Archives for December 2013

40 Life Lessons @ 40

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A post idea from my lovely wife…..40 lessons @ 40.  Try this, it will make you sweat (mentally).  Here goes….

The Life Marathon

  • Where you start does not dictate where you finish.  Some are born with silver spoons; some are born disadvantaged, behind the proverbial 8 ball.  Move forward from where you are.  Or don’t and you’ll finish even worse.
  • Key life decisions matter.  Take the time to get them right, with the information you have, but you’ll never have ALL the pieces.
  • In a marathon (life) of competing, growing, Hustling, make sure you enjoy the ride.  Even the rough parts of the journey can be appreciated.

Training (Learning) & Outlook

  • Mentors matter.  A ton.  Seek them out.  Better yet, do a great job, be a solid citizen and they will seek YOU out.
  • Experience is a valuable teacher.  It also tends to be expensive.  Hence, the need for mentors to prevent you from scraping your knees, to learn from THEIR experience.
  • Never take for granted the value of the school of hard knocks.  Translation:  Learning from the street (where the action happens)  is pretty darn valuable.  Give me someone who conquered the streets and I’ll place my bets on them any day of the week.
  • Relationships matter.  Solid relationships in all areas of life will be a “force multiplier” to your happiness.
  • True, great friends are worth their weight in gold.  If you can fill one hand with them over the course of your life, consider yourself lucky.
  • Family:  Few things in life are as simple and none are more important.  The key word that makes Family’s magical?  TOGETHER

Leadership

  • Your Example is your most powerful motivator for others, set a great one.
  • Respect needs to be earned.  No easier way than getting dirt under your nails with the people you lead.
  • Leadership is a contact sport.  It gets messy.  There tends to be real conflict and confrontation.  If you fear or avoid conflict, find another sport.
  • Expect the best from people.  The overwhelming majority of people (98%+) have sound, noble intentions.  They want to do a good job and win, a leader’s job is to help them, be a partner, and celebrate when it happens.
  • Not EVERYONE has noble intentions.  They may burn you, betray your trust, and hurt others in the process.  These will be rare occasions, but it will happen.  When it does, FIGHT the urge to become cynical and unwilling to trust.  The downside of being cynical is greater than the safety it provides.
  • Magical words:  “What do you think?”
  • Smiles don’t cost a thing.
  • Thank Yous don’t cost a thing either.
  •  Magical Skill?  Listening.  Play back what you hear to get it right.  Then follow up with ACTIONS.
  • Goals are you compass.  Write them down.  On a flash card, and carry them with you, Old School style.

Marketing & Business

  • Brand names in life matter.  Strong brands matter to people.  The most important name in your life?  Yours.  It’s called your reputation. Protect your reputation.  “Build it” over time, but never do anything to damage your good name.
  • Nothing happens until someone sells something.
  • Facts are stubborn things.  Too many people shoot from the hip, because it’s easier and requires less digging (research).  He who has the facts, tends to lead.
  • NEVER miss a Sea Change in your profession.  You stack the deck against yourself when you ignore sea changes.
  • Getting EXPECTATIONS defined is half the battle.  Delivering is the other half.
  • Technology is the great accelerator of our time.  The biggest difference maker in the world is not technology however, it’s PEOPLE.  

 Life Choices

  • Living a fulfilled life comes down to a series of intentional choices.  You control 100% of life’s major difference makers.
  • Attitude is a choice.  Choose wisely and it will be recognized.  The reverse is also true
  • Optimism is a force multiplier.  It injects oxygen.
  • Pessimism, SUCKS oxygen.
  • Time is life’s great equalizer; we all have 24 hours in a day, that never discriminates based on who you are or what you have.  Invest your time wisely.
  • An Emergency fund should be rule #1 in the world of $’s.  It’s not just for emergencies.
  • You have 1 body in life.  Respect it, take care of it.  It will get stronger if you push it.  If you don’t, it will get weaker over time.
  • Getting your workout started and finished before the sun rises is a major difference maker.
  • There’s a reason people don’t take advantage of the head start/start early principle.  It’s hard.
  • There’s always room for people who take on the HARD work.
  • The secret to building TRUST is doing what you say you will do.  And repeating.  Consistently.
  • There’s a reason why your third grade teacher made you check your work before handing in the test.  It’s MORE important when you’re getting paid.
  • Very few people deal with life or death situations.  Don’t take things so seriously.  Especially yourself.
  • The mirror test is life’s great acid test.  When you look in it, are you happy with what you see?  Your day’s effort?  The decisions you’ve made? The impact you’ve had on people?  If yes, sleep well.  If not, you can wake up in the morning and start making different choices.

