Wednesday, March 30, 2011

How to Get Involved Without Micromanaging People

One of the more vexing problems most managers face every day is how to get involved in the work of their people without doing the work themselves or micromanaging those doing it.

You can resolve this challenge with the same approach that we described in our previous blog — the technique we call Prep-Do-Review. In this simple but often forgotten action model, you think of every activity not as one step — doing — but three distinct steps: prepare to act, act, and then reflect on the outcome and what can be learned from it.

Last time, we focused on how you can convert everyday activities into tools for making managerial progress — moving toward goals, developing people, building a team, creating and sustaining a network, and all the other things managers are supposed to do but never seem to have the time to do.

Here we focus on using Prep-Do-Review with your people. Start by expecting your people to use Prep-Do-Review themselves in their work. Not only will it make them more effective, but it will provide a way for you to become involved in their work as appropriate for the person and the situation.

This is the way it works:

Prep: Start by previewing people's plans with them and suggesting changes, if necessary. You do this by asking crucial questions. What are you going to do? Why — for what purpose? How will you do it? How can you use this to make progress on our goals and plans? Who should be involved or kept informed? How can this be used to help you learn and get better? What if your assumptions are wrong or the unexpected happens? This is how you move your group's purpose, plans, and work forward, how you coach and develop others, how you delegate more confidently, how you assure yourself that someone is well prepared and ready to act on her own.

Do: Based on what you learned in the Prep stage, you can decide whether and how to be involved in the doing of the activity. Working with a novice, you may want to perform the activity yourself while the person observes. Next, you may want to monitor periodically as the person does the activity and then give them feedback afterward. Thereafter, you probably don't need to be present at all — the Prep and Review stages are where you'll be involved.

Review: Great managers make post-action review a regular practice for themselves and their people. You can make it the focus of a one-on-one after an activity has been completed. Or it can be part of periodic meetings with each of your people or a standard procedure you go through in the updates your people provide at staff meetings. Be sure to model what you expect when you describe something you did — Here's what we learned. Next time we'll do it this way.

Remember to do a review regardless of the outcome of an action — failure or success. We are much more likely to reflect on our failures. Too often, we don't take time to learn from our accomplishments and never really understand the keys to our success and what lessons we can take forward.

Most of your managerial interactions with people will occur in the Prep and Review stages. Only with someone inexperienced or in situations of high stakes and high risk will you, or should you, be involved in the actual performance of a task.

Used this way consistently and consciously, Prep-Do-Review becomes a powerful management tool that will improve how you manage your people. By giving you ways to be involved without directly intruding as your people do their work, it will make your interactions with them richer, improve outcomes, help people learn, and make you a better delegator.

If you operate this way as a boss consistently, you'll find certain core management tasks become easier and more systematic. It will let you delegate more intelligently, based on both a person's skill and experience level and on the situation. It will help you coach people more effectively; indeed, it will help you turn many tasks into learning experiences. And it will let you use your time more effectively by helping you determine when you do and don't need to be involved.

With very experienced people, and especially with routine tasks, you needn't be involved in either Prep or Do, but as a boss you never completely let go of the Review stage. You may not review outcomes after every task, but ongoing performance review is something you'll never give up entirely.

If you think about it, Prep-Do-Review is the fundamental cycle of activities by which effective bosses manage — through a perpetual loop of prep-do-review-prep-do-review. By using it to become more mindful and deliberate in all you do, it will help you convert mundane workaday activities into management activities. It will help you make progress through the daily work. And it's the way you guide your people, produce results, and help them learn without inserting yourself unnecessarily into what they do. It's not the solution to every management challenge, but it's a powerful approach and the closest thing to a management secret that we know.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Leadership Diagnostic: Are You Having Maximum Impact?

For most of us, the high-impact leader lurking inside comes out only on our best days. If you find yourself in this category—if you’re not getting the leadership traction you want—ask yourself these questions. If most of your answers are “no,” you may be getting in your own way.

1. Overemphasizing Personal Goals

Do I spend most of my time as a manager thinking about what other people in the organization need to succeed?

Does the “best version” of my employees show up in my presence?

Does their best version endure in my absence?


2. Protecting Your Public Image

Do I ever stop monitoring myself and simply do my job?

Have I been willing to “look bad” in the service of my team or organization?

Do I explicitly model the attitudes and behaviors I want others in my organization to adopt?

3. Turning Competitors into Enemies

Is it rare for me to feel defensive, insecure, or judgmental?

Is it rare for people to feel defensive, insecure, or judgmental around me?

Is my environment generally free of people I can’t stand to be around?


4. Going It Alone

Do I have a core group of people who help me make important decisions?

Do I have people around me who can handle both my audacity and my insecurities?

Do the most important people in my life participate in my leadership dreams?

5. Waiting for Permission

Is it possible to make a difference from my current position?

Do I have control over when I’ll be able to have a meaningful impact?

Could I become a leader before other people see me as one?

Monday, March 21, 2011

Sales Teams: Forum on analyzing performance based on stats

This company has 11 reps (a – k on the graph) and like every sales team, there is a wide variety of skills, effort and personalities. So here are the questions:
  • Who would you consider the top rep
  • Who is the worst rep
  • Who would you cut and why?
  • What individual training would you suggest
  • What group training would you suggest
  • Any comments on lead to closing ratios
  • Which rep should be the bench mark for success based on their activity. 
These reports were pulled from Front Row Solutions CRM and are based on a 12 month window.  The assumption is that all the reps have been employed continuously the past 12 months.



 
I look forward to your insights!

Friday, March 18, 2011

What not to do when interviewing for a sales role

I have been recruiting for one of my clients recently and I have to tell you, it still get surprised the odd time by unprofessional responses.

It's important to understand that the person interviewing you is trying to predict future behavior. If you can't comply to requests from the interviewer (within reason) you have to understand that they may be making observations on your ability to work as a team, follow leadership, your writing ability and your responsiveness to potential customers.

This is a real email I received and an example of how not to respond:

Hello Susan,


Sorry but my copier is not working at all at this time. So I will not be able to get you a copy of my resume. But I can confirm that I can make our appointment for Tuesday am. Could you confirm that you got this email and our meeting is confirmed.


If a candidate can not be resourceful enough to find a printer, how hard will he try with a customer?

The use of highlighting and capital letters is perceived as email yelling or making the statement loud.  This is not a tone you want to take with a potential employer.

The grammar and writing style uses the same word twice in a sentence and no one should start a sentence with "But".

Responding to a recruiter should not be taken lightly. How you interact now will influence if you are moved forward in the process.

Thanks,

Susan

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Sales Best Practices: Where Will You Find the Time?

I wanted to preface this blog article as I would not want the power of the message lost. I used to work for a great sales manager, Dave Brown. He was tough and fair. He taught me discipline and persistence but more importantly he taught me how to work smart and hard.

Back in the late 90's, I made a base of $36k and on target was $70k. Dave would not let us do anything but be on the phone from 9 to 5. No emails (not there were many), no correspondence, no expense forms - nothing but selling. My first year I made $125k.

What Dave taught me was that the extra time pays dividends.

Enjoy

_____________________________________________________________________________

By: Anthony Iannarino

Time is a deep fundamental. You have to use it well—very well—to produce the best results possible. Much of what you need to do to produce sales results isn’t urgent. More still, much of what needs done doesn’t show up on the reports that your sales manager requires.


