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Terry's Original Quote Keepers

A minute of silence can be more productive than an hour of debate.
~Terry Braverman

Arrest yourself when under the influence of a negative thought.
~Terry Braverman

Give me levity, or give me death!
~Terry Braverman

An intimate relationship is the ultimate training.
~Terry Braverman

Clarity of purpose is the ultimate decongestant.
~Terry Braverman

Faith keeps the voice of fear out of your ear.
~Terry Braverman

Peace begins between your ears.
~Terry Braverman

Peace begins between your ears.
~Terry Braverman

Be patient, before you become a patient.
~Terry Braverman

Over-analysis causes paralysis.
~Terry Braverman

May the 'farce' be with you.
~Terry Braverman

Plan some time to be spontaneous.
~Terry Braverman

Laugh at yourself, and you will always be amused.
~Terry Braverman

Imagination sharpens the dull blade of routine.
~Terry Braverman

Inquisitiveness cures boredom; nothing cures inquisitiveness.
~Terry Braverman

Feed your soul, starve your worries.
~Terry Braverman

Avoid time in the Tower of Babble.
~Terry Braverman

Release any false sense of insecurity.
~Terry Braverman

Life is a fantasy, made real by our thoughts.
~Terry Braverman

Age Doesn’t Matter, Unless You’re A Chunk Of Cheese

The blog title today is a quote attributed to an ex-girlfriend of mine from many years past, in reference to fulfilling any latent desires. Today I revisit the notion as a culmination of a three week journey that began in the Amazon as an adventure/writing assignment, continued forward to a stay in the beautiful mountain city of Manizales, Colombia, and finally a week-long stay in Medellin where I played three restaurant gigs with a local band.


As I am on the cusp of collecting my first Social Security check next year, the thought to start this edition rings emphatically true. Last night in my hotel room I flipped on the TV and landed on a movie I first saw about 10 years ago. The protagonist of the film is Burt Munro, played brilliantly by Anthony Hopkins in “The World’s Fastest Indian.” Based on a true story, Munro was a man of 68 who refused to sit and decay his life away.


He broke the mold of beliefs about aging by setting the world’s land speed record with his aging motorcycle. An endearingly eccentric, cash strapped, but resourceful backyard mechanic, Munro tinkered in the garage with his 1920s contraption for several decades, improvising mechanical parts as he steadily upgraded his “sickle” to a culminating triumph on the Bonneville Salt Flats of Utah in 1967.


His simple, steadfast, and single-minded determination enrolled others in his adventure that took him from his modest rural home in New Zealand half way around the world to America. Upon arrival at “Speedweek” in the Nevada Salt Flats, he was initially turned away because he didn’t pre-register; then, rejected when his bike and protective gear didn’t pass inspection. However, his charm and resolve inspired the officials to tinker with the rules, and the rest is history as he blew away the sleek contemporary competltion.


Munro had a sense of urgency that I can relate to. My sense of adventure had subsided in my 30s and 40s. Now almost 61, adventure has reincarnated as my experience heightens for how rapidly life speeds by, as if I was riding Burt Munro’s motorcycle.


QUIRKY QUOTES ABOUT AGING


“I’m not as old as I used to be.” Terry Braverman


“At my age, I get standing ovations for just standing.” George Burns


“True terror is to wake up one morning and discover that your high school class is running the country.” Kurt Vonnegut


"A midlife crisis is that moment when you realize your children and your clothes are about the same age." Bill Tammeus


“You know you’re getting old, when you walk past a cemetery, and two guys chase you down the street with shovels.” Rodney Dangerfield

 

 

 

IT Sochi Solutions

Perhaps the main concern that the Russians may be addressing with sophisticated IT solutions during the Sochi festivities is security. Because the Olympics is such a major international event, there may be higher risks of an incident occurring. InformationWeek reported that the Russians have all their bases covered, thanks to technology.

 

Some of the most incredible IT advancements to be implemented as security measures at the Winter Olympics include facial recognition devices, drones and even submarine surveillance crafts that can detect any kind of activity that may be happening beneath the water. On top of all these tools, the Russians are increasing their use of innovation to perform a variety of functions not related to safety, ranging from keeping score at events to sending out mass media messages to even generating enough snow to ensure the games will go on.