What are YOUR big life lesson’s?

Would love to hear about your top one, please leave a comment below!  And here’s to a great 2014.

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The $ Shave Club: Disruption in Action

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Sometimes disruption happens right under your nose.  Take a look at the men’s razor blade category:

  • Needs to be continuously replenished.
  • Massive market.  Let’s call it 50% of the world’s population.  Maybe a bit less if you don’t mind facial hair.
  • Huge barriers to entry.  How can you get into this category?
    • You’re not just going to “up and build” a factory, it takes massive capital and expertise
    • Your also not going to unseat one of the established brands (Gillette) and their massive branding investment.  
    • If you could conquer these 3 barriers, you need to get the consumer to vote, which means you need access to distribution.  In CPG, that’s the health & beauty buyer at the retail chains.

So how do you gain a slice of an industry dominated by the 800lb Gorilla? 

  • Find a source of supply.  Nearly every category has Private Label & Contract Manufacturing supply.

  • Forget the middleman in the distribution chain, go directly to the consumer.

  • Build your own brand, unconventionally.  Use social media, be edgy, create stories.

  • Keep expenses LOW.  To the bone….

In other words, do everything DIFFERENTLY than the industry leaders do.

How do you know when the big guys are sleeping at the switch?  They begrudgingly acknowledge the up-start.  Then they immediately cling to their existing business model, defend it and ignore the very threat in the first place.

  • “We have products at those price points too!”
    • Maybe, but can I find them when 80% of the shelf space is covered with your more expensive stuff?
    • But you won’t deliver it to my doorstep will you?  Of course not, that would annoy the retail buyers wouldn’t it?

You see these types of up-starts more and more.  SODA stream comes to mind.

Sodastream

If Coke or Pepsi do not have a team figuring out how to buy and integrate this company into their model they would need their heads examined.  When I say “team”, I’m talking about a team of less than 10 people.  In an urban office, FAR away from headquarters, made up of strategic thinkers with minimal internal experience within Coke or Pepsi.

Sometimes experience is what prevents the 800lb gorillas from seeing a disruptive model.

Blinders off.  

Disruption lenses on.

http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702303624004577338103789934144

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Traditions Matter: In Family AND Business

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Christmas Vacation - Traditions

Image Credit: hellogiggles.com

There is something special about traditions.  They establish what’s important, treasured and worth carrying on.  Traditions shape a culture.  They create memories and emotional feelings that run deep.  Traditions do not happen overnight, they happen over the course of many years.  Like life, it takes a long view to see the impact of traditions.

Family Traditions shape who we are as Adults.  Some come to mind….

  • Holiday traditions.
      • My wife remembers her favorite Thanksgiving Tradition?  Watching Neil Diamonds “Jazz Singer.”
  • Sunday Dinner:  Long on food.  Long on hours.  Plenty of spirited debate.  Bring your appetite, a sharp mind and a sharp tongue.
  • My father and I had a few traditions we remember vividly…
    • Working out on the ball fields.  Simple batting practice.  Or as I liked to call it, “dodge ball.”  My dad was a better businessman than accurate BP pitcher.  We laugh to this day at how many times his infamous knuckle-ball would hit my ankles.
    • Buying fireworks on the 3rd of July in NYC china town.  We dodged many dangerous venues scoring roman candles.

