more about why I upgraded to Evernote Premium or just take my word that Evernote is worth the money for this feature alone.
  • Smart Phone**: I use an iPhone so I am not sure if this works on Android devices but I know that Evernote, IFTTT and LinkedIn are all available on Android so I do not see why these instructions wouldn’t work across other platforms as well. Don’t hold me to that though.

* IFTTT is optional and only necessary if you would like to use step two of this tutorial. 

** The instructions in this article are based on the iPhone interface so please excuse any differences that might arise on other smart phone interfaces.

Step #1. Evernote Settings – Save Scanned Business Card Information to Contacts

Reminder: The business card scanning function is an Evernote premium feature. This walk-through assumes that you are using Evernote Premium.

Settings > General > Camera > Business Card > Save Contact Info To Contacts

A: On the mobile version of your Evernote app go to the Settings tab.

B: From your Settings screen, click on the General tab.

C: Click the Camera tab from the General Screen.

D: On the Camera screen click on the Business Card tab.

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E: From the Business Card Screen, select Save Contact Info To Contacts.”

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(F) Optional – Connect Evernote Directly To LinkedIn

I got really excited when I found out that Evernote allows you to connect your account directly to LinkedIn. This means that when you take a picture (scan) a business card, it will try to reach out and find the person on LinkedIn and verify that all of the information is up to date and accurate and it even gives you the option to connect right from inside Evernote.

However, I was looking for complete automation. I literally wanted to take the picture and be done. It would have been easy enough to stop here but why not introduce you to a web app that you should be using anyway. Enter “IFTTT.”

How to scan a business card with Evernote.

*** You can stop here if you want – You can connect with someone from directly inside the Evernote App. You can go into the contact note and view or connect with the contacts profile directly from the contact note but again, this requires an extra step. Since I only scan the business cards of people that I want to connect with, I wanted a solution that would literally let me scan the card and automatically have an invite to connect be sent to the user. It is up to you how to use the workflow but either way is probably better than what you are using now. If you want to, you can stop here and everything should work fine but if you want to take it one step further go ahead and keep reading. ***

Start getting rid of those ugly stacks of business cards you have sitting on your desk. #YourWelcome

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What is IFTTT

From the IFTTT website: 

IFTTT is a service that lets you create powerful connections with one simple statement:

IF-This-Then-That

IFTTT is pronounced like “gift” without the “g.”

In other words… IFTTT lets you connect multiple apps (online software) to each other through their custom recipes, so that when something happens on one channel (Trigger), it causes something else to happen (Action) on another channel.

It is a very interesting and diverse productivity tool and definitely something worth taking some time to learn more about.

You can use it to connect with more than 100 of your favorite apps and they are always adding more so go ahead and get creative. Take a look at some cool recipes here and learn more about using IFTTT to connect your favorite apps.

Step #2 – How To Use IFTTT

You can use IFTTT from a computer as well as through the mobile app but we need this to connect with your phone contacts, so for this example I will once again use images from the IFTTT iPhone interface.

Once you have the IFTTT application installed on your phone, log into the app and create a recipe that directly invites every new contact to connect on LinkedIn.

Create The Recipe

Creating a recipe is easy. In the IFTTT app, just (A) click the little recipe bowl in the top right corner and then (B) on the plus sign as your IFTTT feed slides to the left. Once you get to the next screen, (C) click on the plus sign to start a new recipe. Create-a-new-IFTTT-recipe-connect-to-Evernote

Select A Trigger

Every time you create a new recipe you will need to set the initial trigger. For this example we are going to have IFTTT invite someone to connect on LinkedIn every time (A) a new contact is added to our phone. If this is the first time that you are IFTTT access to your contacts, then you will need to (B) authorize access to the app.

*IFTTT is a stand alone application so it interfaces easily with other apps and allows you to connect to all of your different channels with a single click in most instances.
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Connect LinkedIn

Once you have connected your contacts app with IFTTT then you can (A) tell it what you want it to do whenever the initial channel is triggered. For this example we are going to find the the LinkedIn channel and (B) select the option to invite someone to connect every time a new contact is added.

Once you click the finish button the recipe will activate but don’t worry, you can test it, edit it and pause it at any time from right inside the mobile app.

IFTTT-Select-The-Action

Happy NetworKING

You can set the app to send you notifications when the recipe is triggered or not, totally up to you but either way, once this workflow is set up it will invite all of your new contacts to connect on LinkedIn.

Since the first step was to have Evernote save your scanned business cards into your phone contacts these two apps will now work in sequence to invite all of your business card contacts to connect on LinkedIn.