Prospecting and nurturing are two vital activities salespeople fail to spend time on. To produce better results, you have to find the time to religiously focus on these tasks and activities. Here is where you’ll find the time.
Arrive Earlier, Stay Later

Your company may require you to work from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM. That may be what they require, but it may not have anything at all to do with what succeeding wildly requires of you.
Getting to work even a half hour earlier to respond to emails, to do your follow up work, or to update your sales force automation means that you gain a half hour later in the day. If you stay an extra half hour to prepare your call lists for the next day, you will have gained a full hour.
That extra hour on an 8-hour day is 11% increase in the time you work. By shifting the time you do administrative tasks, you will find an additional hour to invest in productive prospecting or nurturing activities.
You may have to wake up an hour earlier.
Skip Lunch, Or Make It Meaningful

The most effective people I know do one of three things at lunchtime; they skip lunch, they eat at their desk, or they have lunch with a client, prospect, or someone in their network.
Skipping lunch (or working through your lunch) will buy you another hour of productivity. Skipping lunch or eating at your desk is good for two days each week.
Then, schedule a client lunch and invest your time in those relationships, schedule a dream client for lunch and nurture that relationship, and schedule someone in your network for a working lunch.
What if you don’t have anyone to take on one of those days? Then schedule someone from another department within your own company and nurture the internal relationships and grease the skids to make sure that you deliver for your dream clients and clients.
Doing both of the above will find you a net 22% increase in your productive work time. But there is still more.
Avoiding the Weapons of Mass Distraction

This one only gives you back the time you normally waste. This means eliminating much of time you spend with the weapons of mass distraction, the Internet, most emails, more than half your phone calls, and much of time you spend at the water cooler.
If you are completely and totally honest with yourself, there is almost always an hour to be found in time wasted on distractions and novelties. You have to firewall your time from distractions, and you have to plan your day so that you do what is necessary and not urgent.
By doing so, you can easily find another full hour to spend prospecting, nurturing your dream clients, or taking care of your existing clients. This is without suggesting that you do what the most successful salespeople do, which is to do a couple hours of work from home (especially all their administrative tasks and duties).
Protect your time. Invest it wisely in opening and nurturing the relationships that you need to gain and win opportunities.
What could an extra hour each day invested in real sales activities do for your results? (That’s 260 hours over the course of the year, or an extra 6.5 weeks)

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Six Real Reasons Why VPs of Sales are Fired

From the Heavy Hitter Wisdom

It can be well-argued that the vice president of sales is the most important position within a company since their words and actions impact the organization’s most critical issue—generating revenue. However, the average job tenures of vice presidents of sales is now at an all time low of eighteen months to twenty-four months.


Obviously, one of the main reasons VPs of sales are fired is because they miss the revenue target. However, with the economy in the tank this traditional measuring stick doesn’t tell the entire story. In fact, many VP of sales are “let go” at the wrong time and for all the wrong reasons today. Quite often the CEO mistakenly believes the grass will instantly become greener with the addition of a new sales leader. Unfortunately, this tumultuous changing of the executive guard can do far more harm than good in both the short and long term. With this in mind, here are the six real reasons why a vice president of sales should be fired.

Inability to Recruit “A” level Talent. Outside of revenue generation, the most important task for every vice president of sales is to attract, hire, and retain top-level talent. In other words, the VP of sales must present the compelling closing arguments to “A” quality salespeople as to why they should join the company. More importantly, the VP of sales should be able to recruit high quality “A” level managers. Because, “A” level managers hire “A” level salespeople and “B” level managers hire “B” and “C” level salespeople. The cascading effect of diminishing talent kills the competitiveness of the sales organization. This is particularly true for smaller companies that must compete against a gorilla (Oracle, IBM, Cisco, etc.) in their industry.

Wrong Sales Culture. The sales organization’s culture dramatically impacts the ability to achieve revenue. Three of the worst sales cultures are based upon secrecy, dominance, or submission. A secretive sales culture is one where there is a conscious effort to withhold information from the rest of the company. As a result, there is a black hole of customer information and engineering and marketing are always guessing about what they should do next. A dominant sales culture takes bullying to the extreme. They condescendingly steam roll the other departments of the company to get what they want and cut corners wherever possible. At the other end of the spectrum is a culture based upon submission and inferiority. Think about it for a moment, if the sales organization doesn’t have enough backbone to fight internal battles inside their own company how can they be expected to vanquish the competition in the field?

Inaccurate Forecasting. Does the VP of sales have the pulse of the sales organization? Does he look through rose colored glasses over-optimistically at the forecast or with so much pessimism that it is impossible to decipher what business is real? Is he well-versed on the major deals and close enough to the salespeople to discern unachievable pipe dreams from real pipeline? Are there continual surprises and is bad news continually delivered at the last possible moment? Remember what Machiavelli said, bad news should be given all at once and as soon as possible.

Executive Team Combativeness. Since the sales function relies so heavily on the other departments (engineering, marketing, customer support, etc.) to achieve success, it is completely natural that friction develops between members of the executive team. And, the VP of sales who tenaciously fights for his department’s causes should be respected. However, a change is warranted when this turns into a personal vendetta against other executive team members.

Is the VP of Sales a Strategist? Can he or she create a competitive sales strategy based upon marketplace realities (and implement a process to execute it)? Does he aggregate meaningful product feedback and articulately represent the customer’s experience? Does he help advise marketing as to which programs to pursue and how best to spend their precious dollars? Most of all, can he dovetail his sales philosophy to the company’s ever-changing strategic direction?

Does He Add Value in C-Level Executive Customer Meetings? One of the most critical and often overlooked aspects of the VP of Sales job is the ability to participate in C-Level customer meetings and convince company leaders to buy. Does your VP of sales sit in the safe confines of the ivory tower at headquarters or is he able to make a direct impact on the most important deals in the field?

I remember hearing a vice president of sales publicly pronounce that all his problems would be solved if only he could, “Make the monkeys climb higher in the trees.” His tongue-in-cheek criticism was the topic of conversation within his sales force for months. To his salespeople, it was just another example of a management style that they found to be repugnant. Anyone who creates an environment like that should be fired.

Conversely, I have the pleasure to work with many very talented sales VP’s. They are great recruiters, masterful forecasters, and serve as mentors to sales managers and salespeople alike. They are charismatic leaders who measure their success using three criteria; meeting revenue goals, creating an environment where the entire team can succeed, and helping the entire company realize its potential. While they are not perfect, they are well-liked and a unifying force for the entire organization.

As a side note, one thing that can really hurt a VP is fishing off the company Pier. With power can come attention and adoration. I have seen a few VP's in my time fall due to inter office romance.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Twitter for Business: 2011 Directory of Techies to follow on Twitter

By Jason Hiner
If you’re interested in technology and you want to know who to follow on Twitter, here is a directory of leading tech journalists, commentators, and personalities, divided by categories and specialties.

As I’ve been saying for years, Twitter can be an extremely valuable tool for techies — if you know who to use it. The most important factor in making Twitter useful is knowing who to follow. To help people interested in technology, I published a list of 100 techies on Twitter in 2009 and then updated the list to 140 techies in 2010.

It’s time to update the list again, since lots of new tech commentators and personalities have joined Twitter during the past year and I’ve discovered some new names worth following. My list is up to 180. However, instead of simply adding to the numbers, I’ve decided to break the list into categories to make it easier navigate. In each category I’ve listed the people alphabetically.

For updates on the latest tech news you can find me on Twitter at @jasonhiner

If you’re new to Twitter, I’d recommend reading my article on the four stages of a typical Twitter user and my quick Twitter guide and glossary for business users. Also, if you’re new to Twitter and you’re clicking through the names listed below, there’s an important thing to note. You should ignore all of the posts that begin with an @username. Those are individual replies. You will not see those in your Twitter stream (unless you follow the user being mentioned, which will be rare). Focus on the posts that simply begin with text in order to get an idea of the kinds of things that the person posts on Twitter. That’s the stuff that will show up in your Twitter stream if you follow them.

Learn More » The people I’ve listed here are technology executives, journalists, pundits, and analysts who not only have a Twitter account, but also post actively about the tech industry. If there are people you’d recommend added to the list, post a note in the discussion at the bottom of the article.

I wish there was a way to simply let you follow everyone on this list with a single click. There was a utility called TweepML that used to let you create one-click lists, but it is currently down for maintenance. Once TweepML is available again, I will create a version of this list with that tool.
However, I have created this as an official Twitter list called Hiner Tech Directory so that you can also follow the list that way. In fact, if you have a desktop client like TweetDeck or HootSuite or Seesmic, you can simply add the Hiner Tech Directory list in its own column and view it as a feed separate from your main Twitter feed.