What’s enlightening about traditions are a few things:

  1. The memories are vivid, as if they happened yesterday.

  2. They SHAPE your view of “family.”

  3. They are almost always, SIMPLE, not extravagant.

BUSINESSES too can be shaped by rich traditions that re-enforce and shapes the organizational culture.  

Nearly every leader will acknowledge the power of CULTURE in an organization.  One of my favorite posts is a lessons from the hit show Friends, a Primer on Organizational Culture.  It showed how odd and inappropriate behavior, like a “butt slap” became a treasured display of acceptance.  

If traditions matter in family, what are leaders doing to create traditions that shape and build a culture that fuels excellence?

  • A CELEBRATION tradition.  How can you recognize and celebrate what you want to see more of?
    • Often times businesses can be pressure cookers, especially companies with aggressive growth targets.  Celebrating along the way is important to let people enjoy the ride and show appreciation.
    • Keep it simple, not costly.  It can be chocolate chip cookies and a Starbucks gift card presented to the team member who went above and beyond.  Brand the celebration and make it a consistent time interval.
  • Is SERVICE a competitive advantage (or do you aspire for it to be?)  Find ways to instill a “Delivering Service” tradition.
    • How do you create communications around service?  It does not need to be restricted to CUSTOMERS, but can be how peers aid each other in the name of service and team work.
    • The key is not to make the tradition a chore….like so many “newsletters” end up being.

Every organization has a Culture.  Meaningful traditions are one way a culture breathes.  Like most aspects of organizations, you can think through traditions with a simple acid test:

  • Do they INJECT oxygen into the organization?
  • Do they CONSUME oxygen?

Make sure your traditions breathe life into your culture.  Get people involved.  Welcome input. Welcome people to organize, shape and mold meaningful traditions in your business.  People will surprise you, if you give them the opportunity.

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A Role Model & a Simple Equation for “Life Moments”

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“We make kids’ days. We’re role models, and kids look up to us, and that’s something we have to embrace and take the role of,” said Randolph.Zach Randolph Memphis Grizzlies, gives the Shirt off his back to boy with Down Syndrome

Image credit: sbnation.com

A feel good story emerged in Memphis this week when Zach Randolph LITERALLY gave a young boy the shirt off his back, and it was captured on video.  Some thoughts….

  • I LOVE the fact that this video has had 400k views in less than a week.  I hope it goes to 5mm+.  Why?  

  • Because it was so simple & powerful at the same time.

  • Something KIND was caught on camera.  28 seconds.  A little shot of optimism and kindness.

Maybe I see this event as a bit more special because I’m biased.  The boy in the video is Will, my daughter’s friend, and a great one at that.  When one of your friends has a brush with fame, it is a bit more exciting than someone you don’t know.  The excitement on a young girl’s face seeing her friend on TV is priceless.  

Will and Hope also share more than friendship….they both have “Designer Jeans” (Down syndrome).  They are more alike other kids than different.  Maybe that played a role in the story, maybe it didn’t.  It doesn’t really matter….

What this little act of kindness is, I would certainly call a MOMENT.”

Life Moments equation

“Teddy” was also one of the great MOMENTS of 2013, “When a million smiles beats a homerun!” It’s impossible NOT to feel great after that story.

The other thing the Zach Randolph MOMENT shows, is self-awareness.  He came right out and acknowledged that fact that athletes are role models.

One of the famous Old School ads of my generation was the “Role Model” ad from Nike, by Charles Barkley.

I can buy into Barkley’s argument:  Parents are the ultimate role models, athletes are not. Simplicity at its finest.

There’s a problem with the argument however.  It ignores a brutal reality.  Kids look up to pro athletes, whether the athletes like it or not.  There’s a warning sign here….

It may be convenient to ignore a Brutal Reality.  But it’s not the right thing to do.  

Zach Randolph seems to naturally embrace his role model reality.  

