Jerry Gitchel

Jerry Gitchel

Monday, 01 April 2019 20:44

Digital Privacy in a Public World

I was hacked, on March 28th, 2018 to be exact. It took 24 hours to figure it all out.  

Luckily There was no damage, just an intrusion. Apparently, the perpetrator didn't find what they were hoping for. It's happened to me only 3 times in 30 years. The most valuable result is it changed my security mindset. I when from big picture cyber security to a personal privacy perspective. You know when you're violated, you never quite feel secure again. In this case, you can benefit from my insecurities and paranoia.

I attribute my lack of privacy awareness and the apparent lack of success by the hacker to my posture as an open book. When you have nothing to hide, you pay little attention to the issue. In this edition of the Art of Digital Leverage, we will focus on how to protect your personal privacy. 

Preventing Intrusion

Investing in strong locks is the first step. Securing the keys to those locks is a close second. Strong digital keys are the passwords you assign to every online account. Yes, they are hard to remember, so don't even try.  I recommend investing in a password vault like LastPass. It gives you the flexibility to generate strong passwords, accesses them from all devices and changes them at a moments notice. With all your software tools in the cloud, securing each with a strong password is an essential first step to securing your apps and maintaining the privacy of your personal information.

The idea of a universal password you can use to access any of your apps sounds like a great idea until you realize it works like a master key. If it becomes compromised, all your apps are vulnerable. Use a password vault to create separate passwords for each account. 

Device Passcodes

The notion of using clear adhesive tape to lift your fingerprints sounds like something out of a spy novel, except that it works in the real world. Use the strongest passcode allowed by your device. Consider assigning completely different codes to different devices. Having to unlock your device multiple times a day (or hour) can be the pain. However, the pain of becoming a hacking victim can ruin your day, your week or your life. 

Social Media Security

Social is not secure. In fact, it was designed to invade your privacy, steal your identity and use it against you. It's not all bad. Turns out it's a great tool to spy on your friends, competitors and prospects. Social media is the first place marketers, bill collectors and your ex goes to learn everything about you. Let's start with Facebook check-ins. Each time you tap check-in you're sharing your location. Not just with your friends and not just in real time. It also becomes part of your permanent record. Depending on your privacy options, you could be sharing your past life with new friends or employers.   

Besides being a huge time-sink, Notifications is the second most abused privacy breach. Check your Facebook privacy setting. Are they set to show notifications even on a locked screen? What is the point of locking your phone, if anyone can read your communications?

To develop a healthy privacy posture, start thinking like a spy. Put on the hacker's black hat and see what you can discover about yourself, your world and your privacy. Just make sure you are sitting down when the information hits your screen. 

 

Not so sure about your privacy now? Call me to discuss a personal security audit. 904-5668325

Tuesday, 05 March 2019 07:34

The Power of Having the Right Tools

If you are feeling stressed about the quantity of technology your company is forced to deal with, you are not alone. In a recent report published by Everyday Health, the #1 effect is failing memory. Clients tell me it starts by forgetting just how much they are paying for software each month. A smooth and effective digitally powered organization requires apps and cloud-based software. Most accounts are paid monthly using automatic bank debits. Although it's efficient it's almost impossible to track the expense. It adds up. Even $20 a month grows to $240 annually. I one extreme case, we discovered a new client was spending $5,000 a month for software that didn't increase revenue, it simply drained their bank account.

If you suspect your organization has become a victim of the "$20 a month software club", here is a positive step you can take right now to regain control of your technology expense.

Tools Assessment Inventory

Our area of expertise and experience is leveraging the power of technology, specifically by identifying the hidden cost of monthly software subscriptions. The premise of our Tools Assessment is that each month you are paying for software you don't need. The Assessment identifies what you are spending, with the goal of determining whether it's working or even necessary for your business operation. I’d like to provide you a worksheet you may use to conduct the Tools Assessment Inventory.

All you need is a current bank statement, our worksheet and about 30 minutes. Just click on the link (below) to gain access to the worksheet and its easy instructions.
https://leverageunlimited.net/services/toolsassessment

 

    

 

 

 

 

 

Tuesday, 12 February 2019 12:56

The "Next Big Thing" is Dead

For decades technology innovation has been driven by fear. Specifically, FOMO (the Fear Of Missing Out). Business professionals have been hounded to buy more and more technology, either because it was “cool” or because a competitor might gain an advantage simply by acquiring the latest and greatest software.

Finally, the IT industry has come clean on the topic. In their annual report, IT Industry Outlook 2019, the “Next Big Thing” gives way to the fusion of technology building blocks, people and processes. This isn’t anything new. Here at Leverage Unlimited, we have witnessed recurring client success when they align their tools, talents, and techniques. What is new is the industry’s revelation that technology, by itself, does not create a return on investment.

