Jerry Gitchel

Jerry Gitchel

An audio cassette recording by personal development giant Earl Nightingale launched my discovery of the value of nurturing a focus on what's possible. What we now refer to as a podcast, the audio recording of Acres of Diamonds is as relevant today as it was when the book by Russell H. Conwell was published in 1890. By his death in 1925, Conwell delivered his speech 6,152 times. He invested the profits to found Temple University. It's a simple story of an African farmer who, seeking diamonds, sold his farm and traveled the continent until giving up, committing suicide. The man who bought the farm later discovered what would become one of Africa's largest diamond mines, in a stream, right in his own backyard. I believe we have acres of diamonds right in our own backyard, right here in Jacksonville.

Discovering Your Acre of Diamonds

If you've been in business for more than 5 years, I believe you have hidden treasure in your business. Your diamonds are buried in your contact database. They could be former clients, people you met only once, or those who may have said no to your original offer. How often have we heard "No" and let it write the end of the story? They may have said no, but what if they meant "Not yet"? Have you considered mining for new customers in your own backyard?

The idea for this edition of The Art of Digital Leverage came to me while working with a client to migrate to a contemporary Contact Relationship Management (CRM) platform. You don't need a pick, a miners helmet or a flashlight. All you need is a plan.

Mining Your Acre of Diamonds

If you are considering migrating your contacts to a new platform, great! Here are some tips to you can use today to see immediate results.

  • Do NOT import all your existing contacts into the new platform. It's like dragging 19 pieces of luggage through the airport. You are sure to miss your flight. Start by scrolling through your existing contacts. Being selective in choosing the most valuable existing increases the probability you will follow through by reconnecting. Jot down where you left off with this contact. Former client? Someone you lost contact with? Can't remember where you met? All are reasons you can use to pick up where you left off.
  • Once you've imported the contact, add a note to their record of how you met, where you left off, anything that points to why you wish to reconnect.
  • Use what you've learned or remembered to compose a reconnect email. The three most important items to include are, who you are, why you're contacting them, what you expect them to do. They are simple answers to the questions formed in their mind when they see your email in their inbox.
  • Instead of an "Ask" or pitch, focus on asking about their world. 
  • If you are lucky enough to receive a reply, document their response in your CRM. Whenever I coach a business professional I document three items: What we discussed, what we decided, what's next. The process forces you to take action toward building or rebuilding the relationship. 

Mining Your Existing Database

If you are happy with your existing CRM platform, you can still profit from the process of rediscovery. It's simple and you can execute it right this minute.

  • Scroll through your contacts on your phone. You can even close your eyes and let your finger do the searching for you.
  • Tap a contact, then tap their phone number. Use a script similar to the email rediscovery above. "Hi, it's (Say your name), we met (where and when)." Here's the best part. Tell them the truth, "I just saw your name in my contacts and realized how long it's been since we last spoke."

Once they realize you're not calling to ask for a favor, the conversation often results in a favorable outcome.  

Established business owners tell me they feel at a disadvantage in the digital age. Even if you are experiencing a temporary sales decline, I believe experienced managers can profit from having the best of both worlds. Future sales increases will appear when you combine traditional business rules with digital tools. Are you ready to mine for diamonds?

 

  

 

   

 

 

 

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Map or Compass?

It was 20 years if it was a day. I received an invitation from an established organization to present a session on how to choose the right technology for business professionals. It would be a hybrid presentation style. No PowerPoint, no still photos with captions, just live video. I arrived for a tech rehearsal and found a ceiling projector with a pull-down screen. It's fine for PowerPoint, but live video presentations need an HD flatscreen display to provide a quality presentation. I asked their IT person if they had a TV on-site. That's when I discovered a 20-year-old, analog TV. it was 21 inches diagonal and almost two feet deep. I almost asked, "Does that still work"? I'm glad I didn't.  

Is it Working?

Later I realized the technician would have answered yes to my question. They would have plugged it in, turned it on and used the snowy screen as confirmation. From their point of view, as well as their organization, what worked in the past was proof it would work in the future. However, both the equipment and the mindset of the organization were stuck in the past. They had an analog mindset in a digital world. For leaders of traditional companies, it's a challenge of culture, are you looking backward to an analog past or forward to a digital future? 