General technology

•Chris Anderson (@chr1sa) Editor in Chief of Wired and author of The Long Tail

•Michael Arrington (@arrington) Founder of TechCrunch

•Patrick Beja (@notpatrick) French podcaster and tech commentator

•Bianca Bosker (@bbosker) Technology Editor for The Huffington Post

•Henry Blodget (@hblodget) Controversial Wall Street journalist who covers tech sector

•Rick Broida (@cheapskateblog) CNET blogger scours the Web looking for the best deals in tech

•Brian Cooley (@briancooley) CNET car-tech editor

•Charles Cooper (@coopeydoop) Veteran tech reporter for cbsnews.com

•Dan Costa (@dancosta) Executive editor at PC Magazine

•Robert Cringley (@cringely) Long-time technology writer and pundit

•Chris Dawson (@mrdatahs) ZDNet blogger on technology in education

•Michael Dell (@michaeldell) CEO of Dell

•Sam Diaz (@sammyd) ZDNet news hound on the Between the Lines blog

•Larry Dignan (@ldignan) ZDNet Editor in Chief; prolific tech news blogger

•Cory Doctorow (@doctorow) Co-editor of Boing Boing; digital rights activist

•Jack Dorsey (@jack) CEO of Square; creator and co-founder of Twitter

•John C. Dvorak (@therealdvorak) Famously cranky tech pundit

•Esther Dyson (@edyson) Veteran technology pundit

•Mike Elgan (@mikeelgan) Widely-published freelance tech writer

•Rob Enderle (@enderle) Long-time analyst of the PC industry

•Michael Gartenberg (@gartenberg) Gartner analyst on consumer technology

•Denise Howell (@dhowell) Lawyer; commentator on technology and law

•Mathew Ingram (@mathewi) Canadian tech writer for GigaOm

•Shibani Joshi (@shibanijoshi) Fox Business Network reporter on tech and the NASDAQ

•Mitch Kapor (@mkapor) Lotus, Mozilla pioneer; angel investor

•Vinod Khosla (@vkhosla) One of the tech world’s most influential venture capitalists

•Adrian Kingsley-Hughes (@the_pc_doc) Technology hardware commentator at ZDNet

•Martin Lamonica (@mlamonica) CNET writer on green technology

•Leo Laporte (@leolaporte) Host of TWiT network and former TechTV host

•Cali Lewis (@calilewis) Host of GeekBrief.TV

•Katie Linendall (@katielinendoll) On-air geek tipster for CNN, CBS, and others

•Jim Louderback (@jlouderb) CEO of Revision3; former editor of PC Magazine

•Om Malik (@om) Founder of GigaOm

•John Markoff (@markoff) Science writer for The New York Times

•Harry McCracken (@harrymccracken) Founder of Technologizer and former editor of PC World

•Declan McCullagh (@declanm) CBS News correspondent on US tech policy

•Tom Merritt (@acedtect) Host of Tech News Today on the TWiT network

•Clayton Morris (@claytonmorris) Fox TV personality covering geek topics and social media

•Natali Morris (@natalimorris) CNET TV host of Loaded and tech correspondent for CBS News

•Walt Mossberg (@waltmossberg) Tech columnist for The Wall Street Journal

•Patrick Norton (@patricknorton) Tekzilla host and former TechTV personality

•Andrew Nusca (@editorialiste) ZDNet news writer; SmartPlanet.com editor

•John Paczkowski (@johnpaczkowski) Tech news hound for All Things Digital

•Jason Perlow (@jperlow) ZDNet technology columnist

•Chris Pirillo (@chrispirillo) Tech geek turned Internet personality

•David Pogue (@pogue) Tech columnist for New York Times and CNBC

•Jason Pontin (@jason_pontin) Editor in Chief of MIT Technology Review

•Seth Porges (@sethporges) Tech editor at Popular Mechanics magazine

•JR Rafael (@jr_raphael) Tech news writer for PC World

•Gabe Rivera (@gaberivera) Founder of Techmeme

•Jack Schofield (@jackschofield) Computer editor at The Guardian

•MG Siegler (@parislemon) TechCrunch news writer

•Dwight Silverman (@dsilverman) Technology editor for the Houston Chronicle

•Brad Stone (@bradstone) Technology reporter for Bloomberg Businessweek

•Robert Strohmeyer (@rstrohmeyer) Freelance tech columnist

•Kara Swisher (@karaswisher) Silicon Valley blogger for AllThingsD.com

•Baratunde Thurston (@baratunde) Editor, writer, and comedian; one of the funniest techies on Twitter

•Dan Tynan (@tynan_on_tech) Tech humor columnist and veteran tech writer

•Lance Ulanoff (@lanceulanoff) Editor in Chief of PC Magazine

•Padmasree Warrior (@padmasree) CTO of Cisco Systems

•Molly Wood (@mollywood) CNET TV host and writer; creator of the famed “Molly rant”

•Becky Worley (@bworley) ABC technology reporter, TWiT network host

Mobile computing

•Bonnie Cha (@bonniecnet) CNET mobile tech editor

•Jessica Dolcourt (@jdolcourt) CNET mobile tech reporter

•Bob Egan (@bobegan) Analyst on mobile tech; Wi-Fi pioneer

•Ina Fried (@inafried) AllThingsD.com mobile reporter

•Jonathan Geller (@boygenius) Founder and Editor in Chief of Boy Genius Report

•Kent German (@kentgerman) CNET mobile tech editor

•Nicole Lee (@nicole) CNET mobile tech reporter

•Stuart Miles (@stuartmiles) Founder of Pocket-lint.com

•Matthew Miller (@palmsolo) ZDNet blogger on mobile computing

•Maggie Reardon (@maggie_reardon) CNET reporter on mobile and wireless technology

•Sascha Seagan (@saschasegan) Mobile writer for PC Magazine

•Mark Spoonauer (@mspoonauer) Editor in Chief of Laptop Magazine

•Kevin Tofel (@kevinctofel) Mobile site editor for GigaOm

•Tony Vincent (@tonyvincent) Writer on mobile tech and IT in education

Enterprise

•Marc Benioff (@benioff) CEO of Salesforce.com

•David Berlind (@dberlind) TechWeb Editor-in-Chief

•Toni Bowers (@tbowers928) TechRepublic IT career columnist

•Tony Bradley (@tonys3kur3) Freelance tech writer specializing in security

•David Davis (@davidmdavis) Author, blogger, expert on Cisco and virtualization technologies

•Bill Detwiler (@billdetwiler) TechRepublic’s Head Technology Editor

•Erik Eckel (@erikeckel) IT consultant and TechRepublic writer

•Scot Finnie (@scotfinnie) Editor in Chief of Computerworld

•Steve Gillmor (@stevegillmor) Veteran tech journalist

•Bob Gourley (@bobgourley) CTOvision.com blogger; government IT expert

•Dion Hinchcliffe (@dhinchcliffe) Blogger and consultant on Web 2.0 for business

•Chuck Hollis (@chuckhollis) EMC CTO and blogger

•Alex Howard (@digiphile) Government 2.0 Correspondent for 
O’Reilly Media

•Doug Kaye (@dougkaye) Founder of IT Conversations

•Michael Krigsman (@mkrigsman) Watchdog of IT project failures

•Scott Lowe (@otherscottlowe) CIO, author, and TechRepublic columnist

•Abbie Lundberg (@abbielundberg) Former editor in chief of CIO Magazine

•Steve Ranger (@steveranger) Editor of UK IT site Silicon.com

•Don Tennant (@dontennant) Former editor in chief of Computerworld

•Rick Vanover (@rickvanover) Senior IT professional and TechRepublic blogger

•Werner Vogels (@werner) Amazon.com CTO

•Alex Wolfe (@awolfe58) Editor in Chief of InformationWeek

Microsoft

•Todd Bishop (@toddbishop) Seattle-based Microsoft reporter

•Ed Bott (@edbott) Microsoft Windows expert, blogger, book author

•Mary Jo Foley (@maryjofoley) Notable source on all things on Microsoft

•Bill Gates (@billgates) Microsoft co-founder and former CEO

•Mark Kaelin (@markwkaelin) TechRepublic editor covering Windows and PCs

•Frank X. Shaw (@fxshaw) PR chief at Microsoft

•Deb Shinder (@debshinder) Popular tech tip writer for TechRepublic and other publications