Professional sports would be significantly better if others did the same.  

http://foxnewsinsider.com/2013/12/15/z-bo-why-i-gave-fan-shirt-my-back?fb_action_ids=10201440396627045&fb_action_types=og.likes&fb_source=other_multiline&action_object_map=%5B614599541908911%5D&action_type_map=%5B%22og.likes%22%5D&action_ref_map=%5B%5D

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Lessons Learned: 1 Year Anniversary of Hustle or Bust: Where Old School Meets New School

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Looking in the rear-view mirror can be fun and enlightening.  I took a sentimental look back on July 4, 2013 at my 2 year mark on twitter: A Twitter Anniversary on America’s Birthday and learned a few things that shaped much of my current thinking.

Another “mini milestone,” is the 1 year mark of this blog:

Hustle or Bust:  Where Old School Meets New School.

This has been a fun project, one that started with few expectations other than to “unload the brain’s filing cabinet” at the near midway point in a career in business.  I compiled these lessons from a review of Google analytics plus some conversations along the way with my network.

Lessons and the value of experience

Overall Learning’s

  • It became clear early on that there is an entire industry on “building a perfect blog” that encompasses SEO, traffic generating tactics, plug-ins, commenting, theme design, social media promotion, etc.  It can be downright overwhelming!
    • My strategy?  Block it out!  Learn enough for an appreciation, but it’s easy to get consumed with it and spend 90% of your time in this space vs. putting out content.
  • Writing is like a muscle: It only grows stronger when you work it.  Correction, muscles only grow stronger when you work it hard enough to tear them down, so they can re-build.  One session in the gym won’t do anything, writing is no different.
  • Life tends to “blur” in a social world (and the real world too).
    • Some people do a nice job of “compartmentalizing” their life between work, family, friends & play time.  I simply do NOT, it all blends together.  It is hard to distinguish where blogging starts, social media ends, and everything in between.  They all need to work together with one cohesive (authentic) voice.
    • For the record, I hate the word “authentic.”  It’s one of those buzz words.  Give me the OLD SCHOOL “Real Deal.”
  • Like the marketplace, its very difficult to predict what resonates with people.
    • If I were handed a list of my 100 or so blog posts titles and was told to RANK the top 10 traffic generators, I would have only been 50% accurate.  Its borderline damaging to the ego to see (in your mind) brilliant posts that don’t get half the traffic of posts you thought were average at best.  There’s a lesson here for those planning-obsessed MBA types…..
Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face.  Mike Tyson
Image Credit: twicsy.com
  • By far the greatest source of satisfaction comes from the connections and relationships that result.  While not completely attributable to H&B, it certainly plays a role.  I cited 11 such relationships in The Coffeehouse Test for Online Relationships

Now For The Geeky Stuff:  Top Posts by Traffic According To Google Analytics

2 Critical Experiences for a CPG Marketing Career

When A Million Smiles Beats a Home Run

Innovation Rocket Fuel: Moms On A Mission

Want a Surefire edge in business? Start early!

A Wake-Up Call To Sales

The “4 P’s of Marketing”: The Professors Missed 2 Critical P’s

The Brutal Reality of the Bell Curve

A “Think Different” Case Study in Hiring: Walgreens

The Transformational Story of Johnny The Bagger

A Simple Primer on Organizational Culture

2 Posts (the bottom of the traffic ranking) provided some great discussion.  Probably because they hit “nerves,” either near and dear to their own industry, or just a strike to humanity.

Smart Marketing or a Loss of Humanity @ Abercrombie?

If it Works for Selling Cereal, It Works for Selling a House

For those that have followed Hustle or Bust, a heart-felt THANK YOU for reading, commenting or sharing!

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Lack of Hustle: Worth Mega Millions….

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Robinson Cano Signs with Seattle Mariners

Congrats to Robinson Cano on his mega $240mm 10 year deal with the Seattle Mariners, a pay day beyond comprehension.

Cano is a phenomenal talent.  Maybe the sweetest swing in the game.  The strongest arm of any second baseman I’ve seen.  Hits for power.  Hits for average.  Always made things look easy, sometimes too easy.  Loves his dad, his personal pitcher at All-Star Home Run Derby hitting contests.

But Cano has one fatal flaw.  He has a bad habit, and a reputation, whether fair or not:

Cano has a tendency to NOT HUSTLE.

