Tuesday, March 25, 2014

1040 Madness

In full disclosure, there isn’t much about college basketball that interests me.

Perhaps it stems from the fact that my alma mater set NCAA records for mediocrity on the hardwood, finishing at or near .500 the whole four years I went there.

We were an excellent “breather” opponent for then-basketball powerhouses such as UCLA, Iowa and UNLV who were more than happy to fund annual all-expenses-paid trips to their home arenas. By the beginning of the second half, most of the starters at the above-mentioned schools were already showering and getting dressed. 

I regale you with that quadrennial span of underachievement because as most of you know the vernal event of collegiate basketball known as March Madness is rounding third and workplace productivity is, not surprisingly, suffering.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Client Mixology

Throughout my working career, I’m guessing I’ve read roughly 20 books on making effective presentations and probably 10 more on how to hone one’s marketing and sales strategies.

And to be fair, I’ve retained bits and pieces of most of them, and to some degree have been able to accurately gauge their effectiveness – i.e. comparing the quality my current speaking engagements to those of say even 10 years ago.

But for those practitioners seeking a Cliff Notes’ version on how to win new clients, I’ll offer up an unusual suggestion – take the time to observe a good bartender.

And no, the above is not a misprint.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Cruise Control

I’m happy to say that Rocco, my long-time accountant, had some good news for the bride and me this year regarding our taxes.

As luck would have it, we’re actually in refund mode.

He asked whether we would use some of this new-found largesse to help fund a long overdue vacation. I told him we hadn’t decided, lying only slightly as I knew my spouse had long-ago determined the fate of the proceeds.

Rocco enthusiastically recounted how he and his wife took a cruise to the Caribbean last year and extolled the virtues of lying on a chaise lounge sipping impossibly tall exotic drinks.

As strange as it seems, that’s where he lost me. 

Friday, March 14, 2014

When You Need to Ditch the Keyboard

There are times you in your life that you remember exactly where you were at the time of a seminal event – i.e. the Kennedy assassination, the first lunar landing, 9-11, etc.

Then there are also those second-tier experiences that are also indelibly etched in your memories. For me, it was the first time I saw someone receive an email. It was July 1984 and I was at a friend’s stiflingly hot apartment watching TV while his wife was inserting a floppy disk into a PC that by now is probably in the Smithsonian. 

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

How ‘m I Doin’? Maybe You Should Find Out

With my minimal mechanical and technology skills being well documented, it’s hardly a stretch to imagine that I’ve dialed a 1-800 help line for products and services more than a few times. In fact, several of those have logged such frequent conversations with yours truly they have the pleasure of being listed on my permanent contact list.

But the flip side to those incessant inquiries for help is that it’s traditionally followed with an online or phone survey from customer service all asking the basic question of “how did we do?”

And most of the time, I’m happy to participate as those of you who know me also know I’m not all that shy about rendering an opinion – good or bad.

But what invariably happens is that one survey leads to another and another and another as your name and contact information is passed around various customer lists like a holiday fruitcake.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Tall Tales of Tardiness

Growing up, punctuality trailed only cleanliness and godliness in terms of character traits in our household.

My parents, particularly my father, lived by the credo that if you had an appointment at 10 a.m. and arrived at 9:45, you were considered late.

Even to this day, tardiness by anyone causes what’s left of my hair to remain on edge. My impatience and more often than not, anger, over lateness (sans a valid and documented excuse of course) comes in second only to yakking on a cell phone while pretending to work out at the gym.

But that’s fodder for another column.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Full Service – at Your Service

This week I had the opportunity to meet with the managing partner of a Top 100 firm, whose practice generates revenues in the nine-figure neighborhood.

And most would agree that’s not a bad neighborhood in which to reside.

In any event, we discussed his growth plans for 2014 and beyond, specifically what they were looking for in terms of M&A opportunities. He then asked if he were to find a firm on his own and not through us, if we could help structure an agreement.

I told him that we offer a consulting engagement called Transaction Support, which addresses such a scenario. I subsequently asked if they ever conduct partner retreats to confront such issues as succession planning, admission of new partners or whether their current partnership agreements needed updating.