Another great tip: is to add personalized notes for each contact within the contact note itself. You can set up a format for doing this and just keep a running timeline on all of your interactions with the people that matter. So many people spend a lot of money on CRM systems but this is a solution for any consultant or even small business for that matter, but that is for another article. Feel free to share your favorite Evernote hacks in the comments below.

Do you use Evernote, IFTTT or any other software to help your networking efforts? Let me know about it or share your favorite IFTTT recipes in the comments below. 

Your Life is a lie master

Life’s Too Short To Follow The Rules – Life & Work With Liz

The first episode of LizABoss ray.do takes us on an adventure through the hiring process.

Say hello to Liz. Much like me, you’ll either love her, or hate her.

Check out Liz Cotners website to learn more about her.

Liz is a career ninja who loves helping other people do what they do better. In this podcast, we dissect her bubbly personality and how having a positive attitude can help you get to your goals in life. She tells us that some people actually take her personality the wrong way; obviously someone can’t just be as happy as she is.

Are the people that judge you based on first impressions wrong? Or should you look deeper?

I’m no fool

We discuss the front that we all sometimes put up to keep people at bay. To stop them from really understanding what is really wrong with us on the inside. How we hide from the world, mostly in plain sight.

Getting high on careers

“I was so high and I kept getting promoted.” Liz explains the process of dealing with a fast paced career and then the shock of having it all fall apart on her. “It was such a high and a low” Liz further tells us about how she dealt with the hostile work environment and how mental health plays a role in understanding all of it.

We dive deeper into my depression and the medications used to treat it in my past as well as how I look at depression now. I talk about being unemployable and the HR nightmare that I often present to the companies I work for, and we weigh those negatives against the results I can deliver when I am given the right tools for the job and set free to solve the problem the way I see fit.

Is that the right or wrong way to look at it? Am I just stubborn or am I right in holding out for the opportunity where I get to call the shots and set the rules. Shouldn’t we all strive to hold out for the best version of ourselves possible?

Its all up to you

At the end of the day, it has to come down to your ability to deliver what you say you can deliver. You have to be confident and know how to sell yourself. Liz explains the importance of coming through on your interview and owning the product of you.

“You have to follow up.”Liz explains,” When you are on the job hunt, you need to make sure you follow up with people all along the way.” Her career advice is pretty straight forward but is in hot demand right now as a new generation struggles to cross the face-to-face communication and culture divide.

“Use social media to connect with them.” Liz tells us about ways to follow up with the companies you interview with. “Connect on LinkedIn, cold call into the company, whatever it takes. Find a way to follow up and network with the people that can help influence the decision making process.”

I sing Aladdin!

That’s right, I break into a song, as I try to interrupt Liz in one of her stories about her and her ginger husband. Right between that and muting Liz’s microphone I reveal some strategy about what we are trying to build on Raymmar.com and how I see the future of technology, social media and how I plan on breaking into that world.

Liz gets muted

As she brings up my least favorite networking organization I actually mute her mic. Right before we break into a discussion about the proper way to network. Should you belong to cult like networking groups or should you just network with cool people? Where do you find people to network with?

Networking is supposed to be about meeting other people, but forcing it in a structured format is not productive. I talk about the value of independent thinking, even when it comes to networking and influence building.

We talk about how thinking differently and learning for yourself can really help set you apart in the world but then you run the risk of becoming a target. Whether networking on a local or national level the dynamics for effective networking and relationship building are very similar. Be yourself, have a purpose and don’t be shy.

What the hell is wrong with a technical education

No one wants to go to a technical school… they all want to get a degree and pretend like a six figure income is waiting for them on the other side of that door.

Is that what we sold them? Is that what we have trained them to expect. Is that what our society breeds?

Do we encourage anyone to learn on their own anymore or are we teaching everyone to just read the headlines for their 14o character news updates? Is that the age we’re live in?

How can you not have a dream? How can people not see where we are headed and think about how to make a real difference. We do not teach people to dream anymore. To remove all restrictions from your mental path and at least envision the future you wish could be true.

We should all dream more!

We close the show by encouraging you to chase your dreams. To pursue your passions. Don’t be afraid to let your light shine! Believe in yourself and maintain a positive attitude and watch what you can do.

It works for Liz. It works for me, and I promise it can work for you. If you learn how to control your attitude, you can control whether you fly or fall.

Make sure you grab us on Stitcher or iTunes so you can take these podcasts on the road. And let us know what you thought of Liz in the comments below.

How to Become A VP of Sales [podcast]

“You are doing sales wrong!”

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It took some time to get him warmed up…

But Brian has a good mind for sales and helps me discuss and explain some major sales concepts and how they relate to life. We briefly mention his bio but feel free to learn more about Brian Geery and his work.

With 20+ years experience in the world of sales, Brian has worked with fortune 500 clients and been published in the Wall Street Journal along with many other publications. Join us as we discuss the world of sales and many of the other issues below.