And I have no facts whatsoever to back up what may be the outlandish statement of the century:

Not Hustling cost him a boatload of money.

How much is hard to tell, but a geek could easily put a figure to it.

  • What’s the big apple worth over 10 years vs. 10 years in Seattle?
  • How many championships will he win in Seattle vs. NY over next 10 years?
  • What’s the endorsement market in NY vs. Seattle?
  • What is a post-retirement career look like going down as the “greatest second baseman of all time” as a career Yankee vs. a Seattle Mariner?
  • What are sound, non-emotional answers to the above worth?

$100 million?

$200 million?  More?  

So why did lack of HUSTLE cost him money?

First, Context That Matters

  • Baseball is a TOUGH game.  Many people say the hardest thing to do is to hit a baseball thrown by another human being.  Not just in sports, but in LIFE.  Stats bear it out.  Greatness in baseball is defined as failing 70% of the time.

  • History matters.  This is America’s favorite past time.

  • No team in SPORTS, let alone baseball has more success (championships), history and legends than the NY Yankees.

HUSTLE is one of the first things every little leaguer learns.  It starts every kid’s baseball education (and life for that matter.)

  • You run hard to first base.  No exceptions.

  • You run hard in and out of the dug-out.  Look alive.  Like you CARE.

  • The rules of HUSTLE apply to everyone, regardless of ability.  No discrimination on HUSTLE.

Have you ever sat in the stands of a Major League ball game and witnessed a big leaguer loaf it to first on a routine ground ball?  The chatter that follows in the stands is comical.  And the lessons Dads give junior IF he catches it are priceless.

The Yankee Clipper, Joe DiMaggio…

 When asked why he hustled on plays that had little effect on a game’s outcome or on his team’s standing, Joe replied:

“Because there’s always some kid who may be seeing me for the first time. I owe him my best.”

 

Here’s the brutal reality.  

Decisions on people’s future always get made behind closed doors.  Often times they are made on a combination of “gut feel” and logic.

Results always matter.  Great stats are a huge factor.  Great stats in the playoffs matter more.

Here’s the logical argument

  • 10 year deals are risky, just look at A-Rod.
  • Cano’s a phenomenal talent.  Great stats.  However, his stats fall off the cliff in the post season.  That matters in NY more than anywhere.

What else matters?  INTANGIBLES.

  • How do the decision makers FEEL about offering the big/player demanded $’s?  Better or worse?  What about the other critical stakeholders, most notably the fans?

Hustle is one of the greatest intangible on earth.  Hard to value HUSTLE.  But you sure the hell know it when you see it.  Or don’t.  And it shapes that non-logical thought process when people are making big financial decisions.

Last, I present the great Yankee captain and will give my final argument after 45 seconds.

Derek Jeter is a first ballot hall of famer.  Solid numbers, but there are 2 factors that set him apart from the mega stars of days past and present.

1)  He performs as good or better when it matters most, the post season.  The mega stars people say are better than him can’t claim this.

2)  On the subject of HUSTLE.  78 seconds is all you need to know.

When the name Jeter comes up, these are the images and emotion the fans bring up.  And management is no different.

When the name Robinson Cano comes up, can the same be said about him?

Hustle Matters.  It’s 100% controllable.

Take it for granted, you will pay a big price.

 

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A Wake-Up Call to High School Principals

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This is Your Wake Up Call  Hustle or Bust, Where Old School Meets New SchoolI like “Wake-Up Calls.”  They signify the start of the day.  But if your’re like me with the START EARLY mantra, you probably don’t utilize them. There are a couple of professions that need proverbial Wake-Up Calls, they are asleep at the switch or tone deaf to realities of the marketplace.

One of my favorite posts was a “Wake-up Call To Sales” where I profiled a great sales professional that stands out, in a fantastic way among many that are average at best.  I affectionately refer to him as “Harry Hustle.”

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about another segment of our society in need of the proverbial Wake-UP call: Education.  In particular, high schools.  Better yet, high school PRINCIPALS.  