•Paul Thurrott (@thurrott) Microsoft Windows columnist, editor, and podcaster

•Stefan Weitz (@stefanweitz) Search chief at Microsoft

Apple

•Jacqui Cheng (@eJacqui) Apple editor for Ars Technica

•Jim Dalrymple (@jdalrymple) Editor of The Loop, veteran Apple columnist

•Philip Elmer-DeWitt (@philiped) Apple reporter for Fortune Magazine

•John Gruber (@gruber) Author of Daring Fireball

•Andy Ihnatko (@ihnatko) Apple pundit

•Guy Kawasaki (@guykawasaki) Venture capitalist, former Apple employee, former Mac columnist

•Steven Levy (@stevenjayl) Author and columnist on Apple topics

•Tim Robertson (@mymac) Podcaster; founder of MyMac.com

•John Siracusa (@siracusa) Apple writer for Ars Technica

•Jason Snell (@jsnell) Editorial Director of Macworld

•Brian Tong (@brian_tong) CNET TV host of AppleByte and Prizefight

•Seth Weintraub (@llsethj) Columnist covering Google and Apple

Google

•John Battelle (@johnbattelle) Author and pundit on Google and Internet search

•Matt Cutts (@mattcutts) Google engineer, blogger

•Chris DiBona (@cdibona) Open source spokesman at Google

•Vic Gundotra (@vicgundotra) Google VP of engineering for mobile apps

•Marissa Mayer (@marissamayer) Google product development executive

•Andy Rubin (@arubin) Head of Android development at Google

•Eric Schmidt (@ericschmidt) Chairman of Google

•Gina Trapani (@ginatrapani) Host of This Week in Google podcast

Open source

•Matt Asay (@mjasay) COO of Ubuntu and open source columnist

•John “Mad Dog” Hall (@maddoghall) Free software advocate

•Doc Searls (@dsearls) Tech journalist, author, open source advocate

•Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols (@sjvn) Long-time Linux and open source columnist

•Jack Wallen (@jlwallen) Linux enthusiast, columnist, and tip writer

Web and social media

•Randall Bennett (@randallb) Founder of TechVi, Web video specialist

•Tim Berners-Lee (@timberners_lee) Inventor of the World Wide Web

•Paul Boutin (@paulboutin) Reporter for VentureBeat, The New York Times, and Wired

•Danah Boyd (@zephoria) Academic/researcher in new media

•Jason Calacanis (@jason) CEO of Mahalo, founder of Weblogs Inc.

•Pete Cashmore (@mashable) CEO of Mashable

•Mrinal Desai (@mrinaldesai) Tech startup founder; tech news junkie

•Caterina Fake (@caterina) Co-founder of Flickr

•John Furrier (@furrier) Silicon Valley entrepreneur

•Jeff Jarvis (@jeffjarvis) Professor and author who covers tech and new media

•Sarah Lacy (@sarahcuda) Freelance author covering Silicon Valley

•Shira Lazar (@shiralazar) Web video journalist covering the intersection of tech, culture, and new media

•Jennifer Leggio (@mediaphyter) ZDNet blogger on social media for business

•Charlene Li (@charleneli) Author and social media thought leader

•Amber MacArther (@ambermac) Tech journalist and broadcaster

•Richard MacManus (@rww) Editor and founder of ReadWriteWeb

•Andrew Mager (@mager) Web developer and ZDNet blogger on Web 2.0

•Caroline McCarthy (@caro) CNET writer covering Web 2.0

•Matt Mullenweg (@photomatt) Founder of WordPress

•Rafe Needleman (@rafe) Editor of CNET’s Webware

•Tim O’Reilly (@timoreilly) Founder and CEO of O’Reilly Media

•Jeremiah Owyang (@jowyang) Forrester analyst on new media technologies

•Aza Razkin (@azaaza) Former creative lead for Firefox

•Kevin Rose (@kevinrose) Founder of Digg.com, host of Diggnation

•Joshua Schachter (@joshu) Creator of Delicious, a.k.a. del.icio.us

•Erick Schonfeld (@erickschonfeld) TechCrunch co-editor

•Robert Scoble (@scobleizer) Tech writer and social media flag-bearer

•Stephen Shankland (@stshank) CNET News reporter, covering the Web

•Joel Spolsky (@spolsky) Co-founder of Stack Overflow

•Owen Thomas (@owenthomas) Writer at VentureBeat

•Alexia Tsotsis (@alexia) TechCrunch reporter

•Fred Wilson (@fredwilson) Tech venture capitalist in New York

•Dave Winer (@davewiner) “The father of blogging and RSS” (BBC)

•Jonathan Zittrain (@zittrain) Author and Harvard professor covering the Internet

Consumer electronics

•Donald Bell (@donald) Gadget reporter for CNET

•Veronica Belmont (@veronica) Host of Tekzilla and Qore, and former CNET TV host

•Ryan Block (@ryan) Former Engadget editor and co-founder of GDGT

•David Carnoy (@davidcarnoy) CNET editor of mobile gadgets

•Jason Chen (@diskopo) Gizmodo editor

•Brian Lam (@blam) Editorial Director of Gizmodo

•Erica Ogg (@ericainsf) Gadget reporter for CNET

•Nilay Patel (@reckless) Managing Editor of Engadget

•Don Reisinger (@donreisinger) Gadget columnist for CNET

•Peter Rojas (@peterrojas) Founding editor of both Gizmodo and Engadget

•Ross Rubin (@rossrubin) NPD head analyst on consumer technology

•Joanna Stern (@joannastern) Engadget reporter

•Jeremy Toeman (@jtoeman) Consumer electronics startup advisor

•Joshua Topolsky (@joshuatopolsky) Editor in Chief of Engadget

•Dave Zatz (@davezatz) Gadget and digital lifestyle blogger

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Dealing with Specific Types of Difficult People

Tim McClintock, PMP, Global Knowledge Instructor

Introduction
About 10% of the typical workforce falls into the “Difficult People” category. Some people are "surprised it's so little!" Sometimes it feels like they are everywhere! What is a difficult person? Perhaps the better question is: what is a difficult person for you? Perhaps it's someone who is disruptive. Or . . . it might be someone who is too quiet and hard to draw out; not a good listener and always interrupts; someone who bullies and is very abrupt.

The effects they have on the organization vary greatly, but usually involve the following: Low moral, increased conflict, group attitude goes as their attitude goes, intimidation, insults, team demoralization, decreased productivity, rising costs, increasing project risks, need for additional resources, etc.

What happens to you when you deal with a Difficult Person? Everyone has a slightly different reaction, but some common reactions include a rise in blood pressure, racing heart, lump in the throat, "fight, flight, or freeze" syndrome,” or getting red-in-the-face.

One thing you can be sure of: If you don't do something about the "thing" that someone is doing that makes them difficult for you, you'll continue to get more of it.

What Are the Different Types of Difficult People?

There are many types of difficult people. In general, they can be rolled into these main groups:

The Steamroller

This is the bully of the group - always interrupting, insulting, and yelling.We all know those types.

The Sniper

These are the folks who hide in the back of room, always sniping - taking shots at everyone, constantly nitpicking back at you, sending out comments, etc. They always want to do this from "under cover." If you call them on it they say, "Oh, I'm just kidding," or, "Can't ya take a joke?" or, "I didn't say anything!" They always have a comment.

The "Can't Say No" Person.

Will not say no to work. The problem is they won't say no, they won't say no, they won't say no . . . and then they finally just collapse!

The Know-It-All

Do I have to say anything else? Need I say more? They know it all!

The Complainer

Chronic complainers! Chronic whiners! To them, life is one big complaint!

The Staller

The Indecisive Staller. This is the person who just will not make a decision. They will not commit to anything; they are always stalling.

Time To Take Action!

No matter which one of these personality types is the difficult person for you, you must learn to effectively deal with them.

Dealing with Specific Types of Difficult People

So that leads to the question: How do you deal with these difficult types of people?

Dealing with the Steamroller

When dealing with a steamroller, also known as the verbal "big bully," stay calm. Typically, they are trying to "rile you up," wanting you to elevate your emotions to their level. Don't let them do it. Keep eye contact with them. Remain assertive. Let them go on and on, let them unwind. Then when they spool down a bit, interrupt them!