What is a VP of Sales?

Someone with sales leadership responsibility. We talk about understanding the sales process and how to fine tune your sales engine. While Brian is still a little cold I throw him on the spot and ask him to pitch me while I pretend to be a customer who really just wants to throw him out.

How do you think he did? Let me know in the comments below.

Will door-to-door sales ever disappear?

We talk about my time in door to door sales and how to make a five minute friend. We talk about how I learned to sell on demand and the process that the company used to make us sales machines.

I think that door-to-door sales are on their way out but Brian claims they might hang out a little longer than I think. Which of us do you think is right?

Brian flips the script

Brian flips the interview and asks me about my business and how I have grown my online presence. He asks me about the three technologies that I think were most important in helping me get my blog off the ground. Here are links and descriptions of each technology and how I use them.

WordPress:

Learn more about WordPress 

The largest open source content management system on the internet. It is easy to use (there is a learning curve) once you get the hang of it, and can allow you to update your website easily, post new blog articles and evolve digitally. The core files are always being updated and there are numerous plugins that can help you do what you need to do.

There are some other low-cost website builders online but WordPress offers you the most scaleability and diversity of options. For the non-developer, non-coder out there, this is the perfect place for you to get into the web building world.

I plan on writing a comprehensive WordPress write up, along with my favorite plugins but for now, know that you need it and it could make your life much easier.

Evernote:

Download Evernote

I wrote an article here where I talked about my favorite features and why I upgraded to Evernote Premium. I still think it is the best, free or paid, note-taking app on the market.

The way their web clipper works with my web browser along with their email functionality has really helped improve my workflows and productivity. It will help you stay organized and keep track of everything.

ITTT:

What is IFTTT

I just mentioned this briefly in the podcast but it is an application you should know about since it lets you connect different applications and set triggers for different functions.

For instance, I have IFTTT set to ask a contact to connect on LinkedIn when I scan an Evernote business card. There is life-hack article coming on how to do this but for now know you can do it and go explore their website and create your own recipes.

Social Media:

I think as a whole, Social Media is the third most important tool I use online. I use Social media as a tool and although I am active on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, I hate Linked In. I still use it and have a profile but I am not really finding it useful and that might be partly my fault. It just gets really hard to manage all of these channels and mediums by myself. Maybe soon I’ll be able to afford an assistant.

How to steal ideas

Brian calls it “Liberating” the idea but I call it stealing inspiration and I am not shameful about it. Brian asks me about my viral online explosion, I talk about stealing inspiration from all over the internet and talk about how I got my website to the top of Google in so many different categories.

I expose a little more of the big picture of what I am trying to build and talk about the fact that the whole world is socially engineered. Whether for good or evil, it just is because that is how we work.

One of my biggest challenges will be to help you understand the simplicity of these systems and how they are all interconnected. After that, it is up to you whether to use the powers for good or evil. Whether to chase the dream and be the best you possible or will you sit on the sideline and think about what might have been?

None of This is About the Money

I have no desire for massive amounts of money. Although I wouldn’t hate it or turn it away. My primary motivation is the elimination of the word “no” based a lack of a funding mechanism.

I make enough money to live and I am reinvesting every dollar I can into the infrastructure of Raymmar.com in order to increase the quality of the content we deliver on a daily basis. I also want to start introducing you to the other companies that I do business with as well as the creative people that I surround myself with.

As we grow we will also be looking for new ideas on how to bring other people with us. Stay tuned for how you can get plugged into the RayDO network.

Part Of It Is About The Aesthetics

We wrap up the show talking about my connection with Steve Jobs and how I see a lot of his character traits and flaws in myself. I talk about my desire to keep the website clean and fresh but also understanding the need to try and monetize it soon.

At one point I even mention my plans for monetization briefly as we talk about how I plan to grow Raymmar.com to the next level of social commerce. I explain the concept of building a trusted network of amazing individuals. People who we help get off the ground and help find their way online.

I hope to take amazing people and help them follow their dreams. I hope to give them a platform to change the world. I give a huge “thank you” to all those who listen and follow us so closely. We really do appreciate your support.

Apparently Brian had a hot date…

Or something like that because he jumped off the mic quick. We will definitely ask him back to talk more about sales but he was a fun guest and we hope you enjoyed him.

Make sure you subscribe to raymmar.com, grab us on Stitcher or iTunes and make sure you hang on. This is going to be a bumpy ride.

Are you doing something amazing with your life? Something the rest of us should know about? Tell me about it in the comments.

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Why Great Design Should Always Start With A Sketch

“In a world of fast-paced digital design, I fear that good old pencil thumbnails are being forgotten.”

