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I just got back from a 3 day cruise. I don’t quite know exactly where we went. I do know however that words can’t quite describe the experience I just had. To put things in perspective, one tweet I read today by @Tim_Rutten said “unreal & mind-blowing experience! ROI? A new life!”. I think that’s a great way to put it. Sure I am an entrepreneur and yes I loved meeting VCs, rock star CEOs and potential clients/partners, but that was only quarter of the story.

Summit Series 2011

Our trip began on Friday where a thousand of us boarded a Celebrity Cruise Lines ship. Brett Leve (the Summit Series Co-founder) pointed out that never before had Celebrity let a DJ pump music thru the customs hall, but you have to set the tone right? Summit staffers walked around handing out cookies and brownies, a cocktail would have been nice, but I am sure they were already pushing the limits with the music. Right when we boarded we ran into Gary Vaynerchuk who would later

turn out to give one of the most inspiring speeches of the trip (he had a standing ovation). Gary’s friendly attitude kicked things off right. Here is a best selling author and Internet celebrity, yet on board he was just “one of us”. That to me was the main theme that kept swirling around my head on the ship. Everyone, and I mean everyone, was super cool. There wasn’t a sign that said “check your egos at the door” (actually  it said “Make No Small Plans”) but their might as well have been.

Here is a ship that if it had sunk, global markets would have crashed yet the entire weekend I didn’t run into one asshole. Hard to believe I know.

If we were at SXSW, CES, TED or Davos there is always going to be this clear separation from the billionaire rock star celebrities and the hungry “up-and-coming CEOs” who just want to learn how to become billionaire rock star celebrities. However once you stepped foot on that ship, everyone was equal. There wasn’t a conversation I couldn’t step into and immediately get a warm welcome. I don’t care if it was Tony Hseih, Russell Simmons or Peter Theil, everyone was warm, generous and on the same page. What other conference has this class? Well if you know about one, please tell me because I haven’t experienced it until last weekend.

I attended Summit in D.C. last year and it was still a wonderful time, but there is just something about a captive audience. In D.C. there was other people staying at the hotel besides Summiters. Also you had a lot of people who lived in D.C. so I felt at times things were a bit cliqueish. However on the boat it was the ship’s crew and our crew. There was no outsiders to disrupt a conversation. Nobody to give you a weird stare if you were talking about a subject they didn’t care about.

Summit Series is invite only so as the old saying goes, “good people know good people”, and that’s what happened.

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I never liked Howard Stern when he was on terrestrial radio. He was too crude for me. I guess I just didn’t get his sense of humor; I am not a fan of fart jokes and interviews with porn stars. I never stayed on the station long enough to hear him out. That all changed after I got Sirius satellite radio in my car. Not sure how it came about, maybe he was interviewing an interesting guest, but I gave him a listen and that is when I realized why he is the most popular radio personality, and probably the only person who can jump to a paid subscription model and bring millions with him.

Howard Stern

It has been said that the Howard Stern show was really the first reality show. They say this because on a reality show you get to experience each person’s flaws, successes, failures and triumphs. There is a ton of honesty on reality shows, most of the time there is too much, which leads to drama and people love to watch drama. On reality shows, you get to know all of the characters really well, as if you are right  there alongside of them. After a while you feel like you know everybody and you start relating to different people. The Howard Stern show is a success because of one major factor that most people probably don’t realize, and that is “complete transparency”. The show is brutally honest, often times getting so personal people lose it, cry or say things they probably regret. Howard really has a no holds barred style. If he is pissed at someone and wants to fire them, he talks about it on the show in front of the person he is thinking about firing. Imagine that happening in a normal work setting? Howard also is very critical of himself and is the first person to point out his flaws, making them publicly available for millions to hear, over and over again (they say Tivo is coming to satellite soon). Howard says what is on his mind, and doesn’t hold back no matter what type of trouble it could get him into.