More Technology is Not the Solution

What is the cure for this TV problem? Most managers would answer, "Buy a new flatscreen TV. Unfortunately, it would only treat the symptom. It would do nothing to change the culture. The status quo is not what it used to be. In the future, successful companies will challenge the status quo. They will look forward, move forward, not with a map from the past, but with a compass pointed toward the future.

Compass and North Star

Navigating toward business success in the digital age requires leaders to follow their internal compass. It's less about how your company has operated in the past and more about where you wish to lead your team in the future. Here is a place you could start. Pick a business process that directly impacts your customer. Disassemble the process into individual steps. Address each one with the question, "How will this help my customer?" Will it provide them with knowledge? Will it give them peace of mind? Will it provide them with a solution they didn't even know they needed? Focus on serving the needs of your customer.  is your North Star.

At Leverage Unlimited we work with clients who want to find new customers and rediscover existing customers. We invite you to learn more about the Customer Journey or contact us now. Questions? Call Jerry now 904-566-8325.   

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In Celebration of Small Business Week

Christian had a problem. He was successful, too successful. After years of working as a dance instructor for established studios, he decided 2018 would be the year he would become his own boss. He was immediately successful, with a growing list of loyal students. Too many in fact. Trying to keep track of all the session bookings, not to mention rescheduling and cancellations, was about to make his budding venture stumble. Christian needed a digital scheduling tool to manage his bookings, but which tool? 

It seems like every business owner starts with a focus on the tool instead of the task. The amount of possible choices is staggering, overwhelming. It's no wonder companies spend too much on the wrong solution. It's enough to give technology a bad name.

If you are a business professional that doesn't have the time to text and evaluate all of the available tools, here's a process you can use to make the right choice, in record time.

Step 1 - Define the Customer Journey

I asked Christian to describe his customer journey. We jotted down each step in the booking process. How did existing clients make appointments We uncovered all the problems around changing appointments, how and when to charge for cancellations, how to make sure everyone in the process received up-to-the-minute information, while everyone was out and about. 

Step 2 - Figure Out What's Working

The best solutions are the ones that work. A quick Google search for Ballroom Studio scheduling revealed a successful studio in Denver with a killer online scheduling strategy. In less than 10 minutes we had a likely candidate for a solution.

Step 3 - Real-world Evaluation

Most digital tools are acquired as a subscription. They start with a free trial period to let prospective customers evaluation the platform to see if it's a good fit. I opened a trial account for the scheduling software. Here's what I learned. The platform met most of Christian's booking needs. It was easy to learn and use. The vendor provided phone support. 

Step 4 - Smart Acquisition

When a trial subscription ends, many vendors lure new customers by offering a discount for annual enrollment. I recommend starting with a monthly subscription for a few months. Trial offers come with a short duration.Annual contracts rarely are refundable. Better to start with a monthly term. It may cost more in the short term but could save plenty in the long-run.    

Digital Tools Assessment

Established firms acquire technology over time. Chances are, your company has a virtual closet full of technology you continue to pay for, but never use. At Leverage Unlimited, we use the Digital Tools Assessment to develop a custom toolbox for your company. It is a proven strategy you can use to reduce technology expenses immediately.

Small Business Week

The President has declared April 29 - May 5 Small Business Week

 

In an editorial in last Sundays Times-Union, it was revealed that the board of the Jacksonville Electric Authority (JEA) acknowledged for the first time that the status quo is not what it used to be. Board Chairman Alan Howard said JEA in the midst of "historic change: in a "dynamic market". The board points out that sales are more than flat, they are declining. The editorial goes on to say, "The entire utility industry is entering an era of rapid change. This is a shocking change in culture from its history as a conservative industry that only changes slowly." 

What is most newsworthy is not the announcement, but the timing. More evolution than revolution, the decline and "disruptive" nature of JEA's situation springs from renewable energy including solar and wind. The leadership of JEA chose to turn a blind eye toward the forces of change all around them. If a major utility with over a half-million customers can miss such a major opportunity, what about your company?

Every company in every industry will experience marketplace disruption within 5 years. The culprit is not technology, but how your customers use technology. In less than 10 years, the customer journey has changed. The long-term survival of your company hinges on the answer to the question, "Has your company changed?" As a business leader, you have a choice. You can either disrupt your organization or like the JEA, be disrupted.  Here are three opportunities you can use today to ensure that, unlike the JEA, your organization can avoid the chopping block. 

The Breakfast Club

Invite your top five customers to breakfast. Who to invite? Choose the ones who made you exclaim, "If we only have 10 more of this customer." Ask them about their customer journey. How did they discover you? How long did it take for them to trust you? What did it take for them to make the purchase decision? 