 

In today’s day and age, unfortunately, it is not unheard of for technology to be used with bad intentions. For instance, a person may be capable of forging all kinds of documents, including official identification. Bearing this in mind, the Russians have decided to take screening one step further with Artec ID’s Broadway 3D Face Recognition System.

 

After landing in Sochi, travelers could be subjected to identity checks from these machines, which can pick them out from the crowd no matter the accessories they are wearing or how fast they are walking. This system is so precise that it can even differentiate identical twins. With this IT innovation, local authorities hope to be able to pinpoint potential suspects in the case of a threat or incident, which would significantly contribute to driving security during the Olympics.

 

As chief information officers and IT professionals of any level are well aware, any type of network communications that is not properly protected can be infiltrated. Although Russian authorities want to defend their own data and ensure that no one can access their own messages, they also plan to be on the prowl for other networks used as suspicious communications channels.

 

For this reason, the Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation hopes to employ a system named SORM to intercept virtual communications, according to InformationWeek. There is an entire network of organizations, each of which holds pieces to this system’s puzzle, making it challenging for outsiders to somehow circumnavigate its reach. Consequently, this system is bound to come across all kinds of messages, which will help the government thwart any plans of attack during the 2014 games.

 

As the Russians keep everyone at ease with their heightened security tools, these hosts can then direct their attention toward other matters contributing to the success of the Winter Olympics. For example, a number of events cannot take place unless there is snow on the ground – conditions that Sochi officials can guarantee with the use of some IT solutions.

 

InformationWeek explained that even though the Russians have managed to collect 16 million cubic feet of snow in preparation for the Olympics, they are going the extra mile by employing snow cannons to ensure that all of their slopes are blanketed in enough snow – albeit man-made – so that no issues pop up during certain games. In light of this venture, IT professionals can see that advancements within their field are greatly contributing to the 2014 Winter Olympics going off without a hitch, and in more ways than one. (Article reprinted from www.cios.com)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Executive Recipe for Challenges: Add Levity & Stir

Quote for the week: “Give me levity, or give me death!” – Terry Braverman

Confronting a massive blunder that cost the company ten million dollars, Tom Watson, the founder of IBM, did exactly what an executive should do. The manager responsible for the error was called into his office. After a moment of tense silence, the manager muttered dejectedly, “I suppose you want my resignation.” Mr. Watson replied, “Are you kidding? We just spent ten million dollars educating you.” And with that light-hearted vote of confidence, the manager went on to become one of IBM’s highest achievers, eventually promoted to senior vice-president.

    

Merrill Lynch’s former Chairman and CEO, Dan Tully, infused a flamboyant, extroverted style to the stodgy world of finance during turbulent times. He welcomed friends, colleagues and customers alike with a broad comic brogue, and was known to croon “Danny Boy” to a roomful of brokers. He wore corny neckties and handed out tiny lapel pins depicting the Merrill Lynch bull to everyone from secretaries to the COO. Tully’s core philosophy: "Our most important asset rides the elevator to work every morning." When Tully stepped down from his position, a board member bemoaned, “He was the spark that started the engine at board meetings, enlivening all of us to be more resourceful and not take it all so seriously.”

 

Executives need to be skillful at reframing situations that present a challenge, and steering them into a positive direction. Joseph Kennedy, the patriarch of the Kennedy clan, was asked in a television interview about his reputation for maintaining his cool during heated business meetings. “I just visualize everyone at the table in their underwear,” he confided. This gave him a sense of amused detachment that allowed him to carry negotiations to a positive resolution.

 

One executive was literally caught with his pants down. A new executive had taken over her company’s banking relationship, and the bank’s CFO was giving her a tour of the corporate offices. “Cheryl, I need to show you the president’s office because it’s so elegant and comfortable, with so many amenities,” the CFO merrily remarked. “Well, maybe we shouldn’t disturb him,” Cheryl replied. But the CFO was insistent: “It’s no problem. He’s not in yet.” So they moseyed in and she was indeed impressed by the posh surroundings. Now at ease, she eagerly inquired about seeing some of the amenities he had mentioned. He escorted her around the corner to the president’s private washroom, pushed the door open and there was the president of the bank, sitting on the throne! As Cheryl’s face turned fire engine red, he looked at her and said very earnestly, “This is how I greet all our business partners. It’s nice to meet you. I don’t know who you are, but give me a few minutes and I’ll be right with you.” In retrospect, Cheryl said it set the stage for a very fruitful and close relationship, and in future meetings they would always laugh about their initial encounter.

