Posts Tagged ‘Business’

We love to surround ourselves with people who have similar thoughts and it creates this bubble perspective on the world. This is not unique in a social world because we also tend to do similar in our own work environment. There are many talking heads for social media advising brands in all sorts of ways. In many ways I am one too. This is not a negative for any of them and often they have some very good ideas. At the same time, should you follow the crowd or the advice? Are those of us thinking about these things living in our own little bubble? Are we drinking the Kool Aid? Maybe it is time we switch drinks.

Let me begin by saying I love social media and how it connects us to the world around us. Today, thanks to LinkedIn, I have built an extensive professional network. On and off of LinkedIn I have connected with so many amazing people allowing me to learn from so many of them. I have found old friends and built strong relationships with new friends. I have also found myself talking about social media for close to 6 years. Back in the early days we did not talk about that next viral hit, or how to push message. We did get excited about followers, until we realized how people manipulated the artificial number to make themselves feel better. The discussion was not about building the content warehouse or how a business would sell everything via social media. The conversation was much more basic than that. It was how social media would connect people, build relationships and break down the traditional silos that exist in society. We talked about how businesses would need to shift their approach to become a trusted partner with their Customers and not dictate a message. Businesses would have to learn to be more transparent and even trust their employee to become ambassadors of the brand. Behind every brand in the space, we knew the people involved. More important, we trusted them because they were one of us.

So what has happened since that time? I watched the conversation shift to a new group of talking heads, ones promising amazing results in social media. They could develop the next viral hit, or build millions of fans (it never matter if the fans were Customers, prospective Customers or human beings for that matter). Tools galore promised amazing reach for your content, and promises of top bloggers talking about your brand. Not a day goes by where I do not receive about 100 emails promising the greatest success in social media if I buy a tool or hire their agency. It cracks me up that these same tools promising social media success resort to spamming me via emails or cold calls. Studies galore demonstrate the amazing success these tools and firms have brought to their clients. Of course when your business tries to replicate the same success you do not see it, but the reality is the study was flawed from the start because it was designed to tell the story the business wanted to tell.

Listening became the buzz term, but really how good are businesses at listening? For years they have had Customers contacting them, but in their mind that was an annoying cost, not an opportunity to build a relationship or learn from the Customer. Customers have had survey data for years, yet did they really change based on the surveys? So now companies are told they must listen in social media. I would have suggested starting listening through all the other channels first, but that is me. So now they listen in social, but really what are they listening for? You will hear responses like innovation, process improvement, etc. The reality is most brands are listening to mentions of their brand to simply head off the next crisis. If we were truly interested in innovation or process improvement we would not focus on messages that state our brand. Instead we would be focusing on broader discussion involving what was important to our Customer. I expect many brands as they evaluate their listening tools, they will debate the value they have earned. The problem is it was most likely not the tool, but the way the business used the tool that will be a problem. Technology is not always the answer or the fix to your problem; it is much deeper than that.

At the end of the day social media is simply highlighting your brand for what it is. If you do not like the way your brand is portrayed, than you would need to work to change throughout the organization, not just apply new messaging to say how you are different. The world has changed before us and it will continue to evolve and it is important for your business to change with it. In my view this starts with understanding the relationship business you are in. Many businesses loved to use the term relationship, but the reality was the relationship in their mind was one sided. This is how the messaging always worked, but today this is no longer the case. Instead of getting frustrated by it, embrace the new paradigm before us. We have a chance to see the changes in business that we originally discussed back in 2007 and 2008. We had the fun, but now it is time to get down to the reality of social media. We have to embrace the power of our employees and our Customers. This is where you will find the true ROI in social media.



Forget the common good – it’s your own good that matters. Seek power, seize it, and hoard it. If you have to bruise egos along the way, so what? No one will care or even remember how you got to the top.

These are tips for career success from Stanford Business professor Jeffrey Pfeffer, who teaches a provocative class called “Paths to Power.” Among other things, Jeffrey warns students to avoid getting unduly slowed down by ethics, modesty or ideals. Getting to the C-Suite isn’t a journey for do-gooders, he says, and worse, an overactive conscience can be “dangerous to one’s organizational survival.”

Let me say that Jeffrey is a world-class social scientist with 13 books under his belt. But I’m counting on my 40 years as a business leader to tell me what works in the real world; and if it’s about leading an organization to success, I’d bet on my approach over his 99 times out of 100.