Shawn O’Mara –

This article first appeared on the ocreations website. Read the original article here.

I have been in the field of graphic design for what seems ages, starting in 1990.  I have been a design student, graphic design instructor at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh, designer, art director and senior partner of ocreations design studio in The South Side of Pittsburgh.

I have always been a firm believer that designers need to be able to draw or bring their concepts to life on paper in order to sell their ideas to clients, art directors, designers, photographers and other people in the industry.  In the field of graphic design, the most important thing we are paid for are our original concepts. I feel that pencil thumbnails are the best and fastest way to take these concepts from inside your head to a format that others can view.

I wish I had $1 for every quick sketch on napkins, post-it notes, notebooks, notepads and desk calendars I did throughout the years. All of these super rough sketches are unleashed ideas. I honestly believe that if I waited until I developed them on a computer, they would either have been forgotten or become watered down.

If you are considered an artist or painter you are expected to be able to draw.  If you are a graphic artist you are also expected to be able to draw.  When you are labeled a Graphic Designer does that title make you exempt from the drawing portion of it? In my mind it does not.  I understand that the level of illustration and hand skills varies and that is ok. I personally do not believe that I am a fantastic illustrator but I know that I can still get my ideas across to people through my sketches.

The Art Institute of Pittsburgh’s graphic design department hosts a meeting with industry professionals to hear what they would like to see more of in our graduate portfolios….

The answer now, more than ever, from these professionals is:

“We need to see more pencil thumbnails and original concepts.”

I personally was thrilled to hear this because it gave me support for my beliefs.

So for the non-believers who think the idea of pencil sketches is a thing of the past, here is where I feel they are a big help:

  1. Getting the idea out fast.
  2. For a designer to sell his ideas to an art director or team member.
  3. For an art director to give fast direction to a designer or copywriter.
  4. For a designer or art director to provide direction to a photographer or illustrator.
  5. For a designer to get on the same page fast with a client.
  6. To get the real idea on paper without the computer dictating your direction.
  7. To illustrate different concepts prior to computer variations on an approved concept.
  8. To keep the ART in Graphic Artist (sorry had to do it).
  9. To keep the client focused on the general concept and not allow them to get hung up on exact fonts, colors or images in the early stages.

I hope this endorsement helps sell my ideas and keeps pencil thumbnails alive.

If you are going to start doing pencil sketches or if you are already using them, here are some simple tips to consider:

  1. Keep your thumbnails in proportion to the actual size of the job.
  2. Use good contrast to allow things to POP.
  3. Do a good indication of type (serif vs. sans-serif, leading, justification etc.).
  4. If you do not provide a contact sheet for images, then do a tighter indication of the images on your thumbnails.
  5. Try different concepts to reach the client’s objectives and target market, not just variations of the same idea.
  6. Use a grid. This really helps on multiple page publications.
  7. For thumbnails of multi-page publications, show a cover and 2 spreads for each thumbnail set.
  8. Be original, be creative and have fun.

As the Senior Partner for ocreations I always practice what I preach and provide my designers, photographers and clients pencil sketches when needed. I hope that this post helps get the pencils back out in the field and keeps the ideas flowing.

Shawn O’Mara is the President and a senior partner of ocreations. A Pittsburg based design firm offering affordable graphic design and marketing solutions. To learn more about ocreations and explore more of their work be sure to check out their website and online portfolio.

Playing The Field – Tips To Help You Interview Like A Boss

Interviewing for jobs can feel like searching for a soul-mate. Sometimes it takes lots of awkward first dates.

 

A first date can often include:

  • Sweaty palms
  • Anxiety
  • Fear of the unknown

You begin to pull into the driveway of your potential new employer. Your heart is racing as if you are about to ride the world’s tallest, fastest rollercoaster. You have practiced. You have shared this moment with your closest friends and family and now it’s “go time”.

You feel confident that you can answer basic interview questions: “Tell me about yourself” or “Please explain your employment history”. Even though many candidates have a hard time with explaining who they are as a person, we can all bullshit our way through these basic questions during a job interview.

Some call this “Fake it ‘til you make it”. Much like dating, we all tend to “fake it” until we find the right person. The same rule can apply to the professional world while seeking a fulfilling career.

It’s about finding the perfect fit:

What does the “perfect fit” look like to you?

Does it include a full benefits package?

How about paid time off, top-notch compensation, employee engagement (i.e. employee appreciation week), professional development and a flexible work schedule?

The perfect fit as we know is different for everyone. Interviewees should conduct research about potential employer prior to the interview and also during the interview itself.

How is this accomplished?

Read the company website. Most companies include a detailed section for history/about us/FAQs. You can learn an enormous amount of information about the company in a short amount of time browsing this information.

