Backwards and Forwards

Forward backward2011 is almost over, and 2012 is almost here.  Time to look back on the past year, and forward to the next one.

First, a quick look backwards, then we’ll go forwards.


What were your biggest challenges last year?

Marketing muddles?
Getting enough time to do what  you need to do (without sacrificing quality of life or quality of your work)?
Competing (and winning) against bigger competitors?

What were your biggest breakthroughs and successes?  Feel free to share and brag!


Now, looking ahead, what will you change for next year? Do you have goals (time, money, projects)? What are they (if you can share)?

What would you like help with? Staying focused?  Finding an ideal customer?  Meeting your goals, whether revenue or subscribers, or finishing that book you started?

Black Friday Goodies!

An icon from icon theme Crystal Clear.

Image via Wikipedia

How much time do you spend thinking about your web site host?  Probably not much.  You pay the bill every month and move on.

Until something goes wrong.

You mess up your site up because you fiddled with code you shouldn’t have touched.  I know I have!

You might even wake up one morning and find that your blog has a theme, but the content is missing.

This happened to me once.  My heart was beating so fast, I thought it would pop right through my chest.

I called Hostgator, and they fixed it in a few minutes.  Whew!

Suddenly, my web host mattered a lot!

Hostgator backs up my files regularly (in the background).  And gives me easy tools to manage my business site, run two blogs, host video, upload pictures, and get my email from anywhere.

I’ve recommended them to clients and friends for three years and have never heard a complaint.

Hostgator’s staff is also really friendly (even when I do something dopey).  They’re in Houston, Texas (so they speak English that I can understand).  And, they answer the phone quickly too.

As a bonus, they’re having a special Black Friday sale.  Hosting is 50% off for one day only.

If you pre-pay, the prices are as low as $2.48/month for shared hosting.

It starts at 12:01 AM Central Time (that’s -6 GMT) and ends at 11:59PM CST Friday, November 25th, 2011. You don’t even need a code, it will be added automagically when you sign up.

Sign up here to get it.*



*You get a great deal, without going to a mall, and I get hot chocolate money.

How to Get the Write Words

tom bentleyContinuing this week’s spotlight theme, today I’m turning the bright lights on Tom Bentley, of The Write Word.

He’s one of my most frequent commenters, and nearly always makes me smile. If you need writing, editing, or copyediting, he’s a real whiz at all of them. I’m usually good at proofing my own work (the hardest thing to proof), but he regularly catches mistakes that I miss.

He also puts words together in ways that nobody ever has before. The excerpts of his rejection letter for Tolstoy’s War and Peace (written for the Nov/Dec issue of Writer’s Digest) left me really laughing out loud. He’s available for article writing, editing, and children’s parties (OK, I fibbed about that last bit).

End Boring Meetings Once and For All

Happy Dance

This week, I’m putting the spotlight on other people. Today’s post is a guest post from Phil Wrzesinski of the Toy House in Michigan. He’s a “purple cow” retailer, who doesn’t quite follow the “usual” path. I mean, how many CEOs dress up in a superhero outfit?

If I asked you how many boring meetings you have sat through in your life, would you have to take off your shoes to count?

Probably still would not be enough, right?

We all have that problem: boring, unproductive meetings that bring down morale and take up your important time.

If you are responsible for planning your meetings, or if you have lots of client meetings to attend, here is one thing you can do to change that forever.

Start with the finish

Finish this statement… “This will be a successful meeting if…” You now have a goal for your meeting and a blueprint for deciding every single item on the agenda.

If it does not move you closer to your goal, take it off the agenda.

But do me and everyone in attendance a favor. Make that goal a big one. If your goal is just to pass along information, send a memo. Don’t waste your staff or your client’s busy time just to hear yourself speak.

Pick grand and wonderful goals.  This will be a successful meeting if:

  • everyone learns firsthand how to use the new software and gets to practice
  • we discover how to communicate more effectively with our colleagues and our clients
  • everyone laughs out loud.

Make a map

Now all you need to do is to create a plan that will lead you to your goal. Brainstorm all the different ways you can reach it. Write them down. Even the weird ones (especially the weird ones).

Things like skits, movies, role play, games, contests, demonstrations, etc.

Then pick two tasks from that list:

  • The most fun
  • The most effective

Choose one of those two and run with it. Your meetings will be more productive. Your staff will be more enthusiastic. Your goals will get accomplished. Your business will grow.

P.S. Hint: whenever possible, choose the task that is the most fun. You will still accomplish your goal and you will make your meetings something everyone looks forward to attending.

Phil Wrzesinski is president and owner of Toy House and Baby Too in Jackson, MI, recently named one of the “25 Best Independent Stores in America” in the book Retail Superstars by George Whalin. For more meeting tips, download Phil’s free ebook  Staff Meetings Everyone Wants to Attend.

Enough About Me, What About You?

Spotlights shining onto the stage

Image by net_efekt via Flickr

So, every weekday, I rattle on here. I thought it was time for something different.

Today, the spotlight is completely on you.

Use the comments to introduce yourself.

What do you do? How long have you been doing it? What makes you love it?

Or, if you prefer, share a project you worked on recently, or a blog post you wrote (links are OK).

If you’re feeling shy, point to someone else’s really great post.