Many of you may already know about this, but I just recently discovered Answers.com by clicking the "definition" link in the upper right of Google's results page. This is a beautifully simple site that provides what they call "snapshots" of information on over a million words, topics, etc. One one page, they deliver results from dictionaries, encyclopedias, glossaries, atlases and many other types of reference sources. In many cases, they provides just the info you need without having to click through dozens of search engine pages. You can also download free browser and desktop plug-ins allowing for what they call "1-Click Answers" where pressing Alt+click on any word will initiate an Answers.com query.
My company is currently going through some internal marketing activities and I have found this site very helpful for quickly and broadly drilling down into into words and phrases as I think through potential marketing language. They are definitely on to something.
Lifehacker points to an academic paper by a professor at the University of Baltimore on the science behind, and dos/don'ts of, leadership decision making. There's something in there for all of us, I'd say.
I read a very timely post today from Creating Passionate Users. I have been looking for a way to better document both existing projects and product/strategy brainstorming sessions. I have been familiar with the concept of mind mapping, but never really tried to use the technique. Creating Passionate Users linked to some great tools for executing that type of note-taking and brain-dumping. I'm going to try both the free java application called FreeMind and the free trial of MindManager to see if this process works for me.
I'll give feedback once I get into them and welcome thoughts from anyone on the pros/cons to mind mapping as well as alternative techniques.
Today I learned of Ta-da List from 37signals,
a new, free online application that allows you to make, share and
collaborate on To Do lists. That's it. The user interface
is as simple and uncluttered as the Google homepage. You can
create a list, check things off that are complete, allow others to see
your list, allow others to add to and check-off items on your list and
provide an RSS feed so others may see when your list is updated. Here's my first one.
I'm not sure how much I'll use this or how valuable it could prove to be, but I'm curious to find out. I'm also going to check-out company's Basecamp product to see what that's all about. Looks very promising as project management tool. I also really like their nifty logo.
The January 2005 issue of Fast Company magazine has a great article entitled "The Soft Cell" (pp 72-73, not available online) which profiles CDW's
success through relationship selling. CDW positions itself as a
partner, not merely a vendor. They are there more to solve
problems than sell products. By solving its customer's problems,
CDW will therefore sell products. This is an important
distinction over the opposite (and in my experience, more common) way
of thinking that by selling products your customer need you will solve
their problems. The article also lists CDW's keys to lasting
relationships which I will summarize and paraphrase here:
Keep track of every call with every customer and rank your different contacts within a company by their power and influence.
Rather than trying to sell your customers something they don't need, try asking, "What can I do to make your job easier?"
Be sure your customers know when you are in the office, when you are out and how to best reach you.
If you don't know the answer to a question, just say so honestly
and get the answer. No one can be expected to know everything and
there is no need to try and fudge your way through something you don't
know. Just be honest and make it your mission to get the right
Take cues from your customers. If they share something
personal (like a love of a particular sport or city), reciprocate with
something appropriately personal in return. As CDW's founder
Micheal Krasny likes to say, "People do business with people they
Looking at this another way, I have trained myself to more focus with
customers on the non-quantifiable rather than the quantifiable.
By that I mean, talk more about why they are interested in something I
have to sell and how that product/service will help them and less on
how much they want, when they need it and what it will cost. The
more you understand about your customer's motivations, fears and desires, the
better you can help craft solutions that are right for them.
Then you can focus on the right product/service on the right time line and at the right price.