When you interrupt them, you will have the chance you need to become assertive. That's when you pick up the ball. One effective approach is close to Muhammad Ali's Rope-A-Dope! Muhammad Ali was known to have the ability take a great many punches to his mid-section. He would lean against the ropes, and let his opponent "box himself out"/get tired. He would wait for his opportunity, and then, BAM! He would knock them out. In a similar fashion, you should do the same thing verbally when dealing with the steamroller. Allow them to verbally wear themselves out, and then, when you see your opportunity, BAM! You take your turn.

Call them by name, and then say, "OK, now wait a minute, I have something to say. I've been listening to you, now you listen to me." You will start, and what will happen? They will interrupt! What should you do? Be assertive! Say, "Hey, I said wait a minute. I listened to you, now it's my turn." Don't back down! That's what they expect! Also remember to keep eye contact. Just don't back down. You may not "win" the argument or
discussion, but once you stand up to them, they typically will become your best buddy. It only takes one time!

They may still bully other people on your team, but they won't bully you any longer. By going "toe to toe" with them, you may have just earned their respect.

Dealing with the Sniper

Again, these are the folks who hide in the back of room, sending out comments, always sniping, taking shots at everyone, constantly nit-picking back at you. Think back to your high school classroom days. What would your teacher do with these guys? Most of the time, the teacher would call them out. For example, the teacher may say something like, "Excuse me, did you have something to say? Something to share with the entire class?" Of course they would rarely, if ever, stand up and say anything; they would always back down and say something like, "Oh, no, I was just kidding," or, "No, I don't have anything to share."
This approach works most of the time. Call them out; don't let them get away with it. Clarify: "Excuse me, but I thought I heard something in that comment. Do you have something to share with everyone in the meeting?"

One word of caution: be careful. Most of the time they will stop their sniping behavior, but occasionally they will shift gears and become the bully - the "Steamroller." But now you know what to do with a bully.

Simply switch tactics, do your own version of the "rope-a-dope," wait for your opportunity, and then when it's time, seize the moment.

Dealing with the "Can't Say No" Person

This is the person who has a hard time saying no, especially as it relates to work assignments. They will attempt to undertake any assignment, even those given to them by people other than their own boss.

Why would they do this? Some people really are afraid to say no. They are afraid to be seen as incompetent or unable to carry enough of the load. Some people simply do not know their limits, or worse, they ignore them.

In other situations, it is because the employee is a rookie on the team and doesn't want to let the others down; for others it is a personality issue, or even the result of the culture in which they were raised. In some cultures, saying no is highly discouraged. As a result, people raised in this environment have a hard time when it comes to balancing the work-load effectively.

In dealing with the "Can't Say No" person, the first thing you want to do is to build a relationship with them.You need to earn their trust and get them to be comfortable with you. Then, let them know what you are concerned about.

Once you have built a good level of trust, you can begin by asking questions that are designed to help them understand that they are out of balance. Be careful, though, as they will often be very sensitive. In their mind, they are doing a really good thing. From their point of view, if they were not doing the work, it really would not get accomplished. Quite often though, even if they do manage to complete all of the work that they have taken on, the quality of that work will suffer.

Occasionally you will find the "Can't Say No" person who is able to accomplish all the work with an acceptable, and even excellent, quality level. The problem here is that rarely will they be able to maintain that momentum, and they will eventually burn out. At that point, they will be of no use to the team, but more importantly, they will have done harm to themselves. Recovery from a true burnout stage is more than difficult.

Our goal is to prevent the "Can't Say No" person from ever reaching anything close to that stage. There are several things that you, as the boss, can do that will be helpful.

You can make suggestions for alternatives; there may be many people who can do the work that they have taken on, but they will not see that. You can point out the obvious, but quite often you will need to become their work filter. You will tell them that they are only allowed to take on work assignments that are passed through you. No one is allowed to give them an assignment that does not come by your desk first. They will resist this, because they will feel it to be an embarrassment. They will try to stall you and put you off. Just be firm, and reassure them that things will be fine, but they must continue to trust you.

You will need to keep on top of them, continually getting agreement that this is the best approach. You need to be their sanity checker. You can do a workload histogram to show them exactly how much work they have been doing. This will show them exactly how much they have been out of balance. It's almost like a 12-step program. They need to learn in baby steps that it's okay to say no, at times, and the world really will continue.
The work really will get done.

Dealing with the Know-It-All

In dealing with the Know-It-All, here are some bottom-line items to be aware of.

Typically, they have been around a long time, and they do know a lot. So, make sure you know your stuff, because if you don't, they will point it out very quickly. Recognize it, and respect it, but show them that maybe their ideas aren't always the right answer or the right way.

The typical Know-It-All tends to be a bit of a bully as well. They have their idea, and they just won't let it go. You can try saying things like, "That's a really good point, but have you thought of this? What if this or that happens?" Basically, you need help them see the alternatives. Will they ever admit they are wrong? Typically, not. It's like trying to catch a greased pig. Most of the time, it's not going to happen.

If you find yourself dealing with a Know-It-All in a meeting, ignore the temptation to make them look bad. Do not alienate them. Throw an idea out there, and let it sit for a minute. Sometimes they may actually come around to it, but quite often, they will want to spin it so that it will seem as if it were their idea. And you know what? That is okay sometimes. Occasionally, selling an idea someone else wants to take credit for, once in a while, is okay. Your job is done, and the elimination of conflict will be better in the long run.

Dealing with the Complainer

Understand that to them, life is one big complaint. Complainers typically come in one of two delicious flavors.

The first type of Complainer really doesn't care about solutions; they just want someone to listen to them. They will come into your office in the morning, and they will talk, and talk, and talk, until you finally chase them out! Here's what you can do. Listen for a while, and then move them to a problem-solving alliance.

Acknowledge their feelings, deal with the emotions if necessary, but try to push them toward finding a problem-solving solution. You can say something like this, "Okay, I hear your dilemma. Let's see if we can solve it."

The secret is when you move into problem-solving, they will typically leave. Very quickly. They really don't want to solve anything. They just want to complain!

With the second type of complainer, it's a little bit different. These are the folks who complain because they are paralyzed - they really don't know what to do. When you move to problem-solving, you really will help them. One thing to be careful of though: don't facilitate their dependence on you, otherwise they will come back again and again for the very same issue or problem. As the saying goes, you can feed someone, or you can teach them to fish for themselves. If you fail to do that, it is now you who has an additional problem, one of time management. Learn to be upfront. Say, "Okay, I will show you this one time. Here's a pen and a sheet of paper; I'm going to talk, and you will take notes. I will show you this one time. I will stay here all day if necessary, but when we leave, I expect that you will really have 'gotten it'. I expect that you will be able to do this for yourself after this conversation, so make sure to pay attention and ask as many questions as you need to understand."

Use a tone that is gentle, yet firm at the same time. By having this conversation, you will actually have helped two people, you and them.

Dealing with the Staller

Ah, the Indecisive Staller. They don't want to upset anyone, which really means that they want to please everyone.

In their mind, the way to accomplish this is never to make a decision that ends up upsetting everyone!

They don't want to take a stand. Instead, they take the attitude that if they just leave the issue alone, it will go away. Yes, quite often it will go away, but only because someone else will have done the work, and now they're mad too!

One way of helping them is to discuss the benefits of deciding. Talk about all the good that comes through getting off the fence and making a decision: work actually is accomplished, people are happy, morale will go up, projects will be able to move forward, and they get to continue drawing a paycheck! Another thing you can do is discuss a few options with them. This is basically the old salesman’s trick. Instead of saying, "Would you like to buy the vacuum cleaner today?" you say, "Which of the vacuum cleaners will you be buying today, the red one or the blue one?" What you are doing is narrowing down their options, and forcing them to make a decision.

Summary

From our short analysis of difficult people, one definite conclusion can be drawn. If you don't do something about the difficult people in your life, you will simply continue to get more of their problematic behavior.

Whether it is the Steamroller, the Sniper, the Can't Say No person, the Know-It-All, the Complainer, or the Staller, you must take action. Be gentle, but be firm, and remember they are human, just like you are. But, after all, it's a place of business, and work needs to be accomplished. And in the accomplishment of that work, sometimes the more difficult conversations need to take place.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Twitter for Business: A quick Twitter guide and glossary for business users

By Jason Hiner

For a service that is remarkably simple, Twitter is often difficult for new users to understand and to quickly turn into something useful. In fact, the simplicity of Twitter can actually be a barrier in the beginning, because there’s not much to help a new user get started.

