Friday, April 29, 2016

The Competition Conundrum

Recently I came across someone on the internet who described himself as an editor. He had a reasonably large internet platform, so I checked him out and joined his email list in exchange for a free report. When I got the report, I started reading and read this:

      “In this report, I talk about three methods that when used properly will accelerate your writing speed.  This is important to us, because the faster we can produce our Kindle books, the more money we will be able to make as an author on the Kindle platform.”

Seriously? Who is this guy’s ideal client?

Books are first and foremost about sharing something meaningful and valuable with a reader. Kindle “quick” books rarely accomplish that task successfully. Still, in spite of the scary introduction, I read the emails he sent over the next few weeks. When it was clear to me that our clients had nothing in common, I unsubscribed, glad that I'd checked him out for two very specific reasons.

Reason #1:  It’s a good idea to keep an eye on what other people are doing in your market. Establishing yourself within your market can be a challenge. You might have a profound belief in what you’re doing, but when you’re getting started, you have to build up your self-confidence muscle to the point where you stop worrying that your competition might have more to offer than you do. This kind of thinking is a variation of scarcity thinking—the idea that most people would pick your competition over you.  

Every second of every day a new and ideal client is entering your market, and it would be impossible for you (or anyone) to work with every single one of them. That’s too much pressure to take on! Focus on writing your book from the perspective of serving your ideal clients by providing thoughtful and successful solutions to their needs and wants, and you won’t have to worry about what your competition is doing. 

Reason #2:  Following other people’s work can help us better define the parameters of our own work. The gentleman I quoted above did a great job of reminding me that the work I do with authors does not result in Kindle “quick” books. Kindle yes, but not the “How to sell a million Kindle books in one year!” quick variety that takes 9 days to write and publish. 

Did I know this before I checked him out? No. I just thought he was an editor. But when I took the time to check him out, the differences between what he does and what I do became obvious. We work from different perspectives with different types of authors. We are not in competition at all, and in a small and simple way, making that decision increased the clarity of the vision I hold for what I do, and for whom I work with. 

Holding on to the idea that we’re always in competition—with our competition—is no way to enjoy what we’re doing. The only real competition worth paying any attention to is our inner competitive spirit urging us on to be a little bit better today than we were yesterday.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

How to Avoid a Knife in the Back

Acquiring, building, and maintaining solid relationships with clients and customers is arguably the first priority of a sales professional’s job. After all, without those relationships, there is no job. So we go into the office and set our minds to the task of keeping those relationships in tip-top shape. We might hear a coworker who always seems so pleasant and agreeable say something that sounds a bit strange, but don’t think twice about it.
We witness little things with our other coworkers too—like a look, a roll of the eyes, a gesture behind someone’s back, or one coworker whispering to another coworker—but don’t think much about it until we find ourselves smack-dab in the middle of a workplace drama we did not see coming.
Building relationships with coworkers is not like building a relationship with a client or customer. To varying degrees, we have a choice about who we want our sales clients to be. We rarely have a choice about our coworkers. And while it might not be fair to say that we should always be aware of what our coworkers are up to, it would be naive to believe that their actions in the workplace are designed to build anyone’s career other than their own.
If you don’t want to inadvertently get caught up in office drama—or worse, be the source of it—use some of the same strategies you’d use when you’re getting to know a client better. In the workplace, that means paying attention to the clues your coworkers are giving you.

For example:

Gossip - A coworker might ask you a question about yourself, or someone else in the office, that seems innocent enough to answer. BUT, what will they do with your answer? Will it come back to bite you on the #%&? Stick to the facts, and take care with the jokes or information you might be tempted to share about others.

Superficial Sincerity - People in the workplace can become very good at hiding their insecurities behind a facade of sincerity. It would be nice if all of our coworkers felt confident, comfortable and secure in their jobs. BUT they don’t. Don’t expect a coworker to jump on the sword perched in the middle of the room even if it does have their name on it.

Trust – This is one of the most important aspects of any relationship, BUT it’s hard to build trust in an environment of casual “work” relationships. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t trust the people you work with. It just means that if you witness a coworker doing or saying something behind someone else’s back, chances are extremely good they’ll do the same behind your back too.