Why are we seeing a compulsion to confession this year? I believe it is a fundamental change in how technology is developed, delivered, and implemented. Our digital tools once lived on an individual hard drive, instead of in the cloud. All the processing was accomplished by a single computer, instead of a cluster of virtual machines across a server farm. Data, which was once protected behind a firewall, now is shared between devices.

To deal with the change we see in technology we must change our approach. In fact, it will require a change in your mindset. Instead of individual apps or software, think of your digital tools as building blocks you can use to extend your reach, see opportunities clearly, increase your power.

Ideas

 Here are some ideas you can put to use right now to leverage the information in the IT Industry report.

  • Take stock of your technology investment. Start with an inventory.
  • Reduce expenses by letting go of what you no longer need.
  • Identify digital tools that, “Work well with others”
  • Increase productivity and employee engagement by developing their digital skills.

Over time, processes naturally degrade. Start by documenting what you and your team do each day to surprise and delight your customers. Automate appropriately to get more done in less time.

 

My introduction to modern digital campaigning started in 2007 due to a single comment. Responding to a reporter’s question, Senator John McCain said that when he needed to find something on the Internet, he let his wife Cindy look it up on “The Google” It was with a sense of dread that I decided to check out his opponent's campaign.

What I discovered lead me, a lifelong Republican, to work with Senator Obama's campaign. My decision had nothing to do with allegiance to a political party or ideology. It was the realization that John McCain was looking out his rearview mirror, while Barack Obama not only had his eyes firmly focused out the windshield, he also had a busload of supporters onboard and his foot firmly on the gas.

I vow to remain a Republican until the day they pry my Voter ID out of my cold dead hand. I believe someone has to stick around to clean up after this party. However, in the future, I intend to support candidates who commit to change instead of maintaining the status quo. I learned a lot during that campaign. It's time to put all of it to work.

It’s election time here in Jacksonville. Whether you are a candidate for office or simply support one, what follows is everything I know about using digital leverage to win.

First Things First

Candidates, political pundits and even the Supervisor of Elections (SOE) always start with a focus on the money. Candidates track donations while pundits rank who raised the most money. Visit the SOE online and you will see a host of financial reports. While it’s true that financing a radio or TV spot costs money, and requires both time and effort, using the Internet to extend your reach requires, almost no money.

The only thing more important than building a war chest is building a Volunteer Army. If your supporters lack deep pockets or your candidate lacks name recognition or you lack traditional party support, building an army of committed volunteers is the first priority. When a volunteer publishes a post, a picture, or a video the campaign can gain hundreds of new supporters. With TV and radio the best you can do is talk at voters. The Internet allows you to engage in a conversation with them. Each conversation builds a relationship that transforms a spectator into a loyal supporter. Start by building an Army. Donations will follow.

Plan the Attack

Once you have an Army, it’s time to deploy your forces. There is nothing quite as amazing as a new recruit. They are on fire, will even walk through fire, unless you let the fire go out. Give your volunteers something to do immediately. Make sure you point them in the right direction. Traditional campaigns are often obsessed with managing the message. Modern campaigns understand the power of authenticity and allow their supporters to speak in their own words on behalf of their candidate champion.

When a candidate tells you how great they are, it’s bragging. When a supporter says it, that’s testifying. Supporters don't need much in the way of directions. Ask them to remain positive and use their own words. Ask them to share why they support this candidacy and how it makes them feel to be a part the change that’s coming. It’s helpful if they can share a photo or short video. Make sure to give them extra credit for including the official #hashtag. Here are some details you can use to leverage the power of social media.

The Power of Social Media

Photos

You could use your own camera to capture photos during a campaign appearance. Better yet, let supporters use theirs. It allows them to invest in your success. They get to use their photo to publish a post on their profile, which will be seen by their followers.

Hashtag

We are talking about hashtag singular. The use of a single tag increases your leverage. If you use 2 tags, it splits the impact 50-50. The idea that the more hashtags the merrier is a myth. Develop a hashtag that is easy to say, spell, and type. Start your tag with an action verb, iike #Vote. Add the candidates last name to make it unique. Before you make it the official campaign hashtag, test it in the real world. Tags that use first names are often recycled from other candidates. Visit the social media platform of your supporters. Type the proposed hashtag into the search box. Press Enter to see who shows up in the feed. If you are lucky, it won’t be a convicted felon, but you need to know that up front.

Summary

The team at Leverage Unlimited has a whole bunch of tips and tactics to help campaigns create digital leverage. I was asked for my advice just the other day. When I agreed to publish this post, the person said, ”You are not going to share this with my competition are you?”

It doesn’t matter if they know. The tips above will only work if you already have at least the beginnings of a following. These tips simply won’t work for a candidate with deep pockets who practices negative campaigning.