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Let me share a quick story with you. Right now I am looking for a company to commission an assessment report. Company A, thinks that any day now I am going to sign with them. Meanwhile I have been evaluating Company B.

Company B has come out as a favorite, but by only a couple points. I was able to negotiate with Company B down to what Company A wanted to charge me. Because Company B costs the same and I believe they would do better (but only slightly), I am going to go with Company B.

Can anyone tell me what Company A is doing wrong? Don’t answer, it is a rhetorical question and if you answer you probably shouldn’t be in sales.

What Company A is doing wrong:

1.       Company A has not picked up the phone every single day to find out  where I am in the process

2.       Company A has not asked me if I was speaking to another company

3.       Company A has not asked me what the other company wanted to charge me and what I feel are the differences between the two

4.       Company A has not tried to make me an offer I cannot refuse

Please please please, do not act, think or be like Company A. The deal is worth $10,000.

Posted via email from Jared Reitzin

This following guest article was written by Richard Hemby who regularly writes about and college related topics for Online College Guru, an online college degree guide.

CEOs Who Twitter Button

In recent years, Twitter has grown from a place for teenagers to share what they just ate for lunch to a serious platform for businesses to connect with their customers and for the media to break stories. In late January of 2010, even Bill Gates (@BillGates) started “Twittering”, and in less than two weeks has more than 400,000 followers. Here are a few other CEO’s that you might look or the next time you are on Twitter.

@guykawasaki – Guy Kawasaki was one of the Apple employees responsible for the original Macintosh in 1984. Now he is the Alltop CEO. He is extremely active on Twitter and primarily uses it as a broadcasting tool to announce new Alltop sites. He currently has 211,577 followers.

@mashable – Pete Cashmore is the CEO of Mashable. With 1,954,389 followers, Pete is one of the most popular Twitter users. Pete uses Twitter to offer other users Twitter tips, Twitter news, and Twitter help. He also shares social media stories from around the web. Pete Cashmore views Twitter as an excellent companion to his company’s blog.

@gcolony – George Colony is the CEO of Forrester Research. His company provides market research mostly in the area of technology. George likes Twitter because it allows him to understand what his clients are thinking about the world of technology and his company. He also regularly tweets about his ideas and thoughts about the technological world. He currently has 6,575 followers.

@demandrichard – Richard Rosenblatt is the CEO of Demand Media. His company provides web content and SEO services to a wide variety of clients. Demand Media also owns eNom, one of the biggest domain registration companies in the world. With 6,642 followers, Richard uses Twitter to communicate with investors, users, colleagues, and clients in a real-time manner. He likes that Twitter feels much fresher and not as cold as email.

@DrBobParsons – Bob Parsons is the CEO and Founder of Go Daddy Group. When he’s not dreaming up effective Super Bowl advertising campaigns, Parsons is excited to connect with his 21,559 followers on Twitter. He says he really likes the subscription model of Twitter in which people sign up to follow you. In this way, he can be sure that whenever he sends out a message there are a lot of interested people on the other end.

@timyoung – Timothy Young is the CEO of Socialcast. On his Twitter profile, he proclaims that “Email is Dead”. Rather than email, Tim likes to use Twitter to engage in discussions with his customers. He also likes using Twitter to tune in to other conversations that people are having about his company, the social media industry, and market trends. Timothy Young currently has 2,101 followers on Twitter.

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In my previous post I talked about getting the mobileStorm tornado tattoo. I also mentioned I have a $1,000 bonus for any employee willing to step up and get the tattoo in a visible location. This weekend a brave soul named Roxanne (a wonderful customer satisfaction rep) went and got an even better looking tornado than mine on the inside of her wrist. Way to go Storm Trooper! (I am a Star Wars fan so I started calling our staff this and it just stuck).