None of this is a suggestion to look for trouble where there isn’t any. It’s just a reminder that the same ability you use to build relationships with your clients can be used to help you safely navigate through office politics with your coworkers. All either situation requires is your attention.

Alan Luoma: I am a Sales Coach with extensive experience in industrial sales, sales management, new
product development, sales and product training. I work part time with a great national sustainable packaging company and their exceptional distributors to increase sales. My success has been and is in utilizing the Pareto 80/20 principal in business and life. I have become an expert in seeking out and eliminating behaviors that prevent business people from being successful. I am a member of The National Speakers Association and New England Speakers Association. You can view my profile on LinkedIn, or contact me at 

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Manage your customer password

I am continuing my series of posts on security topics of primary interest to businesses, as I mentioned in my first post on this blog. Last month, I talked about how to manage your passwords online. In this post, I focus on making sure you are managing your customer's passwords carefully.

If your company requires any kind of login to your web site, you have the major responsibility of making sure those passwords are stored in a secure way. Over the last few years, we have seen in the news many data breaches that included the obtaining of databases of user accounts, which also included passwords. As was mentioned last month, many people use the same password at multiple web sites. If your database is compromised, would an attacker then be able to use your customer's passwords to compromise other systems, including banks, etc.?

What can I do to store a password securely?

There are several ways to store passwords. One is in the clear, or "open text" which means just what it sounds like - stored as it is saved by the user. This means there is no security at all. If you reset your password on a website and that company sends your password as a clear text value in the email, that company is not doing what it should to keep your data secure. I would consider canceling your account through them immediately.

Ideally, the recommended way to store a password is to store a "hashed password". This essentially means using a mathematical function that takes your clear text password and runs it through to get a result with a constant length. For example, your password: "SillyDog" may run through a hash function to produce "aP;v77a7blskda;fbblskd--". The great thing about hash functions is they are one-way only. You can't decrypt a hash function result, but instead the only way to know you have the right password is you compare the entered password by the user with the hash function result to verify it matches what was saved the first time you saved the hashed password. This makes sure the only person who knows the password is the user and not anyone else. Some other considerations is to use a random value with the user password, for example: 

hash ("random value" + "user password") = "hashed password" 

This will introduce some randomness in the collection of hashed passwords in case there are any duplicate passwords in the database that would resolve to the same hashed password. The way to know if a web site is using a method like this is they won't be able to send you your password for a password reset, but instead will ask you for other information to identify you and then let you create a new one. Remember, a secure password solution is one-way only and only the user, not the company, would and should know the password.

What else can we do?

Another great technique for protecting user accounts and logging in for the user is to use what's call two-factor authentication. The idea behind this is to use two or more methods of verifying a user account. Ideally this means using one of these two:

1. What you know (password)
2. What you own (a code sent to your mobile phone)
3. Who you are (biometric such as a thumbprint)

Lots of banks, Amazon, Google mail, and other services are using this method. For example, you would enter your password, and then a code is sent to your mobile phone that you must also enter to finally be logged into the system. There is a web site that lists what companies are providing two-factor authentication services:

The details for how to set this up for your company is beyond what I can describe here. If you are concerned about the possibility of someone using your customer's password from another web site against your web site, using two-factor authentication will put a stop to it because they will also need to have that user's mobile phone in their possession as well. 

Next steps

Whatever method you use to store passwords securely for your customers, think carefully about how you manage those passwords and how you request them from the user. Give it some thought and consider the recommendations above. If I can be of help in setting up your own password policy, or evaluating it, please get in touch. If you have any general questions about passwords, please let me know below.

About Robert Hurlbut

Robert Hurlbut, owner of Robert Hurlbut Consulting Services, based in Enfield, CT, provides software security consulting, architecture, and training. This includes software development, threat modeling, secure code reviews, and other kinds of security audits for your company. If Robert can be of assistance to your company, please get in touch through the below contacts.

Twitter: @RobertHurlbut

Monday, April 11, 2016

How are your Actions Driving Outcomes?

Managerial actions drive employee beliefs; employee beliefs drive their actions and employee actions drive results.  However, I contend that your management not only changes behavior by their actions, but by their inactions as well. Maximizing employee engagement requires that you analyze your actions or lack thereof - and how those actions influence others in the workplace.