Good luck on your campaign!

Monday, 14 January 2019 16:23

Resolve to Use Less Technology in 2019

I'm not a fan of New Year resolutions. Unless of course, it includes a quick way to reduce business expenses. So, if you are looking for a way to reduce the cost of your technology investment, here is an easy way to assess your investment in software in 2019.

There was a time when software was delivered in a box. Inside you would find a book or manual, along with a set of disks or CDs. Now you pay-as-you-go for something known as Software-as-a-Service (SaaS). It's much easier, not only to acquire and maintain but unfortunately easier to lose track of just how much you're spending each month.

Each year on January 15th we celebrate the anniversary of our very first Digital Tools Assessment. While performing this software inventory for a new client, my team discovered the new client was spending $5,000 a month for a program they didn't need. While your results may vary, investing a small amount of time in an inventory of your technology often pays big dividends.

Digital Tools Assessment

The first part is easy: Inventory what you've got. Grab your last bank statement and simply highlight all of the software subscriptions. Some may have cryptic titles or descriptions, so if they list a phone number give them a call. After working your way through your software list, total them up to arrive at a true cost of your monthly subscriptions.

Once you know what you're spending, it's time for the second part: What's working, what's not. During our first assessment, we were shocked to learn that the client neither understands the actual costs, nor the value of their investment. Go back through your bank statements. For each item you highlighted, determine if the software is working. Is it providing value to your bottom line? 

Immediate Savings

Taking inventory and asking a few simple questions often leads to immediate savings. This process above can help you stop paying for software that you no longer need or doesn't work, and can lead to immediate savings for your company. 

Resources

Our Digital Tools Assessment goes beyond the simple inventory outlined above. Our professional assessment extends beyond a monthly inventory to include your annual subscription renewals. We evaluate each program to determine, if you need it, if it's working, and if it makes your team productive? 

We identify what should stay, and what should go. We then evaluate your business operations to identify what’s missing, what you need and how to acquire the right technology.

Give us a call at 904-566-8325 to learn how we can increase the value and reduce the cost of your technology investment. And Happy New Year!

 

 

If a picture is worth a 1,000 words, imagine what it could do to improve your cash flow.  Mention the phrase, "cellphone camera" and construction managers think of "Selfies" or photos of what they had for dinner. Instead of spending time, you can use an everyday camera in any mobile device to save time and increase project cash flow. If you are a construction manager looking for ways to reduce the delay between submitting progress payments and getting paid. These tips are for you.

Revealing the Invisible

Field photography is old school. The ability to capture progress on your projects and instantly share it with your home office, clients and those responsible for cutting checks creates leverage. The highest form of image capture is when you can reveal the invisible. Digital photography is perfect if your projects are distant from HQ or the Clients location. You can use a drone-mounted camera to document roof installed equipment. You can provide visual access to underground construction and excavation.   

That Was Then, This is Now

If you are planning to add photography to your project management toolbox, start here"

  • Document current conditions from the start. Capture beginning benchmarks prior to mobilization. Progress is often measured by comparing where you started against where you are.
  • Like blueprints, orient your photos using the same point of view. Begin with a wide shot to establish context, move closer or zoom in to capture detail. Use a measuring tape or familiar object to document relative size.
  • For outdoor projects, shoot in the same direction and time of day.
  • Keep an eye open for safe practices, including guards, personal safety gear, and procedures.

Powerful Progress Presentations

Providing appropriate access to photos, videos and progress reports keeps everyone on the same page while eliminating the client's anxiousness about not knowing what's going on. If you choose to publish a photo gallery, organize the collection to allow for comparing images over time.

Here at Leverage Unlimited, we use live video to engage and communicate with clients each day. Live video may be a valuable addition to your digital toolbox. It can be used to communicate with clients and field operations in real time while eliminating the expense effort of travel time. 

The ability of drones to change your perspective is an asset to provide an eye in the sky while providing compliance with design specifications and documenting the need and execution of maintenance operations. 

Leveraging Digital Resources

There was a time, not so long ago, that competitive advantage in construction was obtained by using brute force. Today, the proper use of digital tools deliver projects on time and under budget with finesse and without breaking a sweat. 

 

Sunday, 10 June 2018 20:54

How to Become Bold City's Best

Are you Jacksonville's best? This year's Jacksonville.com BoldCityBest contest is an opportunity to claim bragging rights for your business. You could invest in the Times-Union advertising campaign package. At Leverage Unlimited we believe a better and cheaper solution is to use the tools and resources you already have to secure a nomination this week.

Your challenge is how to connect with your best fans, give them a quick and easy way to nominate you, then tell all their friends to do the same. Easy! Here's how.