Blog postings or articles about company awards/community recognition may also provide good information. During the interview, ask questions about organizational culture and why others have selected this employer to be their employer of choice. It is also acceptable to ask about work hours or possibility for professional development/growth during the interview. If the employer does inquire about your desired compensation and benefits, it is OK to answer them.

Top 5 Interview “Do’s”

  1. Present a resume folder with your resume, cover letter, two letters of recommendation, and copies of any degrees and/or certificates. Resume folders are relatively inexpensive at Wal-Mart. The purpose of the resume folder is to leave the employer something more than just a resume. This folder containing extra information can definitely help you stand out amongst the competition.
  2. If the employer invites you to arrive dressed business casual attire, politely thank them for allowing you the option, but always wear a full suit to an interview. First impressions are everything and the job market is too competitive to fall short or only give 90% while trying to score your next job.
  3. Within 24 hours, send a follow-up thank you email. Do not write three whole sentences. By using bullet points, list three takeaways from the interview and how your transferable skills will increase results for the company overall.
  4. Be aggressive by showing interest! Follow-up within a week with a thank you call to ask where the department is in the hiring process. This is your last attempt at securing the position of your dreams, so make it count. There is no harm in placing a professional phone call once.
  5. Always, always, always ask for the business cards of the individuals you have spoken with. This includes the person that interviewed you as well as the Front Desk Receptionist. Some organizations have business cards of all key staff members at the front desk.  When this option is not available, simply ask. Note also that you can utilize LinkedIn to search for additional contact information if business cards are not available.

Interview Mishaps:

  1. When the interviewer asks the interviewee “Tell me about a time you went above and beyond to satisfy a customer”. This type of question can easily make anyone look good-make sure you prepare a stand-out answer.
  2. Refrain from arriving late without calling in advance if you cannot avoid it. Its one thing to arrive late if you called in advance. It’s another thing to show up bursting in the doors huffing and puffing while apologizing profusely.
  3. Do not ever walk out in the middle of an interview unless it’s for an absolute emergency. If you feel the interview is going south, you must maintain professional courtesy at all costs. By walking out, you may permantely burn a networking bridge for the future, whether this particular organization is a fit or not.
  4. Unbutton your suit jacket before sitting. It is proper etiquette while sitting down for a a nice dinner. The same rule applies to an interview/business meeting.
  5. Two ears, one mouth. Do not at any point interrupt the interviewer or become overly chatty. This could be a sign of poor listening skills, which are incredibly important to any employer looking to bring someone on for the long haul.

Interview Resources:

    1. www.hireauthority.com. This site is an excellent example of motivational interviewing for both the hiring manager and the interviewees.
    2. www.bls.gov
      1. Many times during the interview process, a potential employer will ask you for your desired compensation range. Explain that you have done your due diligence and based on current statistics for XYZ city and state, the range is XYZ for this particular position. For example, the compensation range for a HR Manager in Tampa, FL is $55,000-$70,000.
      2. Ask your undergraduate or graduate school Career Services Departments for a list of mock interview questions. Feel free to ask me as well: liz.woloszyk@gmail.com
      3. http://www.indiabix.com/hr-interview/questions-and-answers/
        1. Long list of many different questions to be prepared for

When will I know I found the right fit?

Similar to dating, you will probably get an instinctive feeling about job after the interview process. It’s OK to acknowledge the fact that all interviews are not perfect and you’re not a fit for every position.  Attending interviews and making new connections through networking are perfect for practice and providing options – without these experiences, you may never know which career direction is best for you.

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Why I Upgraded To Evernote Premium

A Brief Disclaimer:

I am in no way affiliated with Evernote however, I just felt strong enough about it to tell you that:

“Evernote might just be the one app you didn’t know you couldn’t live without!”.

Enough Ass Kissing; Let’s Get To It.

Since May 2005, I have been journaling, writing, typing and documenting my thoughts, life-experiences and ideas. I used to actually write in physical journals but after I got my iPad I decided to make the switch to digital note taking. I was looking to find the best note taking app on the market. Preferably a free one.

I instantly fell in love with the simplicity of Evernote. Not just to take notes, but to actually use them in a productive manner. You see… I still have stacks of journals with some of my deepest, darkest thoughts sitting inside of them. Full from cover-to-cover with troves of beautiful words and thoughts never to be explored again. Unless of course, I decide to thumb through them but we live in a digital world and who wants to deal with paper anymore.

“I am actully using Evernote to digitize all of my old notes. By using the scanning feature in Evernote I can take pictures of my handwritten notes and convert them to searchable documents inside of Evernote”. I’ll cover that in a future article – Subscribe to make sure you don’t miss it.