His perspective on the no-holds-barred pursuit of power is both seductive and toxic. It can start students on an IV-drip that gets them hooked on getting ahead, even if it means bullying, hubris and ruthlessness. Your very health is at stake, too, he writes in his book Power: Why Some People Have it and Others Don’t. Your “life depends on getting power”: the less power you have, the more stress you’ll be under, and that doesn’t end well.

Pfeffer cites many colorful personalities who have played the power game with legendary tenacity: Steve Jobs, Lyndon Johnson, Robert Moses. But these were individuals who could get away with power-mad behavior. They called their own shots, ran roughshod over former allies, and often stood alone.

Yet few who have worked with teams, or been in leadership roles in modern enterprises would recognize, much less condone, such an extreme approach to leadership. In enlightened businesses, power isn’t grabbed, it’s created and distributed. It’s not hunted down and hoarded, it’s cultivated – by building relationships and developing trust. And it’s not about “appearing competent” as Pfeffer recommends. Rather, it’s about being the best leader and team member you can.

Evolutionary biologists have a thought experiment for the relative power of selfishness versus generosity: two groups are placed on separate islands with no way to communicate. On one island, it’s everyone for himself. On the other, everyone works together to achieve broader goals. Wait a few hundred years, and you’ll find two very different societies – one in a state of constant, near-psychopathic conflict, the other successful and harmonious. As the biologists concluded, “Selfishness beats altruism within groups. Altruistic groups beat selfish groups. Everything else is commentary.”

In the same way, any business, group or team that wants to succeed for the long pull must rely on collaboration, innovation and high productivity – the fruits of sharing power, of teamwork, and of diverse points of view. Enabling people to do their best work generally means distributing power to those who earn it.

You can choose your own “path to power,” and what you do along the way. Here are a few thoughts that I would recommend for your journey:

1) First take control – of yourself. Control yourself and your own life choices, then worry about influence with others. Good self-control is the basis for a calm but confident projection of power, one that doesn’t rely on how much status you’ve “secured” in an organization.

2) The power of groups trumps that of individuals. Exploiting relationships and playing hardball politics for personal glory is a ticket to tenuous influence. True power comes from treating other people with respect with the understanding that, in return, they’ll grant (and responsibly assume) power. This is a good-faith transaction – a pact – that requires more than one person to agree to it. Watch out when Pfeffer says, Don’t worry about how your efforts to build your path to power are affecting your employer” – you won’t last long in the real world with that attitude.

3) Get noticed — but for the right reasons. Superstars do obtain power and influence. But rather than stepping into the spotlight every time something good happens, the most trusted leaders know it isn’t all about them. Their power and influence flow from sharing credit, accepting blame, working hard, being competent, and exhibiting judgment, character and wisdom. It’s impossible not to notice people who operate with that attitude. Pfeffer’s advice that your first responsibility is to ensure that those at higher levels… know what you’re accomplishing is a recipe for eventual alienation.

4) Seeking power isn’t bad — ruthlessness is. The ruthless pursuit of power violates a core principle of ethics: Kant’s Categorical Imperative. As Kant put it, “Act only on that maxim whereby you can, at the same time, will that it should become a universal law.” In other words, don’t do it yourself if you don’t want everyone else to follow your example. A benighted self-interest is toxic; an enlightened one is empowering.

5) You can’t get rid of every scorpion, but you can avoid them. It’s one thing to teach young leaders that power-mad scorpions exist in the business world (they do) but it’s another to teach them to become scorpions. It is good to know how to deal with them, but even better to steer clear of dangerous situations, and leave those who would sting you to deal with their own kind.

Pfeffer’s right about one thing: there are a thousand pathways to power and influence. If you are a lone wolf seeking power by any means, you may gain influence for a while at a cost of long-run success, and happiness. Success doesn’t come from stepping on toes and hustling behind backs, but from stepping up, and having peoples’ backs. Exploiting others on a “Paths to Power” quest may get you rolling fast, but it won’t be long before you notice that you’re heading downhill – and taking your team with you.

Molly Lane // July 16, 2013

So you’re starting an online business. Chances are, as a new entrepreneur you’ve already found yourself overworked, overstressed, and falling short of reaping the rewards and flexible lifestyle that attracted you to entrepreneurship from the get go. Truth is, EVERY ENTREPRENUR faces these challenges at one time or another. But it’s the successful ones who learn how to identify and overcome them.