Quality problems, productivity problems and cost problems are the consequences of your employee behaviors and is often based on what is being reinforced by your senior leadership team.  Behaviors associated with undesirable outcomes are being reinforced by either negative reinforcement or positive reinforcement.   For example, if your employees are taking shortcuts in safety and quality, the naturally occurring positive consequences with doing the job with less effort will cause the undesirable behaviors to continue.

Negative reinforcement will decrease desired behavior.  Threats and fear lead to resistance and generates just enough behavior from your employees to escape or avoid punishment.  For example, if you stay late to revise a presentation so the first draft is perfect so your boss won’t chew you out – often you will do the minimum required not to get chewed out.  This does not encourage your employees to work hard, innovate or produce quality products as the main focus is on the boss and his actions and not the task at hand.  In addition, your ingrained beliefs about your boss will hinder efforts to produce your best efforts in the future.

Some other perceived negative consequences are unintended by your senior leadership team - such as requiring extra effort to learn a process.   Your employees will resist that which is not simple.  Another example of a negative consequence is when your manager assigns you extra projects because they ‘know you’ll get the job done’ and you get behind in your primary work – creating additional stress surrounding performance.

I cannot stress enough that most consequences are unintentional on senior leadership’s part.  However, intent does not determine effect.  Consequence is determined by person who receives it.  Inadvertent punishment can be just as harmful as direct punishment.

For example, your employee does something positive and nothing happens.  The employee then tells anyone who will listen, “Nobody appreciates anything I do around here!”  This is counter intuitive to many managers – as most managers feel that doing nothing has no effect on performance.  It is easier to do nothing when you don’t know what to do – but if employees take the initiative to go above and beyond and there is no favorable consequence – then at some point they will stop.

Let’s say you have 30 employees and 27 perform well and 3 are problem performers.  If the majority of your time is spent on putting policies and procedures in place to align the problem performers then you are ignoring the good performance that makes an organizational successful.  Instead, you should focus on identifying behaviors that will produce desired outcomes and arrange desired meaningful consequences to positively reinforce them.  This is the only way to maximize performance and to generate more behavior than is minimally required.  For example, in regard to the quality example given earlier.  If I buy an employee a cup of coffee while discussing the improved quality of his or her work – then the quality will go up even higher the following week. 

Idea Share Tip of the Month!

Help your employees find meaning at work by connecting with your employees and being empathetic to their needs and issues.  Create the freedom for your employees to be creative and come up with great ideas.

Sign up for the Idea Share Tip of the Week! at Frame of Mind Consulting

Frame of Mind Consulting understands the unique DNA of your organization, which is necessary to turn any organization into one capable of leveraging the full idea potential of its employees.  Would you like to drive connectivity and ownership throughout your company?  Contact Page at (860) 559-7942 to set up your complimentary consultation during which you will receive some invaluable tips that you can apply to your business right away.

What is Your Communication LifeStyle?

By Carolyn Finch

As I waited at the stop sign for the children to
get off the bus, I noticed a mother with a stroller and a sleeping baby waiting at the bus stop. I was only about 15 feet from the front of the bus and could see parents standing around. This mother was holding her smart phone with her head bent downward and at times would stop and then text  or enter a number and then the phone went back up to her ear. I never saw her check on the baby in the stroller nor did she look up. Soon a cute little light skinned boy with curly brown hair about 5 or 6 years old jumped off the bus and waved a paper with a painting at his mother. Mom paid no attention to the boy so he grabbed her leg and shouted "look mom look mom"
She looked down at him and shouted "I told you not to talk to me when I'm on the phone."

My heart sank and I wanted to cry as I'm sure that the little boy wanted to do. What an ideal time for communication. This amazing transition time when a child is enthusiastic about something he has created and at the same time happy to be getting home from school. Was this a dysfunctional communication moment?  It certainly appeared that way. Would this be the base to poor communication for the next few minutes, hours and maybe even days?

The  one major aspect of being a human being is that we are able to communicate orally. Have we forgotten to be thankful for this gift of true conversation? With the advent of smart phones we have a new addiction. Research shows that the average person with a smartphone texts an average of 100 time a day wow! This type of communication determines our lifestyle and our lifestyle determines our communication.