        

At IBM, inside sales executive Karen Donnalley oversees a staff of customer service people who sell computers and accessories throughout the U.S. Servicing approximately 75,000 accounts “is a very difficult job,” she acknowledged. “It’s really important to recognize even the small successes in this environment. I try to make sure my team is happy. People who enjoy their job tend to do a better job.” In Donnalley’s work world, there are mornings started with the chaotic din contrived by musically inept salespeople on drums, tuba, accordion, and other instruments played in a “wake-up” concert. A gong is hit when a salesperson closes their first deal of the day, and they advance a wooden horse bearing their photo down a miniature race track. She’s initiated a crazy socks day, a silly hat day, and organizes monthly skits ranging from presidential debates to nostalgic dress up themes. Donnalley knows from experience that if her staff is feeling upbeat, it will be projected in the phone calls to customers, making them feel good as well. And a happy customer means more business. In one year, sales in her department ballooned 30%, and in six months her staff grew by 50%. “It’s very much about business commitment. I have my strong serious side too, but being able to laugh at myself and with my team elicits loyalty and dedication that I treasure. It makes people want to come to work.” And keeps other department heads eavesdropping, wondering what she’s concocting next.

         

A few years ago I worked with a CEO who was also a ventriloquist. He would bring a dummy to board meetings, especially when there was unpalatable news to be served. It seemed to make the news more digestible when it came from the dummy. Instead of an atmosphere of paralyzing fear and uncertainty, board members said it helped to cushion the blow, cause chuckles, and inspire creative alternatives. I asked him if he ever brought a dummy along to negotiate deals. “I did,” he replied. “He used to be our senior vice-president.”

 

 

 

 

Customer Service, A Quaint Notion

The premise of any business is to provide a service or a product that satisfies the needs of a client. In order to improve client engagement you have to invest in incentives, training and such things for the customer service staff to improve their engagement. So, good customer experience will cost a bit.

 

Think about the businesses you keep doing business with and what it is that keeps you coming back. A caring experience and consistency are typically on top. This does not mean utopian perfection, but just as important as smooth, positive transactions is how the glitches are handled. A customer whose business is earned at every interaction is a customer for life.

 

Good customer service is more the manifestation of an organization's culture, which must be consistently nurtured and celebrated by everyone within the organization. Every individual can embody a focus on superior customer service in their daily activities, communications and decisions, whatever their specific job title or level in the organization. If everyone from the receptionist to the sales staff to middle management to the CEO is customer-focused then the company truly has a sustainable business model, and it leads to not only above-average top line but also bottom line growth in the long term.

 

A business cannot provide great service that costs more than it will earn. So the million dollar question is how to decide what level of service is sustainable, and how one justifies that to the CFO or the CEO or the board. No one is going to allow you to spend money without first building a business case. The general answer is to provide an appropriate level of service to those customers you want to serve and to keep - it saves the cost of luring new customers and you should know what the existing customers can accept - and what they would reject.

 

The challenge is to strike a balance - find the appropriate level in alignment to the business strategy. If you want to have the very lowest costs then minimize or skip service (e.g. like Internet companies with no phone or live chat support); if you aspire for differentiation, then search for the appropriate service level by ROC (return on customer).

 

Perhaps the most important and lofty reason to provide excellent customer service: it's the right thing to do from a standpoint of purpose and integrity. So-called enlightened company cultures realize that not every policy makes sense from a purely financial perspective. However, employees, customers and vendors appreciate great service so much they reinforce positivity via communication, making the work place a very gratifying experience. These companies often don’t even attempt to measure the benefit this positive feeling brings - though it probably could be measured. The motivation is in the culture - they wouldn't do it any other way. It may yield lower profits, or it might not. The focus is to “do the right thing,” first, for the employees, customers, vendors - and lastly, shareholders.

 

 

 

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