Below are 5 major challenges that, as an online entrepreneur you’ll likely face out of the starting gate. Learn how to overcome these early difficulties with the secret weapon used by successful online entrepreneurs. What is this secret weapon you ask? It all ties back to affiliate marketing, and the many ways affiliate marketing is the ideal business model for new online entrepreneurs. Keep reading, and see if you identify with these common challenges . . .

1. Lack of Time and Resources


Unfortunately, when you’re just starting out, not only is time scarce, but money is too. Entrepreneurs are busy and can’t do everything themselves, and need to outsource to be successful. You’ve got to choose what you invest in, and choosing wisely can make or break your new business. A customer service team, administrative support, a sales team, website developers, marketing experts, SEO gurus, advertising options, tools . . . the list is endless.


The good news is, that partnering with an affiliate network is one great way to take a few of these things off of your plate. When working with an affiliate network not only do you get your product in front of countless Internet marketing experts that successfully utilize every way imaginable to sell anything imaginable online, but you also have access to that network’s features. Many networks provide features to their clients (even those just starting out) that can help offset your lack of internal resources.

For example, ClickBank’s Joint Venture feature allows you to partner with a variety of skilled service providers such as copywriters, designers, developers, affiliate managers, and more who can help you with the creation and promotion of your product. And the icing on the cake is that the administratoristrative portion of these relationships is handled for you. Simply indicate the terms and rates of payment to your partners, and ClickBank will handle the rest behind the scenes based on your direction.

2. Sales Team? What Sales Team?


As an online entrepreneur, the concepts of dialing for dollars and pounding the pavement aren’t quite what they used to be. But that doesn’t mean that having an effective sales force isn’t still the most important part of your business. You’ve got the goods, now how do you get them into the hands of your customers?


Many affiliate networks boast thousands to hundreds of thousands of affiliates ready to sell your products. What does this mean for you as an online entrepreneur just starting out? Access to an instant, expert, commission-based sales force is what it means. And as a new online entrepreneur, it’s a resource you can’t afford to pass up.

3. Pinning Down Potential Prospects


The key to sustainable entrepreneurship is to make sure there’s someone buying what you’re selling. Problem is, when you’re first starting out, you may have the best idea in the world and most air tight business plan, but if you don’t have a list of customers to start, then you’ve got your work cut out for you and it may be more than you’ve bargained for.


By connecting with an affiliate network and using it as a channel for your products, you can tap into the existing customer and prospect lists of countless affiliates who have successfully promoted other products in your niche! Not only can this help you jump start your sales from the beginning, but is a great way for you to build your list and have paying customers to remarket to in the future.

4. Trading Time for Money


If you’re in a services business (coaching, consulting, freelance writing), chances are, you’re only getting paid when you work. This is what I like to call trading time for money. Unless this work satisfies all of your hopes and dreams in life and business, you may just be buying yourself a job (and time is the currency).


It’s time for you to productize your service. Affiliate marketing can give you a channel to distribute this knowledge in product form, and reach (and help) more people than would ever be possible with a services model. With ClickBank, that means creating and selling an offering in digital form such as an eBook, audio file or membership subscription based on your area of expertise. This is a great way to diversify your income and reach a wider audience.

5. Multiple Passions and Diversified Product Mix


Perhaps you’ve created (or plan to create) multiple product types and target more than one niche. Many online entrepreneurs look for opportunity first through researching keyword competition, high need products or buyer keywords, and create products second. If this is the method to your madness, or if you simply plan to monetize many of your diverse passions, your customers are likely to exist across many very different target markets, all of which you’ll need to reach.


Working with an affiliate network can help reduce the challenge of selling to multiple markets by connecting you with expert affiliates across hundreds of niches/industries with experience selling every product type imaginable.


As an entrepreneur, chances are you don’t shy away from hard work to earn your keep. Affiliate marketing is no different. Although there are many affiliate network options available to you to kickstart your online business (we’re partial to ClickBank for digital products), it never hurts to put in a little elbow grease up front. What I’m saying is, it benefits you to seek out affiliates to promote your products rather than waiting around for them to come to you. Whether connecting with affiliates through the networks themselves, finding affiliates in third party forums (e.g., Warrior Forum) or meeting them in person at industry events (e.g., Affiliate Summit), taking the initiative with busy, successful affiliates can only help your efforts!

Now it’s time to let an affiliate network work for you. Rely on your network to help you lighten the workload and ease some of the common challenges you’re sure to face as an online entrepreneur. Get going, there’s no time to waste!