The buck always starts and stops with the one in charge.

Although it’s been 20+ years since I cut up in high school, I have however volunteered in the high school classroom in 3 different, 8 week courses taught in ’97, 2008, & 2009 with one of the great non-profits, Junior Achievement.  Teaching Free Enterprise to the future of our country is nothing short of exhilarating and I highly recommend the experience to give back your talents to those that will soak up an outside voice in the classroom.  And if you’re in marketing, there’s nothing better than spending time with today’s younger generations.

It’s hard to relate to the NEW SCHOOL if you’re forever stuck in your OLD SCHOOL ways.

There are some take-aways I’ve had in these experiences that have me concerned; 2 come to mind…

  1. Personal Financial skills are non-existent in the high school curriculum.  Check books, basic investments, budgeting, etc.  The basics of spending less than you earn.  Absolutely no evidence that it is more than a fleeting thought in the classroom
  2. Goal Setting 101 – “College preparatory” is more than learning pre-calc, it’s about setting personal goals and achieving what one wants in life.

If you learn the PROCESS of achievement, the “WHATs” you need to know will take care of itself.

This country is in massive debt and there seems to be no end in sight.  We just came through the biggest “debt fueled” housing bubble in our generation.  Excessive Debt and poor financial decisions were (and still are) all around us.  I’m sure there are exceptions but High Schools aren’t responding fast enough.  And bold enough.

Gamechangers exist in all professions.  In teaching, I’ve written about a Game-changer in Music Education, the teacher of PS22 chorus.

High School Principals:  Game-changers needed

Image Credit: Pastemagazine.com

Here are 4 simple, executable ideas I would start with.

  • Scrap_____ (fill in your choice of Old School Elective that has existed for 50+ years) and insert “Foundations in Goal Achievement” as mandatory curriculum.  Nothing complicated, build it around SMART Goals.
    • Specific
    • Measurable
    • Actionable
    • Realistic
    • Time-bound
Scrap another one, and teach the basics of Finance 101:   “Earn 30, you better spend less or the ink will be red, and bad”.
    • Utilize Excel in every class.
    • Throw in some basics on the stock market, how companies make money.
    • What living within your means is about.
    • The concept of an emergency fund.
  • Let the leadership oriented kids start optional clubs around these classes, something interesting will emerge…
  • Bring in business and community leaders weekly to bring these lessons to life from the real world.  All the principles need to do is ask, maybe even create a “personal board of directors” over-seeing this transformation.  This personal board would help hold the principal accountable, keep him/her motivated and continually adjust the approach.
    • Business leaders are notoriously busy, but who could resist a Principles plea to take his/her school to a new level?
Are the above suggestions the “best” suggestions to create the change we need in high schools?  Maybe not. What’s important is that SOMETHING changes, that schools become flexible enough to have a real time impact that address real problems.  Pick a general direction and move towards a more practical future.  In the process, we will equip our younger generation with a fighting chance…

Leadership and change is not always about coming up with the best plan.  It is about rallying everyone to a better future.

Like all investments, the greater the runway (time) ahead of you, the better the chance of a positive return.  Start with the greatest runway, our younger generation…..

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The CoffeeHouse Test for On-Line Relationships

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In life, relationships are the source for the most enjoyable aspects of ANY experience.

Technology continues to evolve at a breathtaking pace and will not slow.  However, there is comfort in the fact that there is a constant in life in the human connection.

While writing reflections on a year anniversary of Hustle Or Bust, I realized the post was not only too long, but heavily focused on the people that came to mind, and it deserves to be a standalone post.

I thought: “Wouldn’t it be cool to meet these people IN THE REAL WORLD TOO!”

So with that said, here an Old School Test to measure the level of “Human Connection” from the Digital World

The Coffee House Test

If I’m traveling to a city, would I look forward to having a cup of coffee/glass of wine with them in the real world?  Would they feel the same?  

If the answer is a 2 way YES, you have a meaningful connection.  If the answer is a 1 way yes, perhaps not as much.  The Coffeehouse test is simple, and may only apply to a relatively small percentage of your on-line connections.