Virtual Town Hall

Take what you learned at breakfast and open a conversation. Use your newsletter to conduct a dialog instead of a monolog with your community. Too often organizations talk at their loyal customers instead of talking with them. Don't be surprised if they seem surprised. The art of listening is not a marketing trick, it's an essential part of doing business in the digital age.

Transformation

Leaders who perceive change as a four-letter word use the word disruption. Your organization's future success starts with a change of mindset. Banish the word disruption from your organization and replace it with transformation. Create a current edition of your customer journey. Take stock of your digital tools, workforce skills and talents, streamline your techniques and processes.  

JEA will be sold, and not for a favorable price. It's inevitable. Business brokers tell me it's the "sticker shock" their clients get when they realize the company they spent decades building isn't worth as much as they thought. Will your company share the future fate of JEA? Don't wait for disruption, transform. 

 

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Three Steps to Overcoming Technophobia

 Yes, itis real. Just as real as, Achondroplasiaphobia – The fear of midgets, or Omphalophobia – The fear of belly buttons, or Lepidopterophobia – The fear of butterflies. Go ahead and laugh, LOL. What about your fears? Not so funny when the joke is on you. When it's personal.

Fear is nothing more than an emotion. It's induced when the subject perceives a threat. It can be a fear of an object, place or situation. Last Friday I became painfully aware that phobias are real. I've been the master of my digital domain for more than a quarter-century. I'm in control of my technology. From my perspective, Technophobia is silly, something to get over.

While speaking to a group I stressed the need to have everyone's email address. Someone said, "What if we don't have an email address?" I made a smart remark. It was thoughtless, both ignorant and arrogant. I regretted it immediately. The person in question actually did have an address, he simply didn't want to share it. I was wrong. I've requested his phone number and plan to follow up with an apology. As for you and I, perhaps it would be more helpful if I offered three steps you can use to deal with technophobia.

Accept Your Fear - You are right, it is complicated, it's difficult to accept that technology has value, especially with hacking and trolls and constant change.

Reframe the Situation - Technology can be a valuable resource for your business. It can extend your reach into new markets. It can be used to increase the velocity of your business. It can cut expenses and grow your operation by eliminating the need to build a new plant or offices in fifty locations.

Eliminate the Overwhelm - You don't need to invest in every digital tool. Many organizations have so much technology they become overwhelmed by all the choices.

Is a fear of technology preventing your organization from achieving success? Inch by inch, life is a cinch. Start small. all it takes is a call. Jerry Gitchel 904-566-8325.  

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The Russians are... Already Here?

The details revealed in the release, on Friday of the latest indictment in the Russian election meddling case were shocking. I'm not talking about the charges nor the political ramifications. I'm shocked to learn they had a 1M monthly bill for social media engagement. Wow, just wow! And that's USD, not Rubles.

If an investment in social media builds influence for the Russians, imagine what it could do for your business. According to the indictment, they allegedly targeted specific user demographics, engaged with individuals and were able to influence large groups, not only those who were proponents of a cause or candidate, but also those who actively opposed.The Russians successfully generated engagement. You can profit from their strategy without a much smaller budget. Here' how. 

Finding Your Audience

  • Core Audiences -  Select your audience manually based on characteristics like age and location.
  • Custom Audiences - Upload your contact list to connect with your customers on Facebook.
  • Lookalike Audiences - Use your customer information to find people similar to them on Facebook.

Helping Them Find You

  • Create a Facebook Page - Find new customers and keep in touch with current ones by promoting your Facebook business Page.
  • Join a Community - 
  • Connect with Messenger - More and more people around the world are connecting through instant messaging
  • Create a Mobile Hub - 

Get People Insights

  • Facebook IQ delivers insights that help make marketing campaigns more effective.
  • Insights to Go makes data more accessible and actionable, sort the stats you care about and share them instantly. 

 Easy on Your Budget

Adwords is fee-based. Facebook's instructions and the information is free. The trend I am most excited about for 2018 is learning new skills. I encourage you to use the links above to learn valuable information you can use to propel your business forward in 2018!

 Want to be the first to receive valuable strategies, tips and tricks to leverage your business. Sign up to receive this weekly newsletter direct to your inbox

 

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Adapt Technology to Meet the Human Need

I don't even have the words to express my love and appreciation to my girlfriend Deborah for such an amazing birthday week. She planned something special for each day. I was greeted with a card and announcement every morning. She is an expert at Adapting Technology to Meet the Human Need. Love you, Deb!