Evernote Helps Me Remember Everything

I know that’s a play on their tagline but it just so happens to be true. I rarely ever went any further back than a week or two in order to review notes, business concepts, client interactions or anything else I wrote down daily in any of those journals over the years. I would write in the book and each new page would separate me from the last by as many new words as I decided to add that day.

It took a little while to get used to typing my thoughts instead of writing them all down but now I wonder how I ever survived before. I still use the Moleskin journals to jot quick notes or to capture a sketch but for the most part I use my iPad, iPhone or laptop to access the Evernote app. I love that I can have all my thoughts with me on any device at any time.

My Favorite Evernote Features.

Here is a short list of my favorite Evernote features in no particular order. Most of them are available on the free version so what are you waiting for?

Offline Notes: 

Now that I am an Evernote premium user I can set notebooks to be available offline. This allows me to have access on my devices even if there is no internet or cellular connection. It’s like special note taking app magic that allows you to work on everything everywhere.

Multiple Notebooks:

I used to always carry a single physical journal. I would write all my notes in the journal and try to differentiate the pages by folding them over to create partitions, using headers at the top of each page and then folding different corners, in different directions in order to mark the importance of any given note. With Evernote, I can have as many notebooks as I want and they are all brilliantly accessible and crossed linked through the app. Now… with Evernote Premium, I can even share notebooks and allow others to edit and update the notes inside of them.

*New Feature* – Notebook Stacks:

Now you can take your notebooks and organize them into stacks. This is a great feature because it gives me another level of sorting functionality. For example, before this feature was available, I had separate notebooks for each of my clients but they were all scattered around (Evernote sorts notebooks alphabetically), but now I can drop them all in a single stack and keep them in one place. You could even sort your contacts by importance or start a writing folder and then have separate notebooks for your blog, poetry, jokes, short stories, etc. That’s the beauty of Evernote, you can pretty much make it do whatever you want it to do. If you get creative Evernote can even help you do business better.

Tags:

As a self proclaimed “WordPress Ninja”, I was already familiar with the concept of adding tags to my content. I always thought it would be cool to be able to add tags to my notes, and then be able to search by those specific tags. The tags even work across multiple notebooks so you can further interconnect your notes and then sort them easily and intuitively. 

Tag usage example: the tag “video ideas”  can be used on notes in my client notebooks as well as my “Blog Concepts” notebook, or any other notebook for that matter. This allows me to sort my notes by those tags and look at notes across all of my notebooks that use each specific tag. 

Business Card Scanning

One of their newest features, the business card scanning functionality is pretty revolutionary. For the professional networker, dealing with stacks of business cards can get annoying real quick. They pile up everywhere and much like your handwritten notes, often get left to gather dust. With Evernote Premium I can scan a business card and have the information converted to a contacts note inside of Evernote. I can even have it add the contact to my iPhone contacts instantly. Add a quick If This Then That recipe to the mix and all those contacts are instantly invited to connect on linked in. Seriously, it is that easy. Scan. Add. Invite. It’s pretty much like a cheat code for life.

Another useful tip:  Evernote can sync with LinkedIn to supplement the contact information for the scanned in cards. Freaking brilliant.

Presentation Mode:

This new feature is quickly becoming one of my favorites. Simply put, it gives you a clean read-only view of whatever note you are in so that you can read or share your note without distractions from the editor interface. It formats the articles in a streamlined fashion that fits right into my business workflow. I especially appreciate this functionality with my Apple TV as I can use it with airplay to share my note without having people climb all over me to see the screen on my phone. You could even use it as an impromptu teleprompter with the Apple TV and use your iPhone as a remote to control the scroll. You’re Welcome.

Geo-Tagging:

I work for myself. I don’t have a corporation behind me with robust relationship management software to help me track sales calls, territory management or any other aspect of my sales process. Out of necessity, Evernote has become my default Client Relationship Management (CRM) system. The ability to review my notes based on my GPS location is great for tracking on-location interactions with clients and prospects alike. This means that I can review all of those interactions on a map from any location. This is an invaluable feature for the on-the-go sales rep.

Whether I am talking to a cold call or sitting with an established client I always have my iPad in front of me with Evernote open and a fresh note waiting to document the conversation. I can even use the voice record feature and attach an audio account of our meeting to that particular note. I have used customized, CRM software that is not as user friendly or as robust as Evernote… just saying.

Evernote Inspires Me Be To Build A Better Business

Once in a while you come across a company that just gets it. A company that isn’t out wasting their money trying to buy market share with advertising or trying to interrupt your daily life with the story of their product. Instead they chose to create a better product. Bravo Evernote, bravo!

