How To Lead A More Effective Team By Disagreeing

It’s great when people agree with you, isn’t it? It’s a wonderful validation – of your thoughts, your ideas… of you. It makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Yes, it’s great when people agree with you.

Except it doesn’t move the needle. Especially when the agreement comes too early.

There’s a great scene in the old TV series The West Wing. Leo McGarry is the Chief of Staff to liberal Democratic president Jed Bartlet. In this scene, Leo is offering a job to wickedly smart conservative Republican Ainsley Hayes. Ainsley is confused as to why a liberal president would want a conservative Republican working in the White House. Leo then says a line that I think should be committed to memory by every leader at every level:

“The president likes smart people who disagree with him.”

If you’re a leader, substitute your name for “the president” (unless you happen to be the president, in which case you should probably still substitute your name, because referring to yourself by your title is stupid and pretentious). Let’s just make it simple. Here’s the new sentence:

“I like smart people who disagree with me.”

I want you to make that one of your primary leadership mantras. “I like smart people who disagree with me.”

If you want to build your muscles, you do resistance training. The resistance can be in the form of weights, elastic bands, or your own body (for example, when doing pushups and pull-ups). Resistance makes muscles stronger.

Even the best ideas benefit from resistance. This resistance comes in the form of pushback by a smart person. Even if the smart person is just playing devil’s advocate, the challenge serves a purpose. When an idea is challenged, one of three things will happen:

The idea will be reinforced.
The idea will be reevaluated.
The idea will be abandoned.

Any of these three is preferable to the idea being blindly accepted by a team that’s either too intimidated to question, or too disengaged to care.

When an idea is challenged, it is examined. This examination will find one of three things about the idea, which correspond to the list above:

The idea is sound.
The idea is flawed but can be improved/fixed.
The idea is flawed, and cannot be improved. (Even in this case, though, the “bad” idea could be the spark that leads to the “good” idea.)
Agreement is a good thing, but not when it’s automatic; not when it’s a rubber stamp.
Agreement is a good thing when it comes at the end of smart debate. Agreement is a good thing when it rises out of disagreement.

Buying Art

Everyone buys art from time to time, some pay large amounts of money for original artwork – more people buy cheap forms of the arts on-line or at their local market. But regardless of your wealth there are plenty of great art sites selling many great forms of art.

Times are quickly changing and the world of arts is fast becoming more affordable for everyone. With today’s access to information on the web, finding reasonable works of art can save the average person a bundle.

Wealthy people pay large amounts for original art – this is understandable because they are buying the original work of an artist who has made a good reputation for himself . Buying original art is also considered to be a good investment. For some, buying original art may also be a way of increasing social status and attempting to conform to culture norms.

More people stick to buying limited edition art.

Limited edition artwork can range from two copies upwards to infinity. Should we pay big bucks for something that may be hanging on hundreds of walls?

I recently came across a Spanish artists website. His artwork was to a very high quality. He limited each print to 250 copies; they were on sale for EUR650 each. Is this too high a price for a limited edition print?

Are artists charging too much for their work?

I am constantly asking myself this question. How do we price our work? The answer is far from simple.

Do we, as artists un-limit our work and make them affordable to everyone or do we set an enormous price that only a small minority of the worlds population can afford.

When buying art, set out a budget that suits you before you go on-line. It you look at a large range of sites you will find some form of arts that suit your own pocket.

Just remember that the arts are for everyone to enjoy. People from all classes can enjoy, gaze and admire the many different forms of art. If you are looking to buy some form of the arts don’t rush into it. You may have to look at it for the next twenty years.

Best Strategies for Saving on Flights and Hotels

As a business owner, you always look for ways to save money when running a business. Amongst all areas business travel is one key area where you can find savings on flights and hotels. By following the best booking strategies and utilizing affordable options, travelers can reduce the cost of their business trip.

Here are a few ways to save on hotels and flights:

Saving on Hotels

Book hotels and flights together

Online travel booking sites offer price breaks for purchasing a flight and hotel together. Combined packages are mostly used by vacationers but also offer great value to business travelers with flexible preferences.

Surf online, book over phone

To get the best deals, browse through various online booking channels and figure out your preferred option. Get in touch with the hotel and ask them to reduce the rate further. This works as many hotels will go lower to avoid paying third-party booking fees.

Advance fees

If you are sure about your travel plans, nonrefundable hotel reservations offer the best price. Paying advance can save up to 20% on bookings made directly with hotels.

Take advantage of refundable bookings

Alternatively, you can make a refundable booking by looking for the best prices online. Hotels usually don’t have any cancellation fees like airlines.

Use corporate discounts

Businesses often negotiate with preferred hotel vendors and get discounts up to 40%. So, using corporate booking tools can give you the lowest possible fare when booking.

Last-minute travel

If you are booking in last-minute, you can find deals on unused rooms. Talk to your preferred hotels to know about possible cancellations. Also, searching last-minute booking sites such as Hotel Tonight can help you get other options.

Say no to cookies

Travel sites maintain cookies to identify customers with strong intention to buy. Clearing your browser history might give you more favorable prices.