Find Your Fans

Instead of advertising to everyone you don't know, start with your best fans. You know who they are. They follow you on social media, read your newsletter; they are right there in your contact database. Make a short list of all those channels you could use to ask for their help.

Find the Shortest Path

Jacksonville.com would prefer you send your fans to their big list. Instead, give your fans a direct link that leads to your category. Use the list below to identify the shortest path to a successful nomination. 

Do It Now

The race goes to the swiftest. And the persistent. You only have about a week to secure your nomination. Post an update on social media today, tomorrow, and the day after. Today's message is, "We need your help!" Tomorrow it's, "Thanks for your help!" Next is, "We are so close!" You are not bugging them; you're giving them an update of your progress. If you respect your fans, your last message will be, "We Made the List!"

What Is Next

Once you've shown your fans the way to a successful nomination, it is a short hop to sharing your invitation with their community. Frances Fisher invited her community to nominate a company she is familiar with, RuffRubs. It is the best use of earned marketing media.

The Very Best Media

There are three kinds of media you can use to promote your business. The value of each varies. Let's start with the least effective.

Paid Media - Traditional advertising is no longer king. It is expensive and is targeted to those who know and trust you the least. The cost is high and the results are small. 

Owned Media - Your social platform, website, and blog are totally under your control. You get to target your audience and tell your own story.

Earned Media - Your raving fans are your best resource to gain new fans. It has the highest trust factor and provides the most personalized invitation.    

 For Extra Credit

Consider a short video to invite your fans to nominate your firm. Think of how you would ask a friend for help. Yes, it's that easy.

Brand Reputation Strategy

The tips above come from our brand reputation playbook. At Leverage Unlimited, we believe every business needs a consistent Brand Strategy. Call Jerry at 904-566-8325 with your questions about building a profitable brand. 

Resources - Direct Links to BoldCityBest categories

Find your nomination category below

Direct links to Contest Categories

Auto & More
http://contests.jacksonville.com/Bold-City-Best-2/gallery?group=285463 

Cuisine & Cocktails 
http://contests.jacksonville.com/Bold-City-Best-2/gallery?group=285464

Health & Well Being
http://contests.jacksonville.com/Bold-City-Best-2/gallery?group=285465 

Home & Professional Services 
http://contests.jacksonville.com/Bold-City-Best-2/gallery?group=285466

People, Places & Faces of Jax 
http://contests.jacksonville.com/Bold-City-Best-2/gallery?group=285467

Real Estate & Finance 
http://contests.jacksonville.com/Bold-City-Best-2/gallery?group=285468

Shops of Jax 
http://contests.jacksonville.com/Bold-City-Best-2/gallery?group=285469

Things to Do & Places To Be 
http://contests.jacksonville.com/Bold-City-Best-2/gallery?group=285470

 

Tuesday, 29 May 2018 09:31

It's Official: #Hashtags are Worthless

Don't take my word for it. Media monitoring site Mention.com just published the definitive word in the 2018 edition of The Twitter Engagement Report. Mention works with heavyweight brands like Microsoft, AirBnB, Mercedes, and Adobe. After collecting valuable data and insights from studying more than 700 million Twitter posts and profiles, they summed it up in just 8 words, "In general, hashtags do not increase Twitter engagement." The report includes analytics and clear charts that reveal the truth behind the #hashtag myth. 

I know what you're thinking, "Well then, you're not using enough #hashtags!". At Leverage Unlimited our research indicates more #hashtags lead to less engagement. If prospect engagement is your online goal, here are some effective tactics and strategies you can use immediately to let go of #hashtabs and embrace effective engagement.

The Ultimate Question, "What's Next?"

If all the other kids jumped off a bridge, would you follow them? Hashtags are used because "Everyone's doing it!" Try this instead. Craft a social post your audience is compelled to share. It should be about all the good things happening at your firm, not how good you are. It must be authentic and ring true. Before posting, ask yourself, "What's next?" to help you guide your audience along the path of engagement directly to your cash register. 

The Problem with Hashtags - The Power of Links

Hashtags lead prospects to explore everything ever published about the topic. Instead of a hashtag, provide your audience with a link to a page you control. Why would you want to send leads away instead of bringing them close?

Visuals - The Speedbumps of Social Feeds

How many social posts do you see in 24 hours? The not so funny answer is, "too many". How many were memorable? Chances are, your remember the ones with an interesting visual, either a photo or video. Use the photos you've captured to capture the interest of your audience.

You don't need a monthly $100 subscription to Mention.com to measure audience engagement. In less than 90 seconds you can scan your page feed to determine which posts generated the most engagement. It starts with a conversation from audience comments, extends to shares. Which of your posts excelled in engagement? Now you have a model for success. 

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?

 

  

 

   

 

 

 

Monday, 07 May 2018 13:36

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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