Jackie Dorst coined the Leverage Unlimited motto in the title above It appeared out of the blue during a client conference called The Gathering, back in 2014. Making humans a priority over machines is more than a strategy, it's a principle. My business life has been built on that principle. I preach about it all the time. I've must to admit, I wasn't sure if anyone was listening. Then the birthday celebration began. 

The first greeting arrived via Facebook from Scott Friedman all the away from Kuala Lumpur. Then slowly across the globe, both close to home and from afar. Al Bagocius produced the most moving tribute by quoting a client testimonial from my friend Phillip Van Hooser in Princeton Kentucky. Phil posted in almost 10 years earlier. I received warm wishes across all channels. I had no choice but to reach out and reply. I am grateful for the gift of connection I received. Wow, just wow.

I was reminded in a most marvelous way the importance of the connection vs the channel. At no other time in history have we has so many tools and methods to meet the human need for connection. My community gave me a gift of connection, and I am grateful.

Making the Community Connection 

Who do you need to connect with today? Take a moment, lean back where ever you are at this very moment. It's not cheating and perfectly legal if you switch to your contact app and scroll down to find the one person you have let slip away. My gift to you is a simple request. Reach out to them. Yes, right now. Call, text, message, whatever it takes. Don't be surprised if they hesitate. I promise they will be astounded that you reached out without a having a need, simply just because.

Some people define present as a place. I define present as a point in time. When you use your digital tools to connect in the present, there is no distance between two hearts. Happy Valentines Day my friends. 

   

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The Disruption Mindgame

 The Philadelphia Eagles disrupted a sports dynasty on Super Bowl Sunday. Brandon Graham’s forced fumble produced the only sack of the game. It changed the momentum, the game and most importantly, the mindgame of Tom Brady and the Patriots. If a single disruption can change the course of the Super Bowl, imagine how easy it would be to disrupt your industry. Chances are, it’s already happening in your business, it can’t be stopped, but you can do something. Change your mindset. 

There are two words used to describe the changes impacting your sales and business operations. Disruption and transformation. The first generates fear, the second makes you fearless. It’s not your fate, it’s a choice. You can either give in to feeling out of control or you can call a timeout, regroup and make the necessary change. I see it everyday, Established businesses experience change and name it disruption. Startups experience change and see transformation. What do you see?

The changes during this Super Bowl were experienced beyond the field. The commercials were different, more serious, less silly. We experienced less fantasy, more reality. They promoted community and gave us hope. Not everyone saw it that way. Matt Damon delivered a simple, straightforward invitation to invest in clean water. It appears the idea was too simple. Not to understand, but to comprehend. The idea that the purchase of a Stella Artois chalice could provide clean water to a family for 5 years was disruptive. Skeptics blasted the idea and demanded a fact-check. 

If you run a traditional business, you and your industry are going to experience change. Your future success in large part depends on how your mindset. Here is a good place to start. 

Fact Checking Matt Damons Clean Water Promise in a Super Bowl Ad

Someone, somewhere close by is hitting the reset button. It may be your best competitor, most loyal customer, or favoured vendor. Your competitor has watched the disruption in other industries and has vowed to leverage all their resources to maintain a competitive advantage. Your once loyal customer has chosen to embrace a new way of meeting their needs and wonders why you are not seeing the future. Your vendor is losing patience with your slow communications, decisions and payments. Don't look now, but you are being disrupted.

A report recently published at FastCompany.com titled, "Self-Disrupt, Or Get Left Behind" addresses one of the most important decisions you will make in 2018. Disrupt or be disrupted. Will you wait for the storm to hit, or will you start paddling really hard, right now? Movie industry disrupter MoviePass.com has transformed the, "Let's go to a movie" experience by delivering a 30-times increase in value all for the price of a $10 monthly subscription. They have combined a traditional customer loyalty model with the cost-sharing profit model of healthcare insurance. The entire system consists of an  App and debit card. it works, and moviegoers love it.

On the other hand, one theatre chain hates the idea. While most chains have signed on, AMC theatres not only said no, they said hell no.  A war has developed between the two companies, including threats of legal action. The bottom line is this, instead of accepting the increased traffic and sales, AMC has decided being disrupted by MoviePass makes more sense.