Flight Saving Strategies

Travel during off-peak hours

Flights are cheapest between 5 am to 7 am and after 8 pm. Businesses can save an average of $116 per flight by flying at peak times.

Fly on specific days

Reports from recent studies revealed that Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays are the low cost days to fly. Flying on these days can save you money.

Take connecting flights

Direct flights are convenient, but flights with layovers will cost you less. Taking connecting flights is one of the strategies that can help you save money.

Check out from less expensive airports

When you search for flights, check the box “include nearby airports”. You can choose alternative airports that cost you less than others and not necessarily farther away.

Make early bookings

Tickets booked fewer than seven days before departure will cost you an average of 44% more than if they had been booked 15 or more days in advance.

Book on the right time

Airfares fluctuate throughout the week. Studies revealed that the best time to book air travel is Tuesday at 3 PM ET, the time when airlines will release their discounted seat inventory.

Leverage refund rules

Bookings made at least 7 days in advance can be canceled within 24 hours. This creates a grace period in which you can cancel your bookings if your travel plans are not final.

These strategies can help you save money while booking flights and hotels.

How To Use A Call to Action for Better Advertising Response

Wouldn’t you like a simple but extremely powerful way to pump up sales, get better quality leads, and practically eliminate advertising waste?

Here’s an insider tip.

Hey, you and me… we’re in the marketing trenches together. Every day. And we’ve lived to tell about it.

But what may surprise you is that very few business owners employ this simple but powerful “tool” in their advertising.

This tool I’m hinting at is called… tada… a call to action.

What? Yes, it’s a call to action.

If you don’t ask, then you don’t get. Sounds reasonable, right? But very few business owners (or their creative staff) use this simple tactic to boost sales.

All… and I mean all the marketing pieces that I write, and this includes white papers, print ads, landing pages, emails, you name it, includes some sort of call to action.

It’s the very core of the type of advertising I use. This is called direct response marketing. And it works… like gangbusters, if done correctly.

Why Use A Call To Action (CTA)?

First of all, it works. It’s a great way to move people down the sales funnel.

Second, it measures the effectiveness of your copywriting.

Think about it. The more responses you get directly indicates how compelling your copy must have been. In other words, your copy message is doing its job.

Now that you know the advantages of using a CTA, let’s look at a few examples. They’re not as difficult to come up with as you may think.

When you think about your “call to action” think about what objective you want the reader to do…

… sign up for a webinar, download some information, visit your store or call now.

Pretty simple, right?

If you’re stuck or just can’t find good ideas for your call to action, then start an advertising swipe file.

I’ve talked about this before but as a reminder, a swipe file is a collection of good ads that are producing good results. And how you’ll know that these are “good” ads is that you’ll see them running over and over again.

Savvy marketers do not like to spend money on advertising that is not producing. It’s all about a good ROI (return on investment). And only good direct response marketing gives you this opportunity.

Now while I’m on the subject of putting together your CTA, it’s only natural to talk about your writing style. Specifically, the words you choose.

According to social-media-scientist Dan Zarrella, verbs outperform adverbs, adjectives and nouns when eliciting ‘shares’ on Twitter.

This is true not only for Twitter and other social media but nearly any media outlet.

Here’s a few bold verb examples that produce results:

Register

Subscribe

Buy

Download

Donate

These are much better than the plain old vanilla ‘click here’ and be sure to tell your reader what benefits she’s getting, for example…

Download your free copy of our business survival guide

Subscribe to get your free reports

Register now to get in on this webinar

And so on.

Now let’s add some urgency to the mix.

We humans sometimes need a bit of pushing sometimes. Adding some sincere urgency to drive the funnel can be just what’s needed to get us moving.

Here’s a few examples to get your creative juices flowing…

Offer expires

First 50 people only

Hurry, the price goes up at noon today

While supplies last

And one of personal favorites is ‘Immediate Download.’ It’s a great call to action because folks like downloads and they like immediacy. Bam. Here you got both.

Last, let’s talk about risk. Actually, let’s talk about reducing removal or removing risk from your offer or call to action.

As you can imagine, risk removal or reversal is a powerful marketing tool.

How do we lower the risk?

Oftentimes doing business for the first time with a new company is a scary deal. After all, you know or trust this “new company.” And who hasn’t been burnt before. Heck, these days trust has flown out the window, right?

So why not start by truly focusing and empathizing with your prospect and clients. Put yourself in their shoes. Again, they do not know you and they don’t trust you. Make a point to earn their trust… and keep earning their trust.

Prove that you truly care by showing them you’ll shoulder the risk. Communicate this in all your marketing messages.

Here’s a few examples…

“Start your no-obligation 30 day free trial”

“You have a no-hassle, no-questions asked, 100% money back guarantee”

“Not Satisfied? No Problem! We’re double your money back immediately”

You get the idea.

Use these ideas to create a strong “call to action” in your next advertising pitch.

Yours for bigger profits,

Fixing Personal Branding Errors

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

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

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

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

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

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

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