This will undoubtedly spur a number of other people to go out there and brand themselves with the company they are so passionate about. Well I hope its mostly about the passion and not just about the money, after all your branded for life.

mobileStorm Logo Wrist Tattoo
I was surprised that someone did this so quickly and even more surprised that four others have told me they too will get it soon. I like to think this says a lot about the type of company we have built. It’s not a start up with an unsure future . We are a profitable growing company who has been around for more than eleven years. Sure people could use a thousand dollars but most people I know do not have tattoos and would never get one no matter how much you offered them. Trying to get inside the mind of an employee willing to do this, all I can think of is that they love being part of a team working for a company doing great things. My guess is that it’s about pride, dedication, and making a difference.

Tomorrow our editor is going to post a video and interview with Roxanne on mobileStorm’s Digital Marketing Blog. I guess I will find out then what really inspired her.

I wonder how much this stunt is gonna cost me?

Dedication

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I have not shared this bit of information with anyone outside of my friends and family (unless you happen to be around me at the beach), but six years ago in Dublin Ireland I got the mobileStorm tornado tattooed on my ankle. It was certainly was one of the most painful things I have ever done in my life; it felt like a jigsaw hacking thru my leg.mobileStorm Tornado Tattoo

Why am I sharing this with you? Because as an entrepreneur you need to be insanely dedicated to your cause. I thought I would share with the public, my insane dedication (or at least what my mom calls insane).

I have been asked numerous times, “What happens if mobileStorm goes bankrupt? Won’t you hate that you got that?”.  My answer is always the same. I have learned so much about how to run a company and have had so much fun doing so, that even if I lost everything tomorrow, I would still deem mobileStorm a major success. To me, mobileStorm can never fail. And that is why I won’t need to seek out Dr. Tattoff as one might, after a bad break up with an ex-girlfrend.

That being said, having a permanent symbol on your body tends to make you believe that failure is not an option. It is a constant reminder of the dedication you need to have. Maybe this is the same reason people get a tattoo of their spouses name? I guess they feel they will work harder at the relationship since there is a permanent and visible reminder, that, or a really crazy night in Vegas.

Failure is not an option when you ink yourself up, but having dedication is everything.

On a related matter, I have a $1,000 standing bonus in my company for anyone who gets the tornado in a visible spot and lets us blog about it. No takers yet, however someone did want to get one on the inside of their lip, but this is to gangster and it fades after two years. Maybe I will institute a “tear drop tat” policy for anyone who loses a customer.

You Want a Job?

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Then stop sending crappy resumes. Being an employer for a decade now, I have seen every type of resume you can imagine. I really like to interview everyone even if it’s for 10 minutes. I like to make sure that person fits within our culture (while lowering the risk of a lawsuit because of our wonderful, politically incorrect organization). You want a job?

Every time we try to fill a position, I feel that the majority of people either a.) aren’t really looking for a job but are just sending their resumes to see what is out there or, b.) don’t have any self-esteem and feel that they are one of a thousand applicants and there is no way they can get a job, so why bother to send a polished document. Here are five tips to make sure someone reads your resume and calls you in for an interview:

1. Attach a Cover Letter: Far too many people simply email you their resumes and there is nothing in the body of the email, just a Word doc attachment. It’s as if the applicants are just sending their resumes to as many people as possible, and they don’t have time to write a quick intro on themselves and why they want this job. I can tell you right now the only time I review coverless-letter resumes is if I am not getting a sufficient number of applicants; otherwise, they are trashed. Showing your personality and thoughts on the position goes a long way. Also, most executives are reading your resume on their blackberries. Can we open Word attachments? Yes, but it takes 15 seconds; reading the body of the email does not. Entice us with a beautiful cover and then hit us hard with a good story.

2. Do Your Research: A company wants to see that you have researched their website, studied their business model, and know what they are all about. They want to hear comments like, “I really feel I would fit into your corporate culture because of x.” Flattery does get you far; just make sure you don’t get cheesy.

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Recently I purchased Dell’s Wireless Projector (The 4610x).