At any point in time, the movie theatre experts like AMC and others could have disrupted their business model and kept all the traffic and sales. Instead, the waited until MoviePass stuck it to them. I predict this will end badly for AMC, Just as it did for Kodak and Polaroid and hundreds of companies in industries including lodging, transportation, real estate, and healthcare. Companies, industries and even entire business sectors are sitting quietly with their heads in the sand hoping the disruptors will pass them by. The problem is, hope is not a strategy.

How to Become a Self-disruptor

  • Identify the early adopters. Look at each end of your industry, at the top organizations that have deep pockets, as well as the smaller, nimble operators who have nothing to lose. This is where disruption first appears.
  • Work with your industry's professional association. Chances are, they are receiving reports and intellegence from the field about how savvy operators are disrupting their traditional business model.
  • Assemble the A-Team. Traditional management theory is simply not up to this challenge. Assemble, train, and equip a special forces team with a special mission, disrupt your company to build something new.

I've lived on both coasts of the US. I've survived earthquakes and hurricanes. You can't prepare for an earthquake. On the other hand, hurricanes provide an early warning. A storm is heading your way. Don't wait until the rain starts.Take action now.  

How We Can Help

Leverage Unlimited provides business evaluations to business owners who want to replace disruption with transformation. By this time next week, you could have an action plan in your hands to avoid a disaster. Call now, 904-566-8325

 

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Bright Shiny Objects

Nothing kills business productivity quite like a bright shiny object. If your goal is more focus in 2018, eliminating digital distractions is a great place to start. Here at Leverage Unlimited, we serve as the catalyst to help organizations transform in the face of industry disruption. When it comes to your personal technology, you have the power to eliminate distraction at the source, starting with those annoying notifications on your devices. 

While meeting with a Jacksonville business leader last week our conversation was interrupted by the sound of chimes. Each of us reached for our devices. It was the new smartwatch she received as a gift. Picking up where we left off was a challenge. It took a few moments, but we laughed and carried on with our conversation. It was as if we accepted the interruption as inevitable. So why do we allow digital distraction? If you've been a victim of device disruption, it's time to eliminate the device bright shiny object.

You Have Mail

New devices and Apps each start with a 4-alarm fire notification level. It's by design. Like a roomful of classic cuckoo clocks, they all go off at the same time. You don't know which App or device needs to be silenced. When it happens in a meeting, it's unproductive and unprofessional, but it's an easy fix.  

I discovered two ways to manage notification settings. The first method is to create a comprehensive list of all the Apps on each device, then chose which ones to leave on or turn off. The second method I discovered when I realized just how much time it would take to complete the first method. Here is my recommendation.

Scorched Earth Method

Turn off ALL your device notifications. Yes, all of them. Somewhere in each device is a settings menu with an item for Notifications. Navigate there and set all the options to off. Enjoy the rest of your day in total bliss. You will soon experience a sense of FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out). If you must, check your device. Congratulations. You have just become the master of your digital domain. 

Slowly over the course of a few days, feel free to reset the notifications that you simply can't do without. Follow up by exploring the various notification options. Choose sound or vibrate if it makes sense in your environment. Set the screen display to flash momentarily or persist until you choose to clear the notification. In no time your associates will be calling you the device-whisperer.

Once you've gained control of your device notifications, explore the options available for each App. Start with your calendar. The default reminder is 10 minutes. Just enough time for you to realize you're going to arrive 10 minutes late. Don't forget to choose how the reminder is delivered. I've found out of office meetings require a 30-minute reminder delivered to my phone with sound and vibrate. The perfect way to ensure NBL (Never be late).

Multi-device Method

Have you ever watched a multi-device user play Wack-a-mole attempting to silence all their devices at once? While you are on your journey to notification nirvana, consider switching the notification settings for your primary device to On, and Off for the rest of your devices. I recommend starting with a smartwatch or smartphone, the device you have with you at all times.

Bonus Round

This final tip is the bomb for increasing your productivity and velocity. Decide in advance your default action when you receive a notification. Eliminate the deer-in-headlights reaction to an alarm. For a calendar reminder, will you simply silence the alarm and arrive late, or will you get up immediately and get to the meeting?

I hope this brings you value. If it does, consider sharing it with those associates who attend the same meetings. Imagine how quickly the meeting would end if no one's phone went off in the middle of the meeting. 

May your day be Just Another Day In Paradise | JADIP

 

 

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