If we have an addiction of any kind such as shopping, drinking, drugs, sickness, foods whatever,
our typical conversation will include words, phrases and stories related to our addiction. Doesn't sound like a learning listener and quality conversation to me. Therefore my challenge to you as a Blog reader is to look at everyone you speak with, eye to eye and belly to belly. This way you will be listening to the other person and as a reward you will learn something from what they say. So add to your communication lifestyle the ability to listen with your eyes.

You can improve your communication by helping yourself become more enlightened after hearing me speak at your next conference. Call now for more information or for  a one on one Speech Coaching session.203 405 3972.

Carolyn Finch Body Language and Communication LifeStyle Expert TM
Professional Speaker who will put a SPARK in your next meeting!

Friday, April 8, 2016

Autism Awareness Month and Leadership?

This post will be a divergence from my normal ideas (though I am sure I can factor in Leadership and Sales Success). I want to share a bit of my story and how autism has impacted my life. This past week my son Mikey turned 11 years old. When I reflect on what transpired April 5th 2005, it still makes me shudder. At 8 am that morning I was on the Baltimore beltway driving my daughter to daycare on my way to the office and a big company meeting. My cellphone rang and it was my wife. She sounded very scared. At the time, my wife was 6 months pregnant. She told me her water had broke and the doctor wanted her to immediately go to the hospital. 48 hours later, they performed an emergency C section and my son was born. He weighed two pounds 1.5 ounces. We spent the next three months watching over him at St. Agnes hospital until he was healthy enough to come home. The next three years, proved to be very challenging and a real learning experience for my family. A few months before my son's third birthday we received the results on several tests that had been conducted to understand what was going on with my son. The top report indicated my son is Autistic. Or, he has a condition known as Autism Spectrum Disorder. It is called a spectrum because no two people have the same issues. They may have similar ones, but not the same.


I tell people, all the time, I love my son but I hate Autism. The simplest way to describe it, is imagine a small toddled with a limited vocabulary that is prone to frequent tantrums. Now increase the frequency of normal toddler issues by a factor of 100. That gives you a pretty good idea of a typical day caring for my son. Those of you with children on the Autism spectrum look at that "100" and are nodding your head in agreement. Those of you without an autistic child had the knee-jerk reaction "Oh come on Mike your exaggerating." It's okay, I am used to people without regular exposure to autism, telling me things like that. I don't take offense.


That is the billion dollar question. There seem to be a thousand different factors that can cause your child to be autistic, Big surprise, preemies have a higher incidence of autism. Boys have a higher incidence of autism. children with parents over the age of 30 have a higher incidence of autism. If you have a parent that was diagnosed as "hyper active" as a child. Guess, what, we checked off each one of those boxes and there are plenty more.


I have many good friends that speak out about the dangers of vaccinations and there are MANY scientists and doctors that  think of my friends as superstitious, angry people looking to assess blame Here is my opinion on vaccinations. Both of my children are fully vaccinated. My daughter is not Autistic and my son is. In my mind, that does NOT equate to vaccinations creating a 50% likelihood of autism. Here is what I ask the medical and scientific community. Your are CERTAIN, that vaccinations in no way cause autism and you have thousands on research studies to show that back your belief. What would happen if you did research with the idea that certain vaccines in certain people could be a catalyst for autism? That is all I am asking, consider the possibility.

I don't want to eradicate vaccines. I wan't to assure that they do NO HARM.


My son's autism has taught me a great many things that help in the business world.

Lesson number one: just because you don't understand someone doesn't mean what they have to say isn't important, When was the last time you really tried to better understand someone, particularly if their opinion is different than yours?

Lesson number two: "Be kind, everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about." That sales meeting you had today, the one with the man in the corner that looks like he is about to pass out asleep? Maybe he was up at 2 a.m. with his autistic son who could not go back to sleep until 6 a.m,  a dose of sympathy can be a great bonding opportunity in business transaction.

Lesson number three: Patience is not only a virtue, it is absolutely critical to leadership. If someone does it wrong the first time, how much responsibility are you taking to correct and help that person become better?

Lesson number four: You are much stronger than you think. The world is fond of throwing a great deal at us. Very rarely do these things kill us or do irreparable harm. Worry less and smile more. My wife and I have the mantra "if you don't laugh, you'll cry." Try this the next time something "bad" happens. It helps, a great deal.