So in order to assist business users and IT professionals in getting up to speed on Twitter, I’ve put together this quick collection of 10 core Twitter concepts that you need to understand in order to turn Twitter into a powerful 140-character communications tool.

Who to follow

The first thing you need to figure out is who to follow. This, more than anything else, will determine how useful Twitter becomes for you. For business users, I’d recommend following many of the colleagues you work with on a regular basis. While some of them may post useless ramblings, you’re also likely to pick up project updates, inside perspectives, and subtle red flags that you would not have seen otherwise.

Of course, what makes Twitter most powerful for business users is following experts and thought leaders in your field and industry. For tech workers, I’ve put together a directory of techies who are active on Twitter. I’d also recommend finding thought leaders in your specific industry. Directories like Twellow can help. But the best method is to find a few industry experts, then look at their profile pages to see who they follow. You’re very likely to find other industry experts.
Learn More » Never be afraid to follow new people. Give them a try. However, if they post useless stuff, simply unfollow them. You should regularly unfollow people who simply don’t provide much value. This is part of the regular rhythm of Twitter because Twitter makes it very easy to follow and unfollow new people. In fact, after a couple years on Twitter, I’ve now got a few people whom I’ve followed and unfollowed several times.

What’s a tweet?

The word “tweet” is a Twitter term used as both a noun and a verb. As a verb, it used to talk about a user posting something on Twitter. For example, “She tweeted that she was flying to a business meeting in Seattle with Microsoft.” When used as a noun, it refers to an individual Twitter post. For example, “He posted a tweet last week that included a link to screenshots of Mac OS X Snow Leopard.”

What’s a retweet (RT)?

The “retweet” (often shortened to “RT”) is something that was not originally designed by the Twitter team, but Twitter users invented in order to re-post something really interesting from another Twitter user. For example, if another tech journalist (e.g. Harry McCracken) posted breaking tech news on Twitter, I might quickly take Harry’s post and re-post it like this: “RT @harrymccracken Google announces it is launching its own private space program.”

The reason I would post something like this is because not all of the people who follow me follow Harry, and I find it important and interesting enough to share with as many people as possible. It’s the social networking version of word-of-mouth.

By the way, Twitter recently announced that it is officially adopting retweeting, with plans to streamline the process for users, integrate retweeting into Twitter.com, and build the new retweeting functionality into its API.


Replies and mentions

A “reply” on Twitter is when you directly respond to a post from another user. For example, Sascha Seagan (a PC Magazine editor) recently tweeted, “I’m back from vacation. What I learned: Yes, AT&T coverage is much better outside NYC.” I replied, “@saschasegan In Midwest, AT&T network is infinitely better than NY or SF, but still not as reliable or widespread as Verizon.”

As you can see, you start a reply with the @ symbol and then add the person’s Twitter username. The Twitter.com home page makes it easy to reply to a tweet by simply mousing over it and then clicking the reply arrow. It automatically populates @username in the posting field and then you fill in the rest. Twitter client software (see below) also makes it easy to reply to a tweet.

Similar to a reply is a “mention.” This is where you mention a person’s name and since that person is on Twitter, you identify the person by using the their @username. For example, I might tweet something like, “While I was in New York today I had lunch with @ldignan to discuss our coverage plans for Windows 7 on ZDNet and TechRepublic.”

Also notice that every instance of an @username is turned into a clickable link that will take you to that user’s Twitter profile, where you can then choose to start following the person. Plus, on the Twitter home page you’ll see your @username on the right column of the screen. When you click this, you’ll see all of the replies to your tweets and mentions of your username. This is useful because there may be times when people you don’t follow mention or reply to you and this allows you to catch it.

Direct messages

There may also be times when you want to reply to someone one on Twitter, but you don’t want everyone else to see the message or you just don’t think it would be useful for everyone else to see. In that case, you can send a “direct message.”

To do this from Twitter.com, go to the person’s Twitter profile page and then go to the right column under Actions and the click the “message” link. However, keep in mind that you can only send direct messages to people who follow you. This prevents the direct message feature from being used by spammers.

I’ve also found that the direct message feature can work almost like an instant message to get someone’s attention, if the person is a regular Twitter user. It can often be a quicker way to message someone than e-mail, but less intrusive than a text message or instant message.

#Hashtags

Another Twitter convention that users developed without the input of the Twitter staff is hashtags. Hashtags are essentially keywords. For example, #techrepublic is a hashtag. When people post links to TechRepublic articles, they often identify them by adding the #techrepublic hashtag at the end of the tweet. Other popular tech hashtags include #windows7 and #iphone, for example.

Doing a Twitter search on a hashtag allows you to see all of the Twitter conservations that are happening around a specific topic. It can also be a good way to find people who regularly talk about a specific topic and then follow them.

One thing to remember about hashtags is that they are not case sensitive. So, #techrepublic is the same as #TechRepublic or #TECHREPUBLIC.


Posting links

Some of the most popular things to post on Twitter are links to articles, blog posts, video clips, etc. Some of the most valuable people to follow are the ones who post the best links, and that means not just the big stories that everyone is tweeting but also the really good stories that are under the radar.

The problem is that Twitter posts are limited to 140 characters and most article URLs are 50 characters or more. That doesn’t leave much space to post the title of the article or any brief thoughts about it. As a result, most people use URL shorteners such as TinyURL when posting links on Twitter. My favorite URL shortener is Bit.ly, because it allows you to shorten URLs to about 20 characters and it gives you some basic analytics on all of your Twitter links.

Desktop clients

Most habitual Twitter users don’t spend much time on Twitter.com. Instead, they migrate most of their Twitter use to desktop clients while they are working from their desk and smartphone clients when they’re on the go.
The most widely used desktop Twitter client is Tweetdeck, although Seismic and Twirl are also popular. Tweetdeck is an Adobe Air application that runs on Windows, Mac, and Linux. It provides a columnized view of Twitter with columns for your main feed, your mentions, your direct messages, any #hashtag searches, and more.

One of the best parts of Tweetdeck is its ability to create groups. For example, I have groups for “Tech Journalists” and “CBS Interactive” (my work colleagues) so that I can view them in separate columns. Another nice feature of Tweetdeck is that it automatically refreshes, so you can just leave it open and let it do its thing in real-time.

For those who prefer to stick with Twitter in the Web browser, Twitter.com is still not your only means of accessing the service. Tweetvisor is a powerful browser-based Twitter client that puts a lot more Twitter functionality at your fingertips than the standard Twitter homepage. There are also a variety of Firefox plugins that can ramp up the experience of Twitter in the browser, including PowerTwitter, TwitterFox, and TwitBin.


Mobile clients

You know you’re getting addicted to Twitter when you start looking into how to use it from your smartphone. I know plenty of techies who use their smartphone as their primary method of accessing Twitter and the desktop is really secondary.

While you can use Twitter via SMS, I wouldn’t recommend it unless you have an unlimited SMS plan. Plus, the Twitter mobile apps typically provide a much better experience by making it easier to reply, retweet, send a direct message, etc. Here’s a breakdown of some of the top Twitter clients on each of the big smartphone platforms:
•iPhone: Tweetie, Twitterific, Birdfeed, Tweetdeck, Twitterfon

•BlackBerry: UberTwitter, Twibble, TwitterBerry, TinyTwitter

•Windows Mobile: Twikini, PockeTwit, TinyTwitter, Twobile

•Palm Pre: Tweed, Spaz,

•Android: Twidroid, Twit2Go, CuTewit, TwitterRide

•Nokia Symbian: Gravity, Twittix,

Posting photos

Another interesting (and occasionally even useful) thing to post on Twitter are photos taken from your smartphone. This can be especially useful when you’re at trade conferences and industry events and you want to report on items of interest.

The most popular tool for posting photos on Twitter is Twitpic because you can use it from any cellphone with a camera. You simply take the photo with your phone and then email it to your customized Twitpic email address and you type your Twitter message in the subject line of the email. The challenge with this is that there’s no character count in the subject line of an email so you have to be careful to not make your message too long. If it’s over 140 characters it will simply get truncated.