I have been watching Evernote over the last few years. I have experienced a few iterations of their software, I have watched them innovate, collaborate and elevate themselves to a true player in the world of cloud based note taking software. As an aspiring techie myself I look at companies like Evernote with the utmost respect. They are doing everything I preach about when it comes to social sales, amazing products, beautiful user interfaces, customer support to match and a culture of innovation.

“Other companies and start-ups would do well to look at Evernote as a model for how companies should think about creating, marketing and selling their products; online or otherwise”.

I used the free version of Evernote for a long time. I have sent countless invites to friends, family and even strangers. I am really just now learning all the intricacies and deeper functionality of Evernote. I am discovering  the true potential locked inside this powerful app and I absolutely love it. I always tell my friends that “Evernote will change your life if you let it” and, for that alone, I’ll pay for an Premium account for as long as they sell them. Why? Because I know they will only get better as time goes on. How do I know this? Well… because that’s the only thing they’ve ever done.

Do you use Evernote? Did I miss your favorite feature? Tell me what you think down in the comments section. 

The links in this article are affiliate links. If you got some value out of this article or decide to download Evernote, help a brother out and use the links above so I can get credit for the referral.

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Are You Flying or Falling?

The Difference Between Flying Or Falling is simply a matter of adjusting your attitude!

Read more

Where’s All The “Collaboration”?

How collaboration usually works:

Other Guy: “Oh hey, you are really good at that thing you do. Want to come sprinkle some of that awesomesauce over here so we can all be awesome together?”

You: “Yes! Definitely. I’ve been working really hard for the last few years trying to be a boss and I’m not quite there yet. I think I might be on to something big though. I would love to work with you guys and see what we can build together!”

Same Guy: “Sweet…      ……..        Derp!”

You Again: “So. . . . . Hey, I was thinking” – Awesome idea… awesome stuff… more awesome stuff – “So how do you think I can plug in? Do you think we can figure out how to build a transformer of awesomeness right here in sleepy ass Sarasota?”

That other guy again:  ……Well we have to (mostly you though) do this and that and the other thing…… and once that is done then you might be able to do this and that for us, but you’ll probably never get anywhere that matters because we take all the credit for the good ideas and by the way, would you stick your nose right here, no not there, here… Right here, smack in the middle of my @$$………

How Collaboration should work:

Legit Guy: “Oh hey, you are really good at that thing you do. We are doing some pretty cool stuff over here too. Want to play together?”

You: “Booyaka! I’ve been working really hard for the last few years trying to be a boss and I’m not quite there yet. I think I might be on to something big though.”

Still Legit: “Sweet. – Here is what I can deliver and what I will expect from you. Why don’t we find a time where we can get together in a collaborative environment and take some time to figure out how we can work together.”

You Again: “Man that would be amazing. Here is what I think I can bring to the table ” – Awesome idea… awesome stuff… more awesome stuff – “Let’s figure out how to build a transformer of awesomeness right here in sleepy ass Sarasota?”

Too Legit To Quit: “Oh snap son, bring that badness. Let’s work together to drop atomic bombs of creative catastrophe on the lesser beings!”

And then… You both do that shit! – The end… Kind of.

Good story but why should I care?

If that story gets under your skin then may be you are the awesome guy, or maybe you are like the rest of us who try, in vain, to collaborate with the cool kids. But if that story does not strike a cord, then it might mean that you are the worst of all possible frauds, the kind that doesn’t even know he is one.

Everyone is talking about collaborating these days but few are actually doing any of it productively. So many people run through life throwing their collaboration credit card around as if they were racking up collaboration credits to cash in on a frequent failure program. For some reason they pretend to be this thing they are not and when it comes time to roll up their sleeves and get to work, there is always a hiccup, there is always a road-block standing in the way of actually getting anything done. So many people pretend to be collaborators when all they are is time and resource wasters.

As an early stage creative entrepreneur, you find it more and more difficult to find the people you can truly trust with you collaborative credit card. Issuing too much debt to the wrong content creator can leave you holding the bag for a much larger obligation. One which you are unwilling or unable to fulfill. Be careful of who you chose to collaborate with in business. New ventures are often lethal to weak friendships, especially in the face of any adversity which is almost impossible to avoid in the early stages of a start up.

So… what you’re saying is?

I have no real agenda. Like most of the rest of my blog, this article started with a question and a desire to explore that curiosity. I am really just thinking aloud about my collaborative experiences up to this point in my career. Using my diverse experiences as well as my interpretation of the behavior of others along the way, in an attempt to show you that there is a system to all of this. That it is all part of one big system and it is all tied together by a few principles that you already know about. You just do not know how to use them to get what you want.