Statistically speaking, each of you has someone in your family or circle of friends, with a child with autism, offer to help. Offer to watch that child for them for a few hours so they can go out on a date like a regular couple. Offer to run an errand for them so they can take a nap. Offer to drive their other children to an event so those children don't feel left out. Offer to meet them for a drink after work one day and let them vent about life. It is good to have someone listen to you.

Thank you all for taking the time to read this today. I am happy to discuss autism, as well as my regular topics of sales, leadership, public speaking and LinkedIn with each and everyone of you.

Thursday, April 7, 2016


I have been a sports fan since I was a little kid growing up in Milwaukee going to Milwaukee Braves games (they moved to Atlanta in 1966) and watching Vine Lombardi's Green Bay Packers in their golden age. The Braves featured future Home Run King Hank Aaron, Eddie Matthews, and Warren Spahn, and I saw them play against Hall of Famers Willie Mays, Roberto Clemente, Stan Musial, Frank Robinson, Sandy Koufax, Juan Marichal - too many to name. Awesome times!

Been hooked on hoops for a long time too: I was fortunate enough to go to Providence College (played trombone in the band) and their 1973 and 1974 teams were both top 5 (1973 was Final 4). The Big East was not even around yet... This week ,we just crowned two NCAA Basketball National Champs: the Villanova men (incredible game) and the UConn women (incredible dynasty).

SCORECARDS capture the details of sports competition - stats, winners, etc. These are ACTUAL EVENTS... All too often, it seems we have mental scorecards that negatively affect the lives of others and ourselves. These include comparing ourselves to others, criticising, judging, jealousy. They also include personally beating ourselves up over our own behavior (I "should" have), not living up to our own (and others) expectations. These are PERCEIVED - all in our mind...

People do not like to be judged or compared to do you? You can't change people - it has to come from them. You can only control yourself.

Scorecards belong in sports and competition, not life, period so throw out life's scorecards... Here are the much easier said than done solutions:
·         Interacting with Others: Realize that comparing, criticising, judging, jealousy, and such are YOUR THOUGHTS and are only real if you let them be. Look at the positive side of any situation and if there is none, walk away. Practicing gratitude is a great way to develop and practice positivity!
·         Interacting with Yourself: Also realize that passing judgment on yourself is self-sabotage. We are not perfect yet we are all individually awesome! We need to look at that magnificence in ourselves! If you are down on yourself, it is impossible to enjoy life. Instead of "scoring" yourself, create a check list (tasks, which lead to achieving goals) and cross off each task as you do it - you will feel great doing so...

Work on it daily. Throw out life's scorecards. With others, change the world one person at a time by looking for positives in situations instead of criticising, judging, and being jealous. For yourself, create a task (to do) list that you update regularly while crossing off finished tasks.


April 20: 7:30 - 9:30 AM: Join Rick Forgay, Eric Lopkin and myself for the "Success Showcase": Professional & Personal Development - Networking Fun - Interactive Exercises!
A big crowd is  expected. Click HERE for more information and to register. Click HERE for a flyer.

Chip, the Happiness and Success GPS, is a speaker, trainer, facilitator, consultant and NETWORKING EXPERT. Everything I do is customized for the group or business I that am working with so let's brainstorm - call me anytime at 860-673-4006 - coffee's on me!

One of my FAVORITE methods of acting on my gratitude is sending greeting cards. Many of you may have received one from me at some time. If you are looking for an easy and inexpensive way to send customized Mother's Day Cards, please contact me at 860-673-4006 - check out for more info...