How’s this for a goal?  ACTUALLY ACT on it and meet your on-line connections in the real world!

Whatever your venue of choice (bar, coffee house, etc.), pick one that “stands up” to the importance of meeting a connection in the real world.  Since it’s the “coffeehouse” here’s my recco for those around Beantown.

Caffe Vittoria Boston

Caffe’ Vittoria is the best Old School Coffee House I know, in Boston’s North End section, with the best cappuccino and Tiramisu I’ve had. Classic black and white pictures everywhere, simple stone tables and big shiny espresso machines.  Borderline rude service, because they can.  http://www.boston.com/lifestyle/blogs/thenextgreatgeneration/2012/03/slip_into_an_atmosphere_of_pur.html

Incidentally, Boston is home to the best Italian Food “section” in the country, but I digress, so Back to the CoffeeHouse….

Role models are needed in all walks of life.  For the past year+ here are 11 that come to mind.  They certainly pass MY Coffeehouse test!

Tom Peters @tom_peters

  • One of the smartest management thinkers of the past 3 decades.  But what sets Tom apart?  Simple, he engages.  He doesn’t take himself too seriously.  Bring your “A-Game” with Tom….

John Lee Dumas @johnleedumas

  • Host of Entrepreneur On Fire, a top-ranked daily business podcast.  John has accompanied over 100 4am work-outs in 2013, that’s over 100 hours!  If that doesn’t make the cut, what does?  Required listening for anyone in innovation or start-up mode.

Kelli Schmith @marketingveep

  • Kelli is smart, sarcastic and funny.  RARELY will I read her tweets and not find myself laughing, smiling or thinking.  How many people can you say that about?

Vala Afshar @ValaAfshar

  • Prolific writer, on twitter and the blogosphere.  Amazingly consistent on all things leadership, social and marketing.  He’s flat out smart.  And so very generous and polite, a true statesman.  So much so that I’m nervous offending him when my “New Jersey” comes out!

Gary Vaynerchuck @garyvee

  • I like to think that I coined the word “HUSTLE” but Gary would argue this, and win.  I “knew OF” Gary before he was “Garyvee”……before Wine Library (#SDL) was re-branded and exploded from his efforts …. through my NJ liquor store days in high school (’90-’92).  He’s raw, brilliant and ballsy.  He leaves no doubt with his beliefs.

Joe DeGiorgio @JoeDeGiorgio

  • When I think of “Old School,” (and of course that’s a POSITIVE connotation) Joe is the name that comes to mind.  He’s one of the best writers I’ve come across and can’t wait for his posts.  If I didn’t know differently, I’d think Joe and I were distant relatives with connections back to the old country.

Kent Huffman @KentHuffman

Ted Rubin @TedRubin

  • Well known for #RonR, or Return on Relationship.  He’s tons of personality, colorful socks, a NY’r and always interacts.  I first discovered Ted via Kent’s Top CMO list

Ted Coine @tedcoine

  • What first caught my eye is Ted’s follow back policy when I first started on twitter, and one line in particular:
    • “Much more importantly (to me), here’s why I follow everyone back: I’m not more important than my followers.”  
    • Ted’s http://switchandshift.com/ blog is one of the best in the area of business & leadership

Liz Jostes @lizjostes (Have met ITRW!)

  • Liz was one of my main coaches getting HustleorBust off the ground.  She’s brainy, witty and has an edge, a combination not often found in Memphis.  I’m sure that comment may get me into trouble.

Tom Logue@TomBLogue (Have met ITRW!)

  • He’s brainy, witty and has an edge, a combination not often found in Memphis.  I’m sure that comment will get me into trouble. Sound familiar?  When I have an in depth or controversial stance on a business issue, Tom is the name that often comes to mind and whose opinion I want to know, and why.  ESPECIALLY when his opinion is different than mine.

Thanks to all for making 2013 special, and for bringing back memories of one of my favorite coffeehouses!  And if you haven’t entered your email address (top right corner, subscribe box) please do so we can stay connected!  

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