You either do not know or are unwilling to admit that by following a few simple suggestions about creative collaboration (among other things) you can begin finding ways of plugging into the community of creativity that probably already surrounds you. You can learn to leverage the world around you in a mutually beneficial way in order to help everyone involved get what they need. You’d be surprised to discover what other people are capable of if you actually give them a chance to do it. You will be surprised at how much you can gain in life by just helping people get what they want. It is a simplistic approach to collaboration and life in general but it works.

All that being said, here are a few tips to make sure that your next quest for collaboration is a productive one.

Avoid These 9 Common Collaboration Mistakes:

  1. Terrible communication: Both people need to be on the same page in order for effective collaboration to take place. You can use a note sharing app like Evernote or google docs to share ideas and work through the planning stages together.
  2. Failing to plan: Collaboration is fun when it is spontaneous and you just happen to stumble across it but planning a meeting at least a week ahead allows people to better fit it into their schedule. Considering participation is key to collaboration, giving people a real opportunity to participate is vital to doing it right.
  3. Selfish Collaborators: You must be willing to let people show you how they can contribute. It is impossible to discover anyone’s hidden (or not so hidden) talents if you don’t provide an environment for them to freely express and explore their creative faculties. Collaboration should not be sidestepped due to ideological interjections. People need to be free to explore the collaboration in whatever method makes them most creative. Judging books by their cover is a good way to miss out on a great collaboration experience. Do not let any insecurities prevent you from opening doors in life wherever you go. You never know who might be standing behind it.
  4. Loud Mouths: You know who you are. I am not talking about the guy in the corner who knows what he is talking about and interjects with useful contributions. I am talking about the ignorant tweedleberry who just likes hearing the sound of his own voice in a room with more than just himself sitting in it. Please know what you are talking about or don’t talk about it. Nothing will strip you of your credibility faster than bloviating on a subject on which you have only a marginal understanding. Shut your mouth, take a few notes and go Google that shit. Then maybe next time you can contribute something meaningful to the conversation instead of wasting everyone’s time.
  5. Participation Trophies: If you say you are going to do something or be somewhere or get something done, then do it. It is that simple. Do not expect the other collaborators to cover your quota. You must be engaged and willing to deliver on your word. You do not get credit just for showing up!
  6. Keeping Quiet: If something is bothering you then speak up. How is anyone supposed to fix anything if they all think its working fine. Leadership means speaking up. You might be surprised at who stands with you. This doesn’t mean you throw a creative coup, just that in order for this to be a meaningful collaboration you have to feel satisfied as well. In order to make sure this happens please refer back to miscue number one!
  7. Too Much Structure: It is important to guide the collaboration but not necessarily to control it. Too much of an effort to control the collaboration can result in an unhappy group. Also, be flexible with how people are compensated/rewarded for their efforts. Some people might need to make money from their collaborations and others might just be looking to pad a resume, gain a little experience or build some new relationships.
  8. Political Posturing: I am not talking about Washington DC politics. I am talking about back office, highschool clique style politics. You are not the only person with good ideas and there are often many solutions to every problem. Just because the collaboration is not taking place around your personal idea does not mean you get to run away from the table. You can’t run off to mommy every time someone gives you some harsh criticism. Learn to delegate and step back once in a while. One of the hardest lessons for a leader to learn is that in order to lead you must first know how to follow.
  9. Sabotage: This is the worst of all of them and is the only one that involves malicious behavior. Do not take advantage of someone under the pretext of collaboration. Do not steal an idea from your fellow collaborator only to pass it off as your own. Do not waste the labors of others with tedious repetition or futile propositions. You are hated amongst all of us in the creative world who would share our trust and knowledge with only the expectation of reciprocation, only to be slapped in the face by a sneaky saboteur. This is not cool and might even call for public humiliation. Maybe a titty twister in times square or an indian burn by Chuck Norris. Either way, it should hurt because you make it infinitely more difficult for the rest of us to do our thing.

That’s all for today class!

Take a deep look at how you really collaborate. This article touched on the creative side of collaboration but you could easily apply these principles to any collaborative setting in your everyday life. When you are looking for collaborative projects be sure to look for projects that you can get passionate about, find something you are really good at and then find someone who is really good at something else and come up with a way to work together. Like any creative process the first way may not always be the best.

Collaborations do not have to happen over night and the most productive collaborative relationships are built over time. To be truly productive in collaboration you need to build trust and deliver on your word. Sometimes that takes more than a few months but that doesn’t mean you cant get started today. I challenge you to find someone who you can lean on collaboratively. Someone who can give you just as much as you expect to get from them and always look to bite off a little more than you can chew. This is how you learn. Test yourself, try new things and always deliver your best possible work regardless of the compensation. If the project has your name on it then it should be the best you can make it. Otherwise, take your name off the project.

What do you think? Any collaboration nightmares you would like to share with the class? Leave your thoughts in the comments. 

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