Thoughts about business and economic development in rural areas.


February 2018
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Blogging for the average business

Do you have an ‘evil plan’?

I read several blogs on a regular basis and I also act as a co-facilitator for the Richland County (WI) Inventors and Entrepreneurs Club. So what do those two things have in common?

The blogs I most often frequent are usually written by small business people who are in the process of starting or growing their own businesses. They don’t claim to have all the answers but they share a running dialogue of their thoughts as they deal with the challenges that most people in these situations face. Just like the folks who participate in our I & E meetings.

One of the best of these is Hugh MacLeod. He does drawings on the backs of business cards and he’s turned that unique approach to art into a real business. His blog is at His most recent post is an update on his second book which is nearly completed. “Evil Plans” is his look at what it takes to get out of the rat race and back into the human race by doing the things you love. And he’s practical enough to know that you have to be able to make a living in the process.

Every entrepreneur I know should be able to relate to what he shares as they develop their own ‘evil plans.’

Here’s a sample of his thinking:

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Beating Average Shouldn’t be This Easy.

During taping of the second session of our web development videos for the Richland County I & E Club I was surprised (and a little disturbed) by one of the comments that John Wells of WebWise Design & Marketing made. I had written down and prioritized my reasons for doing a website (I only had five) and as I finished, John said that this was more information than most people had when they walk into a web developer’s office. 

What? You’ve got to be kidding me! 

Can this be true? Is the world really this unprepared? Say it ain’t so, Joe. If it is, then beating average is w-a-a-a-a-a-y too easy. 

Here’s Session Two of our series. 

Website Design Series for I & E Club

I just took over as facilitator for the Richland County Inventors and Entrepreneurs Club. This group meets monthly on the third Wednesday of the month and the primary purpose is to give people the opportunity to network with others who are going through similar experiences as they try to develop a product or business.

In addition to networking, we also provide educational programs and access to information and resources that will be of use to the participants. As a supplement to the meeting we are trying something new (for us anyway) by taping a series of brief info sessions and posting them on YouTube for viewing at any time. Our first topic is website development and our first session can be accessed using the link below. Your comments are most appreciated.

55-38-7 Is this an accurate gauge of presentation impact?

I shared a ride to the airport with one of the attendees from a conference where I had just delivered a presentation on exceptional customer service. One of the points I made referenced the 55-38-7 ‘rule’. I put the word ‘rule’ in quotations because that’s the term that is usually used but I personally think it is a bit misleading. ‘Guideline’ would be better. 55-38-7 means this: when making a presentation, 55% of your impact on the audience is related to visual things…the setting, the speaker’s dress, AV aids, etc. 38% of the impact is related to tonality as it relates to both the actual sound and the accompanying emotions. (Does the presenter speak with conviction, resolve, passion, etc.) The final 7% of impact relates to the words themselves.

Now there are plenty of arguments out there that this entire idea is a bad misuse of the work originally done by Professor Albert Mehrabian, Ph.D. of the University of California back in the late 1960′s. Judith E. Pearson, Ph.D. has an article on this topic that is worth reading. My travel companion raised another issue that deserves consideration. He questioned whether these percentages would be the same if measured today and if they would differ by age groups. Since we now do much more communication via email, twitter and even blogs like this one, aren’t there likely to be changes? An interesting thought and one that I would love to see researched.

But I think we’re missing the real point here. It’s not the actual percentages that are the main issue. It’s the core fact that each of these three areas, ‘visual’ ‘tonal’ and ‘words’ contribute in their own way to effective communication. Remove one or more of them and something, perhaps even a great deal, is being lost. My concern is that we are not doing enough to make up for those losses especially as more of our communication is being done electronically as opposed to face-to-face or even by phone.

Email is a prime example. With the loss of visual and tonal impact we should be spending a lot more time making sure that the ‘words’ are the most effective that we can find and that they are being used correctly. Unfortunately the reverse seems to be the case. Too much is being done in haste and most of it is being done badly to boot.

To provide Exceptional Customer Service we need to do all we can to make each encounter as personal and as effective as possible. That’s why I recommend that associations and businesses include photos of their staff members on their websites. Customers want to deal with PEOPLE and not faceless entities. Exceptional Customer Service is almost always related to a  memorable moment involving an encounter with a real human being. Photos and bios go a long way to help make that happen. Even Twitter gets it by making it possible to include a photo or personal icon along with your message.

So don’t worry about the relative percentages. It can be 55-38-7 or 33-33-34 or whatever. The importance is in understanding that there are many contributing factors and that when we lose even one of them we need to be making extra efforts to compensate. Exceptional Customer Service is too important to be relegated to words only.