Flickr has also come up a service that is virtually identical to Twitpic called Flickr2Twitter. So if you already have an active Flickr account, it makes sense to use Flickr rather than Twitpic because then all of your mobile photos get added to your album, rather than creating a separate album on Twitpic.

100 Geeks to follow on Twitter

By Nicole Bremer Nash
Keep up with the latest geek news and happenings by following Stan Lee, Felicia Day, Stephen Fry, Cory Doctorow, Neil Gaiman, and other people, organizations, and companies on Twitter.

We’re adding to Jay Garmon’s (@jaygarmon) list of 50 ubergeeks worth following on Twitter and his post of 30 more geeks to follow to create this roundup of more than 100 geeky people, organizations, and companies to follow on Twitter. Numbers 1-24 are my suggestions, and 25-100 are Jay’s recommendations (which include his captions, some of which have been updated). We also list TechRepublic writers and editors that you might want to keep up with on Twitter.

1. Keep up with serious science geek Stephen Hawking (@StephenHawking).

2. Stan Lee (@therealstanlee). The legend.

3. Neal deGrasse Tyson (@neiltyson) the astrophysicist, author of The Pluto Files, NOVA scienceNOW host, and Director of the Hayden Planetarium.

4. Jake von Slatt (@vonslatt) is the proprietor of The Steampunk Workshop. He was featured in our TechRepublic gallery, Steampunk: A way of life for some designers.

5. Jeff Potter (@cookingforgeeks) is the author of Cooking for Geeks.

6. Patton Oswalt (@pattonoswalt) is a comic and actor who is also a self-professed geek. The title of his book Zombie Spaceship Wasteland kind of gives that away.

7. John Graham-Cumming (@jgrahamc), author of The Geek Atlas.

8. Gabe (@cwgabriel) from Penny Arcade tweets geek on a regular basis.

9. Jane McGonigal (@avantgame) is a game designer whom we featured in the TechRepublic blog Building a best-case scenario future through video gaming.

10. The CERN feed (@cern) has the latest updates about the LHC.

11. Know what the heavens have in store by following NASA (@NASA).

12. Douglas H. Wheelock (@Astro_Wheels) is a NASA astronaut.

13. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (@AsteroidWatch) tweets about the things whirling through space.

14. NPR’s Wait Wait,.. Don’t Tell Me! host Peter Sagal (@petersagal) is one hilarious geek guy.

15. John Moe (@johnmoe) of NPR’s Marketplace Tech Report tweets.

16. Science Friday (@scifri) tweets for science geeks.

17. Think Geek (@thinkgeek) has an interesting feed.

18. Official_PAX (@Official_PAX) is a good feed to follow if you want to be sure you get PAX badges before they sell out.

19. Maker Faire NC (@makerfaireNC) focuses on the upcoming NC Maker Faire, but frequently offers interesting links to science geekiness.

20. Hacker News YC (@HackerNewsYC) offers lots of links and other information of geek interest.

21. Check out Geek Girl Camp (@GeekGirlCamp) for some geek girlness.

22. Sweet on Geeks (@SweetonGeeks) helps geeks get some “wookie nookie”.

23. Jeri Ryan (@JeriLRyan) from Star Trek is still a geek favorite.

24. Seth Green (@sethgreen) of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Robot Chicken, and Family Guy fame.

25. Wil Wheaton (@wilw) - Don’t call him Wesley Crusher, because he’s so much more awesome than that.

26. Felicia Day (@feliciaday) - Vi from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Creator of The Guild. Gaming goddess. She is also now on a six-part web series for Dragon Age (@dragonage).

27. Scott Kurtz (@pvponline) - Writer/artist of the Web comic PvP.

28. Tobias Buckell (@tobiasbuckell) - Caribbean-born sci-fi writer exiled to Ohio.

29. Mary Robinette Kowal (@MaryRobinette) - Puppeteer, voice-actress, and sci-fi writer.

30. Warren Ellis (@warrenellis) - Profane and ingenious writer of comics, books, TV, and video games.

31. Phil Plait (@BadAstronomer) - Evangelizing astronomer, educator, and movie science geek.

32. LeVar Burton (@levarburton) - Actor/educator of Reading Rainbow, Roots, ST: TNG. Technophile.

33. Jon Favreau (@jon_favreau) - Comedic actor. Director of Elf, Iron Man, Iron Man 2, and now Cowboys & Aliens.

34. Stephen Fry (@stephenfry) - Sublimely funny British actor, author, and comic.

35. Agent M (@Agent_M) - Insider blogger for Marvel Comics.

36. Chris Hardwick (@nerdist) - Musician, comic, actor, and Attack of the Show dude.

37. FragDolls (@FragDolls) - Hot babes who play video games for a living.

38. John Cleese (@JohnCleese) - Monty Pythonite and so much more.

39. John Scalzi (@scalzi) - Snarktacular science-fiction writer and blogger.

40. Valerie D’Orazio (@ohsuperheroine) - Writer/blogger/activist for women in comics.

41. Lore Sj√∂berg (@loresjoberg) - Wired magazine’s animator/artist/comic-in-residence.

42. John Hodgman (@hodgman) - Deadpan nerd-comic, actor, and Daily Show correspondent.

43. Greg Grunberg (@greggrunberg) - Web fanatic who plays Parkman on Heroes.

44. Brent Spiner (@BrentSpiner) - Faux-curmudgeon comic who once played Data on ST:TNG.

45. Neil Gaiman (@neilhimself) - Writer of fantasy comics and prose that get made into major movies.

46. Penn Jillette (@pennjillette) - The vocal half of comic/magic/activist duo Penn & Teller.

47. David Hewlett (@dhewlett) - More than just the guy who played Rodney McKay on Stargate: Atlantis.

48. Martin Sargent (@martinsargent) - Manchild super-nerd from various tech TV shows.

49. Olivia Munn (@oliviamunn) - The hottie actress and former cohost of Attack of the Show.

50. Scott Beale (@laughingsquid) - Geek-blogger supreme from LaughingSquid.com.

51. Major Nelson (@majornelson) - Yes, Xbox fanboys, that Major Nelson.

52. Brea Grant (@breagrant) - Music-lover, actress, and geek known as Daphne from Heroes.

53. Jeph Jacques (@jephjacques) - Writer/artist behind the Web comic Questionable Content.

54. Cory Doctorow (@doctorow) - Co-founder of BoingBoing, copyfighter, sci-fi writer, etc.

55. Robert Bowling (@fourzerotwo) - Gaming blogger and employee at Infinity Ward.

56. Eddie Izzard (@eddieizzard) - Crossdressing super-nerd British comedian.

57. Amber Benson (@amber_benson) - Tara from Buffy turned writer/actress/geek.

58. John Joseph Adams (@johnjosephadams) - Leading editor and reviewer of sci-fi and fantasy.

59. Cherie Priest (@cmpriest) - Southern gothic fantasy/horror author exiled to Seattle.

60. Lar deSouza (@lartist) - Artist for Web comics Looking For Group and Least I Could Do.

61. MC Frontalot (@mc_frontalot) - Nerdcore rap star.

62. John Denardo (@sfsignal) - Blogger-in-chief at SFSignal.com.

63. David Willis (@Shortpacked) - Writer/artist for the toy-collector Web comic Shortpacked.

64. R. Stevens (@rstevens) - Writer/artist for the pixelated hipster-geek comic Diesel Sweeties.
65. Dave Zatz (@davezatz) - Consumer technology reviewer and insider.

