Charles M. Schwab

No, not Charles R. Schwab the discount broker – Charles M. Schwab, the industrialist.

Charles M. Schwab was the first man in the United States to make a salary of one million dollars a year, while in the employ of Andrew Carnegie. Schwab’s motto was simple:

Be hearty in your approbation, and lavish in your praise.

How different this is than the common practice today of heaping on mockery, criticism, blame and sarcasm. Now I can’t promise you that if you take Schwab’s advice to heart that you too will make a million dollars a year, but I can tell you it will make you a more likable, pleasant person to be around. Why not try it?

Farley’s Follies

James Farley is best remembered by philatelists for a set of stamps called “Farley’s Follies.” As Postmaster General of the United States, he authorized a special printing of stamps for some friends of his – including President of the United States (and stamp collector) Franklin D. Roosevelt.

This became a scandal as soon as it became known, since stamps printed in small quantities like this would become tremendously valuable to collectors. Farley was forced to print large quantites of these stamps to satisfy the demand of the public.

But the most interesting thing about Farley was not his follies; it was his skill in dealing with people. Once asked by noted human relations expert Dale Carnegie whether it was true that he could call ten thousand people by their first names, Farley responded, “No! I can call fifty thousand people by their first names.”

Developing this ability – to remember and use names – is one of the keys to what Carnegie called “winning friends and influencing people.”

Becoming a better writer – ideas from Stephen King

PositivityBlog has a 7 point list from the Scary One.  My favorite: number  two.

Write a draft. Then let it rest.

Your subconscious is still working on the piece when you walk away.  You’ll have fresh insights after a break.  This is also a good technique of moving the yardsticks on a number of projects at once.

Allowing Comments in your Blog?

It’s a classic question: allow comments, trackbacks, pingbacks, or not? There really is no right answer; it really depends on your motivation for blogging. Let’s look at some common justifications for answers one way or another, and then I’ll provide my thoughts.

And on the flip side:

My thoughts on the topic:

  • If your motivation behind blogging is to build a community, then allowing people to have their say-so (within reason) is imperative.
  • If you’re a WordPress user, run Akismet. It greatly reduces the amount of comment spam you will have to manage. (Aside: if you value your time, and Akismet saves you time, please consider supporting Akismet financially.)
  • Steve Pavlina argues he gets enough feedback by email. Fair enough – but if you’re not Steve Pavlina (or someone equally well known), you probably shouldn’t rely on this.

Click or Tweet?

TwitterRobert Scoble swears off email and pledges allegiance to Twitter and Facebook.  In response, Dan Harrelson of Adaptive Path calls him a tool.   Now “tool” might be a bit harsh, but I cannot for the life of me understand why anyone would give up email. I’m not opposed to Scoble’s suggestion that responding less frequently will reduce your email load, but I don’t think the average business can thrive by ignoring email altogether.

Ballmer: Build Community

Steve Ballmer speaking at last week’s ANA Conference in New York gave some sound advice:

Make an investment in your existing Web site. Is it doing all that it can? Is it filling a brand mission? Are there things you should be doing for your brand, for your customers? Can you add a community? What more can you do to enhance your brand right now, with existing capabilities?

As you can tell, I love the question, “can you add a community?” Adding a blog, a forum, or a newsletter are all great ways of adding a community to your web presence. Which ones are you doing?

WalMart to customers: hold all calls

One of the most common problems I see on SMB carts is a lack of comfort food – and I don’t mean macaroni and cheese.   Is it obvious to your customers how they can contact you?   Are email, fax and phone information clearly posted at each step of your checkout process?    This is a major trust-building step you can easily take.

WalMart can afford to have this attitude.   You can’t.

Clear communication – do words mean what they mean?

Alan Greenspan was promoting his book on Meet the Press last weekend. At the close of the interview, Tim Russert told a humorous anecdote about how when Greenspan began dating his present wife, Andrea Mitchell, he invited her back to his apartment “to read an essay he wrote [on monopolies].”

RUSSERT: Do you often lure women back to your apartment by saying, “You want to see my essay”?

MR. GREENSPAN: I didn’t have any sketchings or etchings.

What a great answer. Oddly enough, this art joke from the past was recently mentioned in a very interesting Time article called Words Don’t Mean What They Mean:

“Would you like to come up and see my etchings?” has been recognized as a double entendre for so long that by 1939, James Thurber could draw a cartoon of a hapless man in an apartment lobby saying to his date, “You wait here, and I’ll bring the etchings down.”

Vague, ambiguous statements – arguably good when dating, unquestionably bad when dealing with clients. Recommit yourself to doing more up-front work, asking more questions, writing clearer proposals, finally finishing up those pesky “terms and conditions” and “policies” pages on your website, doing all the little things that result in fewer surprises down the road.