Monday, April 4, 2016

Start with Why part 1

Simon Sinek’s book, Start with Why is so good that I have read it multiple times. He wrote his book because he wanted to inspire people to do things that inspire them. He found that just a few people have found the secret to doing only the things that inspire themselves. This small group of people have discovered the secret of inspiration by constantly asking themselves why they want to do what they are doing. Furthermore, with every answer they came up with to their WHY question they then asked themselves again why on that one too until they were successfully able to get to the bottom of why they were doing what they were doing. Finally knowing WHY truly motivated them to become successful.
            The rest of us who are not in this small happy elite group tend to answer and think in the WHAT terminology when thinking and talking about what we do. We tend to think and talk about WHAT we have done or what we plan to do instead of WHY we are doing; unfortunately, at the expense of our own personal inspiration. People who understand their WHY are more inspired than those who do not.
            In Simon Sinek’s own words he says, “Our greatest leaders and influencers in the world all think, act, and communicate in the exact same way- and it’s the opposite of what everybody else does.” Sinek calls this powerful idea of a new way of thinking, acting, and communicating The Golden Circle. And it all begins with WHY.
            I believe that most of us would like to be able to inspire others. I know I do. But Sinek’s book expresses that most of us don’t know how to inspire others so instead we do what is easier; and that is to manipulate. Businesses do this manipulations thing all the time by just dropping their prices and running a sale. Sinek says that there are only two ways to get people to act. You either inspire them or you manipulate them. If you want to inspire them, like I do, then you need to understand The Golden Circle and know your WHY.
            Next month I will explain The Golden Circle and talk to you more about your WHY. Until then, go forward, learn all that you can and think deeply about your WHY.

Dan is an award-winning teen leadership author, speaker and educator. You can find out more about Dan at:

The Motivation Manifesto Part 1

            As a former history teacher I can’t help but think of our country’s forefathers, the Framers of our Constitution, and all they fearlessly sacrificed for freedom as I read Brendon Burchard’s Motivation Manifesto and his 9 Declarations to Claim Our Personal Power.
            These 9 Declarations that will help us claim personal power are: 1. Meet Life with Full Presence and Power. 2. Reclaim Our Agenda. 3. Defeat Our Demons. 4. Advance with Abandon. 5. Practice Joy and Gratitude. 6. Do Not Break Integrity. 7. Amplify Love. 8. Inspire Greatness. 9. Slow Time.
            In a manner that I think Jefferson, Hamilton, Adams, and the rest of the gang would agree with, Brendon Burchard explains that the main motivation of humankind is to be free, to express our full selves, and to pursue our dreams without restriction to experience our own personal power or personal freedom. To secure these rights we must not consent to be controlled by fear, convention, tyranny, or even the will of the masses when they are wrong.
            Over time, millions have marched for our freedom, millions have fought, and millions have died. Millions have also thrived in the cause of freedom that we so freely take for granted today. I wonder how our forefathers would have felt about this if they could look into the future and see all of us today?
            Sadly, even though the United States and many other developed countries where democracy rules and freedom rings, not all of us are totally free. We want to be free, but too often we are ruled by conformity and fear. However, if we can get beyond conformity and fear, and move closer toward freedom and authenticity, we’ll find that we become more and more motivated and alive.
            “Fear rips us from Freedom,” says Brendon Burchard. It is the destroyer of greatness. We must set new bold Declarations to not be afraid of the extraordinary effort needed to be free. Stop being afraid. Unless we are in a real life or death situation, what do we really have to be afraid of in the first place? Fear is just a crutch for emotional weakness. The truth is that we are more often fleeing from ourselves than actual danger.
            If we really paused long enough to examine our fears, we’ll soon realize that there is always less to lose than to gain in making good decisions and taking action for ourselves. The next time we are afraid we need to ask ourselves if we are acting our not acting from a state of fear and aversion, or are we acting from a state of freedom and ascension. Yes, we can be afraid and still act in a way that helps us ascend; that is called courage and desire to be free. Our forefathers understood what I’m talking about here. I mean, let’s think about this for a moment: Aren’t we more than our tiny worries of inconvenience? Isn’t a better life worth some struggle?
            Still think you can’t do it? Still think the others who are doing it are just lucky?  Well, I have some breaking news for you… The motivated ones aren’t just lucky, they’re just choosing to use their minds in a more purposeful way. And that more purposeful way starts with them knowing their “Why” or their reason for acting even when they’re feeling discomfort or fear.

            Motivation for these so-called lucky people are fueled by ambition and expectancy. The “lucky ones” know that they will make their dreams come true over time because they trust their ability to learn, to work, to ask for help, and to persist. With these expectations their minds begin to form the beliefs and behaviors needed to make their ambitions a reality. 
Dan Blanchard is an award-winning author, speaker, educator; a parenting expert and a certified life-coach.