66. Jonathan Coulton (@jonathancoulton) - Nerd-pop recording artist.

67. Rich Johnston (@richjohnston) - Comic book industry’s most notorious rumor-monger.

68. Brian Michael Bendis (@BRIANMBENDIS) - Writer of comic books, notably Ultimate Spider-man.

69. Jay Lake (@jay_lake) - Writer/editor/blogger of science fiction books.

70. Rob Corddry (@robcorddry) - Ascerbic nerd comic and actor.

71. Kevin Smith (@ThatKevinSmith) - Geekish writer/director/actor who gave us Clerks and Dogma.

72. Paul and Storm (@paulandstorm) - Comedic musician duo with a nerdy flair who participate in w00tstock.

73. Bill Amend (@billamend) - Creator of the comic strip Foxtrot.

74. Charlie Jane Anders (@charliejane) - Sci-fi blogger, author, and magazine editor.

75. Kevin J. Anderson (@TheKJA) - Sci-fi author famous for Dune and Star Wars tie-ins.

76. Elizabeth Bear (@matociquala) - Accomplished writer of sci-fi/fantasy short stories.

77. Jamais Cascio (@cascio) - Highly respected futurist and techno-cultural commentator.

78. Bill Corbett (@BillCorbett) - The voice and mind behind Crow T. Robot from MST3K.

79. Danielle Corsetto (@dcorsetto) - Writer/artist of the Web comic Girls With Slingshots.

80. Andy Diggle (@andydiggle) - British writer/editor of comic books.

81. Chris Eliopoulos (@chriseliopoulos) - Creator of the Web comic Misery Loves Sherman.

82. Matt Fraction (@mattfraction) - Indie comic book creator gone mainstream.

83. Irene Gallo (@IreneGallo) - Art Director for Tor.

84. Meredith Gran (@granulac) - Writer/artist for the Web comic Octopus Pie.

85. Jonathan Hickman (@JHickman) - Mindbending indie comics creator.

86. Grant Imahara (@grantimahara) - Grant from MythBusters.

87. Paul Levinson (@PaulLev) - Communications researcher, professor, and sci-fi novelist.

88. Robert “Bobby Lew” Llewelyn (@bobbyllew) - Kryten from Red Dwarf.

89. Rich Lovatt (@richl1) - Comics blogger and creator of the Web comic Mecha-Simian.

90. Kevin Murphy (@kwmurphy) - Human voice/writer behind Tom Servo from MST3K.

91. Theresa Nielsen Hayden (@tnielsenhayden) - Sci-fi editor and comments admin for BoingBoing.

92. Patrick Nielsen Hayden (@pnh) - Senior Editor at Tor.

93. Chris Pramas (@Pramas) - The man at Green Ronin Games.

94. Terry Pratchett (@terryandrob) - Yes, boys and girls, that Terry Pratchett.

95. Joe Quesada (@JoeQuesada) - Chief Creative Officer at Marvel Comics.

96. Michael A. Stackpole (@MikeStackpole) - Sci-fi novelist known for his Star Wars and Battletech tie-ins.

97. Kris Straub (@krisstraub) - Writer and artist of the Web comics Starslip and chainsawsuit.

98. Ben Templesmith (@Templesmith) - Stylish and profane artist for various horror/noir comics.

99. Rainn Wilson (@rainnwilson) - Dwight from The Office, only moreso, ’cause he’s real.

100. Weird Al Yankovic (@alyankovic) - Dude, seriously, you don’t know Weird Al?

Don't forget to add us to you list @IndigoOceans!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

The BEST reason to use Twitter: Improve your search engine ranking

Google merges social with search results, excludes Facebook

The search engine this week announced that social search results will no longer linger at the bottom of the results page. Now they will be slipped in among other listings. But don't expect to see your friends' Facebook 'Likes' appear any time soon.

by Helen Leggatt

Social Search was debuted in 2009 and, in a nutshell, finds posts and activity from friends and displays them as search results when logged in to a Google account.

Until now, those social search results have been displayed separately to the main results. This has now changed with the recent announcement that the search engine will merge searchers' social media contacts' activities directly into search results.

Except Facebook activity - not surprisingly the search engine hasn't spent too much time on integration with this network, even if it is the world's largest and most-used.

According to Mashable's Ben Parr, "One thing this update doesn't include is Facebook "Like" data, a prominent feature of Microsoft Bing. Unlike Google, Bing has access to instant personalization and the user data behind Facebook's walled garden. As one of Google's archenemies, it's unlikely the search giant gave much serious thought to deep Facebook integration, instead choosing Quora, Flickr and Twitter as its inaugural integrations."

Some speculate that the move takes Google a step further towards a long-anticipated social network product all of its very own. VentureBeat's Anthony Ha believes "some recent upgrades to Google products suggest that the company is advancing with its social plans and may be laying the groundwork for the big launch."

Some pages may get a boost as the social search element can change a page's ranking based on the strength of connection to another individual, making a page rank higher than it would if social search was turned off.

With the emphasis consumers place on recommendations from friends and family, and social interaction, this move will certainly enhance the search experience and incorporate channels they value highly.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

4 Content lies SMB's tell themselves

by Lisa Barone
Content gets hailed a “King” quite a bit, but that doesn’t mean business owners understand its true power or what “creating great content” really means in the year 2011. If content creation is an area that still makes you a little uneasy, it’s time to tackle it. Because on the Web, your content is your brand. And it’s up to you to build a great one.

To help you do that, here are four content myths SMBs often tell themselves and how you can rise above them.

1. They have to write big, or not at all: Mention the world “blog” to a small business owner and it’s not uncommon to see a sudden look of panic cross their face. It’s because while you’re talking about all the cool things they’ll be able to do with their blog, they’re already panicking about how much time it’s going to take to create all that content. It’s the same look of panic I see when I mention things like Twitter or Facebook.

But if social media has taught us anything it’s the power of micro-content. That’s those short updates (sometimes confined to just 140 characters on Twitter) that are designed to share a single thought, a link, a reference, an invitation, a video, a photo, etc. Not every piece of content you produce has to be a novel in length. The quality and frequency of the content you provide is far more important than just its length. There’s no reason to be intimidated by content.

2. Content is printed text: If content isn’t defined by length, it’s certainly not defined by medium, either. In today’s world, content is printed text, it’s a video, it’s a mashup, it’s a podcast, it’s an offer or promotion, and it’s anything else you want to make it. If you’re avoiding the blogging or social media world because writing isn’t your strong suit, you don’t have to wait a day longer to get involved. In today’s social economy you have permission to speak your thoughts, to sing them, or paint them or to get them out in any way that you see fit.

3. They’re not publishers: Are you using any combination of a website, a blog, social media or a wiki to market to your customers and build your business? Then congratulations – you’re a publisher. With that responsibility means now you have to start thinking like a publisher. It’s not enough to run your blog or your content marketing like it’s a hobby – you need to put an editorial calendar in place and plan out what you’re going to say, when and why you’re going to say it. Even if you don’t have a website and you’re running your business from your Facebook page (which you shouldn’t do, BTW), you’re responsible for generating your unique brand message, inspiring fans and sometimes gathering user-generated content. Once you accept that, you being to look at content not as simply something you publish, but as a way of attracting and retaining more clients.
4. The content doesn’t matter if the product is good: I hear this one a lot as an excuse for why many SMBs don’t have a solid content marketing strategy. Problem is, it’s just not true. It doesn’t matter how great your product or service is, if you can’t communicate that to your audience through your content, then you’re handicapping your ability to sell to them. Your content is what conveys your brand message, inspires customers and differentiates you from everyone else. Take it seriously.

Those are some of the big content myths that get my blood boiling. What content mistakes do you see others making? What content fears are still buzzing around in your brain?

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

What is a T1?

Working with a number of growing small and medium sized companies, the question often comes up when they are adding more applications or are looking to add staff - What is a T1? and when does it make sense to move from DSL or regular individual business lines?

When in doubt, my fav is still Wikipedia. If your not technical (which I am not) here is a simplified summary:

Standard telephone lines can transfer data and voice at a rate of about 30,000 bits per second (30 kbps) using a dial-up modem. A T1 line can transmit 1.544 megabits per second, or can be used to transmit 24 digitized voice channels.

A T1 can be used for business phone service, connectivity to the Internet or data transfer on a network which is a direct link between business locations.

The benefit of a T1 is that it's up to 60 times faster than a traditional modem. For businesses, if you have more than 8 phone lines, T1 is less expensive and provides super fast scalability when you need to add lines because the pipe is already there. For Internet, it means faster upload/download speeds.

To net it out, faster and cheaper. Mind you it's only faster and cheaper if you have more than 8 phone lines or your employees are frustrated with waiting for Internet applications to refresh. Otherwise - you might as well stay with what you have.

If you want to know if you really need a T1, you should talk to your provider. There are a few tools you can test your DSL speed if that is your concern. Check out http://avega.ca/avega/?page_id=165.

All the best,

Susan Corcoran