What’s great about this device is that you can connect to it wirelessly from a laptop. Actually up to 4 people can connect and all project their own screens in 4 different quadrants. mobileStorm just moved its corporate headquarters into a new building with tons of space, really high ceilings etc.. I am working on ways to use all of the space since the majority of our employees don’t work out of corporate.

A couple of employees gave me the idea to project stuff on this big white wall we have. I found this projector and the rest is history. Currently I am using it to project positive words and inspirational tid bits. I also plan to use it for quick “stay put” presentations (yes I made this term up). Everyone in the room simply looks over at the wall from desk (since we are all in one big room it makes communication very open and fluid).

I need ideas for what I can do with this projector. Got any ideas of what I could dispaly that would keep the team energized and entertained? I would love to hear them.

This is an article for all the service-based business out there…

The reason I push my team to document everything and turn it into a process, is because the faster and more efficiently we can do something, the more we can scale our business. And the more we can scale our business, the bigger we will get and the more valuable we will be. The benefit of a product is you are selling a thing and not your time. However a big part of a service-based business requires human involvement. So how do you turn a service into a product? Process flow image

Smaller companies are so busy hustling to make a buck; they usually only do an ok job at productizing their service. Does this sound like you? This is something you need to change if you want to see massive growth. I admit I am guilty of not always following thru and having the disciple to ensure everything my company does becomes a template, but I recognize that and try to strive for it.

Service-based businesses typically don’t have a large multiple when it comes time to sell. Meaning they won’t sell the company for much more than what it is grossing each year. It’s like being a dentist; you only make money when you are in the office (franchisee owners aside). Being a SaaS company mobileStorm has the opportunity to sell software and messaging which is great, because it has a very high profit margin and can be recreated over and over again for little cost. However the service part of our business can slow our growth if we don’t execute right. Service means head count, and people are always the highest cost to any organization, hence one of the reasons service based companies don’t have the best valuations. However the smart service companies recognize this and put a plan in place so they can scale. Look at salesforce.com, they now have a market cap of 8.24 billion, I remember when their stock was at $15, its now $65! These guys figured the perfect way to offer software and service.

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Ok maybe I am late to the game but for the last month and a half I have been using TweekDeck. If you follow me on twitter you will notice that I am not a big tweeter, I am however turning into a big consumer of tweets.

Twitter has really turned into a major news source. It is not only where I go to find out in real-time what is going on around me (like what was that loud boom in my neighborhood), it is also becoming one of my primary news sources for my industry, my company and myself.Tweet Deck Logo

If you can think of something and say it within 140 characters, you can enter your thought into the thought stream. The only way of being able to visualize the thought stream is with a app like TweetDeck. You can enter in any search term you want like “Email Marketing Solution” or “Mobile Marketing” and then sit back and like that little email box that fades in and out when you get a new email in Outlook, anytime someone puts a thought out on twitter and it matches your search criteria you get alerted. The most important terms in my industry are now popping up on a second by second basis. It takes me no time at all to glance at the new tweet, and within a split second I can decide whether or not I want to take some sort of action. I follow my name in case anyone is talking about me, if they are I engage with them personally. I follow my company name for the same reason and most of the time it is people telling the world what a good experience they had with us. If they are a client, I like to do something special for them.

As I stated above I also follow important search terms. What you will find is that you get someone looking for a solution, email , mobile or otherwise. You can reach out and contact that person directly and now you are using the thought stream as a way to generate leads. I also love how easy it is to re-tweet something you found interesting. If you don’t tweet as much as I do, but you know it is important to do so for a decent sized following, then the re-tweet is a great feature and one that is easily done using TweetDeck.

On a personal note, I only use facebook for friends and family. I don’t like logging into facebook on my mobile device or from a desktop, it takes time and it’s a time suck, so it is nice to not have to log in anywhere to see your friends status updates and wall posts, TweetDeck also provides this functionality.

I bet within 5 minutes of this post someone is going to tweet this article, and then others will re-tweet it. Heck I will tweet it now, so to get some more views to my blog.

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